koi and swan, sepia

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Parisian Redo

South Rose Window, Notre Dame
People are very upset about the fire at Notre Dame and justifiably so. What a terrible loss. It is an incredible building with stunning stained glass. But in the final analysis, it is a building, and in a design sense, let's be frank, it was strictly outre.

On a slightly different subject; in my mind, the toll of the conflagration doesn't come close to the enormity of the tragedy at the Bataclan in Paris in 2015, the terrorist attack that killed 89 people. Buildings can be replaced, it is much more difficult, if nigh impossible, to replace people.

My understanding is that it was time to give the eight hundred year old bird a facelift anyway. We're in the 21st century now, my god. Time to get with the times. Au revoir, already.

I hear that they are going to lean heavily on chrome and split faced travertine in the upgrade, try to go a little bit danish modern. Lots of teak. Wouldn't kill them to put up a little wallpaper either. Maybe something metallic?

And all that religious stuff? I don't know about you but I think it's a real downer. Why not lighten it up? I'm thinking coral and pistachio with subtle notes of graphite.

Overstuffed pews in pony hide would be a nice way to go too. Some of that slick Italian lighting. Corian for sure. Let Damien Hirst do the new windows. Maybe throw in a little Walter Keane. Should be very exciting. Time to swing, no?

Friday, April 19, 2019

Dreadlock Holiday

Portrait from San Francisco

I asked this man to smile for the camera. He told me that he was smiling.

Blue Tail Fly

S.F. Eats

Had some interesting eats in San Francisco. Stuck around the South Bay mostly. First night out with Loughlin in Burlingame, we went to Sapore Italiano. This is Michael's favorite local restaurant, it was my second visit there. I arrived a few minutes late, very hard to find parking on Burlingame avenue. We started off with brushcetta and arancini for appetizers.

I ordered veal scallopine a la marsala, Michael chose the veal piccata. Although the food was certainly delicious and the place is wonderful, clean and airy, I thought the food was a little better on my first visit. The arancini was slightly underdone. My marsala sauce was a bit heavy, Michael's piccata was better than mine. Still an excellent meal, hard to go wrong there.

Second night out was with Rick. I have been jonesing for Peruvian food lately. We tried to get into Limon Rotisserie in Burlingame but it was absolutely packed. It looked a little bit fancy but we were after all, in the very affluent town of Burlingame and most everything is upscale. Maybe I will try another time, did not feel like waiting.

Instead we walked around the block and decided to go for Burmese food at Rangoon Ruby. It is right next door to another Burmese restaurant, an older one, I bet they loved the newcomer moving in next door. In fact there are a whole bunch of Burmese places in the San Francisco area, never seen a concentration like this anywhere.

Rangoon Ruby is a small chain, they also strangely enough also own a Peruvian restaurant in Belmont. They stuck us way in the back, past a door in the other room, perhaps afraid that my unkept hair and scruffy demeanor would scare off the landed gentry.

I ordered Burmese curried pork, Rick is having a tough time physically with spice, he had a pumpkin stew of some kind. I ordered moderate heat, Rick said no heat and his dish turned out sort of bland but flavorful. My meal was good and the coconut rice was delicious. I am not very well acquainted with this cuisine but it is definitely different than thai and worth getting to know better,

Afterwards we decided to do something about Rick's late in life sweet tooth and found a place called MK Crepe Island that served crepes and ice cream. Our server was Cambodian, they also served Banh Minh. The French were around those parts for so long of course they can make crepes although mine was a little thick and chewy and served like an ice cream cone. It hit the spot.

I had been thinking about Peruvian all week. Made up my mind to get some even if I had to go alone. No need. Faithful friend Rick was on board. Lots of places within a couple miles of the show, we settled on Mancora Cebicheria.  The restaurant was spartan but very authentic. In fact we may have been the only gringos around in the packed joint.

Now I am far from an expert on this cuisine but I really have enjoyed my limited exposure. I ordered my mainstay, aji gallina, Rick had seco norteño, a braised lamb shank cooked in beans, white rice, cilantro beer broth and onion sarsa. We traded bites, mine was good, although half the size I get at Panca in Oceanside, his was simply over the top fabulous. Had a salad and savory empanadas too.

