Cheeseburger Gothic

New York wrap up.

Posted February 11, 2009 by John Birmingham
I'm almost done here. In half an hour I'll step out for dinner, heading up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle. I ate there with Betsy my publisher the other night and was impressed enough to want to go back. That's always been my way when travelling. If I find a place I lke I will visit a few times to fix it in my memory for future reference.

Today was culture day on Planet Birmo. I walked up to Central Park for a bit a wander and some happy snaps, exiting near the New York Historical Society, which had a civil exhibition focusing on Grant and Lee. It was quite fascinating and gave me an idea for a column later this week. From there I cut back across the Park to the Met, where a I spent a couple of hours browsing the art. I particularly dug the Classical and the Medieval galleries.

The street in front of the Met was crowded with starving artists selling their wares so I picked up a hand painted piece for Anna's room. Thomas got a pencil sharpener fashioned in the shape of a cannon from the Historical Society. Jane got an Obama doll (she scored some Kate Spade shoes yesterday) and for me, an ice cube tray with Titanic and 'berg shaped cubes.

I meandered down Fifth Avenue for a while, occasionally stopping to shoot pics of any buildings that took my fancy. I'm kind of a fanboy for neoclassical architecture and this part of New York has plenty. Eventually the residential blocks gave way to the shopping district, where I'd been on Monday and where I thought I'd scored a bowl of split pea 'n ham from the Soup Nazi of Seinfeld fame. Turned out to be a franchise outlet, but the soup was still great and the staff were non frightening. For anyone passing through, this place was just across the street from the New York Public Library, where I was most impressed with the combo of Roman Grandeur and civic virtue.

We seem to be working backwards here, so I guess Sunday was all about touring around with Murph and Trinity before they flew out. I had some things I needed to do at Comicon but caught up with them for an early lunch at the Carnegie Deli. My driver had told me on arrival in NYC that I had no choice but go there for the pastrami on rye, and not being one to disobey a limo driver, I insisted that we did.

Here is the result.

Apart from the pastrami mountain I've eaten relatively modestly in New York. One curry feast with a former editor and two fine Italian meals at Gabriel's would constitute the extent of my calorific blowout. Apart from that, it was easier to just have fruit for breakfast and lunch. One of the very civilized things I have enjoyed about dining alone in the US is the unexpected friendliness of my fellow diners, especially when noshing away at the bar.

Indeed, I just got back from dinner at Gabriel's where I had a green leaf salad and beef ribs with polenta mash, which were all beautiful, but must enjoyable of all was the company of my fellow singeltons, in the first instance an African American freelance publicist for a bunch of off Broadway shows, in the second a German documentary maker who explained in great detail what she was shooting in New York, but I'm afraid it went in one ear and out the other. I do know she was off to see Placido Domingo sing at the Met, however. So good luck to her.

I started chatting with her because I was very much taken with the big bowl of gnocci and duck ragout she was eating. So much so I almost ordered it myself. But that sort of dish is very easy to score in Oz, whereas the thing with which I will credit premium American chefs is a reverence for the treatment of meat that is rare back home. Hence my choice of the beef rib tonight.

In the end though, I was here for Comicon, which was amazing simply because of the sheer mass of geekdom gathered in one place. It was almost oppressive. No, bugger that. It was oppressive. I have some great photos, both mine and Craig's,which I will publish when I can get wordpress and flickr to start talking again, but for now I'll just say that it felt at times there were more geeks and weirdos gathered together in the convetion hall than you could find in all of the antipodes.

42 Responses to ‘New York wrap up.’

Bondiboy66 mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Crikey that's one helluva sammich! My missus loved New York - her scond favourite city she reckons. But like you JB she was wary of American servings of food - she too would have fruit etc. for brekky, buy some immense sandwich at lunch, eat half and likely have the rest for dinner!

Good thing it's now lunchtime, I'm off out for a meaty sandwich.

Respond to this comment

yankeedog puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
Yeah, that serving size would be about right. You and Mrs Bondiboy had the right idea, rationing out the big feeds. Best way to go. Even I do that when possible. Two meals for the price of one.

Hope you enjoyed the Apple and none of the Yank 'burgers scared you too badly.

Liking your souvenir swag there-good job going full metal tourist! It's all right though-if I ever get to Australia I'm looking for the Sydney Harbour Bridge pencil sharpener or the Opera House paperweight.

Respond to this comment

Moko asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't forget my Statue of Liberty sharpener.

Love to check it out one day. Unfortunately I feel the only I will is if I manage to swim that last 3 K's undetected to shore.

Respond to this comment

Domestic Daze swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
Warning: Do not view that picture on a full stomach. How many is that supposed to feed? A family of four or something?

Respond to this comment

Brian mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Pass me a 'Quick Eaze', pronto.

Respond to this comment

NBlob reckons...

Posted February 11, 2009
nice.

I like a cubic yard of beef on bread

I assume that greeen thing was only for scale or garnish.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Don't. Forget. To. Eat. A. Thin. Crust. New. York. Style. Cheese. Pizza. Before. You. Go.

capiche?

Respond to this comment

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Umm, I notice the blueberry cheesecake which was consumed AFTER the sandwich was not mentioned. I guess that was the fruit John mentioned. :) Never fear kids, Trinity got a shot of this NYC Cheesecake Monstrosity. I'll post it in a day or so.

Serving sizes in NYC were way above the call of duty. Trinity and I ate at Maxie's (where some of the food should be served with a side dish of insulin or AED devices) on Saturday night. A couple next to us from Turkey said the portions were huge and wondered if Americans always ate like that.

We assured them that the massive serving sizes at Maxie's were out of the ordinary, even in our eating experience.

I thought we ate heavy in the Midwest and if you go to someplace like Stroud's in KC, you'll get large portions. But not on the scale we saw at Maxie's.

As for eating fruit, which is what Trinity and I normally try to do during our more mundane lives, best to buy it at the market and prep it at home. In fact, this was our original battleplan but the leg injury prevented expeditions to the markets for that purpose.

As for the sandwich, I had a ham sandwich of the same size. It would have been a hamburger but we were told, "burger take twenty-five minutes."

Sheesh, you'd think they had to put a rivet in the cow in the back alley, butcher the meat and sear it with a bic lighter before bringing it in if it was going to take that long.

Lots to eat in that town. Lots.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

JdR is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Surely there's a column or several to be written about Comicon? Did you pick up some reading for the kids, or was it all about Watchmen??

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
Argh... That's not EVEN a marbled rye. Where is the saurkraut? You might as well be eating at Burger King.

J.

Respond to this comment

Murphy mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
The hot kraut was on Trinity's hot dog.

When John and I were wandering the aisles, gawking at the figures, the weirdoes in costume, the comic books and the nervous pent up long frustrated sexual energy of the place, I finally blurted out this.

"Lord, it is a bit much. Isn't it?"

"Yeah," Birmo said. "It is."

I felt much better after that. I thought it was just me. Go googling around for the Comicon Light Saber Fight if you want to see just how over the top this was.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

Chaz asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Hmmm yes, I'd of thought that in NYC you'd be able to get proper salt beef on rye with gerkins, obviously not. Oh vay gevalt!

I find it funny about the size of the portions when you consider that NYC was pretty out there with nouvelle cusine. Think i'll stick to half a crucified cow down in puerto madero.

Murph/JB were any of the butchered cow places there allowing English mustard?

Respond to this comment

Barnesm mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Did you guys manage to catch the excellent work of the Green Light Anti-Zombie Squad at Comic Con?

Respond to this comment

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Comicon will have provided plenty of material for the Geek blog no doubt.

That pastrami on rye brings back memories. Happy, beefy, memories.

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
Looking at their website it seems that the owner knew you were coming and left early... it is supposed to be a 'must see' kind of place.

http://www.carnegiedeli.com/

Respond to this comment

savo ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
Geez, I'm not going to survive the food when I'm there this Fall. Thank goodness I've lost so much weight. I'll be able to get a running start.

By the way JB, what's that green penis doing on your plate?

Respond to this comment

lostatlunch puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
not bad for a work trip.. the last pic on flikr... why so small.. she look, Um, interesting, in an insane way

Respond to this comment

DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted February 11, 2009
I see pastrami. I see not rye.

I see coronary heart disease and bypass surgery.

Respond to this comment

Bondiboy66 would have you know...

Posted February 11, 2009
YD, it was just the missus - I've never been to the States. I'd probably just make a total guts of myself!

Respond to this comment

Big Bad Al is gonna tell you...

Posted February 11, 2009
Mmmmmmm..... Meaty goodness...

Respond to this comment

NBlob asserts...

Posted February 11, 2009
Dr. Y

Can you expand on that to the music of the old Creedence Clearwater Revival song?

"I see a coronary infarction.

I see a lipid count too high."

Murph, I thought the "hot kraut" was a perjorative term for last years Miss Germany, and that made me wonder what she was doing on Trinity's Hot Dog? And that led (naturally enough)to unspeakably disturbing things.

Love the museum & gallery work JB.

Pity you didn't catch the Gugenhiem gallery in NYC or Aerospace Museum in Washington DC. Ah well it's a good idea when travelling to leave something for next time.

Hmm, when's the Dubya fan fic page coming? I'm gestating an idea.

Could you ransom the remaining America by snatching up the Declaration of Independance or the Wright Bros' Kittyhawk?

Respond to this comment

sparty reckons...

Posted February 11, 2009
all sounds great- have to say when I'm in the US for work I like erating at teh counter and peopel are always evry friendly. Comic con- better you've never been in one location that has so many epople with a Zombie survival plan.

Respond to this comment

Ellie swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 11, 2009
Damn, I want your glamorous author life. I like food and art so I think it would work out for me.

Cons are pretty awesome. I'm only a semi geek so I find it utterly fascinating to meet hardcore geeks - especially ones cosplaying as badass ninja dudes from anime.

Respond to this comment

Michael Juge puts forth...

Posted February 11, 2009
Personally, I prefer to order my sandwich by the pound or foot depending on what region of the country I'm in. If you're planning to to a side trip to DC area for any reason like a book signing or something, kindly let us know.

Respond to this comment

Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 12, 2009
Missed opportunity ... you shoulda' said, to the waitress, in your thickest accent, "You call that a sandwich? Now this is a sandwich."

Ummm, of course you would have had to produce a larger sandwich. So, ummm, it wouldn't work. But, still, it would have been funny.

And speaking of geek fests ... one of the meccas has got to be DragonCon held here in Atlanta. Amazingly over the top.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 12, 2009
Ooh yeaaah! Only needs a touch of English mustard like Chaz says.

But.... that doesn't look like rye bread to me. Still looks fine though.

Respond to this comment

Robert asserts...

Posted February 12, 2009
Excuse me. EXCUSE ME!! Hate to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals, but I dropped by Borders Books out here on the West Coast last night to buy WW, and damn if Borders doesn't have any copies and their computer sez the book ain't published yet (although I can buy it on audio, apparently).

So, is the book not available in the USA? Or is Borders just not planning to move that inventory? This is a WW WTF?

Thanks for any pointers, and allowing me to interrupt your meals and discussion of meals.

