*

*
Black crowned night heron, Lindo Lake

Friday, April 30, 2010

Slippery Slope

News from our neighbors to the east today regarding the passage of a bill yesterday forbidding the teaching of ethnic studies in Arizona, or teaching anything that would "promote the overthrow of the U.S. government, promote resentment of a particular race or class of people, are designed primarily for students of a particular ethnic group or advocate ethnic solidarity instead of the treatment of pupils as individuals."

This bill, which passed the House on a 32-26 vote after making its way through the Senate the day before, seems like a slippery slope to me, primarily designed to insulate thin skinned white people from any criticism of their actions, legitimate or not. How do you outlaw resentment?

What it actually will do is help put the final nail in the coffin of any chance the Republicans have of picking up the latino vote in the future. California Governor Pete Wilson tried something similar with Proposition 187, and hispanics basically told the GOP to pound sand and still haven't returned.

It really feels to me like we are now in the Balkans. Remember how the Serbs forbid the Albanians from speaking their native tongue? Same thing happened in Turkey against the Armenians and Kurds. Seems quite contrary to the notion of our country that I grew up with. Attacking and forbidding a divergent culture flies in the face of the old melting pot idea.

***

I have friends that tell me that they are conflicted about the whole issue of illegals. The truth is that I don't know a single person who is advocating for a mass amnesty or a simplified path to citizenship. Living in a border region, I have seen the abuses at the hospitals and schools with my own eyes. Being in America illegally should not mean that you can game our social welfare system, no matter what you do or do not contribute to our society or the fact that Americans may not want to do the jobs you perform, mostly quietly and honestly. If you came here illegally, you have no legal rights beyond basic human rights.

But there is a wrong way and a right way to combat illegal immigration. Denying culture, promoting xenophobic hatred and engaging in racial profiling is the wrong way.

***

Interesting article in today's WSJ. Don't try to teach in Arizona if you have an accent either.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Quicksilver - All I ever wanted to do was love you.


I attended this show with three thousand of my closest friends. Winterland. Cipollina and Lee Oskar.

And away I go.

 

I have only been home a few days and I get the feeling that the wife can't wait until I leave again. The wonderful promoter Terry S. (you think I can spell her last name?)  who puts on the Albuquerque Antique Show asked me if I wanted to bop over and do the show next week and I said that I would have to check the oracle (Hexagram 11 Tai, fourth, fifth and six lines changing) and it seemed propitious and I could use some more bread and nothing ventured nothing gained and all. So I oil changed the vehicle today which just went sequential (123456) and has a sparkling new radiator and I go out to the steppes to gain fortune or infamy. Crossing the state of Arizona will be problematic of course but a well placed farthing in the sheriff's palm should ease concerns about my complexion and keep me out of the hoosegow. 

Hope to see you folks from the land of enchantment. I  think it will be a really good and fun event. Proceeds benefit a very worthwhile Nurse Oncology Endowment, something that is very important to me.



Spirit

One of my favorite California bands was Spirit. Randy California was a great player and singer who met his unfortunate demise trying to rescue his son from the surf in Hawaii in 1997. Randy, born Randy Wolf, played for a short time with Hendrix and the band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames as a young man.  California wrote the song Taurus as a 16 year old, a song that was purloined by Led Zeppelin and turned into Stairway to Heaven.

California's stepfather and Spirit member Ed Cassidy was a jazz drummer who had played with Monk, Adderly and Kirk. Unsung band, and one with a unique sound. I put Dr. Sardonicus up there with Forever Changes and Sergeant Peppers in terms of seminal rock albums.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Irreconcilable Differences

All right America, let's be honest, we have a real problem here. We've tried counseling. We've had a face to face meet. Smoked the peace pipe. Let the lawyers go at it. Separation. Marriage Encounter™. Date Night. Numerous sit downs. Let's face it. The spark is gone and this marriage is over. Let's divvy this bad boy up and go our separate ways. Remain friends and wish each other the best. Truly.

Shouldn't be that hard. You can have first pick, may I suggest Arizona? We have more illegals in California by far but do you see us going all Johnny Ringo and strapping up heat to vanquish the bad guys? No way. But scientists have studied the effects of intense dryness and weather on the human organism and there are some folks that take to it and besides you've got the whole birther thing and men marrying horses and green bologna and all and it might be where you want to plant your Capitol Flag. But we get Flagstaff. We can gerrymand, cool? You can visit Disneyland if we get reciprocal privileges at the Grand Canyon.

We take Oregon. Doesn't get much hipper than Eugene. Cascades and clear streams. Earth Mothers. Beer.

Not to keep putting words in your mouth but you might consider South Carolina. I know you told the therapist that I always do that. You've got a fun loving governor there, a lieutenant guvnah that thinks that many of his constituents are just plain lazy. Weird ass vinegar barbecue. Metrosexual Senator with game. Bible Heaven. Confederates.

We get Hawaii. Charlie don't surf and neither do many republicans this side of David Hasselhoff. Lava Flows. Pahoa Wowie. Mama's Fish.

Please kick it around and get back to me. If we go to the mattresses you know the lawyers will get all the money. We really had something there for a while but hey, it just didn't work out. You get Texas too.

