Friday, November 16, 2007


My son Conall emailed me from Vienna....where he was trailing the GF who is not Jette.

It was snowing, and he was in the Old Town.....and my heart nearly broke.

Old Vienna in a snowstorm with the GF is like winning the lottery. St. Stefan's. The Augustiner Keller. The Hofberg. The Spanischer Reitschuel. Demel's......

And then the PTSD started:

One autumn a million years ago, I and all my friends had a group nervous breakdown. My wife-to-be ran off with a hotel assistant manager. I fell in love with a girl I met in a bar on the Upper East Side. My partner accidentally burned down an IRA bar on the same Upper East Side while moonlighting from the Society restaurant from which I had just been fired for tossing a stockbroker into a dumpster for having possibly offended Claire Booth Luce on Mother's Day.

Where was Thomas Pynchon when we really needed him? was time to leave town....and old Tom was in my pocket.

Tom went to Cornell, like me. Tom was an engineer, like me. And Tom was like his slightly older engineering predecessor at Cornell who also did some writing....Kurt Vonnegut.

I decided to spend my winter re-reading Tom's "Gravity's Rainbow" as well as "Sometimes A Great Notion" by that Stanford guy, Ken determine which of them was really the Ultimate American Novel. Yankees vs. Red Sox.

Really. This seemed like a good plan. Proof positive that the restaurant business can make you crazy.

I took along the new GF....Gay Sanchez.

This is how innocent the times were. A woman named Gabrielle could still be called Gay without snickering.

Turns out Gabrielle Sanchez is now a highly sought after NYC jewelry designer....and don't call her Gay.

We went to Switzerland.....where I was the Human Zamboni at the Hotel du Parc in Villars. We moved on to Kitzbuhel, Austria after I boiled the Swiss waiter prick guy's head in the espresso machine....and it was actually Kirchberg, if anyone is keeping score.

Kirchberg was the working class town just over the mountain from Kitzbuhel where all the workers lived. Oddly enough, it was mostly Australian, not Austrian. In these times, Australia was so awful that all their young people left in droves. I don't know if you know anything about Australians, but Kirchberg was like the Wild fights, insane drinking, crazy macho sporting feats, insane drinking, lots of contact with the Polizei.

There I met a guy from Kansas named Gary Ellsworth Krause. Gary was a lawyer, just freshly dumped by a girl from Hutchison. Dear Gay soon left me for the charms of an assistant hotel manager....what the fuck?.....What is it about assistant hotel managers? Gary and I became roommates in an attic in Kirchberg.

I had no money. I was living on the checks I got from the Ithaca Probation department from the kid who had stolen my motorcycle. We also had a scam where we would act real American and cash Swiss Franc traveler checks for dollars.....five to one....and never go back to that town. (The Swiss Franc symbol on American Express Traveler's checks looks a lot like a dollar sign. It would not occur to the teller that the ignorant American rube cashing in the check would even know about Swiss francs).

Gary had contacts....and funds. He was a lawyer, and the son of a doctor in Kansas. He covered me when the probation checks failed.

It was late in the season...and the snow was retreating rapidly. The only place to ski in real snow was out of the area. Austria is not like America. In Austria, the landlords of the ski area are dumbfuck farmers who agree to knock down the fences in their pastures each fall in exchange for more money than the cows could ever bring in from the coop town ski area.

There is no ski patrol. If you ski outside the area....outside the are completely on your own. There is no financing, and therefore no interest in maintaining or policing the woods where there are no cows and therefore no money...ever.

Anyway, Gary and I actually liked to ski on actual we skiied off the area.

I still have the video in my mind of the moment when my friend Gary skiied down a little hill through some trees, checked on a cornice and said......"Oooops!"

The cornice gave way, and Gary fell 300 feet down a cliff. He landed in the top of a young pine, which bent to the ground and broke most of his fall. He was knocked cold, and broke his arm.

Idiot that I was, I jumped off the cornice and followed him down. I cut him down with my trusty Buck knife, covered him with my coat and went for help. The chair lift was near-by. The snow was still deep enough off-area that I was able to climb up and wait for a chair, jump and grab the bottom of a chair where people rested their skiis in those days. I hung on, dangling for the rest of the ride up the mountain. This is no small thing...hanging from the bottom of a chairlift by your arms in heavy 1970 boots and skiis up a 3km vertical mountain.

