Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Health update 11/20/19

I had received the same immunotherapy treatment more than thirty years ago and remember it as being something of a cakewalk. This time around it is not such a walk in the park.

Nausea, fatigue, dizzyness and anomic aphasia, the cognitive inability to come up with a once familiar word. And lots of localized pain in the lower region. Burns like hell, nothing I can do about it. At least I am losing weight, no appetite.

I had my first treatment last Wednesday, then went to the antique show and set up. I was tired the first day but totally lost it the second, people said I had turned very pale. I went home completely wacked, not sure how I even got home I felt so rotten.

The next night I stayed with friends on the coast so as not to kill myself driving. Had a very good show, but certainly paid the price for it.

Left for San Diego at 6:30 this morning to make my early treatment. Today I feel even worse than I did last week. Not sure how many more treatments I get, I think four in this initial run, but I do know it will be one interesting ride.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Spare Me a Little of Your Love

Post time.

I start my immunotherapy tomorrow morning, first infusion at 9:30. Have to go through some strange gyrations with it for an hour or two, than then load in and set up Del Mar. Should be real interesting...

I had an intense dream about my late brother last night, going through Buzz's photos and clothes. I miss him so much, the dream was very powerful. I miss my mother too. Not that we got along always so swimmingly but she was always there when I had cancer or something life threatening.  Never doubted her love for a second when the chips were down. This is the first such voyage without her and the absence of her love, compassion and encouragement is exceedingly felt.

Hug your mom if you still have one to hug.

Sonny and Brownie

Convict Lake

I was playing around with this shot today. Took it on a trip with Ken a few years back, had never processed it. Very pristine and lovely lake. This shot was taken at ƒ11, 1/6th of a second, iso 64. Obviously has to be on a tripod at this speed.

It is very hard to expose properly in these sorts of midday shots from the Sierra Lakes. Lots of crosslight. Some sections are so bright and over exposed, others are very dark. I wish that I had a split grad filter at the time. My circular polarizer work leaves something to be desired. But with a little love, processing and care, it still makes a quite nice image.

Banana Freak Out

Eternal struggle

I am not a big belief system guy. Any system. I prefer to ponder human psychology, cultural anthropology and this great big, magical world of ours without any sort of supernatural filter. We sentient beings obviously exist, we share a world, we breathe and things go better for all of us when we get along, I do believe that much.

Do I respect and love many of you who believe in a creator? Of course I do. But I also don't think my buying in or not should have any bearing on your spiritual salvation, belief system or the deity of your choice. And you shouldn't worry about me. I'll be fine.

Why do I bring this topic up? I was having coffee with two of my more god fearing friends the other morning and they both agreed that they would never practice yoga or feel comfortable with their children doing so. When I asked why they both seemed to be of the mind that it led to chanting and all sorts of eastern religious precepts that would be at odds with their christian world view. Don't want to open the door to that sort of stuff.

Having practiced Iyengar yoga from a very young age, I told them that I had never felt pushed into any "eastern philosophy" beyond the standard namaste greeting. But it launched us into a discussion, because I mentioned that many of my christian friends believe that we humans are engaged in a big exercise they call "spiritual warfare." My god is tougher than your god, god versus the devil, saints versus sinners, etc. They signaled that they also subscribed to this philosophy. Maintain vigilance, keep the devil from the door.

People are obviously free to have any belief system they choose, although most follow the creed of their parents. We are lucky that we don't live in the Islamic world where in many places one can be executed for leaving the faith.

I will never forget the Stanford ethics professor's words to me that if hell didn't exist we would have to invent it in order to keep people from eating each other. He might be right.

Threats of eternal damnation can certainly keep the troops in line. But I have to wonder about people's faith if it is so weak that it can be co-opted by a mere yoga stretch? Seems strange to me. Not to sound too snarky but my atheism seems far more secure. And I can consider and even adapt the validity of foreign concepts without worrying that they will break a brittle theology and world view.

I see Marc Bolan
Both of my friends are very well educated, far more than I. One had worked in a mental health ward at one time. He wanted to know why multiple loonie patients all reported seeing green demons on the ceiling if they didn't actually exist?

My only thought was that people see Jesus and the Virgin Mary's image in tortillas and clouds every day, does that mean they are real too? Or do we tend to hallucinate these things through our shared collective cultural vernacular and lexicon of experiences? Might the Hindu gaze upon the same apparition and see Kali or Durga? Or do you, like me, see mere burnt flour?

