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I really like split pea soup. Today I had it twice: for lunch, I went off-base to the delightfully British B.J. Bull, a small restaurant in an out-of-the-way strip mall in southern Palo Alto (it's marked by an old Lucky supermarket which has a tall, pointless space-age decoration I really must photograph some day). Inside, the coarse but generally friendly proprietress serves a broad selection of sweet and meat pies, and tea. Usually, pea soup and fresh-squeezed lemonade are also available. Weekends you can find her booth at the local farmers markets with the pies: Saturday at Sunnyvale and Sunday, Mountain View. I got wind of her operation in this thread on the newsgroup. For dinner, a frugal evening meal: a can of Campbell's Split Pea, with crackers. The joys of the simple life...

Feeling the need to be thrifty since the checking account balance is low: I've yet to receive my hefty reimbursement check for the trip to New Jersey, and because of the recent large tax payments I was compelled to send to Sacramento and DC. Nevertheless I did splurge on an online musical purchase, an Australian box set - five CDs of the Seekers, allegedly everything they recorded.* Now I'm awash in their folky early-60s sound, made distinctive by Judith Durham's wonderfully pure voice.

On Colorado:
First, a fashion clarification: close readings indicate that the Trench Coat Mafia's name is being sullied, that the two killers weren't members of that clique - they didn't appear in the yearbook photo, were actually just wannabees. They wore similar garb, which may not have even been trenchcoats, but rather "dusters." I may be wrong here, check me on this; but I believe those are longer, below-the-knee overcoats, not necessarily double-breasted; unlike the shorter, belted trench coat, which extends to just above knee level (a common example of which is the outlandishly overpriced "Burberry," seen usually in the khaki color on legions of dreary upper-echelon DC government workers riding the Metro).

Regarding the massacre and disaffected, alienated youth; a long time ago I saved a clipping about the antisocial personality which said that ...most sociopaths create a good first impression and are frequently described as "charming." The article went on to quote Harold Greenwald:

"Usually when we talk about the psychopath we are talking about the unsuccessful psychopath. The reason why we generally do not discuss the successful psychopath is because then we have to discuss many of the rulers of the world... Many of the symptoms...such as lack of morals and apparent lack of guilt, exist widely among people of power and influence." Many successful businesspeople, entertainers, politicians, and other "normal" individuals reveal sociopathic leanings in their willingness to use other people coldly.
Over the weekend, on the radio I heard some psychological blowhard elaborating on this theme - that it was a warning sign, kids who seem charming.

Jon Katz, who has become a speaker for computer geeks, received a multitude of emails since the tragedy. Here's a fragment of one of the many which he reprinted, from "ES":

"One of the things which makes this so infuriating is that the system favors shallow people. Anyone who took the time to think about things would realize that things like the prom, school spirit and who won the football game are utterly insignificant in the larger scheme of things.

"So anyone with depth of thought is almost automatically excluded from the main high school social structure. It's like some horribly twisted form of Social Darwinism."

The lucky few at the top of that structure are well-connected, good-looking, smug and extroverted; the same people who wind up as prominent talking heads on television - that's why the central, anti-academic problem of the athletic elites isn't being addressed - they can't relate to the frustration at the fringes.

Meanwhile, over in the Balkans, our team bombed Bulgaria by mistake - there were fears the conflict would spread; whose fault is this? And what's Bulgaria like, anyway? All I know is this fragment from Ed Buryn's Vagabonding in Europe and North Africa, a book from the early 70s which was key to my own explorations - a major catalyst which got me onto my first trans-Atlantic flight. I close today with this glimpse from his brief Bulgarian section:

Hitchhiking from Yugoslavia, I got a ride straight through to Istanbul that took me through Bulgaria from border to border in the dead of night. I can report that the road (a main highway) was winding, cobbled and in poor condition. And dark. I remember going through Sophia at two AM: empty drab streets draped with Communist flags, all signs in Russian, and one memorable sight - on a sidewalk a young man was beating up a kneeling teen-age girl as a passer-by ignored it all. Presumably this was a rare occurrence, but made a vivid impression on me.
And me as well.

  pic du jour

(they're supposed to be peas)

Apr 29
© 1999
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* I have discovered one omission - although it contains their version of the Cyrkle's "Red Rubber Ball" (the first 45 I ever bought) the collection's missing their interpretation of that group's "I Wish You Could Be Here," which was on their "Georgy Girl" LP. (Both of these songs were written by Paul Simon.) Since their rendition of "Red Rubber Ball" is no big deal I'm guessing the other tune was even less memorable, but still I'd like to hear it.