You’re eating fungus.

The AP carries an interesting story today about huitlacoche, known as corn smut to you Hoosiers and others with a more English-speaking connection to the land. The black, slimy plague upon the ears is actually pretty good for you:

…test results just published in the journal Food Chemistry reveal that an infection that U.S. farmers and crop scientists have spent millions trying to eradicate, is packed with unique proteins, minerals and other nutritional goodies.

Corn smut has a Spanish name because — this is no surprise for you foodies — it’s considered a delicacy in Mexican cuisine. (“Considered a delicacy in” is the grown-up version of belching at the dinner table, which, every 13-year-old who does it will tell you, is actually considered a compliment to the cook in some cultures.) You can find huitlacoche recipes in Rick Bayless’ excellent Mexican cookbook, but I’ve never made it myself. My former colleague Carol Tannehill made some in the newsroom once, for a story on strange ingredients, if I recall correctly. The corn smut had to be specially ordered and arrived frozen, but it thawed into something that very closely resembled drain-clog slime — black and gooey and entirely gross.

Carol prepared it in a simple tortilla-wrap recipe, sliced it up and passed it around. And readers? It was delicious. It tasted like dirt, but in a good way, the way the best mushrooms do. If there was gourmet dirt, that’s what huitlacoche tastes like. I didn’t expect to like it, and only sampled it because I’ve always been a human garbage disposal and can choke down almost anything in the name of science or a blind taste test. And I had seconds.

I don’t have much for you today because I spent my morning catching up on some long-neglected friends, including Hank, and read his rave review of Kim Severson’s new book, which I didn’t even know existed. Severson is one of my favorite food writers, and probably my single fave among newspaper food writers, and this news is welcome, indeed. I bet Kim has eaten huitlacoche, and please, save the lesbian jokes.

I was happy to read this because I finally caught “Julie and Julia” on DVD, and have this review: Cute. It’s a cute movie with moments of shining grace. Once again, Meryl Streep didn’t so much act as disappear into her character, and I appreciated the movie trickery involved in getting her to stand head-and-shoulders over everyone around her (step stools, I imagine). The best lines I’ve read before, as they’re mostly Nora Ephron’s, not Julie’s or Julia. The line about the predictability of cooking in an uncertain world — that’s Nora’s, as is the stuff about not crowding the mushrooms. As a coming-of-age movie for women that doesn’t overemphasize sex (the big theme in all male coming-of-age movies) but makes it part of the narrative just the same, it worked beautifully. It’s Ephron’s best work to date, and that’s something, IMO.

And now on to the bloggage on this sleep-deprived morning. Just one piece, but it’s a good’un:

So, what do we think of the Jewish joke Obama’s National Security Advisor told yesterday? I note the reaction of the crowd, at a pro-Israel think tank, presumably full of Jews: Laughter. Good enough for me. Jews are famous for their collective sense of humor, so I’ll take my cue from them, but Roy ventures into the world of the rightbloggers, a very humorless place.

Phoned-in this may be, but I have a busy day ahead, and so: Farewell.

Posted at 9:51 am in Current events, Movies |

57 responses to “You’re eating fungus.”

  1. Bob (not Greene) said on April 27, 2010 at 10:13 am

    Had the corn smut at Topolobampo some years ago and, to be honest, don’t remember a thing about it. I do remember the crispy venison taco, however, which was awesome.

    Re: right wing humor. When I hear those words I think of three more: Andrew Dice Clay. If it’s mean-spirited, demeaning, lowest-common denominator insult humor, the right wing laps it up. Thank God that guy’s 15 minutes are up.

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  2. Deborah said on April 27, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Eee-gads. I just found out I’m going to be on TV and I didn’t wash my hair this morning. The filming is in an hour or so for CNBC. All I’ll be doing is sitting around a table watching someone draw. It’s about this big box store the company I work for designed. I designed the identity for it and some branding in the environment. It’s due to open in March.

    I loved “Julie and Julia”, it was such a feel good movie.

    Rick Bayless has a newish place in Chicago, called Xoco, on Clark and Illinois, next to his other two places. Xoco is great, we go there every Saturday morning for breakfast. They have delicious sandwiches for lunch and after three in the afternoon they start serving these amazing soups until ten. I think I would like huit­la­coche. I’m crazy about dirt tasting foods, like mushrooms and beets.

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  3. Sammy said on April 27, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Sorry to whine, but “huitlacoche” is a Spanish corruption of a Nahuatl word (Aztec language), and the AP got it wrong about the “floating fields”—they predate the Aztec occupation of the Basin of Mexico. Also, you eat the huitlacoche before it gets slimy, or at least I have always had it that way—just like Euro-fungi…. ¡Viva huitlacoche!

