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Afternoon shadows, Monument Valley

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Empire strikes back

The Syrian regime has circled the rebel city of Homs today and will soon make operational its plans to destroy the city. The word "cleanse" was used by the authorities today, with all the nasty and brutish comparisons to the Khmer Rouge killing fields and other similar places of genocide. Like Hama. The Syrian deathstar has been shelling the city for weeks and now will try for the final "cleanup." They have been remarkably effective at killing their people in the past.

Hamas pulled its agents out of Syria this week. One time recipients of the Alawite dictatorship's largesse, the political heat reached a tipping point and it suddenly looked greener on the other side.

The United Nations has once again been shown to be a largely impotent and corrupt body, useless really, unless the target is something everyone can pretty much agree upon, like censoring the evil zionist state or protecting Islamic warlords in the Sudan. Stopping genocide, they're not so good at.

They have been of course, neutered by those two august members of the Security Council, China and Russia, whose vetos have paved the way for their Syrian friends to kill first and ask questions later.

I was thinking how interesting it is that the countries in our world borne of revolution like China and Russia and in some cases the United States, have all created political systems that do their utmost to guard against it ever happening again. I thought communism celebrated revolution but it instead tends to celebrate the totalitarian status quo. Witness the brutal suppression in both Chechnya and Tibet, not to mention the Uighur population.

The same thing occurs of course in latin america where all too often the people's champions ultimately become presidents for life. Capitalism for all of its faults, is still a cut or two above the available competition.

The situation in Syria is very dire. Rebels smuggled a British photographer and a Spanish reporter out of the country today. Like Warsaw, one hopes that there will be somebody there at the end to bear final witness.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What country do we live in again?

A judge in Mechanicsburg, PA, Mark Martin, rules that a muslim man has the right to attack another man who insults the prophet Muhammad. And now the judge is threatening the victim with contempt for posting the audio of the transcript. The judge, an Iraq veteran, may or may not be an Islamic convert. He says that he is muslim in the transcript and then later apparently denies it.

Read the whole twisted story in Law Professor Jonathan Turley's blog. Turley brings up the point that your cultural peccadillos don't trump my right to free speech in this country.

Barry Goldberg Reunion



Barry is an old friend who I haven't seen in ages.  This song was written by the late Danny Whitten of Crazy Horse.

Monday Pastiche

It is raining pretty hard outside. I thought about going home but if I do I will just eat and play on the computer so I might as well write something.

I always find reaction to the blog interesting. Two very good, long time blast readers, Bob Degoff and Sanoguy told me recently that they were uncomfortable with my recent angst ridden childhood biography. Bob said that it was incredibly narcissistic and Sano simply said "too much information." Bob and Sano both like the political stuff. Bob says that he can't send out the blog to his friends because the more personal stuff might tweak his friends who are only tuned in to the political. Don't want to weird anyone out, now.

Other readers of mine like the more personal stories, Tracy and Linda and some others. (actually Linda likes the ranting) While I often feel that spilling my guts on a daily basis is excessively self absorbed, Ida, who is bedridden with bad knees, says that she gets to travel to foreign places and vicariously eat great meals through the Blast. So I find that I can't please everybody. Some love the fiction, some abhor the fiction. KJ hates the food. A guy can't win.

Warren, a quite conservative and very intelligent latter day saint friend and reader came by the other day for lunch. We almost never agree but both appreciate each other's willingness to defend our respective beliefs and the other's intellectual integrity. I am glad that I can look Warren in the eye, and he in mine and it never devolves into anything stupid.

I get sick of the politics because it is so fractious and divisive. I am guaranteed to piss off close to 50% of my readership, no matter what I say. I have been a little more circumspect of late, only getting political when I really feel compelled. We all merely seek out information that will support our existing worldview anyway, people rarely if ever actually changing their minds anyway. Probably genetic or something...


This political season is so stupid that I could get reactionary and just full scale rant every day and I don't want to. Rick Santorum is a daily billboard. The Michelle Bachmann of his time. Just makes the stuff up as he sees fit. So frigging stupid that Michigan Dems are crossing over to vote for him, since he is so much more beatable that the Mittster. No wait got the story screwed up, Santorum has launched a robocall courting the so called Reagan Dems. Good luck...And you catch the congressional doofus from Ft. Wayne who thinks that the Girl Scouts are a commie, homo front group? Epic!


Obama is no prize, his agents are currently ruining the detante in Mendocino, but we can't afford another Scalia, Roberts, Alito, Thomas or sometimes Kennedy up there in Scotusland. I follow the Dems on platform and principals, certainly not the cult of personalities.

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Two very fine men that I knew died this month, Dr. Richard Pyne and Dr. Howard Benedict. Both very smart and very kind. Howard was my longtime dentist in Leucadia. Howard was called the "surfing dentist" due to his late hours but in truth this waterman was a world class free diver and spear fisherman. A great dentist, a beautiful man, will be missed by many.

Richard Pyne was my veterinarian, he succumbed to cancer. An irishman, he had a genuine concern for his patients, was both knowledgable and reasonable. We spent many an afternoon hoisting an ale together at the Moose lodge. He had ironclad ethics, refused to engage in certain procedures that crossed his moral boundaries. Will miss him a lot both as a vet and a lodge brother.

