Traditional recipes

Sad News: 6,000 Gallons of Top-Quality Scotch Dumped

Sad News: 6,000 Gallons of Top-Quality Scotch Dumped

In Dumbarton, Scotland, workers accidentally flushed some quality Scotch down the drain

This pains us: Apparently some workers at Chivas Brothers, which produces Ballantine's Scotch whisky, accidentally flushed out 6,000 gallons of whisky when they meant to drain out waste water. Good job, folks.

An insider told The Scottish Sun that "It happened on a night-shift washout — that’s when the equipment is cleaned for a changeover between different products. Instead of draining the water and cleaning solution, they flushed out all the whisky." Even worse? No one noticed until 11 a.m., even though the bulk whisky was so strong, sewage workers reported the smell, BBC reports.

Apparently Chivas Brothers is investigating the accident, noting that "there has been no release of spirit to the River Leven or any other local water course." But the lost Scotch (which The Epoch Times notes was high-quality, top-dollar Scotch)? "It was like someone turned on a tap and it just ran straight down the plughole," the insider said. We're off to go drink it its memory now.

Loss: what San Diegans left behind In 1992


Mourning began for the losses of 1992 even before the year itself, in October 1991, at a hotel bar in Mission Valley. There was much to lament, and the plastic tables filled quickly with those well-practiced in the art of the postmortem. The employees of the San Diego Tribune had retreated behind their drinks to absorb the news of its imminent demise. The paper had already been shorn of its historic name, the Evening Tribune — out of desperation mostly — and the rest of its tradition had been gradually whittled away by consultants from the East who tinkered with its “concept,” suggesting bigger comic strips or “friendlier” reporting or a different page size. By October, when the end became official, there really wasn’t much left but a roomful of dispirited reporters, copy editors, photographers, and clerks unashamedly desperate to keep whatever job they could on the “new, improved” Union-Tribune, opening for business in 1992, a loss disguised as a gain.

When a newspaper dies, it is difficult to find someone to take custody of the body. Instead, it lies unclaimed, a ward of its most loyal former readers, who carry it around for a while in memory before unburdening themselves. Tribune editor Neil Morgan didn’t show up at the wake. Nor did publisher Helen Copley or her son David, both of whom had always remained aloof from the paper’s rowdy newsroom. In fact, Helen had proclaimed in a deposition that the Tribune was, politically, an independent paper, rather than Republican, as was her beloved Union, and she made it a point to stay away from editorial meetings.

Copley favored more regal, dignified, and predictable settings peopled by those closer to her own rank. If she drank, she did so privately, among friends. If she partied, it would be on Joan Kroc’s stately, well-protected yacht Impromptu or behind closed doors at the Point Loma mansion of Mayor Maureen O’Connor. Helen would appear later, at the February gala unveiling her new conglomeration, her friend and governor, Pete Wilson, at her side. Then it would be time for mock pride and pleasure, for smiling into the camera and toasting the new era, safely removed from the bloody entrails tucked away under the bottom line. On this night of demise, the closest thing to a bier was the hors d’oeuvre tray, in front of which a line of editorial employees quickly formed to pick through wings and other greasy chicken remains.

The cause of a newspaper’s death is often kept deliberately obscure. The familiar public theories circulated among the mourners, the most popular of which was that the Tribune was just another victim of a national trend to morning papers and “one-newspaper markets.” This explanation was popular among newspaper people, because it conveniently acquitted all except the ungrateful readers. And the evidence could be made to appear strong, if circumstantial. Evening papers were closing down around the country. The trend was so pervasive that PBS’s McNeil-Lehrer dispatched a crew from Washington to record editor Morgan’s solemn confirmation. Sadly, the folks in San Diego didn’t want to read a daily newspaper anymore, no matter that no expense was spared on glitz and features. It was time to pack in it as an editor. No future in such an old-fashioned business.

Now into their third or fourth drinks, some reporters took exception to their editor’s remarks, complaining that, despite the recession, Helen Copley and the papers were still making plenty of money, that she continued to jet around the world in a $35 million private plane, that her son lived in two lavishly decorated houses only miles apart, and that their union, the Newspaper Guild, had surrendered to most of the company’s demands during its most recent contract negotiations. After all, they proclaimed, didn’t Copley Press, Inc., gross $400 million a year? “Helen killed us,” said one.

Emboldened by liquor, others giddily jumped to Morgan’s defense, recalling that just weeks earlier he had openly spoken of turning the Pulitzer-winning Trib info something akin to a supermarket tabloid and putting it out in the morning to compete directly with its sister, the Union. Oh, yes, said one earnest reporter — a balding surfer approaching middle-age — there was no doubt the tabloid Trib would have demolished the staid old Union, Helen Copley’s pet among her stable of undistinguished dailies. And at least Morgan had tried. He had a heart, if few brains.

The besotted talk continued as TV camera crews jostled their way into the bar. Lights flashed on, and reporters hoisted their glasses in over-wrought toasts. They were suddenly famous. Optimism rose, and images of a glorious future wafted amidst the cigarette smoke. Most would get new jobs at the combined paper. The Los Angeles Times had vowed never to leave San Diego and was loudly boasting its local edition would now capture a big chunk of the Tribune’s old circulation. No doubt they needed a few more reporters.

There were other reasons to be hopeful. KPBS, the public television station linked closely to the Union and its editor Gerald Warren, was going to build a high-tech studio complex (David Copley, the project’s fundraising chairman, was planning a series of stylish society parties to raise money). The station promised to expand its local programming and would need lots of talent. PR gigs at General Dynamics, which had helped win the war against Iraq, were always opening up. Soon it would be election year, and during the Reagan era, the White House had always been especially kind to the president’s home state, showering it with defense contracts and easy S&L money. Things had somehow become uncomfortably different under George Bush, but the reporters felt sure Bush wouldn’t disappoint. He needed California’s electoral votes to keep his job.

A year later, another solemn bunch of reporters and editors gathered in the halls of a downtown office building. This time no booze deadened the pain. The Los Angeles Times, one of the nation’s biggest, most powerful newspapers, had abruptly pulled the plug on San Diego. Fourteen years before, Otis Chandler himself— jut-jawed, car-racing scion of California’s post-war elite and chairman of mighty Times-Mirror — had swooped into town in his private jet and strode down Broadway, trailed by TV cameras, to announce the advent of the new San Diego edition.

The Times, he said, had embarked on an imperial mission for its progressive brand of journalism. The San Diego edition, while never breaking into the black, was reported to be a model for what the Times was planning for the entire West Coast. Later, company brass dispatched San Diego editor Dale Fetherling to San Francisco, where he spent months poring over plans to open a Northern California edition that would teach the natives there how real journalism was done, L.A.-style.

Ultimately, though, as the noose of recession tightened and ad revenue fell, the scheme was discarded. Fetherling returned in time to preside over the Times’s corporate retreat from San Diego. When the end came, it was not proud. Times editor Shelby Coffey arrived in the newsroom unheralded. As he confirmed the worst to the staff, someone picked up the phone and began spreading the word. Soon the ubiquitous TV vans were pulling up in front of the building and commencing sidewalk interviews with the walking dead. Six or so would remain in San Diego. Many of the 200 others would be transferred to the San Fernando Valley, where they were to fight it out with the Daily News in what the Times once considered its own motherland. The stockholders would save $7 million a year.

Not everyone was unhappy. Helen Copley was said to have gloated when the news broke. Her own combined paper, still being sold for a cheap 25 cents at corner newsracks, or $10.24 a month by subscription, had managed to cling to all but about three percent of its premerger circulation, ranking it 23rd largest in the country. Two papers had died so that one might be assured a profit.

Despite the economic carnage around her that was throwing thousands out of work, the U-T almost casually endorsed George Bush for re-election, saying that the president had no control over the business cycle. As ’92 drew to a close, Copley’s son David threw her an extravagantly catered 70th birthday party, with guests that included Ann Landers and Dear Abby, the famous lovelorn advice column twins, both under contract to a big newspaper chain rumored to have an interest in eventually buying the U-T from Copley for a handsome sum.

But Copley’s ascendancy to her position as the city’s most powerful and influential person came with a cruel irony: her predominance in the local establishment was due largely to the colossal failure of her erstwhile male peers. One by one, the great San Diego power brokers who presided over the boom of the ’80s had toppled. Gordon Luce, once master of the city’s Great American Bank — and friend and confidant of none other than Ronald Reagan himself — quietly departed the premises only months before it became obvious that the institution was just another brain-dead thrift.

Luce’s retirement and the subsequent demise of Great American, which came in 1991, had, it turned out, been but a small preview of the calamity to follow in ’92. Among the city’s old-line establishment, Luce himself was considered somewhat of an outsider, a Horatio Alger who worked his way up through the ranks of Home Federal Savings, the city’s mainline S&L, before setting out on his own with Great American. The failure of his bank might be tolerated, even understood, as an event perhaps brought about by hubris of the newly rich.

On the other hand, Home Federal, later renamed Home-Fed Bank, was run by Kim Fletcher, beloved heir to the fortune and tradition of his father Charlie. From the depths of the Depression, the elder Fletcher had built Home Federal into the city’s best-known, arguably most powerful financial institution. Charlie in turn bequeathed his position to son Kim, who during the Reagan years embarked on a mad scramble to make loans in Florida, Texas, and Arizona — all places where boom was said to be mythically eternal. He was praised for his business acumen and avidly pursued by those seeking his money for their favorite charity or politicians.

When the boom faltered and it was announced that Kim would be stepping away from control of the bank his father had so lovingly created, there was only forboding silence. Few locals dared to openly speculate on what might have gone wrong. HomeFed spent most of the year on federal life-support, pretending that things would get better. Even as taxpayers propped up the dying thrift, it made donations to KPBS, the local public TV station, which reciprocated by airing announcements noting that the bank had generously underwritten some of the station’s programs.

HomeFed finally died in ’92. But the Great California Recession was far from through. The Bank of America snapped up Security Pacific Bank and began closing branches. Soon, massive Security Pacific logos that had adorned local high-rises were shrouded with black plastic. Robinson’s and May Co., two big department store chains that in the ’80s could demand almost anything out of city hall — including massive subsidies for a downtown shopping mall — announced they would be merged into one. Without the easy money contributed by banks, department stores, and others, KPBS-TV spent itself into debt and began slashing staff. The station still planned to build its big new headquarters, but skeptics, including the U-T’s own associate editor Peter Kaye, doubted there would be much to do there.

And then there was General Dynamics. When it announced it would sell off the Convair division, which made cruise missiles here, Maureen O’Connor, the lame-duck mayor, replied she was calling a lawyer. The tactic had defeated the merger of San Diego Gas 8c Electric with Southern California Edison. Both were public utilities, wrapped in the red tape of regulators, who eventually sided with the arguments of the city’s lawyers and stopped the combination. But it didn’t work with the missiles of General Dynamics. They were quickly spun off to Hughes and soon headed for Arizona.

The city was so miserable that the Republican president visited infrequently. Unlike 1984, when Ronald Reagan made it a point to finish his campaign at a giant rally in the parking lot of Fashion Valley, George Bush came to see the All-Star game and was booed by the locals.

If there was a saving grace for Wilson, it was the election of his friend Susan Golding to replace Maureen O’Connor as mayor. The event was also a victory for the Union-Tribune, which, with the notable exception of Roger Hedgecock, has managed to hang on, if barely, to its record of successful may-oral endorsements. At her inaugural, paid for with $65,000 from corporate donors (SDG8cE and Sea World, among others), the new mayor promised to be friendly to business. But after the losses of’92, some wondered whether there would be much of anything left to befriend. Kim Fletcher, Gordon Luce, and Helen Copley did not attend.


One might expect an obituary writer to be unctuous and sentimental, a bit of a celebrity hound, prone to flowery prose. Burt Folkart, who writes obituaries for the Los Angeles Times, comes across as pure newsman, his cynicism tempered by a sensible heartiness for life. One can picture him on the deck of a sloop, hand in the rigging, wind gusting his perhaps thinning hair. One can picture him leading a workshop in stress management. A likeable, easy-going fellow. He just seems so. healthy.

“I wish I was a person who is capable of thinking death’s one of those things that happens to everybody else but me,” he said, via telephone, from somewhere in a busy-sounding Times newsroom. “Ever since I was a kid I’ve been conscious of my mortality. I have always contemplated death.”

He did not contemplate it professionally until 1979. Before that the Times didn’t run obituaries. It’s Gore Vidal’s doing. Mr. Vidal had come to California to run for the senate. The Times held a reception, “as they tend to do,” Folkart comments. Otis Chandler, then still at the paper’s helm, was there. Mr. Vidal congratulated Mr. Chandler on changes in the paper, which was just gaining international recognition. “Otis,” said Mr. Vidal, “your paper is one of the reasons I relocated to Southern California.”

“By all appearances, no one dies here.”

Mr. Chandler asked Burt Folkart, who was a paid trouble-shooter at the time, to look into it. “I assumed someone would take over after I got it open,” Folkart told me. No one did.

He writes all the obituaries. On the morning we spoke, there were more than 40 column inches on Roy Acuff, country music legend, in that day’s edition. The previous week there had been around 50 inches on Dorothy Kiersten. Folkart makes the call on length, but placement is ultimately the editor’s decision. As the old joke says, you know you’ve really arrived when your obituary runs on page one.

Folkart keeps files only on very well-known people, reads biographies in his spare time, adds important details as they occur. “The research is not pressured. These things are done not at a leisurely pace, but at a studious one.” The only obituaries largely written ahead of time are “the creme de la creme, page-one” statesmen, celebrities, world figures.