When I got to the top of the lift, and rode around the turn into the lift-house I was greeted by The Green Heroes...the Austrian version of the Ski Patrol. They were unimpressed and uninterested in my friend's predicament. Skiing off-area. Why? Fuck you.

I gave them all my money....all the money I had in the world....and they agreed to make a phone call. Eventually one of them took a radio and followed me down the mountain to find Gary. When we got there he was hypo-thermic and barely conscious. The folks from down mountain arrived and got him into a sled. Just as they were loading him they demanded financial responsibility, and the EMT actually slapped Gary to bring him around.

"What is your name?"


"That is not a name!"

"Uh.....Raketemensch......uh....Tomas Pynchon."

"OK....Tomas Pynchon......we will send you a bill........"

To be continued....

Sunday, November 11, 2007

George Bush Stole My Lunch Money...... the rest of us.....barely made it to the end of the wedding season.

As Alpha Chef....he got to escape first, and flew off to Prague for a bare two weeks' break.

Meanwhile, the Store computer actually rusted....the hard-drive RUSTED in our delightful work environment......and I have been using Brendan's Euro-trash computer.

Chief among its charms is a little meter on the desktop that tells you how the dollar is doing vs. the Czech crown.

It is seriously fucking depressing. I guess in 'California personal appearance terms' it would be like looking in the mirror and watching your hair fall out in time-lapse photography....or watching your boobs plummet towards the floor.

And you can't escape it. It is right there on the desktop. The dollar is plummeting into the toilet like the Jamaican bobsled team.

When he left.....10 days ago....the crown was at 18.66. Then it was 18.5, then 18.3. This is Sunday in America, and the banks just opened in Prague and we are at 18.1. More than three percent in a week.

Amanda and I were in Prague two years ago. The dollar was at 28. The thousand dollars we left at the bank now worth $640.

People think that there is a real estate bubble if the prices drop FIVE percent.

Pre-George Bush.....I was in Italy in 2000. The euro was worth 86 cents. It is now a buck and a half....heading to two dollars. In the seven years of George Douche's annointed presidency he has trashed the dollar by HALF!

But who gives a shit anyway. George himself had never been out of the country until he was elected.....well, except those whorehouse runs to Laredo.

This fact alone is amazing.

George and I are almost colleagues. He was Ivy League, I was Ivy League. He is a couple of years older....but in the late sixties you could fly to London for a hundred bucks. I used to fly over to check on my motorcycle in Cambridge and drink pints of great beer at $.15 a pint. It was cheaper to fly to London than hang out it New York. Icelandic Air was like College girls with trust funds. A six hour layover in Reykyavic.....or fucking Goose Bay, Labrador: the island, not the retriever.

And I was painting houses for money. George, by contrast, had no cash flow problem.....and apparently no interest in the world at large.

Then....or now.

His people still don't, I guess. The twenty some-odd percent of the population who still think George is doing a good job are probably not bright enough to figure out the whole passport thing. Cancun is off limits now, but you don't need a passport to get into DollyLand!

So, make it personal: Amanda and I work and live all year to be able to go to Spain....and eat....and live and breathe in an intact culture. We don't go to movies, we don't even rent movies. We don't eat out....well, except for Stokes and Garcia Taqueria.

Our budget for the month of January in Spain might be ten grand. Crappy little pensiones, lotsa bread and cheese....the world's smallest car......and a few (well, more than a few....) real inspirational lunches.

An inspirational that makes life worth living, one that lights up the creative chi, one that claws back the lizard brain that wants to just go to sleep and wake up in the Obama Spring.....costs around 275 euros. Nine or ten courses, some Cava, an inexpensive local wine. Weeping and tears in the face of extra-terrestrial creativity and skill.

In 2000, this cost $235. Breath-taking, but tolerable. Dinner for ten at The Cachagua Store.

Last year it had climbed to $385.

Now it is $412.50....and climbing to $550.