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Ron and Lena are in Thailand still on the way to Bali today. Everyday is paradise, I think that I would go crazy.

Melissa and Gary are down in Yelapa in their own piece of paradise. She sends this pic.

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A friend's son took his life this week. He was facing another stretch in prison and he just couldn't take the thought of it. A tragedy, a talented man who got off on the wrong track and could never find his way. Shame.

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My friend Kent took me to the Aztec basketball game on Saturday. We went and had deli at D.Z. Akins first and then took the trolley. We sat right next to the student section, they were fun and loud as hell. Darth Vader and Zorro and hot dog man and viking guy, it was raucous and insane. Aztecs win their twenty second but won't go far in the tournament with four guards and not much else that works.

Padres should be equally pathetic as last year if not worse. We need to raise up more minor leaguers so that we can eventually trade them away for nothing.

Miss Scott Kaplan and Billy Ray Smith on the morning drive. Scott really screwed up.

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Interesting headline today. Rich people like to lie, steal and break the law. Or so says study from University of Toronto.

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Buy an electronic drum shirt. Or don't.

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Why the Keystone Pipeline would boost gas prices.

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My friend Brett and his stepson saw a rattlesnake at their place yesterday. Very unusual for a cold, late february in Fallbrook.

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Paid my property taxes on the building this week. If nothing else of any consequence occurs this month, I still feel very good about this and hereby give myself a hearty pat on the back.

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Leslie's bell turned out really nicely. Shell forms and dragonflies. She is finishing it up today and I will post a picture of the finished product in a couple of days.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

"I Will Always Love You" Jorgenson and Jarvis

Ringolevio



Leslie, my beloved spousal unit, is taking a bell making class at the Fallbrook School of the Arts foundry this weekend. She is working under the tutelage of instructor Brandon Roy. ´ is also taking the class.  Here is a picture someone just sent me of Leslie assisting in the bronze pour this afternoon.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Past behind me- a new day. Paul DeGaston

The two sisters called me yesterday morning. A dealer in Escondido had recommended that I appraise a collection of prints that they had stored in their garage since time immemorial. Their parents had received them somehow, but the how, why, who and wherefore's had all slid into faded history.

They brought them up yesterday, in an old wood and copper box. There were fourteen of them, mostly drypoint, but some very competent aquatints as well. I suggested that they go get a coffee or go next door to Leslie's while I did some preliminary investigation work.

I have sold prints and works on paper, along with paintings, since the late 1970's. My first company was called El Flechador Del Sol and concentrated on works on paper. I am in no way one of the high echelon print dealers but I have been fortunate enough to have some very fine examples of printmaking pass though my hands over the years; Baumann's and Kloss's, Capps, Diebenkorn, Martin Lewis, Whistler, Rembrandt, Durer and many others. I was instrumentally involved in creating a few major print exhibitions and I would like to believe that I can recognize a certain level of quality when I see it. Even have tried my hand at aquatints myself. Enough of my bona fides.

Yoshida - Paul De Gaston
That is why I found it curious that I could find nothing about this particular artist, Paul De Gaston. Anywhere. I checked Artprice and AskArt. Nothing. Googled him, found one aquatint of the Nile that sold at some obscure auction for peanuts and a WWAR reference to an Ainu print pulled by the artist at the turn of the century.

It is highly unusual to find an artist this competent with such a paucity of historical record.

I called my friend Steve in Phoenix, a very well respected and versed print dealer and he didn't have a clue. Couldn't get a hold of Roger Genser. I started focussing on the name and not the artist and wasn't prepared for what I found next.

The first reference I found for a Paul De Gaston was for an abortionist connected with the infamous Black Dahlia murder case.


(17) Dr. Paul De Gaston:
DeCaston was identified as an abortionist who practiced under the alias, Dr. C. J. Morris in downtown Los Angeles. He was tried for murder in 1934 and served time for performing abortions. His name and address were found in Elizabeth Short's address book after her murder.


The next thing I found was a website written by DeGaston's son that threw a bit of light on his father:

Paul Robert De Gaston - Born June 28, 1902, Pakhoi (now Beihai), Kwangsi-Chuang (now Guangxi), China
Died December 12, 1956, Sunset Strip, Los Angeles County, California



    My father was a very sensitive, intelligent, musical, and handsome man. He was strong, and as a young man engaged in boxing. He was an artist, musician (even played violin with the Glendale Symphony Orchestra), part-time movie actor, and a pioneer in performing abortions. He loved and knew classical music and could play the violin very well, the flute well, and the piano OK. Unfortunately he used his abilities often in a selfish way to the hurt of others, and very much of himself too. At times he was quite generous. He did want to make his family in his third marriage with my mother work. That was a difficult task as mother was very headstrong though she loved him, and no man was good enough after my Dad. But my Dad could not keep an even temper, losing his temper at times, and going too far in corporeal punishment. This finally resulted in my parents divorcing.


    My Father was interred duing World War II, having been "denounced", but never proven [not even a trial], as having pro-German sympathies, in various concentration camps including North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, and finally Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor. While my father was at Terminal Island mother took me and sometimes Cami to visit him. We used to ride the Red Car from the elevated terminal in downtown Los Angeles to San Pedro, and then take a ferry to Terminal Island. The Red Car was a real electric train, and went at speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour down the right-of-way through south LA, Compton, and Watts which paralled and was next to Alameda Boulevard. While in concentration camp, my father met and became friends with a famous Austrian artist, Hovanetz. Hovanetz taught my father to paint. Some time later after the war, Hovanetz returned to Vienna because he was offered a commission to paint the dome (as I recall) of some important and/or historic building.