But you never know when the Grim Reaper will come to call. Least I don’t. Does he? Folkart laughed, a hearty, manly laugh, but admitted to no Cassandra’s vision, no payoffs to the Fates. What he did reveal was, “People do not die in threes. What I have observed, unscientifically of course, and I hope you’ll stress that fact, is that people do tend to die in bunches, by profession. A poet will die, then one or two other poets will die soon after.”

I asked him to speculate why. He chuckled. “Life is mysterious, isn’t it?”

Folkart has come to like his work.

I wondered if maybe, since he writes about dead people, he gets fewer complaints about accuracy or criticism than other reporters. Quite the contrary. “People think criticism should be left behind when a person dies. The obituary is the last thing someone can do for someone who has died. They approach it as a tribute. I approach it as history.”

The toughest part of the job, though, isn’t the complaints. It isn’t x being faced with nothing but death, death, death every time he goes to work. “The most depressing part is dealing with people I can do nothing for. People who call about Aunt Bessie, who bore five children and did 8000 hours of work for the Salvation Army. Now if someone was well known and well respected in the community, that’s fine. We do news obituaries. We are a news organization.”

Not inclined to black humor, Folkart does not keep a file on himself. He chuckles at the question. “I’m not so arrogant as to think my death will be of much importance. Hopefully, I will have retired from writing long before I die. In the event that I keel over on my desk, I will probably garner more ink, but my fondest wish is to beat the L.A. Times out of a 50-year pension.”


Being a San Diego sports fan is a torturous death by a thousand cuts. Losing has become this town’s trademark — remember, the “America’s Finest City” moniker was adopted after we lost the ’72 Republican convention — and even when our teams win, extenuating circumstances are involved. Witness this year’s modest success by the Chargers, largely due to a weak schedule. Overall, the ’92 roster of home team futility is as gruesome as ever.

For the second year in a row, the Holiday Bowl pretensions of the Aztecs ended with quarterback David Lowery’s bitter tears of regret. After the crushing loss to Fresno (!) State on November 21, and the following week’s humiliating 63-17 laugher to Miami, the best Aztecs squad in years ends up nowhere, obliterating all the Marshall Faulk Heisman hype.

Early in the year Dennis Conner is eliminated in the defender rounds of the America’s Cup regatta — a big loss lamented only by his sponsors and his immediate family — and the Cup is then saved for San Diego by millionaire dilettante Bill Koch. At the awards ceremony in May, Koch proves himself unworthy of the honor by ordering the man most responsible for his win, skipper Buddy Melges, to stay seated when Koch and Melges are called to the dais to claim the cup. Only in San Diego could winning result in civic embarrassment.

But by far the most ignominious bunch of losers this year are the 15 speculators who have demolished the Padres.

The most talented team the Padres have fielded since 1984 finished in third place, one game over .500. It was clear as early as June that manager Greg Riddoch had lost the respect of most of his players. Many had secretly approached general manager Joe McIlvaine to complain about Riddoch’s baseball strategies. It was also clear that the ownership group, led by sitcom impresario Tom Werner, backed Riddoch. Mcllvaine, who was never enamored of Riddoch, was forced to keep him until late September, when any chance of a pennant run was long gone. The owners, a group of bottling company executives, ship builders, theater owners, and lawyers, are guilty of the capital offense of imposing their baseball judgment on Mcllvaine, a real baseball man. Too bad the San Diego municipal code has no statute relating to malfeasance in ownership of the Padres with the Riddoch issue constituting special circumstances, these guys would swing.

All season long the owners bellyached about the prospect of losing at least $8 million this year. It was evident before the season even started that the Padres would be unable to afford closer Randy Myers for 1993, after giving up lead-off man Bip Roberts to get him. As the season progressed, it also became evident that the Padres couldn’t afford to keep Tony Fernandez, their nominal new lead-off man and All-Star shortstop, for whom Mcllvaine had swapped future Hall of Earner Roberto Alomar. Even before the season was over, the owners forced Mcllvaine to dump Craig Lefferts, this season’s best pitcher, for two minor leaguers because he was eligible for salary arbitration next year. (Given his 13 wins for the Padres, Lefferts could have asked for $3 million in 1993.) Economics overtook good baseball strategy within the Padres franchise. Joan Kroc, we take back every nasty thing we ever said about you.

Fernandez was traded for two no-names in October, about the same time the whole organization was gutted. Twenty-two Padres employees were purged, including four minor-league coaches, a minor-league manager, and five scouts. But when a reporter asked one of the owners about the implications of all these firings, Art Rivkin had the gall to reply, “We’re in it for the long haul. Our ambition is to build.”

Trying to justify the October 26 Fernandez trade, managing general partner Tom Werner told the Union-Tribune s Chris Jenkins, “Spending more money doesn’t mean you win. You’d have to have your head examined to invest in a baseball team.” So now that Werner has admitted he’s mentally unfit to be in the big leagues, it is no longer impolite to show that his inclinations against paying market rates for baseball players are demonstrably loony.

The team with the highest average salary this year ($1,643,406) was the Toronto Blue Jays. The World Series Champion Toronto Blue Jays. The second highest salaried team was the Oakland Athletics, perennial champions of the American League Western Division. The sixth highest paid team was the Atlanta Braves, who have won the National League pennant two years straight. The seventh highest paid team, the Cincinnati Reds, are annual contenders who swept the World Series from the Athletics in 1990. The Pittsburgh Pirates, Eastern Division champs for three years running, are number eight in salary. The Padres, for all the owners’ whining about money, had the 16th highest average salary, down there with the rest of the also-rans.

So another baseball season has been reduced to rubble, a fine team has been broken up, and the wealthy men in charge of the Padres are left to their main obsession: their wallets. No doubt their next blunder will entail systematically messing up the head of third baseman Gary Sheffield, one of the most exciting players to ever don Padres raiments, by refusing to pay him what he’s worth. (One rival manager suggested signing him to a $50 million contract — ten years at $5 million per. A bargain.) They will force him into arbitration like they did Benito Santiago, lose in arbitration like they did to Santiago, then wonder why Sheffield, like All-Star Santiago, is not happy in Mission Valley. Sheffield’s best years, like Robbie Alomar’s, will be played out elsewhere. Lucky him. ■


I lost contact with “Elizabeth” on the day she got out of jail, July 22, 1992.1 had met her the previous fall, a 38-year-old prostitute who told me she was pregnant and addicted to crack. I wrote a half dozen articles about her. Then I learned she wasn’t pregnant after all either she’d lied from the beginning or she’d lost the baby but hadn’t wanted to end our relationship and the $20 fees I paid her.

I felt so angry, so humiliated by her deception, that I probably never would have talked to her again. But then she called me with the news she’d been arrested on prostitution and drug charges. She begged me to put a small amount of money on her account at Las Colinas so she could buy toiletries. I wound up visiting her at the Santee facility and somehow we found things to talk about, then and in the months that followed.

I watched her become another person. She gained close to 70 pounds stripped the filthy bandanna from her close-cropped skull and grew her hair into a thick, gleaming bob. Once made a trusty, she described how conscientiously she worked at various jail jobs: cleaning, preparing food, sewing. Every time I visited her, she gave me insights into the cloistered routines. We spent hours talking about what she would do when she was released.

She could not return to her old life — dangerous and degrading — in the street. She vowed this repeatedly made subdued references to God giving her strength. Though she never seemed to develop any specific plans, I offered to pick her up on the morning of her release, to give her a lift to wherever she wanted to try to start anew.

I bought her a pack of Newports (she had anticipated smoking again with such pleasure), and was speeding east on highway 8 by 5:30 a.m. The sun still hadn’t risen when my car died, just west of the 40th Street exit. By the time I called a tow truck and got home again, Elizabeth had left a message saying she would call me later that day.

But she didn’t. I kept the Newports, unopened, on my desk, expecting to hear from her any day, any week. A few times I cruised her old haunts — down Broadway, south of 25th Street, past the Logan Heights welfare office — but never saw her. I began to wonder if she was dead.

A mutual acquaintance finally told me where she was, and I made another trip to Las Colinas three and a half weeks ago. When Elizabeth stepped into the cubicle and faced the glass window that separates inmates from visitors, she reeled at the sight of me, then grinned hugely, then covered her face. She grabbed the telephone receiver on her side of the pane, and her voice boomed through the instrument. “I didn’t know it was you!” she said, still grinning. “I feel embarrassed.”

“I’m a dope fiend. What can I say?” When I failed to show up that morning, she’d wound up calling a man who’d written to her in jail after reading about her in the paper. Though Elizabeth Elizabeth had never given him permission to visit her at Las Colinas, he had asked her to marry him, a proposition she thought ludicrous. But upon her release, she nonetheless went to his home and met a very short man of about 35 with a pronounced facial tic. “He was a total dweeb! I mean, he was a nice guy but. ” she twisted in her chair, still made physically uneasy by the memory of the two days they spent together. He presented her with a key to his house told her he’d give her whatever she needed. But after 48 hours, “I knew if I stayed there I would take him for everything he had, so I just got out.”

She had saved about $90 in jail, but had no home to return to no possessions. She drifted down to Market Street and “just hung out” for three days, fighting temptation. “You walk around and you tell everyone you’re not going to get high. You tell yourself. And then I just got tired of it,” she muttered.

“I went berserk.” The improvement in her looks made it easy for her to return to prostitution, she told me. But she injected the drugs with such wild abandon that she soon developed gruesome abscesses on her hand and neck. She underwent surgery in the UCSD Medical Center and stayed there for ten days, then moved into a board and care facility, where for three weeks she convalesced and remained clean. The day before her 39th birthday, she took to the street again. “I was on a mad, berserk mission,” she said with a sheepish laugh.

On September 26, she was arrested in a drug house on Market Street. “Greedy,” she commented. “I had dope in my pocket and I was smoking someone else’s.” When ^ she met with a probation officer, her first contact with that department since her release from jail, “I was really turning up the charm, joking and laughing. The woman and I were laughing together. We seemed to be getting along great, and then she says, ‘Well, I think you’re going to have to go to prison. Maybe the [state prison] parole system can do something for you because you seem to be incapable of working with the probation department.’ ”

For reasons Elizabeth doesn’t understand, her judge ignored the probation officer’s recommendation of three years in state prison, and instead sentenced Elizabeth to one year in Las Colinas. She’ll wind up spending just over six months in jail she should be out by early March.

She says if she’s arrested again, she will certainly go to state prison. Always in the past, she has talked about this prospect with what sounded like genuine horror. She once jumped all over me for mistakenly using the word “prison” instead of jail in referring to one of her past episodes behind bars. But this time, when I asked her what prison would be like, she said, “It would be better than here. People say it’s a big party. I don’t know. ”

I asked if she had lost all hope of giving up drugs and staying out of the penal system. “Oh, no,” she said softly, and smiled. “I could never do that.” I can’t see into Elizabeth’s heart. I know she’s smart and perceptive and she can be kind and honorable and funny. So I wish her well, but I think any hope I had for her is gone. ■

My bones have stopped growing. It is this fact, unconsciously scanned from the radio then pulled forward with alarm, that has finally made me feel my youth slipping away. The finality of it. Those bones that won’t grow no more.

An older friend says, “C’mon, you’re turning 30, for godssakes. It’s not the end of the world. Now 40, thafs the end of the world.” At 30 you are old enough to sorrow over lost youth, but not old enough that 40- and 50-year-olds won’t laugh at you for it. The minutiae of my complaints, complaints that foreshadow the ones to come — aching knees, exhausted mornings after late nights — begin to be grounded in reality. My body betrays me. It is always grateful, now, for my bed.

I am not the only one telling me I’m losing my youth. I have reached the age when store clerks call me ma’am and no longer card me. I can walk along the street without exciting comment. I can lie on a beach in a bikini, buttock flesh carefully tucked, thighs left loose because there’s nothing to be done about them, without being asked for more than a cigarette or the time. I am no longer a primary target. The anglings and coyness of cocktail parties are something to be observed, without the deer-in-the-head-lights alertness of one who must be careful. I have been taken out of the game.

It is the body that defines the tragedy of lost youth. Hard living and a distaste for exercise catch up, just as one is told they will when one is too young to care. Photos of younger me’s prompt no nostalgia for past times, only regret — all that firm, unlined flesh. Gone, gone, gone. I am folded, creased, and padded from stem to stern. Fine purple veins ride the surface of skin at the insides of my knees. Thirty years of crossed legs. A roll of fat on my back—my God, I never had fat on my back, I marvel — has hardened, crept ’round the sides above my hips, stolen my waist. In my darker moments I feel a mass of decay. The buttocks and breasts, flattened and heading earthward, eager for the grave. The irrevocable cellulite of my thighs.

Like water carves rock, the habits of years have formed my face. Two horizontal grooves are etched where sunglasses have stretched the skin down on my nose. Above them a vertical crease separates my eyebrows, marking concentration, anger, sadness. The half moons of skin under my eyes, roughly wiped clean of mascara and tears, have thinned and acquired a bluish-grey tinge. The tinge used to go away some days. My hard look, practiced in the mirror at 15 with a squint and a dangling cigarette, becomes permanent. The lips have thinned and creased, foreshadowing the tight purse a long-term smoker’s mouth becomes. This gives me a pecuniary look I find repulsive.

