After winning a lifetime supply of delicious Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, I thought I was going to be on easy street for the rest of my life. On the contrary, I had no idea how many old “friends” would suddenly show up looking to get a taste of my haul. Here are six old acquaintances who came out of the woodwork as soon as my pockets were overflowing with wads of tiny fish.
1. My college roommate, Mark Ericson: Mark basically acted like I didn’t exist back when we lived in the same dorm freshman year of college, but I guess all it takes is a few thousand pounds of premium Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva for someone to completely change their personality on a dime. Suddenly, Mark accepted the Facebook friend request I sent him nine years ago, he’s trying to get the only existing picture of us trending on Twitter with the hashtag #AngeloParodiSardinePortoghesiAllOliodiOlivaBoys4Life, and he keeps offering quotes about our “incredibly formative friendship” to our college newsletter for their upcoming story “Alumni Wins Sardine Contest.” Mark can try to rewrite history all he wants, but if he thinks he’s getting even one tin of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, he’s got another thing coming.
2. My old bandmates: The last time I saw anyone from my old Pearl Jam cover band was when I was dramatically kicked out and told to never come back after I missed too many shows to care for my elderly pet tarantula. Well, it turns out that, in addition to being a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva also has the power to shorten people’s memories! Mere days after I hit it big in the sardine department, all four original band members came crawling back to my door hoping we could run through “Jeremy” like old times to the “smooth backing track of southern Mediterranean fish broiling to perfection” as if I had forgotten them screaming, “You’ve chosen your tarantula over Bellow Ledbetter for the last time!” at me not so long ago. I saw the Tupperware containers hidden in their guitar cases and told them that the only kind of music I make now is the perfect symphony of flavors in my Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva smoked paté, of which I don’t intend to share a single bite.
3. My first love, Kim Johnson: When I look into Kim’s eyes, I don’t feel like a big hotshot with an unlimited amount of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva at my disposal; I feel like a kid with a regular amount of sardines who just wants to love and be loved in return. Perhaps that’s why I pushed away my doubts when Kim, my crush since high school, suddenly decided she wanted to “hang out” after years of ignoring my Facebook invites and “Happy birthday” texts. Unfortunately, the reason for Kim’s change of heart became all too clear when I went to bed one night with the love of my life in my arms and 300 crates of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva in my garage only to wake up the next morning completely alone with just 297 crates of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva in my garage. Lesson learned—it’s lonely at the top.
4. My sixth-grade basketball coach: Interestingly, when I was an awkward 12-year-old with a horrible free-throw average, my basketball coach, Devon Gherrity, would only refer to me as “Princess Butterfingers,” but now that I have enough Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva to feed a small island nation, Coach apparently remembers me as the “single greatest player in the history of the team.” In fact, he even said he’d consider “honoring my legacy” by putting my face on the official team jersey if I was willing to hand over just a small percentage of my Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva cache. I guess for Coach Gherrity, it doesn’t take hard work and perseverance to become a good basketball player, it just takes enough sardines. And frankly, that’s just sad.
5. My pediatrician: No more than a week after my apartment became a veritable emporium of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, I received a phone call from my childhood pediatrician urging me to come in for an “emergency appointment.” When I arrived, Dr. Jacobs said that my blood work indicated a deficiency of vitamins D, B2, and B12 as well as early signs of cardiovascular disease. “That’s weird, because a healthy diet of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva should specifically prevent all of those conditions,” I said. Dr. Jacobs gasped and said, “Oh my goodness, you’re right! I totally gave you MY charts by accident. Looks like I’m the one whose health could benefit from an increased amount of nutritious Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva.” Then he kept loudly repeating that he felt faint until I had no choice but to fork over one of the 17 tins I carry on my person at all times. How silly of me to think that my old doctor might actually be concerned about my health and not just thinking of his own twisted way to get his hands on a piece of the Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva pie.
6. My nephew, David: I’ve been trying for years to make a connection with my moody nephew, David, but I’m pretty sure he’s never said a single word to me. That’s why I was so excited when I heard that he had written about me for his “my hero” essay in school—and then I read it:
How sweet…not! Even if his play for my sardines wasn’t so desperate, it hurts that David didn’t even mention my years in the Peace Corps or my extensive work with shelter dogs. I’m not just a walking piece of Angelo Parodi Sardine Portoghesi All’Olio di Oliva, David! I have feelings!
