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Red tailed hawk

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Who knows where the time goes ?

Fairport Convention with the immortal Sandy Denny.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Odds and Sods


I was just talking to my pal Melissa on the phone. She is going to spend New Years with her beau Gary tripping the night fantastic to the dulcet tones of  Phil Weir and Bob Lesh. I can think of no more painful entrance into the double digit decade short of extreme amateur dental surgery.

She also said that the blog was sort of lurching into mediocrity with the typical standard posts and responses of countless similar offerings across the web. Once the Blue Heron Blast was like a new lover, full of wonder and magic but it has now apparently morphed into a forty year marriage where she's crapping while he is shaving.

KJ called yesterday and said that he was watching a Flintstones cartoon and had empirical proof that Fred and Wilma were in fact christians. There was some christian iconography in the house, I don't quite remember, perhaps a cross. I countered that Darren and Samantha Stevens from Bewitched actually had a menorah in the house, a first for television sitcoms or perhaps another case for the tribe's satanic roots. In any case, it got me to thinking about the absurdity of a modern stone age family that lived amongst the dinosaurs, that we all know actually never existed on our 6000 year old earth. And celebrating Christmas, no less. Very prescient. Maybe I just have too much time on my hands...

I think Grumpy is stewing because I am enforcing an eight comment a day response limit.

Last blue moon for a long time tomorrow. Use it wisely and have fun. Please don't drink and drive and stay  safe. We want everybody around to flip 2009 the bird on Friday.
                                                                                                                                           Rush Limbaugh

Speaking of birds, all three juvenile hawks flew into the valley yesterday, playing around near their birth tree.

Leslie and I are in the midst of a Hawaii 5-0 rerun marathon. I never knew she had a thing for Jack Lord before, god he's so grouchy. Watched the 2 hour pilot with the original Danno. Lots of hippies in Hawaii in 1968. We are getting pumped for our trip. Understand there's a bunch of humpback whales around Kona,  and got some tips on a great snorkeling area near Kapoho. Want to get into Waipio.
                                                                    
Had a great meal with Doug and Retha tonight as they prepare to go down to La Paz tomorrow.

Peace and Happy New Year!

Area Code 615

For Hudgins.

Big Picture



... the human dream, doesn't mean shit to a tree - Jefferson Airplane


I was checking out pictures of our planet and came across this NASA shot today which I have pumped up a tad in Photoshop. Spruce up the earth a little bit. Even found a way to shake it up with the radial blur tool but it made me a touch seasick.


I was ruminating today about the general sad state affairs around terra firma and you know we really don't have it so bad here in the ol' US of A. At least compared to some of the true shitholes like Burma, North Korea, China or Iran. Iran, where according to the last talking beard, god wants the ruling regime to shoot all dissenters. Sounds reasonable to me.

Can you imagine living in a country where you really did have no freedom to speak? Now left wing fashionistas might chortle and suggest that our country is but a step away but that is bullshit. In many places globally, it is real and everyday. A "subversive" was just sentenced to five years in the slam in that wonderful utopia, North Vietnam for crimes against the state.

Tran Anh Kim, 60, was accused of "working to overthrow the state" by joining the Democratic Party of Vietnam, publishing pro-democracy articles on the Internet, and joining Bloc 8406, an organization that promotes a multiparty state.

The Thai government is repatriating thousands of Hmong to Laos where they face similar draconian retribution.

It is possible and unfortunately probable that leaders of the current dissent in Iran will get snuffed out for daring to raise their heads up and speak out against the terrible regime. If you are going to dissent against the man, you better have a plan for taking him out entirely. Autocratic regimes don't tend to have a lot of sympathy towards dangers to their power base.

I read the recent reports about the Russian billionaire who was killed in jail along with the cute KBG assassinations of Russian journalists with horror and disdain for Putin's Russia.

Imagine living in Benin or Togo, where approximately 200 thousand children are sold into slavery each year to neighboring Nigeria and Gabon.

Find a place in the Arab world where you can practice the religion of your choice, not your birth, without fear of jihad. Imagine being a woman in Saudi Arabia, forbidden to drive and hidden behind a bhurka?

Saw where Hugo Chavez is threatening to nationalize Toyota in Venezuela. He is upset that they haven't made significant technology transfers, since they use the plant there to mainly snap components together. Toyota says that there isn't a required supply chain and the market is too small. He's threatening to bring in the chinese. Sayonara. Good for Toyota.

My point in bringing all this negativity up is this. Maybe the fact that our land is so fractured and divided politically is a good thing. Four year election, next cycle let us f*ck it up. Maybe the United States benefits by the centrifugal drag of the red state/blue state division that doesn't give the social engineers and fanatics the unbridled freedom to have their way? We act as a check on each other's madness.

Just wondering...


James Carr


The Dark End Of The Street - written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman in Muscle Shoals in 1967. Lots of people have covered this including the Flying Burrito Brothers, Percy Sledge, Springsteen and Ry Cooder but Carr's original recording stands alone.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Thanks blasters!



I have been getting a lot of really good stuff  from you all to post to the blog lately. Please keep it up. Hudgins has sent along some nice music and other material, Renee always has her eye open, Shawn, Wild Bill, Paul, Kerry. Please all, write a story, send a picture, keep it flowing, and as Traffic sang, make us all happy.

This owl landed on the wire at midnight a few years ago. Leslie got me up and I caught him dancing with the full moon. I have never shown this shot before. Es bueno, no?

Get out of town


                                         Jorel © 2009 Robert Sommers

Leslie and I want to scoot somewhere for a few days soon. We need a short trip in the worst way, either a big dose of culture or an energy recharge. We are not bucks up so are reduced to a package kind of deal. All of these following possibilities cost about the same amount of dough.

We first thought about London but it will be cold and food is expensive.

Kona so Leslie can see the Volcanos ( which require a helicopter flight).

Cabo/Los Cabos area. Maybe a bit too developed.

Amsterdam - been there, done that.

Ixtapa/Zihuatenejo - long plane trip.