The cost forces a reverence and a focus that inevitably skews the entire experience. One is no longer is Chauncey Gardener. Lunch at Akelarre.....overlooking the entire Atlantic; served by a gorgeous Chilean political refugee; with food so complex, technical and esoteric as to challenge all one's intellectual, sensory and emotional depths.....not to mention Kirsten Dunst in a peasant blouse talking about the rights of man and the soccer stadium in downtown becomes a good-bye scene. the $10,000 budget....a drop of 3.85% equals lunch at Akelarre. Almost.

Sorry, we won't be back. We can't afford it.

Our President has pissed in the well. His dumbass corporate buddies could fly in on their G-5's and buy lunch in a heartbeat....but they would have no clue what is going on, and would be bored by course #3, and would never have the patience to drive up Monte Urguel, and would certainly never take the bus from Gupuizkoa Plaza.

There was a brief time when we Americans were closing the culture gap on Europe, and beginning to be able to play as equals. Despite the destruction of our culture by the Knobs, our energy and enthusiasm carried us forward. one wants our shit. Big, dumb, wasteful cars. Big, dumb wasteful films. Big, dumb wasteful wars. Don't even talk about our food.

The reward for George W. Bush's aggressively ignorant cultural nihilism?

The two dollar euro that puts America back where it was in 1812.....a dangerous, annoying backwash.

And kiss my ass, you ignorant, frat-boy piece of shit.

Have a nice day.

When we fly out of Bilbao on Feb 2, I will be crying real tears.....not like last time, of joy at a gleeful experience......but bitter ones of loss at a world I will henceforth be denied by the ignorant, greedy, crass motherfuckers who have captured the country of my birth.

I am buying a bag load of "Jail George Bush" we can get served in the tapas bars we can still afford.

I hope that Irish passport comes through soon.

Happy Veterans Day

Old enough to drink?

Not quite.......

Peace, Roger......

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Time Out For Falafel Terror...

I can't let this one go by without comment:

The FBI had a program monitoring falafel and hummus purchases in California as a method of intercepting Iranian spies.

The theory was that an influx of Iranian agents would inevitably lead to an increase in sales of homegrown Iranian food. Since Iran supports Hamas....a Lebanese/Palestinian terror increase in falafel sales might presage a Hamas terror attack.

So......they data-mined all purchases at Iranian delis in California, and cross-referenced the purchases with the phone records AT&T gave them on the sly......and got....

Exactly what?

It is called "domain management".

On the one hand, you have to admire their creativity. On the other hand......are you fucking kidding me?

My Amanda long ago told me that in the film business in L.A. the best drugs come from the Iranians: meth, Vicodin, great pot.

My friend Bennie.....a frequent source of joy and amusement to all of our National Security agencies has long been a fan of Vartan's and Good Foods in Pasadena. He would even mail me stuff from Vartan's.....and any visit to LA had to include Persian deli food.

There now exist a realm of files of falafel/hummus buyers in the National Security archives. Your tax dollars at work.

If Bennie thought his photography for CodePink and Camp Casey would be troublesome for his security file......

Fucking Falafel! Though, it is possible that it was Bennie's obsession with Iranian delis that got the feds interested in the first place.


Still.....Anyone that has ever known two Iranians would know that they are worse than the Irish: two Iranians will generate at least three political opinions....and be willing to drink long into the night arguing about any of them, from any side. Royalists, Jews, Bahai, Kurds, crypto-Afghans, Slavs.....Good luck, boys.

One can only imagine the other food related national security files that are out there. Thank god that terrorism and cuisine seem antithetic. Think about it. IRA and Irish cooking. El Queda and lambs eyes and honey? Zapatistas and fried bananas?

Oh, shit. I can only imagine what the feds think of my fixation with Basque food.

In Basque country, the more ETA grafitti....the better the food.

I hope the Spanish let me in, come January.

Hey.....I don't even LIKE Falafel.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Organic Food.....Part Two: Farmers with Faces

We have given up on the Organic Standard. It is almost meaningless now.

Wal-Mart and Costco and Safeway have organic milk. "O" Organics, etc.