Yet there are still terrific values when it comes to food. We’ve tapped local experts to reveal more than two dozen places from 18 global cities that serve destination dishes for less than $5, 1 without a Happy Meal in sight.
You can pay for a meal in the Iskelé Turkish restaurant, or you can just go to the stall in Whitecross Street Market, which dates back to the 17th century. These days it’s a lunchtime food destination, and there is no better value than the , a spicy flatbread hot from the grill and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles, for a little over 3 pounds ($4).
Beigel Bake is so good, it would be popular in any city. But in London, where bagels are not celebrated, this bakery is both a destination and a sensation. There’s always a line, day and night, at this 24-hour bakery on a rundown street best known for curry houses. The smoked salmon offering comes with a good amount of fish and a swath of cream cheese for 2 pounds. An oft-told tale has Mariah Carey turning up in a limousine with her entourage and being ordered to the back of the line.
Bitterballen (Fried Meatballs)
The quintessential Dutch deep-fried treat makes an appearance at chef Peter Gast’s Michelin-starred ’t Schulten Hues restaurant. A budget edition of Gast’s ragout-filled balls can be found at Ballenbar in Foodhallen, a Borough Market-inspired indoor food market in a renovated tram depot. The most traditional options are the beef balls: crunchy on the outside, gooey and flavorful on the inside, served with a dollop of grainy Dutch mustard for 3 euros (less than $4).
Retired butcher Sergio Esposito makes sandwiches using family recipes. The sandwich is comprised of simmered beef brisket sliced up and served with dandelion greens on a ciabatta from Panificio Passi, aka the best bakery in Rome. The bread gets a dip in the brisket cooking juices before it’s filled. “This sandwich is ridiculous,” pronounces Rome’s expert tour guide and cookbook author, Katie Parla. It costs 4 euros.
In Tel Aviv’s busiest marketplace, a lesser known specialty among the fruit stands and displays of baklava is the A thin sheet of dough fried with an egg in it (think North African spring roll) gets stuffed inside a pita with spicy harrisa and (a pumpkin and lemon condiment). Cost: 15 shekels, a little more than $4.
A giant neon sign points the way to Golden Boy, which has been providing North Beach with generous squares (and giant sheets) of Sicilian-style pizza since 1978. The greasy, crisp-bottomed pizza has a variety of toppings including sausage ($3.25), but the more interesting options are the vegetarian pesto or the signature clam pizza topped with a notable amount of garlic.
On Thursdays and Saturdays, the team at the modern Korean minded Namu offers a street food menu at the Ferry Building farmer’s market. Think stonepot market vegetables and kimchee fried rice with artisan hot dogs. For $3.50 you can get a Korean taco made from seasoned rice, kimchee salsa, and kimchee remoulade and filled with caramelized chicken.
This no-frills mini chain got recognition when Andrew Zimmern of fame shouted out their original stall in the basement of a Queens mall. Xi’an specializes in hand-pulled noodles but one of their best deals is the lamb burger, featuring fall-apart-tender chunks of spicy stewed lamb, heavy on the cumin, wrapped in a doughy flatbread for $4.
This tiny new storefront on the Lower East Side specializes in one thing: tamales. Owner Fernando Lopez makes the masa, then steams them with fillings like a deeply flavored chile mole with shredded chicken, for $4. For the same price you can also get a bacon and mozzarella cheese tamale, or a breakfast egg sandwich on a brioche bun with his chipotle-spiked special sauce.
The biggest bargain on the menu are the juicy pork and chive fried dumplings ($1.50 for four). But the greatness of Vanessa’s, which has outposts in the East Village and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is their sesame pancake-styled sandwiches, filled with ingredients like kimchee, ham and egg, and roasted pork. The peking duck sandwich moistened with hoisin is superb. (At the Brooklyn outpost, the sandwich is $4.25; it’s $3.50 in Chinatown.)
Named for the North Mexican desert region, this stellar little shop in downtown LA has $2 tacos and carne asada cooked over mesquite wood. The Chivichanga boasts two handmade flour tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken, Monterey Jack, Cheddar, blistered tomatoes and chile.
There are multiple locations of the Hawaiian-styled Marination. The newest is near the Amazon campus; the best is in West Seattle with killer views of the city. Among the $3 tacos are tofu, kalbi beef, and sweet kalua pulled pork, served on two corn tortillas, topped with housemade pickled jalapeños and their signature sauce.
