*

*
Antelope Canyon abstraction

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Scattergun Tuesday

My mom just called me to tell me that Furthur, the latest incarnation of what's left of the Grateful Dead, is playing in her back yard in eastern Pennsylvania. She lives in the Poconos near Bushkill Falls, in Hawley. She said everyone in line for tickets was over fifty and had a tie die and a fat belly and that I would have fit right in. She never liked the Dead that much or she would be there.

The last time I saw them, it was really bleak and I don't think I would take the plunge again but what the hell - maybe for old times sake. It's not the same without a little interplanetary travel and I am afraid those days are long over. Now all the idioms are worn out and the tunnels a bit dusty and I will pass, thank you.

***

I have never lived in PA but I went to fifth grade camp in the Poconos, near La anna. Incredibly beautiful area with native red salamanders called red efts. Bears and deer and a fabulous indoor food market in Allentown for native fare and cured meats.

***

My brother had a heart attack in Toronto last week and received a four way bypass. It was not a good time, as he is dealing with a host of other problems including diabetes, FSGS- a rare kidney disorder and apnea. He has been having post op problems breathing and they were afraid they were going to have to reinsert the breathing tube. Also a problem with sugar levels. His kidneys are not functioning properly and he had to undergo hemo dialysis today. I love him like no other and I have been a basket case all week. Just blew the whistle and let my mom know, so now all hell is about to break loose. I am planning to fly out at the first opportunity.

***

Leslie's back just went into the same paralytic funk mine has been in the last three weeks. Renee was gracious enough to let us use her jacuzzi and sauna yesterday. A little relief, but we are a pair to draw to.
Friend Gary had a carotid aneurysm this week. We are dropping like flies, ladies and gentlemen.

***

Finished the two books by Reverte and starting Carlos Ruiz Zafon's The Angel's Game. I love Spanish fiction, don't know why, must be a past life thing.

***

Going to see Little Feat thursday. My friend Arnold is taking me. We are old, and I hope we don't stay up too late. Yes and Frampton in a few weeks. Vegas soon.

***

Business is lousy and the streets are deserted. Two new galleries on the street, I wish them well. Krugman wrote a depressing editorial this morning on the next depression. If you want to find it, you will. My back hurts.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Blue Monday


Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells

Sonny Boy Williamson and Otis Spann

Robert Boyle - English Chemist and Visionary

My wife Leslie pointed out an interesting article in the paper at dinner last night about Robert Boyle, the 17th century founder of Britain's Royal Society.

Boyle had an uncanny knack for auguring the future.

He envisioned submarines, airplanes, psychedelic drugs, organ transplants, kevlar armor, scratch and sniff paper, antidepressants, sleeping pills, genetically modified crops and a host of other predictions that have come true over the span of time.

Boyle, whose papers have just gone on display for the first time, had a wish list of 24 predictions, the majority of which have been fulfilled or discovered in the last 350 years.

Boyle was a writer, alchemist, physicist, theologian, inventor and scientist best known for Boyle's Law of Gases. Boyle's law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system.

One of his prognostications was the ability to diagnose and practice medicine from afar. We are on the advent of such technology, in fact Paul Jacobs, CEO of Qualcomm announced this week that the cell phone is the perfect medium for medical diagnostics and they have a bunch of cool new gadgets planned. Of course, Dr. McCoy from Star Trek was all over this years ago, or from now, depending on your perspective.

Boyle founded the "Invisible College" at Oxford University and then the Royal Society of London for the Improvement of Natural Knowledge in 1660. The society's motto was Nullus In Verba – Take Nobody's Word For It. An interesting visionary, worth celebrating.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Annual Sex Survey

The Blue Heron Blast has just performed a very thorough and comprehensive survey on pornography on the internet. Don't look so shocked. It is everywhere.

You could be looking for a few honest figures on the yearly paper consumption in Surinam or the current stickiness quotient of wickets and be suddenly plunged into a carnal cyber abyss at any time.

I would wager that more people are using Al Gore's invention these days for self gratification than Quickbooks or checking the price of beets. Just a few keystrokes away, as they say.

In any case, as a public service to Blast readership, we have waded deep into Satan's trenches to assay the state of cyber porn and have some pithy comments to offer on the whole megillah.

You people have gotten really weird.

Grandma is apparently not just for baking cookies anymore. When and why did this happen?

Men are now shaving their pubic hair. Ok, why? Does anything look so stupid? Is this like those new hi-tech bathing suits now outlawed in international competition? Is the loss of friction and drag worth the resultant itch?

Speaking of pubic hair, vaginas are being trimmed, shaved, ringed, beaded and bangled at an alarming clip. Don't go to an orgy au natural unless you want to get laughed out of the joint and deemed a prudish puritanical throwback by your swinging peers.

And while on the topic of swingers, you would never want to have intimate relations with 95% of them unless suitably ensconced in several layers of industrial grade visqueen, and with a signed affidavit that said partner had all of the requisite shots, including tetanus and typhoid. This is admittedly judgmental, but the vast majority of the swingers I have met put the ug in ugly. And could be a host to a wide range of virus's and parasites that could ultimately curtail any hopes that you may have for any possible lovemaking endeavors in the future.

I must couch this, being an R rated blog at worst, and not wishing to unduly offend. The back door is now the front door, in some circles, the front door being relegated for very special occasions. Sort of like those chairs in the formal living room that mom kept the slip covers on. I don't think that some of the denizens of the new layout and procedure are as keen on the whole thing as they are letting on.

With so much sordid crap littering the netwaves, don't bother teaching the kids about sex education. They will TEACH you, offering tips on the finer points of reverse cowboy, multiple partners, gagging, spitting and a host of other ridiculous notions that have suddenly become standard issue in the sex biz. Some of what passes for lovemaking these days is really quite brutal and disgusting, but who asked me?

If the kids want to babysit for the neighbors, say no, trust me...

It also puzzles me that women will trade visible boob scars for a shapely and comely breast. I have had more stitches than Mama Cass's hemline and no one has ever suggested that they have any aphrodisiac quality.

