Blue Heron in flight

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Rolling Geritol Bandit

In my opinion, freedom isn’t any good if you can’t sustain yourself on the outside."

Wheelchair bandit Peter Lawrence, age 72, has been detained in San Diego for committing a bank robbery so that he could get put back in prison. 

Peter pointed a bb gun at a teller at Chase Bank on Monday and wheeled out with a cool $2000.00. He was rolling his way back to his rented room downtown when the local police managed to catch up with him on Seventh Ave..

Lawrence figured that he would get better treatment for his diabetes, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, gout, heart disease and glaucoma in the slam, the pressures of life on the outside being too much for him. He couldn't make ends meet on his $914.00 monthly Social Security check. He said that he hopes to plead guilty soon and put the whole thing behind him. "I'm going to wave the bail, I'm not interested in being free," he said. "I'm not interested in getting freeI’ve been well taken care of, I don’t plan to leave prison alive. I feel relieved and glad it’s over.”

Read the source article by Kristina Davis in the Union Tribune here.

Agitation - Miles Davis - Stockholm 1967

Friday, July 30, 2010

Trip to the northland.

It was a good trip north from many standpoints, friends, family, food and frivolity. I got up tuesday morning with some difficulty and started driving tired. Made my normal pit stop at the Whole Foods in Pasadena and onward through the Grapevine. I was so tired I stopped at a rest stop and slept for about fifteen minutes and ended up totally recharged for the rest of the day's driving.  I got off on the exit for the Lost Hills Highway and passed a young man with a cardboard broke and hungry sign. Being judgmental I decided to pass on aiding this young man.

I certainly panhandled when I was a broke young man in New York City and I believe in helping people in need. But the nature of the beast has changed. This guy was one of the new breed of professional beggars that are sprouting up all over. I met a guy at a corner in National City with such a sign, a native american. I gave him a few bucks and asked him about his life and his exit strategy. He laughed, this was his job. Many of these people make it a career and can make a pretty good haul, giving everybody the sad eye day after day.

These new destitute beggars have little pride and a permanent gig. Most look pretty well fed. It seems like a less than ideal place to park my hard earned money. Like throwing it down a hole guaranteed never to benefit anyone but the person who dug the hole. I drove past this man, barely making eye contact. In front of him was a cowboy hitchhiking with a saddle. He I would have given a ride to. As I repared to stop I was beaten to the punch by a trucker.


My first stop is my old pal Vladimir Smyth's home near Laguna Seca. Vlad is married to Susan and they have two gifted children. Vladimir is a brilliant man who used to write and film advertising. Cutting edge and always pushing the envelope. He has one of the great repositories of recorded music and video in the western world, stacks and stacks of the finest jazz, rock, pop and television errata. I requisition Blood on the Tracks Dylan outtakes and he obliges. As usual, we power into the early hours and I wake up the next morning with a cloudy head. Vlad shows me one of Bob Dylan's egg cartons, a cultural artifact for future generations procured by one of Dylan's ex landscape men.


Blood on the Tracks is probably my favorite Dylan album along with Nashville Skyline. The word is that he cut the album originally in New York and was unhappy with it. He was up in St. Paul visiting a music store and was buying an old 30's Gibson when he asked the guy who worked there if he could play. When the guy demonstrated that he could, Dylan purportedly asked him to grab a few friends. These amateur players proceeded over the next three days to play on what is arguably the most definitive and poignant Dylan album of all time. Never received any credits. A few years ago, they all got together and played the album for a thirty year anniversary in St. Paul at the packed old Pantages Theater.  Dylan happened to be playing in town that week. He never stopped by.


The next morning I drove up to the lovely town of Woodside, a Brigadoon type of town nestled in the verdant hills of the South Bay. I had to pick up a painting from a client that I should have grabbed ages ago. My client is a most intelligent Doctor who teaches Bio Ethics at Stanford. Has a passion for 19th century California paintings. We got into a very interesting conversation on the dangers of embryo farming and a lot of other perilous pitfalls of the new technology, technology whose pace is moving far faster than the attenuated underlying moral questions can be sorted. Cloning, stem cells, he shocked me by having a rather stark pro life stance. But I defer to him because he is trying to grapple with some very difficult ethical questions.  He said something quite thought provoking and I paraphrase; The world is sadly missing a real or imagined hell, it caused people to understand that their actions have moral consequences. If I lived closer I would think we would develop a strong friendship.