A globetrotting menu of tapas is the name of the game at this casual restaurant, with dishes that range from Scotch eggs to falafel to pakora (all less than $5). On Sundays, the special is mini-mac sliders: A mini Big Mac with a beef patty, American cheese, mustard, dill pickle, on a seeded bun, that’s a stellar version of its namesake.
The crunchiness of the bun and generous stuffing of avocados, chipotle, and a Mexican herb called make these sandwich staples from Puebla a new category in contrast to Mexico City’s ubiquitous tortas. Choose among options ranging from the basic (shredded cheese) to a Biscayan style cod panini. The real star is the cemita de Milanesa, stuffed with a breaded, pounded thin veal cutlet for 75 pesos ($3.99).
Influenced by generations of Italian immigrants, thick-crusted Argentine pizza is now a Buenos Aires staple. The best in the city is El Cuartito. Since 1934, it’s been serving up slices of (white pizza with plenty of gooey cheese and onions), juicy Napolitana, and sausage-based Calabresa in an unassuming venue surrounded with signed posters of boxers, soccer stars, and folklore singers. For a real throwback, order soda in a siphon. Slices start at $1.75.
Nestled in the middle of Buenos Aires’ bustling Microcentro, El Buen Libro fools you with its inconspicuous, convenience store vibe—unless you walk by at lunchtime, when a line goes out the street for its build-your-own sandwichs. In addition to the classic veal Milanesa, a local favorite is the homemade sandwich, the Argentine take on cold steak roulade. Top it off with vegetables and condiments and come hungry: portions are large. The Milanesa grande will set you back about $3.
The specialty at this hole in the wall is Peruvian-style vegetarian cooking. Potatoes feature in most plates (after all, 4,000 varieties grow in the Andean highlands). The menu of the day, including a starter, main course, dessert, and drink, is an astonishing value at $4, and might include vegetable soup with corn and manioc, Andean lasagna, and freshly made vanilla pudding.
You can normally spot this place because of the lunchtime line of city workers. The classic Banh Mi pork roll comes complete with fresh coriander, chili and homemade butter with the option of barbecued or crispy fried pork, or pork loaf, salad and a choice of roll baked on premises (wholemeal, multigrain, sourdough). A basic sandwich is A$5 ($3) and costs a bit more with all the trimmings.
A tour of Melbourne’s 140-year-old market is worth the trip just for the superb, Victorian-era Deli Hall. It’s even better if you pick up a Turkish borek for just A$3.50. The ladies can barely keep up, so be prepared to jostle for your fresh, crisp pastry filled with feta and spinach. There’s also a tasty spicy lamb for meat lovers or a potato and vegetable option. If you happen to be late and lucky, you might find a ‘two for A$5’ discount.
Nearly everyone in Singapore has an opinion on where to find the best Hainanese chicken rice. This eatery nestled between public housing blocks in the city-state’s central district has an especially loyal following. Chef-owner Ronnie Chew gets all the elements of this ubiquitous Singaporean dish working in harmony: the stock-infused rice is fluffy and the chicken moist, with plates from S$3 ($2.30). Pro tip: Balance out the garlicky and savory chili dip with some aromatic minced ginger.
Be prepared to wait for a bowl of hearty braised noodles from this stall in Singapore’s Old Airport Road food market. Thick yellow noodles, pork belly slices, chunks of fried fish, and a well-seasoned hard-boiled egg are doused in rich, flavorful gravy and finished with a garnish of cilantro and sliced red chiles. Bowls start at S$3.
A freshly fried pork cutlet is simmered with an egg and sweet soy sauce just long enough before it’s heaped atop a bowl of rice—the perfect meal, for just 500 yen ($4.64) 2 at any of Katsuya’s 345 restaurants around Japan. Normally a higher-priced item that you have to wait for, your katsudon is ready in minutes at this fast-food style franchise. Options abound, including fried shrimp, and an array of condiments.
Nori Toast Coffee Shop Ace, 3-10-6 Uchikanda, Chiyoda-ku Japanese coffee shops usually have “one-coin morning sets,” breakfast sets with coffee, toast, and sometimes a side of boiled egg and salad, all for a single 500 yen coin. Coffee Shop Ace in Kanda, an area best known for its bars and izakayas, has been around for four decades and is famous for its “nori toast” morning set: buttered, dried seaweed toast plus coffee. It may sound like a strange combination, but the butter and nori gives the toast a nice umami kick.