Respond to this comment

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 12, 2009
The book is available. For some reason Borders has it listed under some sort of pre-title like America Disappeared or some crap. I had to work to find it in their system a week or so ago during my KC recon to ensure that the book had arrived.

Best thing for it is to simply punch John Birmingham's name into the computer at Borders and then browse through until you find the book.

Further, at the Borders up North that I went to, the book was there but buried behind some paperbacks in the wrong part of the B section. Damned if I know WTF was going on but I pulled the books in line with Birmo's other AoT paperbacks so folks could find them.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

MickH would have you know...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey!

Has anyone heard from Bangar recently?

I hope he wasn't mixed up in the fires.

I hope he's ok!

Respond to this comment

Trinity reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
Hey John,

Trinity here.I wanted to sat that I read He died with a Felafel in his hand. That has to be the funniest thing I have ever read in my life.

Did that stuff really happen? Because all I can say is you really are lucky to be with us all today! :)

Oh, Murph helped me set up my own blog, I think he was tired of me looking over his shoulder when he was on his.

So come and see my new blog space. remember now it is still a work in progress.

Once more it was wonderful to meet you and Tarl and Craig. I plan on e-mailing Craig to see if he got home Ok.

Well, that's all.

With love & peace,

Trinity

P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one? Thanks! :)

Respond to this comment

Chaz reckons...

Posted February 12, 2009
'P.S. John could you tell everyone that Murph really does have a flesh and blood girlfriend and not a blow up one?' don't know who could have been spreading those rumors......

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 12, 2009
Trinity: "Hello Neo."

Neo: "How do you know that name?"

Trinity: "I know a lot about you."

Neo: "Who are you?"

Trinity : "My name's Trinity."

Neo: "Trinity...THE Trinity? The one who hacked the IRS D-Base?

Trinity: "That was a long time ago."

Neo: "Jesus."

Trinity : "What?"

Neo: "I just thought...you were a guy."

Trinity: "Most guys do."

In all honesty, Trinity, I thought you were a guy, too - until just now. I must admit I am somewhat relieved - not that there would be anything wrong with it. I am not one of those Bible thumping fanatics. No siree Bob. I am very open minded. But I draw the line on marriage. Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman. I'm sorry, but that is just the way I feel.

Respond to this comment

damian puts forth...

Posted February 12, 2009
By god, that photo makes me hungry and I had a big lunch. Is that a whole dill pickle you got with that?

I fear any time I ever spent in NYC would be one long food tour. I can imagine worse things, but don't care to :)

Murph, sounds like your impressions of comicon are not unlike what I imagine mine would be. I see sudden realisations of "Well, sheesh".

Trinity, yes that stuff really happened, some of the folks here were there, for some of it. I didn't know Birmo back in the day but certainly saw a lot of the same stuff. Strange days, but a lot of good came of it IMHO

Respond to this comment

Murphy swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 12, 2009
Chaz, the rumors were spread elsewhere usually, not by the burgers. But is an ongoing joke of sorts.

Damian, yes, Comicon was one big, "These folks need a life."

It was a pretty good trip. More pics to follow at both blogs.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 13, 2009
Well Robert, there should be copies around. Some of them signed.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 13, 2009
Esquire reckons Felafel is the 33rd funniest book in it's latest edition here in the UK. I was just browsing the magazines in the supermarket - didn't buy it.

Respond to this comment

Brian swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 13, 2009
Yoh? Murph - Trinity's blog needs to on referenced here doncha think?

Respond to this comment

Murphy asserts...

Posted February 13, 2009
brian, agreed. Will do when I feel better. Caught gastritis here in KC. Down but not out.

Respects,

Murph

Respond to this comment

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
Murph, I don't know if it's a trade name or if it's marketed under the same name in the US of A, but I strongly recomend Immodium. It's like quick set concrete for the guts.

You'll still feel like a luke-warm bag 'o crap, but at least you dont have to make the dash to the porcelain every 3.5 minutes.

Respond to this comment

deadcat is gonna tell you...

Posted February 13, 2009
JB, I could find your email address. You might like this:

http://blog.wired.com/cars/2009/02/sweden-build-wo.html

Stealth Ships! Just like in your trilogy :)

Respond to this comment

Murphy reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
NBob, yeah, I'll take some tomorrow.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 13, 2009
Wow, that would make a great cover line. 33rd Funniest Book Ever - Esquire.

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'New York wrap up.'

New York AAR

Posted February 11, 2009 by John Birmingham
Well, actually, there's still some action to go. I'm just about to walk up to Gabriel's, a really lovely Italian place just off Columbus Circle, but I'll fly out tomorrow morning so that'll be about it, unless, like the PM, I inexplicably find myself in a girly bar, with at least two beers under my belt, and dignity thrown to the wind.

Probably not, though.

I got some cultre in this morning, walking up through Central Park to the New York Hisotrical Society, which was hosting a Grant/Lee Civil War exhibit, which gave me an idea for a column lter this week. Popped upstairs to the Henry Luce collection of atistic thingummies, which gave me an idea for After America.

The Luce floor had an FDR exhibit too, which was a bonus, and some of the most striking folk art I've seen anywhere. Back across the Park to the Met, which was awesome, natrually, being the Met. I very much enjoyed the Classical Galleries and the Medieval collection. Bought a painting from an impoverished artists outside for my daughter's bedroom, and had a walk along 5th Avenue.

I'd been there on Monday, when I had a bowl of soup at what I though the famous Soup Nazi joint from Seinfeld, but which turned out to be a franchise. Still, the soup was excellent and I didn't get abused, which was even better. It was just across from the Library where I had a poke around and was very impressed by the Roman grandeur of the architecture yoked to the very enlightened civic ideal of an educated citizenry.

We seem to be working back in time here, so Sunday was notable for lunching with Murh and Trinity at the Carnegie Deli, where, I had been told by my driver on arriving in New York,

Be the first to respond to ‘New York AAR’

Respond to 'New York AAR'

All Hail Tarl, the King of New York.

Posted February 8, 2009 by John Birmingham
Had a day of meetings and interviews and a coupla signings on Friday. Lunched with my agent and caught up with Murph and Trinity later in the afternoon.

A cab ride to Union Square then linked us with Craig and Tarl for dinner at a pretty fab Mexican place where Tarl insisted on shouting the feed.

Props to the big guy.

Did quite a bit of walking to get bacl to the hotel, and quite a bit more this morning after a salmon bagel for breaky. We checked out some sites in lower Manhattan that I want to use in the next book, and a good thing we did because I had the scale all wrong.

Comicon was a geek fest of epic proportions. Just having a rest in my room right now, but will head back in twenty minutes for my last sesh.

83 Responses to ‘All Hail Tarl, the King of New York.’

Abe ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
I got the best sense of the scale of Manhattan from landing in a plane at Newark that had its final approach along the Hudson...so you get a sense of the size of Manhattan and how built up it is as you fly in. Fracking enormous.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
I get my sense of the scale of it from GTA 4.

Respond to this comment

Moko has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2009
Google Earth for me.

Had a NY pizza yet?.

Respond to this comment

MickH asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
Yeah Moko Google earth is brilliant.

Respond to this comment

drej reckons...

Posted February 8, 2009
The Empire State building is still worth checking out for the view.

Great city for just walking around, every street has something new. Glad you're having a good time.

Respond to this comment

Madoc asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
Drej & all,

Yeah, definitely take in the Empire State. Sure, it's touristy but it is unique and iconic at that.

Good on you Tarl for the shouting.

Respond to this comment

Flinthart would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
You made it to Comicon! Cool!

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
You ate Mexican? In New York City...? A food loaded with cheese... You eat Mexican when you get to Texas - not NYC. Even Egyptian food in NYC is better than Mexican.

Jesus...

J.

Respond to this comment

Abe ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
Did Jesus eat cheese?

Maybe it was liquid cheese and he turned it into wine.

Respond to this comment

G reckons...

Posted February 8, 2009
I can't believe i'm going to do this but I agree with Jane * shudders * Mexican in AZ or TX or Cali Not NYC.

Respond to this comment

BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
Hmmmmm cheese wine

Respond to this comment

Brian ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
Ahh . . .but in New York you get kosher cheese. Probably one of the few places in the world where you can get authentic kosher mexican burrito's.

Jeez. . .J just how provincial are you anyway?

Respond to this comment

jennicki asserts...

Posted February 8, 2009
Kosher Mexican...hahaha.

Respond to this comment

puma would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
Too bad you didn't know anyone to help you plan. More great restaurants in NYC than you can count.

Respond to this comment

Nocturnalist swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
I trust we're going to get some blogging about the Comic-con? I'd love to go to one of those.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
No cheese.

Respond to this comment

Tarl would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
It was actually pretty good Mexican (speaking as someone who grew up in Mexico).

The well-fed crew: Tarl (from NH), Murph & Cindy (from Missouri), Craig (from Scotland), and the GoH, Birmo.

http://tarl.net/DSC_0403s.JPG

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2009
Heads up - Houston has great Vietnamese food and fantastic Jamaican food due to large populations of both groups. You'll also find good Greek and Indian food in Houston - if they have survived the economy of the last year.

J.

Respond to this comment

Brian puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
jennicki.

If I have one article of faith - its that sooner or later someone will make a kosher version of almost anything. It may not be Mexican traditional but the taste is indistinguishable. Shoot - kosher lasagne is right tasty.

Respond to this comment

NBlob would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
An excellant Food Safari on SBS last week about Kosher tucker. Expanded my brain in a culinary way.

Still amazed at the surface similarities between Halal & Kosher. Shouldn't be - neighbours & all, but you'd think...

Well, no, I guess not.

I reckon if I'm being bought dinner It'd be rude of me to say "Greek, in Brisbane? You must be high - I only ever eat Greek in Melbourne where it is soooo much more authentic."

SJS, keep your ear out for the doorbell. It'll be UPS delivering you a clue.

Respond to this comment

NBlob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
Sorry I meant to add to the end of first sentance, the show spoke of a thin sliced smoked beef topside referred to a Fake-on or Makon - basically a Kosher Bacon like product. Just like Brian was sugesting.

Hey Jane, was that the door?

heh heh heh

Respond to this comment

BrianC mutters...

Posted February 8, 2009
Birmo said

" No cheese. "

Thats cheesist, im going to write a letter to my minister

Respond to this comment

Brian has opinions thus...

Posted February 8, 2009
Ehh . . .Bob. That Food Safari show was terrific. Did you catch the Syrian one? All those cakes and slices? Like to have a crack at that raw meat sushi type thingie.

Kosher. Its good tucker. All those cake shops in Ackland Street are kosher. Some of the best cakes around.

As to the door? Maybe 'Knock, knock' etc

Respond to this comment

savo mumbles...

Posted February 8, 2009
... photos ... ???

Respond to this comment

CraigWA swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2009
I have some photos, I'll see what I can do about getting them up online somewhere shortly.

Respond to this comment

mckinneytexas reckons...

Posted February 9, 2009
I gotta go with SJS on the Mexican food in NYC. Houston has whatever you want.

Respond to this comment

Rhino mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
I'm so pissed that I could not make it there ... was very much looking forward to meeting Birmo and Murph and thus completing the "circle of trust" on the material plane.

