Ah, the promise of the new year. Ah, the promise of Gregg Easterbrook’s first column of the year. Ah, the promise of the playoffs.
After the jump, this week’s TMQ…
You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?
We were vaguely hoping TMQ would address the Grambling State situation this week. We know that sounds weird, but we were hoping he might have an original or interesting take on it. Or, failing that, something we could mock.
So what does TMQ write about this week? After the jump…
Let us start off with one of TMQ Watch’s patented musical interludes. This one even has a small amount of relevance to this week’s TMQ:
You’ve got to love YouTube comments:
stephen scazzafavo 2 weeks ago
thumbs up for REAL COUNTRY none of this new age shiit
Yeah. About that, Steve.
Anyway, with that diversion out of the way, let’s get into this week’s TMQ, after the jump…
Latest update on the “Rebecca” case (previously):
A former Long Island stockbroker accused of bilking the producers of a planned Broadway musical production of “Rebecca” pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges on Monday, admitting that he had conjured up fictitious overseas investors and a phantom loan as part of a sham effort to rescue the financially troubled show.
Memo from the Department of “Here’s a Shocker”:
Fifty-five percent of respondents to a 2009 agency-wide survey who said they were resigning or thinking about it cited poor management as the main reason, according to a 2010 report on retention by the agency’s internal watchdog that mirrored the findings of a 2005 report. Although the CIA’s overall rate of employee turnover is unusually low, the report cited “challenges” in the retention of officers with unique and crucial skills, such as field operatives.
“Perceptions of poor management, and a lack of accountability for poor management, comprised five of the top 10 reasons why people leave or consider leaving CIA and were the most frequent topic of concern among those who volunteered comments,” the inspector general’s report says.
CIA employees complained of “poor first-line supervision, lack of communication about work-related matters and lack of support for prudent risk taking,” the report says.
Some bars in West Hollywood and other cities are boycotting Stolichnaya vodka over Putin’s “anti-gay” regulations, “banning ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations,’ including gay pride events and providing children with information about homosexuality.” Fair enough; a boycott seems like a reasonable response, though I don’t know how much good it will do. (I’m not convinced boycotts work against the batshit crazy.) But:
West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran, who has been encouraging bars to join the boycott, said protesters in West Hollywood plan to dump the contents of Stolichnaya bottles into a gutter to raise awareness of Russia’s laws. The protest is planned for Thursday in front of Micky’s bar and will use bottles filled with water, not vodka, he said.
Wouldn’t this be a more effective protest if they actually dumped the vodka? If they are worried about the environmental impact of dumping vodka into the gutter, couldn’t they pour it down the sink instead, like they do with unfinished drinks? Is the environmental impact of dumping vodka that great, especially since I suspect much of the alcohol will evaporate in the storm sewers?
And what are they going to do with the vodka that was in the bottles? Or have they been saving empties for this protest?
These folks are interesting for a couple of reasons:
Mike the Musicologist and I went down to their tasting room yesterday and had a flight of the four varieties of saké they currently produce. Their Tumbleweed Saké is a very dry, kind of light tasting saké; it really doesn’t have any kind of assertive flavor, just a kind of dry mouth feel. I believe Mike liked this one the best out of the four. As for me, I think this is an excellent drinking saké, but not a sipping one.
I slightly prefer the Whooping Crane for a clear saké. This has some nice floral notes, and is closer to what I’d consider a sipping saké.
The Rising Star is an unfiltered saké with a very assertive taste. I think this would match very well with food; I’d like to try it with some barbecue, perhaps.
The fourth saké we had was a “double nigori” unfiltered saké. If I remember correctly, not only is that one unfiltered, but they add additional rice sediment in the brewing process. Again, this is another one that I think would pair well with food; the taste is even more assertive than that of the single nigori.
Don’t get me wrong: all four of the sakés we had were very good, and I commend them to your attention. Mike, who is more of a saké connoisseur than I am, commented that they tasted different than what he was used to. Not “bad”, just “different”. I suspect that there are several factors involved; brewing style, perhaps, or a taste difference between Texas and Japanese rice. If you’re not a fan of Japanese saké, the Texas saké may still be worth a try for that reason. In Austin, you can find at least some of them at Whole Foods and Central Market.
And I’d also like to note that the folks at the tasting room – Toji, the head brewer, and the young lady who was helping him – were very nice to us. The tasting room isn’t a big place, and there were quite a few people there, and we didn’t have reservations, but they still went out of their way to make us feel welcome.
Unfortunately, the tasting room is closing down for the summer: it also doubles as the brewery, and apparently it is just too hot to make saké during the summer in Texas. But Texas Saké is having their second anniversary party on September 28th, so you might clear your calendar if you live in the Austin area.
These are swell folks, and they make an excellent product. I’d very much like to see them succeed to the point where they can’t sleep at night because there are too many $100 bills stuffed in the mattress.
Well, not really “gone”. I hadn’t been back to Ohio for nine years, and it amazed me somewhat both how much and how little has changed.
For example, there’s an entire grocery chain that I don’t remember from my last trip…that takes the Discover card and cash. No Visa/AmEx/MasterCard/Diner’s Club, not even debt cards with a PIN, just cash and Discover. Who came up with this idea?
