RAPA NUI Pt 2 – Chili’s?

So to recap, I have just gotten an offer to fly down, across the Equator, to cook on a movie currently being filmed on Easter Island.  Picking up from there, I will say it took me less-that-a-minute to make that decision. South America here I come. Now the timeline was a little short, Tom, of TomKats catering, wanted me on a plane to Santiago Chile in about 2 weeks. I was originally told that the flight would leave SFO on a Thursday, 2 weeks hence. In the interim I was forwarded a list of foodstuffs and equipment to cart along with me on my travels. Okay, I am game. I offered my 2 week notice telling my boss that I got a job cooking in Chile. I even offered to work 10 days straight leaving me 1 or 2 days to move out of the apartment, which I had just moved in to, with plenty of time left over to shop for all the items they requested. (Luckily I had not yet signed a lease and all of my belongings were still in boxes so that part of the move was painless.) Everything was going according to plan for 2 whole days, then Tom, informed me that no, I would not be flying out on that Thursday. (??) I would actually be flying out on the Monday before, first flight in the morning. (Yikes!)  I did get one small bit of a laugh though. During the week before I left, the head hunter who recommended me for the job gave me a call and asked, “They told me that you are quitting and going to work for Chili’s!?” (Read between the lines: Narrow view of the world.)  “No,” I replied calmly, “I am going to work in CHILE, the country.”  “Oh” was all I heard before the phone clicked off.

Que circus music here.

My last day of corporate pain was the Sunday brunch shift. In the off hours of the week, prior to my leaving, I searched for and locally sourced the items I needed. Now all of this happened way before the internet and Amazon were a thing.  Back then, the only way to fill this crazy list of things was to use the Yellow Pages, the telephone, or to drive around hoping to find a certain, undefined, gourmet, Asian noodles. (There are like 50 different kinds of Asian noodles. Odds against me, of course, I chose wrongly. Another story, another time.) In the meantime I needed to sort out the storage arrangements for my belongings. Time was closing in and my old little Volvo was just not up to the task of carrying everything I had. My parents were away on vacation which left my father’s truck available. Sunday came, I ended my last shift and the train ride began.  I gathered my travel companion DV, without whose assistance I never would have made the flight. We grabbed Dad’s truck, packed up my personal belongings and deposited them at my parent’s house. I was instructed to purchase beverage coolers, the ones that you see hanging off the back of construction trucks or like that king your teenage son used to mix vodka, red bull, Bloody Marys for the entire football team. In hindsight I could have used a duffle bag but I followed instructions and packed all my clothing and food in these coolers. I believe that I had 12 or 13 packages in all. It took from 2 p.m. on Sunday straight through until 6 a.m. on Monday for both DV and I to finishing moving, packing and driving to the airport.  DV, forever my hero, got me loaded into the airport and sent me off with a hug. Good man that DV. Attempting to be respectful of my fellow travelers I arrived at the ticket agent a good 3 hours before the flight, just to be sure I would not hold up the line. It did not help. Checking in all of my baggage through to Chile took almost half an hour. In a singularly clear moment of thinking, I upgraded my ticket to first class all the way through to Santiago.  This had had the amazing benefit of being able to use the first class lounge.  Okay, I made it. Nothing left to do but fly and read.

It was not until I strolled in to the private lounge that I realized I had not taken a shower since the morning before. Having plenty of time before my flight, I asked if there were any showers in that wing of the airport. I got a curled lip no in reply. Shit. Looking down I realized that I would have to travel for 2 days in the same clothes, no shower, looking like a scruff.

With my early check in, I was literally the very first person to board the plane. My seat was the very first aisle seat that you see when you board the plane. My pre-9 a.m. cocktail was the very first one that the flight attendant made that morning. Feeling a little sorry for my fellow first class travelers I asked for a blanket for which to cover myself and tipped, nay, reclined my seat back even farther than my father’s Barca-lounger would go. I woke up briefly before we departed as my seat mate, shouldering a very lovely bepoke suit, was stepping over my legs to get to his seat while expressing the ever-sp-slightest of grumpy groans. I awoke and apologized. He smiled a very warm smile and shook it off. I am sure that I would have enjoyed a conversation with him on that very long flight had I not slept soundly the entirety of the flight.

It was evening in Florida when we landed and I had about 2 hours before my connecting flight to Chile. I checked in again at the first class lounge, life was good then, asked for a drink and my flight status. A lovely Gin and Tonic where set before me and a charming woman, with both a pleasant smile and lilt in her voice said, “That flight’s been cancelled. The next one leaves in 14 hours.”