I am a bit of a seeker, have studied many of the major religions in depth, in order to better understand our universe and try to figure out what makes my fellow man tick. I actually think that the abrahamic religions have more of the competitive, dualistic, warfare vibe than the buddhist tenets but I could be wrong about that. Buddhists are also capable of heinous practices (see Rohingya), as are Jews, Muslims, Christians, Zoroastrians, Scientologists, Sikhs, Mormons, what have you. If it walks on two legs, watch your back, no matter what it professes to believe.

I asked my friends if they believed in the concept of original sin and at least one of them said that he did. That's another thing I can't buy. Sweet little baby, but according to some, full of sin until they get baptized. Seems weird to me. Concocted. Oh well, what do I know?

Nothing. And I prefer to keep it that way.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Sunny side of heaven



You left us some beautiful music, Danny.

Fallbrook Veterans Day Parade

I only got out for a few minutes but the Veterans Day Parade always offers a visually rich photo environment.


JJ and his buddy from the hardware store


Our favorite guy from Robertitos tacos with his lovely family

Mr. Lovato is originally from Albuquerque, a really good guy.


Wish I could have taken more shots.


Sunday, November 10, 2019

The !!!! Beat


These videos from Hoss Allen's 1966 Rhythm and Blues Revue are pretty amazing. All of them. Every video is a treasure. This was the first syndicated black music television show in history, shot in Dallas. Check out Freddie King's second number on this one. Gatemouth Brown and Band of  Gypsies' Billy Cox in the house band. The host, Bill "Hoss" Allen was a Nashville disk jockey on 50,000 watt blowtorch WLAC and a one time musician himself who worked for a time with Chess Records. Great stuff. Watched a superb Little Milton performance earlier.

Handyschmuck

As I get older I am everyday made more and more aware of my genetic dispositions and deficiencies. As I may have let on previously, I am a jewish man. People of my tribe have some readily evident and easily identifiable limitations which as far as I know are inherent across the whole endogamous tribe.

We don't do NASCAR or college football, lack the requisite gene. And I'm not real good at fixing stuff, in fact I suck. No facility whatsoever. I could no more replace my own brakes or fix my furnace than I could fly to the moon. I am as adept in discussing the finer points of a Chevy 350 small block engine as I am speaking Swahili.

So when the sink stopped up the other day in the kitchen it sent chills up my spine. The scene went something like this:

She: Honey, the sink is stopped up.

Me: Damn, why don't you call a plumber?

She: Hon, why don't you buy a snake, it will be a lot cheaper, won't it?

I started feeling pangs of frustration, the personal emasculation at not being Mr. Fixit lurking right under my epidermoid layer and welling up like a fugue. The truth is I hate plumbing worse than anything. I remember a plumbing disaster in Rainbow years ago where I started out with a small copper leak and ended up with nine copper leaks. But my pride and the exigency of the situation would once again force me to meet my failure as a husband and hominid tool user head on.

I called Bill and he offered me to loan him one of his snakes, he had a 25' and a 50'. I took the latter, can never have enough, right? I took everything out from underneath the sink and the game was on. I removed both the gooseneck and the separate clean out and plunged the coiled end of the snake in and hit the dreaded wall of defeat about four feet in.

"I give up," I pronounced. "Call a plumber." Leslie was cool, patted me on the back and thanked me for trying. The whole incident sort of reminded me of a bad erectile dysfunction ad. The truth is I was way out of my pay grade and doomed to failure but I had to give it a go so as not to feel like a worthless lout.

I called my buddy Barry on the way in to town today. I had to meet my painting restorer at my shop, get a few canvasses ready for Wednesday. Barry is of course, the old comedy writer and another member of the tribe and he genuinely sympathized with the latest recount of my shortcomings.

He said that there were only two things he was ever halfway good at doing and that was having sex and telling a joke. He says that when he gets a flat tire he makes a wisecrack and if it doesn't laugh he tries to f*ck it. Then he calls triple AAA.

Barry offered that our whole conversation reminded him of a brilliant business idea he had come up with long ago, specially tailored for those in my exact ethnic conundrum. He would give me this one for free, to run with:

Dial a Gentile.

There have to be thousands of jewish households across the land that suffer from the same malady and struggles. Call the eight hundred number and if your tsuris hasn't stopped in 24 hours you get your money back. Happy wife, happy life. I can sell paintings, the plumber can fix pipes. Everybody is happy.

