Waimea Canyon

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Yma Sumac


Neither an art dealer nor army can march on an empty stomach. Leslie and I just came back from an early dinner at Panca, the casual but excellent Peruvian restaurant in Oceanside. It was our third time at the establishment, Doug and Retha first took me there for lunch about five years ago.

I have been jonesing for their rotisserie chicken for some time. Hadn't been there since brother John was last in town. Some of the best roast chicken around although tonight's version did not quite equal the sublime perfection of our last visit.

1902 South Coast Hwy Oceanside, CA 92054

There is something about the South American flavor set I find so fresh, different and enchanting. Tonight Leslie had the half chicken with sweet potato fries and a delicious salad.

For my entree I had aji de gallina, shredded chicken in a cream sauce made with parmesan, yellow peppers, potatoes and pecans. This was served with a mound of moist rice with slices of boiled egg on top of the dish. Looks rather monochromatic but tasted colorful enough in my stomach.

So wonderful I slowed down my eating tempo considerably so that I had more time to savor every bite.  Of course we shared from each other's plates as well.

The more South American food I eat, the more I want to try. The piquant flavors have no corollary in our normal fare. My exposure has been admittedly pretty limited. When I worked in Beverly Hills many moons ago I frequented an excellent Argentinian place that had about thirty different empanadas. Loved the place. Later I tried Q'ero in Encinitas, a more formal and expensive Peruvian restaurant and remember being dazzled by their pork shoulder with aji amarillo.

I do eat a lot of Guatemalan food but that country is located in Central America, a little farther north. We recently ventured into Brazilian cuisine in Encinitas at Sabor de Vida which was quite good but not quite as delicious to my personal tastebuds as Panca. More beef oriented.

When I went to Houston I was smitten with Colombian food, but the empanadas were deep fried instead of baked and not nearly as good. But I loved the places I found, the food, alcohol, music, laughter and spirit. Very fun people those Colombians, not to mention very beautiful. I think there is only one Colombian dining place in San Diego and it is in a tough neighborhood down by Imperial Ave. Still need to check it out.

Panca now has a sister establishment called Tambo Cafe at the other end of the small strip center. They sell empanadas, sanguches, pasteles and desserts amongst other things over the counter. We left with a very tasty but expensive piece of key lime pie which we just now devoured. Check out their website, very fun. They specialize in serving the traditional Peruvian Lonche "too late for lunch, too early for dinner."

I recommend that you try Panca. I want to try to work my way through the whole menu, minus the guinea pig, of course. Next time I will probably go for the lamb stew or maybe the antichucos, tender pieces of beef heart marinated in Peruvian spices, skewered, and served with a side of Peruvian corn, Salsa Criolla and grilled potato.

Place is spartan but who cares?

Can't find a great posole around here. Well not like the great street posole I used to get in Oaxaca anyway, the clear "blanco" or "verde"versions with chicken or pork, hominy cabbage, chile and assorted spices including lots of Mexican oregano, cumin and coriander. I was actuallyintriduced to the dish in the mid 1970's by a Guamanian man named Eddie Gomez whose wife now ex wife, made the best clear version.

Raymond told me to try Las Brisas. I went yesterday and it turns out they don't serve it there either. Aydees has a red version that is more of a stew and it just doesn't hit the perfect savory spot for me.

Hispanics love Las Brisas. When I did my twenty two Mexican restaurant review many years ago, it polled highest amongst many I knew. It just doesn't do it for me.

I am not a Las Brisas person. Or an Estrellas guy. I am a Rosa's man. Las Brisas has always had a funny smell, to my nose anyway. They brought me a basket with a few stale corn chips. I ordered the shredded beef tacos. They smelled too as did the spicy sauce. Everybody else was eating it up, just wasn't my thing. Tacos were gamey. I want shredded beef to be crispy, not pasty glop. Awful. Will be hard to go back.

I took the Steinbergs (or at least three of them) to Chili Coast Burgers in Vista for a char broiled chili the other night. Messy but good. Way too many fries. Washed it down with an icy cold root beer.

