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© Robert Sommers 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

late father, fractured


Night Bird - Billy Vera & Evie Sands

Mumzer

I was reading the other day that President Trump was blaming the Chinese for failing to reign in North Korea.

He intimated that the Chinese were not helping the United States in the matter because they were feeling a little sore over the current trade and tariff dispute. Imagine?

All I can say is, duh!  You bully people around and then you expect them to want to help you? Your reflexive first move with friend and foe alike is to throw your pointy little elbows and then you wonder what has happened to your allies? You think the Chinese are going to help you do anything right now?

Trump signed a preliminary trade agreement with Mexico the other day. The next day he said that the Mexicans were going to pay for the stupid border wall. You can guess how they reacted.

Today he says, off the record, that he is not going to negotiate with Canada on anything in the trade negotiations, they can take it or leave it and he is ready to apply maximum pressure. This is extremely foolish. Our northern neighbor is our largest trading partner and northern states like Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota need the trade to continue to keep their economies solvent.

While I have a lot of disagreement with Trump ideologically, I think the fact that he is so clumsy and such a lousy negotiator rankles me even worse. A spoiled rich kid, bumbler who can't get out of his own way. A sociopath with little or no natural empathy, at least as it is commonly construed.

His insatiable need to claim wins leads to the utter foolishness that results in statements like "North Korea is currently denuclearizing." Wishful thinking but not tied to reality. Sovereign nations are looking for a win - win, not to be dictated to.

The first thing you learn in kindergarten is to not be an asshole. Looks like a certain President flunked that part.

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I was in construction a long time. I remember talking to a grading contractor in the late 1970's who had lost everything when a large Los Angeles developer decided to hold his money for no reason except that he could. They repossessed the contractor's bulldozer and loader, his home and finally his wife left him, taking the kids with her.  Two hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money back then and he had earned it flawlessly but couldn't get paid.

The way he told me the story was that he went to S-----L's offices and found the accountant. He opened the seventh floor window behind him, grabbed the scrawny bookkeeper by the collar and held the dangling man out the window, threatening to drop him to the pavement below. He said "You ruined my life, now I am going to ruin yours." The accounts payable man flipped out, pled for his life and said he would explain, the man finally relented and brought him inside.

The man told him, at least the story he told me, that he was paid to keep people's money as long as he could, because the developer made money on it, on the float. As Abe Vigoda said in the godfather, it was not personal, strictly business. A game with these sort of types, because they were big and because they could.


I bring the anecdote up because there are an awful lot of subs in New York and New Jersey that Trump broke and beat up like this, because he could. Having had my family business robbed of twelve million dollars in a  similar manner by a West Coast Trump wannabee I take serious umbrage at this sort of behavior.

Dishonorable people who break their word, who don't have any intention of honoring their commitments and paying their debts, these people should have a special room in hell.
Donald Trump often portrays himself as a savior of the working class who will "protect your job." But a USA TODAY NETWORK analysis found he has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits over the past three decades — and a large number of those involve ordinary Americans, like the Friels, who say Trump or his companies have refused to pay them.
At least 60 lawsuits, along with hundreds of liens, judgments, and other government filings reviewed by the USA TODAY NETWORK, document people who have accused Trump and his businesses of failing to pay them for their work. Among them: a dishwasher in Florida. A glass company in New Jersey. A carpet company. A plumber. Painters. Forty-eight waiters. Dozens of bartenders and other hourly workers at his resorts and clubs, coast to coast. Real estate brokers who sold his properties. And, ironically, several law firms that once represented him in these suits and others.
Trump’s companies have also been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage, according to U.S. Department of Labor data. That includes 21 citations against the defunct Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and three against the also out-of-business Trump Mortgage LLC in New York. Both cases were resolved by the companies agreeing to pay back wages.
In addition to the lawsuits, the review found more than 200 mechanic’s liens — filed by contractors and employees against Trump, his companies or his properties claiming they were owed money for their work — since the 1980s. The liens range from a $75,000 claim by a Plainview, N.Y., air conditioning and heating company to a $1 million claim from the president of a New York City real estate banking firm. On just one project, Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City, records released by the New Jersey Casino Control Commission in 1990 show that at least 253 subcontractors weren’t paid in full or on time, including workers who installed walls, chandeliers and plumbing.
Guy is a low class chiseler. Strictly from Queens.

Dottie O'Brien - Four or five times

Another one bites the dust

I read today that the Village Voice is officially kaput.

The alternative newspaper that was the Voice was a big part of my childhood in New York.

