white light, white heat © Robert Sommers 2018

Friday, June 22, 2018

Cass Elliot & The Lovin' Spoonfull

Liars figure

President Trump may very well be right, out of my pay grade here. But one thing is for certain, study after study shows that illegal immigrants commit far less crime than the native born.





I am a few years late but I just finished John Le Carre's novel A delicate matter. A  highly placed foreign service officer learns a bit too much about a botched assassination plot and good people start dying. Fictional, of course. But just wondered, if Michael Cohen did spill to Tom Arnold that the pee tape actually exists and he has proof, does he accidentally fall off his balcony or get found floating face down in the Hudson River? Would you put it past our leader?

Well scripted child actors.

Billy Stewart - Summertime

An amazing, once in a lifetime artist who fell through the cracks and died too young without receiving the acclaim his prodigious talent deserved. Can't thing of anyone with such a skill set.

Mexican sage and friend

Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)

hum along

Cohen comes clean.

You know, not all of us lead perfect lives free from reproach. We may try but... Always like the concept of people, if not totally redeeming themselves, at least having an occasional clear and positive moment. And so when I heard Michael Cohen go after the Trump administration for separating migrant parents from their kids in his resignation letter to the RNC the other day, I took some heart.
“As the son of a Polish Holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching,” Cohen wrote in a letter to the Republican National Committee, ABC News reported Wednesday. “While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.”
The guy is starting to sound like a human being. I applaud him for that and for his statement, which I agree with completely. Be as cynical as you care to be regarding his motivations,  I am going to suspect the best.

Taj and Canned Heat

Taj sang vocals with Canned Heat for a time when Bob Hite was ill. Great cut.

Birds, bees and business.

Facts of life. The summer is always a bad time for my business but this one feels even worse than usual.

Each one of my regular antique shows in California, Del Mar, Santa Barbara and San Mateo, has recently gone from three a year to two a year. Palm Springs was always two. Many of us have been existing from show to show and it is getting harder for everybody.

Los Angeles and the Bustamante shows are now gone completely. Dealers are dropping like flies, for a variety of reasons that I don't think I need to rehash again.

And unless there is a major sea change I foresee things getting even worse. Going to try to hang on as long as I can. Of course some of my cohorts are doing just swimmingly and they never fail to let me know. Good on them!

I have done pretty well at the shows I have exhibited at but there just aren't enough of them. I get next to no walk in anymore at the shop, which I try to open every Saturday.

Not a lot of interested people under the age of sixty or seventy, let's just say that. Ikea seems to suffice perfectly in the new world we live in.

My motto the past couple years is that "survival is the new victory." But the prospects for that victory seem somewhat debatable at present. Couple that with the Trumpian civil war going on outside and it adds up to one big kettle of existential angst for yours truly.

Not talking to many people, even close friends. Don't want to be a bummer, have to find my own way out. I consolidated two storage units down to one this week. Staying busy, trying to push every available button.

Getting pretty hot out there in Southern California. And to decompress from all the tsoris I sit in my yard, accompanied by my ever compliant shadow and watch the birds. And the occasional bug.

Yesterday I set the tripod up and went to the nikkor prime. The normal crew of chazers visited the feeders.

The house finches, such a boring and pedestrian name for such beautiful creatures, a grosbeak, the scrub jays, phoebes and more.

A hooded oriole was far overhead on a bough of the remaining redwood. The orioles are around most of the time but they are cagey.

They don't eat feeder mix and they are betas in the alpha bird universe that I inhabit. Keep themselves pretty scarce. Fleeting shadows.

Yesterday I had a California Thrasher at the feeder. First for me but Leslie says that she sees them there.

I love their long curved beaks.

I photographed and watched for a couple hours. Snapped a few hummingbirds.

I am thinking about getting religion at least temporarily, to get me through July. Or is that not the way it works?

I was sitting in my chair, pondering fate when I decided to put the camera away and go in for the evening.

I stuck the lens back in the case and broke down the tripod and just decided to listen to the soothing music of the birds for a few minutes.

More beautiful than any symphony the way they talk to each other, that is if you stop to listen.

It was at that moment when providence shown down on this poor soul.

A northern flicker landed on the wire not ten feet from my head and displayed the most magnificent orange plumage for me. Then gone in an instant! Like a visitation from a saint.

I was shocked. I have never seen a flicker in the yard in thirty years, I would have been no more surprised if a phoenix had landed.