It is so freaking brilliant. I have some very smart friends.

Danny Kirwan

Sands of time

You get older, the memory slips a bit, it's a fact of life. And soon the jokes start. Here is the first one I remember from the recent cycle:
Woman walks into the kitchen and says, if I ever get Alzheimers, I want you to shoot me. Husband says, funny, that's the third time you've told me that this morning.
Don Perry sent this one over:

This pretty well sums up life - a full circle! 
At age 4 success is not peeing in your pants.   
    At age 12 success is having friends.   

   
At age 16 success is having a drivers license.     

  
At age 20 success is having sex.     

   
At age 35 success is having money.     

   
     At age 60 success is having money   
.
       


At age 70 success is having sex.     
    At age 80 success is having a drivers license.   
      At age 85 success is having friends.   
     
   
      At age 90 success is not peeing in your pants.   
It all comes full circle, whether you like it or not.

And, as with memory, hearing is bound to suffer as we age. 


From Bob DeGoff:
On the morning that Daylight Saving Time ended I stopped in to visit my aging friend. He was busy covering his penis with black shoe polish. I said to him, "You better get your hearing checked - you're supposed to turn your clock back!
I sent the last one out as an email, come to think of it, I sent them all out. I got some interesting responses but none better than this one from Phoenix's David Adler:
I lost my phone two days ago. Ninety minutes later, as I was preparing to get in the car to go buy a new phone, Lisa found it. In the cheese drawer of the refrigerator. 
This cracked me up. I told Friedman about it He said honest to god, just the day before he had lost his ginger ale and it turned out to be in his closet.

Not exactly on topic but James O sent me this one over :
Two Irish nuns have just arrived in USA by boat and one says to the other, "I hear that the people of this country actually eat dogs."  "Odd," her companion replies, "but if we shall live in America, we might as well do as the Americans do."As they sit, they hear a push cart vendor yell "Get your dogs here" and they both walk towards the hot dog cart."Two dogs, please! ," says one.  The vendor is very pleased to oblige, wraps both hot dogs in foil and hands them over. Excited, the nuns hurry to a bench and begin to unwrap their 'dogs'.The mother superior is first to open hers. She begins to blush and then, staring at it for a moment, leans to the other Nun and whispers cautiously. "What part did you get?"
It's admittedly a solemn and grave time in our world. But we must not forget that a mere thirty years ago David Hasselhoff brought down the Berlin Wall.



I have a short opus to share but I think this will have to do for a spell. Keep smiling.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Otis Taylor: My Soul's in Louisiana

Tough luck

Lesser Yellowlegs
I drove all the way out to my refuge today, only to find out that it was duck hunting day and that my entrance as a non bird killer was forbidden.

I thought that it was Wednesday and Sunday that it is off limits, it is actually Wednesday and Saturday.

I should have known, as I approached hunters leaving the wildlife area in their lifted trucks drove by as fast they could, spraying dust and gravel all over, exhibiting their normal alpha, troglodyte, inconsiderate, boorish behavior.

I decided to play dumb and sneak in anyway but the birds were skittish and not to be seen, not that I blame them any on account of the company.

I tried to go to the Walker Ponds but they were closed too so I called it a day and went home. My bad.



Never the twain shall meet


This is a neat mash-up and comparison between the two presidents. It is funny because to my jaded partisan ears our current leader sounds so douchey in comparison to his predecessor. But two of my conservative friends honestly think that Trump sounds better here. I guess that we can all agree to disagree.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Gene Clark - Here Tonight

Grateful

Life has been an emotional roller coaster of late. I woke up Wednesday morning not knowing what my life would look like in a day, week, month or year, that is, if it lasted that long.

The absence of cancer cells in the latest pathology report was so big for me. But I had no real clue how things would turn out until I got the news straight from the doctor's mouth and that is a strange sensation indeed. The sword of Damocles was magically lifted from above my head.

Of course this is my third go around with the dreaded disease. You would think I would have learned something in the last thirty five years? The truth is, if anything, it is to always be looking over your shoulder.

I would be kidding myself if I had the notion that I was somehow completely out of the woods with this thing. But I definitely get to fight another day. Hooray.

I could regale you with recent tales of victory and feasts, of plunder and booty, maybe give you my latest pithy take on politics, but this pirate is all tapped out at the moment, I simply don't have the energy. Perhaps another day. Now I need to recharge my emotional batteries, to sleep. Shit wears on you.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The Birds


Excellent cut by the British band, The Birds, a London based band who formed in 1964 playing heavily R & B influenced music.