“Is there a shower in the airport?”  “No,” was all she said

“Can I get a hotel room to wait?”  “No.”  I was beginning to sense a theme.

An hour later they closed the first class lounge with their comfy, comfy sofas and my 2 other bar companions and I were ejected and left to try and sleep on some painfully hard airport seating. The news was not all bad, I thought. I did have a 14 hour layover in Santiago and this way, when I landed, I would be just in time to catch my next flight to Easter Island. 

If only that were so. The best is yet to come.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


My second BBQ landed me, literally, on to Easter Island.

So after the filming for Axe Murderer ended I, again, found myself at loose ends. It had been exciting working on a movie crew and I had met some very lovely people but, the real world beckoned. I picked up the newspaper and began searching for a job, a real job. You see, the real reason that I went to culinary school, other than to impress chicks, was merely to increase my knowledge of food, wine and cooking. All of these I achieved. Prior to my enrollment and subsequent ceremonious graduation, I was a manager at the Vintage House Restaurant in Orinda CA., a small little post rural town that had grown up to be a community of comfortable earners. I started there as a bartender, learned how to wait tables, volunteered for the management training program and worked my way up to the position of General Manager. The world had become my oyster. Surely I had shucked enough of them by then.  All of this was fine and good. In my training, I spent almost a complete year working in all three of the owner’s kitchens improving my basic skill set. After which I began my managerial career with what is commonly referred to as: Working the floor.  Working the floor is somewhat like working a room. My job was to check in on all the guests, make sure the seating was organized, help the waiters if they got busy, but mostly it meant going in to the kitchen to help with the washing up.  The ‘Dish Pit’ as we call it, not the cooking line, is the place that can make or break a restaurant. Not on my watch, I said.

My 5 years with this company was wonderfully educational but the owner’s, and respect them I still do, were Steak House old school about their kitchens and cooking. The basic skills I learned there got me started but they possessed definite limits. What I needed was a proper education. So off to culinary school I went I to learn the difference between a ‘sachet’ and a ‘sashay.’ The plan was for this new knowledge was to propel me in my career as a fine dining restaurant manager. So upon completion of my studies, back on the job hunt was I. A quick thumb through my local rag and a potential position presented itself. It was a job, as a manager, in a corporate restaurant somewhere down in Danville.  From the first week, I realized that this was not a good fit but, I like to eat, so I stayed. With my previous experience, combined with my newly attained education, I quickly found myself chomping at the corporate bit. The plodding along, lockstep, in the too-well-worn company groove was breaking this stallion’s spirit. I was not happy, nor were my fellow managers with me. Something had to change.

Back to Axe Murderer for a moment. As an FYI, every movie crew has at least one or two different caterers on set at all times. Craft Services provides food and coffee all day long along with the proper caterer who provides at least two hot meals a day. Over the course of my film career, I have performed both tasks. On Axe Murderer, where I was Mike’s private chef, the owner of the catering company approached me one day to hand me his business card, just in case. (The only cell phones we had back then were the size of old military radios, and they definitely did not hold any contact information.) To this day I still do not know why I held on to his number.  I figured that my one movie would give me enough stories to tell my nieces and nephews for quite some time. But hold onto it I did, until that fateful day when I realized that the corporate way, was just not my way.  I dug out the smudged and creased card from my cigar box of things and placed a call. Tom Morales was not in, so I left a message.

The following day I received a call back from Memphis Tennessee. It was Tom, of TomKats Catering. (Tom’s wife is named Kathy, hence: TomKats.) Now I would like you to read the following line with a rich Southern accent.

“Tom,” he said to me, “I don’t know why you called me, but I need a chef down on Easter Island next week!”

Most people ask me, “How can I get into Hollywood?”

Answer, mostly: Right place, right time.  And a safely kept business card in the bottom of your cigar box.  Now this is the point in the story where it really begins to take off.  But I will save that part for tomorrow.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


I have a dear friend. She lives in London. We chat via email, on and off, at times. Her work keeps her busy traveling about, but rarely to the States anymore. We met, so many years ago, on my very first barbecue. That is what we old timers call the first movie we ever worked on: Our first BBQ. My first BBQ  was cooking for Mike Myers on the film: So I Married An Axe Murderer. It was Mike’s first film after his success with Wayne’s World. I will say that I enjoyed working for Mike. I found him to be intensely brilliant and FAF! Even his spit gags made me . . . well . . . spit gag.