The root of my love for this cuisine is that delicious little pepper, the aji amarillo, there is nothing else in the world quite like it. My dish was slightly different than what I am used to, they use walnuts instead of pecans in the sauce and add olives as a garnish. Both versions great.

Next time I am up I will try one of the other places although we both will certainly come back. Dessert was picarones, a deep fried sweet potato with powdered sugar and syrup. And flan. Excellent.

Pizza one night at Kerry's. Old dear friend with incredible sound system. Decent pie, if a bit overloaded with olives.

Sunday night I went to dry up my tears after a crappy show and decided to visit my old reliable South San Francisco food hangout, Grand and Linden. But where to eat? XLB kitchen was so bad last time out that I think I am finally done with it, gloppy chow fun and very shitty attitude on the part of the staff. Too many other places to get xiao long bao without the tsoris.

I thought about Ben tre, the delightful Vietnamese place on the corner but settled on Grand Palace Seafood Restaurant, a big, ornate Chinese affair that does dim sum during the day. Wouldn't kill me to try something new. I ordered a prime rib chow fun with XO sauce and a combination barbecue platter, a lot of food.

The chow fun was pretty good, the barbecue plate was very creepy. The roast pork was delicious and identifiable, very crispy on top, the rest of the stuff looked like it crawled out of the deep. I asked what the stuff was, no one could or would tell me. One item looked like a brain cross section. Eech! Sort of ran out of there.

Had a nice breakfast with Warmboe, Cam and Diana at Nini's coffeeshop the next morning. Good food and a nice patio where we dined.

Later on Dave took me to a place in the Haight called Bacon Bacon which was not very impressive. People may love it, and apparently they do, but my grilled cheese and bacon sandwich with bacon jam tasted rancid and the coffee in the jam was slightly off putting. Hype, not flavor.

Nice to hang out with my buddy. So this was a different trip for me, no Creola, no New England Lobster Company, no Iron Gate, no Koi Palace, still I managed to eat pretty well all in all. And thanks to all of you who picked up the check.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Missing one old coot

Tiken Jah Fakoly - Max Romeo

Pat sent me this from across the Atlantic.


I am selling an amazing work by Susan Ricker Knox. It is a scene of Ellis Island painted in 1921, the ninth painting of a thirty two painting exhibition that hung in the United States Capital that year.

It is titled The lonely refugee. The subtitle on the back is Czechs, Italians and Jews coming to America. Lots of labels, extensive provenance.

There was an anti immigrant hysteria in America around that time. Sound familiar? This artist from Bar Harbor, Maine obviously felt their plight. My mother's family came the following year from Moldova, the terrible Kishinev pogrom a horrible memory. I appreciate the help of the artist in illustrating their arrival.

I think that this is a significant painting, although it is not very expensive. Its message is powerful. Do you notice that it is titled refugee singular instead of refugees? Our eyes go to the forlorn woman in the red babushka. What is she fleeing? What has she seen?

Anyhow the reason I bring the painting up is that a man came up to the show and said he really liked it. Have known he and his wife for decades but they only talk, never buy. So he sent his wife over and she considered it for a moment and then shared that the refugees just weren't quite happy enough. And I had to bite my fucking lip not to say something very unpleasant. And I didn't.

Was talking about history repeating itself at the show, like is happening with immigration and somebody said something that I really like but I will be damned if I remember who she was... But she said something very clearly - History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes. I like that.

Rick gave me something to ponder at one of our dinners, not sure if it is true. He said that in his experiences, people that smoke pot think that they are always right. Debatable. Rick doesn't smoke, I do occasionally. Do I think I am always right? No, just about 97% of the time.

Funny thing at the show, I watched Persian people buying shiny objects like mad from the blingy booth across from me at Hillsborough and couldn't help but think of magpies. Wish I had a taste for that stuff but I don't. What was Polonius always going around saying? To thine own self be true. What a curse that can be. Would gladly sell my soul to the highest bidder, I can't even get a shitty offer.

Hard to believe that my sister would be fifty two if she was alive today. She died on this very day in 1983, not even sixteen. Ten years and one day younger than me.