On the other hand, the tractor tire store that was a landmark on the way to Grandma’s place is still there, after 40 something years. And Grandma’s place still feels remote from everything, even though there’s major strip centers at the end of her road, and even though much of the land was sold off over the past few years (and now has houses sitting on it).
And the old NASA hanger is still visible from the airport. That was another landmark for us kids. (My dad worked there, back when it was still the Lewis Research Center, before it was renamed “NASA John H. Glenn Research Center at Lewis Field“. Which is a mouthful. Not that I’m bitter or anything over the renaming; by gosh, if anyone deserved to have a NASA facility named after him, it was John Glenn.)
This is shaping up to be a long post, and sort of “stream of consciousness”, so I’m going to put the rest of it behind a jump. Before I do, here’s Grandma’s obituary, just for the record.
I was all set to snark on this NYT headline:
For Its Latest Beer, a Craft Brewer Chooses an Unlikely Pairing: Archaeology
After all, craft brewers going back and doing beer anthropology isn’t exactly a new thing.
However, the paper of record gets a pass from me, because the brewer in question is Great Lakes Brewing Company, a personal favorite of mine.
Enlisting the help of archaeologists at the University of Chicago, the company has been trying for more than year to replicate a 5,000-year-old Sumerian beer using only clay vessels and a wooden spoon.
Sam Kellner believed his son had been sexually abused by a Hasidic cantor. Mr. Kellner lobbied the Brooklyn DA to prosecute the cantor. As a result, he was shunned by his synagogue and other members of the Hasidic community.
In April 2011, after the district attorney’s office gained a conviction against that cantor, Baruch Lebovits, the prosecutors turned around and obtained an indictment of Mr. Kellner. They said, based on a secret tape and the grand jury testimony of a prominent Satmar supporter of Mr. Lebovits, that he had tried to extort hundreds of thousands of dollars from Mr. Lebovits.
The conviction of Mr. Lebovits was reversed:
Even today, Alan M. Dershowitz, one of Mr. Lebovits’s lawyers, portrays Mr. Kellner and other prominent whistle-blowers as extortionists. “We see Kellner as a leader of a major extortion ring,” he said in an interview. “He is not a do-gooder.”
On the other hand:
Two weeks ago, I talked with the three-member rabbinical court — known as a Beit Din — in Monsey. These rabbis rarely grant interviews, but spoke now of their moral obligation. Their community for too long has resisted coming to grips with sexual abuse.
The NYT spin on this is that Charles J. Hynes, the Brooklyn DA, gets a lot of political support from the Hasidic community, and is therefore very deferential to their wishes. But if he is so deferential, why did his office bring the case in the first place? It seems like he could easily have ducked the prosecution by claiming the evidence was insufficient or some other issue. The NYT‘s timeline is a little fuzzy, but I’m picking up at least an implication that Hynes’s office had the tape in their possession at the time of the Lebovits trial.
(Also, if you go back to the NYT article on the reversal of the Lebovits conviction, the extortion plot is mentioned in passing by Dershowitz. But the actual reason given by the appeals court for overturning the conviction is not the alleged extortion plot, but a failure by the prosecution to turn over evidence to the defense in a timely fashion.)
Barnaby Conrad Jr. — bullfighter, bon vivant, portrait artist, saloonkeeper to the stars, author of 36 books, and founder of the Santa Barbara Writers Conference, led a life that was anything but boring. Ninety years old, he died Tuesday in his Carpinteria home after a battle with congestive heart disease.
Conrad wrote two books that I liked very much: The Martini: An Illustrated History of an American Classic and Absinthe: History in a Bottle.
I have very little to say about Mindy McCready except this: the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255.
(You know where else you can get alcohol from, with less risk of botulism? Sourdough starter. No, really; the liquid that separates out and rises to the top if you leave it sit is somewhere between 12% and 14% alcohol. I haven’t tried drinking any of it, but I suspect it tastes a little better than pruno.)
There’s an interesting article in today’s LAT about the King Eddy Saloon. The King Eddy opened in 1933 and was a favorite bar for folks like John Fante, James M. Cain, and Charles Bukowski. When it first opened, it was in a commercial district that has since evolved into Skid Row.
The bar itself, shaped in a square, commands the center of the room, with cracked vinyl banquettes lining the perimeter. A glassed-in smoking space is set off to the side. Behind the bar is a tiny fluorescent-lighted kitchen where prepackaged burgers, pizza and sandwiches are heated in a microwave. A beer and burrito would set a person back only $4.
($4 beer and burritos? On a busy night, this place must smell like a mustard gas attack.)
The property that the King Eddy sits on has changed ownership. The new owners (the “Acme Bar Group”) plan to remodel the bar. The current “regulars” are convinced that the remodel is going to push them out – no more $4 beer and burritos – in favor of a more “yuppie” crowd.
Which may very well be true. I don’t live in LA, so I’m not sure I can comment with authority. It’s worth noting that the King Eddy is located in a residential hotel, that there are more residential hotels in the area, and that “a moratorium prohibits the conversion of residential hotels in the area to upscale housing until 2063″. So it isn’t like this area is going to become gentrified any time in the near future. It does seem to me that a “yuppie” bar on Skid Row is going to be a hard sell.