More California Psychedelia -"Head for Hippyland"





Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Duplicitous sleaze merchants

The folks at the RNC had themselves a real thigh slapper. Recently passed law states that parties can not use mailers that look like official documents for partisan fund raising purposes. You can not put the word "census" on a phony envelope. To get around the little problem, the Republican National Committee had a little window cut on the envelope so that the word was technically below the envelope surface and supposedly compliant. They blame the democrats who wrote the bill for being vague and leaving an opening for them to plunder. Nice to see that they have such respect for law.

***

The most duplicitous proposition I have ever seen has to be California's 16. Billed as The "Taxpayers right to vote act", what it actually is is a plan by the big power companies to do away with any competition from renewable energy and make it harder for communities to purchase wholesale power. It requires a two thirds vote before communities can spend public money or incur debt producing electricity. P.G.& E has spent close to 7 million dollars on this proposition. They are backed by their toady friends at the Chamber. Groups opposing it include AARP, League of Women Voters, The Sierra Club and the Consumer Federation of California. Make sure that you read your guide before voting on this sweet sounding but odiferous proposition.

***

The Scotus, in their eminent wisdom has decided to rule on the subject of simulated violence in video games. Interesting because just weeks ago they decided by an 8 to 1 ruling to allow people to sell videos of actual, sick human beings crushing small defenseless animals with stiletto heels. I for one am glad that their values are so firmly in place.

***

Interesting article in TPM about people in Orange County, CA being tricked into registering Republican while signing a marijuana petition.

This is the picture.

Crumb does Genesis

Definitely check out Ward Sutton's cool strip in the Village Voice.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Melody

Toxic Assets

The fireworks start tomorrow when Lloyd Blankfein, head macher of Goldman Sachs, sits down in front of the Senate committee investigating their big derivative con. Blankfein is the shlemiel who likes to quip that Goldman is merely doing G_d's work.

Goldman, according to reports, made at least 3.7 billion dollars shorting the market and betting against its own clients. More shady deals besides the Abacus swindle are only now being uncovered. I am sure that you are aware of how the con went down: Goldman handpicked and assembled the most toxic mortgages they could find and packaged them for billionaire investor John Paulson, all betting that they would take a disastrous fall. Found an arms length middleman ACA, so that they could be protected from the stench. A German stooge, IKB, played the fool in the operetta. Or the pigeon.

Blankfein's protestations of innocence of late have been pretty weak, the stupid yutzes should have known they were getting shtupped, they were big boys, we were just an innocent third party hedging our bets, etc.. But according to Tourre's emails, he was instructed to find unsophisticated clients to peddle the trash to that wouldn't ask too many questions.

Today the Senate Republicans, in perfect goose or lockstep, rallied around their great leader McConnell, in hopes of derailing financial reform. They blocked debate on the bill. We can't hurry or rush to judgement now, can we? Recent polls show two thirds of the American public supporting the new financial regulations.

Apparently the banks are worried about losing the derivative golden goose, which brings about 20 billion large to them every year, even if it is concocted out of unadulterated horse shit. The Administration has proposed that the banks pool money and subsidize the next big bailout themselves, a proposition that has raised a hue and cry from their GOP cronies and enablers.

The republicans, those recent champions of open government, want to keep all of the negotiations behind closed doors. I don't really blame them, as unseemly as it looks when they do their master's bidding. Senator Judd Gregg accuses the democrats of overreacting to last year's devastating collapse. Soon we will start hearing again about the dangers of regulation. Payday lenders are worried that they will finally have to play fair. Repubs and their pals at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are shaking in their boots at the prospect of a Consumer Protection Agency.

The dems have been on the take for plenty of Goldman and industry gelt themselves, the boys spreading the lucre wide and thick. Today Nebraska's Ben Nelson voted against the reforms after apparently getting a call from stalwart citizen Warren Buffet, who would have to pony up a pretty penny to insure his derivative holdings if the new reg's go through.

Once again we see how certain politicians play lip service in regards to financial regulation. Have we learned anything from last year's fiasco?

Not a damn thing.

Honesty

video

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sunday Morn.

The show has been pretty good. Good enough to keep the wolves away and the buzzards from circling. A fellow dealer asked me why I was smiling this morning, as if it was a blue moon occurrence. I said I was a simple guy, it's money or sex and it is definitely not the latter, I assure you. Can't help it if I am such a magnificent combination of brilliant intellect and crude animal cunning. The reality is I think I can pay my bills this month or the lion's share. Yippee.

***

The fellow in the smart fedora is the most picturesque customer ever. Great attitude and totally over the top. I get a photo of the outfit every show.

**

Have a strange experience to share. A fellow dealer was walking around the show the other day with a parrot on his shoulder. Within earshot, I remarked to a friend "See the ugly wart on that parrot's ass?" The dealer replied with a fitting expletive. About a half hour kidding, I approached him and with a friendly pat on the back, let him know that I was only kidding. He said that he didn't care. In the same horrible moment I looked down at my hand, the palm now liberally coated with at least a 1/2" of prime quality parrot guano. In shades of white and green, no less. Reflexively, I wiped my hand across his back and fled in horror to the restroom. The non english speaking woman attendant signaled that the facility was closed, I raised my dung encrusted palm for inspection to her dismay and ran by anyway to the sink.  I can't really figure out the pleasure in letting a bird shit on you and proclaiming your shat upon pleasure to the world but as they say, it takes all kinds.