Must have been in the back of my mind today.

Separate and unequal

Bill Warmboe gave me a copy of geographer Jared Diamond's article The Global Peril of Inequality when I was up in San Francisco. Diamond is a professor at UCLA and wrote the Pultizer winning book Guns, Germs and Steel. Food for thought when considering the factors that influence migration waves.

The essay is fascinating. It was published last December in National Geographic. Let me know if you get hit with a paywall and I will scan it and post it word for word. He points out that rich countries have average incomes about 100 times bigger than the poorest countries.
The ... result when inequality and globalization collide is that people with spartan lifestyles want affluent ones. In most developing countries, increasing living standards is a top policy goal. But millions of people in those countries won’t wait to see whether their government can deliver higher living standards within their lifetime.
Instead they seek more affluent lifestyles now by immigrating to developed countries, with or without visas: especially to western Europe, the United States, and Australia; and especially from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Whether immigrants are seeking economic opportunity, a haven from violence, or political asylum, it’s proving impossible to control recent waves of migration around the world.
For a long time the disparity in income and resources went unnoticed but with social media and communication the poor now know what they are missing and they are understandably pretty pissed. Because they are honestly never going to get a seat at the table. There are simply not enough chairs.
Global inequality itself isn’t the direct cause of terrorist acts. Religious fundamentalism and individual psychopathology play essential roles. Every country has its crazy, angry individuals driven to kill; poor countries have no monopoly on them. But in poor countries today, people are barraged with media visions of lifestyles that are available elsewhere in the world and unavailable to them. In anger and desperation, some become terrorists themselves; others tolerate or support terrorists.
Diamond predicts more big terrorist attacks, as long as big differences in living standards and resource allocation persist.
We promise developing countries that if they just adopt good policies such as honest government, they too can enjoy affluence—but that promise is a cruel hoax. The world doesn’t contain enough resources. We’re already having difficulty supporting a developed-world lifestyle now, when only about one billion people of the world’s 7.5 billion enjoy it.
The pie is only so big. So what do we do?
...it won’t be possible for everyone to achieve the dream of the developed-world lifestyle. Just do the math.
An average consumption rate per person means the amount of oils and other resources that the average person consumes a year. In rich countries those rates are up to 30 times as high as they are in poor countries.
Multiply each country’s current population by its average per-person consumption rate for a resource—say, oil—and add up those amounts over the whole world. The resulting sum is the world’s current consumption rate of that resource.
Now repeat that calculation, but with all developing countries achieving consumption rates up to 30 times as high as their current ones.
The result: World consumption rates increase by about 10-fold. That’s equivalent to a world population of nearly 80 billion people with the current distribution of consumption rates. Some optimists claim that Earth can support 9.5 billion people. But no optimist is crazy enough to claim that the world can support the equivalent of 80 billion people.
Diamond says that the issue is not hopeless, we could change. We could curb our excessive consumption and make it fairer for everybody. Just like we could lessen our reliance on fossil fuels. But unfortunately as everybody knows, we won't.

Stop the beeping

A friend of mine told me a story the other day. he was in a thrift shop and he asked to see an inkwell.

The young man behind the counter handed him a sculpture. "No," he said, "I want to see the inkwell," pointing at the antique object. He inspected the vessel, then handed it back to the man and departed.

The next day he re-entered the thrift shop. This time a girl was behind the counter. "I would like to see the inkwell," he once again proclaimed. The girl handed him the sculpture once again.

"I said the inkwell." The girl looked at him strangely and finally said, "What's an inkwell?" "Well, it is a vessel that holds ink that you put a brush, quill or nib into when you are drawing. I don't mean to pry but how do you not know what an inkwell is?

And the girl answered that if she needed to know about anything she could always google it.

I am not going to get into another extended rant on cultural illiteracy or the reverse Flynn effect. My blood pressure is already high enough. But it does seem that many of us over rely on these stupid phones and computers for the most basic of tasks, like addition or subtraction for instance, and it is not too hard to conceive of some harm they may be doing to our basic beings.

