Friday, May 29, 2020

Agent Provocateurs

During the protests of the Vietnam war, both in New York and Washington, DC, most of the violence was started by agents provocateur. Sometimes they were crazies, sometimes they worked for the police or the FBI, sometimes they were paid by the police or the FBI. 
    From the looks of the white guy who was filmed breaking all the windows in Autozone, it looks like he was one of those. 
   Once the powers that be decide they do not like the television version of what is going on, the best way to change it is to send in someone to commit violent acts, allowing the police to respond to all protesters with violence. That, in turn, produces real violence. 
   Right now, with all the photos of white people looting stores, and with the film of the white guy breaking the windows at Autozone, I suspect that's exactly what is going on here. Create violence to change the perception of what is/was happening.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Life Hack Beauty Tip

When I got my first apartment in NYC when I was 19, my neighbor in the tenement apartment next to mine, an elderly but sprightly woman, used to rub bacon grease into her face every evening. She would rub and rub, then put her face over hot water to get rid of it. she swore it eliminated wrinkles, and by god, she didn't have a one! 
And then, of course, when I was a chef in NYC once a week a 
fat-render would come from the Ivory soap plant in Queens, NY to buy my fry grease to make Ivory soap, shampoos, and facial products with, so I think my neighbor was on to something.

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's raining in Joshua, Texas

I've spoken on this before, but I'm gonna speak on it again. I hope you don't mind.
It's raining outside here in Joshua, Texas. Been raining pretty much since yesterday afternoon. The greens get greener as the roots of the trees and grass get to lap up the fresh rain water in the earth.
And I am reminded of the beauty of green magic. That water will find its way to streams, and rivers, and finally oceans. Some of it will evaporate quickly; some will take a longer time. But all of it will make its way around the world sooner or later. All of it will appear as rain on oasis, or on Chinese villages, or feed the Amazon jungle.
At its most vulgar, remember that what you pee today will water plants that feed a yak or an elephant one day. And what that yak or elephant pees will feed the vegetables that feed your children and mine.
We are all so very, very connected. We are all so intertwined that we cannot do without one another. I am guilty of sometimes forgetting that. But I am a better person and this is a better world when I remember it and remember to live it.

Friday, May 22, 2020

How Sister Somayah came to be a public figure.

How Sister Somayah came to be a public figure. In the early or mid 1990s a crazy woman began calling me at 3-4 AM about once a week at home. I'd anser my rotary dial phone and she'd cuss and cuss at me ant then hang up. After maybe 15-20 such calls I finally got her attention and asked what the hell she was calling me for and what could I do for her. He calmed a little and told me that white folks, very few of which get sickle cell anemia, were ignoring black folks who had the disease. then the hung up. Over the course of the next few weeks and next few phone calls, she explained, with a lot of cussing, that she was a black woman suffering from sickle cell and had had to leave the military — I think she was in Navy provisions — because of her illness. she said the US government provided all sickle cell patients with morphine two or three times a week to alleviate the pain, but that just made them junkies. She said that marijuana dilated the blood vessels and arteries and allowed the sickle cells to pass without causing unbearable pain. She was angry that High Times did not report on this. She called me because I was the editor of the Highwitness News. By chance, I had a friend doing a Masters thesis at (I think) Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx. She looked into patients getting morphine for sickle cell and then questioned hundreds and discovered that many, when they could afford marijuana, discovered it worked better than morphine and allowed them to work pain free again rather than being government junkies. so I wrote a story about her and the movement picked her up and the issue got out there and she was marvelous when the spoke about marijuana. And that's that.

