Sanford and His Sons

29 June 2009

There are few universal truths in this world: Murphy’s Law, Occam’s Razor, Surliness of CVS employees, and the cruelty of children are among them.  I have been thinking about South Carolina Governor, Mark Sanford, and his indelicately handled affair in light of that last truth.

Click me for a timeline of indiscretion and malfeasance for those living under rocks for the past week.

The governor is father to four school age sons each of whom will most likely be subjected to additional cruelties at the hands and mouths of their classmates and peers.  Their father’s careless indiscretions are to be blamed for each taunt.

I was nine years old when I learned of both my parent’s infidelities.  My largely carefree existence was shattered – most fourth graders lack the ability to differentiate the shared aspects of parenthood versus the private acts of the parent.  In breaking faith with each other (and allowing me to learn of their breaches,) my mother and father broke faith with me too.  For the first time in my life, when either told me the sky was blue, I had to go outside to confirm it.  I became withdrawn, sullen, and refused to discuss the matter – not that either parent tried.  Friendships faded as I couldn’t embarrass my parents, my family with such disclosures. I picked fights to vent aggression.  It was a dark period in my life and one which still colors my parental relationships long after forgiveness came.

Now imagine trying to manage all of that on a public stage.  Imagine that all of your classmates, teammates, coaches, teachers, and playmates know your father is a philandering poseur.

Elected officials opt into a certain amount of public scrutiny, an easy choice to make for oneself.  However, they also make that choice for their children and in so doing ought to be committed to a higher standard or at least not getting caught in contradiction.  I will not comment about the damage Gov. Sanford has done to his marriage or to his wife – they are both adults and thus I consider the matter private.  Nor will I comment on the political/hypocritical elements as this has rarely been a political space*.

Governor, your meandering public apologies have been all over the news, but I hope you understand the damage you have done to your children.  I hope you understand how long of a shadow you’ve cast over their lives.  I hope you understand that your carelessness (in getting caught) has exposed your boys to trump leveling taunts from which there is no recovery.  Governor, I hope you know that all of their conversations can be ended with the question “Do you know where your daddy is?”

Where you gonna be, Governor?

P.S. Keith Olberman, you know I am generally a fan; but would you please stop appearing to enjoy this so much.

* Yes, I understand that there was a certain level of commentary inherent in the phrasing.


R.I.P. Mr. Jackson

26 June 2009

When I started writing this I’d been listening to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits for about two hours now – the greatest hits as determined by me and their meaning in my life.

I began with Off the Wall, the first album that was of my choosing and not the jazz of my father or the blues of my mother.  I played Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough three times.  Once for each time I restarted a party with a song that 30 years later still has that ability.

I played Can’t Help It because it was the first song that was ever an “Our Song.”

Thriller was played almost in its entirety for obvious reasons (if it ain’t obvious to you please stop reading now.)  It was the soundtrack of seventh grade for me.  I played it incessantly on my boom box.  P-Y-T was the standard dedication on the radio to any object of affection.  What person of that age didn’t know the steps to all of the videos?  I still know all of the lyrics and could karaoke them without looking at the screen.

Bad was the first album I didn’t love; but there were still some tracks that made the greatest hits cut.  I had to play Dirty Diana because it was the song that we sang to every woman with that name for too much of high school.

For Remember the Time I played the extended remix because a) it was a smoking hot track and b) I threw a “premier party” for the video.  It was a signature moment in my collegiate experience as we all gathered round a television at the appointed hour.

I concluded my nearly three hour tour through my MJ files with Butterflies, the last song of his that I considered relevant.  It was also always the fourth song that I played last on the jukebox at my favorite bar in 2001.

Thank you for all of the memories and the music, Mr. Jackson.  I do hope that you have peace now that you’ve left this earth.


Potential Becomes Possible in a Moment

18 June 2009

“All potential lovers encounter a moment when the harbored crush becomes possible”

Taken from the book Service Included by Phoebe Damrosch

I know that I really like a word, a sentence, a paragraph when I can’t stop myself from reading it aloud.  I read that sentence and the rest of the paragraph at least a half dozen times this most recent Sunday.  I read it twice to the woman who gave me the book and several times more on the patio of the coffee shop where I began this missive.

With that sentence, all manner of moments – simple and complex, gestures and statements, plain old moments – bounded across my brain like a romantic kaleidoscope.

An ankle crossed against mine and left there

Feeling a charge when the big of my hand reached the small of her back

An invitation for a drink

The warm, breathy “thank you” that I felt against my neck as much as I heard it while dancing a salsa to the Latin-jazz band’s Afro-Blue

The sharing of personal space for no other reason than sharing’s sake

A last look over the shoulder to see if I was still watching

A certain long lashed ingénue saying “it’s too loud in here”

Sitting next to a blind date as she talks to another man and saying “I don’t think that’s the guy you’re here to meet”

“My mother warned me about men like you”

All of those moments were cosmic winks (which are as good as a nod to a blind man) filled with enough electricity to turn a switch in my brain if not my heart.  Now divorced for more than a decade, within a five iron of age 40, I am still looking for my first last moment.