**

Ate at my favorite klatch, Christies this morning in Burlingame and shared the bar stool with a realtor from Orlando. Single guy, with ten years on me. Conversation got around to Tiger Woods and Michael Jackson and those that would have their way with the 17 year old next door or worse. He said that Michael could have afforded to hire an 18 year old that looked like an 11 year old.

He said that guys like Woods and Clooney, with all of their available paramours should never get married until they are at least 50, then have kids and die in 10 years. I told him my pedophilia joke:

A guy comes home and his wife has the suitcase on the bed and is throwing all of her clothes in it.
"What the hell are you doing?" the man says.
"I'm leaving you, you sob."
"Why, what did I do?"the man says.
"You're a pedophiliac!"
"Pedophiliac huh, mighty big word for a twelve year old."

***

Had a fantastic meal at Creola last night with friend Michael. A regular ritual. Shrimp and fennel bisque, blue note salad with poached pears, filet on a polenta cake with red wine reduction and shallots. Ended the meal with the creme brulee bread pudding. Delightful. Washed it all down with a Louis Martini cab.

**

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Calexico

Silver lining

Many of you know of my love for silver. I have sold fine silver for years and used to write the occasional article for Silver Magazine in the 1990's. It may be in my genetic coding - I believe that one of my maternal grandmother Szcarlat's relatives was the jewish silversmith that made the fine 19th century Shabbos candlesticks in my gallery.

One of my favorite patterns of silver is Shreve's 14th Century pattern. This sterling was made by San Francisco's premier silversmith at the turn of the twentieth century and discontinued in 1915.

The craftsman, gothic revival pattern is typified by riveted strapwork and elegant hammering.

I bought this very interesting and large trophy in 14th century at the Hillsborough Show this week.

But the back story is perhaps more interesting than the trophy itself.

The double handled urn is inscribed "Presented to William B. Bourn from Charles E. Clinch - Grass Valley, 1908."

William Bourn (1857-1936)  was the owner of the Empire Mine in Grass Valley. The last "Bonanza King," he was a seminal figure in California history. The scion of a rich gold and silver mining family, he owned the famed Filoli Estate in Woodside. He also controlled San Francisco's water with his Spring Valley Water Company. Owner of Fireman's Fund Insurance. Founder of the company that became P.G.& E.. Friend of John Muir and opponent of the Hetch Hetchy despoliation. Champion of Yosemite. Purportedly, Bourn was a hard worker who would physically work the mine he inherited alongside his men when his father died and significantly improved his family's holdings.

The man who presented the trophy was the Mayor of Grass Valley, the town where the Empire Mine was located. Charles E. Clinch was the owner of the Clinch Mercantile, a player in Republican poitics and an interesting figure in his own right.

One of the docents was here yesterday from Filoli and took great pleasure in seeing the trophy. Another window into California history.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tambourine Men

Different Strokes

You get an idea why this country is going to hell in a hand basket after reading some of the tawdry details of the new Porngate investigation at the SEC. I always knew that the regulators palms were getting greased but this is taking it to a new level. I include the first couple pages from the executive summary.


Swinging accountant with mad computational skills and calculator fetish desires BDSM, DP action for afternoon rendezvous. Call Mel at the SEC.