Venue is now important, we tend to copulate anywhere and everywhere, glory holes, elevators, rest stops, truck stops, kitchen tables, classrooms, trains, planes, automobiles. Seemingly everywhere, except of course in beds, a twentieth century anachronistic contraption that I thought was conceived for just such a purpose. Now Trés outre.

I won't belabor this. With all of this free porn floating around, I don't see how any of the filth purveyors are making any money, or how the magazine or movie trade continues to flourish. They have done away with most of the plot lines, beelining straight to the entrees, but what the hell can you do these days that hasn't been done a million times in the past, and probably with better form and execution?

And on the subject of sex, did any of you catch the recent local lawsuit between lifesize, anatomically correct blow up doll companies? People are paying a fortune for a latex companion that doesn't ever talk back. But can they cook?

I could go on, but I think I need a squeegee and a shower. Bottom's up.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Raising Arizona.

I don't care if you are a rabid teabagger or a marxist rabblerouser (we all know that there is no longer a middle ground), when the bullshit rises to a certain level, it is incumbent on you to yell bullshit. This week the Arizona Governor made the totally unsupportable statement that the majority of undocumented workers entering this country are carrying drugs.

"We all know that the majority of the people that are coming to Arizona and trespassing are now  drug mules," Gov. Jan Brewer told the Arizona Republic Friday. "They're coming across our borders in huge numbers. The drug cartels have taken control of the immigration." "They're coming here, and they're bringing drugs." Illegal immigrants looking for work are being "accosted" by drug cartels, she said.

I have lived in a farm community near the mexican border for the last thirty years and have met plenty of undocumented workers. They tend to be extremely focused and hard working individuals that keep their nose clean. I signed green card papers over two decades ago for a family of guatemaleños that came back to work in my avocado grove year after year. I have never known a single undocumented worker that had anything to do with drugs.

Ms. Brewer panders to the most virulently bigoted segments of her community. Unfortunately a large portion of the nation's population will believe her. No matter that the head of the Border Patrol Union finds her allegations unsubstantiated. This governor clearly loves to be in front of a camera. Which is courageous considering, (see picture at left).

"The majority of people continue to come across in search of work, not to smuggle drugs," Border Patrol Spokesman T.J. Bonner said. Brewer's comments, Bonner said, don't "comport with reality -- that's the nicest way to put it."

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, 61% support Brewer in her race to win the Republican nomination for Governor. Further bolstering Brewer, 89% of GOP voters support the immigration law.

***

I was discussing the Prescott Mural situation last night with a friend who moved to the Arizona community several years ago. If you are unfamiliar, the townspeople got irate about a school mural celebrating diversity, egged on by a city councilman. The mural artists were subjected to a continual stream of foul epithets and were eventually forced to lighten the shade of the dark children's faces.

City Councilman Blair mistakenly complained that the most prominent child in the painting is African-American (he was hispanic), saying: "To depict the biggest picture on the building as a Black person, I would have to ask the question: Why?""You have changed the ambience of that building to excite some kind of diversity power struggle that doesn't exist in Prescott, Arizona. And I'm ashamed of that."


Psychiatrists would have a field day with this one. Rather than seeing a bunch of multihued children playing together in harmony, the white residents of town frame it as a diversity power struggle.
So the enlightened residents of our neighbor to the east have a problem if the white child isn't the biggest face on the mural. I see. I asked my friend about this. I was a bit shocked at his response.

"Hey, it would have been one thing to have an Indian or Mexican kid on the wall but we got Kunta Kinte instead."

Do you think this could have anything to do with us having a black president?

**

Of course, not to be outdone, Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C. is really smoking the crack. She wants Homeland Security honcho Janet Napolitano to investigate the hordes of Hezbollah militia members massing on our southern flank, in league with the drug cartels. Of course, she has no real evidence of this, but it might just manage to inflame the looneys that inhabit the kindred red sister states. How's this for fear mongering:

"Former intelligence officials have pointed to the terrain that makes up our border, especially in the San Diego border sector, as a reason why drug cartels have been partnering with Hezbollah. This terrain is very much like the areas around Israel's borders. As we well know, Hezbollah is extremely skilled in the construction of tunnels,"said Myrick. "Likewise, these intelligence officials say that the drug cartels, in an effort to dig larger and more effective tunnels, are employing the expertise of Hezbollah. For their expertise, Hezbollah could be receiving a cut of the drug money or even be helping put cash up front to assist in the overall drug operations."

Yes, Iran has made inroads in Venezuela and possibly Paraguay. In 2006 Mahmoud Youssef Kourani, the brother of a Hezbollah member, illegally came through the Mexican border on his way to live in Detroit.

But I would doubt that a nexus can be established placing a vanguard of islamic invaders at our back porch.

Nothing has to make sense any more or be rooted in the slightest tether to what actually exists in the real world. A bullshit soundbite creates its own existential reality. And who really has the time to figure out the difference?

Eskimo Blue Day

Snow called water going violent
Damn the end of the stream
Too much cold in one place breaks
That's why you might know what I mean
Consider how small you are
Compared to your scream
The human dream
Doesn't mean shit to a tree

Arctic Blast


The good folks at John D'amato's Crooks and Liars were kind enough to pick up my blast "War on Poorand run with it today. I appreciate the ink from them, this is probably the fourth or fifth time they have given me the courtesy and it always exposes hundreds if not thousands of folks to my rants and writing. My feedjit widget is currently wheeling around like a drunken slot machine.

It also allowed me to reach my first denizen in the North Pole, if the widget can be believed. I don't usually indulge in too much self congratulatory back slapping but this milestone must be dutifully recognized. Also got a hit from some forgotten mountain in Indonesia where Shawn from Thailand is currently tooling around. And a hit from the cold barrens of Yellowknife.

So the Blast's slow crawl towards global domination continues to inch forward, finding it's way to the planet's loneliest nooks and crannies. Still can't get much traction in Africa, which either speaks to their good taste or possibly the lack of adequate bandwidth. But let me just say to my african brethren, the birthplace of our biped species, hakuna matata, I come in peace.

