The Great Plotnik

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Shaquille O'Plot Returns

Having hit the weights this winter while the court was drying out, The Great Plotnik was ready to play ball this morning. Though the morning was not sunny, it was dry enough for the guys to show up -- Dana, Old Mike, Counselor Sherlock, Rico, Sam, his son Shawn, Baseline Bill and Bulked-up Plotnik (pictured to the left).

OK, so it must be said that the winter and spring rains have kept everyone off the court long enough so that bodies felt a year older and slower. Vertical leaps had diminished from 3" to 2". Shots that are never missed, were. Legs that fly, jogged. No one even argued very much. Nobody got threatened.

Here, in his new aerodynamic haircut, O'Plot makes short work of the competition. He is already thinking about the bagels, cream cheese, tomatoes and Italian Roast latte to follow.

Friday, April 28, 2006

The First Bearded Iris

On April 27 the first bearded iris opened up in the Crystal C. Pussycat Memorial Gardens at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters. The blue-and-whites usually come first, perhaps followed by the magenta-yellows, but perhaps not.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Tops in Fops

Plotnik and Ducknik went to the 2006 SF Decorator Showcase House yesterday. This is another of those events they look forward to each year. The Showcase finds a mansion in Pacific Heights or Presidio Heights (that is usually being spun to be sold), empties it down to the walls, and then holds a competition to engage different Bay Area decorators to decorate one room each. Each bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, hallway, stairway, linen closet and garden from the original 1902 house is decorated, as are the modern add-ons such as the multi-purpose Palladian room, the entertainment center and the five car garage.

It is the Height of Foppishness, the Tops in Fops. Each decorator feels he or she must show off every possible trick in the book, so these rooms are crammed solid with fabrics from Brilliant Artisan currently creating in San Miguel de Allende; chandeliers from Young Up and Coming Lighting Genius in Milan; faux finished painting by Heinz Schlop/Schlopper of Berlin...and what's that underfoot in the Child's Bedroom? Is that a floor? No, those are quartz crystals, compressed in a factory in Belgium and then troweled onto a rubber backing before being nailed into the subfloor.

Would the child living in the Child's Bedroom like having to walk on rocks? Hey, this is the Decorator's Showcase. You want Mr. Rodgers, turn on PBS.

There are more mirrors than in Playland. No bed has less than 10 fluffy pillows. Each bathtub is filled with gardenias floating in the water. The whole house smells like Evelyn and Crabtree.

Then, of course, when the new investor pays $12 or $15 million dollars to purchase the house, everything the designers have done is ripped out so the new owners can showcase their own new stuff.

And yet...the Plotniks love these houses. Not so much for the over-the-top excessiveness (I mean, you couldn't climb into any of these beds without building an extra room to remove and store all the pillows), but for the homes themselves. They are hundred-year-old reminders of how San Francisco's ruling classes once lived, when the grand staircase was in the front and the servants' staircase was in the rear, when that coach house, now a bedroom/kitchen/guest cottage actually stored a coach and a horse.

Here is a photo of Lui/Louie Megottago, the Great Plotnik's Design Critic, posing on the Grand Staircase. Everyone should have a Grand Staircase.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The National Treasure is Back

You want good looking guys? Here are five.

That's Julian on the left, and his twin brother Andreas, then The National Treasure, then Joakim, then Beija. Julian, Andreas and Joakim are The National Treasure's sons, and Beija is The National Treasure's nephew.

The Great Plotnik and The Great Ducknik hung around the Big Apple for several years with Treasure and his Norwegian girl friend Tulip, who would later become mother of those three boys.

Treasure is a California boy, who rode his half-Italian-ness to great success on Mulberry Street in New York's Little Italy. Many, many, many great stories stem from that period. The way his sister Justine found their apartment. The night Joey Gallo got shot exiting the clam house. The way Plotnik and Ducknik would meet Treasure and Tulip at Caffe Roma for pastries before the Shiny Shoe boys walked in. The part time job Plotnik had working for Justine in her donut shop that sold lasagna. The weekends at the farm. The afternoon Tulip decided to strip down to go swimming and tractors stopped for miles around.

