Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Three Cowboy Jokes

# 1

How do you know when you get to Oklahoma? You smell cow shit.

How do you know when you get to Texas? You step in the cow shit.

# 2

An old cowboy sat down at the bar and ordered a drink. As he sat sipping his drink, a young woman sat down next to him. She turned to the cowboy and asked, "Are you a real cowboy?"

He replied, "Well, I've spent my whole life, breaking colts, working cows, going to rodeos, fixing fences, pulling calves, bailing hay, doctoring calves, cleaning my barn, fixing flats, working on tractors, and feeding my dogs, so I guess I am a cowboy."

She said, "I'm a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about women. As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about women. When I shower, I think about women. When I watch TV, I think about women. I even think about women when I eat. It seems that everything makes me think of women."

The two sat sipping in silence.

A little while later, a man sat down on the other side of the old cowboy and asked, "Are you a real cowboy?"

He replied, "I always thought I was, but I just found out I'm a lesbian."

# 3

An Arab, and American Indian, and a cowboy are sitting around a fire in the far West. The American Indian throws on a log and says, "Once we were many, now we are few."

"Once we were few and now we are many," The Arab boasts before throwing a log on the fire.

"That's only because you haven't played Cowboys and Arabs." The cowboy takes our his peacemaker and throws a log on the fire.

Slingshot Dragster 1954

The other day an old nightclub owner was denigrating the influence of Islamic thought on civilization.

"They really created nothing."

"What you mean nothing?" I didn't mention that algebra succinctly meant 'reunion of broken parts' in Arabic.

"No rockets, no telephones, no TVs."

"That's all crap."


John and I liked to argue.

"Yes, plus everything man has invented is adapted from nature."

"Nature?" John was keen to avoid a discussion about global warming.

"Yes, nature." And I was trying to stay on subject.

"The car?" John had driven a DeLorean during his Danceteria years and rightly considered the automobile as the height of Western Civilization.

"I remember your cars. They were fast."

"Pure American ingenuity." John thought girls came with hot cars. He was right, but so was I.

"The internal combustion engine is derived from fire and the natural circle provided the wheel, but I have to admit the first dragsters were a sight to behold."

"And a shock to your ears."

"A volcano is louder."

"If you're standing on one."

John had his beliefs and I had mine.

"Hot rods were the epitome of loud."

"Especially Mickey Thompson's first slingshot dragster."

John knew his cars.

"You're right about that."

Mickey Thompson had broken the 400 mph speed limit at the Bonneville Salt Flats.

He understood that all hot rods shared the same problem of producing enough traction on the rear wheels.

Mickey moved the seat behind the back axle and widened the tires.

At the time a Santa Anna hot rodder Leroy Neumeyer said to Mickey, “You know what that beast reminds me of, Mick? A slingshot. You know, the way the driver sits back there like a rock in a slingshot.”

At the inaugural 1954 NHRA Nationals Mickey Thompson and Calvin Rice met in a head-to-head slingshot dragster final.

I couldn't find any online mention of that result, but I'm sure John and I will argue about it one day. He is a master of getting the last word and I'm a good enough listener to drink the last beer.


To see the film of Mickey Thompson breaking the 400 mph speed record at Bonneville, please go to the following URL

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Soviet Hot Rods

The USSR was criticized by the West for their failure to provide consumer comforts. The grocery stores were devoid of potato chips. The TVs were Black and White. Fashion was puritanical, but Detroit reserved a special disdain for Soviet cars and with good reason.

All they spoke about was the Lada.

The # 1 selling car during the 1970s with a 1.5L VAZ-2103 I4 engine from a Fiat design.

They sold by the millions, however the factories could never keep up with demand and I always joked that the USSR never had hot rods.

I knew nothing.

Nothing about the Volga V12 Coupe.

Or the Pobeda-Sport.

The Gaz-Torpedo.

The Babich Leningrad

The 1934 GAZ A-Aero.

And so many others.

Gone forever into rust.