Times you got to live a little. Workingman's establishment, still my favorite North County burger. The thought of living life without an occasional half pound chili cheeseburger is almost unthinkable. Don picked up the check. Thanks.

People are hammering Chili Coast pretty hard on Yelp. I still think it is great, love their burgers, love their fries. Did have some serious indigestion, sign of a great burger experience.

Restaurant was started by a guy I did Kung Fu with decades ago, Ralph. Long gone, now on owner number three. They do a nice job.

Chili Coast Burger
1330 E Vista Way
Ste 1
Vista, CA 92084
(760) 726-1187

Trading Places


It's hard for me to imagine that it's hard for him to imagine. I mean, come on. You're a pro at this sort of thing, Mr. President.

I haven't exactly endeared myself to some of my more politically correct readers with my recent Kavanaugh take. Nor with my wife. You should have seen the look she shot me. Bam, I'm dead. Not going to exactly backtrack but excuse me if I use ever available square centimeter of wiggle room I need in the coming days.

I read and listen to mouthpieces of both the right and left, from Cal Thomas to Cal Worthington. And I thought that this Dennis Prager article raised a point worth considering, although the great majority of it was bullshit;
Those who claim the charges against Judge Kavanaugh by Christine Blasey Ford are important and worth investigating, and that they ultimately, if believed, invalidate his candidacy for the U.S. Supreme Court are stating that:
a) What a middle-aged adult did in high school is all we need to know to evaluate an individual's character -- even when his entire adult life has been impeccable.
b) No matter how good and moral a life one has led for 10, 20, 30, 40 or even 50 years, it is nullified by a sin committed as teenager.
I cherrypick this because it goes along with my initial take, that a clumsy, drunken, high school grope should not necessarily brand somebody for life. Because god knows, I am a sinner, lord.

I guess the thought of repentance or a statute of limitations in these types of matters ends when people seek high government office.

The fact that the accuser needed psychiatric counseling in 2012 for an event that allegedly occurred decades prior tells me that there may very well have been real malice and nastiness present. Something happened. Schoolmates from Holton Arms are now coming out of the woodwork declaring that they knew about the incident way back in the 1980's.

If I was a Republican, and I am not, I could see how this eleventh hour accusation by an avowed Bernie Sanders supporter could look a little bit staged and manipulative. Is she really this fragile?

Ditto the request to delay testimony until there is a FBI review. She seems to be teasing, demanding everything proceed on her own terms.

It seems contrived to throw a big wrench in the gears, maybe hold off on things until after the midterm elections if possible.

And after Merrick Garland, who really cares if this isn't exactly Marquis of Queensbury? McConnell wants a knife fight, he will get a knife fight.

Interesting interview with Hillary on Rachel Maddow last night. Maddow stated that Republicans were prepared to hold off on SCOTUS judicial confirmations for Hillary's full four year term if she had won. So all is fair in love and war.

I don't really care what a great guy he is, how much he loves his kids or their basketball team.

He has consistently been anti worker, anti environment, anti woman, unduly deferential to the executive branch and a most partisan ideologue.

And he has been accused of lying during his recent testimony at least three times, and not just the little white ones, more like receiving stolen documents and big lies like that.

Finally, his prep school shenanigans and cohorts remind me of the rotten kids from Scent of a woman or Animal House like Doug Neidermeyer. A ratship.

Entitled preppie bastards. So this is how they turn out?

Let the chips fall where they may. To the mattress rooms.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Wood duck (male)

I Hadn't Anyone Till You


And in record time!

River hawk

Dinah Washington

Anybody want a buggy whip?

I had to go to El Cajon in the afternoon yesterday to have a guitar I am selling checked out by its maker.

Afterwards I realized that I was only a stone's throw from Santee Lakes and I might as well see what was up and drive over.

Three buck admission, I always get my money's worth driving around the seven lovely man made lakes.

People fishing, reading, playing with their kids, enjoying nature's gifts. Cheap thrill. Quiet, peaceful.

Things are very tough for me right now. I had an epiphany the other day.

