Saturday, February 28, 2015

Gone for good.

It is a bit embarrassing still to this day to proclaim my allegiance and long time love for the Grateful Dead.

People that didn't get it then will probably never get it, it was the nature of the beast, a twelve armed fire breathing dragon when it was on, but an almost ridiculous caricature to those people looking in from the outside.

I certainly wasn't an original deadhead. The band started playing around 1965 and I don't remember listening to them until 1970 or 71, while in boarding school.

There were different phases of the grateful dead, it started out as an electric jugband, with the heavy blues influences of "Pigpen" Ron McKernan.

Later it went harder and electric, then softened up a bit. On a really good night, they were simply the best, tightest and most cerebral band in the world.

The group formed near Palo Alto and the principal writer, Robert Hunter, was an early attendee of some of the Stanford MK - Ultra LSD experiments. LSD, you will remember, was still legal at the time and used by such pillars of society as Steve Allen and Cary Grant.

Psychedelics were a major part of the essential fabric of the band and the hippie culture at the time and the Grateful Dead were formed and tempered in a magical alembic of acid chaos. They cut through the kaleidoscopic soup like modern day explorers.

The dead had a country phase, a soft harmonic phase with Workingman's Dead and American Beauty and a powerful period of 1968 and 1969 that some of us refer to as the cranial period, an immensely intense phase where they would play their grand opus's, the other one and dark star, powerful explorations into open space.

They often jammed the songs into new territory and had a great habit of sort of making it all up as they went along. Later they touched a whole bunch of other disparate musical styles and idioms, including jazz and disco.

Anyway, back to my bona fides. I am not an original deadhead but you could call me a second or third generation deadhead, climbing on the bus at the Boston Music Hall in 1973 and seeing hundreds of concerts and making literally thousands of friends along the way, many who survive as my closest confidantes to this day.

A loving and sometimes tripping community. Never touched the stuff myself, preferring to sit in a corner and read Proust when things looked like they were maybe getting a little out of hand.

I met the various members of the band, some of them many times, including Jerry, connecting through the art conduit and having a good intimate relationship with many of the crew. Backstage, front of stage, back of the board, in the high rafters. It was all good.

Deadheads of course came in all stripes, straight, gay, rich, poor, stoned, sober, liberal and conservative. It really didn't make all that much difference. You were there to groove and have a good time. Didn't matter what you drove or what was in your bank account. Just are you kind?

*
Jerry unfortunately passed away in 1995. Big hole in our lives. The band tried to keep things going, through various incarnations, The Other Ones, Dead, Further, Rat Dog, Phil and Friends. They even pulled out some old near forgotten nuggets.

But it was, at least for me, largely unlistenable without the giant brain in the middle, Jerry, cranking it out on stage.

The surviving members of the band are getting back together soon for a 50th anniversary concert in Chicago, supported by Hornsby, Trey Annastasio of Phish and Jeff Chimenti.

Many Deadheads are floored at the audacity of them now doing what they once pronounced they would never do, which was to play a concert under the sobriquet of the Grateful Dead. Why are they doing this? Is it merely a payday and one last chance to cash out? And if it is, so what?

But would I go? No fucking way. Not if you paid me. Wouldn't walk across the street now to see them. Word today that some tickets are going for up to 15k per ticket. Ridiculous. Wealthy deadheads are taking Lear jets to Chicago and paying off insiders with cases of expensive cabernet. For what? To listen to what? Some fucking horrible trucking jam? Face it, the idiom is toast, fellas.

When you plunder an artform a million times over, the magic escapes, the air leaks out, it happens every time. The whole concept, always an anachronism, is officially tired. Over. The magic is done gone for good and whoa-oh, nothing's gonna bring it back. 

If a bunch of sybaritic jet setters want to pony up tens of thousands of dollars to delude themselves into thinking that they caught the actual Grateful Dead, well let the cash registers ring, baby. We are after all,  all entitled to our illusions.

The Grateful Dead was always dedicated to both playing really well and to exploring new space. Are they going to write a bunch of new material for these shows? Are they going to venture into new and fresh musical territory? Highly doubtful. A greatest hits fest and lets get the fuck out of town boys.

Truth be told, things were starting to get stale long ago, when the real band was playing. The air was coming out of the balloon even then. The worst aspect of the experience resembled your Uncle Mortie's Shriners convention in Vegas or Fred and Barney tying one on down at the Loyal Order of Water Buffalo. Old home week at the fraternal organization.

Now the rich kids can try to squeeze back into those tie dyes and dust off those rusty strings just one more time. Or was it rust off those dusty strings? I forget.

Trey is a fine player but not nearly as fluid as Jerry and he has a very poor to fair voice. Hope he doesn't try to sing the late guitar player's vocal parts. The whole thing just doesn't add up at least for me.