As Neil Young sang, "Rust never sleeps."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Hope and Anchor Hotel/Bar - Phnom Penh

After a week's stay in Sihanoukville Nick and I were ready to take a bus to Phnom Penh. Both of us a had enough of the sea, san, and sun. Upon hearing of our departure Roland from the Angkor Arms wrote down the address of a salubrious (good-drinking) hotel in Phnom Penh.

We drank ourselves into oblivion, but made the 9am bus.

We slept all the way to the Cambodian capitol.

Three hours later we deboarded at the bus terminal near the city's central market, I searched my pockets. The scrap of paper was gone. I had probably used it as a toothpick and Nick laughed, "You can't hold onto anything."

"Do you remember the name?"

My mind was a blank after last night's 27 vodka-tonics.

Nearly 50 tuk-tuk drivers crowded around us echoing, "Where you go? Where you go?"

"No idea, thanks to genius." Nick lit up a cigarette. "Let's stay the same place as last year. You remember the name?"

"Who can take us to Mike's?" The name dropped from an old branch of the brain stem.

"Not Mike's anymore?" The youngest driver pushed his way to us. "Now Hope and Anchor."

"There's a Hope and Anchor in Islington." Nick loved pubs. He also loved bars. I shared the same affinity for a wooden counter with a cold glass in my hand.

"Hope and Anchor.

I nodded to the driver and we scrummed through the rejectees, who muttered Cambodian curses. Business was slow this time of year.

"You come to Phnom Penh before?" The tuk-tuk gracefully weaved around the market's stupa structure.

"Many times." Nick and I had avoided last year's Songkran here.

Sophie's, Martini's, Sharkey's plus an assortment of smaller establishments dedicated to the pursuit of in vino veritas.

In wine truth from Latin.

"Now many girls go home for new year." He veered onto 51 street. The public sanitation squad were still recovering from the Khmer Rouge purges and garbage lay uncollected on every corner. Vagrant families camped before vacant buildings. The pace was 100 times slower than Pattaya.

"What about Sophie's?" This bar was rated #1 sleaziest bar in the world by anyone who had been to the short-time lounge.

"Closed for the holiday." We were nearing the river.

"Closed?" Nick and I chorused in unison.

"Governor say close for religion."

"Damn." That closure blew out our first destination.

"But many other bars open. I drive you later."

"No, we're going to rent motorbikes, so after the hotel you can take us to Lucky's Bike." I was acting as tour leader, since my memory was better than Nick's battered brain cells. Not all the time, he was really strong on 80s pop hits and 70s punk classics.

The driver stopped on Quai Sisowith before a renovated colonial building.

The Hope and Anchor.

Nothing had changed since a year ago other than the bar staff.

We took two rooms. I got the better one and Nick complained, "Why you always get first choice?"

"Because you always tell me it's up to me."

25 Bucks for AC and Cable TV plus a good bed.

Beers 28 baht for drafts and 34 baht for a can of Angkor. Vodka-tonics 34 baht too. Phnom Penh is a drunk's paradise and the Hope and Anchor was a good harbor offering a storm of libations. Food was not bad either. Nick and I swear by the creamed spinach.

"Makes you regular in the morning."

The attractive girls behind the desk are most helpful in arranging travel plans and the boss, Peter, was a good man to drink with as the night nears the dawn.

But I'm not sure if it is still there.

The website is gone.

Same as Nick and I.

Wish we were back there. Ten years ago.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

In Vino Veritas or In Magna Vino Oblivio

From 1847 to her death in 1901 Queen Victoria had ruled the British Empire from Osbourne House on the Isle of Wight. Prince Albert, her consort, had designed the royal residence with the aid of Thomas Cubitt, the London architect. Once finished the Italian Renaissance palazzo on the Solent Osbourne House served as a refuge from London court life, where the family celebrated holidays and birthdays for decades.

Back in the summer of 1985 I traveled from Paris to holiday at a rundown hotel on the grounds of Osbourne House. The rooms were full and I shared a cottage with Vonelli, a CIA agent, whose cover was that he was an European art dealer.