...It did seem improbable that Father was only 4 years and 11 months older than my mother. He looked a lot older. He "lied" that he had served in the World War I serving in France, and that war was from 1914-18 (for America it was 1917-18). My father had to have been at least 18, and probably more...as we might gather from the picture included below showing him boxing while still in China (but maybe that pic was post-China?  My mother was 49 at the time of Father's death. She didn't have a grey hair. My grandmother, Anna de Gaston, at 82 or so years of age still had partly almost black hair mixed with her grey hair. I don't believe that there was any premature greying in the de Gaston line, but my father lying in his coffin (whom I had not seen for years) had about 50 per cent grey hairs in the top of his scalp, and mustach, and the sideburns were predominantly grey.  I was rather taken aback. Father had always played games as exactly how old he was because he looked young for the age that he claimed, and liked to fool people. 


Old China, Chinese Mother 2/10 Paul DeGaston
The Supplicant - Sun worshipper - Paul DeGaston
Mending Nets, Old China - Paul De Gaston
Now, I am thinking this is probably the same guy. An artist, and born in China. Several of the prints have chinese themes. But where did he get his training in printmaking? Was he a student of the great Hiroshi Yoshida? I find reference to a 1934 National Geographic article on China written by a Paul DeGaston.

"My Father standing in his medical office in Seattle, Washington, about 1940.  My Dad was an entrepreneur, and quite intelligent as he did this without formal medical training, and specialized in abortions."
His son's website had this interesting picture of father in the abortion clinic. A doctor with no medical training? Very strange to say the least. 

I continued digging and found this government document from World War II authorizing the apprehension of DeGaston or whoever he really was. A nazi spy perhaps, with a string of alias's. Was he Teodore Herman Bach, the german alien sympathizer or agent from Washington? Or just an innocent artist with a string of pseudonyms wrongly fingered by the government? 

This has to be the strangest appraisal I have ever undertaken and has all the makings of a great George Smiley whodunit. I am going to do a little more searching and see what turns up. I have taken the prints on consignment. If you have any more information on De Gaston I would love to hear from you. I include pictures of the rest of the prints for your inspection. Paul Robert DeGaston, or whoever he actually was, was an enigma, but through all the intrigue and deception he was nonetheless a very talented printmaker whose artistic footprint seems to have largely vanished from this earth.

Great Dane 6/25 - Paul DeGaston

London Fog - Paul DeGaston

At Bay - Paul De Gaston

Aquatint sailboat - Paul DeGaston

Untitled - Paul DeGaston





Untitled - Paul DeGaston

Anti- aircraft, aquatint 1 of 5 - Paul DeGaston 
Cowboy Race - 5 of 25 - Paul De Gaston
From Douglas Frazer Fine Art- Bellevue, WA
My friend Doug Frazer at frazerfineart.com tells me that he has photographs of Huc M. Luquiens shot and signed by De Gaston and once owned a painting by the artist as well. 

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10:44 p.m. 2/25/12

I got on Ancestry.com tonight and found a plethora of information on DeGaston and his several wives, Violet, Ruby, Leona. Birth dates always different but definitely maybe, probably not the same man. (See, The continuing story of Paul De Gaston and discover Paul Percy Degaston)  If you can figure the darn thing out, please let me know. Death cert shows him born in 1877, although he most often claimed 1891. His mother's maiden name was Bach so the FBI alias strikes a chord.  Worked for a period of time in San Francisco as a photographer. Lots of trips to Hawaii. I have reviewed the manifests. For some reason he engaged in a lot of misdirection, sometimes claiming to have been born in New Jersey and giving out the wrong middle name on occasion. Paul DeGaston was an artist, an abortionist, a photographer, a possible axis sympathizer and definitely a very complicated man.

I will keep looking.

Read Part II.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Brenda Holloway - You've Made Me So Very Happy

Last of the Hollywood swingers

I was a third rate stringer and it was one of the last assignments I managed to pull before the sorry rag bit the dust. It was back in 91 or 92 when they sent me out and I swear I will never forget the interview for the rest of my days. He was one of my first big time assignments. All the players are unfortunately gone now so I guess I am free to spill.

It was a long drive out to Desert Hot Springs. The place was not quite as bad back then as it is now but it was definitely showing its wear. I sat at poolside while the older black attendant in the starched whites wheeled the aging chimp down to his favorite table at poolside, her fat triceps bulging generously over her sleeves.

He held her right hand gently in his and rested the left around her neck while they mutually pivoted him into his chair behind the wrought iron table. A dance move worthy of Charisse and Astaire, graceful and obviously well practiced.

It took a few seconds before he even would look at me, his infirm condition possibly being a source of shame, even at this late stage.

“Mind if I smoke?” Cheeta asked me, not bothering to wait for a response. He took a long drag off the kool menthol and blew a cascade of minty smoke across the veranda. “So, what can I do for you?”

I stammered a bit. It is hard to keep a straight face and your mind clear when faced with a smoking chimpanzee who probably speaks better english than you do. But I was a professional, I had a rent check that needed to get paid and I didn’t have time for bemusement.

