Month: February 2006

Web Update 

Last week, our news editor bumped our planned feature to bring you “Red State, meet Police State” about Homeland Security officers harassing a local federal employee for the anti-war stickers on his automobile. Since we posted the story online, our Web site (www.boiseweekly.com) has experienced huge amounts of traffic. While we normally average about 2,000 unique visitors per week day, and about 1,200 on weekend days, last week saw a record breaking (for us) 15,000 visitors on Thursday alone (“hits” were in the 350,000 range). The attention and Web traffic has not let up.

As the story gets posted to conspiracy blogs, political Web sites, libertarian message boards and the like, we continue to see an increase in visitors reading the original story on our site. But a story like “Red State, meet Police State” is not unique. We are hearing more and more about similar tactics being used to silence dissent in this country. Bob Flisser from Flemington, New Jersey, recounted how, “On August 17 of last year, I organized a candlelight vigil to support fallen soldiers and their families, as part of my duties with Democracy for America and MoveOn.org. Police officers in the small town of Flemington–in a red area of a blue state–said that my group was not allowed to stand on a public sidewalk and hold signs, even though we weren’t blocking traffic or pedestrians or making noise. I was handcuffed, arrested, and given a citation.”

Other e-mail and comments posted to our Website contain support and anecdotes from people who feel they have been restricted are coming to us as this story gains “legs,” journalistic lingo for a story that gets spread around. One story, a news article from Eugene Weekly we are reprinting this week in News, outlines the strategy by administration employees. It is just another example.

Not everyone, however, believes the incident outlined in the our story was worthy of coverage or raising alarm over attacks on the First Amendment and our ability to express ourselves freely. Mike Galmukoff of Chimacum, Washington, wrote that our story “was a crock of horse pucky as to the way Collias reported on the incident. But is was a nice lesson in how to write an article fraught with yellow journalism.”

Alan Cossitt wrote, “To put it bluntly, saying that Mr. Scarbrough is ‘anti-military’ is a load of fresh horse manure … save your editorializing for the editorial page, please.”

What’s next? Will one day copies of Boise Weekly not appear on the street because the feds shut down this paper? What is it going to take to shock people out of their complacency? Perhaps the chemical contrails have already pacified us beyond redemption.

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LUX-urious 

Known affectionately as the “Lux” to its regulars, the Neurolux is perhaps the quintessential underground bar in Boise. On any night of the week you are sure to encounter a myriad of Boise’s black-clad, leather wearing, tattooed, pierced, grunge, bohemian, dreadlocked, full of coolness, young urbanites. The strobochromic effect put off by the large blinking crown in the back is an epileptic’s worst nightmare but it pulsates to the beat of the place. With one of the best jukeboxes in town, a single pool table, a video game or two, the ping-pong table (when there isn’t a band playing) and walls full of plush booths, the real action happens around the bar.

Friendly bartenders—you better be friendly to them because they look like they could turn mean in a heartbeat—will serve you up some of the strongest drinks in town. If you’ve been in more than once, they’re likely to remember you. Don’t ask for a martini or any fancy cocktails because this is a beer and mixed drink bar. It is a place where Jack and Coke, gin and tonic, bourbon on the rocks and blue-collar beer rule. It’s the kind of place where, if you order a Heineken, you half expect Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper) from Blue Velvet to jump out and say, “Fuck that shit, Pabst Blue Ribbon!”

Many a night we’ve stumbled home from the Lux, swearing never to return. Somehow, though, we always seem to be drawn back to it like a comet that has a brief flash of brilliance as it shoots around the sun.

Perhaps the best time to be had there, though, is when a big show comes in. The small stage—elevated high enough to see from way in the back—has been graced by bands used to playing much larger venues. In the intimate space, the sound isn’t always great and sometimes you have to take drink ordering into your own hands when it is busy (despite some of the hardest working waitresses in town, it does get slammed), but, with its minor flaws, the Lux is a Boise landmark.

