Archive for March, 2006

There’s A Sleepy Town, South Of The Border IV

March 25, 2006

Sorry to have fallen behind on the Cabo San Lucas pictures. Busy week.

Anyway, this is the “cheesy Cabo” installment, which wouldn’t be complete without a shot from Sammy Hagar’s bar, Cabo Wabo:


We apparently missed seeing Hagar play by about half an hour on our first night in town, which would have been fun, but as Homer would say, “What’reyagonnado?” Big thumbs-down to the signature “Waboritas”; probably the worst drinks we had in all of Cabo, and certainly the most expensive. Memo to Sammy: adding Blue Curacao was a really, really bad idea.

Also very cheesy, but (admittedly) fun, was a booze cruise on the Buccaneer Queen, which is basically a floating prop from a bad Geena Davis movie that’s been converted into a tourist trap:


Once onboard, you’re treated to a performance from a bunch of locals in “pirate” gear, which isn’t the worst cheesy floor show I’ve ever seen (at least as long as they were serving complementary drinks):


During the cruise, we went by Pedregal, apparently the vacation home of many, many very rich and famous types. If you can believe a bunch of Mexican tourist-show pirates, the houses in this picture are owned by, among others, Bill Gates, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madonna, and Sylvester Stallone:


And last, but certainly not least… I don’t normally take requests, but when Den Beste calls, you gotta accept the charges. Spring Break is one of Cabo’s busy seasons, and it was just getting started when we were in town. I note for the record that my wife pointed out this boat to me as we were on our way back into the harbor:



Tales From The Occupation

March 25, 2006


Hat tip: Jonah.


March 24, 2006

I like Colin Cowherd’s show on ESPN radio, even though I don’t get to listen to it (or any afternoon radio) all that often. Have to say I’ll probably be listening to Cowherd a lot less after reading this story.

Seems that Cowherd read, on the air, a copy of this (very funny) post about former Texas quarterback Vince Young’s problems with the NFL’s “Wonderlic” IQ test. The post originated on the consistently entertaining M-Zone Michigan fan blog (I’ve linked to it before), but Cowherd didn’t credit the source on the air. The M-Zone guys emailed him about it, and got the following response:


Cowherd made things worse by going out of his way to insult other listeners who complained by email. Uncool, to say the least. Even if Cowherd didn’t know the joke originated on a blog when he first read it (which would be understandable), he didn’t do himself any favors by acting like a jerk when the facts were pointed out to him.

As I observed a while back, MSM arrogance certainly isn’t confined to the news or editorial sections. Cowherd ought to get over himself, and apologize.

UPDATE: According to Gelf, somebody at ESPN got Cowherd’s attention; he’s expected to credit M-Zone for the bit on Monday:

Cowherd will credit M Zone on his next show, airing Monday, ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told Gelf on Friday afternoon. “Reading listeners’ emails on the air is a regular part of the show,” Krulewitz said. “The entertaining material discussed came from a listener email without any reference to a website. We’ve since been made aware of where it came from and plan to give Michiganzone the credit the next time Colin’s on the air, on Monday.”

Gelf asked Krulewitz if emails attributed to Cowherd and published on M Zone were real, and if so, if ESPN was OK with Cowherd calling his critics “whiners.” Krulewitz said of the emails, “We think they were inappropriate, and we spoke to Colin about them, and he admits that he overreacted.”

Gelf sent this post to Yost and the other folks at M Zone. They replied by email, “Wow. I’m stunned. That’s all we ever wanted. If that indeed happens, I consider this matter resolved.”

UPDATE UPDATE: Cowherd made a very handsome apology on Monday. Click here for an MP3 of his comments.

Second Line, First Rate

March 16, 2006

Matt Labash, one of my favorite writers over the last decade, turns in this stunning Weekly Standard piece about the first post-Katrina Mardi Gras in New Orleans. If I actually had the nerve to write for a living, I would hope to God that I’d be able to write like this:

Shane, once a happy-go-lucky type, quick to laugh and slow to anger, often feels as though he’s losing his mind. His wife, Christine, tells me that he now barks at her and everyone else over the slightest provocation, or over none at all. He also drinks too much. Formerly a good-time social drinker, he now drinks during the day, and can only sleep after several glasses of bourbon and a Xanax. “If I don’t drink, I don’t sleep–period,” he admits. When he’s not thinking about the insurance money that he can’t spend, he thinks about the savings that he already has spent (about $60,000 of it, between rentals, unreimbursed repairs, and transportation to and fro, which has seen him put over 30,000 miles on his truck in four months).