Jules Feiffer
Had some gutty writers, people like Nat Hentoff, Robert Christgau and the often shrill Jill Johnston. Was worth opening just for the Feiffer cartoons alone.

My mother was a member of NOW in the early seventies and the often radical periodical was a  permanent fixture at our coffee table.

Unfortunately it hasn't been readable in years. Went online and skewed spoiled millennial. Yippee to Yuppie.

In its time, it was a fine periodical.

All things must pass.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Birdish

The tit for tat between left and right has become so puerile, hateful and defensive.

Antifa is the face of a "violent" left the same way Richard Spencer and David Duke are the face of the right in this country. As in, not at all.

Social discourse is so dicey right now and provocateurs who should know better are throwing gasoline on the fire to score short term political advantage.

Everybody is on a hair trigger, waiting to vent and explode on someone from the other side.

Country needs a chill pill.

I took an afternoon off to chill my way, with the birds. Drove down to Santee Lakes and Lindo Lake in Lakeside.

I didn't see this blue heron catch the fish, but I watched it wiggle peristaltically for a good five minutes in his gullet before he could swallow it.

Very trippy.

Wasn't a great day for me photographically but it did feel good to be in nature.


Very pretty outside, nice breezes. No Osprey at Santee guess he hasn't been around for a while. I talked to a wheelchair bound man and his partner at Lindo.

Have seen them around before. She was putting salve on his legs. I thought it was diabetes they looked so bad but he said it you can't move your extremities, bad things arise because of a lack of circulation.

This couple seemed to have a pretty good relationship with the local fauna, like this black crowned night heron.


Was handholding, missed a lot of focus by not adequately stopping down.

Need another session to get back in the groove.

My podcast interview is out. I have not watched it but was notified that it went live last night. Wasn't in the cheeriest mood, might take a while to get up the nerve to watch it.

Monday, August 27, 2018

The Igniters

Hunter gets captured by the game

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) and his wife Margaret, who may or may not be speaking at the moment after he threw her under the proverbial bus the other day, were recently indicted  by a Federal Grand Jury for purportedly misusing $250,000 in campaign funds. Hunter is my congressman in the 50th District.

Ain't going to mean a thing in my district. Even after all the hubbub, the brash party dude is up by 8 points according to recent polling. 77 % of the Republican majority in my district intend to vote for him again. Presumably he can handle his office affairs while in prison.

The 50th district is based in San Diego County. It includes suburban and outlying areas of the county, including Fallbrook, San Marcos, Valley Center, Ramona, Escondido, Santee, Lakeside, parts of El Cajon and mountain and desert areas stretching east to the Imperial County line. It extends slightly into southwestern Riverside County in the Temecula area. Broke 54.6 – 39.6% for the Donald in the last election.

Guy could commit a homicidal act against cub scouts in full public view in a circus tent and the yayhoos in Ramona would still re-elect him, especially when he's going up against a guy with a foreign sounding name.

Spade Cooley - "Miss Molly"

Dependletons™

Is there anything on earth as cool as a
yid with a swastika blanket?
Morty was complaining to me recently that he didn't get enough ink in the second installment of my recent recount detailing my wandering through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in Arizona and New Mexico. These show biz types are really pretty insufferable.


Friedman and I are magic together, I must say.
He is so funny, he could have been the next George Gobel if he had been given a shot, I swear.

We could have owned the Holiday Inn circuit in New Jersey with our delicious combination of wit, good looks and charm. If we had been willing to bus tables anyway.


He is of course the world's foremost authority on trade blankets, having written two books on the subject that no one has yet actually opened, they look really super on the coffee table, Chasing rainbows and the brilliantly titled sequel, Still chasing rainbows. I don't know about you but I can't wait to see the title of the upcoming third volume. I'm betting on Still chasing rainbows, still.

One morning I had this brainstorm; the passion for purchasing these early Pendleton type trade blankets is unabated but the buying demographic is aging. Getting older unfortunately means bladder control problems for many of us.

Why not pair underpad protection with western wear and kill two stones with one bird? "Brilliant," he says. And so an idea was born - Dependletons, undergarments for the western lover in your life who suffers from occasional incontinence.

I must give my comedic partner full credit for the confluent sobriquet.

I mocked up a few ads. Actually ran them up the old flagpole at Pendleton. Now we are just waiting for the checks to roll in.

Really not easy being this brilliant. Wish us luck.

Peregrine falcon over Torrey Pines Beach


Sunday, August 26, 2018

Little Sister


Eddie Shaver on the Telecaster, Billie Joe's son, destined to be one of the greats but heroin got in the way.

