Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Palencia in 7 X 7

My friend Archie Palencia has just opened his own Filipino restaurant in San Francisco and it's getting some good buzz. Palencia (also the name of the restaurant) gets a good write up in 7 x 7. Check it out and more importantly, give it a try!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fuck Clear Channel

Bastards. The lot of them.

Does it make any sense to anyone that songs from the #1 record in the country aren't being played on the airwaves? I suppose trying to silence the voices of artists opposed to the current administration is one way to do business, but it doesn't seem to be a profitable one to me.

Head Hunting

I am going to have to strongly disagree with the growing chorus of people calling for a bounty on Tom Brady in light of the way the Patriots are beating teams this year. Isn't a bit unseemly for prominent sports columnists like Mike Wilbon to air this kind of thing? We're basically talking about crippling a man because your team got its bell rung. It's a god damn GAME people. It's all fine and good to whine about running up the score, but the score is not being run up ON YOU. Unless you're down on the field getting strafed by the Pats, you really ought not to take it so personally. Besides, the players are supposed to be professionals; if they are getting abused between the lines, there's something they can do directly to address that: they can play better.

I'm Still Here

Haven't been updating as much recently, but I hope to change that soon. But, as to what has been going on:

  • My beloved Wahoos finally dropped one last Saturday on the road to N.C. State. We were in it until the last drive, but not having starting QB Jameel Sewell in the game just killed the chances of another last second comeback. However, if you'd told me at the beginning of the season that after 9 weeks we would be 7-2, I would have laughed in your face...and I'm a pretty die-hard fan. Here's hoping we can right the ship this week at home against a dangerous Wake team.

  • BRUCE!!!! Box seats in Oakland last Friday night to see the Boss & The E Street do their thing. Great, great show. Highlights for me were "Racing in the Street", the bluesy re-working of "Reason to Believe", and, of course, "Born to Run".

  • First grad school application (Cal) is due on Dec. 1. Oy vey.

  • A timely trade of Brett Farve and Javon Walker for Alex Smith and Reggie Wayne has jumpstarted my main fantasy football squad. The new lineup, which will finally be in place in week 10 will feature: Matt Hasselbeck, Frank Gore*, Edge James, two of Braylon Edwards**, Deion Branch, or Reggie Wayne, Jeremy Shockey, Nick Folk and the Jags D. I'm now 3-5 but still have a shot at playoffs. Overall, across 5 leagues (!) I have winning records in 3, and of those 3, I'm the league leader in one and a game back in the other (Tom Brady FTW!)

  • Tonight, catching Paul Krugman at the Commonwealth Club to speak about his new book, The Conscience of a Liberal and Yo Lo Tengo on Thursday at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater.

*Gore has been a massive disappointment, but this has been the trend in fantasy thus far for this season; the top running backs (LT, Alexander, Gore, Larry Johnson) have underperformed. If you could re-draft today, Willie Parker and Joseph Addai would have to be in the top 5 picks, right?

**On the flip side, this has been the year of the wide receiver in fantasy. I got Edwards in one league in the 5th round and in another league I got him much later. He's proven to be the most productive and consistent player on my team. I got a combined 50+ points of my wideouts last weekend...that is what you would expect out of a couple of good runners, not receivers. As always, fantasy football is a very fickle mistress.

Friday, October 26, 2007


Minus three hours and counting...Mr. Springsteen & The E Street Band in Oakland.

To get ready, "Born to Run":

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


You would have at least thought we could have gotten past Halloween before this ghost of holidays past showed up.

The only thing one can say is...

