A Public Service Announcement About Two People Named Chavez

It has come to my attention that not all of you are aware that Hugo Chavez and Cesar Chavez are different people.

Indeed, quite a few Americans appear to be under the impression President Obama recently attended the dedication of a monument to Hugo Chavez, the pudgy and hard-to-control socialist leader of Venezuela.

When in fact, he was attending the dedication of a monument to Cesar Chavez, a Latino labor leader who organized farm workers in California. A man who has been dead since 1993 and has nothing whatsoever to do with modern-day Venezuela.

Allow me to make this very, very clear.

This man is called Cesar Chavez. He is from California, not Venezuela. He is also dead.


Cesar Chavez was a Mexican-American labor, civil rights, and Latino political leader. Born in Arizona in 1927, Chavez’s family lost their land during the Great Depression, forcing them to move to California to become migrant workers. Chavez served in the US Navy during the war, then moved with his wife to Los Angeles.

While working for the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group, Chavez began to realize his dream of creating a farm workers union, recognizing the “trap” many of these laborers found themselves in.

In 1962, he founded the National Farm Workers Association, which would become the United Farm Workers. During the 1960s, Cesar Chavez even turned down an offer from John F Kennedy to make him head of the Peace Corps in Latin America, which would make him very much Not Like Hugo Chavez.

Chavez won many victories for farm laborers, who were formerly an essentially powerless group, and used non-violent techniques inspired by Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr to achieve his goals. He also took a life-long vow of poverty, and coined the phrase “Si, si puede!” (Yes, We Can!). You probably remember that from Obama’s campaign.

Cesar Chavez died in 1993, which means it is unlikely he would have been able to conjure up a second act as a Venezuelan socialist despot. Even if he had wanted to! Also that would be crazy!

Rob Kennedy called Chavez “one of the heroic figures of our time.” It is unlikely he would have said that about Hugo Chavez, as Hugo Chavez is 1. not American, 2. not particularly heroic and 3. Rob Kennedy died long before Hugo Chavez came to power.

Obama dedicated the Cesar Chavez Monument in California at the labor leaders former home in Keene, California on Monday.

Cesar Chavez Monument, not Hugo Chavez Monument.


This is Hugo Chavez. He is definitely not Cesar Chavez. Just compare them!

This is Hugo Chavez, who has led Venezuela with a Socialist, anti-American government since 1999. That would be six years after Cesar Chavez died at the age of 66 in San Luis, Arizona in 1993.

See? Different!


#FirstWorldProblems, New York Photos

Just look at these New York hipsters waiting for takoyaki. Look at them.

After a delay of a few million years, I finally edited my New York City photos. That’s the problem with actually editing and making some vague effort to curate your Facebook albums or what have you: it takes a long time. And you get distracted, by shiny objects or what-have-you.

Central Park. I never take photos this heartwarming.

Re-reading Churchill’s account of World War II: much easier to stay awake for while at the gym. I shiver to think of what the First World Problems jeerers who produced this ad would say to that.

Speaking of that ad: Way to Not Understand Millenial Humor, guys. Sheesh. I also think it’s going after rather low-hanging fruit.

The ad-makers could have easily found people not nearly as self-aware as those who bother to apply a #FirstWorldProblems hashtag by hanging around, say, Nordstroms or a Beverly Hills Starbucks. Or maybe a Vassar Freshman Orientation.

If you’re going to mock the first world elite don’t be lazy.

I should add that I am not a fan of the Guilt Technique of getting people to donate to XYZ cause, since I feel it just puts people on the defensive…which as the response to this ad indicates, is in fact exactly what this ad is doing.

Perhaps thought-provoking, but the thought it mostly provokes in me is “Screw you, I’m not the problem!” instead of “Oh my goodness, I am indeed a plump and wealthy First Worlder. I shall dash off a check to Haiti today, and say three prayers of thanks for my extreme good fortune before dinner tonight.”

That is not going to happen.

This woman has no first world problems: she is merely awesome.

Girl has stomach removed after drinking liquid nitrogen cocktail – GlobalPost

Well, that’s worrisome. Especially speaking as someone who rather enjoys molecular gastronomy, and in fact enjoyed a meal involving things Frozen with Magic Chemicals at Enotria in Sacramento. (Try the new menu, it’s awesome).

Off to visit UC Berkeley’s J-School today. Hoping to bug Michael Pollan in person. I predict it will be foggy.

Bourbon and Watermelons and Cactuses

I have some excellent advice for you. Go buy a mini watermelon, seedless. Chop it up into bits and puree that sucker. If you’re feeling fancy, you can strain the juice. (I wasn’t).

Put the watermelon puree in a glass with your favorite bourbon. You can add some lime, or mint, or maybe some Sprite. Crushed ice works well with this.

Drink, thank me later. An especially civilized way to contend with a mealy watermelon.

Making stuffed Pobalano chilis with mushrooms, shrimp, Cotija cheese and chopped spinach for dinner with homemade chili sauce (red pepper, Chipotle peppers + adobo, ancho chili powder, fire-roasted tomatoes). Will report back! I’m just a regular goddamn Bobby Flay today! Without the fame, gobs of cash, or biceps. Also not a dude.

I’m back in Cambodia in two weeks, and in Singapore for a couple days before that. Working out the details for Myanmar.

Here, have some photos of cactus at the National Botanical Garden. Cactus, as I rediscover again and again, are Weird.

“She turned a corner in the temple: she’d escaped the robot-jaguars! Could she be safe? She caught her breath.

Looking up, she saw long tendrils of—something—hanging in the air in the room she had found herself in. They were spiky, and green. They looked almost like cacti, the sort you might absently grow on your windowsill. But…could it be true? Were they moving?

‘WE HAVE BEEN EXPECTING YOU, ELAINE,’  a thousand reedy voices said, all at once.

Elaine drew her machete. Bring it on, you spiky bitches, she thought.”

Seriously, I can’t get enough of cactuses. It’s a thing.



There are some species names where you really sit and wonder “Who named this, and just how desperate to get laid was he?”

Or there’s some serious Mama issues involved there, which is creepy in and of itself.

Pollo Guisado again, killer llamas

Guisados tacos on Cesar Chavez in Los Angeles. Well worth the trek.

I’m making pollo guisado again tonight. Was happy that the guy at Guisados Tacos in LA – I went back this Friday – sounded pleased when I told him he’d inspired me to create this recipe. (Not that it’s much of a recipe…..more of a vague jumble of techniques). It certainly tastes good.

We went to the La Brea tar pits while in LA. Photos to come. There’s a Wall of Dire Wolf Skulls there, which is pretty awesome. Also the above-portrayed Really Indignant Sabre tooth Cat.

I  really, really should have bought this painting off the wall at Guisados.

I also learned all about killer llamas this week for work. You shouldn’t trust a llama with your life, I’m forced to conclude.