I hurriedly grabbed my rig in hopes that it would return but it did not. I think it was a one time shot. Somehow it made me feel better about everything. Hoorah!

I know that the birds bore the shit out of many of you but for me, they sure beat antidepressants.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Shape Of Things To Come

Frankly I don't give a damn.

The optics were not real good for the first lady's choice of apparel this morning.

She was visiting a children's detention center and her handlers were hoping for a  message that might better convey empathy and concern.

Normal people are obviously just not equipped to understand the wealthy model's tres outre wit and delicious cynicism.

It should be noted that the maker of Melania Trump's jacket, Zara, is famous for having its workers insert and hide little notes in the pockets of the garments they had made saying things like "we were never paid for this."

Apparently workers in Turkey were stiffed for over a year. And who could forget their holocaust line of clothing with the little juden yellow stars?

Now that's funny.


I don't believe that you have ever met our cat.

Bert Jansch - Nottamun Town

Oh Shenandoah

I hate to follow bad news with bad news but the story out of Virginia is so wrong, an Abu Ghraib for immigrant children. The America we know and love is turning into our worst nightmare before our eyes.

Kids beaten and kept naked in cold cells. The story is so horrific. Read about it here.
A 15-year-old from Mexico held at Shenandoah for nine months also recounted being restrained with a bag over his head.
"They handcuffed me and put a white bag of some kind over my head," he said, according to his sworn statement. "They took off all of my clothes and put me into a restraint chair, where they attached my hands and feet to the chair. They also put a strap across my chest. They left me naked and attached to that chair for two and a half days, including at night."
After being subjected to such treatment, the 17-year-old Mexican youth said he tried to kill himself in August, only to be punished with further isolation. On other occasions, he said, he has responded to feelings of desperation and hopelessness by cutting his wrists with a piece of glass and banging his head against the wall or floor.
One of the sad things is that our country's machine will not run smoothly without immigrant labor. They tend to do the crappy jobs nobody else wants to do quite well. Ex Trumpite Gary Cohn reportedly said something interesting at a talk the other day; that the real migrant crisis is that there aren't enough of them. Be careful what you wish for.

I am actually pretty hawkish on the path to citizenship for people who have entered our country illegally but there has to be a viable guest worker program and you don't punish and deport people who have lived in this country nearly their whole lives through no fault of their own.

Trump created this whole family separation crisis trying to leverage his wall and now he wants to blame the democrats and have them fix the problem for him and share the political heat. He is the one who refers to these people as invaders, infesters, rapists, criminals and worse. Let him reap the whirlwind.

The GOP holds both houses of Congress, the Presidency and has the SCOTUS nominally in the tank for them, they have the power to fix it themselves. Could have had a bipartisan bill last week but it was pulled so that the GOP could go it alone and vote on these two dogs of bills that don't have a chance in hell of passing.

Talk to us when you get your own house in order. But they can't, the GOP is too split and Trump, McConnell and Ryan have torched their relations with the opposition so there is little hope for bipartisanship. Hopeless.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Caged and drugged

Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse.

The story here.
“ORR routinely administers children psychotropic drugs without lawful authorization,” a memo filed in the lawsuit on April 16 reads. “When youth object to taking such medications, ORR compels them. ORR neither requires nor asks for a parent’s consent before medicating a child, nor does it seek lawful authority to consent in parents’ stead. Instead, ORR or facility staff sign ‘consent’ forms anointing themselves with ‘authority’ to administer psychotropic drugs to confined children.”

Get it while you can

The writer, Jerry Ragavoy, on piano.

Black crowned night heron

Little Junior Parker - Driving Wheel


I noticed that one of my neighbor's fences was looking a little ragged the other day. But it was a split rail, made out of wood, and frankly still looked pretty good in its decaying state. The natural and organic segue from wood to earth is actually pretty graceful.

When you live in the country, your fences tell something about you. The Orange County types tend to go for the clean plastic look. Real farmers and ranchers put the horizontal rails of the wood fencing on the inside of the posts, so livestock won't kick them off from inside the pens but a lot of city slickers who move to the hinterlands and buy the tony little ranchettes never get the message and stick them on the outside. Very faux looking. Kind of dumb.

My own look is chain link spartan. Very retro, screams "he doesn't give a shit." And perhaps poor.

I have noticed that a lot of the old plastic doesn't seem to wear real well either, at least around these parts it is starting to show its age.