They employed one young Ronnie Wood on guitar. Ron is singing the vocals on this cut, their second single, released in 1965. The song itself is a Holland Dozier Holland number.

Later they got in a contract name squabble with the better known American group, the Byrds, which failed. I have never been a huge Ron Wood fan but he sounds great here.

Spread the news!

Del Mar Antiques + Art + Vintage Show next week. Del Mar is back, risen from very temporary ashes like a phoenix with a new promoter, my great friends at Dolphin Promotions.

Hope to see you there. More info here.

Health update


I had the best of all possible birthday presents this November sixth morning. We arrived at my San Diego appointment with the urologist about ten minutes late, traffic was terrible, the ride took an hour and a half from Fallbrook.

Doctor was bristly, said I was killing her with my tardiness, but went on to say that the pathology report from the last cystoscopy was apparently free from cancer cells, they must have done an awful good job cutting them out or providence was indeed smiling upon me.

In other good news, they have secured the very scarce BCG immunotherapy I need and I start my treatments next Wednesday. Will be interesting, the procedure is the morning of the next show load in at Del Mar but I will deal with it somehow.

The upshot is that I get to keep my bladder, at least for the foreseeable future and that is huge for me. We left the meeting with the doctor feeling rather elated. I literally had no prior idea what my immediate future might hold.

To celebrate we drove over to D.Z. Akins for the lox and whitefish platter. Never underestimate the healing power of whitefish.

We also bought the scrumptious blood orange ricotta cake from Extraordinary Desserts for the celebration tonight. This is frankly the best cake I have ever tasted.

Thanks again for all of your good wishes (and prayers). Yours in smoked fish.

Robert

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

You'll Lose A Good Thing - Barbara Lynn

Northern exposures


How many times had I passed the sign on Interstate 5 that read Kern National Wildlife Refuge - Sixteen Miles over the years? I did a quick calculation. Figure a minimum of three trips to San Francisco a year for the last twenty five years, by my poor math that makes, let's see, roughly 150 times there and back.

But I had never visited the 11,249 acre reserve before, the San Joaquin Valley refuge once part of the largest freshwater marsh system in the United States. I decided to take the road to McFarland east towards Wasco and have a looksee. Part of what makes me tick, exploring new places I have never visited before. Besides I was early, had an afternoon to kill.

I stopped at the lonely ranger station and talked to the young lady behind the desk. She was wearing a long solid color dress, the kind favored by fundamentalist LDS sects. She suggested auto route #1, a six and a half mile gravel loop.


It was a nice drive, a bit bumpy in places. Not terribly rich in raptors this particular day, a harrier or two, a red tailed couple dancing leisurely in the sky.

But I am easily amused, liked having the place to myself. And there were certainly plenty of other birds around.

Lots of ducks, ibis, coots and egrets, the sort of fauna one would expect in a central California marshland. Was quite lovely just for the fact that it had been preserved and not yet despoiled.

Of course I don't take my super duper fast lens on trips like this. Too expensive to leave in the car.

But the old Sigma 150-600mm zoom is still up to the task when not pushed too hard.

Like taking this picture of a pretty killdeer on the shoreline.

Or this female harrier soaring above a native oak.

white faced ibis
It really doesn't take much to make me happy.  Afterwards I stopped back at the station and noticed the sign that the local mosquitos were known to carry west nile virus and to use precaution. Shit. I had been bit a bunch but would have to cross my fingers. Went and took the four mile loop afterwards for good measure.

dark morph Red tailed or Harlan
I continued up Corcoran Road northwards and was treated to a lot of bird life. Tons of egrets and herons on or near the canals and cotton fields. Another new road for me.

snowy egrets
I checked into my hotel, the luxurious Motel Six of Santa Nella. Not a bad room for fifty bucks.

The next morning I left early and made my way through the Pacheco Pass, with my eyes on a sharp lookout for raptors.

Bingo.



Two of our national birds perched near each other in an old dead tree.



It was dark and the sun was just cresting over the mountain but you get the general idea.  I love bald eagles. Wonder how many people drive by and never see them?

Unfortunately traffic got real dense, it turned out that there was a fatality ahead and the 152 was closed down. I drove to San Juan Batista on the 156 and then up the 25.

Saw more red tailed hawks perched on telephone poles and what have you than I have ever seen in my life. Almost one per pole.

(to be continued...)