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  4. ROgirl said on April 27, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I wasn’t offended, and although I’m not a member of any pro-Israel groups, I am Jewish. Sigh. Maybe the right-wing bloggers will unearth someone who’s offended (it won’t be easy), but trying to link it to the White House is richly pathetic.

    Ephron movies are ALL cute, with some venturing into cutesy-poo, but I have to say that Julie and Julia, while still retaining its quotient of Ephron cuteness, is much less cute than most of the others. I think that’s because of the Julia Child story itself and, of course Meryl Streep. It helped offset the Julie part of the movie, which overdosed on cute.

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  5. Julie Robinson said on April 27, 2010 at 10:39 am

    I went to Julie & Julia with two friends named Julie and Julia. We thought we should get in free. I’d love to see Meryl and Amy in another movie where they would have scenes together, they are both superb.

    Another weird cultural food is vegamite, which the Aussies love. Our daughter bought some and we tried to try it. It’s disgusting. She also had to eat a wichity grub, prized by Aborigines for its high protein.

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  6. Sue said on April 27, 2010 at 11:07 am

    Bob (not Greene) and Deborah: We went to Frontera Grill a few years back and had memorable basic food. We were fortunate enough to get an early seat because we came and stood in line half an hour before they opened (we were not the first ones in line). My husband had chiles rellenos and by the time the people next to us ordered it was off the menu, their sourced chiles were all spoken for. I had a chickpea torte, who knew that could be so good? We’ve been thinking of going back for a Rick Bayless weekend, making sure we hit all three places for all our meals.
    Did you know that Rick is the brother of ESPN’s Skip Bayless? Accomplished boys, those two.
    And Julie & Julia may not have emphasized sex, but goodness how did they manage to make Stanley Tucci so quietly hot?

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  7. nancy said on April 27, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Julie, I assume you know about “Doubt?” Meryl and Amy in one movie. Playing nuns.

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  8. brian stouder said on April 27, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Doubt was a good movie, which actively worked to remain ambiguous (which I suppose was the point). Julie and Julia was a fine movie, chiefly because of Streep. At the end, I was put off, and (eventually) I concluded that this was precisely the moviemaker’s purpose. Going from memory (always a tricky thing), by the end of that movie Julia expressed public disdain for this blogger person essentially trading on her (Ms Child’s) hard-earned name and reputation – and the blogger is upset! Her Significant Other reassures her that Julia just doesn’t understand her.

    On the contrary, I thought – Julia understood perfectly well what the game was! After Julia spent many years making her own way, along comes this blogger who (from the comfort of home) spends one year literally reaping the fruits from the trail Julia blazed. It was an “All about me” 20-something movie that, at it’s heart contained a delusion, and then at the end, when our heroine was disillusioned (a GOOD thing), her ever-consoling Significant Other reinforces the dilusion in order to console her

    …but maybe I’m just cranky old white guy

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  9. Dorothy said on April 27, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Speaking of long-neglected friends, I’m carrying around a big bag of guilt feelings this morning for not calling a high school friend who found me via Facebook about a year ago. She wanted to talk on the phone but I kept putting her off, thinking I could connect with her better by just sending hellos back and forth on our conversation walls. Then last night I glanced at her page, something I hadn’t done in awhile, and noticed she posted that her 18 year old son died last week. Turns out he committed suicide – shot himself, and she was the one who found him.

    I’m certainly not feeling guilty about the fact that he shot himself, but just that I hadn’t called her last year, and could have re-established a connection that she seemed to want more than me. Now I feel like if I call her she’ll just think I’m doing it due to some gruesome fascination. I did write her a note this morning to say how very sorry I was. But I still feel like shit.

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  10. brian stouder said on April 27, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    Dorothy, that is terrible. In selfish terms (which I’m especially adept at!), maybe it’s better that you didn’t make that connection earlier.

    In any case, reaching out now cannot possibly hurt anything

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  11. Rana said on April 27, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Julie – the secret to vegemite is that you don’t use it like peanut butter, but in small dabs, mixed liberally with butter, on toast. Then it is quite tasty.

    But then, I do have a salt tooth, so take that recommendation with a grain of, uh, salt.

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  12. nancy said on April 27, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I was going to chide Brian for being a little hard on Julie Powell, but Dorothy’s sad post took the wind out of my sails. (Having just watched “You Don’t Know Jack” didn’t help, either.) While the physician-assisted suicides of seriously ill people are another matter, I’m always struck by something I read about people who commit suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate bridge. Only two have survived, and both report the very first thought that went through their heads upon letting go was, “I have made a terrible mistake.”

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  13. Dorothy said on April 27, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Sorry to be Dorothy Downer, kids. Thanks Brian – I’ll give it some serious thought, maybe in a week or so.