Losing youth, one can’t wear certain colors, certain hairstyles, certain jewelry without looking desperate or cheap. Behaviors too, considered charming in teens and 20s, must be cast off. Petulance and whining no longer amuse lovers with a reminder of a spoilt, pretty child but become the ugly evidence of a weak will. Weakness, in fact, is no longer playable. Excessive toughness is equally appalling. The consequences of impulsiveness become more enduring. It had not occurred to me that the difficulty of moderation in all things would resolve itself through sheer exhaustion. Stability becomes a necessity.

One might expect aging to bring more precise and careful thinking, a mellower and more compassionate heart, stoicism in disappointment, wisdom.

These things, too, are less the consequence of personal insight than they are a giving in to the inevitable. I no longer have the energy for any other course of action.

The consolation for lost youth lies in becoming more of what I love. I used to long for certain gestures of my mother’s. Her sure, unhurried movements in the kitchen. The loose curve of her fingers on a steering wheel, making little corrections, without extravagance. I was scraping the contents from a saucepan the other day. Watching the twists of my wrist, the angle of spoon to pan I unconsciously maintained, I felt a kind of smugness. It was my mother’s hand I was using, smooth with the grace of long practice.


It was almost a year ago exactly that I was sharing an apartment in North Park with a cherubic-looking yet ferret-like little man I didn’t know very well.

Around the first of October, after being room-ur months and lending him money almost daily, he took my rent money and my half of the security deposit — 750 of my favorite dollars all told — and disappeared.

He chose to take a powder on the day after the body of nine-year-old Amanda Gaeke was found in a canyon some 50 yards from our address. He had also left behind blood-soaked towels, Levis, and T-shirts, which were later determined to be his own blood (from, my guess is, a bar fight), but meantime he had become a suspect in the girl’s killing.

This event seemed to detonate a chain reaction of loss that has not yet played itself out. Beginning with the loss of the 750 bucks, much loss of sleep and sanity -— Could I have been living with someone who could murder a child? How would I know? What signs should I have looked for?'— The demolition derby of loss continued.

The woman I’d been trying to maintain a relationship with was repelled by my association or proximity to such ugliness, and she distanced herself even further from me emotionally. It was as if I had some odor oil my clothes or an unsightly rash. We saw each other only a few more times. The relationship had become a deathwatch, which expired sometime after I immersed myself in the world of the homeless in order to write about them. I was now thoroughly surrounded, in her mind, with a dark aura of contagion.

It was the second major relationship to crash and burn since my divorce seven years ago.

Meanwhile, I began to fear my neighbors. Word had apparently gotten out: Channel 39 wanted to come by, shoot the apartment, and talk to me. They described the former roommate as “The prime suspect.” I could see myself on the evening news with my collar up around my face muttering, “No comment,” or, “He was such a quiet guy — kept to himself and his Nazi paraphernalia pretty much.” I could see burning crosses on my lawn, bricks through my window. I left that day. The spot never appeared on the news, but a law-enforcement officer friend of mine suggested I accept the loan of a Ruger SP101.

After almost shooting the neighbor’s cat one night, I decided to move out.

In the new apartment in a better part of town, I breathed easier until one night, returning from a date, I discovered the window had been forced and I had been robbed. Missing: my telephone and answering machine, my microcassette recorder with an interview of Michael Reagan inside, $200 in cash, and a $60 bottle of cognac. A quick smash and grab. Not difficult to recover from except the recorders. It was exactly as if someone had burst in and pissed on everything in sight a little territorial spray here, a little there. I found it difficult sleeping at my home after that. Loss of sleep: something hard to wrest from me, but it hurts more certainly than the theft of a shin bone.

Luckily the Reagan tape had been transcribed, though almost incomprehensibly. I slept, mostly, elsewhere.

Though the police had ruled out my former roommate as a suspect in the Gaeke case (inasmuch as anyone is ruled out), it still seemed I labored in the shadow of an evil act, which had, I told myself, nothing to do with me.

I began to write fictional versions of the girl’s death to try and make sense out of something idiotically foul and chaotic. I took it personally, and through the first months of this past year, I distracted myself from the loss of love with something much worse. This had the net effect of delaying any dealing I might have done with grief until I began to see another woman and began to care for her.

Dragging in forklifts full of psychological Samsonite, I moved into yet another apartment — this time with her— and gleefully, if unconsciously, set about the business of undermining my own happiness — and hers.

It is now four months later and I have, of necessity, moved out of that apartment and I am writing this in North Park, in the same apartment I was in last year at this time. The duplex is managed by friends the place became available just as I needed to move. A spooky irony I’m trying not to think too much about.

The murderer has not been caught, nor is there much promise after one year, that he (she?) will be. Still, the neighbor children place bougainvillea branches, dandelions, notes (“Amanda!”), or sticks of incense on the hurricane fence above where the girl’s body was found — reminders to themselves.

The catalogue of loss in the past 12 months (not counting furniture, books, and manuscripts that remain misplaced or gone forever as the result of three moves) I see as fallout, in some possibly unknowable way, from a black epicenter of violence radiating outward and darkening everything in its'path. This is no doubt a fanciful, illogical perception of causality, but it has a very real hold on me. While I need to own the ways in which I’ve failed in the past year, try to learn from the bad choices, the lack of attention, and self-control — I blame something else as well. Call it a meanness in this world.


There was my father, slumped, stoned, late-late movie blue-flickering on his face. He growls. I’d roused him coming in the front door after a night of ' horny teenage prowling. I try to sneak into my room but he growls again.

“What’s that, Dad? Want something?”

The growls resolve into a low, moaning curse. “What you got there?” Candy. Chocolate Babies. “Nigger Babies! You son of a bitch!”

I said Chocolate Babies. “Chocolate Babies, Nigger Babies. ’S’all the same. I’ll give you Nigger Babies, you racist sonofabitch!” Dad’s liquored-up jeremiad was more peculiar than usual that night. Most of the time there was a way for me to follow the line of reasoning. This night, none. Perhaps he was preparing for another apocalyptic battle with Mom, a knock-down drag-out, complete with cursing, threats, out-of-control 100 mph highspeeds on the Coast Highway, with us kids as hostages screaming in the back seat. After all, the holidays were fast approaching.

Dad grabs my box of Chocolate Babies candy. I notice that his hand is bleeding, lacerated from a shattered wineglass.

I can only say, dumbly, “Your hand.”

His bloody fists pound the hardwood tabletop. “Sonofabitch!” “Don’ look at me like that.

Classmates were amused and a little awed to see my father do shitty sitcoms and dreary dramas, but the spectacle repelled me. You could see the masochism in the lines of his face, the out-of-touch and painful exertions for acceptance.

C’mere.” I move closer and he collapses on me, crying, pawing my head. His blood, his breath. Bracing myself from the stench of his off-brand vodka, I summon, with a chill, “You pathetic drunk. You might as well be dead.”

There wasn’t anything in the world that I loathed more than my father’s alcoholic self-pity, that debasing kind of self-absorption common to low-level lifers in showbiz. My friends and I got the phone call one muggy August evening.

I imagined that I had willed his death. Not from a curse spoken in anger but from pitying my father as useless, a drain, a nonentity. A sudden feeling of omnipotence shamed me. I catch myself thinking that I’ve taken on my father’s disease, diabetes, as a form of penance. As as child I helped him inject his daily dosages of insulin now I was stabbing myself with needles four times daily to stay alive.

From time to time I’ll roam through the cable and see my father overacting on a television rerun, perhaps a color-blanched ’70s TV movie on late-night syndication. I look for a moment in numbed stupefaction. Then I change the channel. ■


Hey, big dog, how’s it going? Heh, heh,” a gush of forced joviality comes through the telephone line. I squirm in my big, blue swivel chair. “All right,” I say | with equal falsity.

He lives across town, but I haven’t talked to him in several months. I don’t call over there anymore. This call is like all his calls — He tells me about his job I listen. I like that he likes what he’s doing, but I have zero interest in the product he makes. It’s just another widget to me.

It’s been many months — in fact, now that I think about it, it’s been years — since he asked about my life. I’m surprised, but no longer amazed, that this caller is my oldest friend. I’ve known him 27 years.

When we were kids, he and I hitchhiked together. Later, we worked in the oil fields. I’ve known him so long it’s often felt like a marriage. We’ve gone through women, drugs, colleges, poverty, affluence, hippie times, insane times, triumphant times. He was my brother, my best friend. When we were apart, I carried him in my heart.

In the late ’60s, early ’70s, we hitchhiked — maybe a quarter million miles by the time we finished seven, eight years later. Always broke. We’d hitch into Phoenix, St. Louis, Denver, be bored with each other. Find ourselves on the sidewalk outside a health food store, he munching some goddamn healthful peanut butter sandwich and a banana, me with a coffee-to-go cup in my right hand. One would say, “When we meet again, we’ll know it’s time to leave town.” We would separate. Without fail, three, four, five days later, one of us would be in a bookstore, a bar, a deli, look up and say, “Hey, partner, how’s it going?”

Once, we were hitching south out of Alaska, less than two bucks between us, caught the season’s first snowstorm a mile outside Big Delta. We had no winter gear, not even a raincoat. We walked into the Buffalo Cafe, ordered coffee, perched at the counter, hunkered down, awaited developments. It got to be 10 p.m. and the joint was closing. Glanced outside into arctic dark, cold, blowing snow. Inside warm, the essential concept. Also empty, except for the two of us and one very large, very fat waitress languidly putting away the last of the silverware. I reached in my jeans pocket, retrieved the last quarter. “Okay, pard, call it, heads or tails.”

I lost. Moved down the counter, began to chat up the waitress. Twenty minutes later we followed enormous hostess to her tiny room on the second floor. One joint, half a bottle of whiskey later, I engaged in the first of many obscene sexual acts. Grunted and sweated for many, many hours. My partner blissfully asleep in his toasty sleeping bag at the foot of Buffalo Cafe’s love bed.

God, the women! We hit that shining moment in human history, 1965 to 1980: pre-AIDS, venereal diseases taken care of by prescription, on-demand birth control pills. Jesus, what a party. Everybody between 15 and 55 seemed sexually available. It was a rutting season that lasted 15 years.

We’d be hitching, not caring whether we were going east or west, north or south. The idea was traveling, not getting there. We’d quit the road at four in the afternoon, look around. Down the street, a lovely woman would be having coffee. She might have on granny glasses, a long print dress, a pilgrim hairdo. We beamed.

Later, at an appropriate time, one of us would take her aside and discretely inquire, ever so gently, ever so politely, with lots of shucks and gollies, “Ummm, who do you like?” The unchosen would turn to the chosen, “See you in the morning, partner.”

We always carried Frisbees to pass the time while we waited for a ride. Central Nevada, New Mexico, Canada, California, thumb a car, turn, throw the friz. We got awfully good. We specialized in catching the disc behind our backs while galloping at a dead run. You can do many wonderful things with a Fris-bee: skipping, arcing, overhands, underhands, flicks, long distances. Once, cruising Kamloops, British Columbia — he walking the east side of the street, me on the west — we tossed our Frisbee over cars, caught it behind our backs, twirling, sailed it back and forth.

A Mounty sat in his tricked-out Ford coupe, watching as we made our way down the sidewalk. The cop was thinking, “Christ, there has to be a law against this.” But he couldn’t think of one, so he seethed. Finally, inspiration. The Mounty pulled up, hit his red light, barked out the window, “You drop that Frisbee one time and I’ll arrest you for littering.” We walked on, throwing the friz back and forth, skipping off the street, doing behind-the-back catches, a long loping arc, never a miss.

We worked in Alaska’s oil fields at 60 below zero. God, he was a worker. That was his strategy: be the best or second best on the crew, don’t worry about layoffs.

Working in Prudhoe Bay was a hell of a gig. We were laborers, Local 942 hands dispatched from the union hall. Pay was $1500 to $2000 a week, plus the contractor provided free room and board. And that was 15 years ago, bucko, when you could own the world on two grand a week.

I ran into that world in 1972, passing through Fairbanks, drinking a beer at the Howling Dog Saloon with three friends. One said, “They’re going to build that pipeline. We ought to head over to the union hall and see what’s going on.” I signed up on Monday, went to work Wednesday. I picked up my first check, placed a call to the lower 48 — he was going to graduate school in Washington. “Hey, pard, come on up, it’s raining money.” Like I said, he was a hell of a worker. But he was lousy at getting jobs. I must have gotten him a dozen jobs over the years. Those $2000-a-week jobs were hard to find. You had to sweet-talk the union, sweet-talk construction company secretaries, badger a foreman, get to the phone, “You ready to go to work?”

Twelve, thirteen years of that. What kept us going was the tasty fact that you only had work three, four, five months a year in order to get monied up. We were still free men. He bought a house, got married, went to school, worked on his Frisbee game, slept late. I traveled.

Now, listening to him on the phone, seems like it couldn’t have been us. You hang in there with somebody over time, and then you begin to realize there’s a hole there. It’s not just a phase, it’s a hole, and it’s getting bigger. Taken me years to admit to that.

A long time ago, this strange person who’s talking to me on the phone used to call around, find me down in Silver City, New Mexico up in Fairbanks out in Philadelphia back in Arden, Nevada. He’d say, “I’m a little short.”

I’d wire him 500. Six months later I’d look for him in Seattle or San Francisco or Chicago. I’d say, “I’m a little short.”

This went on for 25 years. Twenty-five years. We talked about it only once, just long enough to realize neither of us had any idea, and hadn’t for at least a decade, how much money one owed the other.

