Petting Zoo

December 4, 2009

November 2009     San Francisco

The event billed as “Petting Zoo” was was sold out when I arrived, but of course this did not stop me: “You don’t understand.  I need to be here.”   I stood my ground.  The organizers finally relented, and I weaseled my way in.

Think Meat.  There was a pig on a spit out in the alley off Folsom Street, behind the aptly named Bloodhound bar.  I kind of scowled at it, since it was lacking all legs, shoulders, hams and knuckles, the best parts.  Meanwhile, I savored the complimentary bacon-enhanced whiskey concoction and watched two chefs at two tables butcher a goat and a sheep, in different ways.  Trays of meat floated around during all of this:  blood sausage, fresh chitterlings, rabbit/duck/olive meatballs basted in internal pig fat, beer sausage, chorizo, and other unidentifiable meaty nuggets.   Still, I was thinking “All you can eat? Yeah, right.  I’ve heard this before.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Getting Busted as a Family

November 3, 2009

Lake Tahoe    April 2005

My dad and some business fellows were on their annual ski trip and this year that meant Tahoe.  How convenient for me to hitch a free ride on this one, just a four-hour drive from San Francisco.  My lovely little sister Meghan even flew in from DC to step up to the expense account trough.  We had the good fortune to stay in a 1940’s A-frame house on the ski slope at the base of Squaw Valley.  Austere but functional, fit for a man’s man’s ski trip, and still owned by the guy who established the whole resort. Read the rest of this entry »

#22 Fillmore Bus – Seating Beating

October 2, 2009

October 2002     San Francisco

Ok chilrens, lets get back on our favorite bus line, the rolling home of all that is unsavory about public transit, the #22 Fillmore.  Today the theme is Beat-Downs. Read the rest of this entry »

DC

October 1, 2009

Out of Afghanistan for the summer and probably forever, so back to oddball Americana topics.  This month’s piece is from a correspondent who spent the earlier part of this decade building a powerplant in rural Eastern Texas.  Excerpt from a letter:

June 2001    Ennis, Texas

Statement from a friend:  “Hey man, sounds like you and the wife are doing well in Texas.  I can see it is playing to your considerable redneck side.” Read the rest of this entry »

“Get Your Gear on.”

September 1, 2009

April 2009      Kabul, Afghanistan

It took awhile to edit this one, written originally while I was riding the edge of insanity, near the end of a one-year stretch in the ‘Stan.  I did not change the tone of it, just filled in a little of the background.  It is not a short story, but it is probably my last on this topic.  I was not free to post it on these pages at the time due to the discomfort it might cause back home.  Here you go:

“Get your Gear on.”

That was an optimistic order  – I have little of what this unrehearsed mission called for:  a reliable rifle, enough body armor, a helmet, pistol, six magazines of ammunition, hand grenades, a radio, a harness to carry it all, and a personal medical kit strapped to the leg – I had none of that.  Read the rest of this entry »

News At Eleven

August 10, 2009

August 2009     USA

I no longer look forward to situation reports that occasionally come in from my co-workers in Kabul.   Last week the capital took nine rockets.  This week a truck bomb blew out every window at the guest house that hosted the Halloween party.   In the two months I have been out, five of my friends and work associates have been killed.  Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Civilization

July 4, 2009

July 4th, 2009    USA

Back in the US for a few weeks already, rocking the free world and not missing a single thing about Afghanistan.  I will not be going back there anytime soon, so the entertaining accounts of American subcultures resume next month.   Sorry, no more first-hand accounts of that charming Afghan culture, but I took advantage of having a high-speed internet connection again, and uploaded three short videos that I put together over the last year there.  My video camera skills are primitive, but I was able to edit them and attach some pretty good photos at the end of each video. Read the rest of this entry »

Bail Out

June 2, 2009

June 2009     Kabul, Afghanistan

Today marks exactly a year in Not-worth-it-stan, and that is plenty. I will be wheels up and out of here in less than 36 hours, probably never to return. As bad as this place is, working for a floundering startup is what has finally worn me down, but I will skip the boring business details. Read the rest of this entry »