No one believed the native Floridian, but the hotel was a special place and attracted special people. One of them was a Danish sailor married to a Saudi princess.

That spring Kurt’s Harley Street doctor's had advised the elimination of vodka from his diet and the bearded sea captain decided to take the cure on the Isle of Wight, which was the sunniest isle of Britain, while his Countessa 31 was being overhauled at the Cowes shipyard after which he planned to sail to France.

"If I can't be on the sea, then I'll drink like a man in port," slurred Kurt with wine-glazed eyes at lazy lunch on the patio.

“You know when your doctor said to stop drinking. He meant everything," suggested Vonelli.

“No, he said a little wine was okay.”

His wife shrugged and Kurt quaffed his wine.

“Plus I only drink from dawn to dusk," laughed Kurt picking up a knife. Fatima took it out of his hands and he added, "The hotel staff have been instructed to only serve me rose wine. Never the hard stuff."

“Good thing he didn’t pick the dead of winter for this regime,” Vonelli muttered, because summer days were very long this far north of the equator and the calendar was nearing the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year. Vonelli was joking, because we were both drinkers.

Just not in the same league as the Viking, who never offered us a sip.

The rose was his.

And his alone.

Every day the broad-bellied sailor sat on the porch in the same kaftan like a beserker back from a raid on Byzantium.

After six bottles Kurt liked to throw knives.

His lovely Saudi wife couldn't be around all the time, but he treated her with kindness like a Norseman enslaved by a princess who had abandoned her kingdom. I admired her devotion and tried to imagine Kurt before he had surrendered his soul to drink.

"He had been one of the best-looking men in London during the 60s and great fun," recounted Vonelli.

"That was twenty years ago."

"And the last ten have been hard."

"Very hard and Fatima has stood by him every step of the way."

"Sounds like Hell."

"She gave up a lot and so did he. Kurt had been one of the best oil tanker captains. He married her and was blackballed from shipping by the Saudis."

"Like he was shipwrecked."

"She was outcast. The Saudi royals don't like their kind mixing with others, so he's lucky he wasn't murdered and so was she. "

"Lucky in love." I was jealous of their sacrifice.

Not for long.

It was a warm summer for England.

After a week his outfit smelled like an animal was trapped underneath his kaftan and we avoided Kurt throughout the lengthening days.

On the morning of the solstice I descended to the dining room for breakfast. The sun was breaking through the trees. Bird songs greeted the early dawn. The sea captain sat with his lovely Saudi Princess wife. Her words were whispers and when Fatima stopped talking he sent her away with a tender kiss.

Once she was out of the room Kurt waved me over to his table.

Five bottles were empty at his feet.

"Celebrating the summer solstice."

"No, my boat has been put into the water. It's stocked for the rest of the summer." He signaled the waitress for another glass. "Have a drink with me."

"Thanks." It was early, but it had been day for a long time and I sat down to toast his departure.

"My wife will be happy to go. She doesn't really like the sea, but I don't drink as captain. Not a drop."

"Not even rose."

"Nothing. What Vonelli say about me?"

Just that you had given up being a sea captain to fall in love with your wife."

"That's all."

"Vonelli doesn't talk much about others."

"He know how to hold his tongue. A good man. Here's to him. Here's to the sea. Everyone thinks my drinking started after the blackball, but I only ever drank on shore. I would have given up the world for Fatima and I did, but better that than to not give up anything for the one you love and loves you. We'll travel over to France down to Spain across to Ireland into the North Sea. Our children will be waiting in Copenhagen. I'll be the old Kurt. Maybe not forever, but long enough to be who I was on the sea. Winter's big seas up north and the darkness spreads across the Northlands like black lava in the winter."

"So more drinking."

Kurt shrugged and smiled, "But no more fucking kaftan. This one is shot. You want it."

"Thanks for the offer, but I'm good."

Smell bad?"