Now, this guy on the phone could be some cold-calling wretch hustling magazine subscriptions. Jesus, how did we get to this ugly, boring place? Maybe it’s middle age. I’m 48, the caller is 50. At this age you begin to see trail’s end. The thought living always in the back of your mind: “How many more years can I roll about the planet and do what I want? Ten? Fifteen?” Seeing the end can make you selfish.

My friend and I, like most people, have put ourselves in a position where we can’t wake up one morning, walk into our employer’s office, and say, “Fuck it. I quit this horse-shit job. Send the last check care of American Express, Barbados, you jack-off son-of-a-bitch.” When you have to hold a job, you eat shit, and that takes something out of you. You’ve come a big step closer to being tamed. And when you’re tamed you don’t give the shirt off your back, you don’t loan the last 100 bucks, you don’t drive 500 miles to sit around a campfire and get drunk with friends.

Maybe that’s how it had to be for us to be friends. The friendship only worked when we were feral. Now that we’re middle-aged and getting safer every day — well, what the fuck is fun about that? I’ve spent the last five years learning how to be nice, learning how to keep my mouth shut, learning how to do things on somebody else’s schedule, learning how to wear uncomfortable, ugly-looking clothes so I can fool some stranger or co-worker into believing I’m a sanitized, professional, white-collar asshole.

This stranger and I were right when we said a generation ago, “Don’t trust anybody over 30.” After 30, people sell out, get tired, get lazy, get self-indulgent and cunning.

Yeah, but not as much as I used to be.

The last time I was dead-ass broke was three months after L fell off the back of a truck in Barrow, Alaska. I landed on my forehead. It was a Class A brain concussion, the kind you get in airplane wrecks. I was Medivaced to Fairbanks, then down to California. No medical insurance, no workmen’s comp, not even unemployment.

Brain concussions are not covered by Social Security, Medicare, even welfare, since there is no objective way of proving one has a brain concussion. You lie in bed 18 hours out of 24, but hell, you could be malingering. There is no treatment, no prescription, no operation except time and luck. Took a year before I could walk up and down one block with confidence. Took three years before I’d get through an entire morning without taking a hard look at suicide. It was bad.

That friend, the one I’m now talking to on the cordless phone, well, he was making it — driving a new red sports car, had just sold his house, many bucks in the bank, a fat professional job that was getting fatter and fatter. That doesn’t mean he owes me anything God knows what secret dues he’s paying or what road he walks when he’s alone, but that last time, four months into the concussion, L called.

“Thirteen hundred dollars. Can’t afford rent. Need to find someplace warm, maybe around Tucson. Live in the van, try to wait it out.”

A neutral voice responds, “Let me think about it.”

Days later I called back, “What’s happening?”

He came through with 700, told me not to tell his wife.

I haven’t paid him back yet.

But now I know what our debt is.

Few things strike more terror into the aging male than the ancient and humiliating specter of androgenetic alopecia: hormone-activated hair loss, gradual follicle deprivation, or, to put it brutally, baldness. The frantic searching for (and then counting of) hairs in the bathtub and the basin the minute, chimpanzee-like scalp examination at every chance encounter with a mirror (those treacherous whores) and the nights spent awake desperately trying to calculate, in the most precise way scientifically possible, the concrete amount of diminished sexual charisma caused by the aforementioned loss. Will I ever mate with one of my own species ever again? the balding man thinks in terror. Will I ever have children? Will people ever again look me in the eye in department stores?

America is such a body-image culture that these kinds of tortured ruminations are almost inevitable. Hair is the male equivalent to a woman’s skin or her breasts. Huge technologies are coming into being to service the man who is suffering from what the body culture obviously thinks is a personal catastrophe akin to the murder of one’s children or the sudden and unexpected appearance — right here at the sophisticated end of the millenium — of a fatal cancer of the testicle. Consider, for example, the dreadful infomercials concocted by the hair-replacement company Ultimate Hair Dynamics, which you can see almost every week on television.

Here is Ralph sitting before a studio audience of blond, frosty-haired models in small red skirts. Ralph looks like a kitten in a lion cage, one of those kittens that might actually like to get eaten. Alas, he is bald. Yes, a ponderous, supernaturally white egg surmounts his being, neatly shaved, one suspects, by Ultimate Hair Dynamics to look, well, as bald as possible for the occasion. Now the host, who sports a magnificent comb of faultless hair, brings Ralph over to the gals, who look him over dubiously.

“Ralph’s a great guy,” he coos to them, nodding slyly and looking with devilish cunning into the camera. “Really he is. A great guy. You’d like to date him, wouldn’t you, Sarah?”

He pokes his microphone at a simpering nymph who doesn’t look at all convinced. Why no, she shakes her head. It’s a tragic moment. Ralph looks crestfallen. The egg suddenly looks very silly indeed. She knows. he’s bald.

“What, Sarah, you don’t date, er, bald guys?”

“Aw, no,” she titters, shaking breasts and head together.

This is the truth. Everyone sighs. The host sighs. Ralph sighs. This is it: gals just don’t go for guys like Ralph. guys with eggs instead of heads. It is a cosmic truth, a law of Nature. Why did monks shave their heads? To keep them away! And so there is nothing for Ralph to do if he is not to rush off at once and castrate himself or throw himself into the nearest river but to invest in an Ultimate Hair Dynamics hairpiece.

An hour later, Ralph has hair. What a transformation! Sarah, that fickle hussy, is all over him. Suddenly two “hair experts” in poplin suits are there telling us what it’s all about: “Self-esteem. business success. today’s competitive world. that’s right, Darino, and we don’t make any of our hairpieces in the Philippines. Not even one.”

Hair-loss research is without doubt one of the most market-driven phenomena of the contemporary world. Any drug company that develops a way to reverse this most fundamental of male losses will make billions within weeks. Consequently, the hair-loss industry has mushroomed in recent years, sprouting potential miracle cures that — for the first time in history — promise to make snake-oil scientific.

Ever since Minoxidil (Rogaine) came onto the market in 1988, the once-laughable hair lotion idea has taken a deadly serious turn — $143 million sales globally in 1991 was the green light. Three drugs are now lined up to be The Cure.

Proscar, produced by Merck, contains an agent called Fines-teride, which prevents formation of the androgen that is thought to be implicated in the demise of scalp follicles. This side effect came to light during clinical trials of Proscar, a drug used to treat prostate gland enlargement. Pro-cyte of Kirkland, Washington, has high hopes for Tricomin, a copper-containing peptide that works by incorporating protein into the hair shaft. Dr. Gordon Dunkin of Procyte claims "an 83 percent success rate for achieving regrowth of real, measurable hairs and increased active? hair growth of some 40 percent.” The third hope is aromatase, a naturally occurring enzyme which, according to Dr. Marty Sawaya, an assistant professor of dermatology at the State University of New York, enhances hair growth by encouraging follicular activity in the scalp. Balding men, it seems, appear to lack this particular enzyme.

But topical solutions are not the only cures for hair loss now in the pipeline. A Canadian company, Current Technology of Vancouver, has developed a kind of electrical hood that delivers minute stimuli to the scalp and which the University of British Columbia in Vancouver recently reported to have achieved a 66 percent increase in hair counts. And then, if the thought of spending the rest of your life under a kind of electricity-spitting hair dryer becomes inexpressibly depressing, you can take yourself to a transplant clinic.

Gone are the days of Barbie-doll plugs visible at 50 yards. Now you can have “micro-grafts” of one to three hairs placed within an incision about 1.25 millimeters wide. These can be arranged at random to give a natural, “feathered” look rather than a severe straight line. This will set you back about $6000 upwards. Alternatively, you can have a “flap” operation — a procedure that takes an entire flap of hair-bearing skin from the back of your head and rotates it around to a balding portion.

The barren skin is first removed by a process known as “scalp reduction.” If you have hardly any hair to begin with, you can have your hair-bearing bits, or bit, expanded from beneath by means of the insertion of an inflatable balloon implanted just beneath the scalp.

All of this may indeed sound like mere refinement of scalp-oriented medieval tortures perfected centuries ago. Why not stay with the infamous “spiker,” that diabolical helmet fitted with internal spikes that, when closed, sent cold points of iron through the victim’s cranium at 50 different points? Why not simply update the “peeler,” the casket fitted over the head, into which boiling oil could be poured through a spout and which produced a pain so exquisite that prisoners would rather be hanged, drawn, and quartered than submit to its torment?

One day very shortly there will no longer be any bald men. They will be as extinct as the dodo. When a bald man appears on the street, people will run screaming in all directions. You see, in America there cannot be baldness. There cannot be a bald president. There cannot be bald models advertising hormonal after-shaves. There cannot be bald ones in charge anywhere, except the future — in Star Trek, for example.

But Captain Jean-Luc Picard will not be as he is represented. He will not be a sort of glorified Ralph. In the radiant future, the captains of starships will have heads of hair like Axl Rose. And only their shoes will be made in the Philippines. ■


During the 1970s, if you attended the writers’ workshop at the University of Iowa, on a Sunday in early September you’d go to Vance Bourjaily’s farm for an afternoon party. Vance owned a 100-year-old schoolhouse, acres of pastureland and hilly woods.

I met Sara Vogan at one of his parties. My wife and I had houseguests that weekend, a couple from Ames. The man was reasonable and pleasant while sober. Drinking, he became a world-class lout, the kind who faces off, an inch from your nose, and sprays you with spit while enumerating your character flaws. That day he chased Sara Vogan around. A good sport and a veteran drinker, she laughed at his antics. Even when he gawked at her breasts and declared them almost as grand as his wife’s, she gave him a polite chuckle. But when he reached out and fondled one, she slugged him in the jaw.

A tall, attractive blonde about 30 years old, she’d come to Iowa from Missoula, Montana, where she’d worked in graphic design and met a writer named Bill Kitridge, who became her lover and mentor. After a year or so, he convinced her that she ought to be at the workshop in Iowa where all the hot-shot would-be writers go.

Iowa had some talented fiction students that year. John Falsey, who produces TV shows such as Northern Exposure Sandra Cisneros Jayne Anne Phillips W.P. Kinsella, the author of Shoeless Joe, which was made into Field of Dreams. Yet Sara received the most honors, the best fellowships. Jack Leggett ran the workshop on a caste system. The few stars got a livable income and their tuition paid for teaching one creative writing course each semester. The rest of us received anywhere from less to zero.

The humblest of stars, Sara was also an ardent democrat who chose not to patronize or snub anybody. She and her roommate Becky used to throw music parties, open to the world. Invitations spread around the county. Next to some Ph.D. music student with his cello would stand a 90-year-old banjo-picking farmer.

The summer I left Iowa, between Sara’s two years there, she and Bill Kitridge had their climactic brawl. A story I heard featured Sara pounding on his car with a tire iron. I suspect she’d been drinking. Liquor could do that, launch her on the slide into darkness. I watched it happen a few years later at UCSD.

From Iowa she migrated to San Francisco. Not an easy place. Soon, though, her first novel, In Shelly's Leg, earned a decent advance, then critical praise and a movie option. Diane Keaton wanted to produce and star in it. Every phone call or letter, Sara would update me on the movie deal, how Keaton had renewed the option, fallen from grace with a studio, or consulted her about the screenplay.

The novel, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and the film option money bought Sara a couple of years in San Francisco. Then, faced with the choice between living out of a shopping cart and accepting a professorship in Milwaukee, she woefully chose the latter.

The week before she moved to Wisconsin, she and I taught together at the La Jolla Writers’ Conference. We each had a dorm room at UCSD. The first night we drank scotch and she told me how terrified she’d been about leaving San Francisco. It made her feel as though preparing to die.

A few evenings later I burned out early, stumbled to my room, and fell unconscious until I got jolted by an awful wailing outside my window.

“Sonofabitch!” somebody cried, “I’ll mumble mumbley goddamn it! Lousy mumble bastard!”

I rolled out of bed and parted the curtains, expecting to find my wife — who else knew me that well? But I spied Sara staggering around the corner of the building. I threw on my jeans, ran outside and after her. She’d disappeared. When I pounded on her door, nobody responded. Finally, resolving that she’d been a nightmare, I staggered back to bed.

In the morning when I questioned her, she shrugged and rubbed her eyes and confessed that the last she remembered was sipping bourbon at the reception while she gabbed with an old fellow who’d written about 60 adventure novels in five years.

Milwaukee, she claimed in letters, nearly killed her. The place, the winters, the sense of isolation. After two years, she gave up and returned to San Francisco, bringing with her a writer named John. Together, they scratched a living out of part-time teaching jobs, Sara’s at San Francisco State University. By now she was deeply into her second novel, Loss of Flight, and polishing her story collection. Though I saw her during light and hopeful spells, a little of her boldness seemed to have fled. Sometimes her bright greenish eyes would narrow and darken, her voice constrict, and her white skin go shadowy gray, as though something had knocked the wind out of her.

My friend J.B. and I share a birthday. J.B.’s a poet. In 1985, his wife Martha had bought us each tickets to the San Francisco Blues Festival. A couple of days before we left, she’d sent him packing. He’d moved his things to a railroad line shack in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

That week was the finale of a lousy summer. My wife and I had split in June. My kids were in San Diego. Upon my return to Chico, I’d met a woman, quickly fallen for her. The night before J.B. and I left for the festival, she’d notified me that I had too many damned afflictions for her to suffer, on top of her own. We were through.

J.B. and I longed to hear some good blues.