Treasure was House Photographer for The Great Plotnik's New York bands. All the old photos are his, on rooftops, in clubs, in churches, on the street.

He was also Best Man at Plotnik's wedding. Things would have worked out perfectly if he hadn't gotten locked in the freezer at the florist shop.

Or if he hadn't decided to move to Norway to become a National Treasure. Thanks to the Internet, however, Plotnik has found him. National Treasure is back.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Plotnik's Trophy

It has rained so much this year that only now have the Sweet 100 and Sun Gold tomatoes gone in the pot. Fortunately, the arugula, sorrel and kale have been thriving with the wet weather and the snow peas have already climbed to the top of their wire enclosure and will soon string themselves up to the wooden extension behind.

Then, there are artichokes. Do they bear fruit? Yes indeed, weevil-infested, small, pointy, tasteless little rocks. Does Plotnik even like artichokes? Oh, hell no, not since Little Italy closed (ummm, baked artichoke slathered in bread crumbs). These days, if it's about consuming butter, Plot prefers apple pie.

Many men seek Trophy Wives. The Great Plotnik keeps a Trophy Vegetable. It's all about looks.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Early Plotnik

This is The Great Plotnik in his Was Supposed to Be Desert Phase, when he was first formulating the formulae and postulating the postulae that would become the backbone of Plotnikkie-ism. It turned out that Plotnik had been wandering in the Dessert instead. The unfortunate misspelling would lead him through oceans of heavy cream and caverns of chocolate bliss before realizing his error, moving to Saint Plotniko and turning to cabernet and bulgar.

These photos were taken in 1980 or 1981 by Plot's great friend Jamie Parslow who now lives in a cabin outside of Oslo, Norway. Jamie moved for love, but became a Norwegian National Treasure for his photography. These photographs are not those photographs.

Those of you who have spent time in the Dining Salon of the Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen have noticed the portrait of Janis Joplin on the wall. Jamie took that one and others on several other walls.

These photos mean a lot to Plotnik. There are more, in which The Great Ducknik, in her LA Phase, and Great PunkyDunky, still the Lesser PunkyDunky, can be seen. The Great BZWZ was as of yet unimagined, if you can imagine that.

The Great Plotnik really loves this one. What a dish!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

From Phi Kaps to Grits with Black Truffles

Today is one of those Sundays with not enough hours to handle all the thoughts bopping around in The Great Plotnik's bean. Although yesterday, Saturday, started poorly, with the worst of all possible Saturday Morning Plotzketball encounters -- it's sunny, but not enough guys show up to play because of the THREAT of rain -- the next five hours were highlighted by a Fraternity Reunion.

Plot had been dreading this afternoon all week, because he was determined to attend -- why? Shut up. Because, that's why -- and he knew the afternoon at the COUNTRY CLUB in freaking PINOLE would be filled with people who used to look like handsome, young, vibrant world-fixers, but now look like this: and this:

But the second he pulled into the parking lot he knew he had been lying to himself, doing the old Testosterone Tango: I don't care, I don't need these guys, I'm not interested, I'm only going to gather material for Plotnik, Never Liked 'em, It don't matter to me, Uhhn uhhn. Because as soon as he saw Jimmy Dal Porto and Bruce Felton and Dave Van Atta and Ken Atterman and David Shapiro and Jim Kennedy and David Stephens and Eddie Musante and Steve Calegari and Steve Prevost and Kenny McKeon, he started to smile and didn't stop smiling until many hours, beers and barbecues later.

He wrote a story about coming to the reunion, and he read it to the brothers and they laughed in all the right places. They particularly loved the parts about them.

Plotnik bonded with his old buddy Kenny McKeon, the poet who went to Vietnam, like they'd been in the next room for all these years and then just opened up the same door and walked back in. Kenny sent Plotnik a poem this morning and he still sounds like Dylan Thomas. Plotnik sent him the lyric to So Long, Foghead.

He felt the same away about Kenny Atterman, like they were long lost brothers. In fact, he liked Kenny Atterman a lot more yesterday than he remembers liking him in 1964, when they were roommates for six months. Kenny must have really changed a lot. it possible...that The Great Plotnik's observations at nineteen years old might not have been completely pedal to the metal? That his perception was, shall we say, altered? Or...and this is far more ominous...that Plotnik may have grown up in the meantime?