“The standard stuff, Cheeta, your childhood, training, working with Weissmuller and O’Sullivan.” My brain had locked up a bit but how often does one get introduced to a talking chimp, let alone a celebrity like Cheeta?

The chimp stretched his arms out in a long stretch, momentarily showing a blue depends diaper beneath his robe. He quickly pulled the frayed terry robe closer together across his sternum, the gray hairs on his chest  looking long and sparse.

“ First of all sonny, just how goddamn old do you think I am?” he said with a touch of scorn. "My childhood, a typical childhood. Mother, father. Nothing out of the ordinary. What did they call me? Precocious, that was it. Quite the novelty," he coughed.

“Weissmuller, Crabbe, they were long before my time. Never met them, hear that Johnny Sheffield boy was a real prick. Used to tease the talent. I worked with Ron Ely, the sixties Tarzan. Bloom was off the whole franchise by then. Agent told me to ask for residuals instead of an episode fee. Real mistake on my part, but who knew? Nothing went anywhere. Ely was a lunk who couldn’t yodel worth a crap and most of the kids opted for Daktari. Clarence the Crosseyed lion. Knew him well. Drank like a fish.”

The chimp pulled out a pencil and started working on an unfinished crossword on the table, seemingly forgetting me for a moment. He had donned his gray bifocals and peered at me over the top, “Let’s see five letters, fourth letter l, genus of owls.”

I shook my head wordlessly, offering no help, biology and taxonomy never being much of my game. “Ulula, that works, doesn’t it? You know how hard it is to work a pencil without an opposable thumb?” “The chimp that you want is Mr. Jiggs, kid. He worked on the original Tarzan the Ape Man, all the way through the New York Adventure. I knew him. A real gentleman. But now he’s gone, like the rest of them. Long gone.”

“Course Jiggs and Jiggs Jr. had their stand ins as well for the tough work. Harry and Zippy and C.J.. Wouldn’t do the tough stunts. Got all showbiz. Can’t blame them, plus them having the gout and all. It was different in the studio system, we had real stars back then and the networks and studios knew how to take care of them properly.”

Cheeta looked me dead in the eye and cut the longest fart you ever heard, without even breaking a smile. The kind that peels paint off the wall. Nothing quite so foul as a monkey fart, better take my word for it. He jumps right on ahead like nothing has ever happened.

“ Got my S.A.G. card in ‘66, agent thought the sky was the limit. But we had all the other crap back then, Vietnam, women’s lib, Watt’s riots, suddenly nobody gave a crap about a talking primate. Not to bitch too much, I worked now and then, a few guest shots on Lancelot Link, did a commercial for Benson and Hedges, had a pilot in production, never went anywhere. Victim of timing.”

“Now look at me. All the old guard is long gone. I can hardly scrape together enough pulses that register nowadays to get a decent game of single deck pinochle. Too much whiskey, too much cholesterol, the old ape pack is just about history. Nobody left,” he said quietly and wistfully.

I felt a bit uncomfortable, I was just a young cub trying to get a story published on deadline and didn't really know what I could say. I thanked Cheeta for his time, told him that I would contact him if I needed any more details to help flesh out the article. He mustered up that old hollywood smile for the camera one last time and then I was off by myself on that long ride back to Los Angeles.

I read somewhere that he had passed last month and admit I felt a pang of sadness and regret. I just don’t think we will see his kind again.  The last of the great hollywood chimps.

© robert sommers 2012

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

early morning dreams

Antiques, Objects & Art L.A.

The Blue Heron Gallery will be exhibiting at the Antiques, Objects & Art L.A. show in Glendale next month. The show runs March 10-11, 2012. 10 to 6 Saturday, Sunday 10 to 4.

I almost never do shows in Los Angeles, being sometimes mildly allergic to the city and population but will give it a shot with all of the optimism I possess.

If you are in the neighborhood, I would love to see you. If you download and print this image you can get a few bucks off on the ticket.

I will be bringing some very nice paintings and prints to the show as well as some new objects. Looking forward to some great meals at La Cabanita as well.

Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Red Bone - Come and Get Your Love

How I would roll...

Conservatives have been falling all over themselves lately accusing the Obama administration of conducting a war on religion. All I can say is that if he is, he ain't much of a commander. Make me a five star general and we will put the saintly in their freaking place. Here is how I think I will start my campaign:

1. Cut off all federal aid to any parochial schools at any level including college. This includes schools like Bob Jones University whose religious beliefs allow them to exclude minorities.

2. Revoke the tax exempt status of any church that endorses candidates or tacitly endorses any political party or that preaches politics from the pulpit.

3. Throw a bunch of priests and cardinals in jail. The ones that molest their charges and those that enable them or hide them from the authorities.

4. Start taxing religious groups that amass large real estate holdings.

5. Outlaw any non secular symbols or references to divinity on any public building, property or land including memorials, creches, ten commandments, coinage, invocations, etc.

6. Outlaw school vouchers.

7. Take the relatively recently added phrase "under god" out of the Pledge of Allegiance.

8. Force right to lifer's to financially care for unwanted or abused children whose mothers were intimidated into carrying them to term. This includes all children born with deformities or in cases of rape and incest.