Monday, May 18, 2020

I disagree with friends about the pandemic

So I have friends, friends I love, who do not believe the pandemic is real. They think the government is slowly herding us into sheep by starting off with masks and social distancing. I think they are crazy.
They think Bill Gates and his (transsexual, they say) wife are trying to implant things in us. They think the Bildergergers are going to run the world.
I want to laugh and I want to strangle my friends for sheer stupidity.
If you have a smart phone, the government and 2,000 other agencies knows where you are at all times, from shitting to sleeping to fucking your neighbor's husband. If you have Siri or one of the others, you gave up your freedom willingly.
So there are no new tricks needed to know where you are 24/7. Hell, I have a land line with a rotary phone and it has been tapped since I went to work for High Times in 1986. When I brought my wife back from Peru's Jungle in 1994 she would call me once or twice a week to say the men with the blue suits -- the FBI-- were at our door, asking to come in for a minute. I always told her to tell them no,
But they were there twice a week. they knew who we were. The difference between me and paranoia is I accepted it and did not care. I moved a lot of marijuana for High Times centerfold or story shoots in the day and I did not care that they knew I was doing it. When child services came to check out my boys during a separation between my wife and myself, I told them to tell the truth about the pot in the house if they asked.
My point is that being fearful, running away, does not help. Smuggle in plain sight, wear the damned mask and do not be afraid that it suggests cowardice. Not wearing it represents a level of fear I hope I never achieve.
Stay strong, Stay smart. Do not fall prey to the bullshit that well-meaning people are putting out there. Just be yourself.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Too Many Times with the Knife

I am getting tired of knives. I've been using them since I worked at Louie's candy store when I was seven or eight or nine. I used them at Cresthaven Country Club in Whitestone, Queens, New York when I was 14, 15, 16 and working the kitchen and day camp kitchen. I used them at home when mom asked me for help, and I used them with Philly B in my first apartment on 76th between 1st and 2nd Avenues when I started Hunter College. I used them at the Lodge Restaurant, and Jimmy Day's, and the Mad Hatter, and Arthur's Court, and the Banana Boat, and Bayard's — great restaurant/bar top to bottom — and at Wilson's, a standard bearer for years. I used them at Fellini's restaurant in Los Angeles, and I've used them at home with my family since 1994. i used them in my own restaurant, The Cold Beer Blues Bar in Iquitos, Peru from 1998-2001.
I am getting tired of cutting garlic and onions every night. I am tired of cutting parsley and squeezing it dry. I'm tired of cutting fucking Roma tomatoes and cilantro. I am tired of getting 120 slices out of every cucumber I've ever cut.
If i have made an average of 1,000 cuts a day for 60 years, that would come to roughly 20 million times I've brought a knife down on a cutting board. If I am wrong by half, that's still 10 million. that's probably as many times as Eric Clapton has played notes. He's probably tired of the guitar and I cannot blame him.
I will still cut. I'm just saying I'm getting tired of it and wish someone else would cut the damned onions!!!!!!!!!

Friday, May 15, 2020

Coronavirus death Percentages

I keep hearing and reading that caronavirus kills about .1-.3 percent. Nonsense. In the US we have 80,000 dead out of 1.4 million, which is more like 6 percent. Get that? 6 percent. Much more than the flu ever killed. Worldwide, out of 4 million tests, we have 300,000 deaths, about 7 percent. So please stop talking about .01 percent, or .3 percent. We are talking about 6-7 percent of known cases of coronavirus, COVID-19, resulting in death. Get it? Good. It's scary when you look at the numbers and stop believing the bologna on FB. Stay safe. Do not act out of fear, but act out of knowledge. You wouldn't walk into a gun held by a madman, would you? Don't drop your guard here either.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Blood Pressure issues and Sapo/kambo (frog sweat medicine)

Someone asked about serving a patient sapo or kambo if they are on blood pressure medicine. I think I've gone over this before, but just in case I have not, here is my take-- though you should check with the person's doctor before making any decision to serve.