Ha ha, Bruce Roberts's hair went and got grey, unlike Plotnik, whose hair is still a Royal Hue of black/gray/white/steel wool/disappearing/pitiful.

After the reunion, things just kept getting better. On Plot's cell phone was a text message with an invite to dinner at Chef Pickle's in Napa.

Of course, this meant Plotnik would have to fight the traffic going home from Pinole to San Francisco, pick up The Great Ducknik, then drive all the way back through the same traffic to Napa, but hey! This is dinner at Chef Pickle's!

How does artesanial grits shaved with black truffles smuggled in from France (dog's name who dug up the truffles: Venus. I kid you not), lamb chops, lamb loin and lamb sausage, asparagus, salad, golden beets in a vinaigrette and rhubarb/strawberry yumstuff inside cookies and more whipped cream sound to you? Plus many bottles of wine, some actually made by a guest at the dinner table who has the world's coolest puppy?

Old friends, new friends. Friends are our butter, our cream, the way we plow our way through these unfathomable days in which we live. Well, guess what: the old days were unfathomable too. Maybe we shouldn't take ourselves or our problems quite so seriously. Friends will pull us through. Friends, poems, songs, butter and cream.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Great Heron-nik

It was September of 2004 when this guy showed up on top of the avocado tree that dominates the rear acreage at The Great Plotnik World Headquarters. Plotnik looked outside, saw The Great Heron-nik's amazing form bending down the branches, ran for his camera and managed to snap the first photo and then this one

as the welcome visitor flew away. He has not been back. He may be camera shy.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Jas Before

Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
There are some things that defy common sense. Here is Jasper, smiling. And now, below, here is Jasper -- in the beautiful obituary his Dad, Plotnik's old pal David, wrote for his boy yesterday.

Please read this -- and then someone have the kindness to tell Plotnik how people can be so positive, so spiritual, so uplifting at a time when it might seem, to some, that God's Benighted Finger has been pointed in their direction?

Dave wrote: "Our world has lost a wonderful being. Jasper Mountain Lecht, 24 yrs. young, lost his battle with cancer April 14th, 2006. Surrounded by a sea of his loved ones, he went peacefully with a smile on his face at 7:56 pm. After a fiercely waged 16-month struggle, his passing was a relief from his suffering, and, in his words, "Going to a big quiet nap in the Sky".

He was a devoted son who leaves behind parents Patty Lecht-Bluefield, David
Bluefield and Eric Lecht, his beloved Ashley Ellis, and more buddies than
can be imagined. He was kind and gentle, with a great sense of humor, and, most importantly, he had the rare innate ability to respect everyone he ever came into contact with. He understood as a young man what some of us may never know: how to live compassionately from your heart.

His was a soul that had to leave early for reasons unknown to us. Those wishing to honor him can live life to the fullest, be well and happy, do great things and think of him often."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


In the grand tradition of Combining Cuisines, because people of different cultures all love to eat, and because The Great Plotnik's Eastern Seaboard Dining Editor Beezie Hyphen Weezie vouches for it, we proudly present:


Created just last weekend in Hell's Kitchen in Manhattan, NOT the Upper West Side as reported earlier, like, DUH, Matzagna is a lasagna made for those who can't eat noodles during Passover. Yes, Virginia, we are looking at matzos replacing the noodles. Matzagna. Or Matzanya. Matçaña.

The Great Plotnik, despite loathing every product ever made with farfel, and kugels made out of the sides of matzo boxes, and most substitutes for the real thing including Mocha Mix, carob clusters, margarine and Scientology, has to admit this one looks pretty danged tasty.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Celebrating the Big One

1906 Fire Engine-em
Originally uploaded by thegreatplotnik.
The Great Ducknik had to practically do a 1906 Earthquake on The Great Plotnik's head to get him out of bed this morning, but it worked. By 5:15AM they were standing in the crowd on Market Street, celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the 1906 Big One.

They watched the big screen TV and listened to Mayor Newsom and the women who protect this city -- how many other cities in the country have a female Fire Chief, Police Chief and Head of Emergency Preparedness? They stood in amazement as the ancient horse-drawn fire trucks flew by -- and we mean flew. You wouldn't want to be standing in their way.