He, his assistant Fred, his girlfriend, and I ended up spending the better part of the movie packed inside a 30 foot travel trailer. I would cook and in between scenes I would feed them all lunch. I mostly had the trailer to myself to prepare, cook and clean up. Cooking for Mike was such a novelty at the time that People magazine wanted to interview me. I remember that Casey, one of the producers who rarely ever spoke with me, approached me anxiously one day to inform me that I was like a health care professional and what I was doing for Mike was privileged information. It was a weak argument on his part. I mean he was a nice enough man, but his point, however protective of Mike, I found un-compelling. I pondered. If I did an interview, I might just make a career out of being a private chef, I thought to myself. Never-the-less, I did respect Mike’s privacy and never said a word about how much he loved my chicken. (Oops!)

Now I will share that I was making decent money as Mike’s personal chef. The work was easy, maybe too easy. My career, as a chef, would have been better served had I chosen to find a position in a proper kitchen. As it turned out, the Production Coordinator for the movie had gotten ahold of my Nutrition Instructor at the Culinary Academy and she, my instructor, in turn reached out to ask if I was working yet. As it turned out, I had just returned the week before from a month long trip to Europe with my dear friend DV. My friendship with DV helped fuel my love for cooking. DV and I would, on a semi-weekly basis, get together and roast chickens and invent new Pilaf recipes, all the while pounding good, cheap red wine and beer that we had purchased from the local White Horse Liquor Store. (Can anyone tell me why The White Horse is such a popular liquor store name?) So, naturally, when I finally graduated from the CCA, DV became my favored choice for travel companion. We flew into Switzerland, rented the world’s smallest car and made our way along the backroads of Europe.

So on the day, my former Chef Instructor and I went down to the movie set and met with the Line Producer Bernie. It was awkward and took an entirety of 3 minutes. Our credentials spoke volumes, so my first real job as a cook, was in Hollywood, filming in San Francisco. Bernie was the boss, but I reported to the lovely Miss M. Now I have never been known for my subtlety and this was never more obvious then when I first met Miss M. Not only is she still one of the most attractive women that I have ever met, but in the years that followed I have found her to be intelligent, sensitive, super funny and kind. Mostly kind. Some years back there came out a movie entitled: She’s Out Of My League. I could only ever watch it once because the story stung so.  Emotionally it was the nearest parallel to our relationship. Me awkward, she, truly lovely.

Our friendship continues today, Miss M and me. I will tell you all honestly, that she is the very reason that I write.  Over the years I have sent her small pieces and she never, ever, responded with any criticism what-so-ever. She would always say, “I liked it. It was good. Keep writing.” Every now and again, while she lived in LA, I would fly down to visit friends and she and I would make plans to meet for dinner. Mostly we dished gossip about producers and celebrities. We would consume copious amounts of wine, and platefuls of amazing food. (How she keeps her figure, I will never know.) When leaving the restaurant we always hugged goodbye. Whenever we hug I always ask if we can linger for just a moment longer knowing that it will be months, maybe years before we see each other again.

I will tell you all that the hardest part for me, during this time of social distancing, is that I miss hugging. I miss that simple connection that physical touch gives. I miss reassuring my friends, this way, when times are tough. I miss being reassured. I look forward to the day when, in the summer sun, I can hug my friends again. I look forward to the next time I meet Miss M. To when we share a lovely bottle of Claret and some insanely expensive meal of epic quality. To when I hug her goodbye, and linger, until that certain sadness comes when the hug finally ends. Never knowing if there will be another.

Thank you for always being kind Miss M; for listening to me run on about my latest . . . whatever; for hugging me that extra moment; and for never, ever discouraging me with regards to my writing.

Until tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


Knock, knock

Who’s there?


Pants who?

Pants or no pants I’m going swimming.

This was the favorite joke of a darling woman that was once in my life. Even though I (obviously) knew the punchline, it made me crack up every time she told it. Mostly because it gave her such great, simple joy to tell it. Humor is an elusive beast. It is subject to perception, surprise and the random moments in life. I cannot recount, the countless times I tried to relate a funny story and half way through I stopped and said, “Oh, you just had to be there I guess.” Other times a story is born to live a life that exceeds that of the subject.  I have one such story to share with you now.