The pricks who supply the mega stores....who are often partially owned by the same mega-stores..... have developed a work-around to avoid actually having real organic facilities: 1) establish an organic facility and get it inspected and certified; 2)drag in random cheap commercial cows from wherever; 3) milk the shit out of them; 4) call your product "organic"; 5) go look for some more cows, and do it all again.

"Free range" chickens....for eggs or meat.....technically have access to a tiny patch of outdoor ground....but they never, ever use it. Like ghetto kids could technically take a bus to Yosemite on their own any time they want.


Our supposed "organic" pork supplier of last year buys mature pigs...feeds them organic stuff for two weeks in his organic facility....slaughters them and charges double the commercial rate.

This is like sending Rosie O'Donnell to the Golden Door for two weeks.... and calling her Giselle Bundchen.

Like I said, we have fallen back on the Local Standard. We don't buy anything from someone we don't know, or haven't visited.

Our farmers have faces.

Farmers With A Face....

The New Standard: "I don't know you.....Fuck you."

If I don't know you, I assume you are someone who will sell out core principles for a momentary advantage.... or to pull in a few bucks for a friend or supporter or major donor or client. (Like our President....or our Slimy Whore Senator, Diane Fibstein...the West Coast Joe Lieberman. That is probably unfair......Joe Lieberman actually might have principles....just misguided ones.)

There was a time when business and politics were not like this....but then again, I am an old person.

We food guys in Cachagua read and re-read Joel Salatin...and we overbuy from our local farms. People like James Creek Farm and Serendipity. pleased were we to get the commission to cook a meal for the Big Sur Land Trust at the Odello Ranch.....serving all of the produce from our friend Jamie's Serendipity Farms based at the self same Odello Ranch.

The idea was to show off Jamie's produce, serve it to the BSLT's major donors..... in the barn on the ranch where the food was grown.

My wet dream of a party.

The Odello Ranch is the knot that ties Big Sur to Carmel geographically and socially.

Bruna Odello, the matriarch of the original owners of the property is an actual angel loosed here on earth with a Nikon camera.

Bruna reminds me more than anyone of the Carmelite nuns at the Monastery a few hundred yards south of the Odello Ranch....when Bruna says "God bless you..." you feel like there actually is a God, and you just got blessed. Goosebumps.

We were there at the get-go of the whole Odello Ranch transformation thing. BSLT traded Clint Eastwood for the water credits to develop Tehema..... in exchange for Clint's buying out the Odello's...... and donating the land back to the BSLT.

This was an end-run around the insanity of Nick Lombardo trying to develop the Odello property as an old folks' home with strip malls and a parking lot to park the busses that would buss people into the New Carmel ....that would be closed to vehicular traffic. Like San Simeon.


The local Hospitality Association thought this was a great plan. Clint, god love him, thought differently.

We did the exploratory lunches; we did the celebration parties when the deal was done.

This is Real Republican stuff: people make money; our agricultural heritage is preserved; conservation stuff happens; non-profits make money. Beautiful homes are built on land no one even knew existed. Nice, hardworking modern American farmers get a showcase property to grow organic foods for the local folks. At a profit.

Win. Win. Win. Win.

BSLT took the Odello Ranch artichoke fields and retired them. Then.... they re-leased them to an Earthbound Farms graduate, our friend Jamie, to develop as an organic farm.

So......last month BSLT hired us to take Jamie's produce and highlight it in a late-afternoon gathering for their major donors.

Jamie's stuff: three kinds of basil, heirloom tomatoes, three kinds of chard, potatoes, three kinds of artichokes, strawberries, pumpkins, spaghetti squash......goat cheese. She has a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) deal where she delivers a sampling of whatever is growing to local rich people in a box each week, and she has a list of the half dozen restaurants that actually care about food, agriculture and sustainable lifestyles.

We buy everything we possibly can from her.

BSLT gave us $450 to make food for 55 people. We were in heaven. This would pay for some of the servers....and we will work for FREE when the politics are right.

Our menu:

Baby artichoke chowder: baby artichokes cut and cleaned in the Italian style, poached in good organic cream.