I am sure that all of us have friends, family or acquaintances that would rather hang out in cyberland 24/7 than take a walk or talk to their real life peeps. Living for likes on Facebook. Pretty awful metric but what do I know? Or staying up all night playing Fortnight or some warcraft game. I am off all social media at the moment except this blog and it feels pretty good. Especially with all the new info breaking about how Facebook really feels about the sanctity and privacy of your data, communications and email contacts.

Anyhow, not to draw this out but I did something very simple today to strike a blow for sanity on my cheap Motorola cell phone.

I'll take my chances
I went into every application and I turned off the notifications. Because I don't want to hear a beep every time CNN wants to tell me about a new chapter in the Mueller Report, or Huffpo wants to dish on Kaitlyn Jenner or CVS wants to tell me that my prescription is ready.

I don't want to be forced to rate every internet communication with my bank, or tell somebody what I really thought about the check in at the hotel. My time is valuable and I would like to reclaim it. So is my mental health. The emails can wait and so can the text messages. I will engage at a level I am comfortable with, and it is about me, my time schedule, not Yelp, not Instagram, not anybody else. If I need to engage I can surely find you, but stop with the incessant notifications already. It's driving us all batshit crazy.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Gene Clark

Richmond Bridge

I wonder who?

Eagle flies

I'm back from my trip up north. It was far less productive than I had hoped for and I don't think I have the emotional strength for a full internet post mortem right now. Too tired, too bummed. Did have some good times, good food and good talks with old friends.

Sunday morning Warmboe asked me to drive up to the Richmond Bridge with him. He had seen a pair of osprey nesting up there. I saw the nest but getting a shot from the second lane (right lane was closed) through the bridge railing, going seventy miles an hour was a fairly impossible task. We tried twice.

I did see a nice jubea chilensis palm tree at the east end of the bridge in a palm yard. So beautiful. My favorite palm, the sight of one always puts a smile on my face.

Went back to the show afterwards, did a little business and  finally packed out, tail resting firmly between my legs. The defeats are getting more and more crushing, not sure that I am emotionally equipped for a steady diet of failure.

I usually come home Monday but I stayed an extra day. Dave has been pretty sick and our old college roommate Jeff was flying in from North Carolina to spend some time with him. I haven't seen or heard from Jeff in twenty years but we were the three musketeers in our younger days, both in Cardiff and on the Grateful Dead tour. At least that is the name Rick Griffin gave us.

Dave and Jeff both of course cleaned up and grew up, had families, became very successful. I did my thing, whatever that is, hung around Terrapin Station, made rust.

The three of us and Dave's wife Amy went out for a meal Monday night. The excellent Bistro Aix. Porterhouse for four, I could have easily polished it off by myself. But the meal was delicious, nonetheless. The owner, John Beard, is a wonderful chef, a good friend of Dave's and a very nice guy.

It was good to see Jeff, everybody reminisced about past debauchery and collective experiences and had a good time. Jeff graciously picked up the check.

Next morning I hightailed it down the highway. Bill had mentioned that he had seen some bald eagles on the Pacheco Pass last week and gave me general coordinates to find them.

I stopped at Casa de Fruta first to pick up some dried fruit and my favorite habanero chile flavored pistachios. Snapped a few peacocks in the parking lot.

I was happily cracking and eating the very spicy nuts as I traveled west and espied the lake a few miles up and behold, there was an eagle, just as promised. Third year male, I think. Hot diggity!

I pulled the camera with my long travel lens out of the car and snapped a couple shots, the semi trucks whizzing by me at high speed and putting me in some small fear for my life. By the way, I don't take my heavy, expensive lens on trips like this.

The raptor was pretty far away and it was hard to tell if I was dealing with a bald or a golden eagle.

Didn't really have the camera set up optimally either, the trucks freaking me out a little bit.

Then I did the really stupid thing.

I wiped my eye, not realizing my finger was covered in incredibly potent chili powder. The tears came instantly.

I pulled out the gallon water jug and wet a paper towel that luckily I had in my pocket and dabbed my eye but couldn't really see for a few minutes, stumbling along blindly on the narrow shoulder.