I can't wait to hear Birmo's take on all of the American fanboys at ComicCon and, of course, Murph's AAR.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Good Mexican food in NY is a sign of the pending Apocalypse. Get the hell out of the continental United States (and much of Canada and Mexico) while you can!

But take Moko's cue and grab a NY style thin crust pizza on your way out.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
When in Seattle eat the sea food and fresh water fish. You'll also get very good sushi in Seattle. Be sure to eat the wild trout or wild salmon; don't get "farm raised," and drink wine from the Washington or Oregon vinyards.

If you haven't been to the Holocaust Museum, Houston has an excellent one. Govenor Johnson was instrumental in giving refuge to many Jews during WWII. Houston has a large Jewish community that has endowed the city with excellent museums of every manner.

Austen, Texas produces great micro-brewery beers. Drink those while in Houston, but drink Canadian or Japanese beer while in Seattle.

J.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
Hope all Australian burgers are unaffected by the fires. Take care you guys.

Respond to this comment

Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
Its pretty bad here Vaga. Over 100 dead so far and nearly 1000 homes destroyed. Many people died in their cars trying to escape. They attempted to drive through the thick smoke and invariably crashed into the side of the road or each other. Its a bit cooler now but saturday was intense. 47 degree temperatures and winds of up to 100kmh.

You know what it feels like when you get a hairdryer and point it directly in your face? Well going outside on Saturday it was like there was a giant hairdryer pointed at your whole body.

I was supposed to visit my cousin in Gisborne over the weekend. But I've never been to her property before and didnt really fancy driving around country roads looking for it. Shes ok, but the fires affected some of her neighbours so she had to keep about 8 horses from round the district safe in her stables

Respond to this comment

Brian puts forth...

Posted February 9, 2009
Matt - thanks for the sentiment. The fires were about 10 minutes to the North of me. I've got friends who have evacuated out. Got a property that I'm expecting to see burn in Noojee.

Its very tense around here. My family and myself are waiting on news about family friends in Castella, Kinglake and down in Bunyip State forest. Ex- workmates in Churchill - dunno. Family in Bendigo are good.

Farmers going around shooting animals. Bodies being left in burnt out car wrecks - waiting for forensics teams. This is unparalleled. Being called the 'worst natural disaster since white settlement'.

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2009
We here in California deal with seasonal wild fires (the Native American name for Los Angeles translates to "Valley of Smoke) but your fatalities far exceed anything we've seen in a long while if ever. My prayers and best wishes go out to anyone impacted.

Respond to this comment

Trowzers mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
The bit the scares me - the firies, and ex-firies I spoke to a few days before this started knew this was coming. Several told me this would be 'far worse than Ash Wednesday'. "Well," I said (not quite believing them) "At least we have warning and can get prepared". No, I was told, you cannot really prepare for something like this. There is no telling where it will pop up, only that it will happen somewhere, and unless you put a fire crew on every acre, it is pretty much unstoppable. That this still happened when (afaik) many were as prepared as they could be, scares me silly.

My best wishes to those down south and those up north experiencing flooding. The lovely weather here in Brisbane makes me feel terribly guilty.

Respond to this comment

Brian mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
I've just had one of the big Sikorsky water bombers fly overhead. That's worrying. We're not on the flight path for any of the local airports. Wind's picked up. I live in the foothills of the Dandenongs. The third biggest recorded fire AKAIK was up here about 35 years ago. High fuel loading. National forest and interspersed homes. Suburbia. For old timers - its like waiting for the next shoe to drop. You watch the weather - and look at the ridge lines. What worries me is that people aren't worried enough. Most of the local CFA units went North days ago.

Respond to this comment

Lobes would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2009
More information on the fires here: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/

Details on road closures here: http://www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/NewsRoom/BushFiresRoadClosures/

Firemaps here: http://google-au.blogspot.com/2009/02/mapping-victorian-fires.html

and here: http://maps.google.com.au/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=109226935524884968309.00046252015ee6beb4fca&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=-35.657296,146.184082&spn=8.529985,19.775391&z=6

Respond to this comment

Matthew K is gonna tell you...

Posted February 9, 2009
It's the lead story on the TV news here but weirdly the paper doesn't mention it. It's the people in their cars that affect me most, I don't know why.

I recognize the conditions from Spain, but the hottest I ever experienced was 45c. They have brush fires and gumtrees too, but mostly it's pretty treeless. Amongst other things they use dive-bombers which hit the fires with a red powder that stains the earth, rocks and plants.

The snow is slowly dripping outside so it seems odd to recall Spain now.

Stay safe.

Respond to this comment

Brian asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
Matt - cars ditto. There was one pic with cars nose to nose either side of a downed tree ie both lanes blocked - like a rail way boom gate.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
It sucks to know that when I wake up in the morning the death toll will have risen. Good night, hope I'm wrong.

Respond to this comment

yankeedog asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
Good luck to all of you affected by the fires. There doesn't seem to be enough of you to fight all of these blazes. Everyone stay safe!

It's hard enough in California when this happens, which has twice the population and resources of all of Australia with a lot less area.

Respond to this comment

sibeen swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2009
yankeedog, in a case like this you could have ten times the resources and it just wouldn't make any difference.

I live in inner Melbourne, the temperature hit 47.3 in Essendon. We were never in any danger, but when I looked at the sky in the late afternoon it was one of the ugliest sights I'd ever seen. The whole of the horizon was just a pallour of smoke and everyone who lives in Melbourne just knew that shit was going down.

It appears the death toll is now 116, unfortunately it'll probably go a fair bit higher.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2009
Get your Austin beer extra cold.

J.

Respond to this comment

MickH has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
YD the CFA is actually very well equipped but as Sibeen says, the conditions made the whole state volatile, you just can't fight that.

Respond to this comment

NBlob asserts...

Posted February 9, 2009
OK, a little freaked out now.

A mate of mine flies choppers, he's currently down south helping / waterbombing you Victorian FERALS.

I got a grabled message last night on the mobile - "nargh bargle shh shshh but I'm OK bzztshckle" What the?

The news got through this morning chinese whispers style.

He clipped a power line!

He managed to put her down in more or less one piece and is not injured.

He's always told me any landing you walk away from is a good landing.

Looks like he's just used another of his lives. But I reckon that stain in the back of the flight suit will take some scrubbing.

Respond to this comment

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
Murphy Actual here. Brief AAR.

The Mexican place wasn't bad, honest. They had Dos Equis Lager (yes, I know, folks think it is mule piss but I like it).

Rhino, we had a whiskey tasting sesh down in the hotel bar. Should have been there. The Circle would have been complete.

Here is a list of additional places we dined at.

Maxi's (Murph and Trinity, though Birmo and Craig went on an earlier sortie)

Emily's Stardust, where they sing to you, Saturday breakfast.

Junior's off of West 45th, Sunday breakast.

Carnegie Deli which was off Columbus Circle, Sunday Lunchdinner Heart Attack in Progress.

Trinity had the obligatory street dog and said it was the best she ever had. I had the pretzel as a substitute instead.

Comicon was defnitely an Ubergeek Out Deployment of the First Order. Craig got more photos than me since he had the superior camera.

It was really quite an experience. The only downsides are, well, I caught a cold, my left ear feels like it is stuffed with sludge and we have other travel scars.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

Brian has opinions thus...

Posted February 9, 2009
Thanks Murph. That makes a nice distraction with what some of us are putting up with. Did you get Birmo a T-shirt?

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
Murph - I wish I could have been there.

Respond to this comment

DrYobbo ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
The whole thing is unutterably horrific. The disturbing nature of the car images in particular (if you can actually externalise it and try and come up with logic) is probably a couple of things. One thing is the apocalyptic notion of the whole thing - people dead in their cars fleeing from hell and not making it out, it's a staple of every second huge-scale disaster movie or book (the Wave was a bit too quick for anyone to get in their cars I guess) and seeing it in real life is as surreal as it is horrific. Another thing is that we're culturally attuned to thinking our cars are a little bubble which insulates us from the real world - and specific to the case of bushfires, as Aussies we're told from childhood that if we're in a bushfire the safest place to be is to stay in our cars, get down low in the back and ride it out. In this case there was no place to hide and nowhere to run, which is truly scary as hell. The numbers are just insane and getting more so - they're projecting in the two hundreds now. It almost takes individual tragedies to give it perspective - Melbourne's old newsreader Brian Naylor dying with his wife, or the many horrendous personal accounts starting to come out of the blackness.

Respond to this comment

Brian ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Even more surreal than you think. One story of a woman making contact with her step father-in-law in Baghdad during the fire.(had to be satellite phone)Couldn't get a line out. Woman gets evacuated out. Next - step father-in-law organising a chopper from Melbourne to go looking for the womans husband. Which it finds.

Unless the ABC is allowing complete BS to go to air on the radio - that was the weirdest story I ever heard. The only creedence I can give to the story was that they were interviewing the woman live. John Faine on 3LO.

Respond to this comment

savo ducks in to say...

Posted February 9, 2009
Bugger they are expecting the death toll to rise to 230. Probably end up being Australia's biggest murder investigation.

Respond to this comment

Brian mutters...

Posted February 9, 2009
Savo - probable. At the 108 count - they were saying 100 people were still missing. What weirds me out further is no mention is being made of tourists. Marysville was a well known touristy spot. That area is popular for bushwalkers, campers, anglers etc etc

On a macabre note. This gives Birmo a lot of material for his sequel. What a country looks like with unrestrained wildfires.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2009
Cannot believe the Times has relegated this to page 6, this is front page news. Is is because Murdoch has a US passport now?

Germaine Greer makes the point that fire is part of the natural cycle of things. Been said before and all but bears repeating.

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 9, 2009
Massive Military response from the Rudbot for the fire ravaged areas.

2 x APCs ( M113's) Comm's carriers and about half a dozen dozers and 150 troops.....HUGE!...Yeah!...Fucking hell!, I'll try and not GO OFFFFF!

Respond to this comment

Murphy mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2009
Brian, speaking of t-shirts, I found a shirt that would fit Birmo perfectly. Unfortunately, that same shirt would probably have caused him trouble at customs.

Paul, Birmo tells me he had a great time with you. Same per Madoc. Tarl was first class in covering the bill, which almost became an arm wrestling match between him and Birmo. CraigWA was there not only for the Mexican feed but also for the expedition to Comicon. In fact, he spent more time down there than I did and I believe he probably got better pics.

That fire sounds horrible. I've not had a chance to catch up. A 0800 hour class does that to you.

Respects,

Murph

On the Outer Marches

Respond to this comment

sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2009
The brush fires are terrible- I suddenly feel very cocooned in the UK. Wondering will this be an Oz Katrina in terms of Govt management or is something that "just happens"?

Respond to this comment

Brian asserts...

Posted February 10, 2009
sparty - there's a hysterical witch hunt going on for fire bugs. Some of the killer fires are notionally 'natural'.

There was a doctrinal shift in fire fighting some years back - protect property, don't try and put them out. These fires were up and through communities before warnings got out. I don't believe these were organisational failures. The fire storm moved faster than communications. Then the intensity and spread of reports swamped available resources. The fires moved faster than resources could be moved to handle them. I suspect the concensus will be no amount of resourcing could have handled it.