9. Castrate or similarly dismember any priest, rabbi or minister who molests any person in their flock.

10. Purge our school systems of any faith based or pseudo faith based curriculum devoted to creationism, intelligent design, flat earth, young earth, terracentrecism, flood theology or any other similar mumbo jumbo or science fiction.

11. Pull the tax exempt status and cut all government help and subsidy to any church, mosque, synagogue or other religious organization that discriminates against gays or minorities in any way.

12. Send anyone caught engaging in the practice of glossolalia (speaking in tongues) to a mental hospital for a 24 hour psychiatric evaluation. Ditto anybody else who claims to speak to god.

13. Any government official, including president's, congressmen and judges who use scripture as a way to justify global warming, species decimation, rising sea levels, ozone depletion or air, water or any other pollution and extoll man's dominion of the planet shall immediately lose his or her job.

Not the total solution but definitely a start.

Where you want this killing done?

Ain't no sunshine

Sunday, sunday.

We had a great sunday with friends. R&D invited us out to go whale watching on their boat, which was docked near the Marriott at the Embarcadero. ´ showed up as well as Leigh and Nick and some family from back east. No whales this time but it is always a great experience to be out on the water. It was a pretty strong swell as we powered past Cabrillo Point, the explorer's first stop in Alta California.

R had picked up a huge passel of fresh vegetables from chino farms so in addition to the great fruit, cheeses and what have you, we feasted on strange mutant purple and yellow carrots and sweeter than sweet green beans, mushrooms and broccoli.

On our way back we passed a schooner sailing into the wind in all her glory.

Leslie and I cruised Horton Plaza for an hour, she bought a few new pairs of sued boots, then we headed back to meet the gang at Cucina Urbana for dinner. The artist Dan Welden and his business associate Fernanda showed up as well as D's brother, wife, son and daughter in law from Columbus. Connie and Dixon came by as well, our dinner hosts on Friday.

We had one of those amazing Kevin Bacon moments with unseen connections between parties popping up all over. The meal was fantastic, dinner for 14, huge rustic platters of short ribs pappardelle, caesar salad's, chopped, burrata with garlic, pizza, scampi, agnoletti. It was a truly memorable evening, service and food just outstanding. Desserts were over the top, fresh donuts in dipping sauce, cannoli, gelato, just bacchanalian. A big thank you to all concerned.

Hey Pocky Way

Mike's Diner

This is Mike. Mike runs Mike's Diner in Santa Barbara, located at the Earl Warren Showgrounds.

I have never met the guy before, admit to having enjoyed his cashew chicken salad during the show, was that a touch of mango salsa I tasted? Knew nothing about him.

Anyway I am looking at this big dude and I couldn't keep myself from belting out, "Pro baseball player, Meat?"

Without batting an eye he responded, "Pittsburgh, Instructional League. 3/4 delivery, four good pitches, nice two seamer, hot fastball."

Guy came up with Tony Pena and Bonds way back when. Never made it to the bigs. Didn't ask him why, none of my business. Maybe 6'5", could have just as easily been a defensive end. He told me a couple stories of life in the minors.

Turned out he was a Coloradan who went to Columbine High. Dude just reeked ballplayer from every pore. And for some reason I just knew. If you are in the area, stop by for a sandwich.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Gotye - Somebody That I Used To Know



78 billion youtube views and counting...

Old guard gets put out to pasture.

Father Coughlin
Pat Buchanan lost his television gig this week after a fair amount of outrage over his new book. Buchanan waxes in the tome for the good old days when the country was white, western european and prayed to the same deity.

Sean Hannity gave the dour, isolationist, racist, windbag a chance to track back and reframe the argument so that it wouldn't seem so much like he was just doing his best George Lincoln Rockwell impression but he was having none of it. The conversation went something like this (from Huffpo):
Hannity ... quizzed Buchanan about the chapter in his book called "The End of White America." Buchanan said that he was merely trying to push back against the idea that the end of the country's white majority was a good thing.
"Why can everybody else celebrate this and say it's wonderful, and I can't even write about it without being blacklisted?" he said. "...I don't know why they say this is going to be better when there's a smaller percentage of white folks."
Hannity asked if Buchanan really meant to warn against cultural, and not racial, shifts in the country. Buchanan rejected that idea.
"If you remove the ethnic core of the country...I think you imperil the unity of the country and the culture," he said. "...My point is, an ethnic core -- in other words the fact that we were a Western and European people predominantly and we had 10 percent African Americans -- this was one of the strengths of this country as well as the culture."
Hannity tries to give ol' Pat an out, a chance to bemoan the loss of white anglo saxon cultural identity in our country but Pat refused to take the bait. "No Sean, it's the coloreds and the you know who, the Voldemorts, the people who can not be named, the "Hollywood cultural elites", the hooknosed money lenders, christ killers, not to mention the fags, chinks, wops, spics and shvuggies, who have reproduced beyond the perfect 10% mix we needed for a proper national demographic cocktail. We need to blanche that infernal notion of a melting pot once and for all and call it a failed experiment. We just couldn't get the shade right. "It's like toasting marshmallows, you want them a bit golden but when they light up and get black nobody wants to eat them."

See ya Pat. Hasn't exactly been swell.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pick Me Up on Your Way Down

Friday Mixed Grill


Ever thought about marrying your dog? Or an urn? Or a stiff? (ick) According to the editor of Right Wing News, these things happen in other countries. Read John Hawkins' Five Reasons to oppose Gay Marriage at Townhall.