Thank you Crooks and Liars. And thank you, my faithful readers, no matter where you hail from.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Not the Incredible String Band

The Blue Heron Blast's own New York Stan has a gig in Scotland in August. Stan is a commercial photographer and teacher in New York but used to play in the String Band. He also was Muddy Waters and Janis Ian's road manager and worked at the Fillmore East and had a million other musical gigs. Stan is quite a guy and lives in New York City with his beloved pooch and his lap steel guitar. He was temporarily bodysnatched by aliens but is back and now quite comfortable in his corporeal flesh.

Stan is getting back together this summer with some of his old mates for some european gigs. If you are across the pond you might want to have a taste. Good luck, Stan old bean.
http://www.nottheisb.com
www.stanschnier.com

Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Toy, Rock and Roll Nigger, Opposite World




Patti Smith

Greasy Fingers

So let me get this straight. The District Judge in Louisiana, Martin Feldman, a Reagan appointee, has now twice struck down a six month temporary oil drilling moratorium in the gulf. He cites irreparable economic harm to the gulf states.

Judge Feldman said the moratorium, intended to give time for improvements in rig safety measures, was “blanket, generic, indeed punitive,” Judge Feldman said on Thursday that the Interior Department now had 30 days to comply with his June 22 decision, a longer time than the 21 days he originally specified in his ruling. The government’s appeal of the ruling will be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Obama Administration had wanted the timeout to reassess the safety and management of offshore oil drilling, a modest request, in my eyes.

Anybody who has studied the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster with their eyes open should know a couple things by now. The Interior Department, specifically the Minerals and Management Services, has been a total whore for the oil industry and has shirked its responsibility to the American people. We have taken a look behind the curtain, and it ain't pretty. Yet we are now asked to shed disbelief and trust these very same companies to suddenly act responsibly.

We have been sold a bill of goods regarding the safety of these platforms and drilling practices, whose technology is inherently risky and unproven. Another spill, possibly of equal or greater proportions, is bound to occur. It is merely a matter of time and location. The industry is either blaming BP, the company that used to be the industry darling or calling the oil spill a perfect storm scenario that will probably never repeat itself.

Feldman, a Judge with huge investments in the oil business, including one of the major players in this fiasco, Transocean, should have recused himself from this case. The conservative right loves to pick on so called "activist" judges. What could be more activist than inserting the judiciary into a Department of Interior decision to right its ship and start watching the hen house again. To start testing the ram shears and inspecting equipment, to start mandating emergency plans that will work in the real world.

The Fifth Circuit is filled with judges that have major ties to big oil, I will not be surprised if the quash holds up. Then, god forbid some thing of this nature occurs again, the blood will be on the judges hands. The devastated marine life, the fisherman's livelihood. These judges are hamstringing our President and his ability to make sound rational decisions to keep our environment clean, our oceans safe, the kind of decisions some of us elected him for. All in the name of the almighty dollar. And from now on, environmental policy in this country will be conducted by paid off, fat cat, federal judges. Judge sez just keep doing what we're a doing. I feel better.

New Additions

Yesterday we discovered that the alleycat that hangs out in back of the shop has a young litter of four kittens. They are living in the small narrow 6"space between my building and the adjoining one to the north and hanging out in some old pots and buckets.

Our house cat Nigel was a back alley refugee as well. I don't want to really bring any more home to upset the balance as he is rather special and spoiled but they are awfully damn cute. I am sure that Leslie will line up homes. She fed them at 12:45 last night on her way back from the Psychedelic Furs concert in Solana Beach.

Three of the four kittens are friendly and accessible, the fourth is a shy dark kitten that likes to hide, sometimes in the drainage pipe. Stop by for a look.



Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Andy Griffith on Due Process and the Right to Privacy.

Parallel Universe

It has been most interesting to watch the primary election of Nikki Haley in South Carolina this week. It is readily apparent that South Carolina has earned its designation as the newfound eastern capitol of the Red States.

Congratulations to Haley, the second Indian American (red dot type, not native) candidate for a United States governorship. She had been dogged but not scarred by multiple accusations of infidelity, seemingly a prerequisite for elected office in South Carolina these days.

What was most fascinating, at least to me, was the unseemly litmus test that she had to undergo amongst the constituency in order to get elected. An adult convert to christianity from her native sikhism, she had to  deny being a buddhist! Can we acknowledge that Guatama may have originated in India, but that his followers there are few. One would have to surmise that they are not too up on those foreign type religions in the deep south.

Not so, says Haley on her website. “My faith in Christ has a profound impact on my daily life and I look to Him for guidance with every decision I make.  God has blessed my family in so many ways and my faith in the Lord gives me great strength on a daily basis.  Being a Christian is not about words, but about living for Christ every day.”

Haley has been hammered by constituents regarding her religious tenets. And rather than disavow the witchhunt and tell people that her religious views are her own business, she panders to her fundamentalist vote base and assures them that she has forsaken her family's religious roots and heritage for the Mediterranean son king. Her answer, "Absolutely not. I'm a Christian." One of the tenets of judaism, the mother religion of christianity, believe it or not, is that you should honor your parents. I am all for a spiritual conversion and god forbid that I judge, but be gracious and honor your family. Her apparent willingness to flee her native belief system, when faced with a big date in the power seat seems a little distasteful to me somehow. Maybe I'm wrong. I wonder if the non christian indians will be cheering for her?

A local group called the Palmetto Patriots also quizzed her on her confederate bona fides. The Palmetto Patriots are a bunch of good old boys that certify that candidates are in "conservative compliance.""What caused the civil war," she was asked? Any mention of the words slavery sure to kill her chances at a nomination, she stuck with the safe answer. "You had one side of the Civil War that was fighting for tradition, and I think you had another side of the Civil War that was fighting for change," she said. Them dad gum yankees trying to upset states right's and tradition and all.


The candidate has pledged to keep the beloved Confederate stars and bars flying in front of the State House.

