*

*
Desert vista with Spanish daggers, White Sands

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Hoodoo Man Blues



The late, great Otis Rush cuts a fine figure on guitar.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Carousel, Griffith Park




Group f/64


As I mentioned in my previous post, Ken and I went to the Autry Museum yesterday and saw the excellent new photography exhibition, Revolutionary Vision - Group f/64 & Richard Misrach.

Imogen Cunningham - Magnolia Blossom, 1925
This show was drawn from the collection of Bank of America. It contained not only a lot of familiar images from what is arguably the greatest photo collective ever, but many that I was not familiar with, and probably had never seen before.

Ansel Adams - Portrait of Edward Weston - 1945

Group f/64, named for the smallest possible aperture and the one that enables the most depth of field, was the moniker of a group of politically inclined Northern California photographers of the 1930's and 40's. They were at the forefront of an aesthetic movement in stark contrast to the prevailing current of the day, pictorialism.

While pictorialism was inclined towards soft focus, manipulation and conjecture this new modern style was far more representational and literal and had a crisper edge.

Its members included Edward Weston, Imogen Cunningham, Ansel Adams, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, John Paul Edwards, Preston Holder, Consuelo Kanaga and Alma Lavenson.

Unfortunately, only the first five members that I mentioned have works featured in this show but curiously the much later Richard Misrach has near equal billing. I guess Bank of America only owned so much.

Group f/64 was born in Oakland, at Willard Van Dyke's home at 683 Brockhurst in 1931. Van Dyke was an assistant to Edward Weston. They called the gallery 683, as a sly contretemps to the East Coast Steiglitz's venerable 291.

*
Winter Squash - Edward Weston - 1930

I am not going in to a full dissertation of the show.  The highlights for me were seeing prints like E. Weston's Winter Squash, Ansel Adams Portrait of Edward Weston, Cunningham's Tower of Jewels and her many photos and plant forms, one of my favorite subjects (and photographers), with her dramatic crops cutting the subject up and exiting the page in a somewhat radical way, reminiscent of the Japanese aesthetic movement that came to the fore some fifty years prior.

Ten Photographs - Brett Weston

I read that Van Dyke was the principal propagandist for the group, he also happened to be a very fine photographer. I was so taken with the sense of movement conveyed in Three Stacks aka Monolith, 1930.

Willard Van Dyke - Three Stacks


Edward Weston is simply Edward Weston, the apex dweller for all things photographic for me. The nautiloid, bell pepper, they are all there, in superb condition. Ansel Adams's beautiful Cañon de Chelle print is also on view, the shutter clicking on the magic moment for the face of the ruins to be in full light and the cave behind shadowed in the languid dark.

White House Ruins - Ansel Adams 1942
Henry Swift - Plaster Forms 1932
I didn't think the extremely large format work held up very well, at least by today's visual standards. Different technology.

Brett Weston's large photograph of trees lacked some mid tones and detail, Adams famous Moonrise, Hernandez 1941 seemed flat and disjointed.

But the composition for all these works was simply impeccable, we just have a new paradigm today for resolution and i.q. and they can not be judged by current capabilities.

Mostly I didn't understand Misrach and how the show was hung. In the center area his work alternated with the f/64 photographs.

Sort of bizzare, while a visual case was being made for some sort of inclusion, I saw no written statement of purpose explaining the melding his contributions with the work of a much earlier generation of photographers. Probably there was a lecture at the opening making the case.

I frankly didn't care for his stuff all that much, at least in this context. He is a conceptual artist but perhaps not a superb technician. A painter. His prints looked washed out to my eye, diluted, lacked tautness.

His saguaros are surrounded by the faint light of a flash, something verboten and amateurish looking, a no-no for most outdoor photographers. His presence seemed incongruent and in my opinion did a disservice to all parties.

The girl at dinner maintained that they weren't probably lit and that when I had assembled a body of work comparable to Richard Misrach I could talk. Fair enough. I was also reminded that his work was now some thirty years old and a lot of water has come over that bridge.