Police Chief Fong was great. Everyone else on stage seemed to be named Clancy, McClanahan or O'Malley.

Best of all, Plotnik and Ducknik listened to the 1906 survivors, all of whom were at least 100, several as old as 104. Mayor Newsom interviewed each, one at a time.

One 103-year-old man said he was still working at Andronico's three times a week. He looked and sounded great. One lady said she wouldn't mind if Gavin would warm her up a little bit. Several of the other old folks were a bit confused, and everyone was cold, including the Plotniks.

Hanky Girl, you were right: this is a great thing to do, once in your life. Now that that once is over, it's time to go back to bed.

Monday, April 17, 2006

No Red Tablecloths

M. and L. opened a new restaurant near The Great Plotnik World Headquarters and Meatball Kitchen. It is not an Italian restaurant, per se, but features food from a nearby island named after a small fish. Plotnik had great hopes for this restaurant, as he has dreamed for years of finding a good New York/Buffalo/Boston-style neighborhood Italian restaurant in Saint Plotniko, and M.and L.'s place is right on his corner.

What does he mean? He means red checked tablecloths, great pasta, delicious veal, inexpensive house wine, a strolling accordionist, grumpy, bald, fat Papa at the cash register and dumpy, sweet, white-haired Mama in the kitchen. It means food prepared by people who love to eat for people who love to eat. It means the kind of ambience that makes you want to go back as often as you can. It means home.

Alas, L. is beautiful, not dumpy. Neither one of them is fat. M. is an expert on Italian wine, and their restaurant appears to more about the wine than the food -- not unlike Incanto down the street, only smaller. Portions are small. It's rather expensive. Sigh.

M. and L. might make a go of it. Plotnik hopes they do. But forget the sweetbreads and the Sicilian red at $75 a bottle. Plotnik is still looking for a good neighborhood Italian restaurant with food prepared by people who love to eat for people who love to eat, and he wants it on his corner.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Young Plotnik

There he is, The Great Plotnik long before his Conversion to Plotnikkism, when he was just another beer-drinking kid sitting on the floor of the Frat House next to Mary Jane Burns. This photo turned up yesterday, from the Internet bowels of the Memory Network.

The year appears to be 1964. JFK is dead, Martin and Bobby are not. The Young Plotnik still thinks he's Bob Dylan. (Of course, Bob Dylan probably thinks he's Mick Jagger.)

Look how happy that kid is, to say nothing of his frat brothers in madras shirts and all those girls with the bobbed hair. Mary Jane Burns's father sold YP a portable record player that he still had when he met Ducknik in New York six years later. He still had that brown sweater too.

Several of these kids ended up in Vietnam a few years after this picture was taken. One got shot up pretty badly, several others have suffered the rest of their lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Of the two boys holding the cute little blonde on their lap, one went to Vietnam and became a poet, the other got sent to Korea and became a lawyer. The tallest kid in the back joined motorcycle gangs and is dead. The guy in the white shirt on his knee was Young Plotnik's roommate. Last Plottie heard, his friend was selling organic mescaline in Florida. He has disappeared.

What happened to the girl in the middle with the beer cup on her head is unknown.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ask Mama

That's The Great Punkydunky with Mama of Mama's Tamales in Stiletto City. What a great story it is. Mama's shop is on MacArthur Park, once the finest neighborhood in the city, then the worst neighborhood in the city, and now attempting a comeback because of people like Mama.

She noticed all these illegal vendors in the park, which was ringed with dope dealers and homeless transients. The vendors were selling homemade tamales from homemade carts. After talking to them, she realized each one was selling a different tamal from a different place. Each was delicious.

So she called the city and managed to establish a Vending District. That gave her grant money to build a kitchen, and after she did that she invited all the tamale vendors to come prepare their tamales in her kitchen. They were very happy to do so, although she mandated that they take the lard out of their masa and begin using organic products.

Then, Mama built a big cafe. Now, the vendors sell their tamales in the cafe, made with healthy products and by santitary methods, and, trust Plottie on this, they are amazing! This one...

...comes from Oaxaca and is filled with black mole and chicken.