Pain was pretty excruciating. I wouldn't recommend trying it. Take my word for it. The average habanero Scoville heat level is 200,000 units. By comparison, the jalapeno's average Scoville level is 4000 units.

Eagle flew and in my slightly incapacitated state I didn't change the shutter speed fast enough.

It eventually landed on another perch and I grabbed a few shots and well, you get the basic idea.

I always enjoy experiencing these beautiful creatures, that tend to live in gorgeous places and make me feel better about the planet. Will try to do a better job next time out. Maybe bring the fast lens. No more chili covered pistachios!

Friday, April 12, 2019

L'histoire Du Soldat

Igor Stravinski wrote this piece with the Swiss poet C. F. Ramuz in 1918. It is an adaptation of an old Russian folk tale of a soldier who trades his fiddle to the devil in return a book that can "answer every question" and provide unlimited fortune. As usual in such types of deals, with the fortune comes much misery.

The music is scored for a septet of violindouble bassclarinetbassooncornet (often played on trumpet), trombone, and percussion.

Originally the story was told by three actors: the soldier, the devil, and a narrator, who also takes on the roles of minor characters. A dancer plays the non-speaking role of the princess, and there may also be additional ensemble dancers. 

The conductor Robert Mandell chose to omit the dancers and narrator in this remarkable performance and recording with the Ars Nova Ensemble in 1957. The performers are Stanley Drucker, clarinet; Cyrus Segal, bassoon; David Jandorf, trumpet; James Thompson, trombone; Morris Lang, percussion; Herbert Sorkin, violin; and Reuben Jamitz, double bass. I have had the opportunity to hear the original tape on two of the greatest hi fidelity audio systems I have ever heard, Kip's and Kerry's and it may be the best recording I have ever listened to.

You must not seek to add
To what you have, what you once had;
You have no right to share
What you are with what you were.

No one can have it all,
That is forbidden.
You must learn to choose between.

One happy thing is every happy thing:
Two, is as if they had never been.

Stravinski here, like in some of Wagner's better compositions, creates music beyond time. Pure genius. It might take the world a few hundred more years to catch up. It evokes, amongst other things, the nimbleness and discord of a beebop jazz idiom that would not be created for several decades. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Wool Growers, Los Banos

It was a long slog up the five today, to my eventual destination in the Central Valley. The wind was incredibly heavy all day, on two occasions near the Tejon Pass it felt like a tire had come off the van the gusts were so strong.

It made for a slow, gritty ride, with two hands on the wheel at all times, had to stay very focused. Seven hours later I checked into my hotel and decided to get some dinner.

I have heard about the Wool Growers restaurant for years but had never stopped by for some reason. Tonight that would change. I took Henry Miller Blvd. about 10 miles southeast, past duck laden marshes and packing houses, definitely a different world up here.

I finally made it to my destination in Los Banos. The Basque restaurant has been in this old building since the 1890's. The Central Valley has always had a large Basque community and they have met in the two story structure for over a century now.

The parking lot was full of duallys and pickup trucks. For once I didn't have the dirtiest car in the lot, but it was certainly close.

You walk past the very spartan bar and enter the dining room, also very plain. Reminded me of some of the rustic tavernas I frequented as a kid when I lived on the Greek island of Ios.

The Basque establishment has very long tables, I counted 26 chairs per table, all covered in red checkered oil cloth.

Hunters, workers, scruffy farmers, guys in NRA caps. Old french posters from the Basque region dotted the walls. I don't think much has changed there in the last 120 years.

Server set me in a seat and here came the food. Farm fare. Bread and butter, beans, potato salad, vegetable soup, green salad.  Huge portions. I could have had a carafe of the house wine too if I wanted it and was still drinking.

The server took my order from a wide variety of protein, pork chops, lamb chops, prime rib, chicken, steak, tri-tip and more. I ordered the roast lamb.

I started digging into the sides and was getting a little nervous. There was just way too much food. I knew the trap and I had to pace myself. I had heard that you need to give yourself an hour or two at these sort of places.

The problem is they served me sides for a table of four or six and I hit them hard. Not gourmet fare, think good peasant food and I mean that in the most favorable way. Not an ounce of pretension at the Wool Growers.

