May 28, 2012

Pray for Peace

... with gratitude and lasting memory of all who've served and all who carry on. 

May 24, 2012

The Head and the Heart

Just north of the border. Windows front the street steamed from the moisture inside. Off to the right tacos cooked from meat that's been stretched within an inch of its useful life, rubbed with spice to mask the graying. Tortillas are homemade and delivered each morning and the cilantro is fresh and the onions sautéed in skillets moist from lard. Latin music blares loudly from speakers overhead. Constant commotion as mothers bark at children, pushing carts up and down the small aisles. Mexican Coke sweats on the shelf, ice cold and refreshing from the convection oven swirling heat outside. Its nearly a hundred degrees and only early May. 

First of the month and not an open inch in the store. Government money-stacked baskets so high there's nothing left behind the glass but hearts and livers and - Oho! there it smiles - cow head. Thirty bucks and ten percent of the check is rich, but then again, so is Saturday morning barbacoa.  

May 22, 2012

Show Me - Minneapolis

Never been. Staying downtown. Z was there a couple weeks back and apparently there's plenty going on. I won't have a have a spare minute to do to any of it, mind you, but just in case, anything I ought not to miss? 

Guthrie Theater
...from inside that yellow protrusion up there

Photos credit: Wendi Kimura

May 15, 2012

Cocktail Hour with the King of Zamunda

Last night the Z and I went for movie Monday and saw Bernie, the new Richard Linklater flick set in Carthage, TX about a funeral director... Assistant Funeral Director...  who befriends and subsequently murders a wealthy old widow, Marjorie Nugent. True story. That is, it's based on a true story. Quite a bit happens in between, as you'd imagine, and there's some truth-is-stranger-than-fiction nuance delivered throughout by gen-you-wine East Texans. The Gossips. They drive the movie. No acting experience whatsoever but you can't script this brilliance. I know some East Texans. Good people, but those pine forests... too many shadows. I'll take the open plains of West Texas. Fewer places to hide. Bernie Tiede hid Mrs. Nugent (Missus New-Gyent) in a deep freeze for nine months. Freezer the Pines, Garage the Forest. 

There's a scene with Bernie and Mrs. New-Gyent sitting in her living room, having tea. She's still very much alive at this point. Bernie splits the sugar cube. Ting ting ting against the porcelain. Camera pans out and there they sit amidst a veritable menagerie. A very much dead menagerie. Tragedy meets comedy and just ever-so-slightly do the two overlap.     

The taxidermy was good for a laugh though I'm rarely surprised when it comes to the stuffed and mounted proclivities of those who treasure such things. Largemouth bass turned study lamp, full-form fox in mid-hunt as black bucks look on from above. I grew up with heads on my walls and I've got heads on my walls now. Tonight though... well I've never seen a full lion mount, let alone one so thoroughly docile, as that which lay in the library where I held my cocktail. A pose apropos for the setting I guess, but I'd have shit my pants if someone roared from behind. 

May 14, 2012

Fine Swine

I was rooting around on the Slow Food South Texas Hog Blog the other day - because that seems as good a way to kill time as any - and came across this Fine Swine Cook-off and Flavor Fest happening next Sunday. 

It's presented by South Texas Heritage Pork, which you might remember as the generous donor of that pig head used for public deboning last summer at the Pearl Farmer's Market. STHP is Texas' first animal welfare-approved hog farm, and I may just have to go in order to atone for my sins of cheering for all the steer-tailing and horse-tripping a couple weeks back. 

May 9, 2012


Every year we vow to wrap up Fiesta week with a visit southside to the Rancho del Charro for Charreada. And every year, come Sunday and the overhang from weeklong revelry, we opt for the couch. But this time, in prep for our fourth Fiesta in San Antonio, we displayed some uncharacteristically wise decision-making and went not for the closing weekend but rather the opening one (how the fact that there are two of these rodeos bookending the week escaped us for three years I do not know). 

Attending Charreada is not a passive affair. There's a full, very full, six days of party ahead, and drinking Modelos from word 'go' in the hot sun while taking in waves of kicked-up dirt clouds all afternoon means you've found yourself at 6126 Padre Drive because you want to be there. To get into those fresh tacos covered in cilantro. To get into that arena full of concrete and painted concrete, sombreros and mariachis. 

It delivers all the pomp you'd want plus everything you'd expect from an Old Mexican rodeo: dustbowl city, cheap street meat, broncs that don't buck quite so high, and bulls you ride not for eight but until they stop. And a few events that may or may not toe the line of animal... well it isn't animal happiness. But it's tradition. And tradition, like personality, goes a long way.

El Rey Feo 
La Reina


May 5, 2012

Percy on Bourbon

Derby Day:

"1941: Drinking mint juleps, famed Southern drink, though in the Deep South not really drunk much. In fact, they are drunk so seldom that when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them like cocktails, forgetting that a good julep holds at least five ounces of Bourbon. Men fall face-down unconscious, women wander in the woods disconsolate and amnesic, full of thoughts of Kahlil Gibran and the limberlost. 

"Would you believe the first mint julep I had I was sitting not on a columned porch but in the Boo Snooker bar of the New Yorker Hotel with a Bellevue nurse in 1941? The nurse, a nice upstate girl, head floor nurse, brisk, swift, good looking; Bellevue nurses the best in the world and this one was the best of Bellevue, at least the best looking. The julep, an atrocity, a heavy syrupy Bourbon and water in a small glass clotted with ice. But good!

"How could two women be more different than the beautiful languid Carolina girl and this swift handsome girl from Utica, best Dutch stock? One thing was sure. Each was to be courted, loved, drunk with, with bourbon. I should have stuck with bourbon. We changed to gin fizzes because the bartender said he came from New Orleans and could make good ones. He could and did. They were delicious. What I didn't know was that they were made with raw egg albumen and I was allergic to it. Driving her home to Brooklyn and being in love! What a lovely fine strapping smart girl! And thinking of being invited into her apartment where she lived alone and here offering to cook a little summer and of the many kisses and sweet love that already existed between us and was bound to grow apace, when on the Brooklyn Bridge itself my upper lip began to swell and little sparks of light flew past the corner of my eye like St. Elmo's fire. In the space of thirty seconds my lip stuck out a full three quarter inch, like a shelf, like Mortimer Snerd. Not only was kissing out of the question but my eyes swelled shut. I made it across the bridge, pulled over to the curb, and fainted. Whereupon this noble nurse drove me back to Bellevue, gave me a shot, and put me to bed.

"Anybody who monkeys around with gin and egg white deserves what he gets. I should have stuck with bourbon and have from that day to this." 

(excerpted from Bourbon, Neat by Walker Percy)

Photo credit: Newman Photography.