Even in the dead of winter, the patio out front is a haven, or a purgatory, for those escaping the smoke filled interior. Ole, the doorman, is a stern man, able to kick out drunks, but willing to forgive those who’ve imbibed a little too much. Just don’t get on his bad side. Although we’ve heard of fights happening, we’ve never witnessed one. So if you decide to darken its doors, come with just the right attitude and you’ll be fine. Maybe.

Neurolux, 113 N. 11th St., 336-5034.

Angell’s Bar & Grill 

Fine dining with children can be an exercise in patience. The Spawn are at that age when they understand that behaving in a restaurant means not crawling underneath the table, tipping back in their chairs, blowing bubbles in their drinks or flicking garnishes across the table in an impromptu hockey game. But even then, they sometimes invent new and unique ways to embarrass me.

In a restaurant like Angell’s, you cannot expect the food to come out fast to appease the single-digit-year humans. One must engage them in conversation and find ways to keep them distracted between courses. Despite the time in between courses—which was perfectly appropriate for a fine-dining restaurant but must be factored in when little Energizer Bunnies are in tow—the service was very attentive with our water glasses and drinks being refilled whenever they reached half-empty levels.

The second course—a choice between salad or soup—brought us one of each and was perhaps one of the best salads (as part of an entree) I’ve had in a long time, and the New England clam chowder was delicious.

Our entrees were superb. The filet was cooked to how I liked it with a balsamic raspberry glaze and a generous portion of asparagus. The coconut prawns were devoured and declared delicious. Not wanting to tempt fate, we decided to forego dessert this particular evening. It was getting close to bedtime anyway (for the Spawn) and my full tummy was calling out for a comfy couch and the remote.

—Bingo Barnes killed Kenny. That bastard!

Angell’s Bar & Grill, 999 W. Main St., 342-4900. Tue.-Fri.: 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Mon.-Sat.: 5-10 p.m., Sun.: 5-9 p.m.

Aphrodisiacs: Love and lust in your food

Culinary delights designed to increase lust have been around as long as man has wanted to get under the loincloths of his cavemate. A caveman grunting, “Hmmppphhh, I give you meat, you give me meat,” may not be sexy, but at least it achieved the same end result. Over time, more and more myth and superstition surrounded certain types of foods rumored to excite the libido. And the rarity of a food item is in direct correlation to its legendary status as an aphrodisiac, which may be one reason green M&Ms (which only number one or two per pack) have achieved urban myth status as a modern aphrodisiac.

Throughout the ages, as travelers returned from far away lands, the exotic fruits, vegetables, herbs and animals with which they returned were often attributed with magical sexually enhancing properties. These rare foods titillated and sometimes inspired lustful actions through sympathetic magic—the principal that foods shaped like phalluses, or sexual organs, may inspire or impart some “essence” to those eating them. These include foods such as potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes and turtle eggs (eaten raw with lime and salt). Other animal products such as rhinoceros horn and tiger penis have been used in Chinese medicine and are said to impart the virility of the animal to the taker. In addition to foods, gifts of fine silks, jewelry and exotic goods have always been used to entice lovers into the boudoir, but items that physiologically change one’s mood to one of lust are few and far between, if they exist at all.

While most aphrodisiacs are more psychological than anything, some foods have been known to physically affect the body. A chemical called phenylethylamine—a strong neurotransmitter—has been known to create a pleasurable euphoria. This chemical has been found in chocolate, but as high levels are needed to create the effect, one would have to eat a large quantity of this delicious treat. While some people may be able to feel the effects of good chocolate, cocoa-based products act much more as a psychological aphrodisiac with their delicate, rare and exotic flavors.

Yohimbine, from the yohime tree’s bark, has been used to treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the genitals, which in turn has increased sexual sensitivity for some.

Alcohol has been called an aphrodisiac, however it achieves its benefit through social lubrication. A “4” might become a “10” under the influence of a six-pack, and alcohol is perhaps the single largest cause of irrational hookups due to its tendency to reduce inhibitions. And, as many drinkers have discovered, alcohol in large quantities has “diminishing” returns when too much is consumed … if you know what I mean.