Apple a day

News today on the apple front. The Gala has just passed the Red Delicious as America's favorite apple. Granny Smith, Fuji and Honeycrisp round out the top five in the rankings.

I find the result sort of odd. I can't believe the tasteless Red Delicious has held on this long. Five decades. And I can't believe a blah apple like the Gala has passed it by. Americans once again show their lack of taste. The high Granny Smith showing is also strange, has to be all the bakers out there.

Please don't give me any static for not mentioning Black Oxfords or the Northern Spy.  Today's apples are simply better than the old heirlooms.

My personal ranking for eating apples would be Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Fuji. The first two are such a toss up, the Pink slightly more tart, the Honeycrisp sweet. All excellent. But the latter fruit is so expensive, I don't want to pay close to three bucks a lb. for an apple.

As long as I never have to eat another bruised and acrid Mcintosh apple for the rest of my life I will be fine. We have screwed up many things on this poor planet of ours but we are growing better apples and peaches than we ever have before.

Sleight of hand

The popular course in the modern political arena is to move to the fringe to win the primary, which is normally a partisan affair, and to move back to the center in a general election.

Martha McSally
In this way a candidate hopes to appeal to the large block of undecided and independent voters who might be put off by the ardent ideology of the base.

Good candidates are adept at disguising their true convictions in applying this type of bait and switch and it is practically a political necessity in this day and age.

Trump, like in so many other areas, has turned this political calculus on its ear. Rightly or wrongly, he is doubling down on his base and even talking about a red wave in the midterms. He has made no attempts to broaden his electorate.

History will tell if he is correct or not. Looks suicidal to me but hey, I have been wrong many times before.

This approach does put Republican candidates in a serious quandary. Pandering to the base might just alienate the middle.

Non Trump aligned office seekers got whomped in the primaries. This caused semi moderate members of the GOP to align themselves with their orange standard bearer. Witness the Senatorial race in Arizona, which now has three ardent pro -Trump candidates running against each other since McSally hardened her message and moved right. Build a wall, repel the invading immigrant armies.

What a murderer's row; Arpaio, Ward and McSally. Arizona, love the landscape can't stand the politics. Of course, I am a liberal, godless Californian and they can't stand me either.

In any case, it will be a crucible experience for the nominally more moderate candidates like McSally to try to explain their affiliation and newfound allegiance with Trump and his hardline positions in a general election. Especially if you are running in a district with a high Latino population. The "murdering, rapist criminals with calves the size of cantaloupes." That will be a gymnastic act.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Marion Worth - Same Old Tears

Moneyman spills

I am not exactly prescient but I have seen enough Elliot Ness episodes to know that a bigshot CEO or President has real problems on the horizon when his long time accountant decides to take an immunity deal with the feds. Usually means that you are heading to the third and final act.

Weisselberg goes all the way back to Fred Trump. Knows where every body is buried.

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The liberals are playing it cool. They obviously got the message - no impeachment talk. The only people you hear talking about it are the GOP. Dems are smart to keep their powder dry and their lips shut. Trump will put his head in the noose all by himself.

Rubbing elbows

There were a bunch of celebrities and politicos flitting around Santa Fe. I forget all the musicians, wasn't paying too much attention. Karl Rove was two tables over when we had breakfast at the La Fonda. He seems almost balanced compared to ... never mind.

I made a feeble and insincere attempt to charge Morty and my breakfast to Rove's room before fessing up with our server.

Laura Bush was at Whitehawk with her entourage.

A tall guy walks in to my booth with his wife. "Wait, I know you," I said. He smiled. He was out of context, I couldn't quite place him.

His wife tells me that he is actually Ron Wyden, the senator from Oregon. Maybe my favorite Senator, definitely the greatest defender of civil liberty and privacy rights we have in our nation.

I went full bore sycophant. "I love you man." After extricating me from my prostrate and genuflecting grip on his ankles, he thanked me very graciously for my overbearing affections.

Said he would have his homies take a look at my blog.

Wyden can appear quite stiff and wooden on the television, but he is a loose, easygoing, great guy in person. Real thrill for me. We need more courageous men like Wyden, men with heart and sekel.

Feathered fliers

I was scrolling through my photo catalogues yesterday when I found four or five shots from my Tamarisk Grove long eared owl shoot that I had never seen before.  Somehow I never noticed the presence of the hummingbird in these particular photographs. Sometimes it pays to take a second look.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Whatsamatterforyou?

Who we got running the country? A President or Tony Soprano?

Welcome to the first mob boss President, at least since Harding anyway.