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  14. paddyo' said on April 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    So, was Pacino simply amazing as Kevorkian? Really liked it a lot.

    I also liked, for entirely different reasons, last night’s sad, sad new documentary on PBS about the My Lai massacre. Coming to work today in the vanpool, I mentioned it as we all were getting out, and one young co-worker asked, “What’s My Lai?” I didn’t chide her, but man, that says something (in addition to the documentary itself) about how something so transformational (it helped boost the end-the-war cause) can disappear into the mists of history.

    I had forgotten much about the aftermath, but I was really struck by the in-the-streets outrage of those who felt Lt. Calley was wrongly convicted (the only one among many guilty parties, from the village to the Pentagon-cover-uppers). They reminded me of Tea-Partyers, though maybe I’m channeling my liberal feelings here. Unlike the Baggers, the Calley-ites DID have an effect, forcing Nixon to have his conviction “reviewed” and, of course, Calley got off with 4 months’ time served, the only My Lai figure who ever served a second behind bars. Meanwhile, the heroic men who put a stop to the shooting (after more than 500 women, children and old people were murdered) disappeared into history. What a shame.

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  15. Jean S said on April 27, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Dorothy, don’t feel badly–and do what you can. It will be an ongoing thing, anyway; she’s not going to get over that any time soon. Just terrible….

    On J&J–people, if you thought Julie P. was annoying in the movie, don’t read her book. Wow, what a serious pain in the butt she is. And Stanley Tucci? I just wanted to give him a big smooch on the top of his bald head.

    Kim S. was recently quoted in the Oregonian as saying (roughly), “yeah, the NYTimes has had a thing for the Portland food scene, but don’t worry, we’ll move on to someplace new, and you’ll be sorry.” No we won’t, Kim. And from what I can see, Durham is next up in the spotlight. Enjoy it, Cooz!

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  16. Jolene said on April 27, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    I was struck, too, paddyo’, by what the My Lai documentary had to say about public support for Lt. Calley. I don’t know if I knew about the public demonstrations when they occurred, but it was shocking to se them now. I wasn’t too impressed, either, w/ the present-day comments of some of the participants.

    The documentary added to a general sense of discouragement about humanity that I’ve been feeling lately–Wall Street crooks, spineless politicians, tea-party demagogues.

    I’ve always been optimistic about the idea of human progress, even at low periods in my own life. Lately, though, I’ve been finding it hard to sustain that outlook.

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  17. Bob (not Greene) said on April 27, 2010 at 1:06 pm


    I’ve been to Frontera and Topolobampo several times, and to tell the truth, I like Frontera better overall. The only downside of Frontera is the waiting (haven’t been there in a couple of years, but the policy was no reservations, which meant waits of well over an hour), but the food is great. Actually, the first time my wife and I went to Topolobampo, we were waiting for a seat at Frontera. The maitre’d came over and said “we had a cancellation so if you’d like to eat at Topolobampo …” The guy didn’t need to finish the sentence. We also happened to be there for my wife’s birthday, so the splurge was worth it. That, by the way, was the best meal I had there (we got the tasting menu). Maybe the surprise factored in.

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  18. MichaelG said on April 27, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    So Skip Bayless is Rick’s brother. I didn’t realize that, Sue. I used to read his column in syndication when he wrote for a Dallas paper. I thought he was quite good. I haven’t seen him on TV.

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  19. nancy said on April 27, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    Topolobampo is said to be the Obamas’ favorite, fwiw (a lot). We’ve eaten at Frontera twice, and it was a revelation. The last outing included some journalism gossip about the Bayless boys; if I recall correctly, they don’t get along.

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  20. Sue said on April 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    We did a mole sauce out of Rick’s “Mexico One Plate At A Time” and haven’t made it since, although we want to. The reason? Well, even though it’s a basic sauce and apparently every woman in Mexico makes mole all the time, it took us five hours, two people and about a hundred and fifty dishes and utensils. But oh, so good… It was the one with apricots in it.

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  21. crinoidgirl said on April 27, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    I (tried to) read Julie Powell’s next book “Cleaving”, but I found I couldn’t stand her. Her writing is uninteresting, and she sleeps around on her husband. A LOT. She is an utterly selfish woman. Looking on Amazon, the book only rates 2 stars, based on 96 reviews, the majority of which rate it 1 star. Not going to see J&J, or read the book.

    One review sums up the book nicely:

    “Julie Powell tries in her second book to show the world that she has an important voice of her own–that she can do more than ride on the coat-tails of greater talents that have gone before her. So it is a far from encouraging sign that she starts by stealing a title–double entendre and all–from another memoir published not ten years earlier (‘Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage,’ by Dennis and Vicki Covington).”