Next came the lamb stew. I flashed to my experience at the French Laundry. Begging them to make it stop... Then came the entree, the roast lamb. I guess I would have ordered something else if I knew that lamb would follow lamb. But both dishes were truly excellent.

Met some interesting people there tonight, very friendly. Family from Encinitas and a man from Fiji. Restaurant staff were excellent.

I skipped the french fries which are reportedly great and the free dessert. Finally know my limits. I went to the new Brazilian barbecue in Carlsbad recently, Texas in Brazil, and hurt myself. Wasn't going to do that again. Will I ever come back here? Sure, but only if I have friends to help me eat.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Color me out.

Every day I feel more and more like an anachronism. I think that I am going to do pissy geezer so very well some day, if ever given the chance.

I have been having problems with the key fob for my old Dodge Caravan. It has developed a mind of its own. I have left the front door of my home in the morning only to find the hatch and sliding door of the van wide open. I thought that the fob might need a new battery but that didn't help.

These fobs cost about $250 now, programmed and installed. Ain't cheap being a citizen of the 21st century. I heard that the kid at Joe's Hardware was pretty handy with these things. He took a look and thought he had the ailment fixed but it went crazy again about a week later.

It would open the locks without me even touching it, flash the hazards, all kinds of weird crap. But I have a show in San Francisco this week and can't tolerate a headstrong car that can't be secured.

I broke down and went to the dealership. The diagnosis?  The fob, like its owner, was a touch oversensitive and was officially pow. Moisture, wear, blah, blah, blah. Friday the new key came in. Mexican dude started programming it but I could see he was running into problems. I asked him wussup and he showed me about ten codes on my car that were code red; the emergency brake light I de-wired from the system after the packrat ate the insulation wire for dinner in Santa Fe, the defunct tire sensor that I am not going to pay $600 for, etc.

Didn't I understand that in this brave new integrated world of ours, the key wouldn't work unless all of these items were taken care of? Just what I needed, more shame from my key fob. I cursed under my breath said something in spanish like, no lugar en el mundo por uno hombre pobre. He looked at me with a flash of understanding for a second and said lo mismo para mi, not to worry and somehow buried the dastardly warning codes and got me back on the road. Thank you kind stranger.

While I was cooling my jets at the dealership I took a look around and saw that car colors have gotten very monochromatic. Hard to get something these days that is not black, white, pearl, silver, anthracite, metallic, charcoal, graphite, carbon, tungsten or any one of a thousand other shades of gray. Although blue is starting to trend.  Black, white or silver are the most popular car colors in every single category of vehicle, and they have been for some time.

Was reading something last year that said it was almost impossible to find a gold, brown or earthtone colored car these days. Odd, wonder why that is? I know that you can find blue or red but not much else. If I was in a market for a new car the gold tone would make sense, living on a dirt road it would hide a little more dust. But warmth is out. Car buyers want C3PO, not Jabba the Hutt.

I looked up 2019 car colors today and got this.
2019 Car Color Trends  
You’ll notice more hues of blues and grays reflective of technological advances and space exploration. The gray tones mimic the consumer electronics used on a daily basis such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets. The blue tones are thought of to be a resemblance of the blue-light screens we look at every day, and to reflect the growing presence of space exploration. 
Well whoopty freaking doo. Car colors that mimic our stupid video screens and cell phones. Like we don't look at them enough. Gawd. Get me off this dreadful spaceship of fools. Then there was this:

While millennials are the newer target market for carmakers, they still have to consider all markets and provide color options accordingly. If you’re not a fan of the bright colors, don’t fret because white and black are still the most popular car colors with demand at 42%.

You humans are so boring. Predictable and boring, without a lick of creativity, the whole lot of you.

Some of the new car color names are a real hoot. How about gray ambivalence?

BASF predicts its new "Gray Ambivalence" will mesh well with a culture that is taking the lead when it comes to humans interfacing with artificial intelligence, although its name for this metallic gray seems more reflective of a baby boomer's stance on millennials.

You got that right. What's next, pouty blue insouciance? Burnt umber misanthropy? Do you have the full blown sepia psychosis in a four door, Bob? Sorry, I think I missed my stop.