We drove to the city on a Saturday morning, to Sara’s place in the Sunset district. Sara had agreed to be ready and waiting, so we could make the festival before James Cotton’s first set. We stood a long while at the door. Finally she came staggering to open up and managed a courageous smile. But her eyes were red, there was a two-inch scab above her eyebrow, she wore a threadbare sweatsuit, and the bottom half of her face was bright green. Even her teeth.

In her living room, a chair lay upended beside a pile of broken glass and blobs of catsup, souvenirs of a few days past when she’d chased her man out. Last night, she said, he’d returned for some clothes. They’d screamed and thrown books at each other. After he fled, she drank all the liquor^ This morning, too spooked to travel the few blocks to the liquor store and with no clear or brown spirits left, she’d finished the creme de menthe.

We didn’t make the blues festival that day, and by evening, when the green had faded from Sara’s lips, we lured her to a Mexican cafe. Back at her place, we swilled beer and got punch-drunk from sharing our troubles.

Sunday morning we accompanied Sara to a breakfast meeting with her man, at Hamburger Mary’s. They were going to decide when and how he could remove his things from her house. In public and with us along, she said, it’d be less likely that she’d bash him with another chair or he’d sling the mustard jar at her. We ordered champagne and brainstormed about ways Sara could make the $700 rent on her own. There was no going back to Milwaukee. She intended to live or die in the city.

We griped about money and lamented that even an inept plumber or a custodian who dozed on the job could live on their wages, while too many writers had to borrow, beg, or move to the outback and forage.

I visited the men’s room. Above the urinal somebody had scribbled, “Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.” I was going to relay the message to Sara and J.B., but as I returned, they both stood and made for the restrooms.

J.B. was faster. Upon his return he asked, “You see that graffiti? Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.”

I nodded. “We oughta give it words and music and sing it at the festival.”

J.B. chuckled, then Sara was back, smirking like her tough self. “In the ladies’ room,” she announced, “somebody wrote, ‘Life’s a bitch and then you die, but there’s no use being a wimp about it.’ ”

We three sat grinning at each other while Sara’s man John walked in. A cultured, friendly guy whom you wouldn’t imagine throwing catsup. Looking slightly abashed, he shook our hands, gave Sara a polite hug, and excused himself to go to the restroom.

“Anybody want to bet he comes back and tells us about that graffiti?” Sara asked.

I snickered. J.B. covered his mouth. Somehow, Sara made the rent, paid a counselor for help with her funks and terrors. She also finished Loss of Flight and her story collection, Scenes from the Homefront. Whenever she called or wrote, it was with good news, or when she was grieving for somebody else, like a friend who’d come to her and unloaded his despair the morning a test showed HIV positive, or to plan for one of us to visit the other’s city and catch a Padres-Giants game. About her own demons Sara didn’t talk much, except when you caught her in the act. Most always she appeared hopeful. Tomorrow a generous advance would set her free.

Novelists don’t need the lottery. Any day our agent might call with big news. Meanwhile, we’ll play games with our egos, exaggerating the praise some editor gave us, lying a little when we tell friends about our miserly income, making promises out of maybes. One writer I know erected a shrine to herself in the corner of her living room. Surrounding two votive candles lie fan letters, excellent reviews, youthful photos of her cut from newspapers and magazines. Whenever she’s down, she’ll go to her shrine and worship.

People have told me that the key to achieving success as a writer is to survive.

I read about a study that observed the lives and work of dozens of artists between the ages of 35 and 45 and discovered that every one during those years either gave up, found a new direction for their art, or died.

Sara died, I believe, of depression and fear.

Because I’d loaned my copy of Scenes from the Homefront to somebody I can’t locate, last week I checked it out from the San Diego State University library. After five years, I was the first borrower.

Death I can accept. But I’m stunned to witness my friend ignored. Forgotten. Damn it all! Writers are supposed to be immortal.


Something isn’t adding up here*, my first child is only two weeks old and I’m already a month behind in sleep.

Before Leslie and I were married, 1 made the mistake of letting my father tell her his famous child-rearing anecdote. “You’re with the kids the whole day while I’m at work,” he claims to have said to my mother. “Therefore, when they cry at night, l’ll get up and take care of them.” This supposedly went on tor tive children. So my dad’s been a liberated guy ever since the 1950s. Big deal. I’m liberated. I just need my sleep.

The thing is, Rebecca arrived almost four weeks early. I'm not sure what I was planning to do the month before her birth - maybe stockpile sleep like canned goods before an earthquake — but [ I'm not prepared for this. I'm curled in a fragile eggshell of sleep that is shattered by the baby's cry.

“I’ll get her,” says my wife Leslie.

“No, you got her last time,” I say, heroically, heaving myself out of bed.

The problem is, Rebecca’s sleep patterns are bohemian. She sleeps for three- to four-hour stretches during the day, then at night she ^ awakes every hour and a half. It’s ^ got me thinking — this is why you shouldn't wait until your mid-30s to have kids. A guy in his mid-20s could handle the sleep loss much better. Come to think of it, 1 was sleep-deprived ten years ago as well, but for different and much less admirable reasons.

My experienced dad friends laugh at me. “You get used to it,” says Eric. “You learn to catch your sleep in bites.” This is bad news. When it comes to sleep, 1 like to gorge myself. “1 never got used to it,” says Randy. “I’d get in at four a.m. and have to be up by seven, finally had to give up drumming and get a real job.”

I had a college biology professor named Dr. Spanish whose specialty was sleep research. He had several cats with electrodes attached to their brains he kept them awake for long stretches at a time and monitored their reactions. (Although if you are looking for aberrant behavior, you have to assume normality to begin with, and I say cats are the wrong place to start.)

Dr. Spanish said people need only two or three hours of sleep each night, and he claimed to practice what he preached. Since he also looked exactly like Marty F eldman, I was never convinced. Perhaps 1 should ask Dr. Spanish to spend a week with my daughter.

I’m drifting back and forth, exactly like an oak leaf falling in a gentle autumn wind. What am I doing? I suddenly think. I’m not supposed to fall like this. I weigh 185 pounds! With the thought I become a stone, screaming down a black hole, shattering somewhere down in the bowels of the universe. I jerk awake. The baby is crying. “I’ll get her,” says Leslie. My heart is racing. “Nrll grtr,” I say. “No, you try and go back to sleep,” she replies. I try to be a good husband. On selected occasions, I obey my wife.

Driving home tonight, I miss the Balboa Avenue exit off north i-5. It’s a terrible exit to miss you have to go another three miles all the way up to stinking Gilman Drive before you can turn around. On the way back south, I find myself thinking, “Now, what was I doing in La Jolla?”

My wife asked me to pick up some cranberry juice on the way home. 1 know this because I wrote “cran juice” on the back of my hand where I can glance down at the steering wheel every few seconds and read it. I stop at Lucky as instructed. Heading toward the juice aisle, I pass some Ben and jerry’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream and, a little farther on, some Cheetos. Four out of five doctors recommend Ben & jerry’s and Cheetos for their patients who are new dads. Both items find their way into my basket. When I get home Leslie asks, “Where’s the cranberry juice?”

Headaches. Lilliputians have been climbing onto my pillow at night and pummeling my eyes. Deepset to begin with, my eyes have retreated to somewhere near the back of my skull. The first couple of days after Rebecca was born, people at work offered congratulations, asked how the baby was. Now they steer clear of me. I find myself standing aimlessly in the middle of my small office. On even my best days, if I don’t write down the things I have to do, then cross them off after they’re taken care of, I’m doomed. Someone’s been sneaking into my office, adding to my list, erasing my cross-offs. I call people twice. “We just spoke,” they say. “Of course we did,” I reply. “Just checking.”

Obviously, it’s worth it. When the baby is sleepy and full and drowsing in my arms when I change her diapers and see her birdlike limbs fattening, hear her tiny lungs gaining strength when love flows in an almost palpable stream between man and woman and this new person we have created — it’s worth it a million times over.

Even now, at 3 a.m., when the baby starts in. “I’ll get her,” says Leslie. “No, I’ve got her,” I say.

“You rest.” But I lie here in the half-light spilling across the hall from the nursery, marveling for a few seconds more as my sweet Rebecca road-tests her rack-and-pinion lungs on the smooth surface of the night.


Water for Laphroaig is acidic due to quartz mountains and peaty lowlands, but the mineral content in the water is low.

at least 82 nations/nation states around the globe are trying their hand at making and selling whisky. This goes to show that there can be no claim on Aqua Vitae, the water of life, being limited to just Scotland, Ireland and the USA. There is room in the world of whisky for everyone to enjoy a peg or two made in their own country.

Of these countries, all but four spell Aqua Vitae ‘Whisky’. The term ‘Whiskey’ is used in Ireland, Mexico and Peru and for most American brands.

Albania, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Bhutan, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, Corsica, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, England, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Ivory Coast, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Nigeria, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Tasmania, The Philippines, Uruguay, Vietnam, Wales, Zimbabwe, Zambia & possibly a couple more spell it Whisky.

North Korea’s Samilpo distillery created its own brand of whisky and launched it mid-2019. The Samilpo whisky bottle is based on the characteristic square design of Scotland’s Johnnie Walker, a popular but expensive brand in North Korea.

The distillery sells two different expressions of its whisky in a format similar to the international best-selling Scottish brand – a 40% ABV “Black Label” and a 42% ABV “Red Label”. There had to be some difference somewhere, I suppose. Its 45% ABV expression which was announced as part of the family is not yet available. The bottles present an unusual volume, 620 ml. Apart from this figure and the ABV, nothing is written in English.

'Soft water, through peat, over granite' was the traditional and still oft-quoted view of the best water for distilling. Remarkably, less than 20% of Scotland’s distilleries use water that fits this description.

Eimverk Distillery in Iceland is dedicated to making premium Icelandic spirits from 100% local ingredients. Their whisky is named Flóki after one of Icelands first explorers, Hrafna-Flóki (Flóki of the ravens). Eimverk produces three whiskies, one Young Malt, one unique sheep-dung smoked malt whisky and one 3-YO Single Malt Whisky using locally grown Icelandic barley.

Pakistan's only distillery at the Murree Brewery is owned by a Parsi, Minoo Bhandara.

The Balvenie 8 YO was marketed in a triangular glass bottle in 1971.

The vast majority of whisky exported from Scotland is blended, not single malt.

The monopoly once in sole charge of producing Finnish alcohol (including whisky) was also responsible for the production of Molotov cocktails for its military.

Banff is the most onomatopoeic Scotch distillery and among the least lucky!

On the night of 16 August 1941, Banff distillery was strafed and bombed by the Luftwaffe. A warehouse exploded, sending casks flying into the air and a river of whisky flooding out over the fields and into the river. There was considerable devastation and tales of drunken cows that were incapable of being milked the next day.

Clynelish’s is one of a number of ‘Clearance’ distilleries (Talisker is another example) which appeared in the earlier part of the 19th century. Some landowners forcibly moved tenant farmers from their ancestral lands. The most brutal of these perpetrators were The Duchess and Duke of Sutherland. The Duke established a distillery which he called Clynelish. All were staffed by former farmers who were paid in coin which could only be redeemed at the company’s shops – whose profits went to the Duke. The distillery built a reputation only in 1896 when blenders Ainslie & Heilbron bought it in partnership with John Risk, who was to become the outright owner in 1912. By the end of the century it had become the most highly-priced single malt.

PM Henry J Temple’s Govt permitted the blending of malt and grain whisky in bond by 1860 under the Scotch Whisky Act. Gladstone, his Chancellor of the Exchequer was responsible for pushing it through.

This Act, when published, was limited to distillers only.

It took a further three years till grocers could carry out such blending on premises and sale under their own label legally, under an Extension to the French Treaty Act 1863.

In these three years, many other grocers got into the business full time—John Walker, George Ballantine, Peter Thomson of Beneagles, William Teacher and the Berry brothers are good examples. Matthew Gloag III of the Famous Grouse followed later.

The Chivas Brothers company came into being only in 1857, when John Chivas joined his elder brother James in his grocery, wine shop and luxury goods emporium in Aberdeen.

The Forbes-Mackenzie Act permitting vatting of whiskies when in a bonded warehouse was passed in 1853. A larger variety of blended malts were now available to vendors to sell.

In 1915, when WW I was on, the whisky industry came under governmental pressure to help defray finances. David Lloyd George, the teetotaler Chancellor of the Exchequer, attempted to double the duty on spirits. He backed down after the whisky industry agreed to release its wares only after a minimum of three years’ maturation.

In those days, most whisky was bottled at between 15 and 22 degrees under UK proof as it was then known (48.6-44.6% abv in today’s terms).

In 1915, the Government Control Board permitted whisky to be sold at 35 degrees under proof (37.2% abv).

The same year, the Board tried to further reduce the strength of their spirit sold in military bases and urban areas to 50 degrees under proof (28.6% abv). The whisky industry protested and reached a compromise which standardised the strength of whisky everywhere in the UK at 42.9% abv (25 degrees under proof).

On 01 February 1917, the Government, with Lloyd George as Prime Minister, ruled that whisky had to be sold at no more than 30 degrees under proof (40% abv).

The aromatic complexity of a whisky is markedly different between 40% and 43%.

Sanity was restored by PM Ramsay MacDonald in 1929, who allowed registered Scotch Whisky to be sold at any strength up to cask strength, usually 63-65%, with increased duty for higher strength expressions.

The strength of whisky everywhere in the UK was standardised at 42.8% abv. Distillers had the option to use 40% abv if so desired.

Ballantine’s is comprised of some 50 single malts – mostly from Miltonduff and Glenburgie – and four grain whiskies.