You never realize you are living in the good old days until they are dead and gone. Shame.

I forced myself to walk through an antique mall in Temecula the other day. Leslie joined me. The detritus of our times, junk as far as the eye could see. It nauseated me frankly. I didn't see one item of quality. Not one twinge. The antique business is beyond being on life support it is now on the official endangered species list. The last great buggy whip salesmen on earth ride off into the sunset as the game is called for lack of interest.

I was talking to a friend earlier this week who was bemoaning not having a hobby outside the business, like I do with my writing and photography.  He spends all his time hitting thrift shops and malls. He still thinks stuff is cool.

I frankly envy him. At least he loves his job. I am not feeling it personally. Can't get off on material that I honestly think is deplorable. Wish I could suspend belief but I can't.

At some point yesterday I had an osprey whiz by, clutching something in its sharp talons. A fish.

Do you know how hard it is to be in the right place and capture a fleeting image at just the right time, with the proper settings, timing and equipment?  A fair amount of luck involved. But it is not easy.

And I was lucky enough to get shots of osprey with fish in two different locations, on two consecutive days.

Hot damn. Must be doing something right.

Ken told me at coffee that I put too many osprey shots up yesterday, that two would suffice. I won't push it too far today.

How about a beautiful pair of wood ducks instead?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Debt headache

...the proof is in the numbers: Under Trump, the U.S national debt has passed the $21 trillion mark.

Do you remember when the GOP was refusing to help Obama with an infrastructure bill because they were worried about increasing the national debt and deficit? Remember deficit hawks? I didn't think so.

My how things change. Love the part in the Woodward book where Trump is asking Cohn why he can't just print more money?

Great article over at Axios, Jonathan Swan's The President of Debt. It links to this August article, The Trump administration is headed for a giant debt headache.
The total U.S. debt just passed the $21.3 trillion mark, of which $15.6 trillion is owed by the public. The Treasury announced Wednesday that it will be adding $1 billion each to auctions of 2-, 3- and 5-year debt over the next three months, and $1 billion each for 7- and 10-year note and 30-year bond auctions in August. In addition, the department is issuing a new two-month note to help assure liquidity in the fixed income market.
The changes will add $30 billion to the debt issuance for the quarter. On the overall, the Treasury said it expects to borrow $769 billion in the second half of the year, a projected 63 percent increase from 2017.
"Booming economic growth has not been sufficient to lower the budget deficit — in fact, the deficit and Treasury borrowing are headed sharply higher, and virtually no one in Washington seems to care," Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, said in his daily note Thursday.
I sent it over to my friend Jim Swan (no relation), who is a fiscal conservative and a nominal Trump supporter and got back this note:
Not sustainable! Trump will add as much debt in four years as Obama did in eight years!
I’m tired of all these pols.
I appreciate Jim calling a spade a spade here. He is of course, right. This whole Trump "recovery" is based on a big tax cut and a huge drop in revenue. Anybody can spend like a sailor. It is only a matter of time before the chickens come home to roost. If the Democrats tried a similar sleight of hand of course there would be howling in the street.

Under Obama debt and deficits were more temporary in nature and tied to the recession. The Trump debt is unfortunately permanently baked in with his tax cut revisions which permanently cut revenue. And it looks like things will only get worse.
When the House returns to Washington in September, it is set to consider another tax cut that could reduce revenue by an additional trillion dollars. None of this includes the natural and man-made disasters — everything from earthquakes, forest fires and hurricanes to military, terrorist and foreign policy situations — that occur each year and cost more than planned.
Nor does it include interest on the national debt. The combination of big increases in federal borrowing from the very large deficits and the need for Washington to roll over its sizable short-term debt at higher interest rates will make this the fastest growing spending of all.
Put your seat belts on!

The late great Steve Marriott

Pandion haliaetus

As I said, I saw an osprey sitting in a dead tree eating what appears to be a carp on the way home from work yesterday afternoon.

I guess it's a carp, I don't know. I'm sorry, it was a little chewed up by that time.