Zipped up to San Mateo and saw Michael. who gifted me with an italian dry salami, which I gnawed on until it grossed me out and then it got jettisoned. Blasted up to Marin to see a friend going through a breakup and then drove to Oakland to see Gary and Melissa, my foodie friends newly back from Scotland. Gary brought back two exceptional bottles of single malt and like a good guest, I shared a nip with him. Pure and firey. Eventually we drove past Lake Merritt and over to Chai Thai Noodle in East Oakland for a great dinner.

The meal started with toasted rice salad, rice that has been recooked and crunchified with mint and basil, lime and lettuce. Simply fabulous. We went on to sample a delicious pumpkin and chicken curry and a quail course that honestly paled next to the quail at Le Cheval but I kept my mouth shut. Dry and not nearly as juicy. We had a nice duck dish covered with a strangely gummy rice coating and a rather stringy pork dish. A nice meal, well prepared.

After dinner we headed back to Berkeley for ice cream. We stopped and waited in a long line at Ici on College. Some great flavors and lots of tastes obligingly handed out - I tried the Brown Sugar Gingersnap but settled on a boysenberry vanilla ice cream sandwich. Very high quality ice cream but rather expensive.


For breakfast Melissa broke out Black Currant jam that she absconded with from Scotland on good Acme bread. I took off to drive to Fresno to see my father. Past Altamont and the army of wind machines. Rows and rows of tree crops and a sea of grapes. The normal road was blocked so my GPS took me on a strange alternate and I finally rolled in.

It has been such a week. A---'s death as hit me like ton of bricks as more and more details start to rise to the surface. My father has been in a difficult space for months and his cognitive powers are quickly dwindling. When questioned, it becomes apparent that he can't remember my name nor the names of any of my brothers and sisters except my eldest sister Lisa. He calls his wife Shela of over thirty years his second wife's name, Betty. I think he feels a little shame but I just sit there and love him. What the hell can he do? He can no longer read I am informed and he can hardly walk. I try the same trick I played last time, a few hands of cards, a good indicator of his grasp of logic. He wins the first game fair and square, a great sign, then makes some major synaptic errors in the next two games and we stop. My father was an ace mathematician, accountant, logician and card counter but these faculties have now deserted him. Thank god for my stepmother. It will be us someday, maybe sooner than we think.

I listen to two great baseball games on the way down - Padres beat the hated Dodgers and the Giants, who are nipping at our heels with a hot streak, lose to the Marlins. Salazar hits a game winning walk off single for the Pads.


I am now back - tonight was a great Taste of Fallbrook block party. Leslie had belly dancers. Aunt Kizzy's Boyz, the great local blues band fronted by Sugar Ray, was in rare form. Just a lot of great folks on the street. I have a lot to do tomorrow as I get ready to leave for New Mexico next week.

Two Tribes

A matter of timing...

It is a terrible and unfortunate truth but it is said that every man, if he lives long enough, will develop prostate cancer. Now, it's never exactly been high on my personal bucket list, but hey, I've gone through just about everything else and the malady wouldn't necessarily surprise me.

I will try to spare the most intimate details but for the last week I have had to pee about every ten minutes, my bladder seemingly synching up with Old Faithful's periodic eruptions and I was starting to wonder if my number had finally been called. I was beginning to worry.

I visited my faithful urologist this morning and after filling the clear plastic cup for him took the position necessary for that most intimate of handshakes. He was apologetic and I think as happy as I was for him to assume his role in the requisite probing, and he administered the digital diagnostics in the most professional way possible.

I must say there was one tipping point in the procedure that showed me that for all of my immaturity, I am conceivably growing up and gaining a small passel of wisdom. There is an old maxim about never discussing religion or politics in certain quarters, a maxim that I have been very guilty of violating, on numerous occasions.

So there I am leaning over the table with my arms crossed indian style, having surrendered every dignity that a man can possess when Dr. G decides to go off. With his arm up my rectum like an Amish mechanic, he says, "That s.o.b. Obama. He has taken everything. I won't even work on liberals anymore. Honestly, I ask them their politics, and if they are a Democrat they can just piss off. And I used to be a liberal." He was mumbling dark epithets and clearly not happy about the possibility of any change that we can or cannot believe in.

Now most of you folks have known me for a long time and you know that I rarely if ever shirk combat. I would rather eat dirt than vote republican.  And yet with this man's finger up my ass and me in such a compromised position, I was literally tongue tied. The wrong gesture on his part at that point and I am moving to Vienna to join a boy's choir. At that moment I tell you I would have rather french kissed Phyllis Schlafly than discuss my personal political beliefs with my urologist.