Respond to this comment

Abe puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
More of the latter I think Sparty, although the lack of warning has raised a few questions. Plus many were deliberately lit, so clearly if they are caught there will be recriminations.

From what I've heard, on Sat (one of the hottest days on history and windy to boot) the fires were travelling in thin "fingers" that were unpredictable. But when the wind shifted 90 degrees, these fingers became fire fronts that moved at incredible speed.

The mix was highly unpredictable, which is why so many people were killed trying to get out of dodge.

Respond to this comment

Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted February 10, 2009
Abe is right on most things. Nobody really knew what the wind was going to do when the cool change came through at 6pm on saturday. All of a sudden these narrow fires became massive as their edges became their fronts.

Calling this an Aussie Katrina is a bit overdone though. For a start most of the people affected by the fire were white. Secondly, Australia is still more or less a meritocracy. There will be no "heckuva job Browny" types who have been parachuted into the upper echelons of the CFA, SES or DSE to mess things up.

However there was no lack of warning. The conditions on Saturday had been predicted since midweek and were front page news for at least thursday and Friday.But Trowzers is right. When conditions are like they were it does not matter how prepared you are. The fire apparently moved at unprecedented speed that was approaching 100 mph. Some of the flames were as high as a 10 story building and the smoke turned a summer day into an eerie orange twilight.

Respond to this comment

Abe would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
Yeah, I was referring to the more specific kind of warnings I've seen (received) in the past, rather than the very general DFAT-travel-warning style that aren't terribly useful for planning.

Respond to this comment

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted February 10, 2009
I saw on the Teev the APC's trundling in & wondered what they could contribute? Are they fire proof?

Not criticising just wondering.

I worked a conference of EMQ (Emergency Management Queensland) about 12 months after the Canberra fire. The keynote speaker was one of the high ranking fire Johnnies from Canberra - basically sharing some of the lesons learnt there. I was gobsmacked to hear that suburbia has the same fuel load (KG of burnable / square meter) as open eucalypt forest, but the real "Faark me" moment was when the dude spoke of fighting the fire front in suburbia - access is better than in a forest, but when you run out of fire trucks & crews, access aint gonna help.

Hypothetically.

If we were to have a national resource base how would you prioritise locations?

How could you get them on site in time? As said above a 60 mile per hour fire front that can turn on a dime & head in a new direction makes it hard.

Victoria has had at least half a dozen fire fighting aircraft on standby for two months (my mate has been there sitting & waiting) how much more is reasonable?

Again as said above they could have had 50 and houses / lives would still have been lost.

An incredible tragedy and if I was the firestarter I'd be digging myself a very deep hole about now.

Respond to this comment

Havock reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
NBOB, its interesting , you mention Fuel load in suburbia because it’s a major source of concern. If you look at the shift we have seen in the last 20 odd years away from the typical ¼ acre blocks to the now, 500 odd square meter block , we have dense packed metropolitan houses. In a lot of cases, there is mere INCHES between each house. A worst case is a fire in storm like conditions getting into one of these new growth suburbs. BAD. Very BAD.

Abe, the APC’s are communications APC’s, but in terms of fire survival, so long as you move through the front rapidly they would be OK. Limited amount of Oxygen etc in them , but safer than a fire truck in extreme conditions.

As for some one to blame. Nobody really.

You could say we should have done more burning off over the last 5 years, given the drying conditions, but you need the right conditions to do that. We perhaps could have had better coms, who knows.

Building and fire equipment regulations could have been better maybe as well.

But it is a FACT. If you live in the bush and its heavily timbered and beautiful you have a very good chance of facing a Bush Fire. Throw in EXTREME conditions like we just had and you will quite possibly get a lot of unfortunate deaths.

So long as we learn, we modify what we do and that may be as simple as tinkering with each area a bit more. Maybe for high risk areas we look at the following as mandatory. This is off the top of the head to BTW.

1 Houses built to have fire retardant paint only.

2 All roofs to be Iron

3 Fire suppression systems to be on all roofs

4 Bushfire shelter on all outlying Properties

5 Petrol / Diesel pumps on outlying properties.

6 Clear zone / Fire break around outlying properties

7 Occupants to do yearly fire training unless in the CFA or similar service.

8 Water storage tanks to be buried or shielded

9 Timber cladding???????

Just some thoughts. Keep ya fingers crossed for Healesville and likes, the warning has Just gone out.

Respond to this comment

NBlob mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Anyone know if they have installed the survival tanks on all CFA trucks yet?

A couple of big fires ago we lost a couple of crews when the trucks were overwealmed.

I remember the responsible minister getting a royal reaming because more than half the CFA trucks did not have a refuge, and him promising they would all have them by X.

I wonder if it happened?

Respond to this comment

JKBrooks85 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 10, 2009
Hope everyone's doing well -- those fires don't look good at all. It reminds me of the 2004 fire season here in Alaska; we had 6.6 million acres burn, and it was surreal late in the season when it started to get dark and you could see the aurora shimmering through the smoke at times. Judging from that experience, you all might be dealing with the repercussions of these fires well after they're over.

Respond to this comment

MickH ducks in to say...

Posted February 10, 2009
Off topic here but I found this interesting blog discussion on our Birmo:

http://larvatusprodeo.net/2009/02/08/how-to-spot-bad-science-fiction-or-fantasy/#comments

Some of you may care to comment? :-)

Respond to this comment

Matthew K would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
BBC were just going on about firebugs too but... well, I just can't imagine that there would be that many people who are that mad or bad, not when the consequences are so obvious. Life tends to be screw ups rather than conspiracies.

The stuff about fuel load is very illuminating, I see why "my" province of Spain (Almeria) doesn't have too much to worry about - relatively few trees.

Respond to this comment

Brian mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Bob - AFAIK these trucks have misting systems. But when you're out of water, you're stuffed. We haven't lost any crews so far.

Havock - one talk back caller who lost her parents. The fire pumps were still operating when the disaster crews got to the property. A lot of the dead were 'fire wise'. Quite a few of the homes were metal clad roofed.

We're starting to hit the limits of what adequate fire protection means for above ground structures.

After Ash Wednesday - I thought the best idea was for underground 'storm shelters'. OMG - Brumby is talking about bunkers on the ABC as I type this.

Respond to this comment

Lobes mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
They use bunkers for tornado protection in the USA. IMHO it could work in a bushfire if certain modifications were made. Havock has an interesting post up about it.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
The US often sends firefighters, aid, and gear when Australia is burning, but we're too cash strapped to do anything but watch the news. Assistance that would have helped you is being wasted in Iraq.

J.

Respond to this comment

Brian mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
SJS . . . US crews would have been too late. New Zealand crews - too late. Some one deal with this nitwit.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says has opinions thus...

Posted February 10, 2009
And all of the fires have been extinguished...? All of the bodies have been found...? The rebuilding has been completed...? It's good to know the crisis is finished.

J.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 10, 2009
Hope it's over. Without getting superstitious, best not tempt fate.

Respond to this comment

Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted February 10, 2009
Given that fires are still burning out of control around places like Yakandandah and throughout Gippsland, I don't think any firefighting assistance will be too late.

Respond to this comment

tygertim reckons...

Posted February 10, 2009
My sympathies for all of the affected, my prayers are for you. The rest of you keep safe. Plan the escape route NOW, and have your Go-TO-HELL-PLAN bags ready by the door!

I was there for the Oakland Hills fire in October of '91, just before Mom moved up to Yolo County... 25 people died, and some 3,000 houses were burnt. It was just the other side of the hill from us, and if the wind hadn't changed well, I was planning on Grabbing Mom and throwing her into the car and just going at one point. The fire was moving too fast for my liking. Thank God it didn't come to that. (Mom was in her 70's then, and in poor health).

A study was done on the fire, and amazingly, some homes (new construction) in the very midst of the fire zone came through unscathed. I remember reading that such things as fireproof roofing, double planed windows or windows with shutters, Stucco or other fireproof material used on the homes' exterior, A space cleared of brush 300 ft around the home all played important roles... one of the homes had built in roof misters (clearly the architect had put some thought into the building site conditions) good on the homeowner!

Take care and Keep Safe!

Respond to this comment

Brian puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2009
Orin - what has to happen is to relieve the guys on the fire line. To rotate them out. That's what normally happens. Crews have moved down from NSW and Canberra - but they have to leave resources to cover their own areas. The crews coming in from Tas and NZ will be used as relievers.

But there is no hope in putting these fires out unless the weather turns. The fires are going into mountain country inaccessible to vehicles.

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
SJS - We were going to call you guys...but you know.. it was short notice and our country is just a tad over 15 hours flying time from LAX...

We do have a few people in this country that can fight a fire.. what we need is for the conditions to change, weather change alone will help more than anything.. throwing people at this disaster will only have a minimal effect... Most of the country burning is inaccessible to most vehicles..

Sooo.. unless you guys can lend us, say, 100+ versions of Elvis tomorrow....(Erickson S-64 Air-Crane Helitanker) then we are in trouble...

Feel free to donate some of them sweet US dollars to the relief efforts though.. they will go a long way right now.

Cheers

The Monster

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
MickH ..I did, and at that spastic who also referenced the other blog. Talk about ..well, I waded through the tripe and perhaps have some idea why Murph went kinda funny. It took me ONE POST, not5-10 years or whatever.

Respond to this comment

savo asserts...

Posted February 10, 2009
"natural cycle of things" my arse, the old harridan got it wrong again.

brian unfortunately fire fighters, senior ones, tend to look on the brighter side of life and blame lightening strikes and electrical faults, lightening strikes when there are no clouds in the sky and there are simply not that many bad electricians. Strike Force Tronto in NSW put paid to most of those fantasies with proper fire investigations, not just some uninformed uniformed probationary constable writing off, and a goodly number of arrests for arson.

Lobes how long would the air hold out, specifically in these extreme cases? Plenty for the usual fire line but these seemed way way thicker than usual.

Orin: Get the firefighters from the north Queensland floods down and the SES from Victoria up to North Queensland, fair swap.

Respond to this comment

Lobes asserts...

Posted February 10, 2009
Savo I have no idea how long the air would hold out nor how long you would need it to hold out.

These fire fronts seem to move very fast so I guess anywhere that can protect you from radiant heat for up to 15 minutes is what you need. I imagine a reasonably sized room that was properly sealed off could contain enough air to keep a family alive for 15 minutes?

Respond to this comment

Lobes mutters...

Posted February 10, 2009
The virtual community is coming unhinged. I've already been asked to join several Facebook vigilante groups to hunt down the arsonists. Not sure who they think they;re kidding.

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK would have you know...

Posted February 10, 2009
lobes ..lol. Just WTF do they think they shall do.

Um, about 5-10 minutes for the fire front to pass.

Respond to this comment

Brian has opinions thus...

Posted February 10, 2009
Savo - a number of fires are due to electrical faults. See Ash Wednesday fires and the SECV compensation payouts. The Kinglake fire is being traced back to a sawmill. Humans are behind most fires. Shoot - we've seen people flick cigarette butts out of cars on Total Fire Ban days. Stupidity knows no bounds.

Respond to this comment

Damaso has opinions thus...

Posted February 11, 2009
Wish I was in NYC to buy you a beer! If you have time (I'm sure you don't) go to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn for lunch. Best steak in town!