Fog in the redwoods

Gotta get back to you

Sad state

CHP Sgt. Steve Licon - Rest in Peace

A little over a month ago I wrote a blogpost called breakdown that dealt, among other things, with the lack of manners and civility that we are all experiencing in society today. I mentioned that you really see it while out on the road and that more and more people are using the right shoulder to pass other cars.

Just two weeks ago a man hit a concrete pillar passing a big rig on the southbound 15 near Murrieta. Muerte.
The driver of a 2013 Ford Explorer was going 70 to 75 mph in the slow lane as it came up behind the  big rig, a witness told the CHP.  The driver then swung the Explorer onto the right shoulder and sped up to about 80 mph, the CHP report said.
Yesterday there were two more unfortunate fatalities in my area. A CHP motorcycle officer was hit and killed in Lake Elsinore. Driver was drunk. This officer was out there just doing his job, trying to protect us from ourselves, and no way did he deserve to die.
Michale Callahan, 36, of Winchester, was traveling on the right shoulder of the freeway and collided with the CHP motorcycle, according to the CHP. Callahan was arrested for multiple charges, including suspicion of driving under the influence.
And three for three, another accident on 15, this time near Fallbrook, same thing, another car passing a truck on the shoulder. Another life lost needlessly.
NORTH COUNTY —  A 73-year-old motorist died when her car flew off Interstate 15 in Rainbow Saturday afternoon, authorities said.The white Chevrolet Aveo sedan was heading north, weaving in the lanes, when it veered off the right shoulder, witnesses reported to the California Highway Patrol about 3:45 p.m.
At least one person reported that the driver may have been trying to pass a semi-truck by using the right shoulder.
The car overturned down a 25-foot embankment and landed on the shoulder of Old Highway 395, parallel to the freeway, south of Rainbow Glen Road, North County Fire Protection District spokesman John Choi said.
What is going on? Is it inadequate driver's training, bad judgement or just plain stupidity?

I had a car cut right in front of me on Mission this morning, inches to spare. It is almost like the drivers today think they are living in a video game and if they escape contact, it's all cool. But they often don't. You can chalk it up to Darwin, hopefully nature is weeding out the morons but too many innocent people are caught in the wake and losing their lives because of these idiots' irresponsible selfishness. Don't pass on the right shoulder. Be a considerate driver. Don't be an asshole.

High rollers

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Claire Hamill - Urge For Going

Terry Reid on guitar. There are so many good versions of this Joni Mitchell song. I suppose the early Tom Rush is my favorite but it was also done by Dave Van Ronk, in fact it was the last song he ever played live. Tony Rice, Crosby, Stills and Nash, George Hamilton and Mary Black also took a turn with it. The little known Claire Hamill does an excellent job here. Sounds a bit like Sandy Denny.

I'm ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille...


I obtained this early Japanese woodblock print recently.

I thought that it might be the work of Utamaro initially but after a bit of research and an email to Ronin Gallery in New York found out that it was actually created by a man named Utagawa Yoshitora.

Yoshitora was the oldest student of the great Japanese artist Kuniyoshi.

Yoshitora's period of work seems to extend from the 1840's to the 1880's. His birth and death date are not known at this time. He worked in a time period of the late Edo called Ukiyo-e, or "pictures of the floating world."

Uki means both sadness and "to float." The work from this period was popular amongst the middle class of Japan of the time and also affordable to them.

He was prolific, working on both prints and book illustrations, of which he is said to have completed over 100.

Yoshitora screwed up along the way. He was evidently a bit of a rebel. He produced an irreverent print in 1849 called Dōke musha: Miyo no wakamochi "Funny Warriors - Our Ruler's New Year's Rice Cakes." It was accompanied by a rather scandalous poem.

This was interpreted as making fun of the shogunate and various authority figures and the artist was put in shackles for fifty days and summarily expelled from Kuniyoshi's studio. Thankfully, he continued to work after his punishment and expulsion.