    And Nance, thanks for pointing us to Hank’s review of “Spoon Fed”. As a (formerly) drunken lesbian, I’m really looking forward to reading it.

    And I won’t make smutty jokes about corn smut!

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  22. jcburns said on April 27, 2010 at 2:00 pm

    Most Oaxacan women buy their mole negro paste (kind of a distilled-down baseball of the stuff in a large cottage-cheese-like container) in the central market because 1) it’s not pricy and 2) someone has gone ahead and done the 8 zillion hours of work.

    And I’d poke the AP pronouncer a bit on huitlacoche: it’s more WHEAT-LA-COACH-AY then EE.

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  23. Bob (not Greene) said on April 27, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Sue, the sauces were what separated Frontera from every other place around. While not as rare these days, back in the early 90s the sauces were just, as Nance says, a revelation. I remember having pork tenderloin (which was cooked medium — a “holy crap” moment itself in 1990, since my mom wouldn’t take pork out of the oven until it was about 180 degrees) with a spicy mole sauce that was unlike anything I’d ever encountered. It’s making me hungry right now!

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  24. Deborah said on April 27, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    I had read that the Obamas like the Bayless places too. For Michelle’s birthday last year the Obamas went to a place here in Chicago that we like, in our neighborhood – Spiagia, on Michigan and Oak. We like the cafe part, it has a nice little bar. Eating at the bar is one of our favorite things. I don’t know why eating at bars seems so enjoyable, the bartenders are usually friendly and they give you something to watch while you’re eating. I really don’t like it when they have a TV at the bar though, it’s so distracting.

    The great thing about Bayless’s new Xoco is that it’s very casual. You stand in line and order your food at the counter, you get a number and take it to a table and they bring the food out to you. Never more than a 10 minute wait in line. On Saturday mornings there’s rarely a wait at all.

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  25. Deborah said on April 27, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    Just a clarification, Spiagia is not a Bayless place. It’s run by the Levy family. After reading my previous comment it seemed confusing.

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  26. Rana said on April 27, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I find myself wondering if I’d be able to eat huit­la­coche safely – according to my allergist, one of my allergies is grain and grass smut. (Which means I can say I’m literally allergic to smut.)

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  27. Dexter said on April 27, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    I used to watch Rick Bayless on a PBS TV show thirty some years ago and I have been to Frontera twice…it’s been a long time ago…something about tapas, but they were all gone by the time we got there,so I remember having chiles rellenos and they were most excellent. I wonder if Rick still travels to Mexico regularly to hand-pick chiles at the markets.
    It’s time for me to take a trip to Chicago to visit Jazz Record Mart at 27 Illinois, too. I haven’t been to that particular site…it seems that store always is moving from one site to another.

    And music…time to get in tune with Treme…

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  28. Jeff Borden said on April 27, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I’ll note simply that Rick Bayless is a helluva lot better at his profession than brother Skip, who was a columnist at the Tribune for several years after leaving Dallas. In a sports mad city like Chicago, I cannot recall a single thing he wrote that was noteworthy. He was, however, greatly impressed with himself. When he left for the coast, it was as if he’d never been here.

    I’ve done something this morning that I have not done in a fairly long time — wrote some angry letters and sent them out via snail mail.

    Three are addressed to the convention and tourism bureaus in Arizona, reminding them that I will never set foot in their desert hellhole so long as the fascist law remains on the books, and that I will do all in my power to dissuade anyone I know from visiting. If the state wants to let a bunch of right-wing rednecks make life miserable for brown people, it can do so without any cash of mine.

    I’ve also written to both the Cubs and the White Sox, arguing they should leave Arizona given the large number of both Hispanic fans and players both teams claim. Some of you may recall the bad, old days when that idiot Evan Mecham was governor of Hatezona and he abolished MLK Jr. day. Leading the charge in anger were black athletes. I’m not saying they changed the policy, but they brought a lot of starpower wattage to the issue.

    Like Jolene, I look at this kind of cruelty embraced by our politicians and despair of the future. BTW, Greg Palast of the BBC was on the Stephanie Miller Show this a.m. and he said this has nothing to do with crime rates or mooching on public services. As always with our Republican friends, it’s about voter suppression. He explored the history of disenfranchising minorities in Arizona, which began with the efforts of one William Rehnquist, who later became one of the Supremes. Whatever the motive, it’s some ugly shit.

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  29. Julie Robinson said on April 27, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    How could I forget about Doubt?! I’m feeling sheepish.

    Dorothy, your friend is going to need support for a long time so don’t feel bad about not calling right away. It’s never too late to send a card or call, and may be appreciated even more later.

    I almost didn’t go to J&J because I had read Powell’s book and she came across as shallow, whiney and alcoholic. No way am I reading about her shredding her husband’s heart.