Tell me about your moments…


People and Lessons from a Perfect Afternoon in the Park

16 June 2009

Dupont Circle is iconic Washington, DC.  Woebegone tourists have driven around it countless times; every area photographer worth an F-Stop has shot images of it; and on a perfect late spring evening all manner of life in the city can and will find intersection there.

I have fallen in love there when a woman crossed her leg against mine and decided that her ankle resting atop my leg was its natural place, had spontaneous picnics there, and filled more hours than I can recall with competitive people watching there.

This particular perfect Monday I met some people there, and learned a few lessons too.  These are those stories (cue Law & Order chimes.)

Tony is short of teeth, sports immaculately polished black lace-ups, and has a well worn acoustic guitar that he plays with virtuosic skill.  Over the course of at least two hours he went from Brazilian rhythms that conjured images of caipirinhas to old Sade songs and scores of things between.  My friend Dennis and I couldn’t contain our glee at getting this free concert for which we both offered Tony money but he insisted that our gratitude was ample payment.

Amy, cherubic of face, and crimson of hair was possessed with the excitement only those who don’t yet know words can convey.  She danced and sang and waved at everyone within her sight.  I never would want to bend an elbow with some who is capable of not smiling in her presence.

Jack, Amy’s “Pa-Pa,” has grandparental pride that is palpable, and inescapable.  At least 80 years on this earth, still fit and possessing a full head of shockingly white hair, there is nothing about him that makes me think he still couldn’t kick some young guy’s ass like the old Marine that he is.  Thanks for your service Gunny.

Christian Loubutin shoes are gorgeous, elegant, expensive, wearable works of art, but aren’t worth a plug nickel if you don’t know how to walk in them.

There comes an age after which all women should retire hot pink from their wardrobe.

Ice cream cones after dinner are splendid way to end a date.

Among the best reasons to wear a brim (baseball caps are not brims) is that one cannot tip a hat without wearing a hat.

The guy from the six flags commercials has a doppelganger and apparently likes to cruise the circle for younger men.

There is no amount of hotness that can help me get over my lack of attraction for women in dress shorts.

The former also applies to women with “accessory” dogs.

Euro Hipsters in circulation-restricting black pants must smoke a minimum of one Galois cigarettes per eight minutes.

If I sit long enough in any location in the city, I will cross paths with someone I have dated.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent,” similarly, no one can give you a compliment without your assistance.

People who drive convertibles but leave the top prone on days like this ought to have their vehicles repossessed by the Fun Police.

Very few joys are the equal of the simple ones.


Because I Love All Six of You Who Read

15 June 2009

As a man who prefers food that has grazed rather than a plate of things on which they might have grazed, I have rarely invested much energy in making or consuming salads.  That changed this weekend.  I was making dinner for a dear friend and a couple of her friends and had been obsessing over my menu for days.  I am not sure that the picture for this dish was even completed until I arrived at Whole Foods to get provisions.  And then it hit me and I made what  I am humbling calling “The Bestest Salad Ever Made with Awesomesauce Dressing.”

Since I haven’t been writing enough about food lately, I am happy to share the recipe with you.

The Bestest Salad Ever Made with Awesomesauce Dressing aka Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Black Forest Bacon and Poached Quail Egg

One Bunch of Asparagus

One bunch of Arugula

Three Pieces of Thick-cut Black Forest Bacon

Four Quail Eggs

Two Cipollini Onions

Olive Oil

Butter

Kosher Salt

Freshly Cracked Pepper

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees

Bend one spear of asparagus to determine its breaking point and cut the rest of the bunch at that line.  Using a thin peeler, peel or shave the skin from the bottom inch or so of each spear.  Place all of the spears on a non-stick backing sheet and brush with a thin layer of Extra Virgin Olive Oil (by the by, I would rather have Rachel Ray give me a hand job while wearing a sandpaper glove than use the term Eee-Voo.)  On the same sheet, you should have room to put the three strips of bacon which is a good thing because a little of the grease from the bacon with help to season the asparagus.  Place the sheet in a 375 degree oven and roast for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness of the spears.

While the bacon and asparagus are cooking, tear the Arugula and place it into a large salad bowl; slice the Cipollini onions into thin ribbons and sauté in butter but do not caramelize them.  Your goal is for the ribbons to be tender to the tooth but still have some bite.  Start the water to poach the Quail eggs.

Once the spears are removed they need to be “Shocked” to stop the cooking process.  Place them in a bath of ice water for ten seconds, remove them and pat dry.  Cut the asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces and add to the bowl.

The bacon will need another 5-7 minutes to cook to the point of crispy.  Once the bacon is ready, remove it from the pan and cut into ¼ to ½ inch strips and add to the bowl.  Add a reasonable drizzle of salt (use less than you think you need because of the salt of the bacon and the basic principle of not being able to remove salt or any seasoning) and cracked pepper.  Add about a tablespoon of Olive Oil and toss until well coated.

Divide the salad onto four salad plates forming mounds that have slight indentations at the top to hold the poached eggs.