Pumpkin ravioli with cannelini beans and DayGlo chard: we used Jamie's sugar pie pumpkins....Bob the Eggman's eggs from Pajaro....Lundberg flour...and made pasta. We roasted more pumpkins and mixed them with Jamie's goat cheese for the filling. The cannellini beans were from Coke Farms in Pajaro...not far from Bob's eggs. We made a big bean stew with soft heirloom tomatoes, Jamie's torpedo onions, Thomas Farm (Soquel) Korean garlic....and added chopped crazy chard at the last minute. We served it in our handle cups...and garnished it with two of the ravioli and splashed the whole thing with Opal Basil oil from Jamie's plants.....and dosed it with Big Sur sea salt that Sam the Stanford Intern made.

Panzanella: watermelon, heirloom tomatoes, three kinds of basil....our Micah's rough Petaluma olive oil.

Jamie's Roasted Baby Potatoes. Lotsa butter and good salt.

Jamies Roasted Spaghetti Squash.....developed at Cornell, by the way.

Jamie's Three Green Bean Salad with Summer Savory and Petaluma EVOO. Summer savory is the bomb with green beans. There was also some local mint in there for aromatics.

Kamut......all the way from Montana....our big failing. But, served with Jamie's roast carrots, beets and fennel brunoise, and all the basil parts left over from the basil oil process.

Serendipity Strawberries with Baby Pumpkin Pies....

Heller organic wines were served.....along with some vodka and gin. Hey, these are Republicans! And mom came, you see......

Not bad for eight bucks a person.

The folks were bussed in.....the barn was just a barn. Owl shit....hay.....busted farm machinery. Galvanized iron roof. Dirt floor. Jamie did a gorgeous veggie display, and she brought down bales of hay all around from the Glen Deven Ranch.

We got all the folks a plate and a big glass of wine. Two bowls for the beans and chowder.

Bruna got up with her daughter and grandson and showed a bunch of old and new photos. She gave a background of the family history. She started right off crying about how happy she was.....and soon there were not many dry eyes in the house.

Next up was Blanca Zarazua.....a local lawyer, and the Mexican Consul in San Jose. She was born on the Ranch...(Bruna paid the medical bills)....and she introduced her dad, one of the original farm workers on the property.

Blanca is a tough-as-nails litigator. She scares me the same way being on top of the Empire State Building scares me: I know intellectually that I am in no danger....but shit happens. I stand back.

Blanca also started off sobbing. She described her dad, and his life on the Ranch....and how he is her best friend and inspiration.....and how happy she was the Ranch had come full circle and was now back in the hands of someone who understood the land.

Meanwhile, a rain shower passed over the farm, and rattled hard against the iron roof......and leaked some tears on the crowd as well. Stevie Ray Vaughn.......

My turn.

The rain stopped.....and, I swear to God.....a rainbow busted loose over the Carmel River and the Ranch.......

I didn't have to say much. I quoted John Sebastian:

"You and me and rain on the roof....
Caught up in a summer shower....
Drying as it soaks the flowers......
Maybe we'll be caught for hours....."

I recited the definition of ''organic'' for the folks: "Of, or pertaining to, living organisms. Of, or constituting, an integral part of a system or society".

Here we were, sitting in an old barn...ankle deep in owl shit....looking out over rain and fields and sunshine and wind, surrounded by the food grown on the spot. Surrounded by the people who had conceived and worked the land as a farm for four generations.....and surrounded by the people who had done the donkey work to make it all work legally.

The pigeons.....the major donors....had until that moment never really realized what they had wrought with their checks and their phone calls.

They were stunned. Once again, not a dry eye in the house.

"Organic" food isn't about what you spray on it or don't spray on it.

It is about the grower who takes responsibility, the workers who till and pick, the land and the community it grows in, the cooks who prepare it, the diners who enjoy it.....and the poor slobs who clean up and compost the leftovers.

For a few hours on a Friday in Carmel we all experienced what it would be like to be part of an intact, functioning culture.


Picture that......

Organic Food.....Part One

We finally got to the end of our more guaranteed outdoor weather, no more outdoor weddings. Time now for billing, paying bills....blogs, laundry, working in the garden, cutting wood for the winter.....