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  30. alex said on April 27, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Thanks to Rick Bayless, I am a pozole addict and now make it regularly. (Not his way, though, which is a weeks-long process condensed into a half-hour TV segment wherein he makes hominy out of corn kernels in a vat of lye, roasts a hog on a spit and all sorts of other painstaking preparations.) My hominy comes out of a can and the pork is usually from leftovers, but the end result is well worth it just the same. It’s like a $20 bottle of wine versus one that costs $100; you really think your guests can tell the difference?

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  31. Sue said on April 27, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Damned strange way to suppress votes, Jeff B. The Arizona law seems tailor-made to bring out the vote of a large portion of the electorate, enough people to make the tea party rallies look like actual tea parties. Not just among Hispanics either, anyone who sees this as the start of a nation of police states will be solidly in the Dem’s corner for the foreseeable future.
    Anyone who doesn’t clearly see what’s about to happen in AZ before everyone comes to their senses, listen up:
    Tourism and convention boycotts will take off in a tough economic time, especially if other cities, like New York, suddenly see the opportunity to offer an alternative.
    Possible purchasing boycott, if things like tomatoes are labeled by state of origin.
    Lots of publicity for the first through about the twentieth incidents of possible racial profiling, with MSNBC leading the way.
    Lots of publicity the first time someone claiming to be a victim proves to be a hoax, with FOX news providing 24 hour coverage and commentary.
    Important People In The News are shocked, shocked at the first serious injury or death.
    And, when the dust settles, the Feds will still have done nothing, people will continue to come over the borders because as bad as it is, it’s still better than what they are coming from, and Mexico will still rely on money sent from US-based citizens back to Mexico for a portion of its economy. This isn’t just a stupid move, it’s a stupid and dangerous game of chicken between one state and the Feds, with a huge audience watching the bloodsport.
    And you know we need our chickens to pay for health care, so there’s that too.

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  32. Deborah said on April 27, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    Good idea Jeff B, to hit hard on the convention and tourism aspect of Arizona to register dissent. That’s where big bucks are made. My husband designed the Phoenix Convention Center, I’ll ask him who would be be a good contact to complain to and I’ll send them a letter too. I never thought of that.

    Totally off topic, I was walking back to work today after hurrying home at lunch and I was behind a woman who was decked out in a full head to toe black burkah. The kind where she looked through a fabric grill so you couldn’t even see her face. She was with 3 young men, I’m going to assume were her sons. I had no idea how old she was except that she was wearing sensible old lady shoes, so assumed mother rather than wife of one of the men. I’ve only seen women in person dressed like that about a half a dozen times in my life, it’s always a little shocking whenever I see it. But then I remember how nuns used to be outfitted, in full habits and I guess it’s not so weird.

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  33. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    “Cleaving” embodies the sophomore curse in more ways than one. It’s a compulsive read in the same way you turn to glance at a car wreck when your lane edges by even as you’re telling yourself “I won’t look, I won’t look.”

    Vietnam helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson, along with his crewmen Colburn and Andriotta (sp?) never got the credit they deserved out of the wake of My Lai, Soldier’s Medal or not — Medina & Koster should have gotten more brig time than Calley, not that he was innocent. They undoubtedly saved dozens of children in the village, and those men from adding to their store of nightmares.

    Folks, I think the Arizona law is stupid, ill-conceived, and almost certainly due to be deemed unconstitutional, but . . . 13% of the state is illegally present in the US? I had not heard that the situation was up to those levels. And that’s factoring out the “born in this county” babies and youth, with puts the total up over 15%. I don’t know what the answer is, truly I don’t, but it seems a bit much to call Arizonans “Nazi haters” for trying to either a) provoke the feds into some kind of action or b) wanting to get some sense of movement on the question before the illegal immigrant population heads north of 20% of the state, let alone the border.

    Fine, fine, whack away — I gotta go, anyhow.

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  34. Sue said on April 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    No, Jeff, I’m not arguing with you on this. But anyone who does not see what’s coming as a result of this, and its potential to affect the whole nation, has no imagination, in much the same way that the people who crafted the legislation itself had to be severely lacking in the kind of foresight that should have tempted someone to at least speculate what might be coming down the pike if it was passed.
    I don’t know the answer either, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to try to make my voice heard on a piece of legislation from one state that will affect just about every state if you consider the “slippery slope” aspect of this. “Get your papers in order” could be coming to a state near you if people outside of Arizona don’t clearly object to it.

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Oh, I’m with you there — lack of imagination is at the heart of this, not to mention the less savory side of the Tea Party Movement, such as it is.