If you’ve never poached an egg before, read Lemmonex’s excellent tutorial on the subject first. Quail eggs, because of their diminutive size, will cook in about 90 seconds.  Place an egg atop each salad plate and serve immediately.

Disclaimers, Caveats, and Mea Cupla’s

While I consider this dish to be an RR original, I am sure that somewhere some chef has written a similar recipe.

While I consider this dish to be an RR original, it was inspired in small part by a terrific Asparagus dish I had recently at Restaurant Eve.

I do not think that this recipe is terribly difficult, but if you are unnerved by the lack of precise measurements, then it may not be the dish for you to try.

The recipe calls for four quail eggs, but you should get six as you are likely to ruin at least one.

I made dinner on Friday and Saturday nights this weekend.  This was the only new dish that I did on either night.  Amongst the nine courses over two nights, this was the star by country mile.  It was even better than my lobster bisque.

I know that I stole Awesomesauce from LiLu, but since it’s in Urban Dictionary, I am pretty certain that she lifted it from somewhere else and is just the one peron I know who uses it.

That last admission may make me considerably less hip but I am fine with that.

I know that I am pretty lame for not having taken pictures of this salad or any of the dishes from the weekend – sorry I suck.


Missing You

13 June 2009

It was a year ago today that we lost you.  I have missed you every Sunday and many other days since.  You were a giant, and the world is poorer for not hearing your voice.  Tim Russert, I hope you are resting in peace.


Been Thinking About Space Since Yesterday’s Morning Storms

10 June 2009

The space after the thunder but before the lightning

After the bottle is tipped but before the booze hits the glass

Between anticipation and reality

Between two bodies before a first kiss

After the pride but before the conceit


Breaking-Up Via Blogpost

3 June 2009

Dear Tony,

I know that our relationship is only five months old, and I know that you don’t have that much experience with long term relationships.  I am so sorry to have to end things this way – via an open letter to you, and on the internet no less.  But I owe you some sort of explanation for why you haven’t seen me for a while and won’t see me for some time.

You violated a cardinal rule of relationships – not just ours – but of every relationship.  You should understand that in long term relationships you don’t do what you did to me – someone who you know, you know to have walked that same road, someone who gives to you and treats you well.  But you don’t treat anyone whose name you know that way.

So Tony if you’re wondering why I don’t hold up your bar anymore – it’s because you charged me, one of your regulars, the guy who routinely leaves you a twenty on a twelve buck tab, an industry guy to boot, you charged me for a fucking soda water, you charged me for water… with bubbles.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Bartenders should know better, and you’re no longer one of mine.

Sincerely,

Restaurant Refugee


Only in the Movies – Really, Just the Movies

2 June 2009

It’s still spring but this was a summer storm – the kind that comes so suddenly it feels like God unzipped the roof. 

I was standing under the overhang of at a downtown Metro station with a growing handful of umbrella-less people waiting for enough cessation to dance between the fat and furious raindrops to our destinations.  I was more fortunate than most as my only appointment was a meeting of the Friday Four O’clock Cigar Club.

Angela emerged from the subway a few moments behind me.  She opened a silver cigarette case and pulled one of the contents to her lips.  She made no effort to find a lighter, perhaps because she didn’t have one or more likely because she looks like the kind of woman who is accustomed to having men light her cigarettes for her.  I was happy to oblige.

“Thank you, apparently it’s not dead” she said.

“All indications are that it’s on life support but certainly not dead just yet.”

I retraced the two steps I had taken to extend my lighter to her and went back to reading email on the crackberry. 

“So that’s your thing? You appear out of nowhere, light a woman’s fire and then go back to whatever you were doing so you look mysterious, is that you’re thing?” Angela volleyed.

“Ha, No, that’s not quite the plan.  I just think that courtesies should be extended on their own accord and not because the recipient happens to be good looking.”

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to let up anytime soon” Angela said by way of changing the subject.

“Yeah, I think I am just going to give up and just go upstairs to Morton’s for a cocktail. Would you care to join me?”

It was a throwaway invitation – the kind that is only accepted in the movies.  Not just because two strangers rarely meet on the street and share a cocktail minutes later (though more people should) but also because Angela is extremely tall for a woman and I am of average height for a man.  Yet she accepted.

I don’t think it took more than five minutes before I thought differently of both the offer and acceptance.  We had barely settled into a corner table on the covered patio and my bourbon had yet to arrive before a string of questions from Angela had been asked (and mostly obfuscated) in an effort for her to discern one thing: do I have enough money and/or juice to justify her sitting with me. 

Where did I go to school? Grad School? What do I do for a living? Where do I live? When did I buy? Parents?

About the time that Angela finished her glass of wine and the first part of her questioning, I had reached my breaking point.

“Thanks for having a drink with me.  If you leave me your business card, I am pretty sure that I can forward you my CV and credit report right from my blackberry.”

“I don’t think that will be necessary” she said her body unfolded from the chair and she grabbed her purse.

“I suppose not, but thanks anyway for having the drink.”


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