Saturday, July 30, 2005
For T and F,
The Neighborhood Bar, the pub, the tavern, four elaborate and ancient walls caught in a time pocket. Call it a time capsule pickled and preserved in alcohol. Do not tread in these walls if ye subscribe to political correctness, hate card playing, mind smoking or need a sterile scent in the air to drink. This is where the times have been taken, thrown into a box made of time and forgotten. Here men speak like they did 50 years ago. It is a wondrous time when the gang of the porch, Yayabo, Ash, even Fu, come by here for a drink. Worthy of that trip across a river that is like crossing a nation. Sleepy and unchanged, just the way I like it.
We do drink here, the workers from the Zatarain's factory down the river road, the judges, the old retired men that remember when this neighborhood was filled with longshoreman spending their hard earned coin on a local, and illegal casino. Within this pub the men remember, and even agree, with segregation and racism. The ancient judges of the courthouse a few blocks away drink here, the onces that spy from cityhall with their drinks in their hand at lunch. Right next here to the common ground.
Drinks are 2 and 2.50 except if you order beer, then you can drink forever. Come by and ask for Mrs. D, she may even have some monstrous pork cracklin for you that ya can get just down the road on Paris.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
So if you drop by, do me the favor of signing that guest book over there. Just move the bottle of San Judas rum and I will get to it. In the meantime, relax and notice how nicely the sun shines through piles of icecubes in this tanned glass.
I made a huge mistakes with the potatoes. Instead of fork mashing them, I whipped them, thinking I was being all slick. Well that was the word, slick. I cooled them and when Yayabo and I went to make them, we found it infinitely hard to turn mashed potatoes into balls.
The answer? FLOUR. Lots of it. Nothing better (except eggs) to make food stick together. We made the balls alright (the image of Yayabo's percussion hands covered with a thick layer of breading goop, will always live in my memory), but we had an ocean of bread crumbs and flour all over the counter and the floor. Not to worry my two dogs raced to the occasion, and had the floor cleaned in seconds. The desert of crumbs, flour, and a glowing yellow river of egg were a different story but all turned out well.
I love frying. Perhaps it is instinctual but I adored dumping those lovely cakes into a cast iron pot over a fire. Now some broke apart as the hot oil ate away at our meager coating. Also I wish I had put more meat into the center, but like I said, with mashed potatoes- who could have done it?
We got about 12 solid balls, and ate well here and there, always with a staff of rum beside us. Lovely and good Mount Gay, from Barbados. Just sweet enough. Now a good mixing rum is Flor de Cana Extra Dry. Surprised me beyond belief. Diet Coke and Coke pouring here and there.
I had so many leftovers,and since I am a kind of culinary missionary, I brought the papas to my neighbors and exchanged them for crabcakes and fried shrimp- wonderful. Then since a friend of ours closed on her house around the corner, I made a tray of everything I had, and a bottle of Marques de Caceres (I adore Spanish wines) and headed on over. The only article of furniture she had was a rug- thus a makeshift picnic started.
All the while Yayabo blasting away in the bridge.
Did I mention the next day? No? Good!
Sunday, July 24, 2005
Its made with picadillo or ground beef hash stuffed into breaded potato balls which are then deep fried. It is quite labor intensive, but I may have my friends come in and do the labor intensive part. Rum bottles are also on their way. It is a staple of the Cuban diet, and one of my all time favourites.
The website linked above contains a multitude of recipes from around the world. Rather colorful and informative; especially if you like flags.
Saturday, July 23, 2005
I have no parents: I make the heaven and earth my parents.
I have no home: I make awareness my home.
I have no life or death: I make the tides of breathing my life and death.
I have no divine power: I make honesty my divine power.
I have no means: I make understanding my means.
I have no magic secrets: I make character my magic secret.
I have no body: I make endurance my body.
I have no eyes: I make the flash of lightning my eyes.
I have no ears: I make sensibility my ears.I have no limbs:
I make promptness my limbs.I have no strategy:
I make “unshadowed by thought” my strategy.
I have no designs: I make “seizing opportunity by the forelock” my strategy.
I have no miracles: I make right action my miracle.
I have no principles: I make adaptability to all circumstances my principles.
I have no tactics: I make emptiness and fullness my tactics.
I have no talents: I make ready wit my talent.
I have no friends: I make my mind my friend.
I have no enemies: I make carelessness my enemy.
I have no armor: I make benevolence and righteousness my armor.
I have no castle: I make immovable-mind my castle.
I have no sword: I make absence of self my sword.
The porch is lonely today, hungover and full of acid. Usually I enjoy hangovers, wonderful moments in life that allow you to take time and be yourself. But how can I feel so wonderful if I mixed rum, beer, and wine into my concoction. Tis was not an easy cup that I wielded last night and now I am paying for it.
Columbians really know how to drink. They make something called a consumme and you it just before you go out into the live streets. Yes it is true, I drink on the occasional drive but it never has gotten in my way. Got an interesting call from a friend in Mid-City, I had to interpret for him and his girlfriend over Flor de Cana Extra Dry (that reminds me I need to post my favorite cigars, rums and so on), Coronas, and Montecillo. Apparently my words, a simultaneous interpretation (which means that three people are talking at the same time) began. It is the first time that I got drunk in two languages. Most of the time I spent waving my hands and shaking my head.