Since Katrina, he’s spent over $10,000 to board his beloved five dogs. He’s considered putting slugs in their brains, just to end their anxiety of being checked in and out of kennels when they’re used to living in a spacious barn, and having pastures to run. Because of it, they have skin problems, and have dropped all kinds of weight. The other night, Shane ended up in the emergency room, his throat swelling so severely that he had to spit in a wastebasket instead of swallowing–perhaps because of the stress, perhaps because of the mold and the toxic mud which comes up through holes in his first floor. The air quality is causing a discharge from the baby’s eyes.

Shane misses a lot of simple things: lying on a couch, which he no longer has, getting a glass of water in the middle of the night without putting on a coat, thawing his seafood in the kitchen instead of the bathroom sink, walking barefoot in his place without getting an infection. He wants out of what was once his dream house, since he can’t afford to fix it. It’s strangling him. But a part of him wants to stay.

Or this:

Rebirth [Brass Band] got their start two decades ago, hauling their high school band instruments home through the Quarter, playing for Popeye’s and beer money. A motley crew in Rocawear jerseys, Saints shirts, and headbands, their music is fierce without being angry, exuberant without being giddy. They do a short set at the Zulu event, then move across the street in front of Harrah’s casino to really air things out. I watch them take the stage, their music pulling in throngs of unsuspecting stragglers as though they had magnets attached to their foreheads. Rebirth doesn’t just kill, they smite, and not just men, but women, children, and livestock.

Their bass drum and tuba lay a tandem, chest-thumping bottom, while their stable of horn players hold the loose groove, careening around each other through the intersection, then smacking together like bumper cars. They sing, “Feel like funkin’ it up.” And they’re not the only ones. White girls in tight jeans feel like funkin’ it up. Black men in Kangols feel like funkin’ it up. Old white women dancing with young black men (not a sight you see everyday, even in New Orleans) feel like funkin’ it up. I might’ve felt like funkin’ it up, too, if I hadn’t been taking notes on all the others funkin’ it up, which, mercifully, I was.

A 12-year-old black kid jumps on the stage and feels like funkin’ it up for the rest of the show, dancing every dance he knows: the dandruff-brush, the jump-the-turnstile, the Azusa Street Fire-Baptized Holiness shake. He dances so hard, and with such conviction, that he distracts the trumpet players, making them forget themselves, as they so skillfully make the rest us do the same. Philip Frazier, the band’s cofounder and tuba player, explains how it works to me after the show: “You get white and black together. Everybody in one accord. The music just takes their souls–that’s when we’re doing our job.”

Or… oh, hell, just read the whole thing.


March 15, 2006

Radio host and consumer advisor Clark Howard will announce very soon (possibly tomorrow) that he’ll be a candidate for mayor of Atlanta in 2009.

I wish Howard well, and if I lived inside the city limits I’d vote for him (I don’t), but he’s got one major problem: he’s not even remotely corrupt, and corruption is a primary requirement for any government job in Atlanta or Fulton County.

There’s A Sleepy Town, South Of The Border III

March 15, 2006

We stayed at Solmar, which is one of the oldest hotels in Cabo San Lucas, and the last resort before Land’s End on the Pacific Ocean side of Baja California:


Quite nice. I always approve of pools with swim-up bars. If you walk down to the beach from the pool and take a left, you’ll see these rocks on the southern end of Playa Solmar:


… and here’s the view at the shoreline:


If there were only a half-submerged Statue of Liberty in the water, you’d spontaneously yell, “YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP!!!”

There’s A Sleepy Town, South Of The Border II

March 14, 2006

Our favorite stop in Cabo was the Monkey Business Bar, in a little cove off the main drag:


Courtesy of bartenders Ricardo and Victor…


… here’s a recipe for the Best Damn Margaritas, Ever:

2 shots Don Julio Blanco Tequila (if you ever drink Jose Cuervo, you deserve what you get)

1 shot Damiana (a local delicacy in Baja)

1 shot Controy

squirt of Madrile

There’s A Sleepy Town, South Of The Border

March 14, 2006

I wasn’t able to fill in while Steve was sick last week because, er, I was busy drinking and swimming and generally having a good time in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico:

El Arco.jpg

More later…

Oh, That Incestuous Media

March 13, 2006

We don’t subscribe to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, our local paper, but occasionally the delivery guy will drop off a complementary copy. Last Sunday was one of those days; here’s an image of the front page. The image is pretty poor, but if you look in the top left-hand corner, you’ll see a very large, prominent blurb for a story titled “Monica’s Moving.” The extensive article inside (in the business section, no less) is about how Monica Kaufman, arguably Atlanta’s most recognizable local TV news host, has a $4 million house up for sale.