We used to go to Kauai a lot, want to try something new. Have visited Maui. My adventures on the big island haven't been that great but I always visited it after other islands. If we go for the recharge route, warm water and great snorkeling is a must. Used to scuba in Cayman and Cozumel but an inner ear thing made me give up the regulator.

Anybody got a good alternative idea for a nice spot?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Loretta Lynn - The Race Is On

monday ramble


View from Two Bunch - © 2009 Robert Sommers

I just read that two airline passengers in Phoenix were briefly detained yesterday for - shudder - speaking loudly in a foreign language. Eternal vigilance America.  My wife tells me that the second suspect the other day, not the drunk guy in Salt Lake City (and how often do you hear that phrase?), no the other african guy, was actually just a poor guy sick to his stomach who couldn't come out of the bathroom. Talk about announcing it to the world... Guess the real nigerian terrorist guy got his nuts pretty well scorched. Good for him. Hold the pain killer and anesthetic. He actually reports that he is feeling a little bit better, if anyone cares...

And we can not forget good old Ivana Trump who had her own little snit on the tarmac. Appears the commoners couldn't sufficiently bridle their offspring. And to think she learned comity and etiquette from Leona Helmsley...

Don't be surprised if the Indianapolis Colts and that pussy Peyton Manning fall flat on their faces for pulling their starters and tanking the game and their unbeaten season on Sunday. Very bad juju and karma. Chargers have always had their number, yawn, Philip Rivers hoists the championship trophy and is enshrined as Super Bowl MVP.

Pinkbaiting in Illinois - Andy Martin, GOP senate candidate, is accusing his opponent of being homosexual. Welcome to the new Republican Party.

And Mary Matalin says that Bush inherited 9/11 from Clinton. Uh, read the Richard Clarke book, Mary. You know the part about the august memo that Al Qaeda wanted to fly large planes into tall buildings like the Trade Center?

Received a missive from D. Kampion that the reason the world is acting so farblungen this week is that the 360 degrees of the circle are trying to catch up with the five extra days in the 365 day year. I knew I should have paid attention in that homeroom astronomy class. Actually my equilibrium has been shot all week, bad back, sick cat and a surfeit of christmas cookies.

Monsieur Grumpster sent me along this little ditty in reference to my James Gurley RIP post:
 fine guitar player to be sure, but save a few tears for his first wife, who died after he allegedly injected her with morphine... 
Now I have no knowledge if Gurley did or did not engage in this illicit act. I don't even feel like raking through the muck to corroborate. It just seems in poor taste to bring it up so soon after the poor guy kicks the bucket. I saw lots of weird stuff and casualties of the hippiedrug culture myself, even saw people shooting up once or twice. It grossed me out. But I doubt seriously that he was holding a gun to her head. If he did in fact engage in this "alleged behavior." If people opt for self destruction we can certainly try to help but their salvation is usually out of our hands. Of course if we were discussing Dylan's admitted drug use certain parties would have a shitfit.


The dumbshit evangelist who strode over the DMZ bringing christ's message to North Korea and is now being held is like the fools who find themselves clinging to a icy mountaintop in the Cascades and then beg for rescue. Several rescuers were killed in the italian alps today.You got yourself in to the mess, get yourself out. Don't expect the government to bail your ass out. Or try praying real hard.

Bang Bang


This little vixen doesn't sing half bad but you got to stay to the end where, imitating a dead or wounded body, metaphorically speaking, she rolls off the stage. That is a gutsy move.

The Big Guy

The blog has been nothing short of very depressing lately. And we all know that there is nothing like a little heartache to make the extended misery even more delicious! So to heap coals on the sorrow, today was the day I put my long time pal and long suffering cat Big Guy down.

Big Guy has been my buddy for between 16 and 17 years. I frankly don't remember. Many of my critters and friends have come and gone and he has always been there through it all, bitching and moaning in the background.

We got him from a friend of Shela's in I think, in Solana Beach. I picked him up one evening. He threw up in my car. I think in certain culture's that is deemed very auspicious.

I know that many people will lionize their children, friends and family. They were always the best ever. I had a rather honest relationship with my cat and I am not going to start that crap now. Big Guy was a russian blue but probably from my side of the river. He complained a lot. Especially as he got older. Nothing was ever really to his liking and he let us know frequently.

He was a beta male who never pushed his significant weight around and may have actually been homosexual. We agreed not to discuss it. He was the nondominant partner in many an animal dyad. Big Guy stopped taking care of himself. He got serious dreadlocks. Maybe a problem with kidney function. In the end he lost control of his back end and couldn't ambulate. We have been on vigil. It was time.

It hurts to lose somebody who has been with you through everything.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

James Gurley RIP



James Gurley, original lead guitar player for Janis Joplin's Big Brother and the Holding Co. has gone to that old celestial jam session in the sky. He died of a heart attack in Palm Springs at the age of 69.

I saw Big Brother play twice, once at the Tribal Stomp and long past their prime, at Rick Griffin's funeral. Gurley was still very original and the band was fun to see and hear.

We are losing more and more of the great psychedelic musicians, many who never attained the respect that they were due for their contributions. Puff a fat one for James Gurley.

River Of Jordan - The Carter Family


A cup of Joe

Kathe Kollwitz - Death seizing the mother

"One may not escape the angel of death, nor say to him, 'Wait until I put my affairs in order,' or 'There is my son, my slave: take him in my stead.' Midrash Rabbah

 It was a chance meeting, if chance can be said to ever enter such an equation.  If you want to know, I was at a Yum Yum Doughnuts, something I rarely ever do, so please don't spill to my wife.

I went in for an apple fritter, probably the most deadly offender on the whole top rack, but hey, if you are going to be bad, you might as well go for the gusto. A fried blob of heavy dough, infused with a pound of processed white sugar. And a small cake doughnut too, they're healthy.

The pleasant korean woman handed me my small coffee and few bits of change and I successfully managed to squeeze my large torso into the cheap blue plastic chair.