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  36. Jeff Borden said on April 27, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    The way Palast explained it does make some sense because requiring someone to prove their citizenship is not an easy thing. The courthouse in the Ohio county where I was born burned to the ground a few years after I was born, destroying my original birth certificate. I have a notarized copy from the state of Ohio, but if you put a gun to my head, I could not tell you exactly where it is at the moment. Ditto for my Social Security card. As Palast noted, a driver’s license does not pass muster, because non-citizens also can obtain them.

    In every one of my letters, I noted the problem confronting Arizona regarding illegal immigrants and I did not call anyone a Nazi or a Commie or a Fascist. I did point out that it is an enormous, nearly overwhelming, increase in police power, giving anyone with a badge the right to stop anyone anywhere at any time without probable cause. How can the authorities even begin to administer this law without resorting to racial profiling? Unless, like the TSA does at the airports, they just start pulling over random people. Either way, I don’t want to be in a state where the cops can do that on a whim.

    Immigration is obviously a vexing issue, but we as a nation are two-faced about it. We treat immigrant workers like shit, harassing and detaining them and sending them back to their home countries, sometimes without spouses and children. We treat the many companies dependent on immigrant labor with kid gloves. When was the last time a construction company owner or a poultry processing executive or a peach orchard owner was arrested and jailed for using illegal immigrant labor?

    I believe immigration remains a great strength of this nation. I also believe it is both logistically impossible and immoral to consider shipping some 12 million people –most of whom have only committed the crime of wanting a better life for their families– back to the places they were born. The illegals need an avenue to citizenship. Period.

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  37. nancy said on April 27, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I saw a Muslim woman, not in a burka, but in the other full-body thing they wear — an abaya? covered everything, but left the face bare — walking down the street in GP the other day. Fully covered Muslims are rarer here than on the west side, but what struck me was the way she was holding a Little Caesar’s pizza on her hip, just like every other GP mom picking up the $5 special for her kids. I felt like telling her that if she thought that thing was halal, she had another thing coming, but held my tongue. Maybe it was just the plain cheese.

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  38. Deborah said on April 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    Dexter, I used to work in the IBM building a block away from Jazz Record Mart, but it might as well have been miles away. I’d look down and see it while walking on Wabash crossing over Illinois and always wanted to go in but never have. It is an odd location in the lower collection of streets near the Chicago River. These streets below grade seem a pain to get down to. I’m sure you can get there easily but the impression I have is too much trouble to try.

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  39. brian stouder said on April 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I saw a shrouded woman at a hotel swimming pool once. Her husband and sons (or her brothers, or whatever) were all only clad in Speedos, and they were having a good ol’ time.

    On the other hand, last night when the girls and I were at the ‘new playground’ (as we call it) – which has a wide expanse of that bouncy rubber surface for the swings and the climbing area – one woman came walked across our field of view with a thigh-high beige skirt and a fluffy white pirate blouse (ala Seinfeld), unbuttoned to the middle of her (very fit) chest, and with long brown hair blowing in the wind and motocycle-cop reflective sunglasses.

    Did I mention the shoes? She had very high heels on (I believe there is a fairly crude name for that type shoe, but we’ll skip that).

    Now imagine: very high, spikey heels; too cool for school ‘tude; maintaining said attitude as one walks across an extra soft and bouncy surface area, as if all eyes are on you (and you know they are!)

    No kidding, she was so deliberately maintaining her poised gait, as her heels drove down into the soft rubber surface, that her head was going up and down like a piston.

    It was only later that I noted the keys and cell phone that she had in her hand, that I decided she was a sister of one of the little ones, and not a mom. (didn’t want to carry a purse? Left her purse in the car?! Mom wouldn’t leaver her purse in the car)

    Oh, and Jeff tmmo – as Rachel Maddow (which she pronounced “Madue” with the emphasis on the first syllable) pointed out, the guy who actually wrote this bill is indeed given to writing vile and racist things, and has been photographed smiling with and embracing Arizona Nazis (very similar to the Illinois Nazis that Jake and Elwood Blue[s?] disdained so much)…as Rachel says – not Nazi in the Godwin’s Law sense, but real latter-day Arizona Nazis

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  40. Jolene said on April 27, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    I also think it’s important not to overlook the reality that many, many Americans will think the new Arizona law is just fine–that it’s just what the states should be doing. Somewhere, I saw an instapoll indicating that Gov. Brewer’s popularity rating had increased.

    By the way, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, is just beginning his testimony before Sen. Carl Levin’s committee.

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  41. Dexter said on April 27, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Deborah: When JRMArt was on Grand, I bought a few cd s and a really cool shirt of my hero (and ‘net namesake) Dexter Gordon, the picture showing him blowing the cigarette cloud.
    Then I somehow left the shirt on Amtrak 49. Nice.

    More “Treme-ee” music

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  42. Bill said on April 27, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    About the Jewish joke – they say you can tell something about a religion by how well it can take a joke. By that standard, Jews and we Catlicks have made out pretty well. Muslims, not so much.