My brain may be Democrat but from now on, my urinary tract is absolutely nonpartisan.  Oh and the test results came back and it's just an infection. Cheers.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I got horrible news today. I was talking on the phone to my friend Gary a few hours ago and he told me that our friend A---- had died, taking his own life. He didn't have a lot of details.

I am in San Francisco and feel a bit helpless and devastated at the news of the loss of my friend. I want to call his cell phone, to e-mail him, to get some certainty that this isn't one of life's cruel ruses and to ascertain that he is truly gone.

A--- was like an older brother to me. About 10 years older than I, he was one of the few people on this earth who had my number and could shut me down intellectually in an instant. And I would shut up. He understood me. Incredibly bright, wealthy beyond measure with homes in Montana and La Jolla and a ton of income property, money could not be part of this final equation?

What could? What did propel my friend to the final act of suicide? He had two wonderful grown children, and a grandchild. A wife with whom he seemed to have a normal and supportive relationship. He worked with disadvantaged youth, had been a philanthropic board member, had an expert's eye in art and design. He had amassed the best of the best over the years, be it Molesworth, or Natzler or Baumann. He took the best vacations of any one I knew, venturing off to far off lands that I could only dream about. A guy who had it all. And a very keen mind.

A--- was even more cynical than I am regarding certain issues. He had an aversion to crosses, and religion in general and I had to keep this phobia in mind when pitching him artwork. He was a rare person of great wealth and standing who never forsook his progressive nature. He put his money where his mouth was politically, funding some common sense liberal causes.

A--- was the man who had announced to me earlier this year that he had basically renounced things and was now mainly interested in helping people. I know that he was always concerned about my own health problems and visited me when I was in the hospital.

I have noticed that many people that like A---. share my genetic lineage, seem to be prone to depression. Or maybe it's just the people that are trying to pay attention or are under the mistaken impression that they can make a difference. I know my friend was deeply concerned with the foul state of the world.

Suicide is the most selfish of acts. Yet who among us can feel the innermost pain of our friends, family and neighbors and so we must forgive them. I will never stop missing my friend. I wish that my friendship with him could have been close enough to alter his decision. To have been able to talk him out of whatever transpired, the details of which are still unknown to me.

Goodbye friend and thank you for the company, however brief. You have made this world better by your being here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Such a night.

Ta kill ya

I had planned on launching into a soliloquy on aging but thought better of it. Many of my friends got years or decades on me and are doing just fine. The reality is that I am hurtling towards my 53 year and with any luck should arrive at my destination round the sixth of November.

No matter how you choose to slice it, 53 ain't exactly a spring chicken. Even after a solipsistic lifetime playing the lead role in the Sommers version of Lost Boy of Wonderland I have to admit that the body is breaking down faster than a Chevy Vega and I am sporting a new ailment about every full moon.

I saw my neighbor's Mom yesterday, first time in about a decade and she gasped at how the six gray hairs on my temple now have a forest of silver companions. Hairs regularly sprout from strange places on my face, got a long one that exudes from the side of my nose. Ears, eyebrows and nostrils require regular deforestation. My high school weight of 135 has not exactly doubled but is now in double XXL territory.

My body, which I will only view in the mirror with a straight on tangential orientation, has seen more scars then Joan River's plastic surgeon. Double inguinal hernia with hydroseal and perforation, three knee operations (both knees), kidney cancer twice, sinus surgery, adult asthma, Chronic Active Hepatitis (three times), Acute allergic rhino sinusitis, Mitral Valve heart repair, bladder cancer, ureter cancer, shoulder muscle tear, heart attack, high blood pressure and enlarged heart. What the fuck is left? Have I forgot anything?

Big Dave came down for his birthday and I fell ass over teakettle playing frisbee golf with him and now am dealing with a soft tissue injury in my right ankle that is morphing into plantar fasciitis. If I can't look forward to more ailments in my seriously declining years, what do I have to look forward to?

My last surgery left a big hump on my left side at the kidney site. Imagine it is scar tissue and whatnot but I look a bit like Igor in Young Frankenstein, except the hump stays on my left side and doesn't move around so much.


Fifty two has its advantages and disadvantages. I think you stop needing to pollinate every flower at some point and just appreciate the flower. When I was a wealthy and cocky real estate developer, I had so much drive. Needed to win, needed to dominate. I was very fortunate but not really necessarily ever satiated. Some of my friends have told me that I became much nicer after the crash and the downhill slide. Now I have a great wife and great friends, and they are the most important things in my life. And I manage to get by.