It was perhaps 5 or 6 years ago, sometime towards the end of summer. The Perseid meteor shower was due to arrive the following week and so 3 of us decided to take my truck and drive up to Yosemite, passed Half Dome and up to Tuolumne Meadows, a great flat expanse in the high mountains.  Now to tell you, we are 3 sizable men and our provisioning for that trip demonstrated well the reasons for it. Half our stock was beer, a third was food and the remainder camping gear. My truck was a fairly new Ford 350 Super Cab with an 8 foot cargo bed.  So for 3 of us, for 2 days of camping, we filled the bed high with supplies with a few more items stuffed in the back seat to share with the odd man not driving.

We left at night to arrive early in the morning at the gate of the campground just before it opened. Upon registering for a campsite we were given a disclaimer to sign.  Now I am going to stop at this point to explain something to my non-American readers. There are 4 basic ways to make REAL money in the U.S.

  1. Build a better mouse trap – By this I mean invent something like, you know, Apple or Tesla, like that.
  2. Invest in the Stock Market – a la Warren Buffet style.
  3. Win the Lottery –  Every poor person’s retirement plan
  4. Sue somebody – The American way

So in an abundance of caution regarding #4 above, the park rangers made me sign a disclaimer about the bears that were in the park. (Maybe I should restart this piece with: 3 bears go into the woods.) Anyways, we were all cautioned that in the event that we came across a bear that we should make loud noises, you know, bang a pan, clap one’s hands, etc., in order to scare them away. Okay sure, me, a bear and a singularly loud applaud. Sound like a recipe for success. Like I said, 3 men go into the woods. But truly, how many come out?

After assuring the park ranger in triplicate that we understood the risks, we popped off to our campsite. Oh another caution that I forgot to mention is that all of our consumables, toothpaste included, must be placed in the metal “bear box.”  The bear box is a metal locker of a certain discriminate size. I will hand it to my companions as they were able to, after a bit of reverse Jenga puzzle making, manage all of our foodstuffs into this small container. While we were sorting through our belongings a young, earnest park ranger came through to check on us. We chatted a bit and asked him if we could hang some of our belongings in a bear bag? A bear bag is a bag, attached to a rope that has been flung over a branch so that the bag, when hauled up, hangs suspended in midair beyond a bear’s grasp.

“No,” he said, “all of our things must be in the box.” So in the box it all went. After a bite of lunch and a few beers to wash it down, we all thought is wise to seek a little quiet time, read our books and take a nap. The meteors would not be out until dark so we rested comfortably in the peace of the forest.  What I remember next started out in a bit of a haze. Like my friends, I had dosed off for a bit of a snore. Something must have made a sound or gotten my attention because the next thing I remember was lazily opening my eyes and seeing two baby bear cubs walking through our campsite.  “How cute,” I said to myself. Beat . . . beat . . . beat . . . “Wait, if there are two BABY bear cubs here, then there must be a . . .”   I got up out of my chair and peered around the corner.  Now I fancy myself a bit of a wordsmith but in this moment I was at a complete loss for words. The only thing that came out of my mouth was,


I kept repeating myself over and over and over.  My two friends, in full Keystone Cop fashion flailed about clambering out of their chairs. One friend scurried about the makeshift kitchen in desperate search of a pot to bang, while the bravest of us dived into the tent. So there I was left standing face to face with Momma bear. I had nothing, and for some reason had completely forgotten how to clap my hands. The only thing that came to mind was to try and make myself big, you know like those funny lizards that pop out their hood when frightened. So, arms out to my side, I make myself as big as I can Then I starting moving my arms up and down like I am trying to take off or something. And as much to my surprise, as anyone else’s, this noise starts to emanate from my nasal area. It was a blend of grunt, moan and vocal warming exercise.

Nuah! . . . Nuah! . . . Nuah! . . .

I repeated myself over and over again all-the-while flailing my arms methodically. (Question: Can one flail methodically?) Momma bear and her two cubs, took instantly to my point and ambled off.

A short time later the earnest, young park ranger came around as we were drinking our 16 ounce aperitifs and said, “I heard that you had a bear come through.” I shared my story, and my technique, with him. I tell you, he honestly seemed impressed. Feeling a bit shy and not being used to accolade, I dug my big toe in the dirt and replied,

“Don’t be, I’ve been scaring away single mothers with that technique for years.”

