Blanketing opinions that I'll probably regret soon.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

They Hauled My Next-Door Neighbor Away in an Ambulance -- A Monthly Occurance

My neighbor gets carted away in an ambulance every month. And his sickness is drinking too fucking much, not lupus or cancer.

This is the guy I wrote about in July 2009 who side-swiped up a bunch of parked cars while on taxi duty. Since then, he's gotten his license suspended and thank god for it. Like his brother (whom I also wrote about), he's on the end of the road toward death, I'm afraid.

I'm not 100% certain what causes the ambulance to get called, but I have a theory:

This old alkie lives with his 95-year-old mother who has regular in-home nursing care (and dementia). So the old boozer drinks all night and passes out in the bathroom and is there by morning time when the nurses are changing shifts. I think they have to go to the bathroom, and find him passed out over the toilet so they just call 911. Hence, the usual ambulance outside my door every month.

You Better Believe I'll Be Cooking Hasenpfeffer When the Wife's Gone

My lady is taking my boy to Michigan to see my in-laws this weekend. That type of weekend is rare, and a call to go on the sailboat, have the guys over for some drankin', or cook some meat that the wife never would allow in the house. And see, my woman considers rabbit to be in the "cute" species category (along with pigs -- huh??) so we don't eat it together -- ever.

So this Friday -- alone or with whomever -- I plan on cooking a whole rabbit. And I've never attempted to cook rabbit.

A Google search slowed my excitement because lots of rabbit recipes are frilly fussy pretentious affairs, requiring all sorts of Frenchie-Frencherton bullshit like a bouquet garnis, and what-such nonsense. I'm sorry, but I'm not cooking something that requires me to create a bouquet out of my food.

That's why I was so god damn glad that I found multiple recipes for German Hasenpfeffer -- a simple stew with whole rabbit, dark red wine, thick-cut bacon, carrots, pepper, onions, and more. Really, whatever I feel like eating, throw it in the stew.

A family needs time away like these to do the things he or she wouldn't normally do.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chickass. We really need more of 'em.

I just spotted this banner outside a clothing store a few blocks from my house. Love it:

It's supposed to be a play-on of the Spanish word for girls, "chicas". What I also appreciate about this sign, and Latino culture in general, is that they appreciate a woman that really looks like a woman, front to back -- none of this bullshit starved-assless-pale-vegan-waif nonsense like you see in the media so much in the USA. In Colombia, no way. Check out the fine fine junk-in-the-trunk of that female in the picture on the left; red beans and rice didn't miss her. YES PLEASE THANK YOU.

I Dislike Most Non-Top-40 Rock Nowadays ... that is, Except One Old DC Band

My go-to station now is Hot 99.5 FM (DC). That's just the state of my music today. And I have 'No Apologies' (as Curt Kobain said).

Hey, if whiny-vegan-richboy-rock were actually good as it stands today, I'd like it. But it isn't, mostly, so I don't. Hence, 99.5 FM is on the quick-button in my Toyota Echo.

I'd rather listen to Ke$ha. Or Mike Posner. Or Katie Perry (at least for that Sesame Street cleavage) or Lady GaGa. Or whatever's fun, not boring. At least it doesn't hurt and try-so-hard for nostalgia and it has a steady beat that's danceable.

But there is one indie rock band that still holds it for me, I admit. And it just can't get old, and none of that Top 40 crap can hold a candle to it.

And that band is Fugazi -- from DC, Arlington, Virginia. You may think this is pretentious ... until you listen to a song:

Man, listen to them bend those Gibson SGs, damn. And now I feel sad and miss the 1990s.


Poachers of Chesapeake Striped Bass are destroying the Bay. Shawn Kimbro has an eloquent post describing this shit.

'Pure Arctic Wind' Soundtrack Mixes Well with a Classic Sailing Novel

For two years my friend Jason has been patiently reminding me that to be a true sailor I should *fucking read* Master & Commander by Patrick O'Brien. And on a whim this past weekend, Greg brought the book over to adorn the bookshelf of my man cave.