I've noticed that there's a class and age demarcation at some of the restaurants in my town. You will get a healthy mix of your hep, sext and septugenarians at the coffee shop but the eighty year old and up crowd tends to favor Burger King, Denny's and the doughnut shops.

I used to think that it was simply a matter of economics but like the good book says, people just seem to be more comfortable with their own kind. If you can stand the food at Denny's, you can stand tall in the face of life's most pressing challenges. And the oldtimers seemed to exist in their own world at these places, unencumbered by the intrusion of those young folks who didn't really fathom what struggle actually is. And the food was definitely cheaper.

I don't know why I got such a strong vibe when he walked in the door, his hat pulled down tightly over his brow in such an unfamiliar manner.  I know that it would be more poetic to mention that he was wearing a long black coat but honestly it was a taupe windbreaker with some sort of golf logo emblazoned above his breast. I guess that I had the first word, when we were both jostling across the counter with the white sugar, equal,  nondairy creamer and the wooden stirrers.

"It doesn't look like we are going to get that rain," I offered, the weather always a safe conversation starter in a rural small town. The stranger craned his neck and peered through the dirty window, squinting up at the depressing sky.

"No," he replied, shaking his head. "I don't think so."

"I don't think I've seen you round town before," I said, with the razor sharp radar of one who has seen the same faces for years beyond count and in a town where a new person stands out like a buckskin in a field of chestnuts.

"Barry."

It was my turn to be surprised, not to mention a bit agitated. "How do you know my name?" I stammered with a genuine hint of indignation. "You with the I.R.S.? My ex wife send you for that alimony payment? I should be able to give you something next week," I backpedaled, my forehead breaking into an instant cold sweat.

The man took off his hat and gently placed it on his knee. He leaned forward and wiped his hand across his hair, front to back. He smiled at me.

"No, nothing like that," he said softly and I got the hint of a sweet loving smile and I just felt better all of a sudden. If you can believe that.

He looked at me dead in the eye and said, quietly like, "My name's Mal," proffering a limp and cold hand to shake. "I am the Angel of Death."

Now I'll tell you, I heard the feller say that and my knees got weak, my prostate puckered and that new ring job on my left ventricle started pounding like a timpani.

My life started flashing before my eyes, mostly unfinished business, how the hell would my wife get by, I didn't even have a new roof on the barn, would anybody be able to make any sense of my illegible receipt book?

I took a long deep breath and somehow managed to reclaim my bearings, the hour of one's passing being beyond our mortal ken, and gave this stranger a somewhat more clinical and detailed appraisal.

Sensing my inner conflict and no small sense of doubt as to his angelic veracity, the stranger looked around in both directions to make sure that no one was looking and opened his jacket a few inches. I could definitely see that six sets of wings beautifully intertwined around his torso.

"Relax, Barry," he cautioned in a sonorous and gentle voice. "We aren't punching your ticket today," he said in a quiet whisper. I guess I must have visibly unblanched a bit as my blood found its way back to my outer extremities.

"See that fellow over there?" I looked two rows across and saw old man Crawford, reading the morning paper wearing his worn green pendleton.  "Real pity. Odontogenic infection. Going right to his heart. Pow," he said, hitting his fist into his palm for emphasis."Get more guys that way when they stop taking care of their teeth."

"One cruller short of eighty five. Hey Barry, I have to go to work, it was a pleasure speaking with you. I hate to say it but I'll see you." I nodded my head at the inevitable truth in his words and returned the smile. "Until then."

He looked at me one last time and with a wink the ageless seraphim rose regally from the laminated table and glided over to deliver the near invisible fatal tap to old man Crawford's shoulder.

I started walking home and a few minutes later heard the expected wail of the ambulance siren behind me, never bothering to even turn around. It was just my lucky day and someone else's number got called.  That's it. Always been lucky, I guess.


© 2009 Robert Sommers

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Russian Lullaby


Jerry Garcia and David Grisman do Irving Berlin.

From Wikipedia:


Irving Berlin was born Israel Baline on May 11, 1888, one of eight children of Moses and Lena Lipkin Baline. His birthplace is a matter of some dispute: it was either near Mogilev (then in Russia, now in Belarus)[1], or in Tyumen[2] or Tobolsk.[3] His father, a cantor in a Jewish synagogue, uprooted the family, as did many other Jewish families, after a violent attack (pogrom) destroyed their village. In 1893 they settled in New York City. According to his biographer, Laurence Bergreen, as an adult Berlin admitted to no memories of his first five years in Russia except for one: "he was lying on a blanket by the side of a road, watching his house burn to the ground. By daylight the house was in ashes."[4]:10

Author and music historian Ian Whitcomb described Berlin's life in Russia:


Life might have seemed irksome to Israel Baline: God was watching you everywhere. From the dawn bath to the night straw cot, everything was of religious significance. God was in the food and in the clothing. When Moses caught Israel pulling on his little shoes in a manner proscribed by the Talmud he beat him…The floor of the Baline hut-home was of hard black dirt. Outside, the squiggly streets of Temun were either mud or dust according to the season. Lining the squiggles were horrid wooden huts. Sometimes wild pigs would rage into town and bite children to death…It was not a setting to sing about…Instead, cantor Moses took his children to the synagogue where, in soothing sing-song readings from the Talmud, the cares of the day were eased away. Life in Temun sounds pretty awful but, in later years, Irving Berlin said he was unaware of being raised in abject poverty. He knew no other life and there was always hot food on the table, even if it was God-riddled.[5] Whitcomb also describes further the turning point in Berlin's early life: But, suddenly one day, the Cossacks rampaged in on a pogrom... they simply burned it to the ground. Israel and his family watched from a distant road. Israel was wrapped in a warm feather quilt. Then they made a hasty exit. Knowing that they were breaking the law by leaving without a passport ( Russia at that time was the only country requiring passports), the Balines smuggled themselves creepingly from town to town, from satellite to satellite, from sea to shining sea, until finally they reached their star: the Statue of Liberty.[5]:19


The new Tsar of Russia, notes Whitcomb, had revived with utmost brutality the anti-Jewish pogroms, which created the spontaneous mass exodus to America. The pogroms were to continue until 1906, and thousands of other families besides the Balines would also escape, including those of George and Ira Gershwin, Al Jolson, Sophie Tucker, L. Wolfe Gilbert ("Waiting for the Robert E. Lee"), Jack Yellen ("Happy Days Are Here Again"), and Louis B. Mayer (MGM).