Normally you can work with sapo/kambo with high or low blood presure so long as you are ON your medication. The meds bring you to normal, so when the blood pressure drops while doing kambo (feels higher because more blood is going through your arteries and veins from vasodilation) the pressure medicine will quickly bring you back to normal. Still, always start lightly to make sure a new patient handles it well. You can always do more tomorrow. But if a person has high or low blood pressure and is NOT on their meds, do not serve them. That's where the danger lies.  And check with their doc first, of course. I hope that helps.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Bring Me Fresh Meat

Near the end of my book, Ayahuasca in My Blood, I have an interchange with Ayahuasca where she makes the demand that I bring her fresh meat. People have often asked me if  I ever resolved what Ayahuasca meant by that. I responded to one of those people with this, this morning.
    I've never gotten a straight answer from ayahuasca about what she meant. Like so many things, she offered the opportunity to me to figure it out. And I think it meant both that she wanted me fresh when I visited --as in do not have a glass of wine or three during the day of an experience, and also that she wanted me to bring new people, spread the word about her.

   This is where we run into an issue: I believe that all things have spirit, and that all spirits have desires and fears, in other words, an ego. In the case of ayahuasca, she labored in the Amazon and a bit in the mountains for a long, long time. She was a medicine and tool for those people. But when she was brought out to the Western world suddenly she was being revered – something I don't believe the indigenous ever did. (Respect, yes, revere, no.) I think that got to her spirit a little and she started taking herself very seriously, thinking she was very important, rather than recognizing that she was a spirit equal with all other spirits. Which is where the demand for more "fresh meat" came from: for a little while she was not seeing us as equal spirits but as fodder for her ego.
   So she needed a little reminder that she is not more important than other spirits. All spirits have things they can do, and she opens the doors to other worlds, other levels of reality, very well. But that does not make her those other worlds: She's just the one seeing what you need to learn and then opening the door to a place where you can learn that.
  I hope that makes sense.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Lots of leftovers

I went to grab a plate to put the leftover barbecued baby back ribs on and didn't have one that was the right size. That was odd. It was especially odd because I'd had to search for the right sized bowl to put the leftover franks and beans in-- a dish that had lots of garlic, onion, scallions, fresh tomatoes, brown sugar, mustard, cilantro, and some dark beer.
So I went to the fridge and was taken aback by what was there. There was a small piece of salmon in a sesame oil dressing with long red-pepper spears, scallions, and ginger. There was a bowl of marinara sauce I made a coupe of days ago. There were two roasted chicken thighs from the same night we had the spaghetti marinara. There was half-a-pan's worth of delicious meatloaf. There were a couple of things older than three or four days and I put them in bags for the dogs and chickens and ducks.
I made the ribs last night -- but I didn't have any -- just in case the others, my daughter Madeleina and my friend Devon, didn't like the sandwich I made for dinner. It was an avocado, tomato, and cucumber sandwich with fresh, smoked mozzarella on sourdough bread that was seasoned with some mayo, a teaspoon of garlic-infused olive oil, and horseradish sauce.
It turned out they loved the sandwich as much as I did, which is why I have so many ribs left over!
I got to stop wasting all my money on this good food and the plastic wrap I need to wrap all the leftovers!