That’s a pretty good advertisement, don’t you think? Priceless, even, considering the AJC doesn’t sell advertising on that particular piece of Sunday front-page acreage. I mean, let’s say you had a house on the market. How much would it be worth to you to have it advertised for free on the front page of the paper?

Of course, you or I wouldn’t get that kind of special treatment. You have to, er, know somebody to get your for-sale listing put up that prominently. And here’s a kicker that somehow made it past the legal and ethical guardians at the AJC–Kaufman and the paper’s editors all work for the same conglomerate, Cox Communications. Nope, no conflicts of interest there!

But hey, I’m sure I’m just being cynical. No doubt everybody involved are all unselfish guardians of the public good–and of what we ought to know about. And clearly, we didn’t need to know that Kaufman works for the AJC’s owners, since that little fact isn’t mentioned in the article.

Ah, what’s to get upset about? Since when do “journalists” have to live by the same rules as the little people?

Crunchy Consternation

March 2, 2006

NRO recently launched a new blog to promote and discuss Rod Dreher’s book Crunchy Conservatives. I confess up front that I haven’t read the book, and after reading the blog, I don’t have any particular plans to do so. Without going into Goldbergian levels of analysis and/or taxonomy, the “Crunchies” seem less like brave new ideologues than scolds looking for an ideology that fits their personalities and preferences. To put it another way, they remind me an awful lot of the people who join a homeowners association so they can force their neighbors to cut the grass more often.

But that’s not the point of this post. Sorry.

No, in this case I was really inspired to write after seeing this letter to the Crunchy blog:

If you believe that consumer purchases should reflect something more than selfishness, your second biggest consumer purchase (after your house) should be of an auto produced by an industry on which hundreds of thousands of Americans and large sections of America depend.

Now, I’ve read and heard stuff like that before, and I’m sure you have too. I used to believe it myself; I’ve owned four Ford cars, and I specifically avoided “buying foreign” when I went shopping for them. They were all fun cars (well, okay, the LTD that was handed down from my mom, not so much), at least for the first few years.

But funny thing, every one of those Fords started living up to the reputation of “Fixed Or Repaired Daily” right around the 70,000 mile mark, and the repair costs started escalating geometrically until they literally weren’t worth owning any more, generally before 120,000 miles or so.

The transmission on the last one, a 1995 Thunderbird, started skipping just a couple of thousand miles shy of the end of my extended warranty. So I took it to my then-local dealership, located in Panama City, Florida (I won’t name it here, but the first of two surnames on the sign rhymes with “crook”). The service manager came back to me and said, “The work you need ain’t covered by the warranty, it just needs a transmission service. $275 will get you new transmission fluid and you’ll be out of here.”

I shook my head, took my keys from him and never set foot on the premises again. Then I asked around for an honest transmission guy, to get a second opinion. The owner of that shop sent one of his mechanics to test-drive my car, and before it was out of sight asked me about my problem. After I described it to him, and without my ever telling him I hadn’t come to him first, he asked me three questions: “Did you go to the dealership? What did they tell you? Do you have any warranty left?”

When I answered, “Yes,” “service the transmission,” and “couple of thousand miles,” he nodded and said, “They’re tryin’ to screw you.”

“See all those cars up on my racks?” he said. I looked. They were all Fords–Crown Victorias, a Mustang, another T-Bird. “They’ve all got the same transmission as your car, and it’s a real good transmission–except for the torque converter. Those are crap. They wear out early, and it messes up the whole rest of the transmission. If you’d just gotten that service, the new fluid would have made the torque converter expand, and it’d mask the real problems for oh, two, three thousand miles. Then you’d be outta warranty, and your transmission would still be shot. The dealer figured you’d either pay him a couple of thou’ for the repairs, or trade it in for a new car.”

He handed me back my keys and said, “Go to another Ford dealer, get them to fix it right, then come see me in a couple of years when it fails again.”

So I did, and the transmission failed again, right on schedule, and I’ll never pay another penny to the Ford Motor Company. I bought a used Lexus instead of fixing the Thunderbird, and it is still running like a dream, tens of thousands of miles after all my previous cars would have needed four-figure repairs.

Sorry, guys, but the reason Ford and GM are losing business is because their cars suck, pure and simple. Not only are they ugly and uninteresting (the Mustang and Corvette excepted–and what does it say when they’re both decades-old designs?), they’re also built to break down. Intentionally.

Deciding not to buy a crappy product that’s backed with dishonest service doesn’t make anybody unpatriotic or ‘selfish.’ It just means we aren’t saps.

Quit making cars that suck, quit looking the other way when your dealers rip off customers, and maybe–maybe–we’ll reconsider. Until then, you’ve got nobody but yourselves to blame.