The locals were still a tad apprehensive about a non cracker in the top seat. Phillip Bowers, the GOP chairman in Pickens County sent a message to GOP members suggesting that Mrs. Haley had been less than truthful about her religious conversion. "Mrs. Haley can't seem to make up her mind about her faith."

When the pastor Robert Slimp, a Columbia, S.C. reverend who was a member of the interrogation team was asked why none of Haley's rivals were subjected to the same inquisition he said the group did not ask her rivals about the war, because "all of them are Southerners whose families go back to beyond the war between the states, back to antebellum times, and they would have a deeper appreciation of Southern thinking and mentality." Even though she grew up in the state she obviously lacks the generational street cred.


I come away from this glad that I do not live in the bible belt. I am on record as to how I feel about the wretched vinegar based carolina barbeque. Glad that the south has elected a minority but sad that the minority in question had to undergo a convenient and well timed white wash to prove tolerable to the local palette.





Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Broken English


The beautiful quality of her voice reminds me of another great british singer, the Fine Young Cannibals' Roland Gift.

War on Poor

Destitute peapickers in California; a 32 year old mother. February 1936. Dorothea Lange

The current national conundrum is breaking down along some interesting demarcation lines. Poor people and the unemployed are now cast as lazy sinners who want to sponge off the fortunate few lucky enough to still have jobs.

Republican Orrin Hatch wants to test the unemployed for drug use.

Republican Michelle Bachmann is worried that BP is going to get fleeced and turned into "chumps" by the american taxpayer.

Republican Tea Bag candidate Rand Paul thinks that it is time for a little "tough love" for the unemployed.  “As bad as it sounds, ultimately we do have to sometimes accept a wage that’s less than we had at our previous job in order to get back to work and allow the economy to get started again. Nobody likes that, but it may be one of the tough-love things that has to happen.”

Ditto GOP teabagger Sharron Angle, running for the senate in recession wracked Nevada with its 14% unemployment thinks that Nevadans are just, well, spoiled. “You can make more money on unemployment than you can going down and getting one of those jobs that is an honest job, but it doesn’t pay as much… we really have spoiled our citizenry.”

Count Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King as another who thinks that the shiftless poor are getting over. King, says "We shouldn't turn the 'safety net' into a hammock. It should actually be a 'safety net'." Fair enough.

Nevada Republican Rep. Dean Heller thinks that we are about to see an upsurge in hoboing. Heller said the current economic downturn and policies may bring back the hobos of the Great Depression, people who wandered the country taking odd jobs. He said a study found that people who are out of work longer than two years have only a 50 percent chance of getting back into the workforce. “I believe there should be a federal safety net,” Heller said, but he questioned the wisdom of extending unemployment benefits yet again to a total of 24 months, which Congress is doing. “Is the government now creating hobos?” he asked.

Millions of Americans are out of work because the bailouts never trickled down farther than the steps of AIG and Goldman Sachs. Responsible people that have held jobs for decades are now finding themselves homeless and out of work. I have a friend who is a pentecostal minister who tells me that he has 12 new homeless families in his church, and none of them are psychotic, or drug users or alcoholics.

Yet the Republican Party chooses to carry water for their big business buddies and characterize the unemployed as shiftless, lazy parasites intent on gaming the system. Their compassion speaks volumes about how they feel about the American worker, some of whom have spent months and years looking for a job, not a handout. And notwithstanding the fact that current unemployment benefits are barely enough to get by for most individuals. We are back to social darwinism at its finest, with a wistful look back at Hobos and Hoovertowns. If you can't make it in the economic downturn, Jesus Christ probably just doesn't love you enough.

Looks like the good old class war is back in bidness. We have been through this before as a nation, and we will get by. Yeah I know, there will always be winners and losers. But just maybe some of the haves will taste a little instant karma and get to ride a few rails themselves. Here's hoping it instills a little empathy and tempers their free market idealism a smidge.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

John Cale - Walking the Dog




Philip Jones Griffiths

Shalom, shalom, va en shalom?

A Hezbollah spokesman puts his unique spin on the flotilla saga today.

"Israeli threats against women activists and journalists who are organizing new flotillas serve as proof of the immense fear the Zionists are living in," Hezbollah's Executive Council Chief Hashem Safieddine said Saturday.



Israel "is terrified by a boat carrying women who want to deliver aid to Gaza. How will this Israel be able to face the rockets and the resistance bloc in the next confrontation? This is the Zionist entity in its current state and its deteriorating ability," he said. 


It looks like they might have not received the message yet on beating their swords into plowshares. Maybe not quite time to let the doves out. Instead he talks about the "rockets and the next confrontation from the resistance bloc."

The pacifist left, arm and arm with the anti zionists and those who simply despise jews, have been beautifully co-opted in a classic gambit by the islamic terrorists who long for a global caliphate. Hamas and Hezbollah have as much genuine interest in peace as they have in donning teffilin and dancing a hora.

How many times does Ahmadinejad, Iran and their cohorts have to call for the destruction of Israel before the world takes them seriously? Will the "neutral" parties continue to aid and abet their newfound terrorist friends in the inevitable "next confrontation"? Here the Hezbollah spokesman clearly tries to goad Israel by characterizing them as weak. Anyone who has lived there, for a protracted period, as I have, will tell you that that is the currency of the middle east, weak or strong. It is unfortunate that the gilded age of Aquarius has not yet reached the shores of the middle east.

In the long run, you can either pick a side, or choose to wash your hands of the whole matter, it will be your own choice. I will not blame Israel when they choose survival. In this hand they are "all in."



Mavi Marmara Pep Squad meeting filmed in Turkey prior to the flotilla raid that killed 9 people.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Painted Lady

Leslie and I got up at three thirty in the morning on Sunday and went to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Flea Market.  We hardly ever get up there anymore, but cut our teeth in the trade there and at Long Beach Vets.

I was not there ten minutes when in the early morning light I espied this beautiful lady leaning against a car. I didn't even haggle, I was so entranced with the competence of this luminous portrait. As I carried it to my car, people kept stopping me and commenting on the quality and beauty of the work.