Tucked away in an underground shopping alley in the heart Tokyo’s financial district, Little Koiwai offers what many locals grew up eating: Japanese-style pasta. Soft-boiled spaghetti fried with bits of onion and green pepper, plus sweet tomato sauce is known as “Napolitan” priced at 540 yen. Other favorites include the soy sauced-flavored “Japone” and cod roe-mixed “tarako.” You’ll see a long line of Japanese salarymen standing in front of the shop if you go at lunch.
Tteokbokki (Stir-Fried Rice Cakes) Jaws Tteokbokki, multiple locations This restaurant chain, with outposts that resemble cozy hot-dog stands, serves jaw-dropping, spicy Korean rice cakes soaked in gochujang, the traditional hot pepper paste. A bowl full of the chewy cakes, usually more than a dozen pieces, accompanied by a bowl of oden soup (in a dashi, soy sauce broth) that costs about 3,000 won ($2.80). More adventurous dinners can partake of blood sausage, called soondae, for just a little more.
This Shanghai-style noodle joint has a small, no frills dining room. But Hing offers sensational little dumplings, or buns. Two pan-fried black pepper pork buns are HK$24 ($3). Don’t be fooled by their modest appearance: The buns are hot, pan-fried to order and extra juicy with a good hit of spice. For about the same price, you can get the non-spicy pan-fried BBQ pork buns for HK$22.
This cozy, brightly lit noodle place has been around for 60 years. The enduring specialty is the signature wonton noodles: Crinkled, tender dumplings stuffed with shrimp and pork, with eggy ribbon-shaped noodles in a fish-infused broth. A bowl costs about HK$34. Enhance it with a side order of greens.
adminadmin28 Delicious Dishes Around the World for $5 or Less
Paul Bocuse, who became one of the 20th century’s most influential chefs by building on the traditions of French haute cuisine with a distinctive style that emphasized simplicity and freshness, has died. He was 91.
He died Saturday at Collonges-au-Mont-d’or, the Associated Press said, citing a statement from French President Emmanuel Macron. Bocuse had Parkinson’s disease.
In lending his name and advice to restaurants around the world, Bocuse fashioned a template followed by chefs such as Alain Ducasse, Joel Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay.
Bocuse “started things for this modern era of the chef as cultural star,” Michael Ruhlman wrote in “The Reach of a Chef,” his 2006 book. “Bocuse was really the first to play to the media and begin to elevate the chef’s standing toward what it is today.’
Yet he never lost touch with his roots, retaining three Michelin stars for more than four decades at his flagship establishment near his birthplace outside Lyon, France. Still on the menu is his most famous dish, Black Truffle Soup V.G.E.
He opened a chain of eateries, Les Brasseries Bocuse, across France. Not content with being a star at home, he traveled the world, lending his name to restaurants from Florida to Hong Kong, and acting as an ambassador for French cooking. He set up a scholarship with the Culinary Institute of America and founded the Bocuse d’Or World Cuisine Contest as well as an institute for culinary arts. He was also the author of several cookbooks, including La Cuisine du Marche, in 1980.
Bocuse said that he hadn’t revolutionized French cooking, only simplified it after a period marked by “the heavy meals and the rich sauces of the Escoffier school,” according to a 1972 article in the New York Times.
“First-rate raw materials are the very foundation of good cooking,” he said. “Give the greatest cook in the world second-rate materials and the best he can produce from them is second-rate food.”
Bocuse was born into a family of restaurateurs on Feb. 11, 1926, at Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, in eastern France, where the main food market is named after him. It was there that he shopped for produce from local characters such as the cheese maker Mere Richard and the pork butchers Colette Sibilia and Gast. His ancestors had been known for their cooking as far back as in 1765.
He went to work in 1942 in a restaurant in Lyon. In 1944, he enlisted in the First French Division and, in World War II combat, was shot in Alsace, where he received transfusions in an American field hospital. In later decades, especially as he became popular in the U.S., he enjoyed pointing out that he had American blood in him.
In 1948, he began work under chef Fernand Point, whose reliance on the freshest products available each day shaped Bocuse’s views.