...furthermore, once that door is opened, where does it stop? How about brother and sister? Marrying the dead sound any better? How does man and dog strike you? Adults marrying children? How does marrying a tree or a clay urn hit you?
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Millard sent a few choice tidbits over.

Your pucker the wrong shade? Read about the new hot trend of asshole bleaching.

And the world's smallest whatever. Some great comments down the page...
"would look great glued to my shirt buttons..."
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From One eyed Shmuel to Lloyd Blankfein, Jill clues me in on the illustrious history of jewish pirates.
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The New Calvinism - Another Republican suggests that women close their legs if they desire birth control, this time its a woman.
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You think your job is tough? Thomas Johnson sends this over.
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Hudgins offers up this wondrous experiment in scale.

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Extraordinary popular delusions - Guacamole Gulch

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Don't text and walk.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Blues Project

Va En Shalom?

Man of Peace - Leonard Baskin, 1952
Last month a Lebanese/Swedish man with links to Hezbollah was arrested in Bangkok after discovery of a warehouse containing 8800 lbs. of ammonium nitrate and other bomb making components. Iran denied any involvement in the affair.

An Israeli diplomat's wife was injured in a car bombing in New Delhi on Monday this week. Concurrently on the same day, a bomb plot was discovered and thwarted in Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia. Both bombings involved crude sheet magnets. Monday happened to be the first anniversary of the death of noted Hezbollah terror plotter Imad Mugniyeh.

In Bangkok on Tuesday the Iranians ran into a bit of bad luck when the roof blew off their safe house, due to a blast from the munitions they were storing inside. Mohammed Karzai and Saeid Moradi left the house soon after the explosion. A small crowd gathered around them in the densely populated Sukhumvit Road district of the Thai capitol. They hailed a taxi but the driver wouldn't let them get in the cab so they threw a grenade at him.

Moradi got scared and pulled out another grenade to throw at police when they showed up. It hit something, perhaps a signpost and was deflected back at him, blowing off one of his legs entirely. A third suspect, Iranian national Masoud Sedaghatzadeh, managed to catch a plane to Malaysia on his way back to Teheran.  He was intercepted in Kuala Lumpur. Thai investigators say that a fourth Iranian, Leila Rohani, rented the house for the trio but managed to get back to Iran. Thai police say that two homemade "sticky" bombs found at the blast site Tuesday matched the devices planted on Israeli diplomatic cars in India and Georgia.

Iran of course, denies involvement with any of the attacks, blaming the usual suspect Israel for the perfidious misdirection play. Teheran accused Israel of attacking its own embassies and diplomats as part of a "psychological war" against Iran. Typical Zionist plot, right down to the Iranian passports.

I couldn't sleep last night and did quite a bit of reading regarding the incidents and it amazes me how many people agree with the Iranians. Big Mossad operation, just like the twin towers. Or the Israeli's had it coming, what did they expect after killing five of Iran's top nuclear physicists?

Iran of course has been crowing this week about its ability to hit soft targets of the Zionist/American alliance around the world. Lets hope that any other similar acts are conducted in an equally sloppy fashion.

*

Several things bother me about this new escalation of violence. In Azerbaijan, the targets last month were not Israeli but a jewish school in Baku with 400 students. Three Iranians were arrested in the plot to murder jewish students, a rabbi and teachers at the Or Avner School and Israeli Ambassador to Baku, Michael Lotem. The suspects were identified as Rasim Aliyev and Ali Huseynov. According to reports, they received instructions from Balagardash Dadashov, who was in contact with Iranian intelligence and received a sniper rifle, pistols and explosive devices to attack Chabad emissaries operating in Baku.

Iran has of course long been linked to the synagogue bombing in Argentina and other mayhem against jewish targets in South America, with its new BFF Hugo Chavez. A red line has been crossed. It is no longer a fight against the zionist oppressor but a full fledged religious war against jews everywhere.

*

Of course, the left is silent about the bombings. Openly hostile to Israel, they are quick to point out that they are not anti-semitic, merely anti zionist. Anything to thwart the neocon war machine intent on invading the peaceful Iranian regime. The same regime that has promised to annihilate Israel, and now in the final stages of its "peaceful" nuclear enrichment program.

I was reading Joshua Holland's rather puerile piece on AlterNet last night, Dear Israel Lobby, we give up, please give us an acceptable way of insulting you. When I am in the mood to read some really fine leftist Israel Bashing, AlterNet is always my go to source. The Blame Israel first crowd. Such objectivity? Because when omniscient young jews take a few wacks at the Israeli piƱata, you know that you can trust them. Here are a couple lines from the article:
The problem stems from the objective fact that there are a group of Americans – disproportionately represented among right-wing Christian evangelicals and older generations of Jewish-Americans – who ally themselves with the Israeli government. They do so regardless of its ideological bent at the moment and deny that the Palestinians have legitimate grievances (sometimes going so far as to deny their existence). They wish away the cruelty of the occupation, pretend that there are only rejectionists on the Palestinian side and Israel only wants peace, claim Israel has never violated international law or trampled on human rights, insist that Israeli Arabs don't face hostility and discrimination and go around calling everyone who disagrees anti-Semites and terror supporters. 
Now I applaud young Mr. Holland, first time that I have seen the agist argument. The problem isn't just with the damn right wing christians, it's those "old" jews as well. Bravo. I wouldn't dare suggest that you read the whole article, the typical anti Israel, self loathing sheit that AlterNet is so famous for. Permit me one or two comments. As a graying jew, I think that I might have a bit more historical perspective about the old tribe than these oh so brilliant young yids whose links to eretz yisrael is merely conceptual at best and whose judaism never strayed much from the whitefish platter at their Bar Mitzvah.