SUMMARY OF PORNOGRAPHY-RELATED INVESTIGATIONS CONDUCTED BY THE SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL 
At the request of Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the following is a summary of the investigative reports and memoranda issued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Office of Inspector General (OIG) regarding SEC employees and contractors misusing government computer resources to view pornographic images during the past five years. The most recent memorandum reports were issued on March 8, 2010. 
During the past five years, the SEC OIG substantiated that 33 SEC employees and or contractors violated Commission rules and policies, as well as the Government-wide Standards of Ethical Conduct, by viewing pornographic, sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images using government computer resources and official time. Of the 33 investigations or inquiries conducted, 31 took place in approximately the past two-and-a-half years. Many of the employees who engaged in such conduct were at a senior level and earned substantial salaries through their government employment. The employees found to have engaged in this inappropriate conduct included 17 employees at a level of grade SK-14 and above (which can range from $99,356 through $222,418.) In many of the investigative matters, the OIG obtained key admissions from the employees under investigation in sworn, on-the-record testimony. The following is a breakdown by year of the cases reported to management during the past five years: three in 2010, ten in 2009,16 in 2008, two in 2007, one in 2006, and one in 2005. 
Below are some specific examples of the evidence uncovered by the OIG in our reports on the misuse of resources and official time to view pornography: 
  • A Regional Office Supervisory Staff Accountant admitted that he frequently viewed pornography at work on his SEC computer for about a year and that he accessed pornography on his SEC-issued laptop computer while on official government travel. The OIG also found numerous pornographic images stored on the hard drive of his government computer. 
  • Another Regional Office Supervisory Staff Accountant admitted that he used his SECassigned computer to access and attempt to access Internet web sites containing pornography and other sexually explicit material during work hours fairly frequently, sometimes up to twice a day. He further admitted this activity had probably occurred for a long time. This senior staff member also admitted saving numerous pornographic images to the hard drive of his SEC computer and viewing them from time to time during work hours. A Regional Office Staff Accountant received nearly 1,800 access denials for pornographic websites using her SEC laptop in only a two-week period, and had nearly 600 pornographic images saved on her laptop hard drive. 
  • A Division of Enforcement Senior Counsel used his SEC-assigned laptop computer on numerous occasions to access Internet pornography, and his computer hard drive contained 775 pornographic or inappropriate images. 
  • A Regional Office Senior Enforcement Attorney accessed pornographic images from his SEC laptop during work hours and saved sexually explicit images to his computer hard drive. The OIG also found a thumb drive connected to his SEC laptop that contained five distinct videos depicting hard core pornography. 
  • A Headquarters Senior Attorney admitted accessing Internet pornography and downloading pornographic images to his SEC computer during work hours so frequently that, on some days, he spent eight hours accessing Internet pornography. In fact, this attorney downloaded so much pornography to his government computer that he exhausted the available space on the computer hard drive and downloaded pornography to CDs or DVDs that he accumulated in boxes in his office. 
  • An Attorney Advisor for the Division of Corporation Finance admitted viewing pornography and sexually explicit images from his government computer during work hours for one or two years, and that he did so approximately twice per week. 
  • A Regional Office Examiner began using his SEC-assigned laptop two weeks after he began employment at the SEC to access Internet pornography and used a flash drive to bypass the Commission's Internet filter and successfully access a significant number of pornographic images. 
  • A Regional Office Staff Accountant received over 16,000 access denials for Internet websites classified by the Commission's Internet filter as either "Sex" or "Pornography" in a one-month period. In addition, the hard drive of this employee's SEC laptop contained numerous sexually suggestive and inappropriate images. 
  • A Division of Corporation Finance Staff Accountant admitted that he accessed Internet pornography on a repeated basis during and after work hours and, on certain SEC workdays, he spent up to five hours accessing Internet pornography. This employee also admitted opening accounts with Internet pornography websites using his SEC computer, that he bookmarked sites containing sexually explicit videos or images as his website favorites, and that he had uploaded a sexually explicit video file from his SEC computer onto one of the websites he had joined. 


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Profiling

The new racial profiling bill is sitting on the governor's desk in Arizona awaiting a signature. The Arizona Police Chiefs and unions are not happy with the bill. It will be interesting to see if it is constitutional.

The many legal latino citizens of the state who fear that this will lead to a lot of unnecessary harassment because of their skin color aren't real happy either.

I was listening to talk radio the other day and somebody called in and said something funny about the proposed legislation.

They wondered if the notion of profiling could be extended? The example that cracked me up was the possibility of now allowing cops to stop cars with confederate flag decals on their bumper because there was sufficient cause to assume that the occupants were probably drunk or had an unlicensed firearm in the glovebox? Or stop every car with a Ron Paul sticker, on the grounds that the passengers are most probably seditious, non federal income tax paying members of some militant militia. Opens up a whole new area of possibilities. Love this picture of a redneck thanksgiving.

Harry Nilsson

Greetings from the Golden Gate

It has been a nice trip so far. Lots of rain on the way up. I stopped off at my friends' Bill and Sue Phillips and spent the night at their home last night in Del Rey Oaks. Bill and I have been friends since 1975 when we met at the La Paloma Theater in Encinitas to see Jerry Garcia. Bill has one of the greatest collections of recorded music and video performances I have ever seen, from Miles Davis to the Bee Gees. Last night we watched a Small Faces video and then Pete Townshend's Psychoderelict. Always great times at the Phillips.

***

Drove up to the show this morning and set up most of my paintings. Had a decent sale. Checked into the hotel. Got the free chocolate chip cookie. The Padres beat the Giants today, 5 to 2, completing the three game sweep. The Padres have had the Giants number for years, beating them in like 11 of the last 14 games. The Giants and their fans have been cocky all season, practically expecting that the pennant be delivered without even playing the games, since they are so obviously superior. The Padres are running this year, executed a double steal today and the Giants obviously can't deal with their speed. They beat them yesterday with one hit. Their stoner pitcher Lincicum is great and all but I think that the division will be a toss up this year.

It's funny, the Dodgers and Giants and their respective fans hate each other, and it goes back to ancient history in New York. Lakers /Warriors shares a similar animus. San Diego gets treated like the dorky red headed stepchild, even though the Padres tend to mop up either team of late. We are the baseball equivalent of chopped liver. Native San Diegans like me hate the patronizing Dodgers far worse than we hate the Giants, I don't need to really get into it.


****

I went out to dinner tonight with some of my hardcore food buddies. Melissa and Gary and her son Morgwn Jones and his wife, Roseanna. Melissa is a chef and her son is a line cook at the very good and trendy Wood Tavern. The family knows food. Morgwn's father Kimball is a noted chef and cookbook author. Uncle Chris owns Citron. Brother Taylor is a very talented chef and C.I.A. graduate who is currently playing in a touring rock band.