You can imagine the longing for home and for a place to be free.

Where the dreamy volga flows
There's a lonely russian rose
Gazing tenderly
Down upon her knee
Where a baby's brown eyes glisten
Listen

Ev'ry night you'll hear her croon
A russian lullaby


Just a little plaintive tune
When baby starts to cry

Rock-a-bye my baby
Somewhere there may be

A land that's free for you and me
And a russian lullaby   





Merry Christmas, nu?


 Chinese jews from Kaifeng, circa 1910, Lantern slide


I am wishing you all a Merry Christmas. Christmas is a little bit different for those of my persuasion. First we wax our horns. Then after a few kippers, we might make a usurious loan or two. After reading a couple of passages from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, we have a quick scan of the horizon for unwitting victims to fleece. Then we do what most jews do on this holy day - we go out for chinese food.


I don't know how the symbiosis with chinese got started, probably the only restaurant open on the christian holiday. We tend to do most of our business deals with the italians, for some reason. Maybe the food?


There is a jewish community that has existed in China for over 700 years in Kaifeng. They first came through on the silk road. Their existence was first documented by Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Matteo tells of
meeting in Beijing a Kaifeng Jew called Ai Ti’en who because of their shared belief in one
god assumed that Ricci must also be a Jew.


So the plan is to go to Jasmine for dim sum tomorrow. Will see many from my tribe. Anyone want to join us, just get in touch. Merry Christmas and hold the msg.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mideast hijinx


Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is laughing at our president. This week he said that the US and its allies can set "as many deadlines as they want, we don't care" and that he was not moved. "Obama is a big disappointment," says the Persian leader.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs retorts, "Mr. Ahmadinejad may not recognize, for whatever reason, the deadline that looms, but that is a very real deadline for the international community. And I think all of those involved in the P5+1 would encourage Iran to take that deadline as seriously as it's being taken by us to live up to their responsibilities."

Now I personally hate the Iranian bastard. But I am afraid that he is probably right. This administration can use all the tough language in the world but if we are not prepared to use a real hammer, we should probably not waste our breath. I hate to go all John Bolton on you and sound like a neocon, but there is not a lot of reasoning you can do with the rogues like the Iranian regime. They don't care. And a deadline from the international community? Stop it, you are scaring me.

Israel, our onetime ally in the middle east, would probably dispense with the pleasantries all together. They didn't puff themselves up before they blew up the Osirak reactor in Iraq in 1981, they took it out first and engaged in nice conversation later.

I used to be involved in the martial arts. One of the first things you learn is that you don't draw your sword until you are prepared to cut someone's head off. All this playground bluster reminds me of some adolescent slapfight. You can yell and threaten a dog or a child only so many times, eventually they figure out if you really mean business.

Ahmadinejad knows that the United States is thoroughly embroiled in Iraq and Afghanistan and needs a new crisis like a hole in the head. Our supposed allies, China and Russia, can't be trusted and continually thwart any semblance of consensus at the United Nations.  I can think of one or maybe two allies that would stand with the United States when the shit hit the fan. One for sure. Might even act as our proxy. But I won't mention them since this president doesn't seem to care for them much anyway.

Ahmadinejad rejected Obama's speech in which the President said "if countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fists, they will find an extended hand from us."


"Which hand did he extend? His right hand or left hand?" Ahmadinejad asked."Who has extended his hand in practice? He extended the sanctions against us. What step has he taken?""We are concerned about his avenues -- he has failed to meet the expectations of the people in the U.S. and the people of the world." 

He once again dismissed a year-end deadline on a U.N.-drafted fuel deal, saying it was "meaningless." The deal requires Iran to ship most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) abroad in exchange for fuel for a Tehran research reactor.

There is substantial inner unrest in Iran with hundreds of thousands of opponents of the regime massing in Qom this week. One can hope that this deranged liar is toppled from within before the nagging question of our President's inner fortitude and his aptitude and stomach for military conflict is actually put to the test.

Heavenly Redemption



Anne Rice, the noted writer of goth, whose tales of vampires have enthralled her readership for years, has undergone some sort of religious and literary conversion.

Rice has penned a little story in Parade Magazine this past weekend titled, The Angels Among Us. She tells us how angels are dazzling expressions of the almighty's love for his children and so forth. Now they may be, I am certainly not qualified to say. She talks about their origins in Exodus and Isaiah and their standing gig at the ark of the covenant.

I think Rice is going through what I have seen several older people undergo in the twilight of their lives, the religious hedge bet. I have seen more than a few cold hearted atheists and life long agnostics suddenly get all sacred and dewy eyed on the downward approach to the final curtain. Throw a lifetime of critical thinking out the window when confronted by the prospect of a terminal dirt nap.

What is interesting about Rice is how she was such a poster child for the dark side, introducing thousands into a world of the demon possessed, not to mention the fact that she was the author of some pretty intense and perverse pornography. She is like some street hooker who has spent a lifetime turning tricks on the cobblestones behind the pub, only now she is singing nearer my god to thee at the grange meeting hall and pulling entirely for the other team. It's so darn confusing.

I went on her website today and there are a bunch of links to catholic organizations, which is cool. Catholicism also has a touch of the medieval quality which infused her earlier writing. It's a sufficiently florid environment for her to work.

I wonder what caused the metamorphosis and if she is like a repentant alcoholic now, hating her former self and ready to join the little sisters of the poor?  I also wonder if she can read and appreciate her more dark and sexually provocative stories without a major bout of self loathing.