Just Because You Say It Doesn't Make It True

It's kind of crazy that media types just don't laugh in the faces of politicians who continue to assert that cutting taxes raises revenues. They should laugh in their faces because tax cuts, do not, in fact, raise revenues. James Surowiecki tries to kill this undead nonsense for good:
This supply-side orthodoxy is striking in a couple of ways. First, it requires Republican politicians to commit themselves publicly to a position that is wrong—and wrong not as a matter of ideology or faith but as a matter of fact. Saying today that tax cuts will increase tax revenues is not like saying that bombing Iran constitutes a sensible foreign policy, or that education vouchers will wreck the public schools. It's more like saying that the best way to treat sick people is to bleed them to let out the evil spirits. Second, despite the fact that the supply-side faith has no grounding in reality, within the Republican Party there is little room for dissent on the subject, as Jonathan Chait details in his new book, The Big Con. Last week, the blogger Megan McArdle wrote that she had a book review for an unnamed right-wing publication spiked because in it she dared suggest that, in the U.S., tax cuts decreased government revenues.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, October 22, 2007

First Crack at a Book Review

My review of Deer Hunting With Jesus...enjoy!

The American South is the most romanticized, most vilified, and perhaps most misunderstood region of the country. Home to both Faulkner and Falbus, known for its hospitality and also its resistance to change, the south has been a source of fascination and frustration to those who have observed its ways from afar but have never walked the long and dusty miles down its many roads. This is especially true of liberals, if the prevailing stereotypes (that of coastal dwelling, academic elites) of them are to be believed. Ever since George W. Bush twice captured the White House with unfailing support in the southeast states, liberals have been racking their brains trying to understand just who the "typical" southern voter is and what motivates him. Some Democratic activists argue, like the political scientist Thomas Schaller does in his book, Whistling Past Dixie, that Democrats need to write off the South as lost to the Republican party for the immediate future, and focus their attention on building a new governing coalition out of the Mid- and Southwest. Race and religion, Schaller argues, make the south uniquely hostile to the message Democrats would bring to the table and so they should forgo wasting time and resources in a region that they have no chance of realistically winning anytime soon.

But is it wise, even with high bars to clear to become competitive, for Democrats to completely cede the South to the Republicans?

Progressive author Joe Bageant, a native son of Winchester, Virginia, who lived in California for thirty years before returning to his hometown to take stock of how much the landscape changed, attempts to address that question by demystifying "the South" (which, contrary to popular belief, is not monolithic) in Deer Hunting With Jesus. Part populist polemic, part social and cultural history, Deer Hunting With Jesus serves as a profane, yet tender and timely guided tour of this seemingly inscrutable region. The book, which is more a collection of essays rather than a singular overarching narrative, provides some much needed, plain-spoken insight into the motivations of a voting block that might be more in play than the conventional wisdom acknowledges.

If there are easy stereotypes used to identify liberals, there are equally facile ways to pigeonhole conservatives and Bageant's writing is concerned with the iconography of rednecks, "red state" God and gun loving men (and women) who pass their time when not sitting in the pews by watching NASCAR races and drinking Budweiser on their couches in twice mortgaged double wide trailers. In Bageant's world, however, these are not stereotypes at all, but rather "his people", real live folks who go by names like Dot, Dink and Pootie. They spend their evenings on the bar stools at Winchester's Royal Lunch after they've pulled twelve hour shifts at the local Rubbermaid plant. Their concerns mirror those of a lot Americans in these perilous times: figuring out how to pay for prohibitively expensive health care, dealing with evaporating job security and rising inequality in an increasingly globalized economy and harboring fears about America's role in this rapidly changing world.

But Bageant feels like these sincere and pious (yet pliant) people have been sold a bill of goods by the conservative movement and its effective message machine. He surveys the scene and determines that things don't have to be this way. Sounding very much like a righteous man of the people, Bageant declares that these average Joe's, "are purposefully held in bondage by a local network of moneyed families, bankers, developers, lawyers and businesspeople in whose interests it is to have a cheap, unquestioning, and compliant labor force paying high rents and big medical bills." The populism in his sentiment is unmistakable and it echoes similar remarks from Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards and Jim Webb, the freshman Democratic senator from Virginia.