I love the Grateful Dead, I proclaim my fealty to them, I treasure all of their contributions, brilliance and output. Life would not have been the same without them and they gave us the greatest possible playgound imaginable to hang out and play in. I just wonder why this particular reunion was necessary?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Doldrums

Topical Depression © Robert Sommers 2015

You Don't Know Me



Billy steps on Boots a little bit but he won't be denied. Great tune, great sound.

Fascionista


I'm not much of a fashion plate. Went through the hang ten, clark wallabee, levi's cords phase like most of my peers, had a short stint with fry boots, that's about it. Functional slob, that's me. Don't personally pay a lot of attention to my clothing, as my friends and confidantes will certainly agree.

But I still like to look around, see what ticks, stay au courant, if you know what I mean?

I was reading the other day that Urban Outfitters had been slapped around for their most recent attempt to develop their holocaust chic™ line.  The article in question is a tapestry in their Assembly Home clothing that strongly resembles the garb that gay individuals were forced to wear in the nazi concentration camps. Little pink triangles nesting on a bed of jailhouse stripes. Very special.

This is of course not their first swing at capitalizing on the fashion piñata that is the nazi concentration camp.


Who can forget the yellow kristallnacht™ design with the star of david emblazoned on the pocket, like you just popped out of the Warsaw Ghetto?

Of course the Urbanites aren't the only company trying to mine the rich cultural vein that is the final solution.

Spanish company Zara introduced and quickly pulled their own line of clothing for the little Hitlerjugend in your house.


I know, I know, oversensitive...Unfortunately I don't think that this is in any way an accident.

Many years ago, my ex wife and I were in a cafe in the Yucatan when a very hip young couple walked into the restaurant we were in wearing the tres trendy Adolph Hitler t-shirts. I really had to greatly resist the urge not to punch the guy in the mouth. I guess I just have no sense of fashion.

*

In other fashion news, who has failed to chart the hottest trend of the season? Move aside concentration camp prisoner, make way for terrorist chic!


I first saw the look on Los Angeles Charger defensive back Eric Weddle. Mix one part lonesome lumberjack and four parts Isis jihadi and you've put your finger on a look that's sweeping our shores as fast as you can say Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Keep it short on top and long on the chin and you'll gain entrance to the sawmill, the leather bar and any terrorist confab this side of Djibouti!

I know that we cycle through weird phases and us old codgers don't always get it. But I'm telling you, I don't get the coiffed upstairs, facial pubes down below thing, at all. I get the concentration camp thing, everybody thinks that's funny.


Got to wonder what the hell is next? Commemorative Auschwitz tattoos?


The wonderful underground artist Robert Williams once drew a great cartoon foreseeing future fashion trends. Might have been in Zap. Space age rubes mulling around with mohawks and their underwear on the outside of their clothes.

Very prescient, that Robert. He foresaw both punk and Madonna. Wish I could find the comic the cartoon was in.

Captain Kirk vs. Spock



In a salute to the late Leonard Nimoy, a replay of one of the classic scenes. Spock's yiddishemama instructs her kindela to ring Captain Kirk's bell and instructs everybody present to not interfere mit it. Live long and prosper, Shpokela!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Step Right Up

Brett


Carl's Cowboy

I was supposed to meet a guy in the parking lot of the Carl's Jr. in San Clemente to buy the woodblock. The day was cold and cloudy and traffic on the 5 North was murder because of an accident on Basilone Rd.. I met my associate, did my deal and couldn't help but notice the interesting chap playing his guitar in the background in the parking lot to an audience of zero.


Now I collect people like this, love eccentrics, love their stories, enjoy seeing what makes people tick. A grizzled guy serenading exactly nobody in a god forsaken parking lot is right down my wheelhouse. Besides I had four exposures left in my Ilford 100 black and white roll and this would be perfect. My first black and white roll shot on the 1953 Rolleiflex K4a.

I asked the cowboy if I could get his story and take his picture.

"Well, I'm awful hungry."

I slipped him a ten spot, feeling flush at the moment and figuring whatever story I got would be worth the high price of admission. And maybe he was hungry, who the hell knows?

He told me that he was a broke down bronc rider from Texas. He had taken a fall that had literally broken his butt or some other major bone in the general vicinity. Life had evidently been not too kind and his new gig was playing the guitar and trying to figure out his next move.

I used to pan handle when I was broke and have heard lots of stories, some even true. This guy may have never been closer to Texas than Pacoima for all I know but it doesn't really matter. He had a good story and a slick patter.

He asked me how he would be able to see the shots and I told him he wouldn't and he was okay with that too.

Ken thought I was seriously underexposed but I'm actually really happy with my shots. Lots of information in a medium format. Click on the shot and look at it big. I think that I have found my portrait camera.

Postscript; here is the shot straight out of the can. You may like it more or hate it less...