In that night, in the tropical feel that only Mid-City New Orleans can have, I felt closer to my Caribbean roots. Closer to the islands that await me to the south (I say as I yawn and taste rum acid), we talked about spiritismo, religions, economy, culture clashes abound.
Yet there was the night, and as I drove home, I tried to picture the hanging wrought iron lamp here on the porch.
A lighthouse across river and rum.
On this evening I enjoyed a wonderful Cohiba Corona, from the Dominican Republic. While many would smirk at me smoking a Dominican rather than a Cuban- I enjoyed this one more.
It seems that the Dominicans have the patience to actually age the cigars. They taste like aged Cubans. The problem with the Cuban industry is that they have no patience. You don't smoke a cigar that was just rolled, that is too harsh. You let her sit, relax, and ferment.
Now I can do the Cigar Aficionado thing and tell you that it had lovely poppy and rasberry flavors, but I consider that all bullshit. It tasted like good tabaco and that is about it. The experience was smooth and long lasting. It went out upon occasion but that was only because in my bilingual rum stupor I talked too much crap.
Another, last word of advice. Especially after the cigar boom crash, there is no reason in the world to pay over 5 or 6 dollars per stick. There are too many good and cheaper brands out there.
The only exception is the Padron Aniversario, which I consider to be the best cigar ever made. But that is another post...
Friday, July 22, 2005
Sipping a bit of the mix as I wait for this treachurous sun to fall. Here watching bananas grow. It fills everything we are with heat and humidity. The wraparound Victorian glimmers, a mirage of rotating fans that endlessly gives off the color green (shown to the side). The puppy plays about and barks when people move in and out of the scope of the porch.
Hoping for some rain on these planks. We so much prefer rainy days, with a cloud of grey (perhaps even black) chaos moving from the south. Always from the south it seems. Funny how every Lilith that comes through the Atlantic Alley starts off as a tropical depression.
Sip of cola and rum in tribute to that history, begging for a little bit more time as summer quickly dwindles. If only we can measure the months climacically rather than by the calendar. Summer vacation here in New Orleans would nearly last a blessed lifetime.
We sip again, with a drip to these pages, crinkly and grey in the background. The hours wasting by. Tonite I go to a friends house to translate for him. A Colombian arepa Carnival straight from Baranquilla.
But for now we must toil with the afternoon, and milk it for that sweet necatar called free time. For me, more valuable than money
Thursday, July 21, 2005
"Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and
the gleaming cities, and the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was
an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world
like blue mantles beneath the stars..."
-Robert E. Howard
Some people begin their essays with a profound and complete quote, summarizing an idea in one sentence, or simply saying 'look how much I know'. What I placed above is half a quote, words that begin the epic tale of a thick muscled and melancholy warrior, Conan of Cimmeria. I tacked the words up there not because I see myself as well built or even sullen. The tone, the words, open the reader to a world filled with imagery, color, fantasy, and adventure. They open the mind like an eye facing the dawn. That is how I always like to read- especially as an adolescent.
As a teenager, I suffered through being shy, introverted, and generally unhappy. To this day I cannot listen to 80's music in a good mood. I had no confidence, and lived under the thumb of over-protective, strict Cuban parents. I am not sure when it started, where my personality reached out to these heroes of old, but it did. What I do remember is reading in 8th grade (yes, middle school) the beast called The Once and Future King. Most kids in my class simply called it "The 624 page monster." With the same fear I started it, not sure what or who I would find.
Therein I found a world filled with honor-bound knights fulfilling quests and dwelling in the mists of forests waiting for the dragon, the grail, or the maiden. I admired them, and looked around my world for a round table. I found none. Perhaps that is where my rejection of reality first started. I despised the world for being so lifeless, so colorless, so technologically and mythologically bland. A barrage of fantasy books filled the void. Paramount among them The Dragonlance Chronicles (to this day volume two Dragons of Winter Night is the only book I read IN a movie theater) which was published by the sages who had created the Koran of rules by which our gang of social misfits lived by- Advanced Dungeon's and Dragons role playing game. Within that trilogy and those rule books dwelled a land which I considered to hold my true citizenship- regardless of being born in Newark, New Jersey.
Bustling through the night with such heavy eyes, trying to figure all this blogging and doing. This site is quite simple and I would like to get the borders out of the way. Damn woman cut me off this morning and it enfuriated me. Woman from Alaska, living in a world that probably has only five or six cars, and that is during rush hour. Thinking about really changing this site if I could only stick to it.
All this happening in the middle of the night, as the summer drips from the
hourglass- too rapidly.
Wednesday, July 20, 2005
I tore this book apart. Ripped it to shreds and went from the couch to the porch to the bed, to the floorboards with its wonderful pages. I had to find out more about the Heechee. Pohl just knows exactly how to create suspense. He is a sci-fi Alfred Hitchcock.
The book is about the human race finding an alien way station filled to the brim with alien spacecraft. We humans wholeheartedly start using the ships, even though we cannot control them. Some ships will fly into suns, planets, or belts. Others will go to long dead colonies where the crew can make a killing on retrieving profitable alien technology. But the risks far outwiegh the pay-off- maybe.
The very idea that the human race would simply grab an alien technology, start using it, disregarding the consequences- is not only shocking but damn plausible. If someone were to make money there would be no hesitation.
The minute I finished this one, I got online to my library and ordered the next one "Beyond the Blue Event Horizon". Must read inn a must read series