Maybe she was religious as a child and this is merely a reaction to an earlier adolescent reaction, an act of rebellion that had pitted her against conventional moral authority. I don't know. I was never a huge fan of Rice's work. I just find it interesting when artists do 180 degree turns like this. She can now pillory herself for a life of sin. Indulge and wallow in the enormity of her perdition. Still bound by her earliest conventions.

Guilt sucks. Do us all a favor and come back to the dark side, Anne.

Hey Joe


Anyone not familiar with Tim O'Brien should go to youtube and check out Hot Rize, Red Knuckles or any of his solo work. One of the best voice and chops combinations in music today, yesiree. Accompanied by legendary dobro ace Jerry Douglas.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bidness as usual


An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry. 

T.S. Eliot 

The nauseating stench out of Washington that accompanied the recent emasculation of the health care bill shows that no matter which party is in office, Big Pharma and the Health Care lobby are still calling the shots. Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska got his "cornhusker kickback." Mary Landrieu, the conservative democrat from Louisiana, got her thirty pieces of silver. Both Senators received obscene sweetheart Medicaid pork deals for their respective states in exchange for their votes. Landrieu got a tidy 300 million. Nelson was allowed to put restrictive abortion language into the bill, no doubt pleasing some of his cornfed constituency.

The President managed to turn his back on a fulcrum of his presidential campaign, the public option. He also campaigned to let Medicare negotiate with drug makers and allow reimportation and now turns his back on both of those promises as well. Obama pledged to go after Big Pharma's and the insurance companies antitrust exemptions and that was also conveniently forgotten. Big healthcare has conducted this whole symphony with the utmost finesse and bravado and they will be richly rewarded for their efforts.

The republicans acted no better, these ardent patriots holding up a defense bill funding our troops because of their opposition to the health care bill, much like petulant babies who couldn't get their way.


I read the other day that Republicans in fact only represent 38% of the United States population. I don't think that our founding fathers ever envisaged the tyranny of an electoral system where a conservative hayseed minority could dictate its fiats to so many americans. Why should a citizen in Wyoming's vote be worth so much more than his counterpart in California or New York?

This whole health care debacle is one of the seamiest acts of government that I can recall. The old guard establishment Dems like Bill Clinton desperately cast it as an incremental achievable  victory while the Howard Dean's and the progressives see it as a golden opportunity missed. Even ex Republican Senator Bill Frist, a doctor, was on board with the original bill before it got Liebermanned to death.

One of the more onerous facets of the bill is the individual mandate that forces people to buy private insurance or be penalized. The insurance companies got to love this. These behemoths who have been raking in obscene profits. (The top 19 HMO's made 17 billion last year in profit. Drug companies made 177 billion. Over 200 ex congressional aides are now lobbying for the health industry.) The bill also taxes workers health benefits, something Obama pledged not to do. Not that his pledges amount to much.

Of course as bad as the democrats are behaving, their venal counterparts across the aisle are even worse. Organizing prayathons that democrats will die or get sick so that they will miss the vote, word has it that they may have hired a haitian voodoo priest to stick pins into an effigy of Sen. Robert Byrd.

This administration is turning me into one of those cynical people who has totally lost his faith in politicians of either stripe. And I thought prostitution was only legal in Nevada?

Herding stoned cats in Afghanistan

I do believe I sense a cultural divide...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Glen Campbell- "These Days"



...please don't comfort me with my failures, I've not forgotten them...


A gorgeous song, amazingly written by Jackson Browne at a mere 16 years of age. A poignant look back. It has a special meaning when sung by someone with as much musical credibility as Glen Campbell, who went from heartthrob to ace session musician with the Wrecking Crew and Hal Blaine to bigtime television personality.  We tend to throw such people away in our culture when they approach their due date and it's a shame. The song takes on a unique perspective when sung by Glen and I honestly tear up when I hear it.  Interesting juxtaposition with the very young band. Pretty lush with a nice Korg keyboard to boot.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Delmore Brothers - Blues Stay Away From Me


c. 1949
Wayne Raney on harmonica. The finest harmonizers of their era.

Boffo Blast Bash at the Blue Heron

To those that made it, many thanks. I had a great time and I hope that you enjoyed yourselves. To those that couldn't - were sick, tired or otherwise encumbered, I understand, we will catch you next time. To those that I forgot to invite, oops, my bad, we will make it right.

The gallery is large, but at one point (as is usual in our soirees) the main room was as packed as a school of lusty sardines at a singles bar. People were angling for invites this week, good friends who I would have invited if I could but I just knew that the thing was already too big.

The music was excellent with luthier and guitar man extraordinaire Andy Powers providing the sonic squiggles along with drummer/guitarist Dave Blackburn. They played tasteful jazz for the first course but when they got to rocking, the temperature gauge started climbing fast. We deserve a few rock anthems, damn it!

The wine aficionados secreted the great bottles in little stashes and cubby holes, and met in my office for serious imbibing. The still learning bunch brought a Drouhin Oregon Pinot that was my favorite sip of the night. I start tippling at about 1:00 with my friend Brigitte who is an organizer extraordinaire and was whipping my shop into shape. So I was well lubricated when people started sauntering in at about 6:30. Who brought the Sea Smoke bottle? Come back and drink it with us.

Denis Kelly was holding court in the back, down from Oaktown with wife Kathy, and he is so knowledgeable about food and wine that he makes the perfect party guest. If only he could get over his shyness.  Jim and Janis brought out a nice 2000 Louis Jadot burgundy, suitably aged but still with lots of life.

Potluck food was over the top, we ended up taking bags and bags home. Colestocks brought sliders, which were great, and remarked how easy it was to just throw out a call for bring your own rather than hassling with catering. We've never been disappointed. Sort of like a northwest coast potlatch.

Scott Atkinson came up with wife Jayne and a few friends. Scott was the longtime curator at the Terra and San Diego Museums of Art. I appreciate that he made the long drive. The coastal contingent also found their way to our fair burg.

Women looked gorgeous, the call having gone out that they present themselves in their finery. Men didn't look too shlubby.

