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There but for fortune

About a week ago I watched a Sunday Morning lead story I had taped on a whim. It aired on Dec. 22. The story is about counterfeiting wines. Back in the day, I knew quite a bit about wine so I was interested. You can see it here: (It did not play when I used Safari, but did fine with Chrome.  Also, you have to watch a commercial because it’s CBS.)

The story centers on Bill Koch, the younger Koch — His older brothers spend millions to promote and elect very conservative politicians.

To say that Koch the Younger is a wine aficionado understates the case. He has collected 40,000 bottles. He was swindled by a couple people and the story tells how he was bilked, who did it, how much it cost and how pissed Koch is — spending millions to seek revenge, yada yada yada, breaks my heart.

As you watch this video, take note of the priceless art in his Palm Beach House, the fact that he has all this billionaire stuff scattered over who knows how many homes. Check out the freaking wine cellar. Take a good gander at the old wine bottles supposedly issued by Thomas Jefferson. Koch the Younger makes Croesus seem a pauper.

Then you can consider the real story not told in this video. The man is an American who lives among more than 40 million fellow citizens who use and need food stamps. Some 1.3 million of Koch the Younger’s fellow Americans lost their jobless benefits this month because some members of Congress think they’re just shiftless sonsabitches and need a prod to get to work.

Since 1979, the top 1 percent wage earners in the U.S. saw their income increase 256 percent. At the same time, the tax on that income dropped from about 75 percent to less than 40 percent. These numbers come from the book, “Winner Take All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer — And Turned Its Back on the Middle Class” by Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson. They are political scientists, Hacker at Yale, Pierson at Cal Berkeley. You can watch a Moyers interview with them here

In any event, that Koch video made me wonder. Then it made me kind of sick as I tried to remember the lyrics to “There But For Fortune.”



If one is resolute, does one still need resolutions?


Welcome, 2014. While this is ostensibly a holiday that celebrates the new year, it is in fact the Day of Constant Collegiate Football.

I herewith bear the gift of NO — silent, that is — gridiron gab and color commentary.

Thus, if you watch television on this Day of Constant Collegiate Football, you must turn off the sound and listen to the 1812 Overture instead. Or anything except the two guys who allegedly tell you what’s what. I also favor Bach and Scarlatti while watching gladiators of the gridiron butt heads over real estate. It dampens the sound of concussion.

So I offer here all the play-by-play and color commentary that you will need to watch one bowl game after the other. I guarantee that after reading this dialogue, you will need no verbal narrative description of what you see right before your eyes. This dialogue is one size fits all.

Play-by-Play guy: And Jones of the Mighty Mucklucks sweeps the end through a really big hole; he’s at the 49, the 40, the 35, and a touchdown! So it’s Mucklucks 6, Mudhens nothing. That was some run.

Colorguy: Without question, it was a tremendous run. If the Mudhens don’t play better defense, they could lose this game. Defense is the name of the game

PBP: Here’s the kick, and it’s good. Mucklucks 7, Mudhens nothing. That was some kick.

C: Without question. The kicker used his right foot, and it went through the uprights. If the Mucklucks continue to score this way, they might just win this game. Offense is the name of the game. Of course if they don’t and Mudhens score more, the lucks will lose. You have to score points.

PBP: So here’s the kickoff, Smith of the Mudhens fumbles the catch! The ball is loose, but the Mudhens recover. The hens caught a break. Catching breaks of the name of the game.

C: Without question, If the Mudhens don’t hold on to the ball, it could cost them points. That’s the problem with the ball, it’s oblong. Hard to hold. It bounces funny. If they don’t hold on to it, they just might not win. It happens when you don’t score more points. Scoring is the name of the game.

PBP: Michaels fades back to pass, it’s very long. And Whitless catches it. A 70-yard score. What a great play.

C: Without question. If Whitless can catch more of those, the Hens could win this thing.

PBP: Michaels is over the center. It’s a long count….

C: Look for the Hens to run or pass. Unless it’s fourth and long. They might kick. Is it fourth and long?

PBP: It’s first and 10.

C: Without question, it’s a run or a pass.

You also might like Vivaldi, and I have nothing against the Rolling Stones or Shawn Colvin. Or Keith Jarrett, Gershwin, Hank Williams or Puff the Magic Dragon.


Four legs, good! Two legs, better!

You probably remember in Animal Farm the pigs’ campaign for revolution included a damnation of two-legged oppressors — old MacDonald, I think. I’m relying on memory here.  When they take over the farm, it is not long before the pigs proclaim that four legs are good, but two legs are better.

The allegory leaped to my mind as I read the story today of China’s celebration of Chairman Mao’s 120th birthday. No one can doubt that Mao would view the onslaught of capitalist running-dogs in command of the so-called People’s Republic with a disapproving eye. But this paragraph from the LA Times story by Julie Makinen with a Beijing dateline is beyond the pale:

“In Mao’s hometown of Shaoshan, a solid gold Mao statue on a 3-foot tall jade base — said to cost more than $16 million — went on display this week. Leading up to the anniversary, a caravan of 120 camels was marched from Mongolia to Shaoshan over the course of 200 days to build anticipation for the event.”

Maestro, a drumroll for Mr. Orwell if you please.




El Indio, 3355 S. 6th Ave.


I order one of two dishes on El Indio’s menu. Usually, it’s a red chile burro enchilada style. Extra sauce please, Josefina. Just to mix it up, I’ll order the cocido.

The red chile is consistently excellent. The beef is tender. The red chile gravy is superb, a celebration of the red with a small bite and flavor. How they do it is one of the vexing mysteries of the ages, conundrum that eludes me still in old age.

The red enchilada sauce — of which there can never be too much — soothes the soul.

There are other dishes that include the red chile. Fried eggs on the side, a sort of red chile salad dish and the red chile plate with beans and rice are all rewarding choices.

The cocido is as it should be, a flavorful cabbage-broth reduction that requires a great deal of time to cook down. Hence the name of this vegetable-beef soup: cooked. The great length of time required to make this soup as a rule destroys the corn-on-the-cob pieces. But it also forces the other vegetables, zucchini, potatoes, green beans and such, also to meld the flavors.

The beef needs only be chunks of chuck roast. It also is cooked until it is forced in submission and becomes tender. A word about fat in this soup: If you are Jack Sprat, order something else or go elsewhere. There should be some fat in this soup because it is necessary to round out the flavor. It does not mean that it should be excessively laden with fat. There is a balance, and El Indio’s kitchen strikes it well.

I have heard that the chile relleno and carne asada are very good at El Indio. I am inclined to believe these reports. Moreover, there are daily lunch specials that include three courses. But I have never tried them. I know I should vary the routine, but I can’t resist the red.