In any case, I am a sucker for this kind of thing, loving ospreys and all things raptor.

I just happened to have a camera next to me.

But I made a stupid error with my equipment. Somehow I misread my iso settings or had them on auto-iso and I got way too much noise. Up around 1250. Serviceable but not perfect, even in the late afternoon.

Shots were salvageable but could have been much better if I had caught it at the time. Oh well. Win some, lose some.

The osprey is a unique raptor, the only bird with oily feathers. It feeds almost exclusively on fish. It is also sometimes called the fish eagle, the sea eagle and the river eagle.

It diverged from eagles and hawks tens of millions of years ago, it is unique to its singular evolutionary line.

It actually has its own taxonomic genus, Pandion and family, Pandionidae. There are four recognized subspecies of osprey.

Its talons are rounded rather than grooved and its outer toe is reversible, like an owl's.

In ancient buddhism, this regal raptor was sometimes named "the king of birds."

Sunday, September 16, 2018

englebert hummerding

It was a good day. Shot a hawk on the way in. Brunch with the three wonderful sisters, Wicki, Jennifer and Mary at the Garden Center. Used to be one of my old hangs, decades ago, and I ran into some old table mates Dave and Sandy. Excellent, thoughtful conversation with the girls at my table. Saw Dominick and Linda too, soon to be new neighbors of mine. Leslie is at a three day music festival, Kaboo, I can't do stuff like that anymore. Allergic to pavement. I got some stuff done at the shop, bought a new smoke detector, processed some pics, cleaned up some loose ends. Stopped at Trupianos for veal parmigiana and had a long talk with Faro. Saw a lovely osprey on the way home, eating something in a tree. Think I got some nice pictures.

All good.

Art Dealer Diaries

Some of you are having trouble finding my recent interview from New Mexico. I never really put it up except obliquely. Leslie and Big Dave felt I conflated a few things which I don't think I need to get into. But fair enough, maybe I did. I would amend and add a couple minor things if I got a do over but generally I am fairly okay with it. Could have been much worse.

Rap on brother rap on.

I love music. Just about all kinds. Blues, jazz, funk, country, classical, rock, soul, beebop, big band, crooners, experimental, rhythm and blues, punk, new wave, folk, disco even. I can only take so much polka but that is a subject for another day. Not real hip on banda either.

After eleven years reading the blog, you know what I like. And I consistently get plaudits from you for the music I post. That makes me happy.

I bring up the subject because at the Saturday breakfast (the waitress calls us the Mensa group) somebody mentioned that Kendrick Lamar had won a Pulitzer. Who? You know, the rapper...

And I realized that I had never actually listened to the guy. And tried to yesterday and he was essentially unlistenable. As is pretty much all rap music for me. I like a lot of hip hop but can't take the rap. Ditto Cardi B and Nicki and all the rest. It does nothing for me in a musical sense. I actually thought that Kurtis Blow and Afrika Bambaataa were pretty cool early on but was lost soon after. I did like Emily XYZ and the Stereo MC's.

But I am totally amazed at how the younger generation, no matter their race and color, have fallen for this rap music I find so utterly devoid of musicality. Shows how old I am. I watch Marvin Gaye, Al Green, The Stylistics, Bill Withers, Sly Stone, Stevie,  James Brown and Aretha and all this incredibly great stuff and have to wonder, how the hell did this awful rap shit happen?

I am so happy to have been around when the music was good.

Open My Eyes


I am not a big fan of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. I disagree with his judicial philosophy at almost every turn.

 I think he is a shill for the executive branch, dangerous for the environment, on a shotgun course to tear down reproductive rights for women in this country.

But the fact that he may have acted like a drunken, testosterone addled twerp once in high school. And attempted to grope a woman. Horrors.

Give me a break. 

I can think of one similar instance in my history that if disclosed, wouldn't allow me to get elected as a dogcatcher. Am I proud of it? No. But are horny, drunken seventeen year old dudes in high school going to do everything they can to score, short of physical rape?

Unfortunately, yes.