Saturday, May 09, 2020

Working on the Cookbook

Working on the cookbook. Been working on it for several months now and getting fairly close to finish. The problem is that with each section, as I get close to finishing it, I think of a few new recipes I have to add. Or I think that I have to put at least one or two little stories in each section.
Today I was finishing up the "Burgers and a Few Sandwiches" section. I got a few down, then came to the Reuben. I don't make the Reuben in a traditional way, with corned beef. Here's what I wrote:
Every recipe in every cookbook will tell you to make this sandwich with corned beef. That’s pretty traditional. But when I worked at Jimmy Day’s Restaurant in New York’s West Greenwich Village back in the day, we made it with pastrami and that’s what I still think makes the best damned Reuben in the world.
I’ve got to say a word or two about Jimmy Day’s. It was not far to the west of 6th Ave. It was probably my second job in a restaurant as a grown up. I had a small apartment on Broom St. just off 6th at the time, so it made sense to try to get a gig not far from home.
Now I don’t remember exactly how many seats the joint had, but it was far bigger than my first job at The Lodge. I want to say I think it sat about 82 people. The kitchen was tiny, and the crowd came in surges. I would get in at about 6 PM and work with the chef till 8 ish. Then he would leave and I was on my own — with a dishwasher, of course — until 2 AM, when the kitchen closed.
We had a pretty big menu but it was mostly easy stuff to make: Eggs, steak and eggs, meatloaf, burgers, chops, spaghetti, and sandwiches dominated. Not a problem, except that the crowd was used to very fast service. I could look up after finishing five plates and see eight new chits calling for 25 meals staring me in the face. You either learned speed and dexterity — working the oven, grill, meat and cheese slicers, deep fryer, and the six-burner stove simultaneously — or you quit. I thought of quitting quite a lot at first because I was so overwhelmed. I’m glad I didn’t because I really learned speed work — without sacrificing quality — while I was there, something that made a huge difference in my whole career.
A lot of the guests were weight lifters who wanted their steaks trimmed of all fat and then wanted three fried egg whites on them. Or they wanted egg white omelets with their steak or pork chops. My hands flew separating out those eggs.
Now one of our big sellers was the Reuben. I’d toss two slices of rye bread into the grill to toast them. I’d pull them out quickly and put them on an oval metal sizzle plate, and put Russian dressing on one side of each slice of the toasted rye bread.
I’d slice a good portion, maybe six ounces or more, of fresh pastrami on the slicer, and toss that on the bread, splitting it evenly. I’d top that with sauerkraut we always had on the stove, then top each slice of bread with good Swiss cheese. Toss that into the grill till the cheese melted, pull it, and slide it, open faced onto a plate. Add pickles and coleslaw and done. Ring the bell, get it out of here.
That is still my favorite way to make a Reuben.
So go to your nearest Jewish deli and get six or seven ounces of very thinly sliced pastrami for each sandwich you’re making. Pick up a nice loaf of rye while you’re there.
Home, heat your oven to 350º.
While it’s heating up, put sauerkraut on the stove at medium heat. Add a tablespoon of garlic in olive oil for each sandwich. You want the kraut to start to brown and get a rich, deep flavor, so the longer you cook it the better it gets. Add a little white vinegar or dill pickle juice to it if it starts to dry out and burn. Oh, and turn down the heat on it.
So the pastrami is ready, the kraut is cooking, the oven is getting hot. Time to make your Russian dressing.
For each sandwich — two open halves each, remember — you need about two table spoons of mayonnaise, one good squirt of ketchup, and a tablespoon of pickle relish (sweet or not, your choice) or chopped up sweet and hot Jalepeños. Mix that up, then toss your bread into the oven or toaster to toast it.
When the bread is toasted, bathe one side of each slice with the Russian dressing, top with the pastrami. Top that with the perfect sauerkraut, and then top the whole shebang with a couple of slices of Swiss on each half.
Put your open sandwich halves onto a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes, or until the cheese is righteously melted.
Pull sandwiches, plate them, add a couple of dill pickle spears and a dollop of coleslaw and get after it.
Thanks, Jimmy Day’s. I loved working that speed factory!

Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Ridiculous Meme and My Responses