To gear up for my first reading of Master & Commander, I bought an MP3 on called "Pure Arctic Wind". It's one hour and fourteen minutes of very authentic-sounding wind, with enough low end bass to convince. I'd been browsing the MP3 section on for sound effects tracks that perfectly capture the sound of being holed up belowdecks of a ship while a howling storm rages out of doors. Most of the tracks you find online are clearly synthetic wind noises, created probably by some jackass waving a tube around in the air in a studio to make the whistling sound of cold wind at night. But finally I found the above track, and it's just excellent.

My Process to prepare for reading Master & Commander: I go down into my basement bar and turn the lights down low and close the window. I turn up the subwoofer to 'full' and put the Pure Arctic Wind track on repeat. It's important to adjust the volume so it sounds as if a storm is truly blowing outside the window. You're not trying to make it sound like the storm is blowing inside the fucking bar, man -- just enough to make you sort of believe you're in siege mode, safe inside a warm ship's bar, while danger and uncertainly swirl outside. So volume is crucial. Put the volume on -55 db (not sure how you can have negative decibels, but ok Yamaha) -- that's pretty quiet, if you don't know. The stereo has an enhancer which completes the effect; I choose "Hall in Vienna" for the right reverb effect.

And so begins my dive into the book Master & Commander. I suppose you don't fully believe that I'm going to finish the damn book, considering that I'm blogging about reading it rather than actually reading it. Well, believe what you want.

New Poster for the Basement Bar

One thing I love about having a basement bar that all my friends love is that they often bring me little gifts to adorn the walls or add to the bottle collection. And recently my friend Rachel bought me this poster for one dollar at a thrift store in Philly. What a score!

The year listed on the back of the poster says 1966. Nineteen Sixty Six! And I love this style of drawing; it reminds me of the old fish guides I used to study endlessly when I was a kid, trying to memorize the max weight and length of each species of fish that haunted various parts of North America. And now I have all these guys -- from the Alligator Gar to the Bluefin Tuna -- to look at every night that I'm home and holed up down in the man cave.

The Right Way to Make a Martini (ADDENDUM)

I never thought this would happen in 20 years, but I have to make a major revision to my original 'The Right Way to Make a Martini (The Long Version)' that I posted last June.

Reason: my good friend Derek Brown, whom the Wall Street Journal almost called the Best Bartender in the Nation, has finally constructed a gin martini based on a talented knowledge of mixological history and cocktail flavor balance that I will dare to call The Best Martini on Planet Earth. It is truly incredible, and surprisingly, very easy to make.

But first, my recipe (ok, really not mine, but the one I promoted), which I described in June's blog post, was this:
- 1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth (stored in fridge)
- 1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin (stored at room temperature)
- 1 Dash Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6

Stir with cubed ice for at least 45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garish with 2 olives, lemon peel, or pickled onion, depending on your mood.
But Derek's recipe, which is truly genius (and I almost never use the word genius) is this:
- 1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (stored in fridge)
- 1 oz Tanqueray 10 (stored in the freezer)
- 1 Dash of 50/50 pre-mix of Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6 and The Bitter Truth Orange Bitters

Stir with cubed ice for at least 45 seconds. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Cut a wide swath of lemon peel (without the pith). Twist peel over the edge of the glass (but not directly over the liquid), letting a bit of the lemon oils fall onto the drink. Discard lemon peel into the trash, ie, not putting it into the cocktail.
The result is one of the most perfectly balanced and unique flavors I've tasted. It really tastes like nothing else. It's colder Derek's way because the gin is stored in the freezer. Since Dolin is lighter than Martini & Rossi, you need to do a 50/50 (vermouth/gin) mixture. However, if you do a 50/50 mix with Dolin and Beefeater, the gin can't stand up to the vermouth because Beefeater has a lighter juniper-based botanical profile and the result is an overly vermouthy mixture. The choice of Tanqueray 10 is perfect because it tastes richer and slightly more citrusy than Beefeater. Of course, the orange bitters combo is perfect because Regan's tends to be more bitter than The Bitter Truth so they keep each other in check. Keeping the gin in the freezer reduces the amount of ice that gets melted when you stir the ingredients so it's a tighter, cleaner texture in the mouth -- nice and taut across the surface of the cold liquid, too. Putting the lemon peel into the drink over-powers the cocktail with lemonyness and masks all the other subtle qualities, so just throwing it away is best.