Richard Misrach - Dead Fish, Salton Sea 1983.

It is a wonderful show and I can't recommend it enough. It would have been nice to show the works of all the members and near members but it may not have been possible. It runs through the end of the year, try to go see it. You will never get these images out of your mind, I promise.

Alma Lavenson - Eucalyptus leaves, 1932

Tesla Coil


Century plants - Early morning, Willow Glen


Astronomers Monument, Griffith Park Observatory

Ken and I attended a meeting of our photographer's group, Clickers and Flickers, in Burbank last night.

We always try to find a cool photographic diversion to capture before our monthly meeting.

Yesterday we drove to Griffith Park. I had permission to photograph the carousel from the owner but the results were not so satisfactory and I will have to work on them.

Afterwards we wandered over to the Autry Museum to see the incredible new photography show f/64 and finally ambled up to the Griffith Observatory.

I haven't even gone through the shots yet but wanted to post one or two.

This obelisk is called the Astronomers Monument. Designed for the PWAP, the local Works Progress Administration, by Los Angeles artist Archibald Garner, it was executed by he and five fellow artists Roger Noble Burnham, George Stanley, Gordon Newell, Djey el Djey, Arnold Foerster and completed in 1934.

It depicts six famous astronomers, Hipparchus, Copernicus, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Isaac Newton, and John Herschel.

What was doubly wonderful yesterday was the splendid atmosphere.

Ken, a pilot and native Kansan, explained that what I was viewing was a rare (in these parts) cloud formation called Cumulus Mammatus.

He said that these formations are much more common occurrences in the midwest.

The latin term refers to mammary for the round cloud shapes or pockets which are said to resemble breasts or udders.


Cumulus Mammatus is said to occur when ice crystals fall and turn into water vapor, which cools the surrounding air. Very beautiful phenomenom.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

I built my life on sand and watched it crumble into dust...

Empty Nesters

For the first time in our life together we are without our children, no cats and no dogs. It is seriously distressing.

We lost our little chihuahua dog when it got munched at a friend's house when we were out of town. The beloved cat took a midnight stroll and met a similar fate.

Leslie and I have had lots of animals over the years, from horses to dogs, cats and a goat.

Our dogs and cats typically live to a very old age, we have had three cats make it past eighteen and the dogs live to a ripe old age as well. We love them like all get out.

But we have had a bad run of late. Somewhere along the line the chain was broken.

In the old days our old dog would teach the young dog. Show them the ropes. Barfy gave way to Duke, Duke to Adelia, Adelia to Odin, Odin to Max.

It is much harder to have an only child and start cold.

We favored lab and Great Pyrenees crosses. Fantastic protectors and they stayed at home and watched the shop.

We got a crazy yellow lab from an old woman who couldn't adequately care for her and she was never disciplined. When we got Maddy it was already too late. We would get these calls, she was three miles away in some residents koi pond. We eventually found her an excellent home.

When I was younger and semi retired it was easier, when I had to go back to work again I couldn't give the dog the attention it needed. We got a misfit pyrenees named Gable and he didn't work out either.

Kermit was our first little dog. They are a joy but they don't have the equipment necessary to protect the ranch.

Now I have rabbits and squirrels everywhere on our spread, basically running amok. Without a dog protector it is tough to get another cat. Last night I had a mouse run over the bed, freaked me out. Without a cat you get mice and worse. Real quick. I am in a jam.

I know that there are lots of dogs and cats that need a home but we need the right one. Hopefully an older model, but not too old, something that is not inclined to roam.

I looked up smart dogs on my cell phone last night. Before I could say anything Leslie said,"Border Collie." Very smart, maybe too much hair for our heat, weed and sticker situation. Here is the smart dog list, or the top ten from Rover anyway, starting at most intelligent:

1. Border Collie
2. Poodle
3. German Shepherd
4. Golden Retriever
5. Doberman Pinscher
6. Shetland Sheepdog
7. Labrador Retriever
8. Papillon
9. Rottweiler
10. Australian Cattle Dog

I considered these dogs, poodles are out just because. Too foofy. Papillon a little too cute as well. Bad experience with a rottweiler once. Shetland Sheepdog is neat but too much hair. Always had great luck with shepherds and labs.