I keep thinking back to that scene in the Untouchables where DeNiro whacks the guy with the baseball bat. Who happens to be playing Trump's hero, Al Capone. Trump has always palled around with the wise guys, from the Gambino and Genovese family associates like Fat Tony Salerno and Paul Castellano to his mentor, the beloved Roy Cohn and later on the Russian mob. Good breakdown here. Guy has been cleaning up dirty Russian cash for decades. No surprises.

Trump hates rats, thinks it should be illegal to cooperate with prosecutors. Women, presumably not the skanky molls he is sleeping with on the side, are dogs. Tax laws are meaningless, meant to be broken. Manafort is praised for not squealing and waiting dutifully for his eventual pardon, which everybody in the world knows is coming.

And his enablers in Congress sit on their thumbs and don't say a peep. The fix is in, the right people have been paid off. Gowdy had time for 1000 Benghazi fishing expeditions but can't spare a single look at the liar in chief. Kavanaugh was hand picked to give el jefe a pass.

Pitiful.

The Trump show, now in its second Presidential season is devolving and unwinding before our eyes. This week was a doozy. Nothing would surprise us at this point, more plot twists than an episode of Better Call Saul.

But I did think of a couple storylines that would be pretty cool and maybe are not too far outside of the realms of possibility.

Trump gets his Moscow buddies to hit Cohen with a poison umbrella tip before he can sing anymore like a canary. Like those people who got whacked in England. Rosa Klebb. Putin can deny, deny, deny and finally publicly surmise that it was a false flag operation by rogue elements in the Justice Department deep state.

Or Melania gets wise to the philandering piece of human excrement and gives him a two a.m. Bobbitt job before fleeing on Airforce two with young Barron to an unnamed slavic republic. Mike Pence, the new godfather, walks right in on the scene, just in time to see the Donald bleeding to death but slowly backs right out off the door, refusing to resuscitate, a cold smile on his face, crossing himself reflexively before he casually resumes filing his nails.


omerta

What a great season. Will be interesting to see if it can run for another year.


Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Canyon gradient #7


Doc and Merle

Continuing story

Mojave landscape with dead mattress and box springs

The Antique Indian show never really fired for me. I am basically a "swiss army knife" type dealer at this point in time and it is a show for specialists. I usually have strong enough native material to make the whole thing work but this particular year I did not. Was not really with the program with my diverse but not altogether compliant material and I basically ate crap. Can't fake it.

An object crowd, not necessarily a strong wall art crowd. Beautiful show, most folks did exceedingly well. No excuses, no blame, nobody's fault but mine. Entirely self inflicted. I took a year off to mope and write and get lost and heal and I am now paying the price.

I need to stop writing and taking pictures and plunge headlong into my business if I have any hopes to save it. My dreams of finessing the peddler and artiste hats simultaneously proves ultimately to be an unworkable pipedream.

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Breaking down a bad show is like broadcasting my own public execution. Very tiring and not a very fun proposition. Rather than getting into a full scale post mortem and chronology of the beat down I think that I will try to skip to some middle and high points of which there were fortunately many.

Saw a lot of great friends. Many are getting older and we had a wonderful time discussing our various ailments and infirmities.


Took off for Pecos one morning to get some cloud shots over the pueblo but I was too early to get in the site and decided to instead take the gorgeous road paralleling the river up the upper Pecos watershed.

I had been to Monastery Lake but never further. I made it to the Holy Ghost, Cowles split, to the neat little town of Terrero.

Saw magpies and red crossbills, marveled at the beauty. Wanted to just keep going and going. As usual.

Bill later told me that he saw hundreds if not thousands of hummingbirds at the Terrero General Store, my turn around point that morning. I should have got out and scoped the place but who knew? Must go back...

female evening grosbeak
White breasted Nuthatch

Spent a morning at the Randall Davey Audubon Center photographing the feeders, always soothing for the spirit.

sphinx moth
Shot the shit for a couple hours with a fellow birder, a retired pharmacist from Houston, good guy.

Stopped off and saw Jeff at Zaplin Lampert for a second, a great guy and a wonderful gallery.

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Ate at the Pantry a lot for breakfast, carne adovado, great corned beef hash, a wonderful southwest shepherd's pie one night for dinner.

Have to have trout and eggs at La Fonda at least once every trip to keep my luck going.

Had a rotten meal at Pasqualle's, first ever.

The trout hash sucked, the staff was all unfamiliar, place has really gone downhill.

Things unfortunately don't stay great forever.

Ate a so-so meal at Eloisa's. Buffalo ravioli. Very expensive. Some things were good but it was uneven. Paltry watermelon salad, Overzested lime dessert. Probably wouldn't go back.