I noticed that WW is now available for the Kindle ;) ! I also noticed the price $14.30. If it was an NY Times best seller it would be $9.99, so what gives? I'm just wondering how the publisher came to that number. I do look forward to reading it though...

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob mutters...

Posted February 11, 2009
MickH - had to laugh at those posts wheer Havock went off at them.

Re: Fires - apparently there are lots of doubts about real effectiveness of helicopters in these situations - maybe they just look good on the news? On Saturday only one fireplan would have worked - bug out early!!

Perfect storm for bushfires...

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'All Hail Tarl, the King of New York.'

Transit Day.

Posted February 6, 2009 by John Birmingham
Spent most of yesterday traveling after a rushed start before sun up. Got to the airport too late to do my upgrade trick so got to have the economy class experience on American Airlines. A pity I didn't swap the United and AA upgrade/econ thing around because AA's business class looked fine, whereas United, as someone pointed out, looked like a Greyhound bus.

Anyway, I sat next to Marcie, soon to be retired New York realtor, who was very pleasant in that chatty American way, and I watched another five episodes of 24 (series one) on the 'pod.

Didn't eat or drink on the plane, so got into NYC very hungry, having had only an apple and banana at SD airport. Random had sent a limo to pick me up, which was much appreciated as it was way below freezing and coming on for peak hour. There was a welcoming fruit and cheese basket and a bottle of Oregon pinot waiting in my room, for which I was pathetically grateful.

CraigWA, who'd arrived an hour or so earlier, texted me and we organised to have a quick dinner. He was on London time so it was about 1Am on his body clock. Had the scarifying experience of stepping out into the night time freeze and we quickly settled on a nearby restaurant where Craig had a beer (bwaaaahahahahahahaha!) and some sort of meat loafy thing. I went for what I thought was a meat ball and salad sandwhich , but which was really an experiment in stress testing a garbage bin lid sized plate by overloading it with staggering tonnages of fries, fist sized lumps of meat, a few leaves of wilted lettuce, and a gallon of melted cheese.

I think I ate about 15% of the meal and still felt bloated.

Back to the hotel for some arsing about trying to get a net connection, filed a Geek, watched another ep of 24, then off to sleepy bo bo land.

Tomorrow I have meetings, and Murph arrives in town.

31 Responses to ‘Transit Day.’

Lobes reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
So if Craig is on Perth/London/New York Time and you're on Brisbane/San Fran/New York time. Then between you you've been through more time zones than the USS Hillary Clinton (zing!)

Respond to this comment

gtrof puts forth...

Posted February 7, 2009
Glad you made it to NYC with no trouble Birmo. Next time your in the states you need to stop by the Second City, Chicago.

Respond to this comment

jennicki is gonna tell you...

Posted February 7, 2009
Wow you're really getting the American Experience full throtte--freezing cold temps and ginormous servings. Restaurants and movie theaters should really just be honest about their serving sizes--

"Would you like a bucket of popcorn or, for $1 more, you can upgrade to a trough?"

Respond to this comment

lostatlunch swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 7, 2009
everyone's your friend in new york city,

relax and go with the flow,

explain you are a tourist and ask a local to show you around.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mutters...

Posted February 7, 2009
Is the "cheese" that is allegedly poured over everything in America really as bad as Jeremy Clarkson says?

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 7, 2009
John, a real man could have finished that meal.

Respond to this comment

Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted February 7, 2009
Beware of the NYC wallet inspectors

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 7, 2009
Yes, poured cheese. I don't think I even need to answer.

Respond to this comment

BrianC swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 7, 2009
Hmmmm cold weather... its 39c here in canberra JB and believe it or not its only 30 in brisy. Enjoy the cold while you can, cause the sky is falling... well melting.

Id love a good cold snap right about now.

Respond to this comment

Abe puts forth...

Posted February 7, 2009
Eeeew cheese that you pour! No wonder the cheese platter doesn't happen in the US - it would flow off the end of the tray.

You need to find the Brazilian quarter. It's somewhere between 46th and 49th and maybe only a block or two from Broadway. So maybe 5th or 6th? Or would it be 8th/9th? Anyway ask a local.

I've said it before, but you need to try the Feijoada.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K mumbles...

Posted February 7, 2009
Nigh on 40c down there I hear, I can't think straight at that temp. Not a problem though as it's all over slushy snow outside.

Is that squeezy "cheese" cheese whizz? I looked at a bottle in the american deli and it didn't seem to have cheese in the list of ingredients at all! WTF?

I bought Skippy peanut butter instead. (Is it made by or from Skippy?)

Respond to this comment

sibeen ducks in to say...

Posted February 7, 2009
A lovely and invigorating 45.5 degrees in Essendon at the moment. At this temperature all cheese is of the poured variety.

Respond to this comment

Lobes reckons...

Posted February 7, 2009
45 degrees in Melbourne and climbing. I just did a 15 km paddle from St Kilda to Sandringham. Pretty toasty out there.

Can someone pour me a glass of cheddar?

Respond to this comment

puma would have you know...

Posted February 7, 2009
cheese poured on things?...strange. Never seen it..or heard of it.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says asserts...

Posted February 7, 2009
Don't eat. Avoid all places that use cheese, and return to your country that prefers blocks of yeast infection. Australia isn't exactly known for its cuisine or tolerance.

J.

Respond to this comment

BrianC asserts...

Posted February 7, 2009
SJS said

"Australia isn’t exactly known for its cuisine or tolerance."

I know im going to regret this, but what pray tell SJS is Australia known for?

Respond to this comment

sibeen puts forth...

Posted February 7, 2009
"I know im going to regret this,"

Oh, no, no, no, Brian. I expect we'll all come to regret it :)

Respond to this comment

Matthew K reckons...

Posted February 7, 2009
Don't dis the vegemite yo.

45.4c in Essendon! Not in our Essendon it isn't.

Respond to this comment

Brian is gonna tell you...

Posted February 7, 2009
Reading a Melbourne thread asking what things melted. So far clothes pegs and washing baskets are up there.

Wooden front door panel cracked in my place.

Watched a few roads start to get tacky. ie transports leaving ruts in bitumen surfaces.

Queensland is starting to look like a nice temperate place to go to.

Respond to this comment

JKBrooks85 would have you know...

Posted February 7, 2009
Out of curiosity, are there any Alaska book-signing stops planned? Just wrapped up reading WW and loved the Begich cameo. I imagine it's too much to hope for but figured I'd ask.

Respond to this comment

CraigWA has opinions thus...

Posted February 7, 2009
At least the Mexican place we went for dinner last night had something that resembled real beer. I presume it was from Mexico.

Respond to this comment

savo has opinions thus...

Posted February 7, 2009
Geez freezing weather NY. 14 dead poss. up to 40 in Victoria in the bush fires down there. Tragedy.

Respond to this comment

yankeedog mutters...

Posted February 7, 2009
"Got to the airport too late to do my upgrade trick so got to have the economy class experience on American Airlines"

Well, lucky you!

You wacky Australian types-insist on traveling in your summer-which ain't summer up here! Much like you guys like to tease us Yanks with Dropbears, we like to tell you folks 'Come on up! You can handle this-it's a dry kind of cold'!

And good luck on finding 'light' fare for meals here.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 7, 2009
Actually that "dry kind of cold" looks pretty appealing here where it barely gets below freezing, so sleet falls from the sky and now slush covers the land.

The dry cold is actually warmer.

Respond to this comment

Sweet Jane Says reckons...

Posted February 8, 2009
http://www.hreoc.gov.au / about / media / speeches / sex_discrim / women_and_racism_forum.html

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Website

Dec 1, 2001 ... In addition, racism and sexism do not affect all women equally or in the same way. .... predisposes them to high unemployment and hazardous employment; .... Work out your rights. Voices of Australia - Education module ...

New York has Ethiopian, Thai, Vietnamese, Mongolian, Turkish, Indian, Japanese, Chinese, and countless other foods that do not use cheese or use very little cheese. That's the funny thing about the US. We have choice and freedom.

J.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2009
Sorry, JK, not this tour.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 8, 2009
Does anyone have any idea what she's talking about?

Respond to this comment

Matthew K would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2009
Uh uh. Back to irrelevant randomness.

Respond to this comment

Lobes is gonna tell you...

Posted February 8, 2009
The freedom to not eat cheese. Apparently its the difference between Australians and Americans.

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy reckons...

Posted February 8, 2009
SJS: I think the Scots may have taken the lead on the American/Anglo cheese freedom issue.

Of course, that well known American/Australian/Scotsman Mel Gibson had the right answer for cheese freedom.

"You have come to fight as cheese men, and cheese men you are. What will you do with that cheddar? Will you fight? Aye, fight and you may die, run and you'll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our camembert! "

Respond to this comment

BrianC puts forth...

Posted February 8, 2009
Ummm. Wow! Ok then i guess i did ask for... that what ever that was.

JB that link goes to human right commission australia and when you follow her drill downs it takes you to an article talking about enshrined racist-sexism in australia.

SJS australia by and large isnt a racist or sexist society, certainly not sexist, our women folk just wouldnt stand for that shit. We do have our share of blockheads. And while out rights arnt enshrined in some holy bill, they are written down in our constition and our laws.

The Australian of the Year this year was a black fella, the minister for my department is woman. Were not perfect but we are far from institutionaly racist.

Ok so i just deleted my further argurments here because it doesnt matter. You wont agree, you cant. You havent been to my Country. I have been to yours, i know where the balance of freedom lies. Besides this blog is about JB not you or me.

JB you lucky bastard. It going to be even hotter today. Im thinking of wasting $30 bucks and catching some back to back movies in the cinema.

BrianC

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Transit Day.'

Props to Madoc.

Posted February 5, 2009 by John Birmingham
Had a reasonabley large time in San Diego today. Large enough to make me wish I was staying a few days longer. Woulda been nice to get down the waterfront and check out the Midway, and some sailing ship that used to be a brothel.

But we're into the business end of the deal now, so Larry my minder shuttled me around the district today, signing copies. Then dropped me back at the hotel in time to check a few emails before Madoc very generously drove down from LA  to whisk me away to dinner across the water from the big fleet base. I had a very fine swordfish steak grilled in some sort of spicey SoCal herb mix with green beans.

Then it was off to Mysterious Galaxy for a chat and some signing. Another dip o' the propeller beanie to the Galaxy crew for indulging me in my odd anecdotal ays. I dont think they get a lot of writers explaining the critical importance of strip clubs and brothels to their early development.

A really pleasant development there was the presence of Bill, the USN chief you might remember from the old Cheeseburger whom I took to lunch at Char in Brisbane. He was off his ship and back home with his family and made the effort to come to the gig. Again, cheers.

Then back to SD proper with Madoc for a Blanton's bourbon and a tour of the gas lamp district before heads down here at the hotel.

Early flight tomorrow.

Did a first class upgrade this morning on United. It gave me pause. I think it was Monster Yuppy who said something like their first isn't far off Qantas' economy. He was right. I now have a perverse desire to experience an economy flight on a US domestic leg, just to see what it's like.

It can't be that bad. Right?

Anyway, again, many thanks to Madoc for a huge effort.