Ba-da-boom!  Hand to God, that is a true story.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


Monday, Monday, can’t touch that day.   Songs have been written about it. Moan-day some people call it. The Eagle may fly on Friday, but to so many Monday is the absolute opposite, in terms of favored days. I think that I have shared with you already that I actually like Monday. I like the excitement of another day full of challenges. I relish that first cup of coffee at 4:30, and the second cup at 4:35.  Come on Monday, I got you.

I am almost 60 years old. (I know, I know, sometimes I write like a teenager. Thank you 😉 Not too long ago I was listening to NPR and With A Perspective came on. It was a man talking about his father having cancer. And the phrase he used caught my attention. He said, “ . . . that his life was being measured by subtractions instead of additions.”  Being a bit older, I can assure you, that the list of things I am no longer able to do is beginning to surpass those challenges left which I feel that I can accomplish. This understanding has given me something which I hope now, to give to you. Even though I am no longer able to scuba dive, or go sailing, or win the tequila drinking contest where I once was KING!, there is one thing that I can do and take joy in it. I love Mondays. I love the hard things because I know that I can outlast them. I have already outlasted so many hundreds of Mondays and I plan to outlast at least 1000 more.

“Tom, you sound so wise”  (Well *cough* I suppose.)

This is not about wisdom . . . or maybe it is. If wisdom is born of reflection and experience then let me share that small portion of it that I own. Today may be Monday but rest assured, Tuesday will come, as will Humpday and the all the rest that follow. It is true that for some, it may not. Some of us ‘World Citizens’ may not survive until summer. In my heart and in my head, I am sad. We may lose their uniqueness, but we will remember them. We will remember them in that certain turn-of-phrase they employed, or the way they walked when in a hurry, or that stupid Dad joke they always told, or maybe just the way they made us feel when they smiled at us. In any, and all events we will remember them and, we WILL survive.

Doctor Fauci has, in what I term as the most gentle and fatherly way, informed us that Home Quarantine will last until the end of April. Almost forever and a day. Nope, not true, I say.  Not forever. So many Aprils I have is seen come and go, and I venture many more will do so before I am gone. But now we are in the thick of it for sure. Now we have to knuckle down and work our plans, our routines. It is said that it takes 3 days to kick the sugar craving habit, 14 days to create a habit of behavior and 66 to 67 repetitions of a new skill until it becomes second nature. Not many things in life happen all at once. Things take time. The road of 1000 miles begins with the first step, and then the next step and then the next.

As I am want to live from poem, to precept to speech; I will share one of my favorite Let’s-dig-in-and-get-this-done speeches. It was delivered by Al Pacino in the movie, Any Given Sunday. His team was down at half time, the owner of the team was betting on them losing so she could move the team and make a fortune. The team moral was in shambles. Everything was against them. The only thing left to do was to fight. Fight for every little inch. Fight until at the end of the day all those inches add up to a win.

We are now in a battle for inches. Getting out of bed. Getting dressed. Cleaning the house, doing the dishes, answering emails, working in the garden, preparing meals, calling friends, going to sleep to wake up and do the same all over again. Inches. Every day just a few more inches. While we must be cautious for sure, we cannot let fear grab hold of us. We must trust in the knowledge that good hygiene, avoiding concentrated gatherings and practicing proper social distancing will carry us through.  These techniques are not the flashy Hail Mary passes that are thrown in desperation at the end of losing games. No, this is the ground game. The hard game. The one where we fight for inches. The opponent? Boredom and Despair. Formidable allies to be sure but proven to be, defeatable.

Now is the time to make the full adjustment to this New Normal. Take this time to enjoy the lack of commute, the freedom in your daily routine and the amazingly blue and fresh sky.  Take this time to invent.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt

Any Given Sunday Speech: https://youtu.be/9rFx6OFooCs?t=3


It has been said that: Music soothes the savage beast.

I am not sure if this was initially intended as mockery from one class to another but I have found that listening to a few songs on You Tube will calm my inner, battle of the ‘who-is-the-loudest-voice-in-here’ band. There seems to be so many voices in this brain that can rarely take a full night’s sleep any more. This, this is the fruit of my half century of labor. I awake in the morning and Automaton pulls on my pants, starts the coffee and feeds the dogs. In there, somewhere, he starts the computer but nothing more. Morning Joe kicks in with the third sip of Moschetti blend. (A blatant plug for Fabrice here: https://youtu.be/MknA-PD6WOA ) Now, depending on what lies ahead in my day, either Working Walt or Lazy Larry will make a debut. Working Walt generally requires more coffee than a single press pot can produce. Lazy Larry usually takes just one but sometime later in the day may wish another.

