Welcome to the Forth World

I just saw Michael Moore’s SiCKO for the second time, this time a free showing at Church of the Foothills in Tustin Foothills, California. I saw it first in the theatrical run, and didn’t realize how much of the story I had forgotten. What stood out painfully, especially in light of the events of the past two years, is that America has really become the salt mine of the developed world. Unregulated capitalism has done a number on us at every turn. The health care package that President Obama campaigned on has turned out to be almost negligible. The promised computerization of our health care records hasn’t even been mentioned during this administration to the best of my knowledge. It seems that all that has been accomplished is that the President has revealed himself as a full blown establishment man, and has paid for his turn in office by turning yet another generation away from viewing politics as a solution to their problems.

In future entries I would like to explore how we got here, and put some of what is going on today in this country into the historical context. If for no other reason, I would like to do this to codify my feelings about the subject and see if what is going through my mind will hang together.

For now, I’ll just say that it looks like we are going to be the first developed nation to become impoverished by runaway capitalists short circuiting the free market process and gathering all of the reigns of power unto themselves. We have the first world (Europe), the second world (America), the third world (the developing nations), and now it seems we are to have the forth world, nations once prosperous which have suffered impoverishment at the hands of the corporate elite. The USA seems poised to be the first nation to enter the forth world. Welcome, indeed!

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FoodNetwork-inspired trip

Mary and I just got back from a whirlwind trip up to Northern California to visit a couple of friends and pick some things up. We ended up making it a Food Network themed trip, stopping at 4 restaurants which have been reviewed there.

  • Pier 23 Cafe, San Francisco — on The Embarcadero. Reviewed by Guy Fieri on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, this waterfront cafe offers a refreshing alternative to the hustle and bustle of Fisherman’s Wharf a hundered yards down the Embarcadero. Great clam chowder and calamari. We also tried the ceviche, which was nice.
  • Squeeze Inn, Sacramento — We headed into Sacramento and picked up the last of our stuff from storage, and headed to Squeeze Inn for a quick bite. This place was also covered by Guy. It is the cheeseburger place with the big haloes of cheeze around the burger. The TV piece is a perennial favorite and they love to re-show it on the network, so if you’ve seen anything much of Guy Fieri, you have probably seen this place. The burger is indeed very good, the cheese is a very well formed medium cheddar, and you get lots of it. What doesn’t come through on the show is that the halo is about an eighth of an inch thick, so you really do get plenty of cheese. Plenty of beef too, about a third of a pound of very nice ground beef. Moist, not the greasy junk you get at the low-standards places. It was enough for lunch, and then dinner in Coalinga, where we spent the night after an exhausting day moving boxes in the 110 degree Sacramento sun.
  • Tognazzini's Dockside Too Tognazzini's Dockside Too
  • Tognazzini’s Dockside Too, Morro Bay — Bobby Flay recommended this one on one of his grilling shows, I forget which one. It is the place with the yellow and white stripped canopy if you should happen to run across it. The specialty here is barbecued oysters. These are the big Pacific oysters, and they barbecue them on the half shell with a garlic butter sauce that is just incredible. We’ve had barbecued oysters before, at the Sacramento Jazz Festival, but those were overcooked and tough. These are done to a turn and are juicy and very very flavorful. We also had an incredibly decadent clam chowder, and a skewer of grilled scallops which were to die for. All this to the accompaniment of a jazz trio playing oldies from wayyyy back, and an up close view of Morro Rock. We picked ourselves up and continued down the coast route.
  • Tognazzini's Dockside Too
  • The Oinkster, Eagle Rock — After crossing the Valley on 134 in surprisingly light traffic for 5:00 pm on a week day, we ended up at The Oinkster on Colorado Blvd. This is another of Guy Fieri’s finds. The specialty item — The Oinkster, which is a pastrami sandwich featuring house cured pastrami (very tasty) on a french roll with gruyere cheese and red cole slaw. Very nice, and it lives up to the name. One sandwich for two people will be more than adequate unless you’re very heavy eaters. They make their own mustard blends, too. Watch out for the sweet and hot. It has enough horseradish to take the top of your head off!
  • Anyway, we had a whale of a time, and are more than happy to be back home and let the kids do the unpacking!