The brand’s flagship blend – Ballantine’s Finest – was launched in 1910. Interestingly, the flagship brands of both Johnnie Walker & and Chivas Regal, viz., Johnnie Walker Black Label & Chivas Regal 25 YO were launched in 1909.

The business was sold to Barclay and McKinlay in 1919, who retained the Ballantine’s brand name in favour of Talisker.

In 1935, the group was sold to Canadian distiller Hiram Walker-Gooderham & Worts.

Hiram Walker began purchasing several distilleries, including Miltonduff and Glenburgie – both in 1936, and built the mammoth Dumbarton complex, which housed the largest grain distillery in Europe at that time.

In 2002, the Dumbarton plant was closed down and production shifted to Strathclyde grain distillery, although a large bonded warehouse complex and bottling plant still exist in Dumbarton.

The core portfolio consists of Finest, Limited, 12, 17, 21, 30 and 40-year-olds, while a lime-flavoured extension, Ballantine’s Brasil, was launched in 2013.

After a successful trial at Inverleven, the malt whisky distillery within the firm’s Dumbarton distillery complex in Dumbarton, it was decided to install a Lomond wash and spirit still at Glenburgie in Moray in 1958.

Christened Glencraig, its newmake spirit was distinct from Glenburgie’s, and gave Hiram Walker another malt for its blends without having to invest in a whole new distillery.

Glencraig was produced throughout the 1960s and 󈦦s at Glenburgie on Speyside as a blending malt on a pair of Lomond stills.

While independent bottlings of Glencraig occasionally appear, it was never intended as a single malt in its brief life.

The Lomond stills were abandoned at Glenburgie in 1981.

The real Glen Isla is one of the famous Angus glens than runs north to the ski resort of Glenshee. On the other hand, the eponymous malt whisky was a short-lived experiment to produce a smoky Speyside malt at Glen Keith – the Speyside distillery Seagram built next to its Stathisla distillery in Keith in the late 1950s.

Glen Keith was experimental from the start, testing out triple distillation and gas-fired direct heating for its stills.

Among very rare bottlings of Glenisla, hardly any peat was found in a 1977 release from Signatory.

This was because Glenisla was peated in a very peculiar way. Under Seagram, Chivas Brothers had been sending 45-gallon drums of peated water from Stornaway to Glen Keith, where it was run through an angled condenser to concentrate the phenols. Apparently it was added 10 gallons at a time to the wash charge and its impact on the whisky must have been considerably less than using well-peated malt in the traditional way.

Glenisla was only produced in the 1970s, and then only for a couple of years.

The whisky was blended away, most notably in Chivas’ Century of Malts (a vatting of 100 different malt whiskies) in the 1990s.

Mosstowie was one of a handful of short-lived malt whiskies produced on Lomond stills within another distillery – in this case Miltonduff, near Elgin.

Lomond stills, compared to traditional pot stills, were a lot more versatile – you could adjust the position of the lyne arm and the number of rectifying plates in the neck to vary the amount of reflux and thus heaviness of the spirit.

It was deemed perfect for the company’s flagship blend – Ballantine’s Finest, and so Lomond stills were installed at Hiram Walker’s Inverleven, Glenburgie, Scapa and Miltonduff distilleries.

The whisky produced using Miltonduff’s Lomond stills was named Mosstowie, and while the majority was used for the Ballantine’s blend, there have been occasional independent bottlings as a single malt.

Seagram’s 100 Piper’s blend was once a popular brand in the UK, and claimed to be the fourth most popular Scotch in Scotland in 1988. Four years later it was decided to co-opt a famous Scottish regiment into the brand and rechristen it the � Pipers of the Black Watch,’ just in the UK.

There was just one piper on the label, and in due course the brand became simply The Black Watch blend.

In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to “Mind your own pints and quarts.” This is where we get the phrase: 'mind your P's and Q's'.

100AD, when Greeks distilled sea water into drinking water.

4.55L). Johnnie Walker's older whisky bottles are often found in Duty Free stores with a volume of 1.125L.

100AD, when Greeks distilled sea water into drinking water.

  • 1 Quarter cask = 33 us. gal. (125 Litres)
  • 1 Barrel = 41.7 us. gal. (158 Litres)
  • 1 ASB = American standard barrel = 52.8 us. gal. (200 Litres)
  • 1 Hogshead = 66 us. gal. (250 Litres)
  • 1 Butt = 132 us. gal. (500 Litres)
  • Puncheons (or Pungeons) and pipes 158.5 – 184.9 us. gal.: (600 – 700 litres) are used only rarely.
  • Ballechin Distillery between 1810 and 1927
  • Blair Athol, originally Aldour
  • Glenturret, originally Hosh
  • Auchnagie
  • Aberfeldy
  • Deanston
  • Edradour

In 1983, Brora shut down fore good, though existing barrels are released as official bottlings every now and then at astounding prices.

James Buchanan formed his own whisky company in 1884 after five years with blender Charles Mackinlay & Co. His flagship whisky was The Buchanan Blend, a light, smooth unpeated expression designed specifically to appeal to the English palate.

The expression, which initially incorporated Dalwhinnie, Clynelish and Glendullan malts, was named the Buchanan Blend and became an instant hit in London.

It was picked up by the Members Bar at the House of Commons in London. Buchanan renamed the blend Buchanan’s House of Commons Finest Old Highland whisky, and presented it in a dark glass bottle with a striking white label.

Before long, drinkers began ordering ‘that Black & White whisky’, and in 1902 the name was officially changed again to Black and White.

The brand was exported across the world, and in 1907, it was being ordered by the emperor of Japan.

By 1909, it had become the most popular blend in England.

While under the auspices of the DCL during the 1920s, the Black & White terriers began featuring more heavily in the brand’s advertising, quickly becoming iconic ambassadors for Buchanan’s flagship blend.

In 2013 the brand was given a contemporary makeover, and the terriers made the move onto the bottle’s label for the first time.

It is the fastest rising standard Blended Scotch over the last decade.

Lombard Brands, the Isle of Man-based spirit and wine merchant owned by the Lombard-Chibnall family, introduced Anchor Bay in 2001 alongside Golden Harvest and Smoking Ember as part of the Illustration Malts series.

The series concept was to introduce three differing styles of blended malt whisky that could be consumed before, during and after dinner. Anchor Bay with its light blend of Speyside malts, was aimed at the aperitif end of the spectrum.

Only Anchor Bay survives today.

Auchnagie blended malt is a considered recreation of the style of whisky thought to have been produced by the lost Perthshire distillery of the same name.

The blended malt is one of several homages to lost distilleries to be introduced by The Lost Distillery Company. With its citrus, black pepper and cereal notes, the expression is as close as we’ll get to tasting the real thing.

Auchnagie is available in three expressions as part of TLDC’s Classic, Archivist and Vintage series.

Auld Acrimony, a 12-year-old Highland blended malt, was produced during the late 19080s/ early 1990s by Grant and Webster Distillers exclusively for British supermarket chain, Safeway. Available only at auctions today.

Born on the island of Islay, blended malt Big Peat is a smoky, oily whisky, with sweetness from Caol Ila, the fruitiness of Bowmore, a medicinal quality from Ardbeg and an earthy tone from Port Ellen.

The Exceptional series by Sutcliffe & Son, a subsidiary of US producer Craft Distillers, consists of three expressions: The Exceptional Blend, Grain and Malt, of which several editions have been released over the years.

The editions are designed to vary from batch to batch, with no two the same owing to the variety of whiskies and casks used.

Although each is bottled without an age statement, the constituent whiskies are listed on the back of each label.

The first release, which came in 2013, was The Exceptional Grain, followed by The Exceptional Malt in June 2015 and The Exceptional Blend in 2016.

A Vietnamese collector, Viet Nguyen Dinh Tuan, has been confirmed by Guinness World Records as the proud owner of the most valuable whisky collection.

He has amassed 535 old and rare Scotch whiskies in 20 years, which has been valued at a ‘hammer price’ of 㾶,770,635 (㾹,032,468 adding 21% buyers premium if the collection were sold through a UK auctioneer such as Sotheby’s), by valuation firm Rare Whisky 101.

The collector’s hoard includes the 1926 Macallan Fine and Rare – the world’s most expensive bottle of whisky – which fetched ٟ,200,000 (ٟ,452,000 including buyer’s premium), in a sale at auction house Sotheby’s last month. Only 40 bottles of The Macallan’s 1926 were ever released. Viet owns three.

The collector also owns one of only 12 bottles of the oldest Bowmore ever released, which also happens to be both the most expensive Bowmore and the most expensive Islay malt in the world. A similar sold for 𧷤,000 at auction.

In another case, a private 3,900 bottle whisky collection, thought to be the largest to be sold at auction with several bottles valued at over ٟ million, will go under the hammer next year at Perthshire-based Whisky Auctioneer.

Called ‘The Perfect Collection’, the bottles were amassed by the late Richard Gooding, an American private whisky collector from Colorado, who spent over 20 years travelling around the world to source the spirits.

It is collectively estimated to achieve an auction price of between ٥ and ٦ million.

Until recently, the bottles were housed in Gooding’s ‘pub’ – a dedicated room in his family home.

The collection includes highly sought-after bottlings from The Macallan, Bowmore and Springbank, some of which are valued at over ٟ million.

It is reported that the collection includes the largest selection of The Macallan ever to go to auction, including the 1926 Valerio Adami (estimated hammer price: 𧽴,000 – 𧿘,000) and 1926 Fine & Rare 60 Year Old bottlings (estimated hammer price: ٟ,000,000 – ٟ,200,000).

Other rare whiskies in the collection include bottlings from some now closed distilleries, including Old Orkney from Stromness Distillery and Dallas Dhu, some of which have never appeared at auction before.

Other highlights include Ardbeg 1967 Signatory Vintage 30-Year-Old / Dark Oloroso Butt #578 (estimated hammer price: ١,000 – ٣,000) Bowmore 1964 Black Bowmore 29-Year-Old 1st Edition (estimated hammer price: 㾸,000 – 㾽,000) Bowmore 1967 Largiemeanoch 12-Year-Old (estimated hammer price: 㾶,000 – 㾻,000) Glenfiddich 1936 Peter J Russell (estimated hammer price: ١,000 – ٣,000) Glenfiddich 1937 Rare Collection 64-Year-Old (estimated hammer price: 㿞,000 – 㿨,000) Glenfiddich Pure Malt circa 1950s (estimated hammer price: ١,000 – ٢,000) Highland Park 1958 40-Year-Old 75cl / US Import (estimated hammer price: ١,000 – ٣,000) Springbank 1919 50-Year-Old (estimated hammer price: 𧵬,000 – 𧶔,000) The Balvenie 1937 Pure Malt 50-Year-Old 75cl / Milroy’s of Soho (estimated hammer price: 㾾,000 – 㿃,000) and The Macallan 50-Year-Old Lalique Six Pillars Collection (estimated hammer price: 䀆,000 – 𧴜,000).

Abhainn Dearg was The Isle of Lewis’ only legal distillery, in its capital Stornoway (and named after it), but only ran for two years in the 1850s. After that, Lewisians had to import their Scotch from the mainland, or maybe source it from illicit local operations.

In 2008, Marko Tayburn built a distillery at Abhainn Dearg [Red River] on the western coast of the island making this officially the most remote whisky-making site in Scotland.

He designed and built the stills himself, modelling them on an old illicit still he had discovered.

In December 2018 the distillery launched its first 10-year-old single malts – the oldest whisky to be produced by a legal distillery in the Outer Hebrides.

In 2010,he launched his first single malt, the 3 YO Spirit of Lewis.

It wasn’t until Matthew Gloag III inherited the business from William in 1896 that the company registered its first blended Scotch, the Brig o’ Perth.

A year later, The Famous Grouse was released at the same time as The Grouse Brand.

Originally, The Famous Grouse was priced lower than the Grouse Brand. In a little over 10 years, the reverse would be true thanks to the popularity of The Famous Grouse.

When US Prohibition came into force in January 1920, the company’s distribution to markets close to the United States such as Canada, Latin America and the West Indies suddenly shot up.

When William Gladstone passed a law allowing Scotch Whisky to be matured tax-free until ready for sale in 1860, Punch magazine celebrated with the cartoon of the Dancey Man.

The Loch Katrine Adelphi Distillery was built in 1826 by Charles and David Gray on the banks of the River Clyde just south of Victoria Bridge on the northern edge of the Gorbals.

In 1880, ownership of Adelphi changed to Messrs A Walker and Co, owners of two existing distilleries in Liverpool and Limerick. Walker and Co injected new capital and expand the works to include the making of grain spirit as well as malt. A new Coffey Still installed.

1971: Demolition of the Loch Katrine Adelphi Distillery.

1984: Glasgow Central Mosque erected on former site of Adelphi Distillery.

1994: Jamie Walker acquires copyright for Punch Magazine’s cartoon of William Gladstone and The Dancey Man is officially adopted as Adelphi’s mascot.

2014 : First spirit produced at Ardnamurchan Distillery. Ardnamurchan Distillery officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on 25th July 2014.

2016: The first bottling is released, the Ardnamurchan 2016 AD. 2500 bottles available to the world and it was sold out overnight.

2017: Second bottling released, the Ardnamurchan 2017 AD. Again, there were 2500 bottles and was well received around the world.

If some shipments made their way into the States, then so be it.