In either case, sometime during the day, Ear-Ringing Randy will make an appearance. Ear-Ringing Randy is the voice that appears before Miffed Matthew, who shows before Irritated Aaron. As it turns out, having spent over half a century with these man-boys, I have worked out a system to slow, circumvent and even redirect the internal changing of the guard. And that system relies heavily on  . . . You Tube. Who knew? So when Ear-Ringing Randy makes an appearance, You Tube comes on. Sometimes just a quick song, other times a full coffee break worth of action.

My fascination with You Tube began over a decade ago. It started off slowly, with the occasional social use.  Then I found myself sneaking off, sometimes avoiding social contact altogether, to get my fix.  Now, never a day goes by with-out at least a solid half hour to calm me. At night, when I go to bed, I click to it on my phone and let it play so that I can go to sleep. Now there a 3 distinctly different types of videos I watch . . . okay maybe 4.

  1. Singers – Singers on BGT and The Voice. I especially love it when young children walk on stage and sing with amazing voices. True gifts. The one video that got me hooked on You Tube, the one that I have watched countless time now (and just watched again), is Susan Boyle on BGT: https://youtu.be/RxPZh4AnWyk
  2. Technical – Here is where people I know and love mock me.
    1. For a period of time I was fascinated with Ram Pumps. If you do not know what a ram pump is, let me explain . . . Better to share the link: https://youtu.be/zFdyqTGx32A?t=65
    1. Tree Felling – Now this topic is rich with both professionals and amateurs alike.  I recommend starting off with the Proper tree felling lessons and after you have moved through those seek out the falling failures so that you can criticize the latter’s technique: https://youtu.be/yFOVgH8OOCM
  3. British Comedy – This actually all started with:
    1. Craig Ferguson: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCyGzp9qxI4tJqXT62h54CTg
    1. Moved on to Graham Norton : https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialGrahamNorton
    1. Stumbled upon WILTY (This is fricking hilarious): https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFZO6aPugMrZjUOobX7IQDA
    1. Finally landed with Mock The Week: https://youtu.be/BCPnpXvlpVs
  4. Then there are these guys (don’t judge): https://www.youtube.com/user/whoisjimmy

By far my favorite are the singers. I especially love to hear Tom Jones stand up and bust out a tune on The Voice UK.  Real talent grabs my attention and will yank a tear or two from my eyes.  I have often said that I find pure joy watching someone do what they are born to do. There is a palpable Zen state as the master attends to their craft. It does not matter what the field, each one of them brings a sense of music, dance, and poetry to their work.

With almost 60 years under my belt I understand my need to interact with interesting people. When I find these people I gravitate to them and seek to share whatever time they will share with me.  In this Times of Covid, when I am not making coffee, or writing, or organizing a socially distant cocktail hour, I do two things: I work, and I find sustenance in watching the gifted share the gift they were given.

Until tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


“ . . . for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” 

  • Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act2: Scene 2

I have been thinking about this. Now I cannot say whether I am right or wrong but I will say this: This thing is bigger than each of us, but it is not bigger than all of us.  (You may quote me if you wish, just please, spell my name right.)

It is true that this virus is virulent. It travels fast, far and can be long lasting. We can’t see it, touch it, smell it, hear it or taste it. It comes stealthily in the broadest of daylights and the darkest of nights. It does not pick and choose willingly, it drops in randomly. You know, like that old college friend did for years. The one who you could never figure out why he liked you but there he was again, drinking your beer and smoking you pot. The CV is like that. Just dropping in unannounced.   The difference now is that we know that:

  1. He is in town and
  2. We can hide out.

The hiding out part seems to be occupying the minds of quite a few FB posters out there. I know that this all seems scary, yet we have tools to fight a good fight. Of course I refer to the bevy of new songs and videos that encourage us to employ good hygiene. My current favorite, for which you will thank me in the morning:

Basically, the question is not IF we face this thing but more-so HOW we face this thing.  It is in the thinking ABOUT the thing that we must master. Is it bigger than us, or are we bigger than it? And WHEN we survive the question will become: How harshly we judge ourselves will depend on the MANNER in which we survived?

We can fuel our fears with numbers that, and I sincerely promise* you this, are not accurate. OR, we can thoughtfully understand the science behind the situation, develop a plan and then work the plan.

For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.

