The Great Plotnik

Thursday, August 28, 2014

OK, So Let's See 'em Again

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Cease Fire

So the Gazans and Israelis agreed to stop for a few weeks. The Gazans are hooting and shooting guns up into the air because they are idiots, their homes were destroyed and they received nothing in return except for that one ship that had to leave for two hours before it could turn around and unload in Oakland. There's a good reason to shoot straight up and have the bullets come down and put more of your people in the hospital. No, wait. You don't have a hospital any more.

The Israelis are furious because they didn't kill every Gazan and destroy every house. They still have work to do.

These little fun-bombs end up the same way every time. It turns out that the Palestinians had to reject the same cease-fire offered last week because Qatar, who hates Egypt, told Hamas if they accepted the cease fire, brokered by Egypt,  the Qatarians would boot out the Hamas leader-in-exile who happens to live in Qatar.  Poor baby would have to go live in, oh, Paris.

You can't make this shit up.

Meanwhile, the Israelis are furious at Netenyahu because he wasn't aggressive enough. He only killed 2,100 people. There are so many more left! And what exactly did they want him to do? There aren't enough bulldozers in the world to do what the Israeli right wing wants to do to Gaza.

What, me worry? About this colossal waste of time and juicy celebration of death? You children who can't play in the same sandbox need to have your pants pulled down and your butts paddled. But only we can do it. And we won't.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Early Warning System

So, if I have this right, the Earthquake Early Warning System can give you ten seconds of warning before an earthquake strikes, if you have the app on your phone, if the phone is on, if you can find your glasses in the middle of the night, if you can then read or hear the message. Presumably, then, you can wake your wife, put on your slippers, grab the dog and go stand under the doorway before anything happens.

Clearly, the designers of this program sleep with their helmets on.  Cuz Seattle, what am I missing?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Red and Ripe

The first batch of shishito peppers remained tiny. But they are delicious, fried up like padrons. And there are baskets of 'em.

And the Siberian tomatoes have been delicious too, but they are ending. The weather is going to get hot again and we'll be buying tomatoes from the Farmer's Market. 

Next year we plant more Siberians, and stagger the planting dates. Also, more shishitos because this season's padrons, at least the plants upstairs, can be so hot you are afraid to sample any more. But downstairs they are all mild. Same plants, planted same time. Go figure.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ferguson and Gaza and a Sad Ending

 So much bad stuff going on in the world, but it's always relative, isn't it?  Ferguson, Missouri is where an unarmed black teenager appears to have been murdered by a super-armed white cop. We've heard this story before, so it doesn't seem like so much unless it's your child or unless the same thing has been happening to others with whom you identify.

It's easy to be on the side of Michael Brown, the weak taken out by the strong.

Yesterday morning we saw the photo in the Morning BirdWrap of a town in Northern Gaza where every building in town is blasted out, there is rubble on the street, no city services and no possible way to rebuild. They had brokered a cease fire, but now that has been abrogated by both sides. With whom do you identify with here? The armed invaders, who are showing the world how mighty they are, or the innocent and defenseless, who have been taken down a dead-end road by their ideological leaders?

Who you identify with determines how you read what you read, how you hear what you hear. Plotnik's Jewish friends for the most part agree with the strong here, that the Israelis would rather not have to do what they are doing, but have been pushed to the limit by the Gazans. It is incomprehensible to Plotnik that intelligent people can see things this way.

But many do. And keep reading.

Last night we heard about the journalist who has been beheaded in Syria. It was bottom of page six this morning, but James Foley turns out to have been a Teach for America mentor who helped prepare many TFA kids, including The Great PD. He was by all accounts a great teacher, who finished TFA and got a journalism degree. Then he went to report in Libya and got captured with several other journalists. He got lucky and escaped. But it must have been in his blood because he went back, this time to Syria. And this time his luck did not hold.

It's easy to identify with this poor man and his family. We have a good guy and some really, really bad guys. The parent in all of us thanks God our kids were not the ones who got captured, that our son had a young family and did not want to parlay his journalism degree into offshore reporting in war zones, that our cousin got out of Sierra Leone before ebola came down the pike, in other words that the miseries of the world befall people from other families.

This is not ideology. This is tribal. This comes from the gut, where all our important decisions are made. Most of us are not iconoclasts, we want to belong to something. A religion, a country, but above all a family.

Who is our family? Who will we live for? Who would we kill for? In the sea of meaningless trivia surrounding us, what, in the end, really matters?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Amour, To Go

Monday, August 18, 2014

Time to Assemble the Photos of Rosie 100

Starting to put a photo book together of Rosie 100. This is one of my favorites -- Scott and Isabella's soft shoe w/canes during "Chatanooga Choo Choo."

If you are reading this and have any photos from the party that ought to be included in the book, please e-mail 'em up to me?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Huge Moon

Sadly, last week's huge full moon coincided exactly with the Perseids meteor shower so, added to a ton of fog even well into the early morning hours, we in Saint Plotniko were completely blanked out, first by incredible natural glare and then by weather.

But what a sight it is. I can't imagine what ancient peoples must have thought about a sight like this -- well, probably the ones up here were still bitching about the fog.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Padrons and Shishitos

August 16 and we can't keep up with the shishito and padron peppers. The shishitos are ripening while still tiny, whereas the padrons become much larger before they turn red.

Eight out of ten padrons are mild, the ninth is pretty hot and the 10th can make you sing soprano. The shishitos are never hot. But nine out of ten times the padrons taste better. 

Sautéed in olive oil with a lot of salt, or even better barbecued while you're grilling up a little carne arrachera...good ol' summertime.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Rebecca, Julie and Grunk

The American Girl Incomprehensiblemania has hit both coasts. Blogmaid, you knew that, in fact you may even be responsible for it.