I also looked at the dumb list. Petbreeds lists the 17 least intelligent.

I'll give you the bottom ten.

10. Shih tzu
9. Bassett Hound
8. tie Mastiff/Beagle
7. Pekingese
6. Bloodhound
5. Borzoi
4. Chow Chow
3. Bulldog
2. Basenji
1. Afghan Hound
...According to Coren, the top 10 most intelligent dogs only need fewer than five repetitions to understand a new command, and 95% of the time (or better) obey the first command. The second tier of dogs, which he names “excellent working dogs,” understand new commands after five to 15 repetitions and obey the first command 85% of the time (or better). The third tier, which he names “above average working dogs,” understand new commands after 15 to 25 repetitions and obey first commands 70% of the time (or better).
We’ll be looking at the dog breeds that are deemed “fair working/obedience intelligence,” meaning they tend to understand new commands after 40 to 80 repetitions and obey the first command 30% of the time or better. Then there’s the lowest degree of working/obedience intelligence, which only understand new commands after 80 to 100 repetitions or more and obey the first command 25% of the time or worse.
I read this to Leslie and then did the dishes. She told me the last part sounded familiar, staring straight and deep into my eyes. 80 to 100 repetitions, obeys the first command about 25% of the time. Hmmm.Willfully disobedient.

She said that she just wished I was a little more Border Collie and a little less Afghan Wolfhound. I seriously get it but believe that I am probably beyond training at this point in my life.

*
I actually think the dog list is off. The smartest dog I ever had was Emily, my old english sheepdog of youth. Wonderful dog, understood everything, could do anything. They grade the pyrenees down but they were very intelligent as well. My Arabian horse was smart as a whip but willfully disobedient by nature. Don't think you can necessarily conflate the two properties.

*
Hoping for new critters soon.

Sonny and Brownie

Konichi Wa

Ricardo sends a picture of himself sporting the latest fashion statement in Kyoto. Thanks, bud. Another good friend of forty years standing.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Culture Wars

SCOTUS has spoken. A Texas law that was designed to keep women from exercising reproductive choice but pretended with a big wink to actually care about their physical health has been soundly beaten. And I'm sorry red states, the state of the Culture War isn't looking real good for you right now. 

Your presumptive candidate is losing in the polls by double digits and there will be at least one seat opening up for the next president, two if recent reports are accurate and Thomas decides that it is more fun to run around the country with his wife Ginny in the R.V.. Going to get a little lonely on the right side of the bench.

National polls have been clear for some time, the American majority supports abortion rights by at least six percentage points. Deal with it. Stop treating women who choose as victims of the big, bad abortion industry. They are smarter than that and I think have a better handle on their ability to parent than the government does. 

First Obergfell and the gay marriage decision, now this. If cultural and demographic trends continue, your power will wane like a gibbous moon. Time to get in step with the rest of us over here in the twentieth century.

Pancho


Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Animals - Send You Back To Walker



I was listening to Peter Noone's radio show the other day and he played this song. Noone (Herman of Herman's Hermits) has a pretty cool radio show on Sirius. He explained that Eric Burdon is from Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne. He said that it is a tough place, in fact so rough that way back when, the local picts once stopped the Scots from taking over England. Tough blokes, those Walker lads.

Interesting coincidence that both Noone and Burden were in protracted legal squabbles with their ex bandmates and are now forbidden to perform under their former eponymous namesakes.

Balance of Power

Mirrorpix/Getty Images
I was ruminating a little yesterday about Britain's exit from the EU and David Cameron's impending resignation and had a thought.

You want somebody to blame for all this, blame George Herbert Walker Bush. The causal trail leads right back to his doorstep.

Let's set the wayback machine: Under the pretext of helping Kuwait and the Saudis, Daddy Bush goes after the Iraqis.