We went to Delfina, on 18th and Guerrero. A block from Mission Delores. Delfina is a 2008 James Beard Award winner. Owned by a noted chef, Craig Stoll. My friend Michael and his wife had gone there recently and had been less than thrilled and I was a bit hesitant about the place. My concerns were misplaced. It was an excellent meal.We decided to all share and basically ordered one of everything. The food came hot and fast and often. We started the meal off with a delicious white wine whose name unfortunately escapes me but smelled of pear and was soft and round. Then on to a 2005 Silver Oak, one of my favorite cabs.

Delfina is a restaurant with a decided emphasis on meat. We started the evening with Louisiana Dayboat shrimp wrapped in lard and porchetta. Superb. Then Jewish style artichokes in mint which were intriguing, a culinary concoction from the jewish quarter of Rome. Crispy and flash cooked. On to the grilled calamari with white beans.

The salad was little gem lettuce in an amazing gorgonzola vinaigrette. The lamb and beet green ravioli was one of the best items of the night but so many things were great it is hard to pick. Spaghetti in Nero with sepia and sea urchin. Papparedella with succulent pork sugo. Delicious tripe fiorentina, nicely finished off with bread crumbs, the smoky flavor of the tripe was out of this world. Polenta with fontina Val de Aosto. Wolfe Ranch Quail with ramp. Mixed grill of pancetta wrapped rabbit, wild and spicy fennel sausage and lamb sweetbread spiedino. Finally a Meyer Ranch Hangar steak with fries. If I was going to come back and have one entree it would be this dish. Sublimely flavorful beef in a perfect wine reduction. Morgwyn explained to us the proper amount of butter to use in such a reduction. Fries were outrageous too. The food just never stopped coming. Everyone at the table had a sophisticated palette and it was a lot fun to eat and share with people that lived and truly appreciated food. Good bread and nice salted butter. Service was excellent as well.

They changed the silver a little too much. I said something after they took away my fifth fork, somewhere in the middle of the meal. Hey, I could get by with just one, a little more environmentally conscious, too. The mixing of so many different meats sort of sent my gastric constitution slightly upside down, might have been the rabbit. I think I will approach the place a bit differently when I return, maybe not be quite such a glutton.

We decided to forego the extensive dessert menu and instead walk across the street to the vaunted Bi-rite Creamery, which I had heard was San Francisco's best ice cream. We shared a hot fudge sunday with caramel ice cream. All the ingredients at Bi-rite are top shelf. A long line of people snaked out the door onto the street, at close to 10:00 at night. Nice.

It was a great night for friends and food. I recommend the restaurant and the ice cream. Somrtimes my job is okay.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Beach Boys - Pet Sounds

In my opinion, the finest American band of harmonizers.

Fifteen Years

Fifteen years today since the last tea bagging poster child decided to strike a blow for the American way.

Timothy McVeigh took 168 innocent lives at Oklahoma City that day.

Got to break a few eggs to make an omelet, right Timmy?

Great time for the god and guns crowd to bring their loaded weapons to the Capitol lawn. Perfect symmetry.

Mom

My 79 year old mother is in a bad way back in Pennsylvania. Brother Buzz drove down to see her in the hospital today with his wife Julia, who is a nurse. She lives in the Poconos.

Mom has always liked her pharmaceuticals. She has had a lot of serious illnesses including lupus and she might have done a little doctor shopping. The morphine on top of the Oxy on top of the Percocet has taken her for a very unpleasant ride.

It is my fervent hope that she can get through this episode with a minimum of pain and discomfort but it's not happening right now. Want her back to normal. Think good thoughts. You get one mom.

X

Johnny Rivers

Notes from the track

I return from the show at Del Mar chastened, beaten by far more than a nose, yet still standing. I drive to Bay Meadows tomorrow to give it another go. I remember hearing a psychic once say that they had rigged an apparatus to measure the psychic vibrations at various geographic locales around the world and invariably, racetracks and casinos had the worst "vibes"ever measured. Nothing else close.  Must be all of that residual greed and misery. And here I am following the circuit.

I sold and scrapped a lot of cheap silver at the show, needing to pay my mortgage and today's car repair bill. Haven't hit a home run in a long time and I think that I am getting too used to running on fumes. Getting used to that jackboot on my windpipe.

I scored on a nice piece of pottery that should work and got a few promising leads on paintings.

The most earth shattering thing I saw I will unfortunately be forced to describe because my photograph didn't save.  Imagine if you will, a three hundred pound woman wearing a skin tight "Pucci - Vasarely type, black and white geometric blouse. I was alerted to the heavenly vision by a colleague. The bulging concentric lines were creating optical patterns that Euclid himself could never have conceived of. Truly remarkable, and seared into my teary retinas for eternity.

Saw my old painting teacher, the infamous G.D. Durrant and his lovely wife Susan at the show. Durrant is a great watercolorist and the pride of Sul Ross College. They were kind enough to purchase one of my wares.

One of my clients came by looking quite dapper in his fedora and pinstripe suit, having recently shed 85 lbs. He has a four step non bariatric plan. 1. Don't diet. 2. Don't exercise. 3. Eat when you are hungry. But only a small portion. 4. Eat slowly. The proof is in the pudding, he looks good but I don't think I could go there.