And now to New York.

42 Responses to ‘Props to Madoc.’

Monster Yuppy mutters...

Posted February 5, 2009
"I now have a perverse desire to experience an economy flight on a US domestic leg, just to see what it’s like."

Perverse is correct...Why not also consider poking yourself in the eye, or putting a hand on the hotplate?

It may seem like a good idea at the time....however....

Hope San Diego treats you well... It is one of my favourite spots in the USA.

Cheers

The Monster

Respond to this comment

NBlob asserts...

Posted February 5, 2009
Last time I was in NYC (Thanksgiving 01) it was jammed to the rafters with tourists and cheerleading teams & marching bands for Macy's parade.

Took me a while to work out all the "Colors" jackets I was seeing, but a jolly good time was had by all, except perhaps the locals who seem to wear the "Sh!t I just stepped in something" expression.

Keep your eye's peeled for the "No Radio" signs in delivery trucks & watch how you cross the road - don't do a Churchill & step in front of traffic.

NYC Bush tucker:

Street vendor bagels & hotdogs over rated.

Hole in the wall Pizza joints sell by the slice - good dough, but would it kill 'em to put on more than on topping?

Diner breakfasts are worth the DVT.

Pretzels good.

Respond to this comment

DrYobbo would have you know...

Posted February 5, 2009
“I now have a perverse desire to experience an economy flight on a US domestic leg, just to see what it’s like.”

Yes this does sound like an proto-attempt at self harm. Best your minders keep you away from sharp pointy things.

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5, 2009
It is extremely perverse - you are lucky you ain't my size.

Also try to get something with chipotle in it...

Respond to this comment

savo ducks in to say...

Posted February 5, 2009
These updates are just so good. Wonderful you met up with Madoc. I'm off to read his entry.

Did an economy trip with wife and two kids in 95. Washington to SF via LA. 8 hours across the continent and the only thing severed, offered and delivered was one sample packet of stale peanuts for each child. But the whole flight was made memorably pleaseant purely by surviving the landing at San Fran. The kids enjoyed the roller coaster ride and it was, hmmm ... enlightening to see the runway approach through the side window.

Stick with the upgrades.

Respond to this comment

Brian has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2009
Don't bother going over to Madocs blog just yet - he hasn't updated since Pelosi proved she was numerically illiterate.

Tsk . . .had no idea Madoc was LA based. He'd best be careful. Conservative are rare on the West Coast.

Respond to this comment

savo mutters...

Posted February 5, 2009
damn, can't post on Madoc's site.

Respond to this comment

Lobes reckons...

Posted February 5, 2009
Madoc DROVE to meet you?? Does he not know what a huge CO2 footprint that will produce!! LA to San Diego and back has got to be worth at least 1.5 polar bears.

LoL, just kidding. Glad you guys had a good time. Besides, I'm sure Madoc drives a Hybrid ;)

Its 3am now in LA. I'm sure Madoc will have a post up soon.

Respond to this comment

yankeedog has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2009
Never been to San Diego, but everything I've heard about it is good-nice climate, oceanfront, vibrant city. Must get to a Padres game sometime!

My advice: Enjoy California. The eastern half of the nation has been cold, even in Florida, where it rarely hits freezing.

As for flying economy class on a domestic flight-dunno. Fly a small plane from Brisbane to Perth. If you can do that without being too uncomfortable, then you can handle a cross-country flight here-it's about the same distance. Stick with your first class.

Remember-every flight from Australia to anywhere is long distance, so Qantas probably has their planes designed with that thought in mind.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 5, 2009
What does "no radio" in NY trucks signify?

Respond to this comment

jennicki puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2009
You had me at sailing brothel.

Then lost me at desire for a US economy flight.

Respond to this comment

HAVOCK is gonna tell you...

Posted February 6, 2009
mate its 1.39AM, just got home, dropped off squire Bedak at his digs in MelB for his stay. gotta say, sounds like ya having a blast, tea, drinks and two clubs later we had a wicked night out for the Melb Burgers and GBOB once again picked a wicked place..I'm off to bed

Respond to this comment

Murphy ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
Well, for twenty bucks US you can get onboard the USS Intrepid in Manhattan, which is an Essex Class carrier.

I've not been on a plane since 1993 so I have absolutely no idea what to expect. I do know that on Midwest Air the seating is a bit better but then they do not have first class per se. You do get a warm chocolate chip cookie though with every flight. :)

Glad the hook up took place.

Respects,

Murph

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
Maddoc and I are secretly on the California Tourism Board payroll.

Respond to this comment

Damaso ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
Please talk to the publisher about releasing WW for the Kindle. I would have brought it just a moment ago but it isn't available...

Respond to this comment

Lobes has opinions thus...

Posted February 6, 2009
Link to Birmos appearance blurb at the New York comic con. He appears under the heading of Literary Guest

http://www.nycomiccon.com/app/homepage.cfm?moduleid=2920&appname=100453&submenuheader=1&campaignid=61424905&iUserCampaignID=48070306#Literary_Guest

caution: v large page

Respond to this comment

Trevin Matlock puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2009
Dear Mr. Birmingham,

Very much enjoyed your talk last night in San Diego. Just started the book this morning. I like the book very much so far but found one of those things your editor should have sent you a note on. Page 21, 3rd para. I'm afraid there is no UCLA Berkeley campus. There is a UC campus in Berkeley and a UC campus in LA (and Santa Cruz, Davis, Riverside, San Diego, Irvine and so on).

Cheers,

Trevin

Respond to this comment

Madoc ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
John,

Thanks! It was a pleasure to finally get to meat you in person. And I had fun carting you 'round America's Finest City(tm) - and yes, that is the official motto of the City of San Diego.

That sailing ship is the Star of India and it is "the world's oldest active ship." She's a iron hulled barque rigged tallship. Originally built in 1863 she was sold to some San Diegans in 1923 as a restoration project. The Great Depression, among other things, put paid to that idea and the ship languished for many a year. During that time it was used for storage, for a "floating hotel" and yes, even as a brothel as well. That last bit doesn't get much mention on the San Diego Maritime Museum's tours of the ship. Odd, that.

Paul, yeah I hear you to did an outstanding job of showing the Birmo around there in SF. Good on you!

As to my "carbon footprint" well... since the world is now facing a period of global _cooling_ you'd think more CO2 in the air would be a good thing! But then, as we all know that the whole "carbon dioxide causes global warming" is but a scam and a lie, the amount of CO2 my driving down generated is therefore irrlevant!

And no, I was NOT going to drive the likes of John Birmingham around America's Finest City(tm) in anything so pathetic as a "hybrid" car. No, he got driven around in my Ford Ranger pickup truck!

'Twas a pity I was spending too much time with my eyes on the road as I drove him 'round for John later told me he got reflexively terrified every time I took a right hand turn. Here in the States that means only that I was driving with traffic. Down there in Oz such a turn would've meant I was driving into oncoming traffic. Birmo handled it well though and his face didn't look to green nor his knuckles to white after each drive...

As to flying economy, John, heed the words of others here above - you be not missing a damn thing! Unless, of course, you're into that self-induced suffering thing. But you don't strike me as the hairshirt type.

Anyway, glad to meet you in person and I'm happy you enjoyed your time here!

Madoc

Respond to this comment

Madoc mutters...

Posted February 6, 2009
Savo,

You gotta have an account on LiveJournal to post. This is due to there being to many wankers being, well, wankers. I figure if setting the posting requirements to "LJ members only" keeps such cowards at bay then it's worth it.

And Brian - I'm not a conservative. I just don't happen to be what passes for liberal these days.

Madoc

Respond to this comment

Paul Nicholas Boylan reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
Madoc - Good news on carbon! In my heart, I knew that climate change stuff is a scam. Carbon-making is a family tradition that goes back many generations. All this talk about reducing our individual "carbon footprints" was threatening to cut me off from my most powerful connection to my cultural roots. Time to go make some carbon! Wahoo!

PS - the next time I'm in SD we gotta do lunch.

Respond to this comment

Abe mutters...

Posted February 6, 2009
Hehe

He said, "meat you."

Hehe

Respond to this comment

Madoc puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2009
Abe,

Well, we do a feed and it weren't no poffy vegie stuff! 'Twas meat it was! Real meat!

And besides, I'm still kinda bleary eyed this morning. I don't much fancy driving two and a half hours through Los Angeles, Orange County, and San Diego rush hour traffic, pulling a fine time with a distinguished personage, and then having to get up at O-Dark-Thirty the next morning to drive back through San Diego, Orange County, and Los Angeles rush hour traffic to get to work in the morning.

So, me wordsmithing skills be a mite bit off.

It was worth it though, to hear Birmo tell his "pointy headed" bit.

Madoc

Respond to this comment

Brian mutters...

Posted February 6, 2009
Argh. . .Madoc, from this far remove. It seems realists and pragmatics get dumped on the conservative side of the fence anyway. (shrug)

I'm glad you don't drive a 'noddy' car. Noddy Car - car driven by Enid Blyton character. Notionally similar to a 'clown' car. Prius with an inferiority complex.

Respond to this comment

Leo euler asserts...

Posted February 6, 2009
Have fun!

I actually was on United economy just yesterday...I was going to a funeral. It was weird, because my cousin happened to be on the same plane, but we didn't even know it!

I don't think a lot of people are flying at this time of year, so you'll probably have a lot of space on United. I did. It really wasn't bad at all.

Respond to this comment

Patricia asserts...

Posted February 6, 2009
John- economy on United or Continental is akin to a Greyhound bus in Australia. A Greyhound bus in the U.S. is probably the worst way of travelling. If you feel like suffering, I would recommend the leg between Seattle and Dallas. 3 days long. Full of obese people who don't get a chance to wash. Lots of greasy diners in between.

Madoc-I think your new president begs to differ about the carbon dioxide thingy. You may want to talk to some scientists. After all, it ain't a religion....it's not a matter of belief.

But anyway...

Respond to this comment

Therbs asserts...

Posted February 6, 2009
Mmmmm Blanton's. Well done Madoc!

I did Buffalo - L.A. in economy on the old Peoples' Express. I'd been advised to get hammered first and collapse for the flight. Sound advice.

Upgrade, upgrade, upgrade.

Respond to this comment

NBlob puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2009
By Matt Keith, February 5, 2009 @ 10:43 pm "What does “no radio” in NY trucks signify"

I had to ask a local.

Apparantly it means "I have no car stereo, so it's not worth breaking into it."

Often seen in conjunction with 1 inch wide strap steel welded across windows - looks kinda Mad Max.

Private cars in NYC seemed pretty rare, ever desperate not to look like a tourista in times square I whipped out the camera, took a shot and put it away without much in the way of composing the shot or waiting for the moment. Of the visible vehicles 80% are yellow cabs, a couple of busses, some delivery vans, 2 town cars (Aka limos) and just 1 private car.

Respond to this comment

Madoc has opinions thus...

Posted February 6, 2009
Patricia,

Well, given how so many of the CO2/Global Warming folk behave you'd be excused in thinking it their religion. As to Obama's "scientists" I don't expect it to be to much longer before he's back on TV telling the world he is once again wrong and has yet again "screwed up." This time, about the "climate crisis." What with the Sun cooling down, the southern hemisphere experiencing year after year of record cold winters, and the planet itself enduring _no_ global warming since 1998, it shan't be long before the enviro-whackos move on to other things to get hysterical about.