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Seventh day of the seventh month



I love old architectural embellishments, especially the baroque and heraldic material. One of the interesting things to do in a big city is to look for the outrageous architectural element that has been neglected or forgotten, like this poor griffin here. A regal figure confined to a life of graffiti and bird shit, not to mention the thick and somewhat corrosive Los Angeles air.


Proud lion bird deserved better.

The truth is that a lot of amazing work like this is starting to die out there, the victim of neglect or the wrecking ball. A law of physics I recently learned, entropy only increases. Trying to resist decay is a herculean effort.

I can visualize a special night, the seventh day of the seventh month, year of the blood red hunter's moon, when at the appointed hour the ancient spell is cast once more and in the dead quiet of night, the noble clay figures suddenly animate in the magic air and briefly meet to talk about their past deeds and maybe to laugh or weep. Even a wyvern, calopus or amphitere likes to rehash their past exploits every once in a while...


There is a sound, perhaps a carriage approaches or is it the flight of a bird? On cue, the creatures slip back into their too familiar solid beds of plaster and clay, motionless once again they are sentenced to the dreary tomb of eternal sleep. 



Amazing to think of the work and craftsmanship to produce this level of artistry, a craft and guild that is sadly now extinguished. Look closely at these faces, they share the sorrow.


If you see a beautiful stone figure in some city that perhaps looks lonely and forgotten, give it some love. From me.



Rock And Soul Music




Hello Qatar!

The blog is getting a lot of play in the middle east today. An old post of mine from 2010, Queer Qatar, has been picked up and somebody is running with it. 850 hits already this morning.

I don't pay a lot of attention to who or how many is/are reading what these days. Readership has certainly dwindled from its previous heights when I was more prolific, not that I give a damn. Don't send it out all that much these days. It is what it is.


Still, like most people I have a fascination for even, round numbers and we are barreling towards a million page views and pardon me for my lack of humility but that is a whole mess of people. Thanks for reading. Insh'allah.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2.22.15

Crow on branch - Seitei
Fallbrook's crows have been blackening the local landscape of late, peppering the telephone wires and telephone wires in the cold, dewy mornings.

The hawks and the osprey have been quite visible as well, nature starting to slowly heat up as the winter wanes out of its slumber.

Ceanothus is blue purple as are the towering echium spires that are just now starting to show off. Magic southern California displays its florid charms once again for the lucky inhabitants to enjoy.



Last week I told you that Bruce Taylor saw a bald eagle near Elder St., a rarity in these parts. Yesterday Bill sent me pictures of said bird. A neighbor of Jerri's, location not important, took these pictures. Bird lives near a couple lakes. The photographer is Jay Waters. We have a resident bald eagle in Fallbrook now. Won't tell you where. Will have to send me to Guantanamo and apply moderate coercion techniques before I tell you.

*
Yesterday my camera group took a Los Angeles Conservancy tour of downtown Los Angeles's old theater district on Broadway. Got entrance to a few old theaters including the sumptuous Los Angeles Theater, where Charlie Chaplin hosted his guest Albert Einstein one long past opening night. Remarkable place, will post some pics later. Went gargoyle hunting, bagged a ton of them.

Afterwards we went to Phillipe's for french dips. It was Chinese New Year so the area was swamped. Managed to park, order and eat. We all shot film there. Today I snapped some exceptional portraits of a beaten down rodeo cowboy at the Carl's Jr. in San Clemente. Finished the Ilford 100 roll. Can't wait to develop them.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Mose Allison ~ I've Got A Right To Cry


Recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, April 18, 1958
Mose Allison - Vocals, Piano
Addison Farmer - Bass
Ronnie Free - Drums

Rolleiflex first shots

I mentioned a while back that I had been given an old Rolleiflex K4A twin lens reflex camera recently, circa 1953.

I have been harboring a secret desire for a while to get back into film.

Couple reasons. There is something comforting about not seeing little pixelations for one thing. Two, I think that at this point in my life it will make me a better photographer, forcing me back to manual settings. I can romanticize about my film days but an objective look at the output tells me that I had more than my share of misses. Digital is just too easy, this will put me back on my toes.

The first camera I ever remember using was the exact same camera, around 1962, my stepfather's. I bought two more rollies last month, for peanuts up in San Francisco, an early Rolleicord with the Schneider 3.5 Xenar, in mint, never used shape and a 1961 Rolleimagic, one of the first aperture priority automatic exposure cameras.

Unfortunately when the selenium goes out in the meter on the magic you are left with a very pretty paperweight and I think that is what I am now stuck with. There is a guy up in Manhattan Beach who is supposed to be a rollei wizard and I will take it up to him and see if he will take a look.

I bought a roll of Ilford black and white and a roll of Fuji Velvia 100 at Oceanside Photo and Telescope and decided to put the Rolleiflex through its paces. Grabbed Brett, one of my favorite people and models, and headed for the alley next to the pub.

