Paying more at the Grocer… WTF!!!

Yes, food prices have been driving up here in NY in the last year. Just the other day I noted my Chipotle burrito was now $7.50 instead of the $5.60 I had a little over a year ago. My OJ, now $5 a quart, and apparently all veggies, fruits and now rice are on the rise. Food prices are set to expand 5% this year. All because of fuel costs, shipping costs, a drought in Australia, asian shortages and other factors. At least my street meat is still $3 for carne asada tacos and $1 ny special dirty water dogs…

Sue Simmons of NBC comments more:

Honestly I hope she doesn’t get fired for this. I hear this on a daily basis from every NYer on the street… what ever…

At least she’s not Bill O’Reilly. What a fucking douche bag, asshole. This guy’s barely qualified to do Inside Edition. Watch him blow up for not understanding a simple out take.

No, really O’Reilly. If anything fucking sucks, it’s you.


New Orleans & Jazz Heritage Festival 08

This past weekend several friends from around the nation gathered in the still broken community known as the Big Easy for the NOLA Jazz Festival. To a certain extend only one of the two iterations of this nickname are still true: The French Quarter is still one big open speak-easy, however, its no longer true that it’s easy to find work here.

I landed late on Wed, however, not late enough and endured a long 2 hours wait for some friends to come through. We checked into my corporate staple – the Marriott, on the boarder of FQ and the Central Business District. Without even claiming space we’re already out on the quarter looking for a hole to get some local grub and a few beers.

We make our way down most of the main strip of Bourbon and right past the tourist wonder of Port of Call to Saint Peters and hit Yo-mamas. $4 – 28 oz draft Abita‘s (the local amber brew), and the best 1/2 lb burgers sided with a fully dressed baked potato as big as your foot. Yo-mama’s doesn’t cater to that handgrenade or hurricane slaying crowd, just bar goers that like their drink strong, and their companions with no bull shit. We went back almost every night and ate here twice. Definitely love the Bull Fighter with extra jalapeños (however back at the hotel, the mates didn’t).

The wed night crowd was light but noticeably less douchebaggy or fratty but we still took down the quarter closing out several bars and getting a good feel for what’s going to be a party, what are the jazz spots and where do we go to meet the people wanting to stay on the strip but away from the tourists. We ended our night at the Old Absinthe House bar on the corner of Bourbon and Bienville; built in 1806 this is where Pirate Jean Lafitte and Andrew Jackson planned the victory of the battle of New Orleans on the second floor. No green fairy for us but the spot is great to get away from the frey watch those that do partake (we ended several nights here as well).

Starting late in the morning on Thursday set the tone for the rest of the week. We had some more friends come in later this afternoon so we went down to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for some beers on the patio. Lafitte’s is the oldest functioning bar in the US and rumored to be the oldest standing building in the entire Mississippi Valley. Good mix of locals and like minded tourists… until the yuppiest of clans showed up chatting up their latest sailing adventures and next trips to Cape Cod we stayed for a few hours before the tide turned.

We sampled the hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s, which when you think of the stumbling tourists around the quarter, it’s hurricane’s their usually clutching to keep their tilt sideways. The drink is synonymous with O’Brien’s, created during World War II and one of the most sought-after tourist souvenir.

We witnessed some film cameras in and around the quarter catching the “reality” of Bourbon St. I found later they were there for a Central City show with Luda and Widespread.

The weather turned out to be perfect during the weekend (far from the T-storms predicted).

One of the primary requirements of any travel is getting good food and lots of it. In no particular order I sampled (around NOLA and at the Festival):

Fried Crab Cake w/ Smoked Tomato & Jalapeño Tartar
Soft shell crab po boy
Dozens of raw oysters
Oyster and Crawfish Po Boy from VertiMarte
Crawfish Etouffe
Pheasant, Quail, and Andouille Gumbo
Half the menu at Emeril’s NOLA
Cajun Jambalaya
Beignets and Cafe au Lait at Cafe Du Monde
Hot Sausage Po-Boy
Grits, biscuts, chicken fried steak, gravy and other brunch at Cafe Fleur de Lis
late night gyro at Ali Ba Ba’s
… Fortunately! no lucky dogs

Saturday, we picked up round trip bus tickets from a local hotel, which seems to be the best option getting there and started drinking on the way. The line to purchase tickets wasn’t that bad, and we saved on the ridiculous Ticketmaster over charge which I always recommend. There’s so many artists playing in over 10 tents or stages, you really need to spend at least 2 days at the festival to get the most of the music there. Saturday’s headliners were: Jimmy Buffett, Steel Pulse, The Roots, Bobby McFerrin and Marcia Ball. Jimmy’s stage area was packed and not accessable if you didn’t get there hours before his show. Steel Pulse and the Roots were off the hook. I also caught a few riffs of Kenny Wayne Shepherd but don’t remember any of the other great festival artists I heard.