Had a great meal of mojarra, a whole fish covered in garlic at Adelitas, my new favorite local sleeper restaurant.

Lamb tacos at Mucho Gusto were over sweet, almond flan was great. Cashew mole enchiladas at Plaza Cafe always good but sopapillas a bit tired tasting.

Never took off on the green chile this trip, did my tummy a favor and stuck with the red...

Had a decent dinner at Harry's early on.

Dreadful Chinese takeout near Santa Fe Suites one night, wontons wrapped in shoe leather.

When my show started to divebomb I went to Albertson's and bought swiss and salami and carrots and triscuits and holed up in my room for a few days, not really feeling like putting on my happy face in good company. Had a full kitchen in the room.

Finished the whole shebang with Shecky Morty at Rio Chama eating overpriced elk.

I was of course still slightly traumatized over getting stuck out in nowhere and confronting my impending mortality, hard to act real normal when I had felt kind of close to permanently buying the farm.

Had a last minute sale that provided a tiny bit of oxygen. Packed up and got the hell out of Dodge the next morning.

Uneventful ride to Williams. First stop to see the singing rebbe in Albuquerque who gave me some much needed advice. Won't totally divulge but it had to do with the great samurai generals eventually hanging up their swords and trimming bonsai when the time had come to retreat.


Then detoured to the Grand Canyon for some mostly uninspired evening shots. The Italians won the prize for most obnoxious tourists this round, but at least they didn't pet the elk like the French people did last time.

Ho hum

Saw a tree full of buzzards. Probably circling my drain.


I hightailed it back to my hotel in Williams.

Had a great meal at the Pine Country restaurant, steak and pasta alfredo after walking out of a 66 diner where I couldn't get a menu or water but did manage to get a bunch of mopey looks from the uninterested staff.

I thought about going back to the Canyon for sunrise shots but didn't want to add three hours to an already long day and high tailed it in the direction of home.

Stopped at my favorite cafe in Seligman for breakfast, Westside Lilo's. I had my customary angus patty and eggs and headed down the road.

I decided at the last second to stay off the interstate and take Route 66 west towards Peach Springs.

I am so glad that I did.  The day was so beautiful and so was the scenery. So nice to be off the main road. Being just a little removed made all the difference.

I quickly encountered large bands of horses, their lovely coats counterpointed majestically by the lovely fields of yellow flowers.

My soul is replenished by wild places.



Pronghorn abounded in the fields as well. The pronghorn, Antilocapra americana, is a decidedly American creature, found no where else on this earth.

Fast as lightning when startled, it favors wide open spaces.

A golden eagle soared majestically overhead, making long, lazy sweeps on the gentle thermals.

All of my stress, dissatisfaction and personal tsoris disappeared in an instant when confronted by the immense beauty of nature's kingdom.

And all it took was a slight detour off the main road.


I stopped at Grand Canyon Cavern, purportedly the largest dry cave in the world, for expensive gas, not wanting to kill my newfound happy buzz by running out.

Five bucks a gallon? No problem, I'll take four, should get me to Kingman. Next time I take the cave tour.

Stayed on Route 66 as far as it would go. Ended up getting off the normal route and taking the five mile road into Mojave, past the Havasu turnoff and all the way down to Chiriaco Summit south of Indio.

Much more interesting than ploughing nose to nose with the other muggles through Barstow and Los Angeles.

Developed a new appreciation for the Chemehuevi tribe, weaving their fabulous baskets and scratching out an existence in such sparse and uninhabitable terrain. Enduring.

I drove back through Indio and the Palm Springs area, made my way through the wind machines and was in the home stretch when I saw that I would have to stop for gas. 49 miles left by my car's somewhat erratic count.


Life is never easy these days and it was shown to me in spades when I hit the fire on the 215 before Clinton Keith Rd. 49 miles, left, 45 miles left, 40 miles left, 35 miles left.

Low fuel light on and blaring at me, I was dead stopped in traffic while the flames now licked up to the road. I was going to run out of gas. I turned the a.c. off to save fuel and baked in the smoke and heat. And waited. Shitting bricks, not for the first time on this journey.

How poetic I thought. I will have almost finished my journey when my car will stop, out of gas right in the path of the encroaching flames and then explode into smithereens, sending my particles careening into the Riverside County mist.

What a dramatic and fitting end to the story!

And the novel will still lay unwritten, laying dormant in the bottom file drawer of the old file cabinet in the bedroom that I never set foot in anymore.

Alas it was not to be, I made it to Clinton Keith Rd. and coaxed my faithful but somewhat scarred carriage to the Arco station, we would make it one more day.


(to be continued...)