Ocotillo © Robert Sommers 2017

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Nobody's Child

Bahamian splendor

Vlad and Natasha are sunning themselves down in Eleuthera and sent over some pics. I am quite jealous as I am sure the rest of you are too. Could use some sun, stoli, sea and sand myself.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The messiah will come again


This one takes some sort of cake for hubris. Your President is now blaming democrats for the failure of his precious health bill.

Dems who were never once approached for help by the administration, an administration that would never even consider fixing the problems of Obamacare because they were going to repeal it and replace it and it was going to be so easy.

Guess what, as I called it, it wasn't easy. Because Republican moderates and the hard core conservatives loathe each other like nobody's business. They agreed on one thing, disliking Obama but there is really no ideological there there.

So this is how the great legacy begins. Create a bill that gets 17% support from the American people, which gave rich folks a fat tax break and started the ball rolling to destroy Medicare and leave 24 million American without health care.

The Congressional Budget Office assessed the most recent version of the bill and concluded that it would still take coverage away from 24 million people, like the original version of the bill, but would cost an additional $186 billion to do so. A bill so startlingly bad and ill conceived that it had to be pulled so that the GOP could stem political fallout. Thank god the American people saw through it.

Can't wait to see what he does next.

Unfortunately Obamacare can not survive without the mandate, which Trump is intent on killing. So he will have a direct hand in its failure but will certainly take no personal responsibility for its demise. Because his kind never does.


Gee Wilbur.

Bankruptcy King Wilbur Ross

Did you read the article in the Guardian about Trump getting loans from a German bank financed by Russian criminal money? Quite interesting. See Bank that lent $300m to Trump linked to Russian money laundering scam.
The German bank that loaned $300m (£260m) to Donald Trump played a prominent role in a money laundering scandal run by Russian criminals with ties to the Kremlin, the Guardian can reveal.
Deutsche Bank is one of dozens of western financial institutions that processed at least $20bn – and possibly more – in money of “criminal origin” from Russia.
The scheme, dubbed “the Global Laundromat”, ran from 2010 to 2014.
Law enforcement agencies are investigating how a group of politically well-connected Russians were able to use UK-registered companies to launder billions of dollars in cash. The companies made fictitious loans to each other, underwritten by Russian businesses.
And who ran the show for Trump with the Russian oligarchs? None other than Trump Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Wilbur Ross, the Trump administration’s new commerce secretary, presided over a deal with a Russian businessman with ties to Vladimir Putin while serving in his previous role as vice-chairman of the Bank of Cyprus.
The transaction raises questions about Ross’s tenure at the Cypriot bank and his ties to politically connected Russian oligarchs. It comes amid confirmation by the FBI that it is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to influence the outcome of the presidential election.
He's a real beaut, old Wilbur.
Ross is an old school Wall Streeter, someone tied up in their secret societies and rituals. He’s a private-equity baron who scoops up failing companies (much like Mnuchin did with IndyMac), squeezes every last nickel out of them by firing workers and shipping business lines offshore, and manages to profit in the exchange, usually by navigating the companies through bankruptcy. His firm was in charge of the Sago Mine in West Virginia when it blew up, killing 12 workers; the mine had a history of safety problems. He moved Cone Mills overseas, eliminating about 75 percent of its US jobs. He invested in the Greek banking system and encouraged the fire sale of the country’s assets.
Guess Steve Bannon is taking names of recalcitrant no votes. Let the internecine bloodshed begin.

Aubrey Beardsley

Donald's worst deal. Must read article on Trump's deal with the Azerbaijanis at the New Yorker.
Alan Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, did not deny that there was corruption involved in the project. “I’m not going to sit here and defend the Mammadovs,” he said. But, from a legal standpoint, he argued, the Trump Organization was blameless. In his opinion, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act doesn’t apply to the Baku deal, even if corruption occurred. “We didn’t own it,” he said of the hotel. “We had no equity. We didn’t control the project. The flow of funds is in the wrong direction.” He added, “We did not pay any money to anyone. Therefore, it could not be a violation of the F.C.P.A.”
“No, that’s just wrong,” Jessica Tillipman, an assistant dean at George Washington University Law School, who specializes in the F.C.P.A., said. “You can’t go into business deals in Azerbaijan assuming that you are immune from the F.C.P.A.” She added, “Nor can you escape liability by looking the other way. The entire Baku deal is a giant red flag—the direct involvement of foreign government officials and their relatives in Azerbaijan with ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Corruption warning signs are rarely more obvious.”In May, 2012, the month the Baku deal was finalized, the F.C.P.A. was evidently on Donald Trump’s mind. In a phone-in appearance on CNBC, he expressed frustration with the law. “Every other country goes into these places and they do what they have to do,” he said. “It’s a horrible law and it should be changed.” If American companies refused to give bribes, he said, “you’ll do business nowhere.” He continued, “There is one answer—go to your room, close the door, go to sleep, and don’t do any deals, because that’s the only way. The only way you’re going to do it is the other way.”
The late Alexander Litvinenko
Russians have been busy. Here are 10 critics of Vladimir Putin who died violently or in suspicious ways

Guy Clark

Some humans ain't human

Flower Power

Slot Canyon, Anza Borrego
Everybody has been talking about the magnificent bloom out in the Anza Borrego desert but due to a confluence of events beyond my control I was a little bit late to the party.