The weekend before NOLA was hit by thunderstorms, rain and consequently caused serious mud and “fun” for many of the participants. Since we’d been here for 3 days, and mass consumption of alcohol has worn our stamina thin. The cooling mist of the auto tent and shade offered a few hours of relief as did the glorious food options.

That evening we rallied and caught the Parliament show which has been one of my top bands to check out live before they stopped performing. More than expected they were off the hook.

New Orleans is still feeling the effects of Katrina. The pain is hidden in the eyes but the life and spirit still carries on strong in the music, food, people and community. I’ll definitely be back for the festival and more food. Here’s a few more pics from the weekend.

“New Orleans is one of the last places in America where music is truly a fundamental part of everyday life. People get together on the weekends and parade through the streets just playing songs; 12-year-old-kids learn funk on the tuba; everyone dances. Life elsewhere in the world simply isn’t as celebratory. If we allow the culture of New Orleans to die by leaving its musicians marooned around the country, America will have lost one of its great treasures.”

-Damian Kulush of OK Go

Politics & Government

The Gas Tax Hustle

If you’re listening to the political hype about the “Gas Tax Holiday” you know about this program that’s proposed initially by McCain (video) and backed by McCain and Hillary (opposed by Obama), which offers a break (3 months) from paying the taxes on gasoline through the summer – designed on the surface to ease the spending for Americans on gasoline for summer travel etc.

If you care enough to dig through this bullshit, they you’ll learn enough that this plan is fundamentally flawed for Americans and could actually be detrimental to the US economy as a result (says notable scholars and economists).

The highlights:

  • The plan would ultimately benefit the Oil Companies not the American people. There are no restrictions in the plan to prevent oil companies to further raise the price of gas to accomodate a cut in price. Ultimately we could pay the same and when the tax gets implemented again – BAM! a drastic increase.
  • The national average price of gas when this was first announced was $3.38, the current average as of today is $3.67 Cutting the cost by 18 cents (the current tax levied) amounts to less than a 5% reduction. This reduction could mean an average savings of between $20 and $28 per person depending on the source.

    Wow that’s totally enough to have a holiday in Flushing for a day!!! What a scam.

    The cheapest gas in the world – ranked is:
    1. Venezuela at 12 cents
    2. Iran at 40 cents
    3. Saudia Arabia 45 cents
    44. United States $3.45

    The most expensive in the world – ranked is:
    1. Eritrea $9.58
    2. Norway $8.73
    3. United Kingdom $8.38
    4. Netherlands $8.37
    5. Monaco $8.31
    108. United States $3.45


Fox brings us the “news” that’s most important

E.D. Hill of Fox news had a 5+ minute segment on a Texas woman, Sheyla Hershey, who enlarged her breasts eight times to the size of 34 FFF. Appropriately she is in Brazil’s Guinness Book of World Records for having the largest breast implant, however, in a time when the more than 22,000 died and some say up to a million are homeless from a cyclone that has hit Myanmar, fierce battles are erupting in Lebanon with Hezbollah, the race for dem candidate could be coming to an end , Putin still has a hold on power after new president is named, the Olympics are still blazing on, and global warming is still shrinking the ice caps which will eventually kill much of the planet’s inhabitants if they don’t adapt to the climate change.

Each of Sheyla’s breasts now carries a quart of silicone each (displayed by E.D. Hill by showing equal size of milk jugs), meaning she’s got half-gallon sized jugs… and she wants them bigger despite Texas law prohibiting having such surgeries.

I’ve got two words: Motor boat!!!


Bueller? Bueller?

My first introduction to Ben Stein was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off… monotone snoozer of a teacher for the prankester hero Ferris Bueller. My next revival of this character was a call to action for stoners to get the red out with Clear Eyes (Wow) and then as a smarter than thou game show host where you can win his money (I still couldn’t understand how he made the money in the first place *it was loaned*).