In 1959, Bocuse saved the family restaurant from ruin and made L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges Restaurant Paul Bocuse a dining destination. It is there that you can still order Soupe aux Truffes Noires V.G.E., which Bocuse created in 1975 for then-President Valery Giscard d’Estaing at an Elysee Palace banquet.
In 1966, a year after winning his third Michelin star, Bocuse succeeded in buying back his great-grandparents’ old restaurant and placing it under the family wing. He named it the Abbaye de Collonges.
Bocuse was named a knight in the French Legion of Honor in 1975, and a commander in 2004.
He was married for more than 60 years to Raymonde, but unashamedly kept two long-term mistresses and enjoyed other liaisons, according to an interview in the Daily Telegraph.
“It would not be everyone’s idea of married life, but everyone gets on,” the newspaper quoted him as saying in 2005. “They are all happy, with me and with each other, and if I add up the time we have spent together as couples, it comes to 145 years.”
“These days I feel best surrounded by nature, beside my lake, with my dogs and friends,” Bocuse said in the interview at Collonges. “I regret nothing, save perhaps the pain I may have given the women of my life. I hope they will forgive me.”
When the Atlanta Falcons announced the food prices at their new $1.5 billion stadium — $2 hot dogs and sodas, $3 nachos, $5 beer — fans loved it, and people in other cities startedpushing their local ownership groups to follow suit.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank had made a calculated bet that what the organization lost in markup, it would recoup in volume — fans would come earlier, stay longer and buy enough food to make up the difference.
He was half-right. About 6,000 more fans per game entered the stadium earlier than they did in 2016, and in general, the venue sold as much food by the end of the first quarter of Falcons games as it did in full games in 2016. Fans also gave the Falcons the highest satisfaction rating in the NFL for food and beverages, up from No. 18 in 2016, and the highest rating for security satisfaction, in part the result of lines made shorter by all the early entries.
They also bought more food — sales were up 53 percent — and each fan spent, on average, 16 percent more on concessions. It wasn’t enough to offset the drop in prices, though. The team made less on concessions in 2017 than it did the year before, according Steve Cannon, chief executive officer of AMB Group, the company through which Blank owns the team.
“Sure, we could shake out a few more dollars of margin under the old model, but we believe that the direction we’ve taken, given all the other positive benefits, is the bigger revenue play, period,” Cannon said.
Atlanta’s pricing, part of a unique partnership with concessionaire Levy Restaurants, is a dramatic departure from standard prices in NFL stadiums. At $2, hot dogs at Falcons home games cost less than half the league average $5.19, according to the 2016 Team Marketing Report. The league’s average price for a beer was $7.38, with the San Francisco 49ers charging over $10.
While no other major sports franchise has replicated the plan, they are taking note. Cannon said “dozens” of team owners and venues have called asking for more details on the pricing strategy.
The team’s 2018 goal is to improve efficiency and expand the menu. Cannon said he believes that eventually, the Falcons’ food and beverage profit will eclipse its 2016 numbers. “This is just a first report card,” Cannon said. “And it says that we changed the dynamic inside of an industry that was fairly set in its ways, it’s having an amazing impact on our fans’ satisfaction, and, oh by the way, spending per person did go up. The system-wide impacts are great.”
Charles Manson, the imprisoned wild-eyed cult leader who masterminded the 1969 murders of actress Sharon Tate and six other people in Los Angeles, has died. He was 83.
Manson died of natural causes at 8:13pm Pacific time on Nov. 19 at Kern County Hospital, according to a statement from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He was serving a life sentence at a state prison in California.
A career criminal, Manson persuaded a drug-induced flock of followers — the so-called Manson family — that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that they would survive and rule the world after a racial apocalypse he called “Helter Skelter.” The name came from a Beatles song he viewed as prophetic.
Manson’s followers may have killed more than two dozen people by some reports, but criminal trials against him and his group focused on the savage killing spree that became known as the Tate-LaBianca murders.
With a focus on killing Hollywood celebrities, Manson ordered followers Charles “Tex” Watson, Susan Atkins, Patricia “Katie” Krenwinkel and Linda Kasabian to invade a Los Angeles home on Aug. 9, 1969, and kill its occupants.