My photo cohort Ken has been laid up sick and I have been super busy so yesterday was the first chance we had to check it out. A little recon mission.

Unfortunately the rumors of the bloom being now off the bud were true, we had probably missed the peak. As one of my neighbors said, who visited last week, "Frankly it is prettier in Fallbrook."

Which isn't putting the desert effulgence down, it was great. Fallbook is just exceedingly pretty right now, many valleys resembling Granville Redmond or John Gamble paintings with their lupines and poppies.

There were tons of muggles of all ages enjoying the wildflower show, older people in their khaki, young girls in their spandex and yoga pants. Did you know that yoga pants are now affecting the ocean's health? Their microfibers now constitute about 83% of the ocean's plastic pollution.

We drove out to the Slot Canyon that Jerry Kalman suggested we shoot. We had a choice, go right or left and ended up going the wrong way but will be back to shoot another day. Now we have our bearings. Expect to nail it next time.

In the evening on Di Giorgio Rd. we saw the birder group charting the Swainson hawk migration. We then drove out to Henderson and the Desert Gardens. Ken got bit lightly on the knee by a cholla.

Ocotillas are starting to bloom and that was nice. Should never count the teeth of nature's offering I suppose. Wonderful in any measure and will be better when the humans have left for the year. Looking forward to returning when the place is as dead as a GOP health care bill.

We hit Carmelitas right when their power shut off but it was quickly restored.

The invasion has caused serious food shortages in the area, the favorite restaurant was temporarily out of salsa but I managed to get my favorite mole enchiladas. Actually my favorite mole anywhere.

I am sure the locals can't wait for the flowers to totally dry up so that they can get their home back.

I am looking forward to going through my shots and seeing if there is any gold to mine. I saw enough of the Slot Canyon to want to go back. And soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Queen of soul


In a sure sign of the impending end of the universe, Nickie Minaj passed Aretha Franklin today for the number of Hot 100 singles ever at Billboard. She has 76, the Queen of Soul had 73. Lil Wayne leads all men with 135.

I tried to listen to one of her songs today and made it about seven seconds before turning it off. She's no Lil Wayne, know what I'm saying?

John Fahey - Sunflower River Blues

I love the music of the late John Fahey. it surprises me how many guitar players are unfamiliar with his work. Or can't get into it. I think he inhabits his own special cosmos up in the platitudes.

Nature mort dans cloisonné vase et un ouef

Christine McVie


I had a person go through an exhaustive list of my defects and deficiencies lately. Wow, I had no idea. In any case, I will be the first to admit that I am often wrong. And I might be wrong on this. But I think we could do a hell of a lot worse than Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch is not Merrick Garland, nor can he ever be. That ship has sailed. If democrats play the same dishonest game on Gorsuch as the Republicans did with his predecessor, they will be engaged in a stupid game of tit for tat and little better than their opponents. Not a liberal, he is vehemently opposed to assisted suicide and that might be a clue as to his leanings on Roe. But he seems like the most intelligent and balanced of all of the president's appointee's by a long shot. With Trump, we could have easily had Michael Cohen or Judge Judy. And they did win the election, albeit with a little help from the Russians.

His explanations on the freezing trucker case and his work on Bush torture statutes seem believable to me. He is trying to faithfully interpret the law, albeit from a more conservative vantage than I personally favor. Bright and independent, I have a feeling that he might turn out to be a pretty good judge. The kind the conservatives rant about after a few years on the bench. If I was a liberal congressperson I would keep my powder dry and hold fire on this one. Could have been much, much worse. If he turns into Scalia 2.0, my bad.

The House Republicans have to decide who they hate worse, the Senate Republicans or democrats.

Monday, March 20, 2017


Here Peter and Danny engage in some beautiful Allman Bros. style Les Paul syncopation while Jeremy plays some very enchanting slide counterpoint on the Fender.

Nature Mort

I had a little free time this afternoon and decided to play around with my soft light box.

I brought along a common tool from back in art class (a hen's egg) and a few items I had plundered from friends and snapped a couple shots.

Used a 55mm ƒ1.2, a sharp, fast lens that requires selective focus at its widest aperture.

