Sunset on the Mini-Links

Twilight at Golf-n-Stuff in Ventura on a quiet Thursday night.

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Silent Twain

Silent Twain, Anaheim, California, February 2017

The venerable Mark Twain sits quietly dockside, as an army of Imagineers reroute Rivers of America and fashion Star Wars Land.

All of which makes one wonder: will Disney find a way to revive Rivers from its status as a quaint-but-tired throwback to the park’s founding?

And what will become of Tomorrowland when Star Wars moves out? After all, it was Star Wars that saved Tomorrowland in the first place. My bet: a huge facelift followed by a focus on the Marvel universe.

An Airfield Twixt Past and Future 


Pausing for lunch on a cold, windy day at the former George Air Force Base, this beautifully restored F-4C is my sole companion.

The base is a glorified industrial park attached to a parking lot for cast-off jetliners, an example of the “peace dividends” of dubious value that so many California communities have reaped since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

It does not take much of a sense of history to wonder, however, whether the dawn of the second Cold War might fortell a quickening in the future of this high-desert airbase.

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Oroville Lake, November 2014

Photo by Lisa Pickoff-White/KQED
Photo by Lisa Pickoff-White/KQED

Food for thought as we watch the developments on the Feather River.

The contrast is a statement about California and our climate: there is a limit to our ability to consistently managed the rivers of a state that was forged on extremes of drought and flood. Sealing our canyons with concrete plugs leaves us with permanent damage to fisheries, forests, and habitat with very little benefit in return.

It is another sign that it is time for us to rethink our relationship with rivers, in California if not across the West.

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Ooo-Tah!

“Brigham Young led his band of social outcasts to the old bed of a drying desert sea and proclaimed, “This is the place!” This was the place? Someone in that first group must have felt that Young had become unhinged by two thousand horribly arduous miles.”

Marc Reisner
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water

Fixing the humble Tortilla: Give it a Pocket

We want a little brother.
We want a little brother.

One of the great enablers of Mediterranean food is the humble pita pocket. Developed from Pita bread, the Pita Pocket has opened up a range of possibilities in sandwiches. But the Pita is not to everyone’s taste, and you can’t do anything remotely southwestern with a pita pocket.

We want one of the tortillerias to develop a pocket tortilla – the Portilla, if you will.

Silly? Pointless? We think not.

In our Golden West Food Labs, our food concept artists have designed the following dishes to use a tortilla pocket:

1.  Taco pockets from sliced halves of Portillas
2. Quesadilla pockets, with plenty of cheese but room for more sautéed vegetables
3. Taco salads served with pocket tortillas. Scoop forkfulls of the salad into the portillas, eat.
4. Fajita Pockets
5. Carne Asada Pockets – think a Mexican gyro, but with chunks of Carne Asada, Pico de gallo, cilantro, and maybe a Siracha sauce.
6. Stuffed portillas deep-fried, sort of a flatish chimichanga.

It’s easier and neater than tacos, and smaller and lighter than burritos. It’s a gaping hole in the Tex-Mex menu, and an idea whose time has come. I’m going to Carrillo’s in San Fernando next week, and I’m on a mission.

Window Seats

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“I believe that anyone who flies in an airplane and doesn’t spend most of his time looking out the window wastes his money.”

Marc Reisner
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water

Could not agree more.

This particular shot is over the Shimonemoto village, looking toward Shimokimiyama, both in Ibaraki Prefecture on the Island of Honshu in central Japan. The white dash on the rice field on the center right is actually a helicopter, flying low.

Not terribly topical for a California blog, but for a point: there is so much to look at, whether in this state or anywhere else across the west, that we will never see in person save out of the window of an airplane. We owe it to ourselves to look.