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  43. Jolene said on April 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    It’s not so clear that that joke was well-received. The head of the Anti-Defamation League has spoken out about it, and Jones has had to apologize publicly.

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  44. Sue said on April 27, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Seth Meyers, on Saturday Night Live’s “Weekend Update”:
    “This week Arizona signed the toughest illegal immigration law in the country, which would allow the police to demand identification papers from anyone they suspect is in the country illegally. I know there are some people in Arizona worried that Obama is acting like Hitler, but can we all agree that there’s nothing more Nazi than saying, `Show me your papers?’ There’s never been a WWII movie that didn’t include the line, `Show me your papers.’ It’s their catchphrase. Every time someone says `Show me your papers,’ Hitler’s family gets a residual check. So heads up Arizona, that’s fascism. I know, I know, it’s a dry fascism, but it’s still fascism.”

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  45. MichaelG said on April 27, 2010 at 7:47 pm

    What I like is that the bill includes a provision encouraging people to sue law enforcement if they feel the cops are not enforcing the law strictly enough. And of course, they’re going to get sued by everybody they enforce against. Talk about both ends against the middle. So all those little border towns are going to be squashed between the ACLU etc on one hand and the Minute Men et al on the other. How nice of the AZ state gummint.

    Did you ever see a law, rule, regulation, whatever that law enforcement didn’t abuse when they felt it convenient to do so?

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  46. MichaelG said on April 27, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Illegal immegraton doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s tied into a whole economy that requires an indentured sub-class to fill shitty jobs at sub-par wages in one place and another, worse place that people need to leave to make a living. You don’t see Canadians picking tomatoes or cleaning hotel rooms. I don’t care how how many laws and walls you create. You ain’t gonna stop it.
    The whole thing needs to be dealt with as a package and dealt with honestly. Fat chance.

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  47. brian stouder said on April 27, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    I’ve always been opti­mistic about the idea of human progress, even at low peri­ods in my own life. Lately, though, I’ve been find­ing it hard to sus­tain that out­look.

    Jolene, I wanted to respond to this remark you made. A default belief in the basic goodness of folks, and human progress in general, is something I, too, had always taken for granted.

    But in the whirlwind weeks and months (and now years) since President Obama rose to prominence, which in many ways seemed to really confirm all my fondest hopes and beliefs about my country, something else has heavily asserted itself into my worldview and basic assumptions.

    Really, I suppose September 11 is a sort of “black hole” that lurks somewhere in the mix; the inescapable fragility of all our structures and constructs (physical and metaphysical) was indelibly and undeniably placed before us all, that day. After such a day, and in the aftermath of the things we (as a nation) have done since, what assumptions are safe? “American exceptionalism”? Adherence to American “first principles”?

    Honestly, in recent months, with the know-nothing teabaggers and unapologetic racists and so on, I began to wonder if this was the onset of my (long-promised) “mid-life crisis”; lots of self-doubt and creeping pessimism, and the realization that Harry Truman was right – “The only thing new in this world is the history that you don’t know”.

    I mean, good God, all that civil war history I’ve read over the years seems to be breaking out of the old cemeteries and fields and dusty archives; and the ghosts of America’s cataclysmic civil war aren’t just stirring, they have taken physical possession of FOX NEWS and talk radio! (and as we all know, even if an Exorcist successfully drives the demons away, we’re only safe until the next sequel is completed)

    Seriously, I sense that cynicism is slowly draping itself across my psyche, and I don’t like it. Even as I want to argue against it, I’ve about decided to take it seriously.

    We, the People, seem to be spiraling a bit; maybe it’s a thrill ride and all will yet be well, or maybe the People who could make a difference really and truly don’t care. The “I got mine” Goldman Sachs buccaneers and the profiteering hate mongers of the airwaves (local and national) will see no reason to ever moderate (let alone stop), unless and until it comes to their own tears. Is that it? Are they right? Is trying to do the right thing just for suckers, afterall? Is life a big con, where folks who try and be nice or neighborly or giving, are simply the useful idiots for the charlatans and scoundrals?

    Leaving that aside – I think I read the exact same article Nance referred to, about jumpers from the Golden Gate bridge. Cannot remember where it was – I seem to recall it was a piece about the suicide prevention netting they installed onto it. And indeed, it struck me, too, that the rare folks who survived the plunge always said that the first thought after the leap was that it was a huge mistake (of course, I suppose it could be argued that this was a crontributing factor to their survival, but we digress!) Maybe that was in The New Yorker?

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  48. alex said on April 27, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    Brian, after watching Frontline tonight, I’m feeling your pain.