I was shooting at about F 5.6 and a third of a second. Have a new Sekinon light meter and I shot off my heavy Induro tripod. The Rolleiflex has a Zeiss 3.5 Opton Tessar lens. They can be soft at times and a little tricky. The velvia transparency film is known to be pretty temperamental as well.

I shot the velvia and Ken was nice enough to take it over to the North Coast lab in Carlsbad for development. My transparencies came back in a day. I have a new Epson v600 scanner and digitized the slides this morning and brought them into Lightroom.

I am reasonably pleased with the output and stoked about the camera. All of the new tools are going to take some dialing in and getting used to. The handheld stuff is pretty worthless. There is some sharpness variation even off the tripod. Will need to shoot the Xenar and see if I can tell the difference.

I like the organic quality of the bokeh and the blur of the film image, which in my opinion can not be matched by digital. Lot of my favorite photographers used this camera, Diane Arbus, Cecil Beaton, Robert Capa, Vivian Meier, Richard Avedon, Imogen Cunningham and the great Eisenstadt. Good enough for them, good enough for me.

Tomorrow a bunch of my fellow photographers and I shoot the downtown broadway theater district on a L.A. Conservancy Tour. Should be a lot of fun.

Everybody is shooting film at some point tomorrow, except maybe for Reardon. Ken just bought a mint Yashica tlr which was delivered yesterday. You can pick these things up for a song.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Politically correct bullshit

"Who can find a calf dead and freshly bleeding, with a butcher standing close by with an axe, and not think that it was he who did the slaughter?"

William Shakespeare, Henry VI


When I think about the face of terrorism it is really hard for me not to think of one Michael Adebelajo. He and his accomplice Michael Adebowale were the two british born muslim converts who killed and tried to behead british soldier Lee Rigby on a London street last year. Standing there with a meat cleaver, hands coated with blood, it is a stark and grim portrait of the true nature of the enemy.

The two men laughed and smirked at their trial. Later their attorney complained that their sentences were manifestly excessive and that their mental condition should be considered.

Their attorney may be a perfect fit for the Obama administration. The new company line seems to be that we can love these people to death and they will change their murderous ways. Give them jobs, get at the root of their deranged mental states and we can change these poor lost souls.

Good luck on that.

Obama seems to go to great pains to make excuses for radical islam, explaining that these foot soldiers' actions are not theologically or ideologically driven. I think that they are absolutely so driven. This stuff is straight out of the Koran.They are in a holy war, one that is easily recognizable to apparently everyone but members of this administration.

State Department spokesperson Marie Harf started the apologetic drumbeat the other day;
"We're killing a lot of them, and we're going to keep killing more of them. ... But we cannot win this war by killing them," Harf said on MSNBC's "Hardball." "We need ... to go after the root causes that leads people to join these groups, whether it's lack of opportunity for jobs, whether --"
At that point, Harf was interrupted by host Chris Matthews, who pointed out, "There's always going to be poor people. There's always going to be poor Muslims."
Harf continued to argue that the U.S. should work with other countries to "help improve their governance" and "help them build their economies so they can have job opportunities for these people."
She said: "If we can help countries work at the root causes of this -- what makes these 17-year-old kids pick up an AK-47 instead of trying to start a business?" 
Pardon me for failing to grasp the delicate nuance of the situation but this is a typical liberal response that holds that everybody down deep is a really nice person and shares the basic benevolent worldview of the west.

You could substitute nazi soldiers for Islamic terrorists and the thinking of the administration would probably not change. Poor deluded kids. We need to kill the evildoers with kindness and they will soon be beating their swords into plowshares.

Obama is of course leading the charge.
Islamic State fighters "are not religious leaders, they are terrorists," Obama said. "And we are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam."
"No religion is responsible for terrorism," he said. "People are responsible for violence and terrorism."
In Obamaland there are no evil religions, well except maybe the jewish one. Why does the administration need to be so touchy feely and dance around the question of Islamic extremism so? Joe Biden is carrying water for the company line as well, preferring to speak about the evils of Christian extremism at the recent Countering violent extremism (CVE) summit.

I think that every creed in the world has done something nasty and objectionable at one time or another but it is a little late to bring up the crusades and inquisition and all these incidents are certainly a matter of scale, frequency and level of barbarity. You hear about an atrocity that claims innocent lives today and you don't spin your head around looking for the southern methodists.
In his opening remarks at Tuesday’s panel discussion, Biden said the U.S. and other countries need to tackle violent extremism not just by using force, but by engaging communities that are “marginalized.”
“We have to work from the ground up and engage our communities, and engage those who might be susceptible to being radicalized because they are marginalized.”
“Societies have to provide an affirmative alternative for immigrant communities, a sense of opportunity, a sense of belonging that discredits the terrorist appeal to fear, isolation, hatred, resentment,” he said.
I say, fuck this attitude. You don't reward poor behavior and evil acts promulgated by subhuman vermin by putting them on psychologist couches and discussing their motivations. It's like trying to reason with a rattlesnake. Instead you cut off their heads and say better luck next incarnation. This administration has its own head firmly implanted up its ass.
"President Obama knows better. I am all for restraint on the issue, and would never hold every Muslim accountable for the acts of a few. But it is not good for us or the Muslim world to pretend that this spreading jihadist violence isn’t coming out of their faith community." Thomas L. Friedman
In my view, pouring accelerant on someone and torching him, killing aid workers and journalists who are trying to help you, engaging in unspeakable acts of violence against innocent people you don't even know, you do those types of things and you forfeit the right to be called or treated like a human being. Not all muslims are evil but a great many seem to be and a lot of deluded westerners are providing cover for their misdeeds.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

