Food glorious food

Subtitle: Oops, my politics are showing

I’ve been eating entirely too well lately (take a look at my bank account — rather, the lack of anything in it!). However, for a gal with $10 in her pocket,Tiff introduced me tonight to the fabulous Pho … hurrah for cheap, filling and tasty Vietnamese beef noodle soup! Good lord, I told her “I could have sex with Pho!” and I ain’t kidding. Like Tiff said, it comes in two sizes: huge and really huge. The small was enough to feed a moderate-sized village. Mmmm, Pho. *slurp*

Ten times more expensive but oh-so-worth-it was the Circle Bistro, where we celebrated Shawn’s brand-spanking new master’s degree on Sunday. My advice: do not go there hungry, but go there for an elegant meal on a payday. We went for the fondue, but note that if you’re in the dining area, you can’t get the cheese fondue (that’s only at the bar). We ordered platters of meat and fish, and well, we weren’t quite expecting it to be raw. We got fondue pots full of au jus or whatever the hell it was, and it takes two minutes to cook a sliver of seafood and four minutes for a hunka beef, lamb or pork. To curb our hunger, we ordered like four dozen appetizers of chicken fingers (served in paper cones, as were the cheese fries), steak, pork , eggs, apple fritters and whatever else looked good, which was everything. 🙂

The service wasn’t exactly flawless at either place, but at Pho, what do you expect? You’re sitting at formica tables in what looks like a mess hall, but the place is clean and your food arrives within five minutes, so bitching simply doesn’t occur to you as an option. At the Circle Bistro, the bartender was amazing and when Shawn and I snuck over there for one of many smokes, we told her to make us something tasty, and she whipped up one of her special concoctions that got me nice and tipsy. I had another smoke out there with wait staff who hadn’t signed in for the day yet, and they were just divinely friendly and chatty. Our waiter was a little bit perturbed with us, but I’m sure the tip on a $200 meal made him like us a little bit better. 🙂

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the graduation. Judy Woodruff was the keynote, and she rocked. Addressing the graduating journalists (and speaking directly to me, as a practicing “journalist” if you can call it that!), she said how we as a profession really screwed up during the whole Iraq War mess — how we collectively decided to stand behind our country and not question the war. We were so patriotic and so eager to see Sept. 11, 2001, avenged that we effectively enabled our administration to lead our soldiers (and now civilians like Nic Berg) into utter disaster, and at what cost? It was a lesson to be learned for not only the master’s and bachelor’s candidates at American University, but also those graduating with their MBAs and other fields that hold us accountable. I was applauding her every statement, much to the chagrin of the people behind me who were muttering under their breath while she spoke.

Oh, the Nic Berg travesty broke my heart. I e-mailed one of the local news stations about how devastating it is to even be sharing this information with the masses — it’s not that I want to be in the dark about the horrors that the war has brought, but I wonder if we’re thrwarting military operations by publicizing these things, not to mention effectively unraveling the mental health of our audiences who simply can’t wrap their minds around this kind of tragedy.

I mean, yes, our country’s military shamed a few Iraqi hostages. I neither condone nor support their actions, because America is — and should be — better than that. We handle our power with grace, and our military has a reputation for treating our POWs respectfully and fairly. Now, we go and fuck up once, and look what happens in retaliation! Not to mention, but a news report mentioned that more photos are forthcoming of the Iraqis abusing and torturing women and a variety of other Americans. Not to mention all the corpses and near-dead soldiers whom they burned and hanged and dragged around on car bumpers for their citizens to admire.

I talk to my grandfather, a veteran from WWII, and he’s not surprised in the least by anything he sees. There was almost a certain comfort in wars NOT being televised (pre-1991) — you knew shit was getting ugly overseas, but you really didn’t know a fraction of what was happening. How did all those men return home and resume living “normal” lives? Sometimes my grandfather will tell absolutely horrific stories about the images that have never really managed to leave his memory, and I commend him and everyone who fought for world peace for knowingly going in and staying in until the war was done.

What bugs me the most (and it’s a wide array to choose from) is that in the case of Nic Berg and of course Daniel Pearl is that they were civilians just trying to earn a living when they were slaughtered. I mean, it’s real fuckin’ easy for a merry band of terrorists to capture someone who isn’t wielding an M-16. Not to say that capturing a soldier is any better, because it’s still rotten, but aren’t they in violation of the Geneva Convention? How do we avenge this? Or is it just a neverending, vicious cycle of avenging something the other has done or supposedly done?

God. When is this nightmare going to end? Or can it?

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