During a speech to a special joint session of the U.S. Congress given on 11 September 1990, President Bush summed up the reasons for the incursion with the following remarks:

"Within three days, 120,000 Iraqi troops with 850 tanks had poured into Kuwait and moved south to threaten Saudi Arabia. It was then that I decided to act to check that aggression."

The Pentagon stated that satellite photos showed a buildup of Iraqi forces along the border, but this was later found to be false. A reporter for the St. Petersburg Times acquired two commercial Soviet satellite images made at the time in question, which showed nothing but empty desert. Holy Gulf of Tonkin!

Oh well, so Saddam gets his nose bloodied but was ultimately allowed to stay in power.

Fast forward to the next Bush, the son. Desert Shield which had morphed along the way into Desert Storm, is revisited in the 2003 Iraq War. Ridiculous tales of WMD and yellowcake uranium form a necessary but illusory pretext. Saddam Hussein is removed from power. Between 150,000 and 600,000 Iraqis are killed in the first four years of the conflict in a shock and awe bombing campaign.

The delicate balance between Shia and Sunni that the strong hand of Hussain maintained is forever broken. The Sunni Ba'athists, who have not been integrated into the new government go underground and start a counter insurgency movement. There is widespread sectarian violence. The conflict festers until 2011 when we finally withdraw, per an agreement that makes it obligatory to do so, an agreement authored and executed by President Bush.

Shia power in the region is magnified and the internecine conflict now spreads to Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Libya, amongst other countries.

The embittered Sunnis become Isil or Isis or whatever you care to call them. The powerful Shia states start consolidating their power through their proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas.

Millions of refugees flee the region, many ending up in Europe and elsewhere, many fail to "get" the new culture and enormously tax both the economies and benevolence of their new hosts. Liberal politicians and U.N. Refugee officials start making ridiculous speeches and polemics about "open borders" and other utopian wet dreams.

People get sick of hearing about it and say "enough is enough." Hence Brexit.

Saddam Hussein was a simple guy, very secular as Arab dictators go. The Marshall Tito of his time. Hated but easy to understand. Give him a little mordida and keep his kids supplied with booze and porn and everything would go fine. Just don't cause trouble. The perfect despot for those spots in the world that can't function without a strong man to keep the villagers from ripping each other's heads off.

We monkeyed with a 1300 year blood war between Sunni and Shia and upset a very delicate balance of power and now the world is feeling the effects in spades, effects that are resonating in a horrific way right here in the United States and very strongly in Europe. And the sad fact is that the only thing they hate more than the west is each other.

See what happens when we get involved in places where we have no idea what we are doing and how badly we can screw things up?

Moonstruck




My attempts to shoot the Strawberry Moon last week were not real fruitful and I heard plenty about my deficiencies from the experts over on the astro forum. But I got some tips and was informed that it is much easier to shoot a partial moon. Shooting a full moon is like having a big strobe in front of an object that flattens everything out. You lose a lot of detail.

The moon was supposed to rise at 11:14 San Diego time but being stuck in a deep hole I didn't see the thing until well after midnight, and I was starting to lose some interest. As condensation built p on my expensive camera rig, I thought about chucking it for a better night, since there was a lot of cloud cover obscuring the moon when it finally did show up.

All of these shots were taken with a Nikon D810. The lens was a Sigma 150-600m C. Focal length was between 450 and 600 and iso between 100 and 320.

You can't learn anything in this life without putting on some mileage. One of these days I will get it right.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Take Me To The River



Bernie Worrell, the brilliant keyboard player with Parliament Funkadelic and so many other great bands, has passed. He played like a mofo and will be greatly missed.

Good luck with that...


“The good in this world far outweighs the evil. Our common humanity transcends our differences, and our most effective response to terror is compassion, it’s unity and it’s love.”Loretta Lynch



Here comes the night

Creepytings


I read this story and thought it so perfectly captured the super entitled ignorance so popular today among the young, hip and stupid set.