And as to the Blanton's, Birmo scored a fresh bottle there as well. Seems that bourbon isn't in high demand in San Dieg - or perhaps it is and they'd just gone through their last uncorked example - but John got his very own freshly openned right before our eyes bit of pouring. He had it on the rocks but with only a few rocks therein. Not quite pebbles but shading toward that end.

Me? Well, since I was driving and since I didn't want to deal with the outrage had I put the Birmo's life in any more danger than I already had simply by driving on the "wrong" side of the road for his sensitivities, I decided to stick to a glass of Coke. I would've prefered to show my savoir faire by having it neat but the barman was to quick for me and had the filled glass before me before I could say otherwise.

And in any event, we wound up walking back to his hotel as it was that close and he wanted to see at least some of San Diego's nightlife. But for some of the particular sounds and a few of the visuals, it wasn't to different from anywhere else's nightlife.

John may be tempted, when he's in LA next week, to make his own trek down to San Diego so he can take in "Bondi - The Australian bar and kitchen." We stumbled across it after we'd already finished our feed otherwise we might've wound up there so John could do his restaurant critic deconstruction of the place. He tells me the temptation is yet strong so perhaps he'll twist his LA Wrangler's arm a tad for a quick road trip south. We'll see.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
Thanks Bob, now I know. I thought NY had the petty crime thing licked but that don't sound like it.

Testify Madoc! I too am of the almost religious zealotry which man made climate change is championed.

Respond to this comment

Matthew K asserts...

Posted February 6, 2009
Erm. That should have read: I too am suspicious of...

Respond to this comment

Bondiboy66 swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 6, 2009
Good lord, a restaurant called 'Bondi -The Australian Bar and Grill'...I am VERY interested in a review of that joint. It has the potential to be horrifying.

Respond to this comment

Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 6, 2009
Madoc - Thanks for squiring Birmo around ... I'm sure that the sheer mass of your libertarian purity removed, through sheer osmosis, some of the lib molecules that his body accumulated from the water in SF.

Respond to this comment

damian mumbles...

Posted February 6, 2009
“Bondi - The Australian bar and kitchen.”

Why does that provoke a simmering premonition of culinary outrage, without knowing anything more than the name?

Anyhow, top show Madoc.

Respond to this comment

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted February 6, 2009
Matt, it was 2001.

I believe pre Juliani "0 tolerance"

Seems like a lifetime ago.

Well it is my daughters life-time ago, but that's beside the point.

Looks like the Carbon debate continues.

[Not here or now Bob]

Ok, thankyou inner self censor.

Respond to this comment

Madoc is gonna tell you...

Posted February 6, 2009
Rhino,

'Twas the least I could do. I mean, I knew that if I was anywhere near San Diego whilst Birmo was in town and I somehow failed to show the lad a good time that he'd then write me into one of his tales as a minor character who dies a horribly, cowardly and pointless death. Hell, he might still do that anyway so I gotta watch myself here!

And as to the lib molecules percolating in John's bloodstream, well, I dunno. What the man had to say about his "pointy head" was, well, it was... disturbing. I shan't go into further details as there's some things which men just shouldn't talk about.

Really.

Madoc

Respond to this comment

NBlob reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
shit, not 2001, it was 1991 that makes more sense.

Respond to this comment

Brian would have you know...

Posted February 6, 2009
Err . . .Nowhere Bob? Heat or cold getting to you?

Madoc. 'Pointy head' was it? Well . . .guess you had to be there to catch the subtleties. John's molecules probably were in overdrive - metabolizing something.

(worrying thought) John's not getting to have one of his migraines again?

Respond to this comment

Madoc reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
Brian,

If you wanna ask John about the point head bit then go ahead. Just don't tell me I told you to.

Respond to this comment

Madoc reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
Arrggghhh!

Just don't tell _HIM_ I told you to!

Respond to this comment

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 6, 2009
Nah Brian, just a type A brain f*ckout.

Possibly with a dash of denial from the "I'm still young & hip" part of my brain.

The fact that I did it twice is just like a slice of fruit on the side or an dinky paper umbrella in the glass.

Embarassing.

Perhaps I can distract with more windswept & interesting tales.

Nope.

Respond to this comment

Brian ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
Madoc - you gotta take the green pills, the green pills.

Respond to this comment

savo puts forth...

Posted February 6, 2009
well, that was a lotta fun

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'Props to Madoc.'

To work, to work.

Posted February 4, 2009 by John Birmingham
So far, apart from a couple of meetings, it's all been hookers and blow, metaphorically speakin'. A grand tour of the city with the Prof, some lone handed sight seeing for myself, an exploration of American bar culture on Superbowl Sunday.

Today though I start earning my keep for the publisher. I have another thousand words on Watchmen to file, then I'll squeeze in a quick lunch with the Tyger, who's rejigged his schedule and made a long trek to catch up with me a little earier, then my wrangler will wrangle me through a bunch of stores this afternoon to sign stock before I do my first appearance tonight at Borderlands.

Which reminds me. It's time for you to get to work too. Amazon is now open for WW bizness and ol' JB is looking for some eighty-eight star reviews.

78 Responses to ‘To work, to work.’

Matthew K asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Would be happy to give review if I could find a copy here in the UK. Is it ever going to be on sale here or shall I just pay a premium + postage and order a US version via Amazon?

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2009
Can I use phrases like "rollicking adventure" ... "journey through destructive times".. "lively cast of characters"....finished up with "it is like a combination of War and Peace and the Muppet Pirate Movie" ???

Maybe not...

Hope the Seppos are treating you well.

Cheers

The Monster

Respond to this comment

Timbook2 asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Sounds like you're enjoying at least some of your time here, JB. I picked up my copy of WW this morning at Borders. Lucky me too, as they only received three copies of your book for sale and I got one of them.

Love the cover art on the dusk jacket and I'm glad I waited for the hardcover edition. It looks big and meaty.

Looking forward to a great read, as usual. Have a pleasant and safe trip in my homeland.

Best,

T2

Respond to this comment

Murphy would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
FYI, Without Warning is here in my neck of the woods. Just got through looking it over.

That cover is pretty slick once you see it wrapped around the hardcover.

Respects,

S. F. Murphy

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2009
Yeah, the cover is interesting isn't it. Don't how it'd go as a paperback, but it looks hefty in hardback.

T2 are you coming to dinner on Friday night? We'll need to book soon.

Respond to this comment

Luke mutters...

Posted February 4, 2009
Bar research? 'Birmingham's guide to good bars'?

Respond to this comment

Tarl mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2009
JB - Is it too late to get in on the dinner on Friday? I'm taking the train down from NH, I'd like to meet other 'burgers in the flesh.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2009
Too easy Tarl. You're on the list. I'll email you the details (assuming the email addy you left here was correct?)

Respond to this comment

Timbook2 mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2009
Sorry, JB, I'm out. Long story, thought you heard it by now though. You guys have fun in the Big Apple.

Respond to this comment

Murphy has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2009
Tarl, welcome aboard.

T2, sorry to hear you won't be making it. Hope all is well. We'll hoist one for you on Friday as well as the Burgers elsewhere in the world.

Respects,

S. F. Murphy

Respond to this comment

Therbs would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
Can't do an Amazon review - you have to buy something off them first and they don't stock whisky.

Respond to this comment

Orin has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2009
My review is up - so they publish them pretty quickly (only wrote it 3 hours ago)

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted February 4, 2009
You're fracking kidding me! That's an outrage.

Respond to this comment

NBlob reckons...

Posted February 4, 2009
Me too boss, I tried to give Mr "fluff" a serve (all very nicely put & understated in my usual way) and unless you buy you don't get to comment. SWMBO's professional experience has caused me to be under strict instructions: buy nuffin on line.

Respond to this comment

NBlob reckons...

Posted February 4, 2009
Also, I told ya T2. The man pisses slushies he's THAT cool.

Respond to this comment

Therbs asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Orin - I tried to slip one in as a comment on yours but that didn't work either. And I'd actually put more than ten seconds thought into it. Oh well, back to being lazy man.

Respond to this comment

Brian would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
So Amazon is only interested in providing a feedback loop from people who buy from them? Rather than providing a feedback forum from everyone?

So much for the unfettered flow of information.

Having had computer problems for most of the morning - I thought it was the laptop 'glitching' on Amazon.

F.a.a.r O.u.t - - -

Respond to this comment

NBlob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2009
Lets get back to the Hookers & Blow, much more interesting.

Perhaps we could start reviewing that?

Nah, Amazon probably won't like it either.

Unless you buy some.... Honey, can I have some cash?

Respond to this comment

Timbook2 mumbles...

Posted February 4, 2009
You called it, Bob. I should have known better. JB is cooler than my wife on our wedding anniversary. That's pretty damn cool too! LOL

Respond to this comment

Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2009
I kept my rampant narcissism in check for a moment and my NON-Rhino centric review has been submitted.

I reserve the right to submit another, more Rhino loving, review at a later date.

Respond to this comment

Orin is gonna tell you...

Posted February 4, 2009
The reason that Amazon requires you to have a unique credit card associated with your account (I don't think you have to actually buy anything, though I'm a serial amazon offender) is to stem the tide of fake reviews - publicists creating a bunch of accounts to tell everyone how awesome a new book is. It used to be that anyone could post a review - so people would post lots of negative reviews of competing books while bumping up their own books with positive reviews (this was definitely a problem with IT books where you had several competing titles for a specific subject).

I'm surprised that Amazon hasn't gone as far as to only allow reviews of products which you've purchased from them.

Respond to this comment

Trees would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
Hey JB, I've been lurking on your various forums for a couple of years now after reading the Axis of Time trilogy. I've finally felt the need to decloak. I wanted to tell you I christened your new book last night. Not is some perverse sexual way, I skinned up a fatty boombatty upon it. I'm thoroughly enjoying it so far! (The book that is, not the spliff, I enjoyed that last night.) Keep up the good work!

Respond to this comment

Rhino would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
Wow ... my review is showing and it only took a few minutes to make it through the Amazon filter ... usually takes hours or days.

Respond to this comment

Lobes asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Can someone put up a link to the appropriate Amazon page please?

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2009
Trees, you make me proud to be a book writing guy.

Keep up the good work.

Respond to this comment

Therbs mutters...

Posted February 4, 2009
Lobes - http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_b_0_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=without+warning+john+birmingham&sprefix=without+warning

NBob - I wouldn't bother. The bloke runs a Marxist rule through most of what he reads, even flogging some militancy from Helen Keller.

Think Student Union rags of the 1970's.

Respond to this comment

Monster Yuppy asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Hey JB.. have a couple of spare upgrades from a mate avail if you need em (No charge) .... Send me an email if I can help.

Cheers

The Monster

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2009
JB - I forgot to say that when you are in NYC make sure that you go to this bar http://www.hogsandheifers.com/

When I was in NY a couple of years ago and my friend left me there for the night, I think it was in the Meat Packers District and around the corner from the pub where Dylan Thomas died after sculling a bottle of scotch (or something like that)...