The vendors are becoming citizens. A few are opening their own places. Do you want to talk about immigration? Do you want to see how a little help in the right direction can pay off? Ask Mama.

Friday, April 14, 2006

A Voice from the Other Bus

The Great Plotnik got an email from an old college friend today that he hadn't heard from since the day he moved out of the Frat house. Yes, for a short time Plotnik was a frat boy at UC Berkeley, though his heart was never really in it. There were always two roads in college, and the frat boys were going a different direction on a different bus, or so it seemed to Plotnik at the time.

But it was really nice to hear from D.S. after decades. There is a reunion taking place sometime soon and Plot had thrown the invitation in the trash, having no intention of taking part -- it's at a golf club, for God's sake -- where the enemy lives, right?

But...he'd love to see some of those old guys -- hell, we're all old guys now. He just might go -- of course he no longer has any idea where or when the reunion is.

Plottie is feeling his oats this morning -- last night, here in Stiletto City, he and The Great Punkydunky played in a pickup basketball game in the gym where PD went to high school, and Plotnik was on fire. Couldn't miss. Those night don't happen too often any more, so what the hell, he'll just go to his reunion. Why not? Maybe we'll play ball.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Teeter Balances the Totter.

Plotnik and Ducknik are in Stiletto City.

The truck jackknifed across the Ventura Freeway at 4PM, closing it in both directions. So, the Great Plotnik and family (Mummy Plotnik, Schmeckl Plotnik, The Great Ducknik, Little Bearnik and The Great Punkydunky) were faced with a dilemma: How to get from Here to There (50 miles West) without using the Ventura Freeway. Cousin Fred has a freeway scanner, and he was reporting that speeds were averaging four mph on all sections of the Ventura Freeway, even 50 miles away.

That's what living in Stiletto City is like. Everywhere you go, you drive. Everywhere you drive, there are another thousand people going there. Of those thousand people driving, five hundred are talking on their phones, fifty are shaving, forty are putting on eye makeup and thirty five are trying to close real estate deals. One or two always crash into each other. Or into that truck, now jackknifed.

Whichever freeway they are on, closes. All the other cars on that freeway pour onto the city streets. The city streets become filled with molasses and you're barefoot. You have terrible dreams, dreams where you can't turn off the gas and blue flames are pouring down the line and you can't move to get out of the way.

The Great Plotnik should point out, though, that it's not raining. The sun is hot and hypnotic. The clivias are exploding with color. The Internet Cafe is open 24 hours. Lunch yesterday was a mess o' amazing tamales, where the choice was Salvadoran tamales, Honduran tamales, Guatemalan tamales, Peruvian tamales or Mexican tamales. Did he mention it is not raining?

The rain is doing Plotnik in this year. He is already thinking about the foggy summer to come.

BUT HE DOESN'T HAVE TO DRIVE ANYWHERE IN SAINT PLOTNIKO. This is the Great Balancer, and the teeter is still balancing the totter. But those blue flames.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

A Nice Bus Stop and The Teddy Bear's Weapons.

As bus stops go, this is a pretty nice one, where we see Waiamea Lord, The Great Plotnik's Hawaii Museum Critic, waiting patiently for the bus half a block from the Honolulu Contemporary Museum. The bus takes its time winding up the narrow hills from downtown, passes the museum, then takes its time again heading back down.

As writing jobs go, TGP is doing OK these days too. Today he is writing about Lanikai Beach on the Windward Coast of Oahu; a review of Haleiwa Eats (Thai Restaurant) on the North Shore; another review of Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp, where the North Shore turns into the Windward Coast; a report on Hawksnest Bay on St. John in the US Virgin Islands; one on Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park on the California Coast; and even a report on Sierra Sid's Truckstop and Casino in Sparks, Nevada, where the owner, Sid, displays a collection of guns all owned once by Elvis Presley. Yes, Mr. Don't Be Cruel's Weapons. The Teddy Bear. His guns.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Back from Shangri La

The Great Ducknik took this photo of Shangri La, Doris Duke's incomparable beach home on Diamond Head, into which three groups of twenty people each have been allowed four days a week since Mrs. Duke died in 2002. You're not allowed to take photos of the astonishing inside of the house, filled with Islamic art, but you can shoot to your heart's content outside.

