Blog Archives

Sportsmen, Guns and Money…and Votives

Behold the latest addition to the white-hot, uber-hip Downeast shopping scene. Who knew that outdoorsmen enjoyed swanking up their tents with the aroma of lavender and pumpkin spice? Or that they chased away that persistent campsite miasma of rancid Dinty Moore-induced gas, unwashed bodies and week-old Deet with the delicate fragrance of vanilla chai?


Or perhaps by “scented candle” they mean this?


Of course they do. What else makes sense?

Op Ed: The Selfies

Normally I avoid straying into political territory in social situations and my online ramblings. More often than not, the combination of my slightly off-kilter views, propensity for personal mockery and three-cocktail minimum tends to ruffle the feathers of my dinner companions, and has even cost me the occasional friendship. And what’s the point? It isn’t as if my insights, no matter how razor sharp, are going to change anyone’s position or worldview. No, I find it’s best to just smile and nod when politics come up, then steer the conversation in a less contentious direction, such as whether Martha Stewart bathes in her own urine, chews broken glass for breakfast and transforms into something even more terrifying than her TV persona at the full moon.

So that’s my policy. Or it was until the Weiner-Spitzer story picked up steam and I felt compelled to opine on the whole sordid, sorry mess. For what it’s worth here’s my two martinis’ worth.

"One is a genius, the other is insane."

“One is a genius, the other is insane.”

Do you have to be a narcissistic attention junkie with the scruples of a used car salesman and the professional standards of a carnival barker to run for political office these days? Maybe not, but apparently it helps. Given the steady stream of rehabilitation-flogging, forgiveness-demanding, scandal-tarred politicos seeking second chances from the voters they betrayed, not to mention their beleaguered families, what else makes sense? Not so much shameless as utterly unshameable, Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer want their redemption, and they want it now.

Of course, sex scandals are nothing new in government. There was Grover Cleveland in 1884; Wilbur Mills and the strippers in the mid Seventies; Marion Barry’s 1990 ‘ho and crack fest (“Bitch set me up!” ring any bells?); Bill Clinton and his Oval Office shenanigans; and most recently Mark Sanford’s infamous Appalachian Trail of Tears (and big fat lies).

In the current political climate it seems anyone can come back from almost anything. Except maybe trying to solicit gay sex in a men’s room using sign language. An infringement on the Americans with Disabilities Act, perhaps?

pinky and the brain

See what I mean?

Owing to a fortuitous special election, Sanford is well ahead of his fellow travelers on Redemption Road, but New Yorkers move fast, and Spitzer and Weiner have a lot more baggage to dump. These two, it seems to me, have more in common than non-standard sexual tastes, over-inflated balloon heads, no principles and wives who are way too good for them. There’s a detectable whiff of narcissism about them both, though clearly Spitzer is the brighter of the two, The Brain to Weiner’s Pinky, if you will.

As you no doubt recall, Spitzer, the former Big Stick of lower Broadway, was chased from the governor’s mansion (presumably with his socks on) in 2008 after being identified as Client #9 in a prostitution sting. The long-married father of three somehow managed to avoid prosecution and hold on to his lovely, if bafflingly-loyal wife, and he is now running for New York City comptroller. He may even win. So let’s break this down: New Yorkers are seriously considering handing the financial reins of the nation’s biggest city and most powerful economic engine to a man with poor judgment, no impulse control and a pattern of aggression and lying. Sounds good to me. In fact, it sounds a lot like Anthony Weiner to me.

The flash of the camera phone in his face, the bleep of the sent selfie, and the illicit thrill of his naughtiness intoxicated his weak brain.

The flash of the camera phone in his face, the bleep of the sent selfie, and the illicit thrill of his naughtiness intoxicated his weak brain.

Weiner – the Mr. Toad of sexting – is asking the voters of New York City to make him Mayor Bloomberg’s successor, despite his 2011 disgrace and a newly revealed phone sex relationship with a 22 year-old woman. Kind of puts a new spin on the notion of Bloomie’s nanny state, doesn’t it? See my comments above re: judgment, impulse control and lying. I can’t imagine what’s going on in his wife’s mind, but as Kingsley Amis rightly observed, “Other people’s priorities are endlessly odd.”