The one task that never ends, busy or not busy: compost. We get trash pickup one day a week out here in the mountains. Our choice is to throw all of our food scraps from prep......300 to 500 pounds a week....into the dumpster and let it sit all week, stinking and drawing flies and rats....or compost it and turn it into the world's best soil.

The work is a bitch. It is like making a garbage lasagne: layering pineapple skins, orange peels, fennel and leek stalks, egg shells, sardine bones and all that into a pile with straw and chicken poop. There are sights and smells that mere mortals rarely see: pizza dough baked into beautiful loaves by the chicken shit powered heat engine of the pile. Oranges that were rejected by my anal retentive crew.....still eminently edible after two or three weeks marinating in.......well.

Also, it is physically exhausting turning this muck over with a pitch fork. It is the time during the week that I actually drip with sweat....despite working most days in a 120 degree kitchen.

Good compost requires four ingredients: material (kitchen trimmings), nitrogen (chicken poop from Bob The Egg Man), cellulose (hay, straw and oak leaves) and oxygen (me turning the stuff over every couple of days). The compost pile is like a British needs to be finely tuned. Too dry, bad. Too wet, really bad. Too much straw, bad. Too much material, really bad. Too little poop, really bad. Too much poop, hard on the neighbors.

I try to time my compost turning times with the rhythm of the Camps. I used to work at the crack of dawn, figuring no one was up. Wrong. The Cachagua people party until late, but they have to get up early.....bitterly work to pay for their sins. Compost stench at 6:30 am is not a good plan for hungover redneck wage-earners with weapons and giant trucks.

Now, I shoot for dusk. Folks are home, they have had a few pops....they are mellow.

As recompense, I offer the finished product to anyone that has a garden. Only the old Mexicans take me up on the offer. Everyone else is too busy working to have a garden....or even flowers in front of their trailers.

This is normal life to a significant portion of the population. I commiserate about my compost turning anaerobic with the Tassajara monks....with the Rana Creek geeks....with Bob the Egg Man. I commiserate about the difficulty of training someone else to help with the compost......

No..... it is too important. If it gets fucked up, it is too ugly to contemplate. You have to do it yourself. The stuff has to be turned to keep it aerobic.

Bob the Egg Man knows: "I have turned compost every day of my life.....except when I was in Vietnam."

Oh, well....I guess we can let you slide for THAT duty......But you know the Viet Cong were composting.....

Bob: "Oh, yeah. Every village. We just burned our shit with gasoline and occasional C4......"

You have to love a guy who remembers Vietnam with affection because it was less hard than running an egg ranch in Pajaro....

And I love watching the look that Egg Man Bob levels on the Pebble Beach ladies who: don't say please or thank you; interrupt Bob when he is talking; ask if his chickens are free range.

Talk about Anger Management.

Composting is 5% of the work involved in producing organic food.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

"How to Ruin a Small Business..."

Back in the the Silver Jones era..... I was picked by "Leadership Monterey" to lead a forum on small business on the Monterey Peninsula. The topic was "How to Run a Small Business."

If you are a really cool and up-and-coming person in business on The Peninsula, you get picked to be a "student" or whatever, in "Leadership Monterey". If you are a second-tier wanna-be or an old-school has-been, you get picked to lead seminars.

I was an up-and-coming second tier they picked me. I also was teaching a course in the Adult School on hospitality, and they figured I could fill 40 minutes.

When they published the brochure, and handed me a copy....I was the first person to notice the typo. Run vs. Ruin. Typical Monterey......"Hey, what is the big know how much we spent on these brochures?""

So, I did 40 minutes on "How to RUIN a Small Business on the Monterey Peninsula".

They never asked me back.

The way these things go, names pop up from time to time in a very Arthur Koestler/Jung kind of synchronicity way.

The name of the day is Sally Smith. Sally popped up three times today.....and the best part ties in to "How to Ruin a Business".....