From Bageant's perspective, his family and friends are conservatives not because of any conscious decision to be so, but rather because the challenges of their daily lives cause them to be ignorant of the outside world and the larger forces at play. To combat the complacency he sees, he pleads for liberals to make their case on the back of a push for education (while noting the difficulty of the challenge):

"It's going to be a tough fight for progressives. We are going to have to pick up this piece of roadkill with our bare hands. We are going to have to explain everything about progressivism to the people at the Royal Lunch because their working-poor lives have always been successfully contained in cultural ghettos such as Winchester by a combination of God rhetoric, money, cronyism, and the corporate state. It will take a huge effort, because they understand being approximately poor and definitely uneducated and in many respects accept it as their lot. Right down to being sneered at by the Social Security lady. Malcolm X has it straight when he said the first step in revolution is massive education of the people. Without education nothing can change."

But merely pushing for education won’t change the situation entirely and Bageant knows this. Liberals have to be able to enact economic policies that will ease the burdens many of these blue collar families face as well as win the image battle with Republicans and make a real effort to meet the denizens of small town, working class America on their own terms where they live. It's a tall order for certain, but it is one that has to be filled to keep the promise of the American dream a reality.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cell Phone Manners

Like many people, I am constantly amazed at the lack of decency and manners in our society today and, for all of the good they can do, cell phones are a major contributor to our current state of affairs. So I heartily endorse this list of manners put forth by C|Net. Of that list, the transgressions that infuriate me on a regular basis are people who leave their ringers on during a movie (vibrate, people...or better still, turn it off; you're in the theater to indulge in some escapism, right? So escape for God's sake), people who talk on their cell phones at the gym (seriously? I don't normally harbor ill will towards anyone, but I'm not going to say I won't chuckle at the idiot was falls on their ass while talking and running on the treadmill), and talking on the phone while at dinner (I used to be bad about this one myself, but I now make it a point to turn off my phone during meals or I leave it on vibrate and simply excuse myself if I am expecting something that I have to respond to in a timely fashion).

And, oh yeah...dude with the bluetooth headphone look like a deranged Trekkie who's gone 'round the bend talking out loud to nobody in particular. STOP.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

I Got Published!

Sort response to an e-mail over at Andrew Sullivan's place got posted. Check it out here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Esquire Tells Me to Eat

Esquire's November 2007 issue contains its listing of the best new restaurants in America, and I see two of their selections are in my fair city. I'd not heard of Cafe Majestic in the Majestic Hotel, but it looks promising. However, I have heard of LarkCreekSteak and I've been skeptical of a steakhouse in a shopping center becoming a destination dining spot, but there you go. Even the local food elites
have given it their blessing, so I think it's time to give it a chance.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Two Posts to Highlight

Yesterday's Paul Krugman column in the New York Times that shows (yet again) that the presidency of George W. Bush is exactly what modern conservatism should expect its standard bearer to look like (complete with a nifty reference at the end to this song...who knew economists were so hip?)

Ezra Klein, still on his righteous anger kick, blasting the Right for their beyond the pale (and frankly, creepy) attacks on a family that appeared in a commercial support the SCHIP legislation that Bush vetoed.

My First Crack at a Restaurant Review

This is the review I did for the online magazine writing class I'm currently taking...comments welcome!

Fresca is a well lit and intimate (if slightly cramped) space tucked nicely into a stylish block of Fillmore Street. This outpost is actually one of three in a local chain specializing in the tastes of Peru and the crowd on the Wednesday night we visited consisted of young couples out on mid-week dates and small groups of professionals having a casual, post work meal. We waited outside in the cool evening air for a bit before our table was ready and we were slightly put off by how hot the restaurant was before we were seated. Thankfully, the service and quality of the meal more than made up for the mild discomfort due to the heat.

Shortly before our meal, my dining companion and I were having libations at Harry's Bar and were told by some friends that we happened across there that we should definitely try one of the generous preparations of ceviche on the menu. And so we did, but after starting with the Camarones Chicama, coconut crusted prawns, served over a black bean salad with mango cream. The prawns were exceptionally large and the coconut flavor was rich, but not overpowering. The black beans proved to be a nice, if unconventional, accompaniment to the prawns and the half pitcher of the very smooth home made sangria worked very well with all the dishes we sampled.