José Feliciano - Hi-Heel Sneakers

Dynasty, the second sequel


Newly anointed GOP candidate Jeb Bush announced this morning that he will not be discussing the past during his campaign.
"I won't talk about the past," Bush said on Friday when a reporter asked him about an upcoming foreign policy speech in Chicago, according to Bloomberg Politics. "I'll talk about the future. If I'm in the process of considering the possibility of running, it's not about re-litigating anything in the past. It's about trying to create a set of ideas and principles that will help us move forward."
Pardon my innate skepticism but the Bush scion's reticence is a touch scary for me. If you are not willing to consider the events and mistakes of the past, how can you and we be sure that you will not repeat them in the future?

*
I was grilled by a Republican lass that I know the other day for having voted for President Obama in the last election. How could I?

Senator Brownback
The answer is of course, for me, as much as I detest Obama, I could never swing with the repubs on the social issues.

Look at the abortion bills that are popping up all over the red states like randy groundhogs, many not even granting exceptions in cases of rape or incest. Bills to restrict birth control. New bills to repeal protections for gays in the workplace, so you could fire someone for merely being gay.

Brownback has run Kansas into the sewer by cutting taxes and tanking the economy, forcing cuts to roads and education so he now has to feed red meat to his evangelical constituency by going after gay people.

Bills outlawing yoga pants. Bills to give the hungry a little more "dignity" by cutting off their food stamps. Bills forbidding the accurate teaching of history. Republicans that want to abolish the EPA. Bills to kill social security. Bills to ban new national parks. Bills to allow republicans to use "dynamic scoring" to fudge the math at the Congressional Budget Office.

I can never cast my lot with the stupid, short sighted and mean spirited bastards.


Thursday, February 12, 2015

Red tailed tale

Bruce saw a juvenile bald eagle with a white tail flying over Elder St. in Fallbrook the other day. He called me up and told me to keep my eyes open.

I have never seen a bald eagle in these parts, in Ramona yes, but I have seen several golden eagles hereabouts through the years.

Bruce is very lucky. I ran outside and surveyed the sky after his phone call but unfortunately my quarry had already fled the scene.

I was driving into town yesterday morning and espied a very light specimen of buteo jamaicensis perched on the telephone pole in my narrow river canyon.

There are at least 14 separate subspecies of red tailed hawk. I am assuming that this one is a calurus, which has three distinct morphs or color patterns. This would be the lightest version unless it is an entirely different subspecies altogether which it could conceivably be. I have taken photos of hawks for years and have so many different color examples in my files! This is the first red tailed I have ever seen with a white head.

I had my nikon with the 300mm lens on the seat, quickly turned down the music and opened the window, hoping to snap a pic or two before my little birdie flew away. I haven't used this lens in a long time and the shots were less than perfect and overexposed, shooting in the dawn from a dark cabin to the outside. Need to spend some more time with it and dial it in.


I think that the hardcore avian activity might be about to start!

White ceanothus are blooming and the purple variety will be here very soon. Purple hills are when the high coastal sage and chaparral is at its best.

The Sweet Ride


So you want to hear Moby Grape? Catch this cool trailer. Watched it with Vlad last week up in Monterey. Maynard G. Krebs decides it's time to dose.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Yakkety Shmakkety


A lot of liberal Democrats and other Israel haters have been bloviating this week about the audacity of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepting John Boehner's invitation to address Congress, two weeks before his own election. 

I think that it is time to unwad their panties. I, for one, am interested in what Bibi has to say about the foolishness of forging a bargain with a country like Iran, a country that is currently both internally unstable and long committed to Israel's destruction. If you aren't interested, don't listen.