Work your routine, stay in touch with your friends, employ good hygiene and take the news with a grain of salt.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt

*Let us look at what we know for sure:

  1. There are not enough kits to test everyone for the virus.
  2. The number of cases reported only represent a selection of the people who have been tested and they do not represent the number of negative test results.
  3. The number of deaths may be accurate but there is no relativity to the number of cases reported for there are many, many more people who will never be tested.
  4. Practicing social distancing and good hygiene and flatten the curve.
  5. Worrying will not change the outcome but your positive approach will: for you.


Wait . . . that’s not what I meant.

Those of you who know of Aaron Sorkin will recognize the following line: “America is not the greatest country in the world. That’s my answer.”   In classic Sorkin fashion, Jeff Daniels rants on about what people think is so great about America. “Freedom! . . . Belgium has freedom.”  Halfway through his diatribe he picks on a lonely, young coed who asked what makes America the greatest country on the earth. After listing off that America is only number 1 in three categories: The number of people incarcerated per capita, the number of people who believe in angels, and the first in defense spending. He streams on and finishes his reply with, “ . . . so when you say America is the greatest country on earth, I don’t know what the Fuck you’re talking about . . . Yosemite?”


Guess what, Yosemite just dropped down the list. America is number 1 again. But in this case we are number one for a particular reason. I believe that reason is the one that truly makes us a great country. We are a melting pot. We are group of gatherers, a cohort of cultures. We define diversity. Other countries mock us, make fun of our growing pains and the bravado which hides our shyness and shame. They envy both our initiative and abilities. People from around the globe risk their lives daily to come here. They come here to be a part of something great.

The Tangerine man wears a red hat and dances at the end of the grinder’s leash. This is not greatness. This is a distraction. The novelty of his performance is fleeting and the organ grinder’s music has become repetitive, tedious and out of tune.  It is most definitely out of tune with the times, these times, I assure you. Our strength, our very greatness lies in our diversity. It lies in our endurance, in our optimism, and in our faith. Faith that tomorrow the sun will shine. Faith that the skies will be clear and the organ grinder’s monkey will stop dancing.

But faith, most of all, in ourselves. These times are hard, very hard. I live a life alone by my own choosing and even so, I have begun to see the edges of my psyche fray. (Routine, remember your routine Tom.) One part of my routine is to write to you each day. In essence my love letter to you all. My attempt to woo you. This is the thing I do when I am happy or sad, anxious or calm, melancholy or manic. I write. I write to reach out from my loneliness and share who I am. I write that my voice will not be lost. I write to share what I see. It is the closest thing to art that I have to offer.

We, the human race that is, have seen this before. We have seen great times of strife. We have seen death tolls rise by the thousands, tens of thousands, millions even. Yet humanity has survived. This time is interesting though. This time we are not waiting for bombs to drop on us. For each time they drop we can seek shelter underground, and if they miss us, by even just a little, we still survived. Those who did not, never knew it. Each day we wake and are met by hunger. (And an extremely uncomfortable urge to use the facilities.) Our sense of survival kicks in, and other thoughts slip away, however briefly. We begin and make our way through the day. This time there is no air raid siren wo warn us of the bombs. No anti-aircraft barrage to warn us that danger is coming. This one is silent, and the silence makes us fear even more. We fear so much that we physically avoid the ones we love. This separation is hurting us all.

But, and I rarely like to use the word but, but here it is. This time is different. This time we have the internet. This time we can connect. This time we are not alone in our cabins, in the back woods, waiting for the wolf to come to our door. This time we DO have each other. But most importantly we have ourselves. Remember, it is in times like these that the greatest works are born. This is a time to search for and develop your best self. This is the time.

MAGA is a joke. Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) was wrong. We already live in the greatest country on earth. We have the basics: food, shelter, and friends. But we also have opportunity. A thing that most nations do not, not in the way we have it. Now is the time to seize that opportunity. Tom Hanks uses a typewriter. Liberty Pierson made a You Tube video to teach us how to draw a self-portrait. (https://youtu.be/c2nq4zTsdjY)  Peter Brooks, as brilliantly insane as he is, is giving us Love In The Time of Covid, a podcast. (https://anchor.fm/peter108/episodes/Love-in-the-Time-of-Covid-319-ebmkvr)  Nicole Hodge is working tirelessly to make sure that we all have amazing, and inspiring food. (https://www.leagueofchefs.com/)

Now. Right now is a time of greatness. Right now, is the time for each of us to be great . . . and to share it.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


Now, I warrant you that I am by no means the smartest person on the Internet. I am, by-no-means, the smartest person in Vallejo. I would never ever refer to myself as the smartest person in the room when sitting with my friends . . . or  even alone with my dogs.  I self-describe as Okay-smart.  I have enough smarts to wake up, make coffee, get myself showered and dressed, and basically . . . get along.