Don't even consider the state of relations between the arab and islamic factions themselves, Shia, sunni, kurd, wahab, all at each others throats in a bloody internecine conflict that threatens the Syrian masses today but whose torch has seared practically every country. No, focus on the jews, the people that they thought they were rid of 1500 years ago, who had the nerve to try to reclaim a piece of their ancestral homeland and birthplace. When there was literally no where else to go.

The Zion so reviled by the left and the muslims was not born in a vacuum. My paternal grandmother Pesa Szkarlat was one of two sisters that escaped the ovens from a family of nine. Practically all of our family shtetl perished at Auschwitz. My grandfather Israel Sommer had to actually kill a russian officer to escape dire persecution in World War I, finally making it to Antwerp and then the young Palestine.

My mother's family came from Yedinitz, in Moldava. Yedinitz is near Kishinev, the site of two of the worst pogroms ever, events that claimed thousands of jewish lives. My grandfather was finally allowed to leave in the early 1920's but only after writing a letter promising never to return to Romania. Jews were of course only allowed to live in a very narrow strip called the Pale. It was also forbidden for a jew to set foot in Moscow. And Europe was embarking on what was to be a final solution.

If you read LaPierre and Collins' magnificent book "O' Jerusalem" you get a great idea of the cost of the War of Independence on both sides of the conflict. And you will see that many survivors of the nazis ended up dying on the shores of their ancestral homeland. Because there was simply no where else to go. Not everyone was lucky enough to end up in Shaker Heights or Boyle Heights. There were quotas. Those lovable french sent 125,00 back to the Nazis on the trains.

I was lucky enough to talk with my grandparents, at least on my father's side. I want to honor their memory. I don't agree with Netanyahu's settlement policy. I support an equitable solution for all. But I am not foolish enough to disbelieve those that have vowed to destroy the land where my father was born. Because Israel won't get a second chance at surviving. They have to take their enemies at their word. A red line is being drawn, seemingly all over the world. Jews are now being targeted everywhere they live. Where is the righteous indignation now? And to my leftist friends I say, you can be on one side or the other, but unfortunately not on both. I know that I am in a distinct minority, especially amongst "progressives." People are sick of Israel and most will not shed a tear if it gets blown away. The jews are pretty much on their own these days.

I thank Israel's friends, especially the christians who have steadfastly stood by them and also admit to have nothing but revulsion for its own children who have forsaken her and pity for the forebears who gave birth to their dishonor.

In the City of Slaughter (Kishinev)

...the heirs
Of Hasmoneans lay, with trembling knees,
Concealed and cowering—the sons of the Maccabees!
The seed of saints, the scions of the lions!
Who, crammed by scores in all the sanctuaries of their shame,
So sanctified My name!
It was the flight of mice they fled,
The scurrying of roaches was their flight;
They died like dogs, and they were dead!

Chaim Bialik

Winter Break

I just want to thank all of you faithful readers for checking in. The reality is that I am mentally tired and have lost my ability and desire to write. I am sure that the malady is only temporary. Thanks for bearing with me.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walk On By - Dionne Warwick

2.15.12

Leslie and I are getting our new dog next week. We are looking for a used futon for the young great pyrenees male. Anybody have one they are not using and would like to sell? He is a very big boy.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Willin'

Red corvette

I admit to a bit of scrapping when I was younger but hey I'm on the downhill side of fifty these days and my brawling days are long since over. So there I am this afternoon walking across the street after lunch when the red corvette convertible, license plate boy or something like that roars up to make a left. I am going at a fairly good clip and the young coquesuquer yells at me to walk faster and get out of the crosswalk.

I am floored and told him where to stick it. He mouths off again and I tell him to pull over, which he does. He gets out of the car and starts walking towards me, telling me that pedestrians need to have more consideration for drivers. Now it has not been a great week anyway and I am frankly about to lose it. I put my book down on the electric transformer and say "let's go." I was at a point that I was willing to absorb a little damage but he was absolutely about to get an asskicking. I don't like rich, entitled punks much anyway. Especially those that neither respect pedestrians or right of way.

My plan is to first dribble his head on the pavement like Jeremy Lin and then to put a few nice alterations in his fancy car with my foot if I have the time. He gets my vibe really quickly and runs back to his car like a little girl, telling me over his shoulder that I win this time and we will have a go some other time. I look forward to it.

Make It with You


Happy Valentine's Day.

End of the line

Tired, tattered, frayed. I think that after three out of the last four weeks on the road doing shows, I can safely roll out all the metaphors. Rode hard, put away wet. Fighting the bronchial thing since new year's, almost done with the antibiotics, the body hurts in so many places it would be easier figuring out what doesn't hurt. Shot didn't seem to help the heel very much, I am a walking disaster.