23 year old Casey Nocket decided to show her incredible artistry by galavanting around on her own "lets defile as many national parks as we can because I'm an artist" tour. “This is art, not vandalism, I am an artist,” Nocket wrote on her now closed Instagram page.

On June 13, Nocket, now 23 and residing in San Diego, admitted in federal court in California she defaced seven national parks over a 26-day period in 2014, according to court records. And then posted it all on social media.

For those of you keeping score at home, this blonde Einstein painted her juvenile mask paintings at Yosemite, Crater Lake, Death Valley, Rocky Mountain, Canyonlands, Zion and Colorado National Monument.

I believe the need for some children to decorate the walls in such a fashion reaches back to Freud's second stage of psychosexual development, of the anal retentive or expulsive variety.

Modern Hiker Magazine led the early charge against this idiot. She is now banned from all of the National Parks. My guess is she still thinks that she was in her rights and doesn't get the big deal. Hey man, I'm an artist. You're chilling my flow.
After Nocket wrote in an Instagram post that she had used acrylic paint – which is very difficult to clean off – another user questioned her about it and she responded: “I know, I’m a bad person.”

This isn't the first time that  young dunces have engaged in this sort of behavior of late. An actress was caught carving her initials into the rocks at Sedona recently and a street artist, bon vivant, nightclub owner named Mr. Andre decided to engage in his own public defecation at Joshua Tree. And now he wants to sue a magazine for reporting on it.
On March 3, the backlash was severe enough for Mr. André's legal team at Stefanaggi Avocats in Paris to send a cease and desist letter to Modern Hiker, demanding that Schreiner "immediately cease to disseminate the defamatory information," and furthermore "erase the infringing links and its associated files" from his website.
However, in that same letter, attorney François Stefanaggi admits to the alleged defacement, attributing "an ephemeral creation" in Joshua Tree to Mr. André, who reportedly used "water-based paint" to place "his artistic signature" on a rock. Stefanaggi also claims that Mr. André subsequently "erased the inscription and made all mark of this short-lived performance disappear."
Mr. André's lawyer threatens to "pursue all available legal remedies" against Modern Hiker, including seeking damages for "publishing detrimental messages...with the intention to discredit [Mr. André's] professional works and harm his artistic reputation."
Oh brother! I hate seeing graffiti out in nature. It is so selfish. People need to get a clue. Smarten up, you moronic retards.


Rollin' Stone - Mose Allison

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Peregrine in blue


6.23.16

It is dangerous to have an overt political opinion these days. You are bound to upset somebody you like and respect. My cohorts reach across the political spectrum and not all of them are totally doctrinaire or easy to figure. Many of them disagree with me. Guess what, we're still friends.

I got a big "evil Hillary" lecture from a good bud the other day but hey, that decision is easy compared to some conversations.

It is a little tougher to talk about guns.

Please understand that I have been a registered gun owner for over 40 years. I own several of them and believe quite strongly in the second amendment.

But do I think that means that citizens owning any and all types of weapons is legitimate, that our founding fathers would advocate for the right of Joe citizen to affix a shoulder fired missile, let alone a nuclear capped one, to his Dodge dart? Heck no.

There are practical limits to every right and I personally think that Obama and the left is on the right track in trying to ban "assault style" rifles.

Now what I find truly incredible is my conservative friends who think that those rights are absolute, that these types of weapons are exactly what the founders had in mind because the citizenry has the ultimate right, duty and obligation to take down tyrannical despots who may run afoul of our sacred constitution.

To those people I just have one thing to say; forget it. Walter Mitty, your posse is not taking down the government, they will grind you up and spit you out. You are heavily outgunned and outmatched, I don't care what you are packing. And the simple matter is that no matter how much the Bundy style wack jobs grouse about an overreaching federal government and their desire to bring it down, I got news for them, the rest of us can't stand you worse than you can't stand the government.

We don't think you have a right to graze your cattle on federal lands for nothing, to bulldoze indian artifacts, to take over federal land, to drive your atvs over forbidden trails and create all the environmental damage that you can muster. We keep the feds around to keep people like you in check.