I need to find someone to translate the Japanese here. I was told that it was probably produced in the 1860's. I just figured out what was depicted on the print, on my own, thank you. At first I thought the ladies were spinning silk thread. A closer inspection shows me that they are instead probably engaging in the ancient art of dying the indigo blue thread known as Ai-zome, using what is known as Hirose dye. The brazier was the tip-off, not sure why I didn't catch this right away. They are heating up the dye. Unless of course, I am dead wrong in my interpretation, which is always possible as well. I can not find another image of this woodblock so I am on my own here.

I look forward to learning more about this particular print, and the artist.

first postscript: my buddy Dave, who teaches English in Japan, sent me this note -

yes, they are heating the silkworms' chrysalises in hot water to make it easier

to pull the silk and reeling it to make thread so they can then make garments

from the silk.. much like you would put chickens or ducks in hot water to make

it easier to pull their feathers to prepare them for eventually cooking them..

Thanks, Dave. See, I was right and then I was wrong, pays to ask questions sometimes. Would love to get an exact translation of the Japanese if I can.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Let The Sky Fall

Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right...

"Dictatorship is dictatorship whether from the right or left." Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.)

I was reading a rather scary article today about Venezuela. According to the article, which is a product of Fox and so not entirely above suspicion, certain far left democrats are agnostic if not outrightly pro Nicolás Maduro, the country's socialist dictator.

These people include Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ro Khanna, Rashida Tlaib, Tulsi Gabbard and Bernie Sanders.
As the country’s problems worsen, Democratic Venezuelan-Americans question whether their party’s actions go far enough. A growing number of exiles say they feel forgotten by a new generation of outspoken, progressive Democrats, leaving them less beholden to a party they had long supported.
Issues that for years were hotly debated in an area of Miami known as "Doral-zuela" due to its vibrant Venezuelan community, have made their way to the ears of some of the most powerful lawmakers in Washington, D.C.
The Venezuelans are angry that, as the country continues to spiral, some Democrats keep calling on the U.S. to pull out of Venezuela and lift all sanctions against the government.
“This is where the Democrats have consistently dropped the ball…they have never felt like it was an important issue…it's very difficult to feel and coexist in the same party that is saying these things are so ignorant about my homeland,” said Venezuelan immigrant Helena Poleo.
This new rapprochement from the American left towards Maduro makes me feel very ill. I sympathize with these emigrants. This Venezuelan government and its predecessor have been a disaster for their country and the western hemisphere in every way. Chavez and Maduro have established a beachhead for Iran and international terror in the west. They are now a  bastion of anti-semitism.

They are also regularly using death squads against their own people. Amnesty International accused Maduro of being responsible for at least 8292 extrajudicial executions in his country, a number that is now surely much higher.

Hugo Chavez silenced the opposition and the media, nationalized all the productive industries and declared himself President for life. Maduro has made things even worse. I have written about the disaster that is Venezuela for many years. Unfortunately much of the worst of it was under Obama's watch and enabled by his laissez faire attitude towards the socialist dictatorship.

Bernie Sanders has hired Hugo Chavez's own speechwriter apologist David Sirota, as a Senior Advisor. This is where I get off the bus. The new progressive radical wing of the Democratic party is going to lose this stalwart centrist in very short order if this is the way things are going to be.

Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb - Soul Stirrers

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Late night visitor

I dreamed about my late buddy Garry last night. We met at some trails near Del Dios and they magically morphed into narrow slot canyons with enormous cliff faces, somewhat akin to Canyon de Chelle.  We hiked together through this magical wildlands.

The hiking was arduous, there were times the trail was tight and scary and I didn't want to move forward but he coaxed me through my anxiety and I finally surmounted fear and elevation. At one point I was almost stuck in quicksand. Cohen helped me right my ship. He was always like an older brother to me.

We talked a bit afterwards about the ins and outs of the death thing, he admitted to once manifesting from the corporeal realm to the porch of his old ranch as a polar bear. Now that will certainly get the people of Escondido talking.

Not sure what I think about the after life thing. I don't want to believe in it. But I had a strong visitation about six months after I lost my sister. Sometimes the presence in your dream is so strong you just have to believe that you have touched their essence somehow. But such matters are far beyond my mortal ken and pay grade. It was nice to see my dear friend, in any case, if only in sleep.