In addition to Tate, the 26-year-old pregnant wife of film director Roman Polanski, those killed from multiple stabbings and gunshots were writer and actor Wojciech “Voytek” Frykowski and his partner, the coffee bean heiress Abigail Folger; celebrity hairstylist Jay Sebring and Steven Parent, a friend of Tate’s gardener. Polanski was in London working on a film.
Kasabian acted as the lookout and became the star witness against Manson, whose role in the killings was discovered by police while investigating other crimes. She was offered immunity for her testimony.
The killing of Tate, who starred in films such as “Valley of the Dolls,” was particularly gruesome. She was stabbed in the stomach by Atkins despite pleas to spare her unborn child, whose delivery date was near. Atkins used Tate’s blood to write the word “pig” on the front door.
The next night, Manson took Watson, Krenwinkel and Leslie Van Houten to the home of supermarket executive Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, who were also murdered.
The trio stayed in the house for a while, eating food from the LaBianca’s refrigerator and playing with the couple’s dogs.
Atkins told fellow prisoners that the Manson family planned to kill other Hollywood stars to help trigger the racial apocalypse Manson predicted. She died in a women’s prison in 2009.
Manson’s trial began in June 1970. After a trial characterized by the giggling and grimaces of the defendants, Manson was convicted of first-degree murder in January 1971.
He was sentenced to death. California’s supreme court later ruled capital punishment illegal, and he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment. Manson, who carved a swastika into his forehead while in prison, was denied parole more than a dozen times.
“There’s no murder in a holy war,” he told Charlie Rose in a 1986 interview on “CBS News Nightwatch,” referring to Tate’s slaying.
Charles Maddox, whose crazed deeds would spawn a series of books, movies and documentaries, was born Nov. 12, 1934, in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Kathleen Maddox, a 16-year-old alcoholic prostitute and Walker Scott. After her marriage to William Manson, Charles was given his step-father’s last name.
He made a living through crime, spending half of the first 32 years of his life behind bars. Manson was put in jail for armed robbery, arson, burglary, assault, mail theft, drug possession, forgery, credit-card fraud, receiving stolen property, pimping, grand theft auto and numerous parole violations.
After his release from prison in 1967, he became a cult guru in the San Francisco area as a prophet of the apocalypse and tried to pursue a career in music.
He was befriended by Dennis Wilson, the drummer in the Beach Boys band. Through this association, Manson got an opportunity to audition for record producer Terry Melcher, the son of singer and actress Doris Day. Melcher, who had rejected Manson’s bid to make a record, was the previous occupant of the Los Angeles house Polanski and Tate had rented, which was the site of the first murders.
In 1955, Manson married Rosalie Willis and had a son Charles Manson, Jr., who committed suicide in 1993. After their divorce, he married Leona Stevens and had a second son, Charles Luther Manson. He had a third son, Valentine Manson, with Manson family member Mary Brunner.
“The name Manson has become a metaphor for evil, and evil has its allure,” the prosecutor of the Tate-La Bianca case, Vincent Bugliosi, co-wrote in the best-selling book on the Manson case, “Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders.” “Some people have the same fascination for Jack the Ripper and Hitler.”
A month after Hurricane Maria battered this mountainous stretch of central Puerto Rico, recovery remained elusive along Highway 152, where 82-year-old Carmen Diaz Lopez lives alone in a home that’s one landslide away from plummeting into the muddy creek below.
Without electricity, and without family members to care for her, she’s become dependent on the companionship of a few neighbors who stop by periodically. But a collapsed bridge has made it challenging to even communicate with her friend across the creek, so she’s lived for the most part in solitude, passing the electricity-less days singing “Ave Maria” and classic Los Panchos songs to herself, lighting candles each night so she can find the bathroom.
“I just ask the Lord to take care of me, because he’s the only one I have,” Diaz Lopez said Wednesday.
Diaz Lopez and her neighbors along Kilometer 5 of this badly hit mountain road in Barranquitas municipality are among the hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans still at risk as the recovery effort heads into its fifth week. Pipe water returned here in a trickle a few days ago, and the collapsed earth that blocked the road and sent muck into homes has been half-way cleared. But a phone signal is still non-existent, and residents are far from any semblance of sustainable self-sufficiency.
The situation threatens to undermine the economic and fiscal future of the island, and is already fueling a flood of Puerto Ricans leaving for the mainland. At this stage in the recovery from the Category 4 storm, many find the current state of the U.S. commonwealth — home to some 3.4 million American citizens — unthinkable.