My friend Gary brought an elegant russian woman over who it just so happens is from my mother's ancestral family home in Moldava, Kishinev. When I told her the family name, Wainrober, she remarked that she thought that we were in the wine business, which I had never thought about, the family coming here in 1922. I had always heard that great grandpa was a horse thief and a wheat smuggler. It was really great to meet this person.

No damage to the gallery, we have never had a significant casualty, but someone did pour a drink on my french bronze. Thanks.

As always at a big party, you can't talk to everyone and hope that people can engineer their own happiness and conversation. Lots of people left without a proper goodbye and I am sorry about that. Special shout out to Kim and Pat who had to get up at 3:00 in the morning to drive to Long Beach and still made it.

Renee showed up super late from Newport Beach Christmas Boat extravaganza and helped clean up along with Michael and Carmen Maas. Thanks again guys. Fairly early breakdown, home by 1:30. I feel good this morning, not the slightest bit hungover, which is sort of a miracle of miracles.

My gallery and Leslie's store seem to function like I imagine a 20's Paris Salon did. A warm visually stimulating environment for people to hang out. Maybe the best part of my job.



Let's do this again, shall we?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Bruce alert



It has been your basic great day, and furthermore a great week. Deals happened, all seems to be moving forward well. My shop looks nice, we're getting ready for the big boffo holiday party and my back is actually feeling a little better after a very bad couple of weeks.

You forget about mobility when your low back seizes up. Probably like losing a big toe, your balance leaves you literally in the lurch. I started taking cal mag citrate, following a chiropractor's advice and it might be helping. Had a cholesterol check this morning. My hdl is way too low. Doctor said that it is hereditary, another reason to blame my parents. God in the old days I talked about sex and now it's all about the ailments.

Bruce the locksmith is one of my best friends. We like the same music, stuff that a lot of other people can't handle. His cousin who also happens to be named Bruce, came by today and the three of us listened to Ray Price, the Delmore Brothers, Jethro Burns, Slim Whitman, Chet, Faron Young and Jerry Reed. Just getting into all this great old music. Bruce is a good guy to have as a friend and to hang out with. These are his hands. He grew up here in Frogbutt and his roots run deep.

He was telling me that his 2&1/2 year old great granddaughter was playing with  her plastic telephone and told her imaginary playmate to shut the f*ck up the other day. Freaked him out and a washout with soap or dirt comes next. But kids say the darnedest things sometimes.


I got toasted the other night on the irish whiskey and couldn't get a safe open and Bruce came and lent his sober hand. Great friend and he rarely will take my money. Rates are subject to change due to the attitude of the customer.

A scummy competitor of his took out about a million fake addresses in the phone book to try to steal Bruce's business this year but the locals got smart. Yay, Bruce. I once went out on a call with Bruce to open a truck in Rainbow. I saw Bruce reach blindly into a coffee can with three hundred key blanks in it and just happen to pull out the right one. First grab. Lucky, I guess.

That's 600 posts this year, same as last year. Could quit right now for symmetry. Consistent. The Blue Heron Blast, your intellectual companion on the world wide web since 2008.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Band - Christmas Must Be Tonight

My favorite Christmas song.

December Reprise


I know that it is customary to wait until the end of the year or the dreaded christmas letter to comment and dissect the preceding twelve months. Since I have no patience for the former and am pretty sure to forego the latter, I think that I will take a stab at it right now.  The returns are in and it sucked. Barring a last minute job offer from Bill Maher or Harpers or a big payoff on a forgotten lottery ticket, 2009 will not go down in the annals of my personal history as anything but a big flat tire.

I think that the worst part of the year was losing my friend Tony to leukemia. People say that it is wonderful when people go quickly but there is a real problem when people just disappear. Poof. I can't replace his friendship, support or counsel. My own chronicles and battles with cancer have been too well documented. My deal set me back on my heels and left me in a financial hole that never let me get back in any kind of economic comfort zone. The economy has nailed everybody, with many good americans on the street. I know that I am one of the very lucky ones. No one said it would be easy and there are no dress rehearsals.


The tendency of the conservative movement in this country to try to castrate Obama at every turn, no matter where it leaves the nation, much like we did with his predecessor, doesn't give me any great hope for the nation. We will play tag - you're it, with each other until it finally kills us.



So I look back and take solace in the few warm and bright spots. The Hawks. What a blessing to watch them grow up. My friends and clients. My eating group. Some great meals and parties. Bushmills. Jim Swan and Janis and Doug and Retha and Mark H. and all the people who support me. My wife, numero uno. Who does it all, mostly without a word and keeps our life together. The most beautiful woman in the world. I am so lucky to have found my soul mate. My homies in the business, Stoops and Fillmore, Cam and Bijou, Gary Lang, Doug Frazer, we compete in a sense but still support each other totally. That is rare in this world. And thanks to so many of you that I omit through my negligence.

Kerry and Big Dave, who I speak to near every day. Lena and Sheebz and Ron and Richard, Lynne and Ricardo. Tracey who reads the blast in the morning. Shawn. Dave in Japan. Bill Phillips. Brett. Doug Garn. Milch. The Mahoneys. Helen and Buzz. Eliot. John Morris. Jerry Morris. Renee. MMWB. Cavewoman. Bob J. Kim and Wanda. Bill and Jean. My morning coffee group. Connie and Dixon, Corrie, Mel, Lois and Bob, Grumpy, Stan, Bruce, Brian, Sano. Carrie, Ron L., Bill and Sandy. KBG. Jane M. Wendy. Denis. Bill and Jan. Kathi. Mother Earth Healing Dispensary. Beth. Jeaneane and John. Fallbrook Moose Lodge #1992, which may be on its last breath. David Allen, Dave and Robin, Brig, Jerri, the countless others that deserve thanks. And the closet blog readers too.



My mother in law, Ruth, who deals with life's indignities with the utmost grace and composure. My family. Parents, brothers and sisters. My brother in law, who like my sister Barbara, keeps the family afloat. My stepmother Shela, who takes such great care of my father in his twilight years. My dog, Maddie.

Thank you, my faithful friends and readers of the blast, for following this blog loyally through its second year. There are millions of these things out there and you do have a choice. So I appreciate you checking in. Thanks for being my friend.