"Like a bear after an summer solstice orgy."

"That bad?"

"Maybe worse."

"I'll leave it in Cowes. The Brits will wear anything."

We celebrated the solstice with his rose reserve. Vonelli joined us. Everyone from the hotel did as well. We had a knife-throwing contest at lunch. No one got cut. By sunset all the wine was gone and we carried him to bed.

His wife thanked us and tipped the waiting staff generously.

“You’re no fun,” he said lying on his bed like a beached whale.

“He’s not wrong.” Vonelli sniffed at his jacket sleeve, as we descended to the dining room. "As Pliny the Elder said, “In vino veritas.” or more simply "In magma vino oblivio.”

In wine truth, but in more wine oblivion.

And that’s the truth.

Especially on the summer solstice for a Viking ready for the sea.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Ferocity of the Fat Front

Obesity is a human dietary condition, in which over-eating threatens a human with heart disease, type 2 diabetes, the failure to breathe, cancer, and osteoarthritis according to Wikipedia. Obesity is determined by Body Mass Index or BMI = kilograms in weight divided by your height in meters squared.

18.5 is considered underweight
18.5–24.9 is normal weight
25.0–29.9 qualifies as overweight

Any BMI breaking 30.0 is considered obese.

At 93 kilos and 1.80 meters tall I fit into the upper echelon of overweight.

Last night I walked into Frank's Lounge and the rattlesnake-thin bartender Lola commented, "Pete, you put on some weight in Alaska?"

"Good eye." I smiled thinking that the last thing a bartender was supposed to say was how bad you look. "I'll have a Stella with ice."

Only one and I was out the door.

It was time for regain my girlish figure. New York was due for a heat wave. Some of my bloat could be attributed to beer bloat.

No problem, however the Fat Front has actively combated any strategy to slimize America and the fast food chains, Big Farm, and for years their media flacks attacked the First Lady Obama's program to create a new concept of nutrition for the young of this country.

Michele Obama's effort was strictly triage. The fat adults have lost to the Beast. Their love of potato chips and ice cream excluded any hope of rescue, but the same way the crack epidemic died after the high attrition rates of murder and incarceration, these mor-obs or morbidly obese Americans will extinct themselves with their eating binges, creating salvation for the young.

Big Farm sees the future and their executives recognize their existence depends on new recruits.

Sugar-coated cereal is the first dose of crack food for kids. Saturday morning cartoons are financed by Big Farm. Mickey Ds and Lucky Charms drenched in Coca-Cola are slung like Casper the ghost crack to eager devotees to Fat and this week the powers of obesity hired a former Obama White House communications director to front their junk food assault on the young.

The Sensible Food Policy Coalition includes General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Time Warner. They are buying support with millions of dollars to congressmen and TV. The US Chamber of Commerce and Viacom are also members of this cabal to fat up America's young.

The former White House comm-ad is fat. She had to defend her kind. Without more fat people her race will die, because they are incapable of sustaining their numbers by procreation. Big Food is the enemy. I know. At 29 BMI I am on the edge and I'm praying to a record heat wave.

ps Trump is a tubby and he won because tubbies voted for him.>

Death Valley Hot

A long heat wave covers the West and the weathermen are predicting that the temperature in Death Valley might hit 126 tomorrow.

The manager of the Wrangler Restaurant in Furnace Creek on Tuesday closed the establishment after the ACs went on the blink, saying, "We can’t put customers through this -- it’s just too hot.”

Hot, but on July 10, 1913 the thermometer hit 134 degree and this reading has stood over a century as the highest recorded on Earth.

GOP Flat Earthers dispute the present heat wave as proof of Global Warming.

"It's summer in the desert."

"They don't call it Death Valley for nothing."

"This is a dry heat."

For me hot is hot and at 134 in the shade it feels like the sun is ironing your skin.

My advice to those in the Southwest.

Drink liquids, don't move, and stay in the shade.

I'm doing that in New York with a lovely can of 'Gansetts.

It's New England's beer.