Archive for the ‘Bad news’ Category

R.I.P., Anthony Bourdain

June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain was working on a project to bring a market modeled on Singapore’s hawker centers to Manhattan. He wanted it to bring to mind “Blade Runner” — “high-end retail as grungy, polyglot dystopia.”

It seems the chef, globetrotter and raconteur Anthony Bourdain decided to burn out rather than fade away.

I can’t really say I was a fan; more of a bemused admirer, and from a safe distance, too. I read “Kitchen Confidential,” and my main takeaway beyond “Hell, no, I don’t ever want to cook in a pro kitchen” was that he’d be a tough dude to spend a lot of time around, even if you weren’t working for him.

But man, did he ever find his place in the world. Actually, not so much “find” as “create.” It seems now that his life may have been one extended, complicated suicide attempt. “Kill me if you can, but in the meantime get the fuck out of my way because I got all this cool shit to do.”

This New Yorker piece by Patrick Radden Keefe examines Bourdain’s raison d’être, the original pitch for his evolving, “increasingly sophisticated iterations” of the same TV program:

“I travel around the world, eat a lot of shit, and basically do whatever the fuck I want.”

It may also contain his epitaph. Bourdain was a movie buff, and “Blade Runner” comes up a couple of times in the piece. I thought immediately of the conversation between Roy Batty and Eldon Tyrell, the chat which ended so badly for Batty’s creator:

“The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long. And you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.”

Batty would eventually check out, too. But not by his own hand.

Battle fatigue

April 13, 2018

Same shot, different day. | Photo liberated from the BBC.

This Atlantic article from Phil “Redeployment” Klay about the effects of endless war on U.S. troops seems especially pertinent in light of this evening’s news regarding Syria.

R.I.P., Robert Grossman

March 20, 2018

One of Robert Grossman’s famous covers for The National Lampoon.

Illustrator and caricaturist Robert Grossman has stepped away from the drawing board for the final time.

He created some memorable covers for National Lampoon and other magazines, and took strong whacks at a wide range of politicos, among them Dick Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.

In a 2008 interview with The Times, asked whether caricatures of presidents and presidential candidates were undignified. Grossman replied: “Undignified? Virtually anything has more dignity than lying and blundering before the whole stupefied world, which seems to be the politician’s eternal role.”

That same year, in an interview with The Tennessean, Mr. Grossman explained the edge illustration had over other forms of journalism.

“Reporters labor under the terrible requirement that what they report must be true,” he said. “Opinion writers need to endure the less stringent demand that what they opine be at least plausible. Nobody ever expects what cartoonists do to be either true or even plausible. That’s why we’re all as happy as larks.”

R.I.P., Andrew Tilin

February 18, 2018

Former Outside editor Andrew Tilin died Saturday after being struck by a vehicle during a club ride in Austin, Texas.

He was 52, with a partner and two kids.

You can read the magazine’s report here. The Austin Statesman also has a report.

Sounds like bad weather was at least a contributing factor. Let’s be careful out there, folks. It might not help, but it can’t hurt. And my condolences to Andrew’s friends and family.

R.I.P., Mister Boo, 2005-2018

February 15, 2018

Mister Boo at play in the fields.

The Boo has left the building. Gone ahead he has, to join Jojo, Fuerte, Bandit, Tina and Ike.

We — OK, I — occasionally joked that Mister Boo was God’s gift to veterinary medicine, and there was always a bit of an edge to it, because medical care for anyone, man, woman or dog, dollars up on the hoof right quick.

But we dug down, and paid up, because that’s what you do for family.

One tough little dude. “Where’s my dinner, bitch?”

It helped that Mister Boo was a tough little son of a bitch. You wanted to be in his corner. Abandonment, imprisonment, eye operations, bladder surgeries, patellar issues, senility, incontinence, renal dysfunction — they all knocked him down, but nothing could keep him on the canvas.

Or so it seemed.

The bum kidneys and liver were what finally rang the bell on him. They forced him to surrender his disco kibble some time ago, and he considered the prescribed renal diet a bad joke, so I cooked for him. The food was not what the doctor ordered, but it was what he liked, and we figured the auld fella was near the end of his days and entitled to eat as he pleased.

Thus I was Mister Boo’s chef. But he was never my dog.

Oh, I spent a ton of time with him, because I can do my little bit of business from home while Herself suffers from gainful employment. It was usually me who took him to his vet appointments because see previous sentence. And come mealtime I was That Man, the anonymous dude with the food.

But Herself was That Lady Who Gives Me Things. Liberation from prison; baths and walks; toys and treats; pills and potions; hugs and kisses.

In a word, love.

It was Herself who gave Mister Boo a home in the summer of 2011, when she volunteered at the Bibleburg shelter, and it was Herself who gave him peace this bleak February morning. It’s one of those chilly winter days he enjoyed so much, and I’m sad that he couldn’t be here to savor it.

The Boo and Herself enjoying a brisk walk in April 2016.

• Click the “Read the rest” link below for a memorial gallery.

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Hell on earth

October 10, 2017

The peloton prepares for a training ride from Santa Rosa to Hopland back in 2006. The mayor-to-be is at left, and the retiree-to-be is in the middle. The unemployable at right you already know.

You never like to see your friends on the hot seat, and my old bro’ Chris Coursey is on a very warm squativoo indeed.

Chris is mayor of Santa Rosa, Calif., which abruptly went from a pretty close approximation of heaven on earth to something else entirely on Monday.

You can survey the damage courtesy of The Press Democrat, where Chris spent a couple decades as a reporter and columnist. He and I go way back, to the Seventies — roommates at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, we later worked for what then was called the Gazette Telegraph in Bibleburg before I left for Tucson and Chris split for Santa Rosa.