It is rare for me to find a portrait painted this well. I have had maybe two or three others, two of them unsigned. When you get a painting like this, having a signature is secondary, at least to me. From the idiosynchratic style, I knew instantly that it was painted at Academie Julian in Paris and later research proved me right. The Parisian markings on the canvas also bore witness to it's continental roots.

This painting is signed. It was painted by E.H. Kiefer, a Michigan man, who studied at the Academie. In the lower left quadrant is painted To my friend Alfred B. Schanz, E.H. Kiefer/ 1900.

One of the many wonderful aspects to my job is that art and antiques open up a window to history, and I have always been interested in our past. Dealers and collectors climb through narrow wormholes in time and learn about the past through these often beautiful relics.

So I started doing a little research on this particular artist, Mr. Kiefer. I found out that he was born in 1860 and died in 1931. He was forty when he painted this canvas, perhaps in the artistic prime of his life.

From Askart.com: Born in Port Huron, Michigan, Edwin Kiefer settled in Detroit and also spent much time in Paris, France. He studied at the Berlin School of Design and from 1895 to 1896 was a student of Jean Paul Laurens and Benjamin Constant at the Academie Julian in Paris.

In 1897-1898, he exhibited with at the Paris Salon and at the Chicago Art Institute and in 1913 at the Detroit Institute of Arts.


Kiefer was the son of Dr. Herman Kiefer, Detroit, and educated in the Detroit Public Schools, Berlin School of Design, and under Constant Cazin and Laurens.

He was typical of many American artists who, around the turn of the 20th century, were disenchanted with artistic climate in the United States, and sought aspiration in Paris, France, then the art center of the world. There he enrolled as a student in Academie Julian.

Kiefer was a very versatile artist, doing figures, landscapes, still lifes, and genre subjects with equal ability. He eventually became Chairman of the Board of the Port Huron Paper Company, and was an avid sailor, primarily of 30 Square Meters. He exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts, Chicago Art Institute, and the Paris Salon.

He was taught at the Academie and was also a student of Constant and Laurens, the greatest teachers of portrait painting of their time. Their students had a most credible way of painting figures. I also found a citation from the 1898 issue of Brush and Pencil that I can not fully access on JSTOR announcing his return from Europe. Did he paint this portrait during his tenure there and dedicate it two years later?

Here is a picture of another great painting that I sold about fifteen years ago that also had an Academie Julian sticker on verso.







So Keifer was a very successful business man as well as a yachtsman and talented artist, the Port Huron Paper Company apparently being some great shakes. Perhaps he had family money, the son of a Doctor who could at least afford to send his son off to Europe for his studies. In art, no less.

A rare man who didn't have to rely on selling canvases to make a living and could afford to gift them to his friends. Only two of his pieces are reported as to ever being sold at auction. Yet a facility with a brush that can neither be faked nor achieved by mere "happy accident."

I decided to google Schanz, the intended recipient of the work. He also had interesting returns, having been on Frank Leslie's Yukon Gold Mining Expedition in 1890 and 1891. Schanz was the Secretary of the Sterling Remedy Co. of Chicago and New York. He is discussed in this article on Alaskan history as being an early explorer of Alaska and in this old book about the Yukon's pioneers. I even found and read some of his letters held in the Library of Congress.

We will never know if the portrait's model had a connection to Schanz, although it is doubtful, since the painting was probably painted in France.

I am happy that I will get to spend time with this lovely beauty and hope that you will stop by the gallery for a look. Needs a bit of restoration but then the old girl shall be looking quite radiant. I look forward to sharing her with you. I hope that you appreciate her charms as much as I do.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Do you hear me, Major Tom?

The unseemly spectacle of all of these oil executives on the hill blaming BP for the Gulf oil spill reminds me of the Republicans in congress that are now sore at George Bush for his excessive spending. They have seen the error of their ways and are ready to reinstall safe practices and fiscal discipline. If we would simply grant both groups the carte blanche to go back to business as usual, the future will be as rosy as hell and we get a sincere promise that they will not return to their sinful ways.

Pardon me if I am a bit skeptical in my old age. Excuse me if I err, but didn't both Chevron and BP have additional oil spills recently, the former in Alaska about two weeks ago? Exxon of course has its own well known history with oil spills. I am afraid that with the total lack of supervision and regulation from the Minerals Management Service, a disaster of this magnitude was just waiting to occur. Of course some contrarian is always ready to take the opposite tack and a sophist creep from the Cato Institute named Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. in the WSJ yesterday blamed excessive regulations for oil spills and said that we must now try a new approach. Like you've already stolen the family silver man, now why don't you go ahead and have your way with the women and children.


Politicians and oil companies in Louisiana and Mississippi are demanding a cessation of the temporary moratorium on deep oil drilling so that the poor natives can go back to work. A congressman in California is asking that recently passed clean air legislation demanding higher renewable energy resources by 2020 be put on hold until we have a better economic footing. Face it, it is never convenient to put the hard work in and make the difficult decisions. Especially when you are a politician staring at a fistful of dollars. The energy companies have had the run of the store and now like Renault in Casablanca, we are shocked, shocked, that gambling is going on here.

And the President tonight says that it is now time to think about Clean Energy. Where was he a year ago when his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar started granting all those new oil and gas leases? Or allowed all of the mountaintop mine coal removal? I know that he is mouthing all of this with a straight face but my god, are you kidding me? Do you think that we have all been asleep for your term? Why are we so reactive as a people and why does it take a disaster for the politicians to stop giving us lip service and start being serious about the environment?

***

I had a conversation with my friend Al yesterday about the promise and subsequent failure of this administration to deliver on a myriad of platforms. Keep all of those Bush era wiretap laws you hated so much, Barack. Attorney General Eric Holder says one thing about respecting state marijuana laws, your DEA does another. Keep fighting a no win war in Afghanistan that is now officially the longest tenured conflict our country has ever fought. Bash your only reliable ally in the middle east and join in its censure at the United Nations. Bail out the ungrateful big boys on Wall Street while the american middle class gasps for oxygen like a fish on the sidewalk. All of that vaunted arm twisting you were going to do for home mortgage modification, just how successful was that?