***

I had a cup of coffee with Warren this morning, my ex wise guy, bookmaker friend. Warren used to do layoffs for the big bookies years ago and came out from New York to follow the ponies. He is always good for a few gems and today was a superfecta.

Thank god horses can't talk, you don't have to hear them thanking Jesus after the race.


Talking about breeding - Mrs. Sullivan had thirteen children, only one was John L..


Bet short odds or have a long face.


When a horseplayer says a horse has a better track time - the only time time counts is when you are in the joint.


Talking about loudmouth winners - Eats like a bird, shits like an elephant.


Winners tell stories, losers say "deal!"


There were four or five more but my brain couldn't process fast enough. I am going to try to start the second chapter of Clarksdale this week. Thanks to all for your encouragement.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Arthur Brown

This is unfortunately the short version without the cool preamble.

Surtyr's Revenge

Marc Canter had a pretty funny and cogent observation on Facebook today. Iceland is taking down all of Europe in retaliation for its economic misery. Marc is the brilliant man who founded Macromind, the computer company that morphed into Macromedia.

Iceland is in serious financial turmoil and has been severely squeezed recently by its creditor nations, England and Holland. Now the norse fire gods are having their comeuppance.

According to Icelandic mythology, during the final battle of Ragnarok, Surtyr, leader of the Fire-Giants of Musphel (the Home of Fire) will destroy both the gods, the Frost Giants and pretty much the whole Universe with his flaming sword. And word has it that they plan to start by taking down jet service on the continent.

I guess that the moral of the story is not to piss off the old Asgardian gods. They can still be pretty mean when they get riled.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Arthur Lee and Love

Friday Fribbitz

Europe grounded, Goldman going down, Republicans saving the common man from the Democrats and their nasty bank bailouts (and looking out for the welfare of the poor derivatives), cats chasing dogs, the world, my friends, she is standing on her head.

***

I was minding my own business, driving into work this a.m. when a persistent and annoying ringing sound started beckoning at me from my Chrysler's instrument panel. Critical engine overheating. Out of fluids. Managed to nurse it to my mechanic and the radiator is shot, being made out of plastic and will require replacement on monday. So I will have to utter the proper incantation and find a way to get here to there and back again from Del Mar to Fallbrook, throughout the course of the Antique Show this weekend. Must drive to San Francisco on Tuesday. Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans, as the wise sage once said.

****

Caught the amazing Peter Sprague playing guitar at the Roxy Restaurant in Encinitas on the way home last night. He is playing most thursday evenings and is remarkable. Lyrical, inventive and at times sublime. Last night he played through his new rendition of Oh Susanna, the Stephen Foster song. Foster wrote it in 1848. He had been working with some minstrel musicians.

The original lyrics: 

I came from Alabame' wid my banjo on my knee,
I'm g'wan to Louisiana, my true love for to see
It raind all night the day I left, the weather it was dry
The sun so hot I frose to death; Susanna, don't you cry.
Oh! Susanna Oh! don't you cry for me
I've come from Alabame'
Wid mi banjo on my knee.
I had a dream de odder night, when ebery ting was still;
I thought I saw Susana, a coming down de hill.
The red, red rose war in her hand, the tear was in her eye,
Says I, im coming from de South, Susana don't you cry.
I soon will be in New Orleans,and den I'll look around
And when I find Susana,I'll fall upon the ground.
But if I do not find her, Dis darkie 'l surely die,
And when I'm dead and buried, Susana, dont you cry.
The non p.c. second verse:  
              I jump'd aboard the telegraph and trabbled down de ribber,

De lectrick fluid magnified, and kill'd five hundred Nigga.
De bulgine bust and de hoss ran off, I really thought I'd die;
I shut my eyes to hold my bref -- Susanna don't you cry.

Anyhow, Sprague and the song were great. It traveled from a psychedelic inner space to a section where I felt like I was on the front lines of some confederate battle. Brilliant, really.  After Peter, I  traveled over to the E St. Cafe and heard my friend Joseph Angelastro and his jazz trio. Also very good. Lightning speed. Both of these guys play so well and so lyrically, faster than I can think. So I have been getting a nice dose of culture lately.


















Thursday, April 15, 2010

Sugar Sugar


The quintessential Los Angeles band of the sixties has to be the Archies. So L.A. that they don't really exist at all except in their fabricated little two dimensional cel world. Like the Monkees but actually much flatter.

I always liked the sound of this bubble gummy cut. Ron Dante is the male voice of course. But I have always loved the female vocalist who I assumed was black. Until I looked it up a few years ago and discovered she was actually a white girl from New York, Tony Wine. Wine had been writing songs since the age of 8, sang backup for Willie Nelson and Gene Pitney and wrote Groovy kind of love and Candida amongst others. Great voice.

Interesting notes on the song from Wikipedia:


"Sugar, Sugar" is a pop song written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. It was a four-week 1969 number-one hit single by fictional characters The Archies. Produced by Jeff Barry, the song was originally released on the album Everything's Archie. The album is the product of a group of studio musicians managed by Don Kirshner. Ron Dante's lead vocals were accompanied by those of Toni Wine (who sang the line "I'm gonna make your life so sweet"), Andy Kim, and Ellie Greenwich. Together they provided the voices of the various Archies using multitracking. Ray Stevens, the comic singer, provided the hand claps to the song[citation needed].