Isabella's Rebecca is on the left. She comes from a New York tenement in 1890. Isabella's SF friend Stella has Julie, the blonde. Julie is apparently a 1960s Haight Ashbury girl. Rebecca and Julie go everywhere with Isabella and Stella. The dolls have life histories, biographies, and of course clothing and accessories. Julie is on the pill.

Plotnik likes to take his mitt to baseball games. He keeps the mitt on between innings, despite the difficulty in grabbing his beer. He loves wearing his mitt. Maybe he should have had a doll when he was growing up.

Plotnik's doll would be Grunk. Grunk would be the world's first drummer. He discovered two, three and four. Before Grunk there was only one.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

More Great Pizza

I've got the cracker crust down, now I have to learn to make a thicker New York style crust.

Meanwhile, tonight we go to SF Jazz Center for the Yemeni dance party. I'm wearing my accordion shirt. We're gonna have fun.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

What Are These Called?

We bought these seedlings and put 'em in a pot and now they are flowering and beautiful amd two feet tall but I can't remember what they are. Does anyone know?

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Being in Orange County for the weekend puts living space into perspective. Plotnik has disliked O.C. since they cut down all the oranges to build subdivisions, but he has to admit that brother Schmeckl's house is one of the world's great party places.

Plotnik loves Brooklyn and all its low-rise diversity, but he has to admit that Brooklyn came, then went, then came again and now has probably gone again.

Plotnik loved visiting BZ in Providence, the mobster-chic capital of Rhode Island where the ex-mayor, who has already been in jail twice, is running for mayor again, but he has to admit that New England winters are not for him anymore. And, anyway, any state capital that doesn't have its own Craig's List region is just too small for him.

As for Stiletto City, it is hard for Plotnik to imagine living there again unless he was in the Witness Protection program. (If you were searching for The Great Plotnik the LAST place you'd look would be Sherman Oaks.) But he has to admit that Stiletto has always had a frontier spirit unique to itself. It will always be the underdog, lacking in substance but making up for it in creativity. People from around the world flock to Stiletto City for a chance to do whatever the hell they feel like, because no matter how lunatic your idea sounds, the guy next door is already doing it.

Plotnik loves living in Saint Plotniko, where he and Ducknik fit so comfortably into the bubble, but he has to admit it would be great to have a swimming pool in the backyard. It's hard to get a swimming pool into a bubble.

Last Saturday night after the party in Orange County, Plotnik and Ducknik, who have traveled a lot and are already planning the next adventure, sat on the pool deck at the Hotel Schmeckl/Bear and saw the palm trees waving and heard the crickets chirping, and played with their kids and grandkids, and felt their family all around them, and neither one of them could think of anywhere in the world they could go that they could possibly enjoy as much as this exact spot at this exact moment.

Part of it is the insane blessing of celebrating Rosie's 100th birthday earlier that Saturday -- which she had forgotten by Sunday -- she told us on the phone that it sounds like we had a wonderful shindig and it's too bad she hadn't been invited -- but that was just the backdrop. The real beauty was that we were all together and there hadn't been a sad occasion to bring us there.

The point might be that there is no place that will make you feel perfect except for every once in awhile. You can live in Heaven and you will miss Hell. (Substitute "Paris" and "Canoga Park" if you like.) Some of us, like Schmeckl, just want to stay in one spot. They feel weird when they're not home. Others of us, like Plot and Duck, can't ever find that one spot. It's too hot, it's too cold, it's too crowded, it's too empty, too humid, too dry, too Republican, too P.C. It's too Southern, Northern, Eastern, Western. What it comes down to is everyone loves their own bed.

Put that bed where your heart is and you win this battle.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Rosie's Party

The party for Mummy P. could not have been nicer and she was pretty much there, although I don't think she actually heard anything anyone was saying or singing. The Little Bear and brother Schmeckl made their home into the most inviting place on the planet. We swam, we ate, we sang, we celebrated and got to be together and say wonderful things about a grand old lady without anybody having to die first. This is a 'way better way to do it.

Isabella met her cousins Lila and Madison for the first time. They had a great time together. They are the fourth generation cousins. All the third generation cousins, that is, grandchildren or grand-nephew/nieces of Mummy P. got to see each other and catch up after a long time. It's hard to get this family in one place. Only the two eastern cousins weren't there.

When he and Ducknik landed in Oakland Airport, they could not escape the excessively loud piano music being played by a very young Chinese boy who had set up an electric piano next to the baggage claim. He was probably some kind of prodigy but he was mangling the living beJesus out of poor Debussy. Maybe he was five years old.

You couldn't escape it until your suitcases came down. And it was a busy day, it took a long time. The kid was like those preachers with the bad megaphones in front of the BART stations on Mission Street. And yet people applauded after each piece.

Maybe he was blind? Or developmentally disabled? Or an autistic genius? He did look kind of strange.

But who would place their five year old in an airport baggage claim and have him perform mediocre Debussy? For what? Is this about celebrity? Are we supposed to listen to this child play piano and then LIKE him on Facebook? Then, what happens? What a sad thing to do to Clair de Lune.

Once upon a time, Mummy P. really knew how to play Clair de Lune. She played it like it is supposed to be played, on a real piano, in a real house, with a white carpet and a little boy pulled up on the carpet under a chair dreaming about the world that song suggested to him.

That boy got to live in that world for awhile. He discovered that celebrity was not something worth fighting that hard for.

For him, music exists for the moment when it has meaning. The rest is fluff and Facebook.