What must it have been like to be a six-foot-tall blonde in 1933, as well as being the richest woman in the world? Doris Duke is the woman who said "Only the very rich and very poor can have great sex. Everybody else is too busy working."

It's never easy to go back to work, but at least The Great Plotnik gets a small reprieve today because his editor is still in Spain. Still, it's off to Stiletto City on Wednesday so whatever work there is needs to be completed in these next two days.

Incidentally, for those interested in betting, The Great Plotnik Gaming Division is giving 8-5 odds on the Jews getting out of Egypt again this year, and 150-1 that the asparagus will be overcooked.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Rock Fever

The Great Plotnik is starting to look like a parrot. He now owns a yellow Aloha shirt, a beige Aloha shirt, a black Aloha shirt, two blue Aloha shirts, a red Aloha shirt, a rose Aloha shirt that is a map of the Hawaiian Islands, an orange Aloha shirt that is a depiction of the Japanese navy's victory over the Russians in 1905 and there is another one in there too. He has to buy an Aloha shirt each trip to Oahu, but since he discovered the Discount Aloha Shirt Shop on Kapahulu Avenue, he has purchased three each this trip and two years ago too. What the Hell is he ever going to do with so many Aloha shirts?

Plotnik and Ducknik ate a lot of shrimp in Hawaii but the best ones of all were these, served by this Taiwanese girl and her Mom at Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp truck. So it turns out freshness is even more important than where you catch 'em. Well, unless we'd be talking about Mozambique shrimp in Africa, which we're not. These Hawaiian pond shrimp are delicious, but Mozambique shrimp make Kakuku pond shrimp taste like sauerkraut.

People love to belittle Waikiki because it is so touristy. But there's always a reason. What a beautiful spot, despite the flesh-eating disease that someone apparently contracted by falling in the Ala Wai Canal last week. This view is taken from the Hanohano Room on top of the Waikiki Sheraton, where Plotnik and Ducknik were served decent food Wednesday night as part of Duck's convention. The service: Faux French. The view: priceless.

The Hawaiians call it Rock Fever when they go crazy from living on an island. But when they move away they miss it all -- the water, the wind, the smells, the food, the language, the orchids, the heat, the melting pot, the history, the interconnecting worlds of blue and green. Plotnik and Ducknik always love Hawaii. This time, though, maybe it's even nicer to be home.


We're back. Redeye. Plane packed. Need sleep. Raining again. More later.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

The Battle of the Brides

Reporting from the Daily Battle of Brides at the Moana Surfrider Hotel in Waikiki, this is The Great Plotnik. Decked out in Full White With Veil, the brides are stacked up like incoming airliners in a snowstorm. There seems to be a distance requirement: until one bride leaves the area under the Banyan Tree, no other bride can move. There is probably a traffic jam on the Freeway to Osaka or Narita International Airport, because the bride standing at the hotel front door in Waikiki has to wait for the bride stalled at the concierge desk, who is waiting for the bride who is standing at the Vuitton/Gucci/Prada Box Collection desk, waiting for her mother to consult with her father about how many Hawaiian Host Macadamia Nut boxes they can possibly collect. Another bride is waiting patiently in the limo outside. They are very, very young.

Their grooms are all smoking cigarettes, shuffling their feet. They look totally confused when they're not talking on their cellphones. This Grand Production, to the Great Plotnik, who got married in Ducknik's back yard before God and a dozen people, has to be the Worst Possible Way to Begin a Marriage.

The Moana Surfrider Hotel is 80% Japanese tourists. Can Plotnik work up the courage to speak with any of them? Iie. This means Shit, No.

This morning on the crowded elevator, though, one Japanese man said 'Good Morning.' Plotnik responded 'Ohayoo Gozaimashita,' and bowed. Everyone on the elevator exploded with joy. 'Ha Ha! Ha Ha! Soo! Ohayo!' In other words, after four years of grammar and two semesters of Kanji, Plotnik can now say "Good Morning."

At this rate, he is only ten million bride-years away from saying "So, Kenji, how's the Missus?"

But, hey. He leaves the hotel and walks to the internet cafe, hidden deep within the International Marketplace, holding his fresh squeezed orange and pineapple juice in his hand.