Hedonism Lowland Blended Grain Scotch Whisky’s creator John Glaser dreamed of creating a Scotch that showed off the spectrum of flavour grain whisky is capable of. As the spirit is naturally mellower than malt whisky, Glaser chose a variety of styles and levels of maturity to create layers of flavour and complexity, which journey through vanilla cream, toasted coconut and soft toffee.

Named after the Roland TR-808 Drum Machine – one of the first affordable and widely available drum machines launched in the early 1980s – 8O8 blended grain is aimed at an entirely non-traditional market sector: the young, club and cocktail set.

A Distillery Revealed

It’s a hot, humid May morning when I arrive at St. Lucia Distillers, henceforth referred to as SLD for brevity’s sake. After gawking at the display case filled with dozens of alcoholic offerings made at the distillery, I first meet Michael Speakman, SLD’s sales and marketing director, before being handed off to Lennox Wilson, the distillery’s production manager.

Wilson has a long history in the rum industry: Before coming to SLD in 2009, he had worked for nearly every Jamaican rum producer, as well as a stint in the beer industry. In short, he’s impeccably qualified to make the many different rums SLD is famous for.

Leaving the cooling confines of the administration building, my tour begins where most distillery tours start—water sources. Here, the distillery uses two water sources: The nearby Roseau river, and harvested rainwater collected in various places around the distillery grounds. Should rainfall be insufficient, they can tap into a reserve pond owned by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Beyond a fence—and between us and the ocean—is a sugar cane field. While St. Lucia stopped growing cane on a commercial scale in 1962, SLD now maintains fifteen acres of fields used to make cane juice rums. The blue and green cane varietals harvested by hand once a year provide a very small amount of the fermentable material SLD uses, but enlarges the palette of rums for the blenders to work with.

Of course, the majority of the rums made at SLD originate from molasses, which brings us back to the underwater pipeline delivering straight from the ship to the distillery’s molasses tanks. Each delivery is 2,000 to 2,500 metric tons, primarily sourced from the Dominican Republic and Central America.

During my visit, the distillery’s existing tanks held up to 2,400 metric tons of molasses. However, subsequent upgrades more than doubled that to 5,300 metric tons, enabling them to store an entire year’s supply of molasses on site.

Another fun fact involves the distillery’s energy source. Their steam requirements are met via three boilers, powered by recycled ship oil. The savings from not buying diesel fuel defrays a substantial amount of operational costs. In the event enough ship oil isn’t available, they can use conventional diesel fuel to power the boilers.

Stepping into the main distillery building, Wilson and I climb up to a catwalk that puts us next to several large steel tanks: A 2,273 liter yeast propagator and two 50,000 liter “mother vessels”. Here is where yeast propagation and the mixing of yeast, water, and molasses to make a wash occurs. Two different yeast strains are employed, known as Type A and Type B are employed here.

The initial brix of the molasses is around 85, which is brought down to around 20 brix via dilution prior to fermentation.

The final fermentation occurs at the other end of the distillery building, in one of eight open-air, temperature-controlled tanks, each 15,900 liters in capacity.

The typical molasses fermentation takes around 24 to 36 hours, with a short resting period of several hours afterward. The resulting fermented wash is around 7 percent ABV.

As for the cane juice fermentation, it’s done with a combination of ambient, wild yeast and commercial yeast.

Wings Over Scotland

We suppose we shouldn’t technically be surprised that today’s newspapers carry no analysis whatsoever of Kezia Dugdale’s big speech yesterday detailing Scottish Labour’s first big election pledge – a £6000 handout to first-time home buyers.

After all, current polling suggests Scottish Labour have about as much chance of exerting any influence in the next Scottish Parliament as Lemmy has of posthumously winning the Eurovision Song Contest, so it doesn’t really matter if Kezia Dugdale promises every voter a free unicorn made of diamonds and glitter.

Still, if only for the mental exercise, it’s worth taking a look in detail.

The pledge is that Scottish Labour will give £3000 per person to any first-time buyer taking out a mortgage, to help them with the deposit. That’s in addition to the UK government’s Help-To-Buy ISA, which provides a 25% bonus to any savings people make up to a maximum of £12,000 (ie the maximum bonus is again £3000 per saver).

What that means is that a first-time-buyer couple who managed to get £24,000 together for a deposit would receive a free handout of another £12,000 from the two governments – £3000 each from the UK government and £3000 each from Labour.

Dugdale wasn’t very clear about how exactly it would work. It’s certainly not just a scheme whereby the Scottish Government would match the bonus paid by the UK government from the HTB ISA. In Labour’s example (see the graphic at the top of this page), the couple’s ISA savings of £7200 only qualify for £1800 of help from the UK government, but they get £6000 from the Scottish one.

(As far as we can make out – and we wouldn’t want to bet our lives or hats on this interpretation – the qualifying criteria for the £3000 bonus will be savings of £3000. This is FOUR TIMES more generous than the UK government plan, which requires savings of £12,000 for a £3K bonus.)

The likely effect this would have on house prices seems, well, predictable. It’s not really so much a giveaway to the buyers as to the sellers. But it’s just one of a whole raft of bewildering aspects of the policy.

1. The biggest, of course, is that Labour plan to pay for it using the money “saved” by keeping Air Passenger Duty the same as it is now. Seemingly the barrage of exasperated ridicule the party endured last time it spent fantasy APD proceeds, as countless people tried to explain to it that keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money, hasn’t deterred them.

2. For a party that’s spent most of the last five years attacking the SNP over “middle-class freebies” on prescription fees, winter heating allowances, council tax freezes and university tuition, it’s inexplicable that its first big pledge is a huge giveaway to those exact same people.

Poor people, whether unemployed or on minimum/low wages, can’t afford to save up thousands of pounds for a deposit. They can barely make ends meet as it is. The people who can afford to save that kind of money are the better-off.

(Ironically, poor people often CAN scrape together a few hundred pounds for a budget holiday to relieve their misery for a few days every year. If APD isn’t cut, they’re the ones who won’t get any benefit. Effectively they’ll be paying a tax on their holidays to subsidise buying houses for the middle classes.)

3. Of course, all this is somewhat moot as keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money, so we still don’t know how Labour would fund the giveaway.

4. In Labour’s own example the couple, with help from the two schemes, manage to get together a £15,000 deposit, more than half of which (£7800) has been paid by a free gift from the taxpayer. This isn’t actually enough to put down a 10% deposit on the average Scottish house, which now costs over £160,000.

(Of course, first-time buyers would probably be buying something less expensive than the average, but in lots of parts of Scotland, including big cities where most people live, the average price is higher than that anyway.)

It’s also unlikely that a bank being asked to give someone a 90%+ mortgage is going to be impressed to hear that the buyers saved less than half of the deposit themselves, as it doesn’t bode well for their ability to make the repayments.

[EDIT: The average deposit for first-time buyers in Scotland is in fact £21,000.]

5. Fortunately that’s less important than it might otherwise have been due to the fact that keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money, so it’s doubtful Labour could ever implement the policy.

6. There are further technical questions, some outlined here by an alert reader:

7. Although the finer details are in many ways irrelevant, because keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money.

8. There were 27,700 homes purchased by first-time buyers in Scotland in 2014. If we assume that most of them were bought by couples, we could take a pretty reasonable stab that something like 50,000 individuals were involved. At £3000 per head, that’s £150 million – £25m more than the SNP’s plans to halve APD will cost, before the costs of administering the scheme are taken into account.

Scottish Labour would therefore have a serious shortfall in the required funding, even if the scheme doesn’t increase sales, which it presumably would (that being its whole purpose), and even if it didn’t drive up house prices to the point where people still couldn’t afford them anyway (which it almost certainly would).

9. In reality, however, the shortfall would be much bigger than £25m: it would be at least £150m, because keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money.

10. A plan almost identical to this one was proposed by the SNP in 2007 before the credit crunch, but dumped in 2008 after a public consultation because pretty much everyone (including Scottish Labour) thought it was a stupid idea, largely because it would push up prices. We’re not sure what’s changed since then.

11. Unless it’s that Labour are confident they have no chance of winning, and can therefore safely make pledges they could never carry out because keeping APD the same as it is now doesn’t actually give you any more money.

A Duxbury Carpenter Creates 'Green' Caskets

Over his career as a carpenter, Matt Kasvinsky has built a wide assortment of things from wood: kitchen counters, barns, decks, pergolas, cabins on stilts, even coffee tables in the shape of Vermont. His latest undertaking? Building custom-made caskets.

Compared with the rest of his work, casket making doesn't pose technical challenges, Kasvinsky readily admitted: Each one is basically just a six-sided rectangular plywood box, albeit a well-constructed one. But the Duxbury carpenter hopes that grieving families will find his unique "modern Shaker" caskets, with Vermont scenes printed on the outside, more meaningful and personal than the mass-produced, run-of-the-mill options. And the desire to create them emerged from his own experiences as an all-too-frequent mourner.

The 49-year-old Acton, Mass., native spent many years in Fairbanks, Alaska, before moving to Vermont in 2005. In those far northern climes, he said, several of his friends died prematurely from accidents, disease or hard living. As he put it, "Alaska tends to eat people up."

Attending all those funerals, Kasvinsky recalled, he was struck by their generic and impersonal nature. While the eulogies were always heartfelt, he said, nothing else about the burial ritual seemed to reflect the lives of the people who were being memorialized.

"Look at a traditional casket. It doesn't make me think of anything but death," Kasvinsky said. "I was thinking, How can you make it so that it represents the person inside?"

So Kasvinsky began researching ways to build caskets that were "more like a canvas" — that is, imprintable with photographic images, drawings or other designs that reflected the lives, interests and characters of the deceased. The result was Vermont Custom Casket, founded in 2013, which offers simple, creative coffins with the motto "Celebrate a unique life."

Reflecting the prevalent ethos of the Green Mountains, Kasvinsky uses only eco-friendly, sustainably harvested and biodegradable construction materials. That's more than a local selling point sustainability is an increasingly pressing issue in the funeral industry. Though most Americans prefer not to think about what will go in the ground, or up in flames, with their bodies once they've died, death has a shockingly large ecological footprint.

According to a 2012 article by Alexandra Harker in the Berkeley Planning Journal called "Landscapes of the Dead: An Argument for Conservation Burial," Americans bury approximately 30 million board feet of lumber annually, much of it exotic and unsustainably harvested hardwood. Each year, Americans also place in the ground 2,700 tons of copper and bronze, 104,000 tons of steel, 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete, and 827,000 gallons of embalming fluid, most of which is composed of carcinogenic formaldehyde.

Cremations now account for about half of all dispositions of the dead in the U.S., including 70 percent of those in Vermont. While they may present a less resource-intensive option than a conventional burial, they have their own significant environmental impact: Each cremation consumes about as much fuel as a 500-mile SUV trip. Collectively, cremations release about 250,000 tons of CO2 into the environment annually, along with other pollutants such as mercury.

"I hope the next generation will see that [cremation] is not what we should be doing," Kasvinsky said. "From a soil-building standpoint, it's better to have bodies in the soil."

How to encourage Vermonters to bury their dead more sustainably and creatively? About five years ago, Kasvinsky approached his friend Kirk Williams with an idea. Williams was a Burlington artist and metal worker known for having designed several public artworks in the Queen City, including the fish fountains on Church Street, the waterfront skate park and the huge red sundial near Community Health Centers of Burlington in the Old North End. "Without Kirk," Kasvinsky emphasized, "the idea wouldn't have gotten off the ground."

Early on, Williams introduced Kasvinsky to Burlington architectural designer and illustrator Lincoln Brown, who drew up the CAD drawings for the caskets' wood sections. All the plywood Kasvinsky buys is green certified and sustainably harvested in the United States and contains soy-based glue and no formaldehyde. (His goal is to get the caskets certified by the U.S. Green Burial Council.) Kasvinsky said he chose plywood both for its sturdiness and for its consistent veneer, on which digital images can be printed.

To add that printing piece, Williams introduced Kasvinsky to Martin Feldman, president of Light-Works of Winooski, which does large-format digital printing for clients such as Ben & Jerry's Scoop Shops, Lake Champlain Chocolates and the Vermont welcome centers. Light-Works takes Kasvinsky's milled plywood sections and prints digital images on them using nontoxic, soy-based inks.

Initially, Kasvinsky used stock images he'd purchased online. Later, he reached out to friends and photographers Brian Mohr and Emily Johnson, of EmberPhoto in Moretown, to ask if he could purchase the rights to some of their Vermont photographs.

"It was an unusual request. I can't say we'd ever licensed imagery to a casket maker before," Mohr recalled with a chuckle. Still, the couple was more than happy to work with Kasvinsky, and not just because he was an old friend.

"I think there is a fear of death in our society and a general hesitancy to embrace what dying really is, which is a big step in our lives into the unknown," said Mohr. The couple has licensed Vermont Custom Casket a half dozen Vermont images, including fall foliage and winter mountain scenes.

After the plywood casket sections have been milled and printed, Kasvinsky begins the daylong process of assembling each casket by hand. He eschews metal nails and screws, opting instead to join all the sections using wooden pegs.

He lines the casket's interior with excelsior wood shavings, also known as "wood wool," a beige, biodegradable product also used by highway departments to stabilize and reseed roadway embankments. The excelsior padding is then covered with an all-natural wool fabric that Kasvinsky buys from Johnson Woolen Mills.

Unlike conventional caskets, Kasvinsky's products are flat on top and hence easily stackable. They can also be sold unassembled, so that they can be flat-packed, shipped nationwide or put in storage until they're needed.