*
Amazing that the John Cornyns of this world are more concerned with protecting the rights of people to own assault weapons to such a degree that we can't get the Republicans to even agree not to sell nasty arms to people on no flight or terrorist watch lists. That proposition is fine with me. One innocent man can't buy a gun, it won't keep me up at night, if we can keep the rest of these guns out of the hands of the lunatics.

Shameless promotion

I know what you are thinking. I want to support the Blue Heron Blast, the online living room that delivers so much cool and free content in my life...but I'm an autumn and my skin tones just don't groove with the gray or the navy.

Well guess what blasters? Your problems are solved. We just got a new order of two dozen shirts in, designed by the inimitable Brett Stokes, in all the popular sizes, in basic black.

The first batch sold like hot cakes. And I'm no Marco Rubio, when I tell you this is the last order, I mean it.

Black is the new black as they say and you don't want to be caught dead on the street without one.

Send me twenty bucks and I'll write you name down for one, or two, as many as you want frankly. I pay the freaking domestic shipping.

From SOHO to Carnaby St. the sight of yours truly throwing heavenly thunderbolts is liable to impress even your most jaded peeps.

Model and batteries not included.

Torrey Pines Falcons


Yesterday I had to go to the coast to do some art business. Afterwards I decided to scratch my own artistic itch and take a little stroll down to Black's Beach to try to capture some pictures of falcons. My last attempt was pretty pathetic and I wanted to make amends to myself.

I paid the $12.00 State Parks fee necessary to get into the reserve and walked down the beach past the sunbathers, the Nikon D7200 with the heavy Sigma 150-600mm C lens hanging on a strap over my opposite shoulder.


I asked a Ranger sweeping the sidewalk for some tips on finding the nest but he said that he hadn't really been paying attention this year. I kept walking and crossed my fingers.


I didn't have long to wait before I saw the mother falcon and two progeny practicing their nascent flight and acrobatic skills, swooping in and out of the beautiful eroded canyons and cliff faces. I had read that the mother peregrine had four offspring this year, sometime in late May I believe.


There are 19 separate subspecies of Peregrine Falcon, most of the continent harbors Falco perigrinus anatum although DDT nearly wiped out the bird population in the eastern United States. I believe that it is the fastest bird ever clocked, with a recorded flight of 242 miles per hour, which makes it the fastest life form in the entire animal kingdom.

I took over 1750 shots yesterday and got some that I really love, mostly shooting at 1/2000th of a second.


As always, next time I will be even smarter and better prepared, I learn something with every shoot.

It will take me a while to process, cull and mull over all these.

The day was a little cloudy and gloomy but it didn't keep me from getting some good captures.


There were all manner of birds around of course, pelicans, gulls and crow abounded.


At one point I watched the falcons harass a gull and if I may be permitted to anthropomorphize, he had a very angry look on his face. Seriously.



After about an hour of watching the falcons cavort, they disappeared into the mist and I decided to go up top to the Torrey Pines reserve and put the smaller nikkor 70-200mm vrII lens on the Nikon and see what would happen.

So beautiful up there amongst the Torrey Pines, which happen to be the rarest pine on the continent.

Didn't see much but met some good folks and had a nice walk in the northern section.


La Jolla hovered in the distance.

Del Mar to the north.

It turned into a beautiful day.


I was having a lovely but mostly uneventful walk when I spied a lone peregrine prowling the Pacific.


I decided to head back to my van, and traffic and the tumult of real life when things started to get kind of crazy.


I watched my avian friend head for a stand of Torrey pines. I followed.



Where did it go? I followed it to the area where I had lost visual sight.


There was my bird, perched on a tree limb not 30 feet from where I stood. It stood docile and allowed me to photograph for minutes. What a wonderful blessing and opportunity!


It is going to take a while to assess this wonderful moment. I left the bird to his or her journey and continued on to mine.

It was worth the wait! I look forward to my next visit with these wonderful creatures.