THE HOTS

HotSauceBaja

New Orleans friend Jonathan McCall sends this photo of his personal hot sauce collection.  Hot sauce is taken very seriously in The Crescent City, of course, and while Crystal is the staple almost everywhere there, the variations are endless.

I’ve got a pretty good collection of hot sauces out here in the Mojave Desert, but it’s only about a third the size of this one.

Just thinking about hot sauce makes me happy.

Click on the image to enlarge.

SRIRACHA

sriracha292way

I just had my first taste of this.  I love my Louisiana’s Pure Crystal Hot Sauce, but this takes things to a new level.  Crystal is superb, comes in a glass bottle and has no chemical additives, but Sriracha has a mystical quality that messes with your mind.

A COMIC BOOK COVER FOR TODAY

CaptainHadacolCoverBaja

Lang Clay sends this cover of a very curious comic book from the early 1950s.  Hadacol was a once-popular patent medicine that originated in the 1940s.  It contained various vitamins and even more alcohol.  It was said to promote health when taken four times a day, one tablespoon diluted in water after each meal and before bed, though there were pharmacies in dry counties that sold it by the shot, for the alcohol kick.

Hadacol

The inventor of Hadacol, Dudley J. LeBlanc, a Louisiana state senator, published a comic book for kids that promoted the wondrous elixir.  It starred a mild-mannered man who gained extraordinary powers when he took a slug of the stuff.  Sales of Hadacol were enormous but it turned out that LeBlanc spent more on promotion than he took in in sales, and his enterprise collapsed.  Wisely, LeBlanc had sold the company just before that happened.

For more on the medicine, and the comic, go here.

Click on the images to enlarge.

O . K. . . . KALE

SauteedKale

It’s trendy, everybody’s talking about it, everybody says it’s really good for you — all excellent reasons to avoid kale, but why be doctrinaire about it?  I recently decided to give it a try, starting with a recipe for sauteed kale I found online.

Put three tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add three or four (or five) cloves of garlic, thinly sliced.  When they’re soft but not yet browned, add half a cup of chicken or vegetable stock and as much coarsely chopped kale as the saucepan will hold.  Toss it all together, turn the heat up to high, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

SauteedKaleBaja

After 5 minutes, remove the cover and continue to cook until all the stock has evaporated.  Add salt and pepper and two tablespoons of red wine vinegar.  Toss again and eat it.

Pretty damned good.

SEDONA

LibbaOakCreekCanyonBaja

Our second stop in Arizona, and the place we’d set out to investigate, was Sedona.  It’s about 30 miles southeast of Flagstaff and is situated at the end of the spectacular Oak Creek Canyon, seen above.

The forested canyon gives way to an equally spectacular landscape of sculpted red rock formations, in the midst of which Sedona is located.  The area was a frequent location for Hollywood films, mostly Westerns, from the 1920s to the 1970s, which is partly why I was there, to do research for a book of short stories about the experiences of people involved in movie productions around Sedona.

LibbaCathedralRocksBaja

My sister Libba was there to take video footage for a documentary she’s making about a sculptor from Flagstaff who as a kid worked as an extra on movies shot in Sedona.  Behind Libba in the photograph above are the Cathedral Rocks just outside of Sedona.  John Wayne rode a horse over Oak Creek near this spot, with the Cathedral Rocks in the background, in the movie Angel and the Badman, from 1947.

The town of Sedona is now a little boutique-y and twee, but it’s a pleasant place to stay for a couple of days.  The landscape around it redeems its touristy vibe.

LloydCowboyClubBaja

We ate dinner our first night there at the Cowboy Club, dining on buffalo meatloaf wrapped in bacon.  It was served with buttery mashed potatoes, fresh asparagus and grilled mushrooms and was superb.

Click on the images to enlarge.

[Correction — just watched Angel and the Badman . . . Wayne rode his horse over Oak Creek in some other movie.]

KINGMAN

MissCoorsRodeoBaja

My sister and I spent our first night on the road in Kingman, Arizona, a small but interesting town in the Western part of the state.  Andy Devine grew up there and it was a waypoint on Route 66, mentioned in the song about that lost highway.  The part of 66 that runs through Kingman has been renamed Andy Devine Avenue.

We stayed at the Quality Inn, apparently a place favored by rodeo participants, whose stays are memorialized on the doors to the motel rooms they once occupied.  I stayed in 164, above, though sadly Shayne was long gone.

CodyCusterRoomBaja

My sister stayed in Cody Custer’s old room — he was nowhere to be found, either.

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We ate at the joint above — the shrimp tacos were excellent, and they had Pacifico on tap.

Click on the images to enlarge.

SALOON

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Most Western saloons were not much more elegant than this — a fancy carved bar, a generous selection of spirits, a wood frame and canvas (or plain board) walls.  Hollywood usually got it backwards — with fancily constructed and decorated rooms and only one kind of unbranded whiskey on offer.

Click on the image to enlarge.