“I just haven’t seen a situation where people don’t have access to basic services for so long,” said Martha Thompson, the Puerto Rico response coordinator for the Boston-based charity Oxfam Americas who also worked on the response to Hurricane Katrina.
Meeting at the White House with the commonwealth’s governor, Ricardo Rossello, President Donald Trump said Thursday that his administration’s response to Maria deserves a perfect “10” rating. He also drew attention to the fiscal mess in Puerto Rico that predated the hurricane, suggesting he wants repayment of any reconstruction loans to take precedence over the island’s existing $74 billion debt that pushed it into bankruptcy.
Only tenuous, provisional measures seem to be preventing a much greater humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico. A government task force has restored electricity to many hospitals and healthcare facilities, but others are sustained by diesel generators that occasionally fail. (APR Energy Chairman John Campion, whose company rents the units for natural disasters, said in an interview that such generators typically have a life span of 500 hours, and the crisis has already lasted longer than that.)
About 83 percent of residents and businesses — not just in the rural mountains, but across the island — are still without electricity.
As of Friday, one-in-three residents lacked running water, and only about half of cellular towers were operational. Meanwhile, the official death toll, currently at 49, keeps creeping higher, with 76 islanders still reported missing.
Many blame an insufficiently robust federal response, while authorities note the myriad logistical challenges that make the high-poverty island distinct from storm-battered states such as Florida or Texas.
Certainly, there have been improvements. In the days after the storm, the entire island appeared engulfed in pandemonium; the airport operated at a fraction of its normal capacity with leaky ceilings, no air conditioning or escalators; frantic islanders formed half-mile long lines for gas and diesel; and mayhem ensued on roads and highways, even in the capital, as people tried to dodge fallen trees and street lights.
This week, by contrast, the airport was back in operation, with a blast of cool air greeting new arrivals at the end of the jet bridge and slot machines in the terminals blinking and jingling. The roads around the capital have been largely cleared, as have many major highways.
But the reality remained very different in the mountains of central Puerto Rico. Back in Barranquitas, Erika Perez, 43, wondered how she would sustain her family. She lives just up the hill from Diaz Lopez with her husband, son and daughter, ages 52, 13 and 14, respectively. They have dogs, pigs and chickens, which supplied the eggs that kept the family fed during the early days after the storm, when the mudslides had completely boxed them in.
Perez said they’d been basically cut off for some 10 days, and she had worried about what would happen if her daughter’s asthma got bad.
Asked if she felt forgotten by the authorities, she gestured to a heap of trash that had been accumulating since even before the storm, insects circling. “We don’t ask for much, but at least give me that,” she said. “Help us out for sanitary purposes.”
Her husband had invested much of his time and money in plantain fields up the road, but the storm had obliterated much of the crop, and what was left had been stolen by those desperate for food. The family also ran a bar next door — frequented by Diaz Lopez, who said she went for the live music — but the prospects looked grim there, too, with no cars passing through the area.
The Puerto Rican economy was in a dire situation before the storm, and now it’s been reduced to a shadow of even that former self. Small business owners everywhere have been forced to trade their digital inventory systems and credit-card machines for old-fashioned paper and cash, and they’ve been grappling with how to keep tabs on employees.
“Everyone is in survival mode," said Gustavo Velez, an economist who runs the Inteligencia Economica consulting firm in San Juan. "There’s no work, no earnings. People are buying what they need for the day."
He said the situation will only snowball, fueling a massive exodus to the mainland, if the government can’t come up with resources and a viable plan. Governor Rossello has warned that millions could leave.
As for Diaz Lopez, she said she’ll keep looking after herself. She’s found a new apartment connected to an auto body shop up the hill and out of the path of mudslides; she’s just waiting for the owner to clear the space out so she can move in at a cost of $250 a month.
She was left alone on the island when her ex-husband died, her son was killed by a drug overdose and the last of her extended family moved to the mainland. She wondered why the authorities, local or federal, hadn’t done more for her. In the meantime, she said she knew how to do enough to stay healthy and safe during the long, dark nights.
“You’d think they’d say, ‘Here’s a woman on her own, an elderly woman, let’s go help her’,” she said, standing in the doorway of her home with her dog. “But I’ll be okay. I take life as it comes.”