Yesterday was a long bike ride up the Koolau mountain Makua (away from the sea) to visit Kawamoto's Orchid Nursery. It was a long ride up, punctuated by stops at the Aloha Shirt shop and the Portuguese Malasada Bakery (a Malasada is a big, thick Krispy Kreme-like Mass of yummy Deep Fried Fat). The Kawamotos laughed at Plotnik's bragging that his cymbidiums bloomed this year. "They're weeds," the older brother said. "Your grandma could grow cymbidums, hah," said his younger brother.

Back home was downhill, which would have been more fun if Plotnik didn't always think about Ralphie when flying down a hill, and if he hadn't also had a long talk the night before with one of Ducknik's conference mates, next to whom Plotnik and Ducknik had been seated two years ago at the same conference, but who now is permanently residing in a wheel chair because his bike went out of control like Ralph's. He is not a quadraplegic, he can use his arms somewhat, but he has no feeling below his chest, and Plotnik did not head down the hill yesterday without using his brakes.

Incidentally, Brian Wilson was right: See the high school age girl on the longboard, paddling out to the distant breakers on Diamond Head? As Plottie rested on the breakwater with his bicycle, this girl and her friend walked past him, threw their boards in the water, shouted 'take my picture!' and paddled off. Do You Love Me, Do You Surfer Girl?

No, Chef P., Plotnik has not eaten Spam, but he has, inadvertently, tasted of the Canned Corn Beef Product. Yesterday he saw 'corned beef, eggs and rice' on the menu of a Japanese noodle house. The corned beef tasted like...well, like...well, potatoes and some bread and maybe some reddish-meat by-products, vaguely reminiscent of corned beef. An inner voice told Plottie: "Corned Beef? You're not in Manhattan, Dingus."

Heading for a boat this afternoon. Good news from the BZWZ front. More on that later, as developments develop.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp Truck

This is the fantastic Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp Truck that is parked next to the shrimp farm pond in Kahuku. Ducknik and Plotnik drove by, saw the sign, saw the truck, saw the pond, screeched to a halt, and split a plate of spicy shrimp and rice where the shrimp were pulled right out of the pond. Good stuff.

They then continued down the Windward Coast towards Lanikai Beach, which Plotnik managed to find despite many streets destroyed by rain and busted water mains and detours and DO NOT ENTERS. Afterwards, they drove back to Waikiki to return the car. (Plot is afraid the picture you're looking at is actually the beach NEXT to Lanikai Beach -- hey, it was unmarked.)

IDIOT! Plotnik left his camera and his journal in the rental car door when he returned it. That's the bad news -- that he has no brain. The good news is he didn't go far before he realized it and went back and got them.

The next few hours were truly wasted -- watching bad Bruin basketball and hearing bad news about all local baseball teams. Everyone in Round Table Pizza was a Florida Gator fan -- many cheers with many beers. Plotnik sat by himself at a table doing his kanji homework when he couldn't bear to look at the screen.

Ever hear of Ahi Tuna Chops? They do them at the Outrigger Hotel in back of the Tiki Torches. They take the best ahi tuna and manage to grill it for maybe five seconds, then slice it to look like a rib lamb chop, complete with a piece of bamboo for the 'bone,' then slap it all around a mound of Maui-Onion mashed potatoes, that's Maui-Onion mashed potatoes.

Plotnik's swordfish was delicious but the ahi took home the prize. Still, it was a relief that the entrees were delicious, because the 'fresh bread, hot from the oven' was tasteless and the 'whipped Creamery butter' was margarine, no matter what the obnoxious waitress with the Hydromatic smile stuck in overdrive ("Are we having a yummy scrumptiousy dinner hah ho hyuk?") said. When the assistant waitress (as dour as her superior was hyper) brought the Ceasar Salad, split in two portions, each portion had exactly two (2) leaves of Romaine on each plate. Plot and Duck started to laugh, but not Glowery Gussie. Bad bread, bad salad, the meal started out with a whimper, but ended with a big loud bang.

Duck just called --her speech went well. She's done with that part and can stop popping the di-gel. Later on Plot and Duck will hook up and go looking for more cheap Aloha shirts and a Hawaiian plate lunch -- meat and three, Chef P, Aloha style.