For a time, Kasvinsky even considered marketing his brand as "the IKEA of caskets" — until he learned that the Swedish retailer had beaten him to the idea. In January, IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad was buried in one of the company's customer-assembled coffins.

But Kasvinsky recently won an award for his design. North Carolina-based Columbia Forest Products gave Vermont Custom Casket the top 2018 PureBond Quality Award in the commercial category for its unique burial casket concept, according to a press release. Columbia Forest supplies hardwood plywood products throughout North America.

Vermont Custom Casket sells its products through the Perkins-Parker Funeral Home in Waterbury, which currently has two on display Kasvinsky doesn't want to compete with local funeral directors by selling directly to consumers, he said. When Perkins-Parker sells one, he simply builds another. "It's not like I have a warehouse full of them," he joked.

Indeed, the business has grown slowly so far, Kasvinsky admitted. Still, he sees a market for his caskets growing throughout New England, where many people put a premium on locally and sustainably produced products that are also unique creations.

Currently, Vermont Custom Casket offers six different standard options. But Kasvinsky can print "practically anything" on a casket, he said, provided he has advance notice of about two weeks and a high-resolution digital file. As the business grows, he envisions partnering with Vermont visual artists to offer more decorative options.

How do Kasvinsky's wife, Heather, and their two kids feel about his work?

"She's an artist, so she's totally into it," he said of his wife. As for the kids, who are 8 and 5, "They're totally OK, too. They know that dead people go in them," Kasvinsky added. "Not that I let them climb inside or anything, [but] I don't think they're fazed by them."

Kasvinsky acknowledged that his caskets, which retail for $2,600 each, may not fit every Vermonter's budget. Still, that's a comparable price tag to mass-produced caskets for, in his opinion, a better-built product.

The story of Vermont Custom Casket has a sad footnote: Williams, who helped get the business off the ground, never saw it come to fruition. He contracted a severe and unexpected illness in December 2015 and died on January 4, 2016, at the age of 53. Soon thereafter, Kasvinsky laid out his friend in the first casket they'd created together, then covered him with a blanket and sealed it for cremation.

"As the observer of the dead and the dying, we have no control over the situation. What gives us control is being able to celebrate that person's life and cherish who they were," Kasvinsky said. "If there's something that I can do to make it easier for people, it seems to me like a noble thing to be doing."

Correction, October 29, 2018: An earlier version of this story misidentified the Alaskan city Kasvinsky used to live in. It was Fairbanks.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Outside the Box"

Environmentalism chapter 10 – The Abyss

What lurks beneath the deep blue sea? Well in the way of sustainable fishing and poaching of Sharks, Seals and Whales in the Arctic, Pacific and Indian ocean that I shall explain more on in the next in depth document there is indeed a whole garden of aquatic life from botanical marine species, plankton, Octopus, to sea Snakes and the deep blue monsters of the oceans as some refer too which has gotten many scientists, marine biologists, botanists and conservationists excited.

On a recent article that we reported on within our South African site that is the information and awareness centre for our work within Africa I recently reported in brief some of the most fantastic aquatic and oceanographic finds made by explorers using the DeepSee submersible that that explored the rocky ridges and mountainous terrain of the “Las Gemelas” which Author Mr Greg Stone reported on the rough terrains of the sea mounts deep below the surface of the water in 2012 of which a ten person team spent ten days studying the area then releasing all conclusive data which was absolutely intriguing to read and view.

The Submersible descended over six hundred feet below the surface of the ocean of which there are located worldwide hundreds of thousands of “seamounts” that rise from the earths floor, only three hundred have ever been explored and still to this very day we have not discovered even 50% of what lies beneath at such amazing depths that the normal diver would not be able to survive sue to the crushing ocean pressure that would kill him/her instantly.

Just to give you a glimpse of the size of these seamounts of which these scientists descended to over 600+ feet below the surface of the water, the Empire State Building stands at 1,454ft tall that’s including the lightning rod too, the height start of “Las Gemelas” is 1,115ft at the summit “ whereas the entire size from top to surface of the Gemelas is a staggering 14,000ft that see’s deep ocean currents rushing up then spiralling around the mount of “Las Gemelas” with a vortex type cyclone whooshing around the summit of the mount at 1,115ft as quoted.

You could almost be fooled into thinking that nothing lives at such insane depths however that’s where most people are wrong and it’s at these depths that scientists believe some form of “how our universe” evolved lies deep below. Before I briefly go in to what species of aquatic marine life lives at such depths let’s take a sheer look at “Las Gemelas” that’s truly one haven of breaming marine and botanical life untouchable by any poacher to hunter.

Las Gemelas is located at Cocos Island territory coastline, located in the Indian Ocean, southwest of Christmas Island and approximately midway between Australia and Sri Lanka. The territory consists of two atolls and 27 coral islands, of which two, West Island and Home Island, are inhabited with a total population of approximately 600 individuals mostly if not all, are native and indigenous.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands consist of two flat, low-lying coral atolls with an area of 14.2 square kilometres (5.5 sq mi), 26 kilometres (16 miles) of coastline, a highest elevation of 5 metres (16 ft) and thickly covered with coconut palms and other vegetation. The climate is pleasant, moderated by the southeast trade winds for about nine months of the year and with moderate rainfall. Cyclones may occur in the early months of the year.

There are a total of 24 individual islets forming an incomplete atoll ring, with a total land area of 13.1 square kilometres (5.1 sq mi). Only Home Island and West Island are populated. The Cocos Malays maintain weekend shacks, referred to as pondoks, on most of the larger islands. The islands belonged to the British Empire from 1857 then were placed within the hands of the Australian government in 1955 which still flies the British flag within its now Australian flag.

On the morning of 9 November 1914, the islands became the site of the Battle of Cocos, one of the first naval battles of World War I, During World War II, the cable station was once again a vital link. Allied planners noted that the islands might be seized as an airfield for German raider cruisers operating in the Indian Ocean.

The islands or islets as they are better referred to have no rivers or lakes of which fresh water is extremely limited, the islet inhabitants either make do or rely on supplies from the main lands.

The Tour of Seamount is located deep out to sea from the islands and not as close as some may believe, and being within such mineral rich and warm waters an abundance of life forms from the summit to the entire depth of the ocean floor.

When scientists went on to explore Las Gemelas in 2012 they located a rich biodiversity of corals, sponges, crabs, sea urchins, star fish, to sea cucumbers, deep sea fish and exciting views of a complex underwater mountain system similar to the other three hundred other “explored” ridges and sea mounts throughout the oceans underworld internationally.

Although the exploration team found teems of deep sea fish and rich biodiversity that still to this day cannot be identified correctly or even named the facts are there, however in the numbers there are more fishers than protectors, and as with many MPAs the world over, it was witnessed that current efforts need further support within this region to protect this swarming ecological system or we could “loose it”. However let’s not jump one hundred paces forward and keep it at one step at a time. These areas are remote, they cannot be accessed easily, and other species of life can be introduced to sustain biodiversity and even the odds out for all thus leaving an area rich in natural habitat.

What lies at such gargantuan depths though, well this is the truly amazing part and that’s why I have only kept the write up short on this particular page and will go in to some detail on amazing biodiversity finds old and new in the “later”.. It truly is a wonderful ecosystem down there though. One that has to be explored more..

Explanation of a sea hydro-thermal vent ?

Well firstly lets view the hydro thermal sea mount more or less the same but they are a little smaller and are more commonly refereed to as smoking chimneys I have included the video for you to understand more on this as I think it’s a lot easier for you to “view and hear” in real time the difference between the two. To view more on this particular sea “chimney” please click the picture, alternatively please view the video below.

A hydrothermal vent is a fissure in a planet’s surface from which geothermally heated water issues. Hydrothermal vents are commonly found near volcanically active places, areas where tectonic plates are moving apart, ocean basins, and hotspots. Hydrothermal vents exist because the earth is both geologically active and has large amounts of water on its surface and within its crust.

Common land types include hot springs, fumaroles and geysers. Under the sea, hydrothermal vents may form features called black smokers. Relative to the majority of the deep sea, the areas around submarine hydrothermal vents are biologically more productive, often hosting complex communities fueled by the chemicals dissolved in the vent fluids. Chemosynthetic archaea form the base of the food chain, supporting diverse organisms, including giant tube worms, clams, limpets and shrimp. Active hydrothermal vents are believed to exist on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and ancient hydrothermal vents have been speculated to exist on Mars.

Explanation of a sea-mount?

A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the water’s surface (sea level), and thus is not an island. These are typically formed from extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from the seafloor to 1,000-4,000 meters (3,000-13,000 ft) in height. They are defined byoceanographers as independent features that rise to at least 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) above the seafloor.

The peaks are often found hundreds to thousands of meters below the surface, and are therefore considered to be within the deep sea. There are an estimated 100,000 seamounts across the globe, with only a few having been studied. Seamounts come in all shapes and sizes, and follow a distinctive pattern of growth, activity, and death. In recent years, several active seamounts have been observed, for example Loihi in the Hawaiian Islands.

What lies beneath this particular Sea Mount that exploration teams located in 2012?

There is an abundance of aquatic sea, molluscs, plankton to sharks, squids and corals that live in this particular area of the Americas coast line, the further that one descends into the deep blue sea the warmer then colder the ocean layer becomes

One cannot travel any further below than this and what you are witnessing in the videos below is the surface of the earth miles below or to be precise over 22,000 feet below the surface level exactly four and half miles down to the earths layer excluding the crust which scientists, marine biologists, and geologists study as a way of knowing what “may of lived or still resides other planets to understanding evolution and geology land mass geography, and the planetary systems.

The five largest sea mounts that hold an abundance of biodiversity are located in between the Atlantic Ocean and just across the Pacific which are named as Cortes Bank standing and El Bajo sea mount at two points, Las Gemelas sea mount, Cross sea mount, with a sprawling sized mounts at Raja Amoat Islands.

Las Gemelas biodiversity in brief

Sea Lilly – Crinoids are marine animals that make up the class Crinoidea (And to think they where a “plant”)

Pseudotriakis microdon – False Cat Shark, the behaviour of this shark is by far a lot different to that of the typical species of sharks, however they are endangered due to over fishing, hunting, and pollution

Centropyge potteri – Potters Angel Fish can be located near enough sea level, the Centropyge potteri swims just below that of the Humpback Whale at just above 1,300 feet

Enypniastes eximia – Swimming Cucumber located at depth of just under 13,000 feet in ice cold waters

Ophidiidae – Cusk Eal (This species of fish live deeper than any other known fish on the planet to date)

Isididae – Bamboo coral, this living species thrives along the 47 mile Puna Ridge (Quite fantastic to know that botanical species such as this thrive in such harsh conditions without photosynthesis)

A little further on the corral lay Surgeonfish amid a school of yellow snappers

Culcita Novaguineae – Cushion Star (12,000 ft this has to be the lowest species of Star Fish to survive) as such low depths

I will continue on with this document in three parts as there truly is some fantastic species of life both above the sea level and below it spanning globally on the sea mounts that are rarely explored.. Who know’s what else is down there.

Please view the video’s below and please stay tuned for our Fox documentary that will be focusing on the European living fox.

Rate this:

Breyers makes a range of products for specialty diets

If you're looking for an ice cream that you can enjoy while following a strict diet, you're in luck, because Breyers has you covered. Breyers makes a range of ice creams for specialty diets, including dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, no-sugar-added, and "CarbSmart" for low-carb dieters. One of the most recent specialty lines Breyers introduced was its Breyers delights line in 2017, which offered four flavors of ice cream with low and reduced fat and more protein than you might expect in a serving of ice cream. Each pint of Breyers delights ice cream contains 260–330 calories and 20 grams of protein. Prior to that, in 2014, Breyers released gluten-free flavors, including 36 gluten-free varieties that are approved by the FDA via its gluten-free validation and labeling process. Other specialty diet ice creams from Breyers include non-GMO options and some products that are lactose-free (which, yes, is different from dairy-free the non-dairy free ice creams are made from almond milk, whereas the lactose-free ice cream is made with dairy without lactose).


Founder and CEO of Food Renegade, Kristen Michaelis CNC has been a Health and Nutrition Educator since 2008. She’s a passionate advocate for REAL FOOD — food that’s sustainable, organic, local, and traditionally-prepared according to the wisdom of our ancestors. [LEARN MORE]


When her book Beautiful Babies: Nutrition for Fertility, Breastfeeding, & A Baby’s First Foods was published, it premiered a the #1 spot on Amazon, beating out the What to Expect When You’re Expecting series.



The information on this website has not been evaluated by the FDA and is not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure any disease.

There might be a reunion movie someday

Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, CBS got into a nostalgia habit, regularly airing two-hour-long, made-for-TV revival movies of some of its most popular crime, cop, and mystery shows of yesteryear. Viewers got the chance to watch one or two more exciting adventures featuring well-known characters from Simon & Simon, Diagnosis Murder, Cagney & Lacey, and Murder, She Wrote. Producing and broadcasting such projects grew dormant at CBS, but the idea just might make a comeback with Criminal Minds.

In advance of the series finale, Parade asked Criminal Minds showrunner Erica Messer if the storyline allowed for the possibility of a TV movie. "You don't shut down the BAU. Can't do that," she said. "And it was that interesting thing of having to please so many people at the end of this show, where it's like, 'Well, don't end it forever and ever because what if it could have another life elsewhere?'"

Watch the video: Na Jane Kyon Tera - Attaullah Khan - Pakistani Sad Songs - Nupur Audio (January 2022).