    The libertarian attitude toward vaccinations puts us all at risk. Some people think vaccinations are all part of an Afro-communist plot to make the spawn of white trash like Jenny McCarthy autistic, but their theories have been put to rest by solid science that sees the same rate of autism, vaccination or no.

    One theme that came up is how the Internet allows the spread of dangerous misinformation. On balance, though, don’t you think it’s a small price to pay for a thing that brings thoughtful people together as well?

    I have a feeling that demagoguery and people gravitating toward populist echo chambers is going to be a permanent part of the landscape, and the Internet gives them just enough anonymity to drop any pretense of social grace. People who want to re-fight the civil war have been with us all along. They have their own community, as do those who are more interested in rubella measles vaccine litigation than in devoting resources to finding the cause or the cure for autism.

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  49. Joe Kobiela said on April 27, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    If you want watch the first 10 minutes of the Oriely factor at 11:00pm Laura Ingram is subbing and does a great job on actually explaining this bill.
    Pilot Joe

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  50. nancy said on April 27, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Brian, That was indeed in the New Yorker. That article also became the basis for “The Bridge,” a documentary about the GG as a suicide lure. The filmmakers got some heavy criticism for showing jumpers (footage collected by remote, unmanned cameras). Never saw it myself. One of these days it’ll roll around on IFC or Sundance, and I’ll check it out. Good wiki article on how the movie was crafted, here.

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  51. MichaelG said on April 27, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    In the ’70s a former girl friend of mine jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge. Girl friend, shit. We were lovers and lived together for several years before we broke up. I then had various short term relationships before meeting T whom I married and from I just split a couple of years ago. Even after I married, R and I would have an occasional lunch, sanctioned. R went off the bridge about two years after I married T. She died some hours later in Letterman Hospital. The whole thing was just an unspeakable horror. The memorial service and facing her father and sister, both of whom I had known well when we were together, was awful. I still have bad moments because of R’s death. It isn’t any consolation that R’s mother had also ended her own life.

    In the end, it was the suicide itself and the damning knowledge that I was a contributor, not the method she chose that was the overriding thing. I hope they don’t put up any barriers. People will always find a way. Suicide didn’t begin with the Golden Gate Bridge. One point, jumping off the bridge isn’t a bid for attention. It’s the real thing.

    I’ve heard about that movie. I’ll never watch it.

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  52. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on April 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm

    MichaelG & Dorothy, grace & peace to you and those even more closely affected by those deaths. I’m so sorry you have to deal with that sort of sorrow. Telling your stories will help others, and I hope it helps you.

    Cousin Jeff, you’ve never violated Godwin’s Law, and thanks for that, but I wasn’t even thinking of you. Just trying to think how we humanely and compassionately and Amurricanly-ish-ly deal with a state where 1 out of 5 residents is an unofficial entrant from a developing economy where our “developed” economy & polity sees fit to not work too hard to keep them out because there’s a pocketbook upside for us in nudging/drawing them across the border in pursuit of putting *anything* in their pocketbook.

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  53. basset said on April 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm

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  54. del said on April 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Sorry to hear that MichaelG.

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  55. Jean S said on April 27, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    oh my then, I guess I’m going to have to note that the best I’ve read about suicide is “Night Falls Fast” by Kay Redfield Jamison. I could add a lot more, but you know, that pretty much sums it up.

    edited to add: I lived in SF for about 7 years, w/in walking distance of the GG Bridge, and the suicide stories in the Chronicle inevitably noted that people almost always jump facing The City, not the open ocean.

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  56. Dexter said on April 28, 2010 at 1:30 am

    brianstouder: Evan Thomas has a new book out…”Thrillingly written and brilliantly researched, THE WAR LOVERS is the story of six men at the center of a transforming event in U.S. history: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, McKinley, William James, and Thomas Reed, and confirms once more than Evan Thomas is a popular historian of the first rank. ” (excerpted from link at bottom of post here)

    It is almost a must-read for me, and I am not nearly the student of US history that you are. This is the stuff we not only were never taught in high school, but never heard much about as adults. Thomas points out how the nature of people in this country is to forget the mistakes of past wars and with time buffering the horror of war, charging into another one. I never would have believed, on April 30, 1975, as I watched US helicopters shoved into the South China Sea, and people scrambling to get off the roof of the Saigon US Embassy , that we would be involved less than thirty years later in another catastrophic war. And probably when I am drawing my last breaths , if I live to be a very old man, we’ll be charging up another San Juan Hill, somewhere. The Maine? I always believed that tall tale…how naive!

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  57. Dexter said on April 28, 2010 at 1:59 am

    paddyo’: Al Pacino’s best work of the last 35 years. He really nailed Dr. Jack.

    The actual VW Microbus used by the real Dr. Jack can be had. It will be sold at Auburn, Indiana in May.

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