My friend said that all of the good stuff was planned for the second term. God forbid.

Would I vote for him again? Yes I am afraid I probably would, if it meant to keep more John Roberts off the Supreme Court Bench or prayer out of our schools or if it meant protecting the right of a woman to choose motherhood or not. But our post partisan President has not been a great leader or a great Democrat in his initial term. So I would grit my teeth.

**

I can't for the life of me remember the name of the book but it had to be late sixties, early seventies that an author penned a hell of a science fiction tale about a vengeful scientist whose wife dies and he seeks revenge. He comes up with a novel approach to killing the planet. He infects the money. People know that they will die if they touch it but they can't help it, they are too fucking greedy not to grab the filthy lucre. Sayonara world.

I think about some of the scummy residents of Texas, Utah, Louisiana and Alaska, the mineral and resource rich states and how easily they have sold their birthright for a sack of silver. Not all of them mind you, but drive through these states with the exception of parts of Utah and Alaska and they are pretty grossly polluted. Get back out there and drill, there is money to be made. And if accidents happen, it is just the price you must pay. And I almost think that there is some law of karma at work here.

The reality is that we have to get off the oil teat. It is only a matter of time until it is completely sucked dry. Our current removal technology is obviously incapable of averting environmental calamity, especially at 5000 feet over the ocean floor. The revolving door between the regulators and the regulated turns government supervision into a charade. I am sure that it will be a mere matter of time until we see the recently retired public servants at MMS taking the fifth amendment on Capitol Hill on the advice of their counsel. The internal combustion engine is now nearly what 125 years old. I remember reading that in the warp speed of modern technology that makes it an anachronistic dinosaur. Yet the auto industry  has consistently worked to avert higher mpg standards. Time for a paradigm shift already.

***

There is such a disconnect between the way certain people view the earth. To a literal fundamentalist, it is our dominion given by the creator and its bounty put here to serve man. But with the coming rapture, it is a temporary waystation so don't get caught up if we screw the spinning globe up a bit. The animals that can't hang or adjust to mercury in the river or global warming or pesticides, well if you can't adapt, go join the dinosaurs. There was an interview in the local Reader this month where a guy scoffs at "going green" because by the time we have extinguished this planet, according to him, we will just move to an alternate one. The old disposable planet routine. Conservatives seem to have a lot of faith in the future. Shouldn't we keep just a little bit of the planet pristine? Maybe a future generation will find a way to right our sad ship. Here's hoping.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Tinker to Evers to Samuel Johnson.

I got into a spirited conversation yesterday with a friend about reading. Even toyed with the idea of starting a book club, whatever that means? We both talked about our shared love of fiction and basic distrust for those poor souls who never taste of its bounty. You know the sort, boring clods always racked around some tedious tome of tipping points and dull economic theory.

When crafted with skill, fiction delivers a dollop of verite and wisdom regarding this whole life experience business that one could never approach with a clinical rehash and nonfictional reciting of mere fact. Plus they offer no mental escape for the passenger.

I come from a family of readers, and excellent writers. As I have proudly stated, my mother Adelle Rhoda Roberts Fisher Rosenberg was an editor at a pulp fiction house when I was young and turned it into a publishing behemoth. And I would proof for her. She had the Edge and the Executioner by Don Pendleton and Murphy and Sapir's Destroyer and a bunch of other books, which I was required to read and correct in galleys. I think that the early immersion gave me a taste for meter and syntax. Many of the writers became family friends. Pinnacle even had a porn line called Beeline and I remember sneaking a peak or two at the lurid tales. Looking back and with the benefit of age and experience, I would say that 95% of the literary output from Pinnacle was total crap.

My sister Barbara and brother Buzz read a lot. Barbara, whose birthday was yesterday, tends to Elmore Leonard type gumshoe mysteries. Buzz, whose birthday is next week,  will recycle the same copy of Semi Tough or All creatures bright and beautiful for three or four decades. But he is always reading. As a kid the family had a love for Patrick Dennis, Roth, Le Carre, Salinger, Bruce Catton and Dan Jenkins and a whole range of writers. Humour was always good. We were the odd family (that's an understatement) without television for a long number of years but a huge library, which was eventually donated to a school. One of my weird literary passions was reading about the French revolution and my earliest nickname that stuck was Robespierre.

Sister Liz was publishing poetry at a quite early age but I can't vouch for the quality, it being a tumultuous time in her life, after the unexpected death of a fiance and the resultant breakdown. She introduced me to science fiction, Delaney and Anthony and Niven and maybe even my favorite, Zelazny.

Anyway, we were talking about reading the other day and I realized that it has been forever since I read a decent novel. This frigging blog is keeping me from reading. Feeding this cyber outpost a steady diet is a yeoman's task. But it does allow me to write regularly and I am told that through the sheer act of repetition, one is bound to improve.

My problem is finding someone that I like to read. I find someone I can stand and I devour their every written word like grasshoppers in an Iowan wheat field and then I am stuck again. Currently my favorites are Arturo Perez Reverte and Annie Proulx. Ace in the Hole by Proulx was the last great book that I read and I would give a lot to be able to capture her unique insight into life's eccentricities and pecadillos.

I love mysteries, especially hard bitten stuff of the 30's and 40's. Nero Wolfe, Inspector Boney, Runyon, Hammett. I like Melville's Inspector Otani character. I toyed with the thought of writing a series once, the  main character being a crime solving art and antiques dealer who unravels his mysteries with equal portions of a stunning intellect and an immense reservoir of charm.

Speaking of which, you commenters have been an indolent bunch lately. Kerry, practically non existent, except for a very occasional provocation, Roy always good, and Grumpy my ever faithful Sancho Panza. The rest of you are content to merely lurk and visit and it's certainly fine but the echo in here is getting pretty loud and I can talk to myself in the shower. Perhaps my newly hawkish political stance has frightened some of you. Ne'ermind but your thoughts are appreciated. I am rarely mean.