By now, the other mayoral hopefuls have issued the standard calls for Weiner’s withdrawal, most notably John Liu, the current city comptroller. He pointed out that Weiner’s “propensity for pornographic selfies is a valid issue for voters.

Well there you have it. And so, despite his own scandal problems, Mr. Liu just got my vote purely on the basis of that observation. If the public can’t expect accountability and integrity from its elected representatives, maybe we can get by on humor.

Prancercise me! Wow. How did I miss this?

Okay, I realize you have probably already seen this Prancercise workout video. It’s got five million hits on YouTube (I can personally account for at least three dozen), and its viralization has been endlessly covered from the Today Show to the HuffPo. But I have got to say that this is the weirdest shit I have seen (outside a lock-down ward) in a very long time, and I would be remiss if I didn’t point it out to you on the off chance it had escaped your notice.

Remember that weird kid in first grade who ate paste? I think we’ve finally found out what became of her.

Ehi! Mateus Rosé!


Hey, Hey, Hey!

Just in case you were feeling insecure about your wine preferences in the face of overwhelming wine snobbery, and the now-ubiquitous $13 glass of restaurant Malbec, here’s a little evidence that even the Italians, who for all practical purposes invented wine, occasionally take a walk in the gutter.

I snapped this photo in a Rome grocery store back in March, and no, I didn’t buy any Mateus Rosé. I was in the market for a little Prosecco to accompany, well nothing really. Mr. Slattern and I were just in the mood for a glass or three of bubbly, but were too tired to go out to the local wine bar. We found exactly what we were looking for below the boxed wine and Mateus.

Interesting that this stuff is kept on the top shelf. Presumably it gives the reprobates who buy it a yoga-like stretch as they reach up. Now that’s a workout I can get behind!

What’s the takeaway? Drink what you like, folks. Screw top or box be damned. Va bene.

Buon giorno, Signore! Aperol spritz per favore.

Due per favore, and keep 'em coming, Antonio!

Due per favore, and keep ’em coming, Oswaldo!

Put away the whiskey, cellar the heavy reds and prepare to lighten up the portable bar. Spring is here, and I have it on good authority that summer is bound to be close behind. As such, I’ve been thinking about warm weather cocktails of late. Well actually I’ve been thinking about them since I hoisted my first Singapore Sling in a dark bar in Shanghai all those years ago, but that’s a story for another day.

As I may have mentioned, I recently returned from a life enhancing two weeks on the Continent, specifically the usual highlights tour of Italy: Venice, Florence and Rome. Lest you think it was all Barolo to go, let me tell you that Mr. Slattern and I discovered some new and exciting ways to refresh the palate and calm the nerves at the end of a long day of sightseeing, culture-sucking and trying to make ourselves understood in pidgin Italian mixed with a random assortment of French and high school Spanish. For example:

Mi scusi Signore, mais est-ce que lei sa dove el mercado qui vend el vino, por favor?

Yes, we raised a few eyebrows, but as I have said, the Italians are uniformly among the loveliest, most welcoming people on the planet, and somehow or other we usually got where we needed to go. One thing we got very good at doing, however, was placing our order for a couple of Aperol spritzes at day’s end, and if I’m being honest, at lunchtime, too.

Not familiar with Aperol? Well neither were we, but I went right out and found a source the day we got back, and it’s been all orange slices and prosecco nirvana ever since. Just so you know, Aperol is a bitter orange aperitif, along the lines of Campari, but milder. In the classic Aperol spritz (pronounced shpritz), three parts of prosecco (sweet rather than dry is really best) is poured over ice and topped with one to two parts Aperol (depending on how bitter you like it) and a splash of seltzer water or club soda, whichever you have on hand. This last ingredient is not, strictly speaking necessary, but it does lend a certain bubbly lightness to the drink. I like to garnish with a slice of blood orange for the drama, but if all you’ve got is tangellos or navels in the fridge, they’ll do just fine. If you have nothing but an old bottle of maraschino cherries, that works, too.

The flavor is a delightful mix of sweet and sharp, and is perfect for a warm weather gathering when accompanied by little nibbly things of the sort Martha would probably have her slaves whip up in an afternoon. Because I enjoy a spritz or three before the party starts, I just put out a tray of olives, baguettes and cheeses (Ozzie) and let the spritz work it’s Venetian magic on even the stuffiest of gatherings.


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