The Archies' "Sugar, Sugar" was the 1969 number-one single of the year. It spent four weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 from September 20, 1969 and eight weeks at the top of the UK singles chart. The song lists at #63 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All Time.[1] It also peaked at one in the South African Singles Chart.[2] On February 5, 2006, "Sugar, Sugar" was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame, as co-writer Andy Kim is originally from Montreal, Quebec.


The song was earlier offered to The Monkees, although additional rumors that it was recorded using session musicians with Davy Jones providing all the vocals, but never released, are false. Don Kirshner has said that Mike Nesmith put his fist through the wall of the Beverley Hills hotel refusing to do "Sugar, Sugar."[3] Jones confirmed that Kirshner had offered it to them, but stated they turned it down, and he never recorded it.[4] The band thought it seemed cheesy and at that point they were looking to mature their sound. However, Monkees archival expert Andrew Sandoval has suggested that the band may instead actually have been offered a tune called "Sugar Man", but with the passage of time the parties involved simply mis-remembered it as being "Sugar, Sugar", in large part because it made a better anecdote.

Buffalo Bill is defunct

I have been doing antique shows for about 16 years or so. When Leslie and I started, we would do as many as 35 a year, mostly weekend shows in Los Angeles and swap meets. Now I do about 8 a year, pretty much by myself.

Antiques shows are physically grueling endeavors. You have to pack everything up, drive to the venue, set up your electrical and lighting, paper the walls, unload your stuff, put the boxes back in the truck, it frankly kicks your ass. Then you spend 3 or 4 days being exceedingly pleasant to potential customers, an act of extraordinary endurance in itself.

The antique show game is partly about using your eye and knowledge to gain an advantage over your competitor. So you have to walk the floor periodically to make sure that a dealer hasn't made a horrible mistake that you can capitalize on. Some of the best pickers are really tall guys with long strides that can cover a lot of ground. They will often times wait in front of a booth of an easy mark during setup and watch them unpack every box, ready to pounce.

It is not uncommon to walk an entire show 6 or 7 times in a day to see what has turned up. Productive but a bitch on your feet and ankles, especially on hard concrete or pavement.

The antiques game is really a lesson in predation. You go to a show and you have to decide if you are going to be predator or prey. Many come to be eaten. I tend to be a top of the food chain predator, except in rarefied places like New York or Santa Fe, where sometimes even I assume the position.

The antiques and art racket seems to be losing a lot of steam. Kids today just don't give a shit about art unless maybe it's getting drilled into their skin with a #7 round tattoo needle. The median age at an antique show these days is frankly older than George Gobel. So we sit around like dinosaurs, waiting for the flood or maybe an approaching comet to put an end to our evolutionary line.

I get an email from a promoter about once a month noting some dealer's passing or serious illness. Heard an announcement that one of the dealers is at death's door today and expect an update any moment. People around the corner from me are both approaching that golden light at the other end of the tunnel.

And one day it will probably be me. No retirement plan in this industry. You tend to keep working until they drag you out of some godforsaken hall with a tag on your toe. A hustler's life, to be sure. And I am frankly feeling it today. Very tired.

***

I find that getting ready for a show is tricky in an emotional sense. You can think a show will suck and it can turn out wonderfully. Or the inverse, you can start out with this great attitude and then crash and burn and have a horrible show. Although it is rare, that show from hell is always at the back of my mind, is this the one where I completely fall on my ass?

I try to be reasonably pessimistic and then pleasantly surprised if things go better than expected. So that I don't go running for the razor blades when my expectations are dashed and sodomized.

I have a really nice and smart clientele and I enjoy interacting with them. The people make it worthwhile.    Of course there are people that you have shpieled for an eternity and never buy anything and you have to give them your pitch and they still don't buy and you start to wonder if you aren't really a performing seal or something, there for the purpose of entertaining them. It is not too hard for a guy like me to feel a slight tinge of hostility in those situations. But the reality is that some people will never grok you, its a biochemical thing.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that in the midst of a recession and with 2 trillion large sucked out of the economy, my job has become much harder. People are scared and they aren't in the mood to spend money on much besides necessities these days. My logic to date has been to try to tread water and not sell too much below the old market unless I have to, but like many others I am starting to eat up the seed corn. C'est la vie. I am lucky to have a lot of inventory to show for the great times. God damn I hope they return one day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Las Puertas

Finally, some doors music. Ships with Sails was on the post Morrison Other Voices album and one of my favorites as a youth.






Tuesday, April 13, 2010

More groovy sounds from Los Angeles

Stone Brewery

I have an antique show this weekend in Del Mar and another one next week in San Francisco so my lovely bride offered to treat me to a preflight inspection and treatment at our friendly chiropractor in Escondido.

My favorite greasy spoon was closed by the time we got out and one of us had the idea of checking out the relatively new Stone Brewery. I hit the voice search on my android and the navigation system magically transported us there, a stone's throw from the new hospital complex.