Without each other we don't have shit. Have a wonderful holiday and best of luck next year.


lou reed - see that my grave is kept clean

I know that Lou Reed isn't everyone's cup of tea. For all of his musical and vocal deficiencies, I admire him for his poetry and honesty. I first heard this as an outtake on a blues video compilation and really liked it. Old Blind Lemon Jefferson song. Hope that you enjoy it. Its so christmasy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

An Andalusian dog.


with recent score. Bunuel, Dali.

Geojerking


As if one needed confirmation that civilization is heading to hell in a handbasket, along comes the new app Fapmapper, a gps guided mapping system using Google Earth that allows users to chart the occasions where they had to "take matters in hand" or indulge in public sex. This blog has a pretty good run down on the service.

Numerous spots around the globe have been tagged with this new amorous cartographic service. San Antonio, Texas currently holds the top ranking among cities but the numbers might be "out of whack".

In the old days I guess one would have had to leave a flag or something. I don't really see the need to proclaim my conquests to the rest of the world, especially if they are of a solitary nature but I guess it takes all kinds. And stay away from that northeast quadrant of San Francisco. It looks slippery.

Monday, December 14, 2009

O.V. Wright

Who was that masked man?


MMWB is one of my favorite blog readers. A really good and intelligent guy. He was totally anonymous but I managed to uncover his true identity. (He told me.) We never agree on much of anything at all but he can always construct a good argument. Until this one. But I will get to that later.

MMWB is definitely a contrarian.

I remember visiting an amish village once in Pennsylvania with my mother. We noticed some  unusual things in one of the amish homes, maybe it was a light with too many switches or something equally trivial. We asked the amish about the anomaly and they said that their creed came from some arcane statement in the old testament, maybe Leviticus, where they were commanded to be different than the masses.  I remember the fellow telling us that they weren't actually luddites and in fact if the rest of the world went primitive they would probably embrace modernity.

I think that the gap between my ideology and MMWB is that big. His viewpoint is my kryptonite and vice versa.

Now I know this masked man and he is a charming and highly intelligent person. I happen to know that he has a great eye for beauty, having an extra sophisticated eye concerning artwork and a lovely wife to boot. But I know that we both could mutually observe the most simple and trite event and come away with radically different opinions of what we actually witnessed. He is basically a level headed guy. I don't think that he wants to desecrate the planet for mere sport.

Anyway, MMWB, who hasn't commented in a while, deigned to grace the blog with his presence the other day, chiming in on what I thought was a pretty objective, "why can't we all be friends" post of mine on population control. His comment was so full of hyperbole and exaggeration that it would be worthy of a "Sommers Award" if we actually gave them out.

So I will now forensically dissect his post in order to hopefully promote harmony among all the peoples.
My original post is called People Glut - read it here. Here is MMWB's response with my italicized replies.

1. Implement a sterilization plan so that we don't produce too many people.

Wow, shades of the recent death camps argument with health care. The democrats both want to kill your grandmother and not allow you to reproduce unless you and your progeny are needed to work on one of their stalinist collectives. No one is talking sterilization, no one is advocating for a chinese "one child scenario." We just want you to consider the irresponsibility of a world view that imagines an endless supply of resources on a decidedly finite planet.No Shockey, no Orwell, no eugenics, no Brave New World. Just hopefully a conscious return to personal responsibility and the good sense to recognize that there is only so much clean air and water.
2. Go back to a time that was less productive so we can save energy.
Okay, I'll bite. What is the great benefit of industrialization that we would be pining for if we went back to a more balanced lifestyle before smog and mutant frogs? Have we reached some great pinnacle of achievement in this twenty first century that nobody told me about? Besides the flush toilet?
2A. Give up the big energy users: medical, information, commmunication, transportation, etc.
No, find better alternatives that do a better job conserving dwindling resources. The internal combustion engine has been around with very few changes in basic design for about 120 years, way out of date for a major techno overhaul. Look how fast the car companies got off their ass on hybrids and alternatives recently when they finally got a little push from government. Detroit spent all those years pushing hummers and gas guzzlers, mpg actually went down industrywide since the 70's. Of course, Americans think they have a god given right to consume. The question comes down to fair share. And our responsibility to fix those environmental problems that we have created. I don't think info and medical are big energy users, you are correct, communication devices are consuming more and more power. The flight from newsprint to portable devices and kindles is probably an energy saver.
3. Stop using the resources available to us so we can help the planet from getting too warm (or at least that's what we were being told until it was discovered that the planet was getting cooler). 
Oh, the big climate conspiracy! The polar bears are buying hawaiian shirts and wearing shades because it is getting so cold that they are losing all the ice at the north pole. Not withstanding the fact that the great majority of climate scientists are in general agreement on both global heating and cooling, an off shoot of the pollution layer insulating the atmosphere. The argument is over the amount of heating we can ascribe to forcing. A very excellent breakdown by climate skeptic Richard Lindzen of MIT in the WSJ recently. Which has been refuted but is a good place to start. MIT also produced a study in May that said that temperatures in 2100 could double earlier projections. Should we prepare for the worst and look at the consequences of our actions or just figure that if it all goes down the crapper that it was just part of god's plan? I have heard several conservatives opine that if the animals can not adapt, then we just don't need them around. Any idea of symbiosis and the interconnectedness of man and the planet gets hit with a Cheney like buckshot blast with this type of thinking. Yes the planet will probably get along fine without humans but shouldn't we try to extend our stay for as long as possible?
4. Stop using the resources available to us so we can help the planet from experiencing climate change (although the history of the world is a history of climate change).
Do you think that anything we do matters? Is there a conceivable limit to the amount of exhaust we pump into the atmosphere or radioactive material that is seeping into our water (see Moab, Colorado River) or plastic continent sized masses of chemical leeching plastic in our oceans that give you any cause for concern? Yes the world has experienced major climate shifts, does that mean we need to accentuate them? The dinosaurs lost a species every thousand years, we lose one every seventeen minutes, but who needs them?
5. Pretend that we are so powerful and impactful that we are the cause of climate change; Greenland used to be green with trees before it became covered with ice. (see the viking communities discovered under the ice.)
I trust that the communities were full of "dead" vikings?
6. Blame the poverty and starvation on the number of people instead of those who deny the shipment of food to the hungy (Somalia, North Korea, etc.) and because you don't understand that faith = a belief strong enought to act, add a misguided blame of believers in deity instead of researching far enough to see that orgainzed religion provides food & relief to millions of people each year
I applaud all that organized religion does for the hungry every year, unfortunately it's not enough. Estimates are that 1.02 Billion people are currently hungry and malnourished. Loss of agrarian land due to global warming, drought and rising tide levels are not going to help matters any.
7. Make policy that will maintain the poverty of third world countries,(energy is what fuels the creation of wealth), and commit to cover the expenses of other countries while limiting our own economic growth, thus making it impossible to make the payments for said commitments.
No, lets continue to finance dictatorships like Myanmar and friendly monarchies in the middle east and turn a blind eye to their treatment of their own people while we suck up their reserves. Look at the lawsuits against Chevron in South America for environmental devastation or the problems in Nigeria today with Shell. 
8. Make policy about energy use while sitting in a heated building, using a computer and without asking the opinion of those who live without energy.
Got me there. It's warm in here. Honey, Can you turn that down?
9. Pretend that there aren't sufficient energy sources avilable even though the United States has enough resources (oil, coal, shale, wind, sun, nuclear) to last for hundreds & hundreds of years, within our borders.
Remind me to send you some information on what uranium mining has meant to the navajos, from a public health standpoint. Check out the recent leukemia clusters at Kettleman City. Look at the people in Tennessee whose homes are now under toxic ash after the TVA dams broke last year. You mentioned the sun and wind - there is hope for you, friend. As a person who loves the outdoors, especially Utah and Montana, I am scared that we are going to pillage every remaining shred of wilderness in our quest to satiate our belching gluttony.
10. Whenever anyone questions our misguided green beliefs, attack, attack, attack. Call them names, question their spiritual beliefs, suggest that they are vapid and incapable of understanding the greater good & wisdom you posess. All this and more, because nothing covers up the truth better than vitriol & violence.
I don't want to attack. I want to point out that if you hold the common judeo christian belief that man is the penultimate expression of god's love and is exalted above the plants and animals in his or her dominion, or that we are fast approaching end times or rapture, and the whole thing is moot, it might make it more difficult for those of us who wish to stick around.
What a staggering, bewildering, myopic understanding of the earth's resources and of the worth of man.