We are taking one of our two Monday Night's off this week to do a dinner for the Steinbeck Author's Table. This is a fund-raiser for the Steinbeck Center that our former friend Robin got us involved in back in the day. The Board of the Steinbeck Center hustles up some authors, hustles up some hostesses, hustles up some caterers.....and puts the seats at the hostesses tables with the various authors out to bid. You bid a get the guy writing the book about eBay. You bid a ton, you get the guys who went to jail over the Barry Bonds thing.

Since we are dumb....we always read the books of the authors assigned to our parties, and create menus that might match them or their books. This does not always work out. Our favorite time was creating a special oyster dish for the woman from Corralitos who is writing new Sherlock Holmes books from the point of view of his sexually abused (by him) younger female assistant.

It seemed like a home run: Victorian book.....Victorian food. Grilled oysters with cream and porcini mushrooms, dosed with Asiago cheese under the broiler. Older man with younger woman.....oysters heavy in l-arginine...precursor to nitric acid....which is what Viagra is all about...Sherlock would have two dozen for breakfast.

Yeah, well....the writer was from Santa Cruz.....a fucking vegan...and was repelled by the idea of eating live oysters.

We drew her twice. Believe me....the second time there were no oysters involved.

We also check out the bidders for our dinners. We actually follow the modern Spanish model and google the shit out of EVERYONE we work for. Comes in handy when you find out that your cool new client LOVES Mitt Romney. We park the Jaguar with the faded "Jail Bush and Cheney" sticker out on the street.

Anyway, this Monday's guest list includes Sally Smith....a single woman. The only Sally Smith we know used to be married to Peter Smith....former Congressman from Vermont or New Hampshire or one of those cold places with frozen snow, maple syrup and lobsters. Peter was also the first head of UFO (University of Fort Ord)...aka C-SCUMB....aka California State University Monterey Bay.

We used to work for these guys. Peter and Sally had the sweet Presidential house out in Marina/Fort Ord.....At the beginning they drank a lot of becomes East Coast the point that they failed to recognize their own nephew, one of our interns. I hear there has been some rehab or re-evaluation involved.l

We came to an agreement with them about food, service and prices. I hesitate to put into print, even on an obscure cheaply we worked for them. I always thought that there was a chance that Peter Smith could be the new Margaret Chase Smith of the Republican Party....and there would be a New Tomorrow for the Republican Party. I mean, look what gin did for Nelson Rockefeller.....

Anyway....our typical dinner party for them was 8 people, lobster apps for Peter, duck for Sally, a salad, a dessert.....their wine....two guys on a budget. We charged $35 a pop, with a small allowance for the two workers. We worked like dogs, and were out of there in three hours.

Sally's AA arranged everything. She was a Palma mom....whose sister ran the crazy hippy kitchen across from Hula's....and whose nephew we had saved from being a homeless kid living in the creek next to MPC.

She got fired. The new girl called us up a day before a previously booked party.

"We have re-evaluated our budget. We have decided that for tomorrow night's dinner we cannot pay more than $20, inclusive of all charges."

"Yeah, well.....I want a cure for AIDS....and World Peace......."

"We have other suppliers willing to work at this price."


"Todd, from the Steinbeck Center."

"Lemme get right back to you....."

I call Todd...who tells me that I am on crack. There is no way. I tell Todd that I will GIVE him the duck and the lobster....just do the dinner and get me out of this. Todd laughs at me. I call the new AA back and tell her "take it or leave it."

I was coaching Palma soccer at the on the way to meet my guy with the food for C-SCUMB I stopped off at McDonalds next to Star Market.

I bought a 12 piece Chicken McNuggets; a Filet-O-Fish; an order of fries; a Special Salad: a Dessert Parfait; and a large Coke. Cost: $14.00

I went to Sally Smith's...served my lobster and duck......and before I left, laid out my McDonald's purchases on my nice BIA Cordon Bleu ceramic platters. Appetizer, salad, entree, dessert, beverage.

I left a note: "This is what twenty dollars gets you: fourteen dollars worth of food.....we will only charge six dollars to deliver it, present it, serve it and clean it up."

Somehow, I never heard from her again.......and never got my platters back.

"How To Ruin A Small Business....."

Can't wait to see Sally on Monday.

We are serving duck.....I will try to find a lobster........