Respond to this comment

Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2009
Thanks Therbs. Some positively Glowing reviews there guys!

Guru I went to Hogs and Heifers when I was in NYC this time last year. It is a real bikie bar, though in the evenings it draws patrons from the neighbourhood. The decor is basic (to be charitable) but its got a pretty good vibe and pool tables too.

JB if you're in the Meatpacking district try and check out a restaurant called the Fatty Crab http://www.fattycrab.com Its cuisine is Malaysian fusion and I can thoroughly recommend

Respond to this comment

Trashman would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2009
Got a copy of WW from my local bookstore in Edinburgh last week (God knows where he got it from). Started reading it yesterday and killed two thirds of it. What can I say - wow! I never thought you'd top the AoT JB, but this is much stronger stuff. Maybe because it's set in the present day it seems less 'alternate', more real and much, much scarier.

Definitely going to be finished today. It's going to be a looong day at work till I get back to it.

Respond to this comment

sparty has opinions thus...

Posted February 4, 2009
Got one up in moderation is guess....Birmo are you doing any press to push the UK release?, everyone here (UK)is so obsessed with Obama etc it really could do alot of business

Respond to this comment

Abe asserts...

Posted February 4, 2009
Locked and loaded.

Respond to this comment

sparty swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2009
The reviews are remarkably ocnsistant on what themes they pick up. Don't forget to post the on amazon.co.uk as well if you can.

Respond to this comment

gtrof swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2009
Got my copy JB will post a review on Amazon as soon as I finish it. Which if I keep at the current rate will be the end of the week. Love what I've read so far. Hope you enjoy your trek through the good old US of A!

Respond to this comment

Leo reckons...

Posted February 5, 2009
Just picked my copy as well. They had seven in at the local Chapters here in Montreal.

When I get through it, I will be sure to post on Amazon.ca. Just on a quick look through, I am disappointed you torched Montreal, and Toronto, and Ottawa (well, not so disappointed about that really). I look forward to a cracking read. Have a fun tour of the USA.

Respond to this comment

tygertim asserts...

Posted February 5, 2009
I don't get to read my copy until Patty's checked it out.... She really liked JB's Aussie accent.... Thank God, he's married already...

Respond to this comment

Oldsinger mutters...

Posted February 5, 2009
Birmo

Zombie sightings in the great state of Illinois. Is a conincidence that you are stateside now and they appear? Check out this link if you happen to check your wi fi.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29017293/?GT1=43001

Respond to this comment

Timbook2 mumbles...

Posted February 5, 2009
Tyger ~ you just touched on something there. I think it would be cool if JB would add a Utube or video link of some kind to this site where he intros himself to his fans and welcomes them to this site.

The Aussie accent is very unique and I have always enjoyed hearing it spoken. I would really like to have a voice to put together with JB's face. All of us here have read so many of his works, including his blogs and articles and having a voice to connect with it would make it a bit more personal.

Just my opinion, of course.

Respond to this comment

Lobes ducks in to say...

Posted February 5, 2009
Timbbok2 while I agree more video and audio would be cool, lets be careful to not go OTT and turn this into a multimedia site.

One of the things that first got me coming back to Cheeseburger Gothic is the ease of use. I was/am often reading and posting from dial up with very low bandwidth. The attraction of CB Gothic is that its mostly text with very few images or video and a simple easy to load site architecture. My concern if we started flooding it with videos etc that people in my position would just not be able to get into the site.

Respond to this comment

Boscolamb has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2009
I wonder if its any coincidence that just as Birmo visits the USA under the guise of a book tour, that road work signs here in the midwest (Indiana specifically) have suddenly been reprogrammed to read: "Caution! Zombies Ahead!! Run For Cold Climates, The End Is Near!!!!"

In Texas, the signs now say: "Nazi Zombies In Area, Run!!!"

I don't believe in coincidence... I wonder if Barnesm might also be here?

Nah, what if a real zombie outbreak occurred? No one would believe it. We'd all be screwed then!

Good luck on your "book tour", Birmo!

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham puts forth...

Posted February 5, 2009
Fatty crab sounds gr8!

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted February 5, 2009
Don't fret. My people are all over this.

Respond to this comment

BrianC ducks in to say...

Posted February 5, 2009
So logged my review of without warning JB its not up yet but should be. Remember because i favourable reviewd your book, a percentage of the hovercrafts and bunnies now go to me.

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob puts forth...

Posted February 5, 2009
There was also a really awesome Cuban restaurnat somewhere nearby (Hogs and Hiefers) that was truly amazing. Live music, gorgeous ladies and fabulous food...

Respond to this comment

Lobes puts forth...

Posted February 5, 2009
Guru it was probably Son Cubano?

Other places to check out in the Meatpackers include Pastis (french restaurant) and have a drink at the Gansevoort hotel rooftop bar. Very S&TC with prices to match unfortunately.

I wound up going to Finellis a few times (bar and restaurant) which is down in Greenwich Village (or maybe SoHo)

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5, 2009
Went to the rooftop bar - my friend was a gorgeous Korean artist who decided she would be my guide for the day around NY art galleries and sites and seemed to know all the best places to eat and drink. The rooftop bar was pretty swank with a great view of the Empire State, but overpriced drinks in plastic cups didn't impress me too much...

She said I had to finish up the night at Hogs and Heifers and left me there - I left several hours later after an interesting glimpse into American culture...

Walked back to Greenwich Village where I was staying - probably not the smartest thing to do at 3.00am in the morning in a strange city! But I felt pretty safe all the time in NYC.

Respond to this comment

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted February 5, 2009
Of course Brian. It's an industry standard arrangement.

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5, 2009
I am off to join those other slobs for the Melbourne burger get together and we will raise our drinks to our compadres in foreign lands...

Respond to this comment

Lobes swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 5, 2009
Shit! I forgot about the butchers grill. I was going to do a cameo and surprise everyone. But I went to rugby training and then organised to meet some mates afterwards.

Damn, I really wanted to meet Chaz and Havock too.

Is it the butchers grill at Docklands or Bourke St?

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob would have you know...

Posted February 6, 2009
Lobes - you big palooka - we were wondering which country you were in at present - and the night was a pretty big one too... Nautilus took photos.

Respond to this comment

Lobes reckons...

Posted February 6, 2009
I emailed Birmo to get your phone number but I think he was stretched out in United 1st class

Respond to this comment

Guru Bob ducks in to say...

Posted February 6, 2009
Damn damn damn - we were in the Bourke Street place - not many other customers and we were in the 'private' dining room so it was pretty loud...

Respond to this comment

Lobes mutters...

Posted February 6, 2009
shite, i coulda made the tail end, oh well UNT

Respond to this comment

formatvorlage1 ducks in to say...

Posted January 28, 2010
buy viagra qjnzp

Respond to this comment

friends has opinions thus...

Posted February 2, 2010
auto insurance moj health insurance :PPP auto insurance quotes =O

Respond to this comment

island asserts...

Posted February 3, 2010
auto insurance 1191 health insurance :-))) health insurance quotes ullsy auto insurance 8401

Respond to this comment

brenntag asserts...

Posted February 4, 2010
health insurance nzbixy life insurance 3613 health insurance quotes >:(( whole life insurance policies 978

Respond to this comment

tasisdor reckons...

Posted February 5, 2010
auto insurance kneg life insurance %) health insurance uspavj budget car insurance 555659

Respond to this comment

ahtis_ausstellung has opinions thus...

Posted February 6, 2010
valium >:-P buy phentermine cbd ultram 219958 valium jxd buy levitra 10201

Respond to this comment

erfasst asserts...

Posted February 6, 2010
tramadol 7984 propecia zyban celebrex acyclovir and vioxx rjspb levitra %-((( discount phentermine pvirt aciphex 94062

Respond to this comment

ahtis_ausstellung would have you know...

Posted February 8, 2010
tramadol 105573 ambien yfmt buy levitra >:-OO cialis fmuzch propecia %OOO buy ultram ubo aciphex buy online vwp levitra givv

Respond to this comment

julie ducks in to say...

Posted February 8, 2010
pharmacy college buy tramadol 8( ultram pill identifier gdz xanax 8) tramadol propecia 741440 pain pill ultram 17019 accutane 48750 cialis =O

Respond to this comment

charles mumbles...

Posted February 9, 2010
accutane :[[[ ultram 135 cialis 3627 maryland health insurance plan :[[[ pennsylvania health insurance %-( cheap online aciphex 8139

Respond to this comment

sovereign would have you know...

Posted February 9, 2010
nasacort aciphex phentermine pharmacy pittsburgh ijrfdn xanax =OOO generic ultram 26369 order discounted propecia online %-PPP cialis 845 levitra online jprnn aciphex 552 classic car insurance 8))

Respond to this comment

imagelink ducks in to say...

Posted February 10, 2010
online casino oncdmb ambien 741877 phentermine cheap fiaq affordable health insurance =-(((

Respond to this comment

abigail puts forth...

Posted February 10, 2010
auto insurance 640 aciphex 20 mg 8PP accutane 9884 propecia zyban celebrex acyclovir and vioxx 239924

Respond to this comment

widemktgbtnlink reckons...

Posted February 12, 2010
life insurance 498 affordable health insurance 4901 group health insurance vkgk car insurance 0544 home insurance svra

Respond to this comment

bannerbg asserts...

Posted March 5, 2010
retin 8-P retin a buy online us hob generic propecia :-D accutane %)))

Respond to this comment

cathedral is gonna tell you...

Posted March 10, 2010
generic propecia 15001 order doxycycline :) cialis 20160 order prednisone zvozmy

Respond to this comment

attributes is gonna tell you...

Posted March 10, 2010
buy tramadol wholesale %[[[ accutane online %PPP online pharmacy ultram mozilla 843 cheap cialis >:PP

Respond to this comment

sonam reckons...

Posted March 10, 2010
tramadol propecia :-PP accutane online

11056 ambien sleeping pill :D xanax prescriptions lmbe

Respond to this comment

sprechblasentext has opinions thus...

Posted March 10, 2010
accutane 8-) drug generic propecia soma zyrtec

90927 aciphex phentermine pharmacy washington dc

:)) valium no prescription =DD

Respond to this comment

silikony reckons...

Posted March 11, 2010
drug generic propecia soma zyrtec %-[[ accutane =PP buy valium online cheap 1871 ambien sleeping pill 824286

Respond to this comment

which is gonna tell you...

Posted March 11, 2010
tramadol online dhexb buy ultram lpuz buy cialis fmmrv prednisone 397

Respond to this comment

madake swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted March 13, 2010
health insurance kkkyhr auto insurance 5591 auto insurance gauauz

Respond to this comment

snapshot puts forth...

Posted March 14, 2010
tramadol 702 aciphex 48502 buy your medicine cheaper ultram viagra 146983

Respond to this comment

starscream asserts...

Posted March 14, 2010
accutane 136497 ambien medication 8PPP xanax bars 595709 cialis online :-[

Respond to this comment

kenshiro mutters...

Posted March 14, 2010
casino online 8-[[[ car insurance rates 44363 auto insurance 498686 cheap auto insurance 852

Respond to this comment

Respond to 'To work, to work.'