A lot of it is coming apart in Fallbrook. I meant to take some pictures but never got around to it. The picture above was taken by me after the fire. The stuff takes on the Dali "dripping clocks" taffy look when it starts to melt. Very synthetic, not my thing. even the stuff that didn't get burned looks pretty funky in time. Call me a luddite traditionalist. The fake grain reminds me of the simulated wood panels on our family's old avocado green '64 plymouth fury station wagon.

We all have our likes and dislikes. I confess to squirm a little inside when I see a porcine foot stuffed into a tiny pump or heel whose occupant is sporting a large and ugly ankle tattoo. But I am sure it is the cat's meow for some people.

But do mark me down for hates plastic fencing. I know it is supposed to last a minimum of five thousand years but it really looks terrible in the meantime.

Bird is the word

juvenile black crowned night heron
Needed to see a friend on the coast to return some stuff yesterday and I decided to drive by Oceanside Harbor on the way home, hopefully to shoot some surf.

Waves were lousy but I stopped by the Jolly Roger, where the birds are always good and grabbed a couple of snaps.

snowy egret
The camera appears to have survived the sudden collision with the floor no worse for wear.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Eva Cassidy - Autumn Leaves

Buzz would have been 59 today. It will be the one year anniversary of his passing in a few short weeks.
I had no idea that my world would feel so empty without my brother. But it does. It has made for a very painful year. I lost a big piece of myself when he died, a key part I shall never get back.


House finches

The Monkees - Nine Times Blue

Monday, June 18, 2018

Lying liars

The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Let's be clear. Politicians and leaders have always lied. From all parties. Machiavelli thought it an essential attribute for the job.

President McKinley's lie about the Spanish sinking one of our ships, the U.S.S. Maine, started the Spanish American War in 1898. LBJ concocted a fake story of being attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin to gain support in Vietnam.

Reagan signed the Boland Amendment forbidding arms sales to Iran and then did exactly that and traded arms for hostages. Clinton never had sex with that woman. The list goes on and on.

Always thought that Nixon was king of the hill in the prevarication department but he is not even in the same league as the current President. I think Nixon knew when he was lying. Trump, who is not nearly as smart, or even venal, as tricky dick, appears to believe his own lies. Wouldn't know the truth if it hit him on the head. Makes Nixon look like George Washington. And his administration seems to follow suit, from Sanders to Nielsen to whomever.

Today Trump tweeted about Germany's rising crime rate.

Which is all vell and gut except for one thing; German's crime rate is actually going down.

In fact last year Germany had the lowest crime rate in the last twenty five years.

There are sites that are tracking the Presidential lies of this President but they come so fast and furiously that I stopped checking when they started going over three thousand or so. In the first 466 days. This works out to a clip of about 6.5 per day.

This is a truly astounding metric. I have always considered myself a pretty good fibber and I would be hard pressed to match such a number. It is so bad that I heard Kellyanne Conway defend him the other day by saying that he often tells the truth too. Really?
“The president says plenty of things that are true and right and important to America ... He’s not serially untruthful.” Kellyanne Conway
He may not always tell the truth but he's not serially untruthful? Is that the new standard? And why does it sound like more crap?

His aversion to the truth just sets a new standard for humanity. When confronted with a lie the other day about dictating the famous Russia memo, he said that, and I am paraphrasing, it was okay because he wasn't under oath talking to a tribunal, he was talking to the fake news New York Times.

Why would a rational person believe a single thing this guy ever says? And Sarah Sanders is perfectly content to lie to back him up, to promulgate bullshit and deception like he had nothing to do with drafting the statement. The whole White House, from Trump to Pence to Sanders on down, just a first class bunch of bullshit artists.

Roger Stone and his pal Michael Caputo, two friends of the Donald, hip deep in Russian collusion, seem to be carved from the same blarney stone. Never met any Russians, swear under oath, but when confronted by text messages that shows they did, say that they merely forgot. Very convenient. And they are now indignant that somebody had access to their texts and emails.

The Russians wanted some big money for dirt they had on Hillary.

Kirstjen Nielsen says that there is no policy to separate parents from their children at the border and then says that they will continue to separate children from their parents in the same breath. The lies are so thick that they are dizzying. She counsels asylum seekers that “If you are seeking asylum, go to a port of entry."

Where they are promptly turned away.