Three out of four Israelis don't trust Obama on the issue of Iran and come to think of it, neither do I. Obama guesses wrong, its a mere miscalculation. Israel guesses wrong, they are toast. In any case, the real kicker is that we may be the ones doing the real interfering. Read Marc A. Theissen's piece in the WaPo. Obama has apparently sent a top operative to Israel and funded opposition candidates, in direct violation of Israel's election laws. Over 200k in State Department grants went to the group One Voice. Not exactly kosher.
."..While White House officials were threatening Israel, the news broke that Obama’s 2012 national field director, Jeremy Bird, was headed to Tel Aviv to manage a grass-roots campaign to oust Netanyahu. Bird would not be working to defeat Netanyahu if he thought Obama opposed it. Can you imagine Karl Rove going to London while George W. Bush was in office to help conservatives oust Prime Minister Tony Blair? It further emerged that the group behind Bird’s anti-Netanyahu effort has received State Department funding and lists the State Department as a “partner” on its Web site. Netanyahu’s Likud Party held a news conference to accuse its opponents of accepting foreign funds in violation of Israeli election laws, and Israeli newspapers published headlines on the “Obama-Labor link .”"
Bird is a real beauty and a notorious hater of Israel, schooled under the tutelage of one Edmond Hanauer. So let's tone down the big shocked sense of outrage.

*

Obama is taking a lot of heat for the interview he gave Vox. I have to admit, I had never read Vox before the randomgate issue came up. It is a hip millennial website that is remarkable in its vacuity and banal offerings. Believe it might be partially owned by the guy that runs the Daily Kos, Markos Moulitsas, as well as a few other people.

Anyhow I glanced at the site and saw a few headlines like Mucus is gross, and Politicians are boring and started feeling real bad about what passes for responsible or adult journalism today. And we all know that most young people can't find Mexico on the map and are a little confused about all this icky foreign policy stuff so Vox gives you little flash cards you can cheat with and impress your friends with your broad knowledge of current events. Like this one:


Anyway Obama took a lot of flack for his attempts to show that the shooting in the kosher supermarket was a random attack that didn't specifically target you know who. Which is hard to swallow since the terrorist himself called the french tv station and said he was targeting the HyperCacher because of the jews he knew would be there.

Earnest and Psaki looked really stupid trying to say that there were other ethnicities there and that other nonjewish were killed (they weren't.) Finally after a bunch of derision over the collapse of such an obvious bullshit narrative, they said that the boss had aways been clear that it was an attack on jews (he wasn't.) Yglesias wrote a followup today telling people to lay off the state department hacks, they merely had a bad day. We met Psaki last year when she refused to label a molotov cocktail throwing Palestinian freedom fighter a terrorist. Anyone who thinks that the administration's constant attempt to marginalize a certain population is not scripted is a fool.

I read most of the transcript of the great leader's interview and I wasn't nearly as unhappy about his softballing the anti semitic nature of the Paris attacks or the minimization of the threat of terrorism as with another thing. How fast Matt Yglesias tried to throw Israel under the bus:
MY:You mentioned the Philippines, and earlier the idea that there are big gains potentially to be made by giving some assistance to Central America. Does it really make sense to have so much of America's foreign aid going to a country like Israel that's quite wealthy when there are other democratic allies in other regions in the world that seem maybe more in need of assistance?
You read Vox and you get a lot of this sort of thing, they are lionizing the actions of the poor girl Kayla Mueller who thought she could make nice with the jihadists and got herself killed. Interesting that Mueller's parents are blaming the Unites States for not making more aggressive actions to save or ransom her but I think she made her own hijab here unfortunately. You climb Mt. Rainier and get stuck don't ask the public to pick up the tab and come save you either.

The liberal left has adopted the administration narrative hook, line and sinker, Israelis bad, muslims good and for gods sake don't say anything that will inflame the poor dears, you know how they get...

*
Interesting that Obama freaks out about jews legally buying land and moving into Jerusalem, rails against apartheid Israel, but has no problem when Abbas says that the future Palestinian state will be devoid of jews, a people that 97% of Palestinians now despise according to recent polls. Where does the harede come from? Well the television for one:
In Friday’s sermon on official Palestinian Authority TV, the cleric demonized Jews as “apes and pigs.”
“Many Muslims are being harmed these days by a group whose hearts were sealed by Allah. ‘He made of them [Jews] apes and pigs and slaves of deities’ (Quran, 5:60). They are harming the livelihood of the believers [Muslims]… They withhold their [the Palestinians’] money and collect interest on it.” 
[Official PA TV, Jan. 30, 2015]
A few months ago, a Palestinian youth recited a poem on official PA TV, also demonizing Jews as apes and pigs, as Palestinian Media Watch reported:
“You have been condemned to humiliation and hardship
O Sons of Zion, O most evil among creations
O barbaric apes, O wretched pigs”

[Official PA TV, Sept. 12, 2014]
The Quran in three places (Suras 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166) tells of Allah turning Jews into apes and/or pigs. In one place, it is explicitly about Jews:
And you had already known about those who transgressed among you concerning the Sabbath, and We said to them, ‘Be apes, despised.'”
 (thanks to Bloodthirsty Liberal for this one)
Guess the jews should have played along with Mohammed back in 627, would have saved a lot of bloodshed and shpilkis.