It's so simple but so perfect. Try it.

A New Note From Iran, Plus My Rambling Thoughts

I recently emailed my business associate in Iran, Ali, to see how he's doing during the latest anti-government protests in Iran. I am concerned, because in December 2009, he was shot in the face by Iranian police during a protest in Tehran and lost his vision as a result. We had not spoken much about politics, but since he's a dissident against the Iranian government and does business with an American company, I am certain he is on some government blacklist and may be the target of round-ups, jailing or interrogation. I am sure there are many others in Iran like Ali, considering that the NY Times recently reported that around 4,000 American companies do business in Iran (we are forbidden by US law, of course, to have any dealings with Iranian government-owned banks, freight companies, distributors, etc).

Below is the email Ali sent me today after my inquiry. I found it inspiring, especially since this fight for democracy and freedom is not happening in the text of a school book, or pontificated about by western pundits who have no experience with what it takes to bring down a bad government, and the real dangers and risks to health and life that that entails.

Mind you, Ali wrote this email with some kind of special audio program or personal assistance because he has lost the use of his eyes as a direct results of his political beliefs and actions:

"Dear (Lonnie)

I’m very pleased to hear that you as a friend and human being are concerned about your friends and the other people living in the other parts of the world, since just sharp and kind people have this kind of attitude. I'm really happy to have such a friend in a big country named America.

Considering the recent news in Iran, I have to say that aware people who want to establish a democratic and liberal government in Iran are trying to get this goal without making any disturbance in the society since they have had the experience of 1979 revolution and are now well-informed. Of course, the present governors, or better to say dictators, with their theological, fanatic and fascism ideas are a big obstacle for the people to get their ideals. They use the worst possible behavior, in another word disturbance, torture and murder in response to people’s questions and demands.

Hope that Iranian people who have experienced 1979 revolution can achieve their goals and have a government who is selected with the true votes of the people; a democratic - not theocratic - government, and also having aware, liberate, and happy people worldwide.

Thanks again for your kind feelings.

Best regards,


I feel proud to know Ali and do business with him. These are the kinds of people who need to be strengthened and given support -- even if it's something as small as an email saying that people around the world are watching and give our solidarity.

In my experience doing business in various countries, the view of America is a very good one. We do a lot of business in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, China, Vietnam, etc., and in all of these places we proudly tell people we are from the United States and the response is always positive, with comments that the US is a "great country". The opinion that you hear so often in the US that people in other countries "hate us", in my experience, is complete and utter bullshit. And we did business with the largest Muslim country on earth (Indonesia) all through Bush's presidency.

What happened in Egypt and continues in Iran is not dissimilar from what started in Tiananmen Square in 1989 (recall that those students erected a mock Statue of Liberty). Some of these realities may even sound cliche, but these folks generally do look to the USA as an ideal to be achieved, despite all our imperfections. Even though the people may not have the USA specifically in mind, the want of freedom and democracy is a natural human desire, not just unique to western countries. Ali's email above is just one example. And in my opinion, US programs that allow Iranians to have direct contact and sales with American businessmen only strengthen civil society and those who battle for liberty against the worst odds and do not give up -- even after being shot in the god damn FACE by government thugs.

The worst course for US policy would be to cut off these heroes from all foreign contact, so you end up with a place like North Korea which is nearly hermetically sealed from the outside world and the population is so brainwashed and subservient that they believe and parrot the government's lies, and any popular opposition is non-existent and highly unlikely any time in the foreseeable future. How sad that would be.

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