I think that this might be a vein to mine with some potential and will give it a few more whacks.

Not satisfied by any means, but happy to embark on a new field of visual inquiry.

Jewel Eyed Judy

I have been listening to a lot of early Fleetwood Mac lately. They could be so good. A band that has seen its share of bad luck. They talk about Badfinger winning the all time rock tragedy prize but Fleetwood Mac had more than its fair share of tsoris.

Danny Kirwan
Peter Green flipped out on acid, Spencer joined the Children of God cult, Danny Kirwan, who is singing here, breaks down and becomes an alcoholic, Bob Welch commits suicide.

I was never a huge Buckingham/Nicks fan so I won't even go into that incarnation but the early stuff was great. There were other guitarists that had a cup of coffee with the band, including Dave Mason, Rick Vito, Bob Weston and Billy Burnette. They didn't make much of a dent.

Peter Green is an amazingly lyrical player who deserves all the accolades he gets but I myself am inexorably drawn to the underrated Kirwan and Welch. The band had such a lovely sound during their tenure.

Bob wrote this fabulous song for his solo album before FM did their version.

Wait up

Trump dismisses a poll that doesn’t exist for coming from an inaccurate pollster that wasn’t.

Dystopian Fiction Is Selling Like There’s No Tomorrow.

Couple great headlines out there. Although the times are certainly nutty they do give you ample opportunities to laugh.

We lost quite a few souls this week that left big footprints on the universal timestream. Jimmy Breslin, one of the best writers to ever come out of the big apple. James Cotton, a harmonica player that blew true. Chuck Berry, a major influence on Beatles and Stones, who did things in his own inimitable way.

Bernie Wrightson, an incredible comic illustrator I was lucky enough to catch at the early days of the San Diego Comic Con, along with other immense talents and peers like Kaluta, Jeff Jones, Chaykin, Stout and Corben.

I feel very blessed to have been able to meet so many of my artistic heroes in my life. And the Con was a big portal, met Sturgeon, Zelazny, Kirby, Mouse, so many incredibly talented people there, people that stretched the boundaries. The late Dr. Leonard Shlain, who I was also privileged to meet, who wrote Art and Physics, among other books, said that artists got the word about the portents of the future before anybody else did.

Said life is a little rocky right now, am attempting to right my own ship. Am astounded by this new invention we have, they call it a television. Small life like figures dance around a screen and entertain you, seemingly at all hours of the day or night.

Watched the Twilight Zone episode Judgement Night where the german U-Boat captain gets to relive the killing of the people on the British ship every day for the rest of eternity. Ninety nine percent of the crap on t.v. is absolute sheit, but I am finding myself drawn to the early black and whites.

These days will drive you crazy. Best to find a good diversion.

Putin critic turned green - New York Times
“This strange assumption of the Kremlin: to pour brilliant green on me so that I don’t travel around the country and call rallies,” he wrote on Facebook. “It’s way cooler that way. Barnaul and Biysk volunteers (where we are opening two campaign headquarters these days) will get the most stylish selfies ever, and I’ll be the star of any rally.”
He did, however, seem more concerned about his new green teeth. “Lemon won’t help you remove brilliant green,” he wrote. “Formic acid is way better. But I’ll remain light-green for quite some time. What worries me is my teeth. They are also green so far, but I hope they’ll discolor.”
Suspicion of complicity in Russian shenanigans is falling once again on Paul Manafort, except for in the Trump White House anyway. Spicer today said that he only had a limited role for a limited time. He was the Campaign Manager for goodness sakes. Doesn't get much closer than that.

A friend of the friend had these bumper stickers made. Leslie asked me not to put it on my car. Might not be a safe move in this town.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chuck Berry - Hoochie Coochie Man

Maxfield wakes up from his nap.

Maxfield wakes up from his nap.

Early light, Zabriskie Point

I had been camped out on the ledge since four in the morning with an english photographer. At sunrise 200 members of the Contra Costa Camera Club charged us from their bus like a herd of rhino, stepping in our line, jostling our tripods, yelling and making a general racket and on one occasion, dropping their camera gear accidentally off the cliff. For me, photography works best as a solitary pursuit.

Here nature decided I needed a mid ground focus, a stripe of luminosity interrupting an otherwise slumbering landscape.

New Year's plunge - Grandview

Friday, March 17, 2017

If You Live



Infinity seeks our attention from the most humble of her creations.

Nuke shots

A physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Labs has declassified a huge trove of nuclear bomb footage. Greg Spriggs has released footage of 210 atmospheric tests shot at 2400 frames per second.

If you like watching magnificent explosions check out their YouTube site here before they decide to reclassify it. As an aside, my father was involved in the transmission of the first nuclear photograph as an Army photographer in World War II.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Moon's a harsh mistress

Give the gift of life!