Here is a ridiculous meme going around asking nutty questions. I've answered them. This is a haul folks, so get a glass of wine and relax while you read through.
I got this from a good friend and could not let it go unanswered:
Sharing from a friend:
Everyone should be asking these questions! 👇🏼
These are the important questions folks need to be asking themselves:
1. Why can you go to Walmart but not Kohl's?
Answer: Kohl's sells clothes and shoes, not food. Supermarkets are necessary; clothing stores not so much. But you can still order Kohl's stuff online.
2. Why the Dollar store and not a mom-and-pop shop?
Answer: Dollar General here in Texas sells a lot of food stuff, cheaply, making it vital for poor people. Mom and Pop stores are open here as well, depending on what they sell. If they sell food, they are open.
3. Why can't you have an elective surgery, but you can have an abortion which is elective?
Answer: Elective surgery, like the surgery on my prostate, can wait. Abortions become more difficult as time goes by, so calling them "elective" is disingenuous.
4. Why should you stay inside but yet heat and sunlight kill the virus?
Answer: No one is supposed to stay inside. Go out all you want here in the USA, but don't mingle much (though that is fairly ignored). In Peru you are welcome to enjoy the sun in your yard or porch all day long.
5. Why can't kids (who are not at risk) play on an outdoor playground, where sun kills this virus?
Answer: Kids at an outdoor playground will get saliva on one another, making the risk of their bringing Covid home to parents and grandparents dangerously high. Like everyone else they can play in their yards or on the rooves of their apartment buildings, like a lot of us did.
6. Why don't people know that these are "recommendations" not laws because they have not gone through due process?
Answer: Here in the USA people know these are recommendations and some people protest them by not wearing masks and congregating. The incidence of covid among them rises dramatically after such actions, of course. In some places, Marshall law has been declared, but not in the US. Restaurants near me have never closed.
7. Why is it okay for government officials to get a haircut, but not common citizens?
Answer: I have no idea why govt officials can get a haircut. If they can go to a barber, they should pay a steep fine for risking my life for their ego. The rest of us have friends cutting our hair.
8. Why the fear, when this virus has a less than 1% death rate?
Answer: In the USA we have 70,000 out of 1.2 million, which is about 6 percent, not 1 percent. Worldwide it's closer to 7 percent. And those numbers are low becuse of lack of testing, Florida's prohibition of publising the covid death numbers, etc.
9. Why have coroners questioned death certificates listed as CV-19?
Answer: People die from kidney problems, heart problems, pneumonia and a host of other things that they would not have had if not infected by covid-19. So some people question whether those are really covid-19 deaths. They are if the dead in question would not have died if they didn't have covid-19 to create/exacerbate other problems.
10. Why are areas like Chicago and NY gearing up for mass vaccination?
Answer: New York and Chicago have very dense populations. On a given "normal" day in Manhattan you might pass within 5 feet of 10,000 or more people just going to and coming from the subway. While I am not a fan of vaccinations I can see why densely populated areas would think it would be a good idea.
11. What makes one person essential and another not?
Answer: Some jobs, like doctors and nurses and hospital orderlies are obviously essential. So are police, garbage men, firemen, morturary workers and people who provide food. I'/m a jounalist and not essential to be working among others except occasionally--otherwise I can work from home. Someone who tends a zoo is essential to keeping those animals in his or her charge alive and healthy. We love barbers and nail salon people, but if we don't have their services for a few weeks, nothing will die. So they, like me, are non-essential.
12. Doesn't shelter at home; mean there is a whole population of people, not staying home so we can?
Answer: Yes, essential workers are out there on the dangerous front lines. But once off work they should go back and shelter at home too.
13. Why are they dividing us?
Answer: Red herring. No one is dividing us if we don't play into the selfishness of others.
14. How do people not know that we are a Republic, not a democracy?
Answer: Another red herring. Sticking this in a series of questions about covid-19 is just silly.
15. Where has the flu gone?
Answer: Still here, killing as many as it generally does.
16. Why do the homeless consistently demonstrate the lowest infection rates?
Answer: They don't.
17. Why are they telling us to mask up after 2 months of lockdown?
Answer: It's been 5-6 weeks of separation, not lockdown (at least not here in the USA) but we wear masks so we don't spit, cough, or sneeze on other people, as that is how people get infected
18. Why is the CDC saying kids need to be masked when they return to school or attend church, when they know cloth masks restrict oxygen?
Answer: You are really, really reaching here.
19. What is this oppression and loss of liberty doing to the mental health of our kids and to us?
Answer: Calling basic safety precautions "opression" gives away your extreme right wing political bent. Not good. Staying apart and not hugging our friends and kids is certainly taking an emotional and mental toll, but it beats dying.
20. Why have most other death rates dropped since the virus?
Answer: They have not. Stop peppering these questions with bologna.
21. Why did world leaders meet in China in October 2019?
Answer: They didn't. The Summit was cancelled. There was a G-20 meet in June, 2019, a regularly scheduled meeting of the G-20.
22. Why are the common people being controlled by the government and no one is controlling the government?
Answer: Who is being controlled by the government? No one is controlling the government because trump has been given a free hand by McConnell and his ass kissers.
23. Why are hospitals paid more for Covid 19 deaths?
Answer: I think this is phony, but if they are it's because covid-19 deaths are freaking expensive to handle becuse of the possibility of contagion.
24. Why are some doctors speaking out and then getting silenced?
Becuse plastic surgeons and people who are advertising their businesses have nothing to add to the dialog except to endanger people
25. Why did Obama give the Wuhan lab $334 million dollars?
Answer: It was $3.7 million, not $334 million, and it was over a seven year period. It was given by NIH and a chunk of it was given by trump. Very little went to Wuhans virology lab as most went to a non-profit eco firm
26. What does a computer geek have to do with a pandemic and why does he want 7 billion corona virus vaccines?
Answer: Good god, now you're movig into the Gates conspiracy theories?
27. Why ID 2020, Agenda 21 and 2030?
Answer: Because you are freaking, flaming paranoid.
28. Why did the CDC have a job posting for pandemic relief workers in November 2019?
Answer: CDC posts job openings regularly. Only the very paranoid fringe -- and unhinged -- right wing nuts thought that was unusual, though they post job openings all the time, including for pandemic relief workers.
29. Why did Dr. Fauci say in 2017 that the Trump administration would be faced with a " SURPRISE PANDEMIC " and then runs the pandemic team?
Answer: Because we were due for a pandemic. They arrive every several years and it was time.
30. Why are they infringing on Christians religious freedoms?
Answer: Because you are fucking weenies who are the most priveleged people but who think you are infringed upon. Grow some balls you dickless schmucks.
31. Why can 500 people shop at Menards or Home Depot, but we are not allowed to go into a church building?
Answer: Because the things you need to keep your home operating are at Menards and Home Depot, and God is within you, not in a church.