Lie, lie, lie , lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, like teflon, nothing sticks to these people and our countrymen either don't care or are too stupid, or simply just don't want to bother to pay attention.

Roy Milton

Sunday portraits

Three hours after I got home from the concert Leslie and I drove to Long Beach to do the swap meet at Vets Stadium.

Up at 2:30 in the morning, it was pretty brutal.

Swap meet could have been a hell of a lot better but it gave me a chance to take some good people shots as it always does.

And it gives me an opportunity to suss out the ever changing moods and characters in this wacky world of ours, at least the slightly twisted Southern California version.

Took a few portraits. Swap meet chic.

anger management
I was packing the camera Saturday afternoon and I stuck it in a thin leather bag and then watched in horror as it slid off a chair and - smack! - hit the floor. Two foot drop with a crescendo.

Bilsland the third
I actually started crying at the thought at what I had done, what an incredible fuck up I am.

Was afraid to pick up the six thousand dollar rig and even start to assess the fruit of my gross negligence.

I fired a shot and it seems to be a-okay but now I am starting to see invisible things, probably just my fear and paranoia manifesting and coming to the fore.

girl who runs with girl who runs with the vampires
I could ship or take it to Nikon on Wilshire and see if it calibrates but can't afford to at the moment.

me too
Will flagellate myself with whips like a Filipino at Easter and see if it helps the problem any.

Not a great time to be me.

My late brother's birthday tomorrow too.

buffalo boy
Will take the camera out for another ride this afternoon and see if I can get it to calm down.

Hope everybody had a nice Father's day.

So tired on the way home, I pulled into a gas station and slept.
the floral couple

Roy Gaines

Kip and I went to a great show the other night, way out at Barrett Junction, southeast of San Diego. Billed as the JAZZ 88.3 Saturday Night Fish Fry, we were treated to the dulcet sounds of the Roy Gaines Tuxedo Orchestra and all the catfish and hush puppies we could eat.

I am a little embarrassed to say that I had never heard of Roy Gaines until Kip introduced me to him about four or five years ago. I loved his sound at first hear. How did I not know about him?

Originally from Texas, Gaines was a childhood musical prodigy, first playing piano and then guitar.

He was brought up on stage at the age of 14 to play with his musical idol, T-bone Walker, who he later played with.  He moved to California at the age of 16 to play guitar with Roy "Pops" Milton.

Eventually he became a sideman for a variety of headliners including Chuck Willis and Ray Charles. He also played with Junior Parker, Bobby Bland, Big Mama Thornton, the Everly Brothers, the Supremes, Bobby Darin, Stevie Wonder, and Gladys Knight amongst others.

Like T-Bone and very few others, Gaines is one of the rare  musicians who can sing as beautifully as they can play. Last week he played with his twenty piece Tuxedo Orchestra at the Playboy Jazz fest at Hollywood Bowl. I think it is fair to say that the diminutive guitarist deserves far more acclaim than he has received to date. The eight piece band we saw ripped, was a musical delight from start to finish. Music was great, crowd was great.

We had wanted to bug out early but I couldn't, I was transfixed as were the rest of the people in the crowd. Gaines is either 83 or 87 but he still nails it in every way. If you ever get a chance to hear him, do so. I talked to him both before the show and at the break, he signed a record and cd, just the coolest cat.

If you watch the second linked video closely I think you can see yours truly macking down on catfish.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Marsh hawk

The great dumbing down.

There have been a spate of articles in the last several years about a very worrying trend, mankind is getting more stupid. Who knew that was even possible? I.Q. scores are apparently dropping quite rapidly.

A recently published study verifies the decline, even showing intelligence variation within specific families, which rules out a dysgenic cause (i.e. stupid parents having stupid kids.)

This isn't big news to anybody who reads a paper, turns on the television or opens his or her eyes, but it is troubling. Wish I was smart enough to figure it out but I'm not. A curious statistic is that this trend does not appear to exist in people who eat fish at least once a week.

The drop in smarts reverses a long term trend called the Flynn effect that saw an increase in intelligence quotients since the Victorian era of about three points per decade. Things seemed to hit the skids with people born after 1975. Now we are losing about 7 i.q. points a generation.

One only has to read the letters of Abigail to John Adams, try to solve a 19th century elementary math primer or go on TMZ to see how far we have actually fallen. Wonder what the cause is? Is it environmental, laziness, bad parenting, sweetened cereal? Who knows? Get smart, people. Eat more fish.