I was actually honored and lucky enough to sell an object to a very famous novelist from the south this month, the one who voiced her lack of appreciation for blogging during our initial meeting. It would be so easy to send her one of my short stories but humility, probity and the innate hierarchy of things keeps me from clicking the send button.

I have discovered a midwestern pod of very able writers on Facebook, and our online conversation has proven most satisfying. Continually sharpening our literary knives, and our collective efforts destined for the furthest reaches of cyber deep space, never to be retrieved. Conservative and liberal but all able to craft a plausible argument.

If any of you are interested in joining a book club and explaining to me the function of a book club, I am all ears. Or we can do it on the blog and just talk about what we are reading if it is any good. It is a warm sunny day and I need a good book.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sweet Home Chicago

They were right all the time. The world is coming to an end. I need no further proof than the fact that the Chicago Blackhawks have finally won the Stanley Cup to start settling my worldly affairs and preparing for my heavenly stay. Jim sends these pics over of the hockey team's victory parade and the happy Mayor Daley. First cup since 1961. Bout time.  Congratulations to all of the win starved and long suffering Chicagoans of the world.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Hot Summer Nights

Fallbrook's Hot Summer Nights started tonight, which is cool, except for the fact that it is technically still spring, it ain't hot, the sun doesn't set until 8:00 and the thing started at four.

No matter, it was the smokin' Sports Car Night and once again the streets were filled with more Porsches, Ferraris, Vipers, Maseratis, Cobras and Hot Rods than you could shake an oil soaked checkered flag at.  Along with a band, libations, music and lots of good folks.

A whole bunch of friends stopped by Leslie's shop and my gallery throughout the evening. I think there were over 140 of these magnificent metal steeds on the street.

Fred and Maggie Danise brought their red porsche over. Big Tim, the Swans, Fish and LeMasters (who were showing the yellow Dino) came by the gallery and we opened up a 1981 St. Clement cabernet that fellow antique dealer Lance Jeckel was sweet enough to give me. It was great Lance, thank you. And we opened another bottle for good measure.

Tom Shaughnessy brought a very rare 58? Ferrari 250 GT Tour de France with probable Scaglietti coachwork worth about a zillion dollars. Couple nice Aston Martins there as well. My favorite car was a red Maserati which was parked directly across from my door, owned by Rick Baker and his wife, new arrivals in town.

The most interesting thing I saw all night was a woman pushing 80 with a nose stud and an ankle tattoo but I didn't get to pull the trigger on the shot unfortunately. Very scary. Nose studs are now officially over kids. Here are a few shots of the night including a nice pair of french mastiffs.






Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Mistress will see you now...


And it used to be such a quaint small town. I was sitting at a redevelopment meeting with some fellow merchants yesterday and one of the gents said that he had a call recently from a prospective tenant interested in renting his vacant retail space. The woman is a dominatrix who wants to put an S&M dungeon in Fallbrook. Her staff had done a thorough demographic analysis of Southern California, and the returns came back showing that we here in the guacamole belt are in severe need of a little discipline. Apparently, some of us have been very naughty. They may already have a few names in the old address book.

The merchant was a bit taken aback as the woman showed him where she would be installing the cages and the rack. I believe that he has some second thoughts regarding the ability of the establishment to harmoniously mix with its neighbors. Might take a bit of soundproofing to muffle the screams of the punished vermin and miscreants.

I mentioned this in passing to both my wife and my athletic trainer and they sort of startled me when they each said that they would jump at the chance to work at the place and muster up a little hometown ass whoopin'. And don't ask me why, but I think both of them could handle the job.

***

In other news, it turns out that one of the more recent merchant arrivals is actually a big time Vegas ex mafia hit man who has been recently removed from the witness protection program. I have a friend who knows him and saw a program about him on television. I am not going to expound too much on the subject, cherishing my own life and limb, but it just goes to show that we have all kinds of interesting characters in our little town.

Fallbrook - We're not just about avocados anymore...

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stephen Strasburg, Superstar

The most hyped and possibly greatest pitching prospect of all time makes his major league debut tonight. The Washington Nationals' Stephen Strasburg took the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates this evening with his nasty 100 mph stuff.

Washington could use a messiah. Strasburg seems to be the real deal. It is the second inning as I write and he has retired the first six batters. This San Diego State product might be the greatest thing to come around since Roy Hobbs, or at least Joe Charbonneau.

The Nationals deserve a break. Hope that he stays healthy and has a productive career. The sky is the limit to his potential. But then again we heard the same thing about Mark Pryor and Kerry Wood. The hardest thing is to stay healthy. We may see history made with this guy, a phenom with an arm that might rank up there with Feller, Duren and Ryan's.

Good luck Stephen!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Mark O'Connor and Chet, awesome Pentangle, Jerry goes to sea







Our weekend in Santa Catalina

Leslie and I had a most amazing weekend cruising over to Catalina. Our hosts invited several of us along for the excursion aboard their lovely boat, Still Learning. It was such a perfect weekend that I don't know to start or how to describe our adventures without many of you thinking that I have once again slunk into most exaggerated hyperbole.

I have close to one thousand pictures from our two day excursion. We dined like sybaritic swine, with several snack periods mixed in with our four daily meals. The women outdid themselves with serious cheese and fruit trays, duck breast, roasted chicken, several salads and an obscene amount of chocolate. This was another episode of the bordeaux fanciers meeting the pinot noir aficionados on neutral ground for a sit down tasting.

Anyway not to get too far ahead, the 7:00 departure started with a most auspicious omen. We parked near a large tree at the dock that was positively boiling with blue herons and brood. There were at least six nests in the tree, with lots of stray herons hanging around on idle branches chatting away. All barking like pterodactyls and feeding their large juvenile clan. I have never seen anything like it in my life. Then found another tree where the same thing was happening. Blue Heron Woodstock and quite a blast.

I talked to a biologist friend today who says that these heron rookeries are fairly common but it was a new one on me. And I have lived next to a nesting pair for the last 22 years.

I could have stayed there and shot pics all morning and plan on returning with the right lens in a day or two. Should be unbelievable.