Chris spoke about the fire to his old paper, and to NPR, too; you can listen to that report here.

Another of our old Gazette pals, Merrill Oliver, recently retired from The New York Times and bought a place in (wait for it) Santa Rosa. He’s in transit — last I heard he was in Denver, which is too cold to burn at the moment — but clearly, this is not going to be the joyous change of venue he had been anticipating. I’m told Merrill’s new home was not among those destroyed, but it seems like early days yet, so keep your fingers crossed on his behalf.

We have other friends in the area — Gazette and Press Democrat alum Mike Geniella and his wife T, up Hopland way; Lo Esparza and Scot Nicol in Santa Rosa; Patrick Brady of Red Kite Prayer; and many, many more. Here’s hoping everyone comes out of this OK. Stuff you can always replace, but friends are always in short supply.

R.I.P., Tom Petty

October 3, 2017

Adios, TP.

Yesterday was a sad day in so many ways, not least because of the departure of Tom Petty. He was just 66.

The fake news was a wee bit early in declaring that he had left the stage; Tom managed one more short encore before taking his final bow. He always seemed like a regular dude to me, a craftsman devoted to doing his best in a culture that often settles for much, much less. And he just kept on doing it, right through a massive U.S. tour to celebrate his 40th anniversary as frontman for the Heartbreakers.

His music, so clearly influenced by The Byrds, has been part of my mental playlist for the better part of quite some time, starting with “Damn the Torpedoes.” And I expect that he’ll get a warm greeting from Roy Orbison, George Harrison and the rest of that ever-growing, ever-better Next World Orchestra.

Here’s one of my favorites — “Louisiana Rain.” Damn the torpedoes — full speed ahead.

The American nightmare

October 2, 2017

Mandalay Bay, pictured from the walkway into the neighboring Luxor.

If Charlie Manson checked into the Safari tomorrow morning, nobody would hassle him as long as he tipped big.Hunter S. Thompson, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream”

If we learned anything at all from the good doctor, it’s that anyone can bring anything at any time into a Vegas hotel room.

I’ve been doing it for years. Big black rolling suitcase with a big black messenger bag strapped to its handle, a camera bag, a 25-liter backpack, even a cooler. I always thought if anything drew a floorwalker’s eye, it would be the cooler.

“Sir, you’ll need to return that to your vehicle. We have beverages for sale in the resort.”

But nope. Not a peep. Not at the Luxor, anyway. And I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and speculate that Mandalay Bay doesn’t hassle Charlie either.

Regulars here know I own firearms, but nevertheless believe the Second Amendment was in dire need of a copy editor. And I’ll leave it to another Charlie, the invaluable Mr. Pierce, to bring the heat regarding our national acceptance of blood sacrifice on the constitutional altar.

But I will note that while eyes pop at massacres like the one in Vegas, their lids droop at the day-to-day body count in places like Albuquerque, where we are on pace to exceed last year’s 61 homicides, up from 56 the previous year and the highest number in two decades.

So I’ll encourage you to pester your legislators to consider both the cascade of blood and the steady drip, drip, drip. Urge them to do more than send thoughts and prayers, which have proven remarkably ineffective against the gun lobby. Remember that elections matter (we have one here tomorrow).

And cling to hope while remembering another quote from Thompson, a man with his own firearms fetish:

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

On my uppers

August 30, 2017

Duke City as seen from the Sandia foothills.

I piddled away a bunch of daylight early yesterday doing bits of this and that, and come 10 a.m. I was in the mood for the great outdoors but not quite sure how to approach it.

Finally I loaded a Gregory day pack, pulled on my old Vasque Clarion boots and went for a short hike in the Sandia foothills. I have some marching to do next month, at Interbike, and it never hurts to refresh the old muscle memory, especially old muscles and old memory.

Shoes for industry.

Wise choice, as it turns out. On the way home my decrepit hiking boots performed what Herself, a former outdoor-equipment retailer, called “a de-lam’.” Both soles basically crumbled and peeled away at the heels.

“Sonofabitch,” I observed. “I’ve only had these boots since the elves made them for that down-on-his-luck cobbler, and what a steal they were, too. Or was it Elvis? Anyway, curses, etc.”

So home I flapped, like a nattily dressed hobo. And now I get to buy some new boots. I feel happier than Carrie Bradshaw with a Manolo Blahnik catalog.

Gimme a brake

August 27, 2017

Now I can hit the binders without innocent bystanders thinking they’re being attacked by a deranged eagle.

I got paid for a little extracurricular work I did a while back and decided to spread some of the love around, ordering up a new set of Avid BB7s for the Bianchi Zurigo Disc.

The fine folks at Two Wheel Drive handled acquisition and installation, and now I don’t have to listen to those gawd-awful BB5s gargling whenever I squeeze the levers. Sumbitches made more bad noise than a busted chainsaw.

There are worse things than shite brakes, though. Ask anyone in Hurricane Harvey’s vicinity. The Houston Chronicle is all over the story, with one of the most horrific moments (for me, anyway) being the residents of a senior center sitting in waist-deep water, awaiting rescue.

There are other tales nearly as grim, and I expect there will be more of them as the days drag on. And weird ones, too, about a guy catching fish in his living room and dogs carrying their own emergency rations.

We often crack wise about Texas around here, because hey — it’s Texas, y’all! But spare a thought if you will for the residents of the Lone Star State, and if you haven’t spent all your disposable income on new brakes, consider sending them a little sumpin’-sumpin’.