Oysters are credited as being sexual stimulants and there is no better way to down the mollusks than in an oyster shooter with tequila or vodka—combining an aphrodisiac with an inhibition inhibitor. A Greek physician first prescribed oysters to keep the sex drive alive sometime between AD 130 and 200, and perhaps because of the zinc content—needed for the production of testosterone—there may be some long-term benefit.

The Kama Sutra not only makes for good reading and offers suggestions for unique positions only a yoga master can accomplish, but it also has a few recipes for love potions. The first, a drink made from equal parts ghee, honey, sugar, licorice, the juice of fennel bulbs and milk, is said to enhance the libido. And if that doesn’t work, an alternative concoction suggests boiling a ram’s testicle in milk and sugar. Delicious and nutritious.

There are other concoctions, however, that through the ages have allegedly had some positive results. Spanish Fly, the legendary potion said to stimulate lovers into wild abandonment, has been called a myth by some, but in reality, it is an actual insect named the Green Blister Beetle. Spanish Fly achieves its aphrodisiac status through an active chemical that irritates the urethra while being expelled by the kidneys. The irritation is supposedly pleasurable and may entice an erection, but ingesting more than 1.6 grams of the insect results in death after 24 hours. The Marquis de Sade is said to have fed bon-bons laced with Spanish Fly to prostitutes he hired for orgies. He was arrested for poisoning and sodomy.

Today many drugs on the market are used to treat sexual dysfunction, the most popular of which may be Viagra. And while technically not an aphrodisiac, it is often taken recreationally to enhance lovemaking sessions. And many ladies, when considering their options for the evening, may prefer to go home with a “Viagrated” hunk rather than Mr. Limp.

Methylenedioxymethamphetamine—an illegal substance also known as ecstasy or MDMA and dubbed “the love drug”—is said to enhance the libido by stimulating secretion of and limiting the amounts of dopamine, serotonin and noradrenaline in the brain. This creates a feeling of openness, empathy and well being many consider a feeling of “love” and making physical contact with others more pleasurable. It was re-approved by the FDA in 2001 to treat post-traumatic distress disorder, but technically, it does not have any literal aphrodisiac qualities.

However, there may be one aphrodisiac out there that exists beyond mythic status. PT-141 is currently in phase three clinical trials as a medication to be used as a nose spray that enhances sexual desire in men and women. Unlike Viagra, which affects the vascular system and corrects erectile dysfunction, PT-141 may be the first actual aphrodisiac to physically increase sexual desire through a compound. Interestingly enough, it was discovered as a byproduct of a sunless tanning agent when volunteer testers began getting aroused.

So, if in this season of love, your methods of seduction will involve aphrodisiacs, be sure to talk it up with your lover before consuming the love aid. As the evidence suggests, it’s all in the mind.

Withdrawal Symptoms 

Today, however, all my strange symptoms have miraculously gone away. The tonic that cured my mysterious ailments was before me the whole time. I had simply forgotten to drink my regular cup o’ Joe for two days straight, and had been going through caffeine withdrawals. It’s kind of scary when you think about it, how a simple little stimulant in coffee can have such a powerful effect on your physical being.

While there are no less than a half-dozen coffee shops within a four-block radius of the office, we go through so much of the java that we have to have those mega cans of it from Costco. But it can be hit or miss when it comes to being good. It seems that the advertising side of the office prefers their coffee to be brown, a weakened, thinned out version of how the editorial department prefers theirs. How ironic that the people who sit at their desk all day writing prefer to be super-stimulated with a black tar goo that can eat through steel, whereas the “upbeat” sales team drinks the weak stuff, even though they’re the ones “on the go.”

I’m on my second cup of the day now. The “twitch” I usually get halfway between the first and second cup has now morphed in to a “tick,” but that’s a small price to pay to avoid the looming shadow of the DTs brought on by withdrawal. I know caffeine isn’t good for me, but imagine a world gone cold turkey. Cats and dogs would fall from the sky, parents would eat their children and civilization would cease to exist as we know it. I have no doubt that a terrorist could do more damage to Westen civilization by interrupting the global coffee trade than almost any other act.