Monday, April 03, 2006

An Outdoor Shower with a Gecko

The Great Plotnik took an outdoor shower this morning, surrounded by lava rock on three sides and a view of crashing Pacific waves on the fourth. A small, green gecko ran up the lava rock when the water went on. The Costco shampoo and conditioner bottles were full and the soap dispenser actually had soap in it. The waves are blue and the sand white today, after yesterday's arrival when the waves and sand and street and highway and sky were black with thunderous tropical rain.

The little street that leads into Santa's B&B was so flooded, Plotnik couldn't get out of the car to try hitting the button to the automatic gate, which, at any rate, was busted. After much shouting, Gary, the owner of the B&B came out, opened the gate, and Chapter One, which had begun on an ATA flight from SF

and continued into the cheesiest rental Chevy on the island of Oahu, was over.

Chapter Two is working out well -- a Thai dinner last night in the town of Haleiwa (fanTAStic green curry with eggplant, shrimp and calamari, Tom Kha Gai), waves that sound like the 680 freeway crashing outside the window all night long (and right now), Snack Packs and muffins stocked in the fridge for breakfast, coffee trekked in from SF to be drunk while walking on the still-wet beach this morning and talking to a suntanned, balding fisherman with hips. Kind of like Plotnik, without the fisherman part and the tan.

The Great Plotnik used to be tanned. As a boy, The Soon-to-Be Great Plotnik would mahoganize himself just by walking outside. With Greatness has come looking like a jellyfish.

The sand here is like Molokai, the stuff Plotnik calls Potential Sand. It's still coarse with lots of white shells in it, maybe because of all the rain they've had, or maybe because it still needs a few more tens of thousands of years to break down into the soft, fluffy stuff. A pretty woman in a tiny bathing suit runs by, down by the water, doing grapevines in the sand.

'Those are hard to do,' says Ducknik.

'Nice keester,' thinks Plotnik.

Small houses lie maybe fifteen feet above sea level, behind a layer of palm trees and sea grape, no more than twenty feet from high tide. It'd be a lovely way to live, until the next typhoon. None of these palms look very old.

Santa's B&B is stacked full of kitschy Santa-stuff, every imaginable tchotcke from around the world that has a Santa on it. Uh, no.

But it's big and homey and squeaky clean (even passed the Ducknik Test) and the owner is cool and the Plotniks will be sorry to leave, in maybe two hours, to drive around the island the other way, take a picture for AOL of a beach and review a restaurant, then arrive back in Waikiki on time for the UCLA game this afternoon.

Chapter Three starts tonight at the Moana Surfrider Hotel -- Ducknik gives her speech in the morning at the Conference and The Great Plotnik wanders off, ukelele on back, looking for restaurants to review, cheap Hawaiian shirts and many chocolate covered macadamia nuts.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Fuck You, Jon.

Fuck you, Jon. Fuck you, my little brother. Is this how you get me to write a song for you? You know I will.

But not yet. I'm still kind of numb. I can't even find Plotnik today, he's here I know, waiting for me to summon him up, but things are a little fuzzy. It's raining again.

I've got to finish a project by this afternoon and tomorrow we leave for Hawaii and I guess you're not in any hurry now, are you? So Fuck you, Jon. I didn't think you could break my heart like this after so many years, but I was wrong.

We saw a play last night called 'Happiness' that is one of the most unrelentingly depressing things I've ever seen. A fat, balding 54 year old with bad teeth whining about how he can't get any sex. I wanted to strangle him. But my mood isn't exactly Aces in the hole.

You know I loved you. You know Barb loved you. You know, right? Especially now?

Danny, your Godson, told me last night about when he was 14 and came to spend a week with you and Bonnie in New York, and the first thing you said to him was: "So, kid, you ever seen any porn?" Proving there is a God.

Bronnie says your house in Oregon seemed like the coolest spot on Earth. Luckily, kids don't see the mold under shiny rocks.

Uncle Bobby wrote me yesterday and said: "I'll remember Jon best back when we all owned the world." We did, too.

Aloha, you fool. You fat fuck. You fabulous friend. This one's gonna take me awhile.