I could go on and on but will thankfully, spare you...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

One Kind Favor

Dad

I rose before dawn yesterday morning in order to start my long drive south. I made my way in the darkness to the Bay Bridge which would lead me eastward and back to my destination in the Central Valley.

The midspan tower on the new Bay Bridge is so beautiful, doubly so in the shrouded San Francisco fog and darkness and I had to fight the urge to stop and take a picture, which is of course not very safe and near impossible.

Maybe I can reconnoiter and get a good shot at two in the morning one night? Come to think of it I never did break out the camera this trip.

The drive to Fresno was uneventful. I am a morning person and leaving early gave me a nice head start and plenty of energy. Perhaps I would make it home from the bay area at a decent hour for once?

The show turned out okay, cobbled a few deals together, nothing earth shattering. Lot of rain but I don't think it had a momentous effect on anything.

Managed to see BigDave and Kerry my last evening. But my schedule has left me exhausted, three shows and an extra trip to Los Angeles in four weeks.

I knocked on the door to my father's home and in a few moments my step mother answered. She is a fantastic person, a godsend who loves my father very much and has been loyal and stalwart in the worst of circumstances.

My father has been living in the Alzheimer's home for several years now. He has one year left on his long term health coverage and fortunately or unfortunately, might well outlive it. My stepmother is preparing for the worst.

My father is or was a brilliant man. He was a mathematician, an accountant, a very successful real estate developer, an amateur economist who published long essays on the subject, a World War II veteran, a UCLA man who played football with Bob Waterfield and lettered in three sports.

He was an ace black jack player, a card counter, and he loved among other things, studying physics, opera, photography, fine automobiles and purchasing fine paintings and antiques. He was a great doodler and loved figuring out magic squares and relativity problems. Amos Sommers aka Amos Kaitz left an awfully large footprint and a list of accomplishments that would be hard to match or exceed.

He loved gourmet food, especially sole and whitefish and food from Northern Italy and France, not to mention a good steak. Dad traveled all over the world and lived an incredible life, arriving in this country at 14 from his native Palestine on a third class steam ship and carving a rich life out of nothing.

Unfortunately Alzheimer's is a disease that has no respect for one's past accolades or achievements, cutting down its victims in the cruelest possible way and reducing once powerful mortals to hollow shells.

Shela thought I should go to the home by myself yesterday. She made a snack for me to take to my dad. I arrived at the home, located in a clean suburban neighborhood and walked in the front door, signing my name in on the roster. I saw him sleeping in a large recliner by the front door.

He is so skinny now, looked almost like a prisoner from the camps or a Biafran. A shadow of his formerly robust and stout visage. The filipino aide said what he mostly does now is sleep. I put my hand on his knee and shook it, I hope gently. "Dad."

He looked at me with a blank look. Shela had warned me that it was getting worse and worse and that he rarely recognized her or anyone else. The attendant helped him up into his walker and led us to the dining room where I fed him cheese, apples and crackers. I had stopped at the store and bought him a diet coke and he downed the tall bottle in a second, being obviously very thirsty. Maybe he is forgetting to drink enough in his diminished mental state?


I have a routine I run through when I see my father. Even though his mind doesn't click properly anymore, I go through a mnemonic checklist, mentioning all of his children's names and  a few random past events of his life. I speak in both english and hebrew, his first language, to him. My father speaks three languages, his father spoke eight fluently. I am vainly searching, against all odds, for a cognitive trigger, something to open the neural puzzle box that so deftly ensnares this man, my father.

Yesterday nothing clicked. I asked him if he knew who I was and he said no. The aide tried to coax him to remember me, calling him Buddy. "Come on Buddy, who is it? Do you know who this is? That's what I call him, Buddy," he explained to me, a somewhat ignominious moniker for an accomplished man like my dad now near the final chapter of life's journey. But a man who obviously has little cognition or sense of identity at this point.

I sat for an hour quietly feeding him, talking in an idle monologue to him, honestly just happy to be in his presence. My dad did a lot for me, not a perfect man by any means but who is? Truth to tell we share a lot of the same good and bad character traits. His temper might have been a little worse but he had to fight and claw for everything and it hardens a man. It is a cliché to say he is now childlike in his innocence but he is today, completely dependent but very loving in a way.

It was finally time to go. I had a six or seven hour drive in front of me with traffic. But who knows if I will ever see him again, when will the last light finally flicker out on his life? I bent down and kissed him on the top of his scarred head and then lightly on the lips. "Goodbye dad."

He looked at me in the eye in a sudden synaptic flash of light and said the three words that left me not so silently sobbing.

"Thank you, son."



Saturday, February 7, 2015

Grant Green

Dark Star crashes

Been living from a suitcase for most of the month, honest to god it's getting kind of old. Three shows in four weeks up and down the golden state is testing the limits of my patience and endurance. And it definitely shows. Have a permanent neck ache - soft mattresses and hard pillows.