It is called male biology.  And the dirty little secret is that some women even like to be physically pursued. Goes back to being dragged into the cave, I'll bet. Most high school girls know very well how to fend off these clumsy advances. It usually goes no farther. If it does, there is a real problem. I don't believe his did.

So please spare me the puritanical sanctimony. I am far more worried about the fact that he may have perjured himself on the Pryor testimony, his receiving stolen documents from Manuel Miranda, the Schiavo phone call, the stuff he did after high school.

Nothing doing.

I had the Nikon D850 on the front seat with the large and fast 400mm prime this morning and saw this red tailed hawk on his familiar perch across from Tinker's transient quarters. I estimate that he was 60 to 80 yards away. Because of the camera's uncanny resolution I was able to get something out of the crop. This would have been impossible with the longer zoom.

Here is a slightly more cropped version that did have some processing. Almost unusable because of the extreme distance to my subject.

Click on the picture for a closeup and look closely at his eye and you will notice the bird's nicitating membrane.

Both the original hawk and the hummingbird picture at left share one thing in common. They are completely untouched, unaltered in any way in post production besides what Lightroom does inherently.

No sharpness, noise reduction, exposure, saturation, color vibrance, clarity, shadow reduction, nothing.


My new thing, leave well enough alone. Photographers need to pretend that they are doctors in post-production - first do no harm.

In the interest of honesty and full disclosure I did slightly tweak this lovely scrub jay. She hasn't complained.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Get Away Jordan.

True crime

World is definitely on tilt. The woman who wrote the book "The Wrong Husband" and the blogpost "How to murder your husband" has been charged with, you guessed it, murdering her husband.

wrong never felt so right?
Horrible on a human level but sort of poetic, in a sick kind of way. Nancy Crampton Brophy advised against using poison or a hitman in her essay, she apparently went with good old fashioned lead in the murder of her hubby, chef Daniel Brophy.

You would think a romance/whodunit writer could be a tad more creative but this is the dull new world we live in. Why be ordinary? Bash him over the head with a capon or a brass candlestick or something. Bullets are so common.

All joking aside, Nancy's blog Virgin pages, schizophrenia and a wastebasket, a writer's life is actually pretty cool. I found this pithy quote;

Be careful what you wish for, when the gods are truly angry, they grant us our wishes.  

Hmmm. Methinks she had issues. But really, let's face it, who doesn't? She writes books about the wrong person, wrong boy, wrong seal, wrong cop, wrong hero, wrong lover. Couldn't get it right, I'm afraid. 

I am sorry that she spun out this bad, she sounds like a truly troubled soul. This is how she expresses her philosophy; 

My stories are about pretty men and strong women, about families that don’t always work and about the joy of finding love and the difficulty of making it stay. 

Well Nancy, you definitely don't have to worry about that last part any longer.

In other crime stories today, a gang of killers dressed like mariachis started mowing innocent people down in the street in Mexico City. World is upside down. 

I can see one guy going off but a coordinated team of mariachis sounds like something from Batman. Or one of my favorite cult movies, The Warriors. Syncopated clown killers.

A couple women back east who dressed up as nuns were just convicted for a bank robbing spree. People are certainly getting really creative. Who doesn't get at least mildly titillated at the thought of hot nuns with automatic weapons?

And we have a Border Patrol supervisor on the southern who sidelines as a serial killer. Really, who needs a wall?


The idyllic Scottish isle of Gigha just experienced its first reported crime in over twenty years, a burglary. The island residents don't even lock their doors. I hope they can go another twenty without a reprise. Last sane corner of the world.

World renowned funny guy and current shmatta salesman Barry Freidman's interview is now live on Art Dealer Diaries. You will laugh, you will cry, you will reach for a bromo.


lithe figure in garden

Photography has historically found itself pulled in several directions. In the 19th century the prominent competition was the daguerrotype versus the softer line of the colotype.

Philosophically the documentarians took umbrage at the tonalists and luminists, the atmospheric soft focus photographers at the beginning of the twentieth century who took a more painterly approach to the captured image.