I actually drove by the place because the exterior looked so corporate and light industrial. No signage to speak of, either. After I doubled back, we found our way through the metallic double doors and entered the cavernous brewery/gift shop, restaurant/ garden spot.

I had wanted to check the place out for a possible meeting place for my food group, many of whom had already been there. I would still take them, but for the novelty and beer, not necessarily the food.

I was surprised that a place that looked so good on the inside took such a boring safe exterior architectural route. Boxy and blahhh.

We ordered a taster plate of beer and then another. Leslie suggested that I try the Arrogant Bastard and the Sublimely Self Righteous Ales, probably for no special reason.

We started off for little cream cheese mushroom canapey things, which were a tad greasy and underwhelming. She had the garlic cheddar soup for an entree which she loved. I settled on the barbecued duck burritos. I wish the menu had mentioned that they were covered with onions, a downer for me. A bit mushy and nondescript but hey, if I was toasted, I could eat six or seven.

The bread was good, as was the service, beer was superb. Didn't have my camera so used my phone. I would like to take the beer tour, looked interesting even though I am not a huge beer drinker. I didn't have time to walk the gardens, having procrastinated all week on getting ready for the show but plan to do this as well.

This place is a hoppy wet dream for the reverse baseball capped twenty somethings who filled the place and looked like they had died and gone to brew heaven. Check it out, don't expect a lot from the expensive and slightly pedestrian food, but definitely wet your whistle with the suds.

Along Comes Mary - The Association, Electric Prunes - Too much to dream last night

Rock and a hard place

Fallbrook had its third annual Film Festival this weekend. Having had to actually view all of the roughly two hundred entries already as the head judge for the Festival (some of them multiple times), I didn't really feel the need to see them again. But everyone seemed really pleased with the new venue in Bonsall and I hear attendance was good. I was told that some of them really translated well to the big screen.

My favorite movie this year was an animation film called Prayers for Peace. It is the story of a man whose brother has been killed in Iraq. I would have been tempted to give it a Best of Show award if we had one, but it won best animation. Very powerful.

I also liked some of the more twisted shorts, Delaney and House Rules in particular. It was a good year for animation, which was lacking last year and a pretty weak year in general for narrative features.

I may or may not continue on after three years judging the Festival. It took up a lot of my time. Some of the entries were difficult to sit through. But I really enjoyed the camaraderie with my fellow judges and our spirited discussions. Smart people that all come from a different vantage point.

We came for the opening and the awards ceremony and party. The George Hamilton was our honored guest this year and he was at ease, charming and very likable. And very tanned, of course. Great spread of food afterwards. I have to congratulate the hard work of the organizers and the Fallbrook Film Factory.

***

I got embroiled in a minor kerfuffle when I voiced my displeasure at a film that got slipped in at the last moment, when I was in San Francisco and the Director in India. A local woman spent a year or two of her life working very hard making a film about the nearby proposed Liberty Quarry and its potential impact on people and the environment. I have been quite vocal about my opposition to the quarry, produced an anti quarry concert a view years ago and have blogged repeatedly about the nasty habits of the proponent, Granite Construction. They already have a permitted quarry nearby and we need this one like a hole in the head.

My hackles were raised though when a women approached me at breakfast on Sunday, who had seen the film, and wanted to know if I realized that the film suggested that quarries caused earthquakes? I had not, having never had the opportunity to view the work, and started asking questions.

Now I am not a seismologist, but I spent two years of my life full time fighting a landfill once and know about the dangers of making unsupportable statements that can damage your credibility. I know that as a judge I have the responsibility to be balanced and objective and not allow the festival forum to be used for propagandist purposes.

So after a flurry of emails yesterday I started looking into the issue of seismic events and earthquakes. Was there a nexus? Well there very well may be, but it doesn't look like it's accepted canon by any stretch of the imagination. Seismologist Tom Rockwell evidently thinks there is a connection. The gigantic dam in China with its enormous weight and excavation may have contributed to seismic events. Ditto a mine in Pennsylvania. My cursory review of the linkage yesterday seemed to suggest that the problems were a result of massive flooding rather than fracturing. But there may be a connection. But enough of a connection to make a blanket statement that" quarries cause earthquakes?" Which we have always have been told were caused by massive earth forces that shift the tectonic plates.

So now I look like a dilettante because I question the scientific validity of the assertion and wonder if it has been subjected to critical peer review? The film maker sent me an email this morning and said that she ran P.R. for a major engineering company for years, and appears comfortable with the content. Jerry Arganda says that all of the film's claims were vetted by Dr. Matt Rahn from San Diego State University. Interesting.

I am not happy at all with the whole episode.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Peanut Butter Conspiracy

I have decided to embark on a new musical expedition, having recently sailed through discofunk, female folk singers and distaff psychedelia. The new focus will be on the semi cheesy Los Angeles Sunset Strip and with that we bring you the smooth and superchunky sounds of the Peanut Butter Conspiracy!



Reality, man, reality.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Clarksdale - The prologue, Chapter I

Swenk Ave., Clarksdale c. 1906

Clarksdale was not much different from a hundred other small towns that had been cut off from the world once the nearby freeway had been finally completed. It billed itself as the "Pistachio Capitol" of the world, the town's dryness and heat a perfect incubator for the small ...

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