Worth of man?  That's another blog in itself. I'll spare you. Your comments are always appreciated.

Good Morning




It has been so beautiful in the Santa Margarita River Valley. Click on the photobox and get the big pixilated version of my front yard. Notice the absence of smokestacks and drill rigs, although they do have their certain charm. After thirty years every new house on the skyline is a serious affront. Elitist that I am.

The sycamores are turning a beautiful ochre color and the mists lie late in the quiet valleys.

The kestrels and chicken hawks that were evident a few weeks ago are now out of sight, insulated from the shivering dawn.

I didn't have my fancy camera on the way to work this morning so I snapped this shot with my phone. Serious limitations but one works with what one has at hand.

My 93 year old buddy Mike Port was 14 when the depression hit. Was telling tales at coffee today. His dad had a junk shop and they sold burlap bags. Chased a rich guy who wouldn't pay right across the green at the Escondido Country Club in his old truck.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The great irony





I have been a bit of a comment nazi lately. I haven't published that many of those that I have received because some haven't necessarily been that good or on target.

I miss Millard's rapier wit. He has been too busy or disinclined to respond. Sanoguy, MMWB, all missing in action. Many are content to merely read and not to contribute and that is of course, fine. I can always set it on auto shpiel.

Grumpy is always willing to pitch in, of course  but I am uncomfortable with a running dialogue and it gets too reflexive at times. Of course the danger of not publishing everything and instituting censorship is that I will lose readership so I have to toe a fine line. But the blast wants your a game.

KJ is great but he also plays too mean for some.

New York Stan thinks that everybody west of Amsterdam Avenue is meshugina.

I have learned that I also play too rough for both some good friends and a few family members. And I hope that they will sincerely accept my apologies if and when they ever decide to start speaking to me again.

Some of the writing on the Blue Heron Blast is actually meant to be taken with "tongue in cheek." However my research has shown that some folks actually do not have the brain physiology to understand irony or sarcasm. Interesting Israeli study here about post frontal damage and the perception of irony. Also see this abstract, by Dennis.

The ability to perceive sarcasm actually is centered in an area of the right brain previously thought to have a minor role in observing contextual background changes in visual tests called the right parahippocampal gyrus. You can read about the science of sarcasm in this interesting article  in the New York Times. We have all  met people who could not get the joke. Perhaps there is a humor gene waiting to be discovered?


Unfortunately, if you do not have the capacity to recognize sarcasm or smarm, I am afraid that it becomes a fruitless clinical exercise to read about it.  Like stupidity, it tends to have a rather exclusive frame of reference. I hope to devise a glyph or cipher for the blog to alert the reader whenever I indulge in either pursuit, so that it can be more easily followed from home.

Hope that everyone is doing well. Rest assured that I say this without a hint of insincerity.

Make Me a Pallet On Your Floor


Doc and the late Merle Watson with Michael Coleman.

This song was made famous and probably written in it's current form by Mississippi John Hurt in the late 1920's. Another fellow, might have been Willie "Bunk" Johnson, claimed to have written it and copywrote it in 1934 or 5. The great W.C. Handy had fragments of the song in his "Atlanta Blues". Now after doing a little research I find that it was actually first published by white ethnomusicologist Howard Odum in 1911 in an academic journal. He wrote that he first heard it from an itinerant black guitar player in Lafayette County, Mississippi.

One of my old favorites to play. Doc does it in his beautiful and inimitable way.