Later Weston and the ƒ64 group went back to a harder line, representational approach. All good.

Here I try my hand at a softer, luminist, tonal photograph. Wrong to kvell over your own work but I particularly like the art nouveau evoking fabric spontaneously blowing behind the figure's neck.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

What's your price?

Good for the goose

You know, pending a coup or a Putin style President for Life bid, Donald Trump's reign will not be forever.

While a small fraction of his legacy can probably never, ever be repaired, principally his destructive environmental policies, he will be largely remembered as a blip on our body politic, a nasty but thankfully temporary Nixonian cyst on the ass of America. The nadir of our recent national existence.

We are a resilient nation. We got through the Civil War. We can survive this asshole.

I do not want to impeach the man. I want to see his tax returns and I want the congressional investigations to start. I would like his unraveling and destruction to be both slow and immensely painful. Impeachment is too quick, he needs to suffer for a while.

Let's see what really happened with Trump/Russian money laundering and Deutsche Bank. Zervos, Daniels and McDougal. And the extent of the Russia collusion. Let's put both Don Jr. and Sessions under oath and see if they were lying about the Trump Tower meeting. Throw some people in jail, including family members.

This House is so funny, 100 Benghazi investigations during the Obama presidency but not one measly House Oversight investigation of Trump. What was the quote from the GOP congressman "We didn't come to Washington to investigate Republicans" or something along those lines?

In any case you have to wonder about what has been lost in this Presidency? Can you imagine what the GOP would be doing if a Democratic President did the same things the Donald is doing? Emoluments, tax returns, self dealing, lying, race baiting, grab their pussies, the nice nazis, neutering the CFPB, treating Puerto Rico like a plantation, picking fights with good allies on trade, screwing our farmers with tariffs. Not to mention trying to use the Justice Department as a tool to go after his political enemies. They would be apoplectic.

But Trump somehow gets a pass. 90% of the GOP loves him for all of his putrid stench. Because he is getting their agenda enacted and he has now hand picked a Federalist Society judge that will both overturn Roe v. Wade and keep him from being indicted. So except for a small handful of retirees they largely keep their mouths shut and look the other way.

You have to wonder if the Republicans will demand a return to the pre-Trump status quo and old school ethical normalcy when this horrible little experiment is over and when and if the shoe is ever on the other foot? I would tell Mitch and his buddies to pound sand. Pack the Supreme Court with umpteen liberal judges and give them a dose of their own medicine. Karma is a bitch.

Fly a kite

A friend had a gran mal seizure at coffee and things got a little bit frantic this morning.

Afterwards I decided to take at least a partial mental health day and go out to my favorite wildlife area and shoot some birds.

In a photographic manner of speaking, anyway. Would help me decompress and hopefully help me out of what has been a terrible funk.

It was a fine day to be out in nature. Mostly by myself, a few errant birders flew in but we mostly stayed out of each other's way.

The ponds are still pretty dry up at San Jacinto but there were still some things to see.

My photographs largely sucked, hopefully the problem is with me and not my equipment. The 400mm 2.8 e does not exactly love the nikon 1.7 teleconverter.

If I had any money and could pay my regular bills I would send my rig up to Nikon to be checked out, calibrated and fixed if need be. But I don't.

My highlight was seeing a kite, I forget is it black shouldered or white tailed again? They keep changing it. Anyway I love kites and they are always a thrill to see, photographically captured or not. A sleek, ghost of a raptor.

It is funny, I ran into two birders at the Walker Ponds and they sort of scoffed when I mentioned that I had seen a kite, the hardcore professionals much more interested in recent reports of Pectoral and Baird's Sandpipers at SJWA and the recent Wilson's Snipe. And I could honestly pretty much care less about peeps.

I am definitely a raptor guy but certainly not a fully fledged, comprehensive birder. We all like what we like. I have come to grips with my avian limitations. I think that I can live with them. If you can't you can shoot me, preferably with a medium format Hasseblad.

 I hate it when my equipment acts up, when I miss an opportunity. Actually feel a sense of shame. Need to get back out there and nail it. Soon.