I'm exhausted and it is probably not helping sales and definitely not helping my attitude.  Actually haven't been too many sales to speak of this week. Brought great stuff but it's just not getting any traction.

Just making enough to keep moving, not enough to actually get ahead or god knows, fund any imaginary vacation. One more day to make something happen and if it doesn't I need to scurry back quick to my warren and regroup. Wonder how long I can keep this up, or are they going to pull me out of some dingy hall with a toe tag one of these days?

I'm not going to indulge in a full scale post mortem, I see little point. Will talk about food instead. Always safe. Been raining a lot up here. First night I stayed with my friend Kerry and we drove my car into the mission and had dinner at La Rondalla, decent mexican fare, good company. An annoying woman was sitting at the bar and her dog was lunging at people and wouldn't shut up.

I had mole chicken enchiladas that were pretty good. La Rondalla reopened last year after being shuttered for about seven years. I believe that it is something of an institution in these parts but it can't be solely because of the food which was sort of vanilla. Took forever to find parking. I hate searching for parking in the city, the whole compression aspect of urban living getting harder and harder for me to take.

Second night out I went to eat at the Iron Gate in Belmont. The Iron Gate is an old school warhorse, took my dad there in the old days when he was at full cognition and he simply loved it. Steak diane, flambé, a lot of things that light up, a proper caesar made at table side. Old world elegance still done right.

I ordered an excellent hearts of palm salad with bay shrimp and avocado. Steve had foie gras and crab legs. For an entrée I ordered sand dabs, as I usually do and they were marvelous as always. Don't remember what Steve and his son Joe had but we were all happy and dusted the nice meal off with chocolate soufflés which were superb.

I believe that we were the youngest diners there by about twenty or so years. We were loud and had a lot of good laughs.

Last night I met Loughlin at Creola. Or I was supposed to anyway. Missed it for some reason, took miles to reorient and turn around, driving back slowly I saw that the closed sign was out and the familiar yellow light was off. Place was dark. No wonder I missed it.

I pulled in anyway, seeing a candle on inside. The owner Edwin stepped out of the darkness and whispered in my ear, "Robert your buddy is seated over there." The lights had been off all day, five minutes later they reappeared and we were allowed to share a great dinner.

We both had salad with goat cheese. Nice little corn muffins. Mike had a pomtini, I splashed back a cosmo. Instead of the normal filet I usually get I went with the shrimp, crawfish and crab etoufee. Mike ordered the filet, still my favorite anywhere. Skipped dessert.

I finally finished my near miserable day and decided to venture back to South San Francisco  for culinary adventures by myself. South San Francisco is a gritty, ethnic working man's burg which also is home to a bunch of Bio Tech companies. Grand Avenue is full of interesting restaurants of all types, thai, filipino, chinese, italian, etc. I thought about the fancy chinese place next door but instead went back to Xiao Long Bao Kitchen for another round of their delicious shanghai style dumplings.


I'm not going to lie to you, I'm no expert but they were delicious. Hot, full of broth, very flavorful. I also had an order of shredded pork and vermicelli in a clay pot which was good but not necessarily sublime. Next time I will be a bit more adventurous. Was the only non asian there tonight.


I walked the few blocks back to the parking lot and got my car, which was thankfully not molested. Driving back I came upon a long candlelight vigil and march blocking my path, people carrying signs, saying hooray for our side. Rolled the window down and a nice man thanked me for my patience and explained that they were Jordanians and were marching in honor of their dead pilot.

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Tonight Sirius Radio was playing a nice grateful dead concert from Chicago in 1971. An excellent Dark Star that jammed into Sitting on top of the world. Keith Godchaux playing a nice melody line that complimented Garcia quite well. 


I have been reading a lot about darkstars lately, reading a lot about physics in general, currently Leonard Susskind's The Black Hole War, my battle with Stephen Hawking to make the world safe for quantum mechanics. Hawking believed that when something got sucked into a black hole its information disappeared and Susskind and fellow Dutch physicist Gerard 't Hooft thought that that postulation would be physically impossible and contrary to fundamental laws of science, matter and energy. They had a long and convoluted scientific pissing match of some kind, which is recounted in this book I am now approximately halfway through.

Susskind introduces the reader to quantum tunnels, the infinite horizon, entropy (which almost always always increases), a host of other ideas associated with quanta. He has a delightful way of distilling complex problems and making them understandable to the layman.

When I finish this one I have another book to start called Einstein's mistakes. Guess nobody's perfect.

ESO/M. Kornmesser

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Speaking of the singularity, artificial intelligence and all sorts of other weighty matters, you may want to wade into this never ending article that Jonathan Hill sent me tonight.


Jessica sent me this great shot of my mother with Jessica's nephew that I think is wonderful. Mom is hanging in there. Best laid plans and all that...

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