Monthly Archives: May 2019

Going on Hiatus

“There’s nothing like a catastrophe to take our minds off our problems.”
–Peter Devries

Unless things change, I’ll be posting little or nothing for the next couple of months. I’m a victim of The Great Memorial Day Flood of 2019.

As I wrote my brother, David:

“Our rooftop pool reopened about a week ago. Around 4 PM Monday, a pipe connecting to the filtering system apparently became detached, flooding the sub-pool maintenance area and overwhelming the two drainage outlets. Then the water, as water will, flowed downward, through the floor and the walls, flooding the units in the 10- and 11-tiers with more than half to contents of the pool. Since I’m in the 12-tier, I briefly thought I’d lucked out, until water started coming from the ceiling.

“The short version: I may have gotten off relatively easy, in that the only serious visible damage was to the carpeting. Yet to come, though, are the behind-the-walls and under-the-floor inspections, which will require moving and possible off-site storage of furniture and goods. This will not be fun, or cheap. If there are problems requiring demolition or reconstruction, it will be worse. Fingers crossed.

“The Red Cross offered temporary housing, but I spent Monday night on the dry part of the living room floor, while two of those big industrial fans blasted away at the pooled water. The electrician shut down power to everything except the fans, the refrigerator, and the kitchen light. Finally nodded off around 3 AM.”

Four days later, the situation is still, as they say, fluid. I’ll post an update if that changes, and an “All Clear” message when I resume postings.

Until then, I can only promise:

“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again.”

Meanwhile, back at Kensington Palace…

The current residents of Kensington Palace, Queen Victoria’s birthplace, have just released some family photos and videos from their recent visit The Royal Horticultural Society’s Back to Nature Garden.

Prince William, next in line for the throne after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles, is Queen Victoria’s great-great-great-great grandson, and Prince George, Victoria’s great-great-great-great-great grandson, follows Prince William.

All media come from the Kensington Palace Twitter feed.

Happy birthday, Queen Victoria!

Victoria, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland Queen, Defender of the Faith, Empress of India, was born on 24 May 1819, 200 years ago today.

That was “Victoria” by the Kinks, from the album Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire). Queen Victoria had been dead for 68 years when the Kinks recorded the song in 1969. Another couple of decades, and “Victoria” will be closer in time to the Victorian Age than to our own brave new world. Boats against the current….

“Canada to India
Australia to Cornwall
Singapore to Hong Kong
From the West to the East
From to the rich to the poor
Victoria loved them all.”

If you pay close attention to the lyrics, you might catch hints of the band’s signature working-class rage peeking through all the exaltation, but we’ll ignore that for now. Victoria’s bicentennial gives good Anglophiles everywhere a reason to celebrate, from the West to the East.

Home Again

In lesser news, I’m back from beautifully gloomy Budapest, and ready to resume posting.

I dined well, and you’re gonna hear all about it.

Back in Two Weeks

I’m on a top-secret mission involving Russian assets, porn stars, election rigging, and corruption at high levels. I can’t say much about it, except that it’s so convoluted that it could take me as much as two whole weeks to resolve.

Postings will resume ~20 May.

Filomena — Lunch on 1 May 2019



This week I took the newly-free shuttle from Dupont Circle to Georgetown for a return visit to an old favourite. Filomena has been around since 1983, and any restaurant that can still fill the house after 36 years must be doing something right. At Filomena, that means serving consistently good food and providing consistently good service at a consistently good price.

And the portions are huge. I have what I euphemistically call a large appetite, but I had to call for take-out containers for the two-thirds of the starter and the main. I couldn’t even think about touching the dessert until 12 hours later.



At Filomena, the Calamari Fritti is marinated in milk for 24 hours before being and quick-fried and served with spicy Marinara sauce.



According to the menu, when Bono, from U2, ate at Filomena, he liked the Rigatoni con Salsicce so much that he ordered seconds. While I’m sure that’s true, I can’t imagine how he—or anyone else—could do it. Perhaps he took a nap between servings.

The sausage is made in-house, with mushrooms, onions, Chianti, and herbs.

Chocolate Truffle

Chocolate Truffle

Insanely rich dessert. Chocolate cake between layers of chocolates-ganache.

So there it is, the opposite of trendy. And I hope they never change a thing.

New Tales of the City

“When I first got off the bus years ago, I had the strangest feeling that I’d come home.”
—Laura Linney as Mary Ann Singleton in Tales of the City

Oh, yes, Mary Ann, in this you are not unique. The first time I was in San Francisco, I had exactly the same feeling.*

And now, thanks to Netflix, we’re going home again.

“inspired by the books of Armistead Maupin, the new Netflix Limited Series Tales of the City begins a new chapter in the beloved story. Mary Ann (Laura Linney) returns to present-day San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Gross), twenty years after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis), her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane.”

Tales of the City had its start as a three-times-a-week serial in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Author Armistead Maupin mixed real and (mainly) fictional characters to capture the essence of San Francisco in the 1970s.  Maupin succeeded in doing for The City what Tom Wolfe failed to do for New York in Bonfire of the Vanities, probably the most overrated novel of the late 20th century. The column became must-read material, and a cult was born.

The first novelization of the serial was published in 1978, followed by five more volumes published at two-year intervals, with three more books released after a 20-year gap.

In 1993, Channel 4 (UK) turned the first book into a superb miniseries, which was shown on PBS in the US in early 1994. Here’s the trailer:

Good news! That original series is currently streaming on Acorn.

The new series will be released on Netflix on 7  June  2019.

Bonus Track

The great Laura Linney makes an uncredited appearance in this video for the also-great Aimee Mann. Watch closely, and see if you can spot her.

* Granted, I also had exactly the same feeling the first time I was in London, and the first time I was in Paris. Never had it in my own hometown,  though, for some reason….