My buddy BigDave recently celebrated a major anniversary with the pioneering kidney transplant software he developed. Over a hundred paired donations using his software, now owned by BiologicTx.

As a guy with one kidney, with a brother who has undergone a transplant, we know how precious they are to our well being. Needless to say, I am very proud of my friend David Jacobs. A guy who fought kidney disease and then gave back.

Please watch this video and listen to his story. Sign your organ donor's card.

Death Valley


Sometimes you have to mess with them and there are times you don't. This one to the left is pretty raw. Keep seeing the hills like flowing earthen hips from a Grant Wood landscape.

Free money


Nicholas' story

Trump is slashing Community Block Grant funding. Some of that funding goes to feed poor kids after school. Here are the words of his Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as to why the program is getting  defunded:

“They’re supposed to be educational programs right? They’re supposed to help kids who don’t get fed at home get fed so they do better at school,” he said. “Guess what, there’s no demonstrable evidence they’re doing that, helping results, helping kids do better in school … which, when we took the money from you, the way we justified it was these programs are going to help children do better in school and get better jobs. We can’t prove that is happening.”

So let me get this straight; the poor kids' grades didn't go up as much as we thought they should so we will now let them go hungry? Nice.

Mulvaney is using the same logic to cut Meals on Wheels. "It's not showing results," he says. What does that mean exactly? What kind of result beyond keeping people from starving do you need?

Max Frost and the Troopers

Shape of things to come.

Vlad said that the recent yellow color of the blog borders was scorching his retinas so I decided to go easy on you today with a touch of soothing gray. Now the spooky stuff.

The Trump budget is out and it is one scary wish list. Not going to reiterate or go through the whole thing but some of the cuts really do border on the inhumane. Heating oil subsidies, training for the disabled and seniors, Osha funding, major environmental rehab projects are getting axed, the Chemical Safety Board, Public Housing, Meals on Wheels, draconian cuts at the National Institute of Health, Rural clean water funding like the Water and Wastewater loan and grant programs, coal miner assistance programs in Appalachia, PBS, Legal Services, legal aid for domestic abuse, all gone. Cuts everything that doesn't have to do with the military and then takes a big hack to the State Department and soft diplomacy as well. Take a big sword to everything that smacks of humanity and then lets the unfortunate fend for themselves.

And we get a country that resembles its leader, a big bully with one tool in its quiver, a big hard stick. Let's see how that works down the road. But at least we will have a very expensive but shiny new wall across our southern border. Unless we get the contractor to throw in Canada too for free, Donald is quite the negotiator...

The elderly are really going to be taking a lot of hits in Trumpworld and I genuinely feel for them. Trumpcare will have a devastating effect on them.The gloves are off, according to Sean Spicer the AARP and the AMA are merely special interest groups. Now they can be sick, hungry and cold.

Made me think of the sixties movie, Wild in the Streets. In this great 1968 tale of the counterculture, people over 40 are termed the "Old Guard." Mandatory retirement is instituted at the age of thirty, then you are sent to a re-education camp at thirty five, where you are then narcotized and knocked off. All is good in this allegorical film, that is until the pre-teens take power.

And I can't help thinking that that is what this President is going to do the aged in this country. Restrict them from healthcare, keep them cold in the winter, take any free food they may have been leeching off the young and productive and then finally, take them out in the backyard and shoot them when they outlive their productivity and usefulness, like you would euthanize a farm animal.

WildBill had a catchy quote of unknown origin he shared with me the other day:
"A republican cannot enjoy their steak unless they know that somewhere out there, there is someone who wants steak but can't have it."
I don't like being a partisan hack. There was plenty I disliked about Obama and I was regular and emphatic in my criticism. But I could never have imagined having such a fundamental national discussion about who we are as a people and how we should care for the least among us. You know, it used to be a Christian thing, if you can remember that far back.

Bernie scared me and Hillary had her faults but welcome to the national nightmare. We will get through it eventually and hopefully people will have better memories in the future and remember that the message of the snake oil salesmen somehow never changes.
But someone you know, unless you live a highly prosperous and extremely hermetically sealed position, is about to get hurt real bad.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017


Senators Feinstein and Grassley left the intel meeting with Comey today looking drawn, grim, gray and battered. Seriously whacked. Somebody said something in there that totally freaked them out. Or showed them something. Wonder if our spooks really do have the Moscow Golden Shower vid? If I was a hypothetical Chief Executive of a big country and a compromising vid like that surfaced I would do the honorable thing and blow my own brains out in the Lincoln Bedroom for the good of the nation. Just saying...

Baby Let Me Take You (In My Arms)

More work from Utah (you have my permission to steal it.)