Monday, May 04, 2020

Stolen Lawnmower

So I'm out here in bucolic Joshua, Texas. Outside of the few blocks of town everybody has an acre or 50, and there are lots of neighbors' homes I've never seen because they are hidden behind tree stands or just too far back on the property to get a look at.
People here are nice: In my 18 years here since moving from New York I've never been robbed, never had an issue with anyone. Until a few days ago.
I've got a huge garage that is normally unlocked that has lots of stuff in it, much of which someone might want. I also have a small cabin that has some stuff in it.
Nothing ever touched.
Now last week my lawnmower stopped and my son Italo took it apart, found out what was not working, ordered the part and left the mower on or near the porch of the cabin.
Part came in a couple of days ago and Italo came over to install it and put the mower back together.
Only problem was that someone had stolen the mower. Who the hell steals a push electric lawnmower that is several years old with its motor taken apart? What kind of nimnod does that?
I'm still pissed because now I have to lock the garage and cabin, and I have to get a new mower, but what the heck: They could have just rolled away the tractor-mower if they were gonna rob me. It was right next to the broken mower.
Takes all kinds, I guess.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Another of My Teachers has Passed

More than 30 years ago, after a year of trying to get included, I was invited, as a journalist, to a Native American Church peyote ceremony just outside of Durango, Colorado. The story I wrote was the first of three I did on the church over a period of a few years for High Times magazine in the late 1980s. Malcolm MacKinnon, a wonderful photographer, took the photos.
I also attended several ceremonies I didn't write about. Three outstanding teachers of mine came from that group: Bertha Grove, a healer who was the matriarch of the Southern Ute band that held the ceremonies; Bertha's brother Everett, a powerful human and an extraordinary Peyote Roadman; and Bertha's son Junior.
Bertha and Everett passed some years ago, but I still reach out to the ether they left behind for advice and strength. Now Junior, a strong buck of a man and, like his uncle Everett a wonderful Peyote Roadman, has just passed. I will sing him on his way though I suspect he's clear enough to get there without my help.
Thank you for everything, Junior. I hope you don't mind my reaching out sometimes for your help.
And thank you, Malcolm, for this wonderful shot of a younger me with Junior.