I drove back from San Francisco yesterday and it was a crapshoot to see if I could get home. The car is in even sadder shape than its owner. Broken motor mount, broken manifold stud and resultant exhaust leak, blown a.c. motor and a few days ago it developed a pretty horrific grinding sound. Having a van loaded with some pretty valuable material, I tried to nurse it home. I thought that maybe I was biting into my brake rotors pretty good. It had been hard getting down the grapevine on the way up, so I took 101 on the way down.

Around Corona things got white knuckle horrific. I called a dude I know with a warehouse and he offered to let me crash inside but I tried to see if I could make it. Cars were flashing their brights at me, think I was throwing sparks. I didn't know if the engine had dropped. Whole thing was dicy but I didn't want to hole up in Corona and I was praying to the god of your choice to get me home where a cat needed feeding, on account of a wife doing her own show in Las Vegas. And I finally did. People only see the glamour...


*


The show was marked by a few horrible events. There were three major thefts on the floor. A good friend of mine had over 70k in victorian gold chains stolen from his locked case, after hours when security was supposed to be patrolling the room. Another dealer lost a purse full of money from a locked case also after hours. The second night another jewelry dealer lost over 75k in material.

What made it doubly disappointing was that the promotor never addressed the issue with her dealers. No memo, no dealer meeting, many of the dealers were totally unaware of the circumstances or the theft. Rumors spread quickly and many people are casting their suspicions at the security guards themselves. I do not know. I do know that if they can not provide us with a safe haven for our merchandise, many exhibitors, some of them longtime dealers, will drop the show. There were no cops on the floor this show, a usual occurrence, unless they were writing up police reports. The promotor actually told my friend Dan, who lost the 70k, not to tell anybody, something I don't understand at all. I think that they had a legal and ethical obligation to tell people that their merchandise was in jeopardy. We got nothing. And the victims of the thefts got neither a promised meeting or any semblance of an apology from management.

Unfortunately the current promoter tends to turtle when faced with adversity and take an extremely defensive position. I don't know how things will shake out, but something has to be fixed if they want to continue to have dealers. Period.

*

One of the cool things about my business are the specialist dealers. Confectionary molds, beer steins, political buttons, bakelite, people spend a lifetime collecting their thing.




 One lady was happy to leave the show with her new pet skunk, derriere pointed due north.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Peter Sprague



I was sitting around Kerry's house the other night, listening to his amazing sound system. Herbie Hancock's Chameleon segued into Miles soulful blowing on Night in Tunisia. Kerry asked me if I could play like any jazz guitarist who I would pick. I considered Wes and Joe Pass, McLaughlin.

But having thought about it for a few days I think that I can honestly say that I would give my left nut to play with the brilliance of Peter Sprague. Peter is a humble giant of the fretboard. This is a clip of him playing his composition Mundaka at the Athaneum with his String Consort which includes the renowned Bob Magnusson and Duncan Moore. I saw him play with a different cellist but Lars Hoefs plays so beautifully. The rest of the wonderful band is Bridget Dolkas - violin, Jeanne Skrocki — violin and Pam Jacobson — viola.

Peter and I both play Andy Powers guitars but that is where the discussion stops. An incredible talent and composer. Catch him when you can!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Notes from the front.

It has been a good week so far up north. Great weather, a few nice meals. Not a lot of business as yet but I made some interesting buys.

I bought this rug yesterday, a hundred plus year old lavar kerman with birds and a tree of life motif. About 4 x 8, very fine weaving, looks spectacular. I rarely buy persians but this one is so darn good!

Stayed with Melissa the first night, she and Gary made steaks. I am not drinking or indulging so I was probably a rather boring guest. Stayed up and watched Shameless, completely over the top.

I saw BigD yesterday who is just starting to feel better after the latest chemo. One more in two weeks and he is hopefully out of the woods. Hung out in the sun and soaked up the rays.

Went out with KerryB to Iziyuma in Japantown. This restaurant is one of the only places I have ever found Okanamiyaki in the whole country.

Okanamiyaki is a japanese style of pancake, filled with meat or seafood. I had a mixed seafood pancake filled with shrimp and other delicacies from the sea. There are two styles of okanamiyaki, Osaka and Hiroshima. The japanese girls at the next table clued us in to some of the more esoteric fare on the menu. This restaurant is located in the Japan Center next to the place that sells crepes. Recommended.

Last night I visited a Syrian restaurant in Burlingame and had char broiled cornish game hen in a bed of hummus and yellow rice. It was very different. Last time I was there I had the lamb shanks. Great little spot on Broadway.


I have a very nice lady sharing my space at this show, Rachel Prater from Gallery 925. Rachel did me a big favor recently and I offered her a case to show off her wares, the most incredible collection of Georg Jensen and Puiforcat hollowware and jewelry. Really spiffs up my booth and it is a pleasure having her company.

Michael is back from Thailand, wife and daughter coming soon. We are going out to Creola tonight, my favorite Bay Area spot.

I bought a very exceptional early piece of tiffany glass. It is a huge, odd asymmetric form with an x series mark, x 2867. The x pieces ran until about 1896, finishing at x 3700, so this is really early.  About a foot tall, I never have seen anything like it. You can only see one angle but the other views are totally different and random. George Ohr meets Louis Comfort Tiffany. Quite deconstructive.

Two more days and maybe something will fire. Will write if I get work.