What I didn’t know about this Stein, I wouldn’t have known if I wasn’t pissed off about his latest movie, Expelled and furthered by his own personal conviction of its theory of Intelligent Design. Quoted during an interview on the Trinity Broadcasting System, regarding his latest movie:

Stein: “When we just saw that man, I think it was Mr. Myers [biologist P.Z. Myers], talking about how great scientists were, I was thinking to myself the last time any of my relatives saw scientists telling them what to do they were telling them to go to the showers to get gassed … that was horrifying beyond words, and that’s where science — in my opinion, this is just an opinion — that’s where science leads you.”

Stein: “…Love of God and compassion and empathy leads you to a very glorious place, and science leads you to killing people.”

Science leads to killing people? Science? The methods and tools that have brought us inventions such as the light bulb, the telephone, film, the internet, automobiles, and the printing press – all items Ben has utilized in his existence. This guy has lost it and I’ve now completely wrote him off as an intelligent character. I should have know, an academic economist whom was once Nixon’s speech writer and now adamantly defends him, has no appreciation for the methods that have created modern progress.

Science is a repeatable method for discovery which is measurable practice which seeks to understand the nature life and justification for that reality. This practice is rooted in the development of human society from farming to nutrition, civil services such as plumbing, medicine, and technology such as the internet.

Learn why Expelled is anti-science propaganda aimed at creating the appearance of controversy where there is none.


Just landed in NOLA

There’s a cool breeze tickeling my thin shirt in the cylindar style termanal C of the “Satcho” AKA Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’ve just landed and I’m chillin (literally, I thought it was supposed to be hot down ‘er) in cookie cuter stiff airport seats of the “lobby” waiting for a friend to land, and head into the CBD.

Why the lobby? Nothing is open. After 9 apparently everything in this terminal shuts down. Good to know on the next time around. I’m looking at a row of stores with books begging to be thumbed through, PJ’s coffee waiting for that percalation and across from the Jazz alley lounge where I thought I would be sipping down my first brew of the weekned in New Orleans…

I’m here for the 2nd weekend of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and to tear it up for the first time with some friends from the east. There’s not much planned but a spot to sleep and the festival headlined by Stevie Wonder, Jimmy Buffett, The Roots, Santana, Steel Pulse and hundreds of other superbly tallented jazz musicians.

Here’s to po boys and dirty girls, schucked oysters and hot river boat casinos…


Black Tie Wedding

I was looking for weeks for an alternative to that small print on our friend’s wedding invitation “Black Tie”. What does that really mean? Can I get away with a black suit? Do I have to buy this tux I won’t wear again? … Ultimately yes, was the answer so I went out to Syms and picked up a clean Joseph Abboud Tux and some Boss shirt and accessories for the gig.

After going through the same pain I’m going through in picking a spot, the bride picked the Union Club for their digs – the oldest and most exclusive of the leading men’s clubs of New York. Founded in 1836, it is the city’s oldest social club and its male membership has been largely drawn from the city’s most socially prominent Protestant families.

The wedding was commenced on an upper floor where we joined the party late, just a few minutes before the wedding party started walking down the isle. The ceremony was short and sweet but the highlight for me was not the actual commencement but when the priest during the ceremony asked one of the youngest of the flower girls to provide for the crowd what do kids her age worry about.

Her response was “Global Warming”.

Not the response the priest was looking for and it resulted in a spirited laugh from the crowd. Also ironic is that there a many disbelievers among the largely Republican crowd on the global warming “theory”.

The wedding started with an open bar in a nice foyer/room with a grand piano with light “jazz/lounge” music playing. We enjoyed some petite h’orderves and Chivas Regal. A cordial staff ushered us to the dining area after meeting many of the other family and friends of the wedding couple. We were all seated with our mutual friends while we had an excellent 4 course meal topped with Fillet Mignon.

The meal was excellent and when the band started up in the Greek cross shaped main hall the guests reluctantly waddled out to the marble entry way to sway to some latin, pop and jazz music. Over all the wedding went off without a hitch, all the guests had an excellent time, the food, venue and staff were all excellent.

Congratulations to Andrea and John and many happy years!

A clip from Trading Places as this was how I felt entering the Union Club:


A salute to Hysteria

Here’s a little education. From the Wikipedia entry on “Female Hysteria”:

Female hysteria was a once-common medical diagnosis, made exclusively in women, which is no longer recognized by modern medical authorities. It was a popular diagnosis in Western nations, during the Victorian era, for women who exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a “tendency to cause trouble”.

Patients diagnosed with female hysteria would sometimes undergo “pelvic massage” — manual stimulation of the woman’s genitals by the doctor to “hysterical paroxysm”, which is now recognized as orgasm….

Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.
~ Sigmund Freud