We were introduced to our captain, Vince, and got on our way, everybody really happy. Overcast, but the ocean totally calm.  Soon we found ourselves in the middle of two large dolphin pods, who took turns riding our bow and just jumping around having a really good time. We really enjoyed their visit, everyone on board being people that really appreciate nature. It was helpful that Doug, who owns the boat with wife Retha, is a P.h.d. marine biologist with an encyclopedic memory for flora and fauna. And real smart in a lot of other ways.

Had a gold colored bird tailing us for a while, finally landing on a rail but eventually taking her leave. Couple seals but no blue whales. Drunken and gorged, we lay on the deck like idle manatee. Just as our skipper had surmised, it was clear around the island.

For those that have never visited the Island, it is a bit more Cycladeian than Polynesian in spirit, or perhaps italian, with structures filling the scoop of the cove like bay at Avalon in a manner like Mediterranean villas. An arid island that offers the visitor a look at what mainland california may have resembled in a better day. For those wishing a little more background on the twenty two mile long member of the Channel Islands, here is a wikipedia link. Originally inhabited by Tongva Gabrieleno Indians, then a spot for your odd pirate and movie star. Zane Gray, Errol Flynn. When we had our second home in Catalina in the sixties and seventies, it was Hugh Downs, the Duke and Jim Bacchus. Very hispanic then, but I am getting ahead of myself.

We caught a water taxi and walked up the hill to our pepto bismol painted hotel, the St. Laurent. The Laurent has the really small rooms you might see in Paris or New York and an overdose of chintz that probably triggered my allergy. Not a dump but not exactly cared for. We had a charming view of a lattice screen and I managed to pinch my finger between the bathroom door and the television cabinet.  We walked over to the casino to get a look at the interior, but we were late for the daily tour so we stopped off at El Galleon for cocktails (cosmos for me) then back to the hotel to get ready for dinner.

The dinner menu at the M Restaurant located at the Hotel Metropole read like some really incredible foodie joint, a cut above the normal island fare, and we were primed and ready but it didn't quite necessarily measure up to all of our expectations. We started with crab cakes and chicken curry spring rolls. The spring rolls were admittedly delicious, perhaps a tad juicier than I am accustomed. We asked our server specifically about the existence of red peppers in the crab cake and he assured us there were none. Surprise. Even with the dreaded pepper out of the equation it would still have been a pedestrian affair.

I looked at the promising entrees and was vacillating between the New York Strip and the Niman Ranch pork chop with the peach glaze and went for the pig. It was supposed to come with mashed and carrots and arugula and instead came on a pile of limp french fries that were said to be infused with truffle oil, with real truffle essence, I was assured. Right. Cold and stale and tasteless and nothing else on the plate. I'll wager no self respecting truffle ever ventured closer than a mile to that plate. No garnish. Nothing. The kitchen didn't get a mainland delivery and we were all having our meat item on a pile of fries. Of course, all truffle fries in the world must pay homage to the vaunted truffle fries at the late Laurel restaurant in San Diego. These were not in the same solar system. Leslie offered a bite of her ribs and when I took the plate a small insect walked out of her entree which I casually smushed on the bread plate. For the last half of the dinner, the ADD 9 year old at the next table walked up and down, up and down, the ramp - until his mother came over and pulled his arm out of joint.

But the wine that our friendly enologists brought was incredible as always and we made it a great time in spite of the food. Actually, my chop was delicious. Nice pairing with peach. Jim's rare steak came out totally overdone and then the cook overcooked the replacement one to medium well in spite and we waited another 40 minutes for it to arrive. And it sucked. After dinner I ran over to the confectioners for the salt water taffy of my youth. It used to be in an old kiosk and now it was an upscale shop. Still good. We all headed back to our rooms and all slept soundly.

Now to the true confessional part of the blog post. I spent the years 11 to 12 as your basic garden variety juvenile delinquent. I got into a candy stealing kick. Lighters. I plied my trade on Catalina like Willie Sutton would eye a lonely Iowa bank. Hung out with a crowd of similar losers with similar skill sets. We were heavy into squirt guns and would terrorize the local population, including soaking the doughnut shop and the aforementioned Hugh Downs. Road around on our spider bikes and coughed on pilfered marlboros.

Truth be told, I hated the place because it was the favorite haunt of my truly wicked stepmother, who trained her yorkie to nip at my ankles until it drew blood and tried to screw her way around the small archipelago. My dad eventually caught on and sold the place and lost the witch, thank god. But I hated the place as a kid. Always got sick on the seaplanes. Anyway one day I kiped a superball from Leo's drugstore and the local sheriff came by and let me and my folks no that I would be exiting the island, and was never to return in my mortal flesh. So 41 years later, I was taking my chances.
Oh and to those of you who might not feel so comfortable with me around the family silver after this cyber confession please believe that it was the last time in my life I ever stole anything. Although my memory ain't much anymore...

I managed to walk into the joint without the flatfoots slapping cuffs on me and breathed a silent sigh of relief. Was whistling that old Concrete Blonde song, "You can never go back to the scene of a perfect crime." And smiling with the epiphany that the curse of the evil stepmother had finally been lifted. Catalina was once again a wonderful place for me.

Anyhow, we woke up the next day and hoofed it over to the waffle shop, which was a nice 50's affair and then rented golf carts and traveled up to the native botanical garden and the Wrigley Memorial, both just fantastic, in a horticultural and architectural sense. Twenties Spanish Revival, heavy on the moorish with a little hopi thrown in. Saw lots of great Catalina tile everywhere we went.







I took an awful lot of pictures and don't want to run the poor blog engine down. If I get a chance I will post them later. Had a lot of fun. Wish I had brought my 10-20mm Sigma wide angle lens.

We continued driving around the island past the zip line, near Descanso, past the great houses on the hill, all acting like kids and having a great time. Even went back to my youthful ways and harassed the tour bus driver.









We piled back into the boat and had a clear and mild voyage back across the lake. Found another dolphin pod. We all drove back totally satisfied after the best weekend imaginable. Thanks to all of my compatriots and the skipper too. Thanks R & D!