Now, back to the ceviche. Our selection, the ceviche chino, seemed to have a vague Asian influence and contained ahi tuna, a yuzy-soy dressing, guacamole and wonton chips served in lettuce cups. Eating the ceviche was not unlike having a spicy tuna roll, albeit a crunchy one due to the presence of the wonton chips. The tuna was slightly spicy, the guacamole fresh and its lighter consistency provided a nice change of pace from the heavier prawns and our much heavier entrée.

The Churrasco "A Lo Pobre", grilled ribeye steak served on a bed of French fries, caramelized shitake mushrooms, plantains, pickled onions and topped with a fried egg proved to be a formidable main course. The ribeye, which we requested medium rare, was expertly prepared and had a great, grilled flavor and the egg was nice and runny. The other parts of the dish seemed to get lost in the shuffle a bit, blending together in a mush on the plate.

Dessert was a mini-chocolate cake with a mango sorbet. It was a nice cap to what was, on the whole, a very tasty introduction to Peruvian cuisine.

2114 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA
Cuisine: Peruvian
(415) 447-2668

Sunday, October 07, 2007

This Is Why Americans Hate Political Journalism

I certainly hope that my fellow citizens aren't casting their votes for president based on what a particular candidate wears on his or her lapel.

This is a joke of the worst sort because it's reported on as though it's a serious matter in the paper of record. This is just like the John Edwards haircut flap and the recent stories about Hillary Clinton's "cackle".

These are just not real issues and it is infuriating that this is what passes as "serious" journalism these days. No wonder Americans are indifferent to most of our political reporting...matters of true national significance are ignored and trivial issues are reported on breathlessly with the media heard acting like Hollywood paparazzi.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A New SNL Digital Short


And here's some back story from the Times.

This is How You Blog!

Ezra Klein ate his Wheaties or something this morning because he empties both barrels in response to Roger Cohen's op-ed in the New York Times today.

Read it. Read it. Read it. Just a withering take down.

A Death in the Family

I'm not quite sure how he was able to write such an elegant piece considering his involvement in this story, but do read Christopher Hitchens' essay about coming to terms with the fact that his pro-war writings, in part, spurred a promising young American to enlist for the war in Iraq...where he subsequently was killed by an improvised explosive device. Heartbreaking, but worthy of your consideration.

"A Death in the Family"

Several Items of Note

In no particular order:

  • Not that this is news, but Ann Coulter said something idiotic again, this time in regards to women having the right to vote, saying that:
    If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

    Let's not forget...Coulter is a member in good standing with the Republican Party. I think the Democrats should try to get her censored like the Republicans did with MoveOn's "General Betrayus" ad...actually, I don't, but just know that this offense will get about one tenth of the coverage of the MoveOn kerfluffle.

  • Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) is retiring from the Senate due to health reasons. I hope that he is able to recover from what sounds like a pretty awful disease.

    But, and I know this seems heartless at the moment, there are political considerations to examine and one is that it would make perfect sense for Bill Richardson to kill his presidential aspirations in favor of running for Domenici's seat. If he were to get it, and the Democrats were able to get wins next year in Virginia (Mark Warner), Minnesota (Al Franken), and Nebraska (Bob Kerrey)...well, assuming the Democrats lost no seats, they'd be getting really close to the veto proof 60 votes.

  • Big article in today's New York Times
    about how the Bush Administration said one thing on torture...but continued to do quite another. Andrew Sullivan summons up some righteous indignation here (going so far as to call Bush a "war criminal").

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

S.F. Restaurants Get Local

Seeing as I'm almost done with Michael Pollan's informative, eye-opening and thoroughly engrossing, The Omnivore's Dilemma, I found this post from the San Francisco Chronicle's food critic, Michael Bauer, about local restaurants that take a hand in growing their own ingredients pretty interesting.

As Atrois Might Say...

..."Your liberal media...still not liberal."

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Stopping the Maddness

Eugene Robinson offers a clear eyed corrective to all the "woe is me" stories floating around on the eve of the publication of Clarence Thomas' forthcoming autobiography, My Grandfather's Son.