I just read the title to an article in the news: Preacher Says OK To 1000 People To Come To Church.

 Let us let that one sit for a moment.

It is said that ignorance is bliss. Okay, I will buy that. As I have commented before, the more I read the more fatalistic I can become. I literally can get headaches sometimes thinking about all the . . . stupid stuff that is going on. It should not be this way. Research, study, intelligence should be rewarded with bliss, and . . . well . . . stupid should hurt. I mean it hurts when you touch a hot stove, right?  Should there not be a similar response to stupid?

If you have found some offense to your religious beliefs in what I have just written, I sincerely apologize. I do ask a small favor of you: Please read about Intelligent Design and get back to me. The Laws of Physics were written by someone.

Let us look at this again: 1000 People, crunched all together, singing hymns and bringing in the sheaves, positively rejoicing. May God protect them.  Here is where Darwin got himself in trouble with the fundamentalists. (Now feel free to chime in, in the comments section, if I misplace a comma, period or fact in this next statement.) His book, The Voyage of the Beagle, simply records his observations and theories about evolution. (Read Science here.) There was so much backlash, upon his presenting his findings, that he was forced to recant or be excommunicated from society. (Again, correct me in the comments if I got this wrong.) One thing that I look forward to every year are the Darwin Awards. A version of which may be found here: https://darwinawards.com/.  This website has a summation of things gone stupidly wrong, year by year. 

I get that worshipping together may be a very powerful communal experience, and being only okay-smart, I am unsure of the existence of a divine being. That being said, please remember what Matthew said, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Take care of them, and yourself, by . . . thinking.  One award you really do not want to win is: The Darwin.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt


In sailing terms, the Point of Departure is not the port from which you set sail. It is the last sight of land you see as you head into the open ocean. This is significant in that, prior to this moment one would sail along the coast, or land, as a reference. In times of trouble you could always turn in to, or away from, land as you needed. Once out to sea that no longer became an option.

At home, alone, we find ourselves similarly placed as if we were in a boat at sea. At sea, all that you have is the boat and your shipmates. At home, it is the same. Some, like me, sail with their furry companions. Others sail solo, and not from their own accord. This time, I feel, is hardest for them. During my social hour, I mean when I scroll through Facebook to see the latest culinary creation or to watch the Governor’s address, I happen upon those few messages-in-a-bottle. Those conscious attempts to connect to someone, anyone. Some of our friends are having a tough time navigating this ocean alone.

Please, if you are reading this, I promise you have not reached the Point of Departure. Land is, your friends are, still in sight. We are all here. You can reach us by Facebook, by text, or even a call. Sailors at sea take great joy in greeting passing ships. Whether by flag or by radio, they reach out and share the news they know. This should be us too. We should take the extra minute to reach out to those whom we know. Maybe, especially those we do not touch base with too often.

Sailors, who must constantly fight the boredom of the sea, rely on one very important thing to keep their minds distracted. That thing is routine. While we complain about work, the routine of getting up every day, getting the household ready, and pushing ourselves out the door to work is part of what saves us. British sailors would holystone the oak decks of their ships, basically sanding them with soft stones, to keep them clean and white. This was done as much to keep the crew occupied as it was to prevent splinters.

I read a story about an artist who finally had enough time to commit himself to his passion full time. He cleaned out a room of all the junk, took down everything from the walls and painted the entire room white in preparation to create great new works. You might imagine what happened. He was not able to create anything that satisfied him. It turns out that our creative minds crave inspiration and we find it in every day experiences. He filled his walls, and room, with all of his favorite art. Immediately he felt more creative.  Even in the blankness of this unknown, we can fill our rooms.

I cannot offer much more than these last few words but I hope that you might find something in them.

  • Develop a routine: Be it coffee on the deck at the same time every morning, reading for an hour day, doing all the dishes, etc.
  • Seek inspiration: Share your work for others to see, tell your story on FB, and look to others who will share with you.

As with all things, this too will pass.  Look to yourselves and to your friends and family.

Until Tomorrow,

Tommy Judt