We did a fair amount of eating, cavorting and imbibing this weekend and it was pretty glorious. When Brigitte and I have a few pops, we usually start singing and this weekend was no different. We found ourselves at the pub for bloody mary's in the late afternoon and met some younger fellows who just knew that we were liberals and wanted to caution us about Obama and the evils of marxism. How did these kids get so reactionary? Is it because there is no more draft? Did you ever notice that there are no more war photos or even coffin photos shown any more, war is now such a nice, hygienic affair.


I drive to San Francisco tomorrow for various assignations and then a short trip to see my father. Next week finds me driving to New Mexico for a few weeks so blog transmissions might prove spotty. Not that I have been in a loquacious mood anyway.


Leslie and I were invited to a tequila tasting party and dinner tonight courtesy of Delos Eyer and his La Caseta restaurant. We dined and sipped out on the patio with an interested group of fellow tequila aficionados. It was actually very fascinating. A tequila distiller and expert named Tom Estes spoke on the finer points of the distilled spirit and gave us a history and education of the different types - Tequila area, Highland varieties, apellations, tequila terroir, etc.. We drank tequilas with aftertastes of caramel, lemon, anise, grapefruit, all sorts of different hints. We had neutral tequilas like patron and heavily flavored tequilas. Forward tequilas and tequilas that nestled in your throat. Smooth clear concoctions and unfiltered thick nectar. We were served wonderful food courses in between the anejos and reposadas. The distiller makes a very young tasting Ocho tequila that was sophisticated and delicious. Our favorite might have been the Don Julio. I forgot to bring the list back. Will edit tomorrow if time permits. The food was simply divine. Grilled pineapple soaked in agave, little mexican street tacos, quesadillas, delicious ceviche. If you get a chance to go to one of his tastings, do so.

We even had a local Fallbrookian graciously pour some of his own special vintage of tequila that he is working on in Mexico. A dark butterscotch tequila that would be perfect with dessert. I come away from the evening with both a nice buzz and a deeper appreciation for the agave nectar. Salud!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pato Banton - Fallbrook 7/24/10

Pato Banton was a gas last night. Thank you Julie Reeder, for producing this show. A great mellow crowd of all ages and races, all having a great time during a beautiful Fallbrook evening. To snag a performer this good for our little town - amazing. Unfortunately the other bands on the bandstand at the old Elder House went over and Pato had to cut his show short but it was really magical and we had a great time with our friends. Very tight reggae and ska with a nice horn session and a wiz lady keyboardist.

Afterwards we all headed over to Trupianos for wine and food and closed the place down singing at the top of our lungs. Special night.

Pato says that he will come back. Do not miss him next time!

Blue Heron Gallery

My Blue Heron Gallery website is down and I don't know when it will be up again. I paid a company in Colorado many thousands of dollars to create a site that looked good but was not really functional. It was based on a Foxpro database program which gave it some neat networking features but left me unable to modify it when I went all Mac. So stuff got hopelessly out of date.

When I get the bucks, I will cobble something new together. If you are looking for the gallery, it is located at 113 N. Main Ave in Fallbrook, CA Phone - 760-731-9355 Hours are 11 to 5, Thursday through Saturday. by appointment.

I carry a very nice collection of paintings, prints, furniture, silver, ceramics and more with an emphasis on Early California and southwest artists from 1890 to 1950. Hope to see you soon.

click on this link to see new acquisitions.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Insectoid Visitor

Leslie and I were guests at the lovely DeLuz estate of Brigitte and Morgan last night. Their wonderful friend Roz was in from Atlanta and they set out a sumptuous spread, as usual. We dined in the twilight outdoors and everything was going just swimmingly until the distaff hostess decided to shock us all by jumping into the pool fully clothed!

She had neglected to remove her cell phone from her pocket and we watched horrified as she was electrocuted by the small electric charge. After we finished our entrees somebody called the fire department but alas, it was already too late.

In any case, when life gives you lemons you have to make lemonade so we all kept our game faces and smiles on and made it a memorable night anyway. After all, these sorts of things happen.

Leslie found this bizarre creature on the sidewalk of the residence. At first I thought it was a bug but the specimen was at least 4" to 5" long and I am thinking either space invader sent on an earthly recon mission plotting alien takeover or a late pleistocene holdout that has been surviving under the radar. Something that branched off from the pterodactyl twig, I would hazard. He crawled up my pant leg and eventually upon my hand and made a strange whirring electronic noise. I set him down on a rock and saw that he was still struggling to ambulate at least a half hour later. Probably not yet acclimated to earth's gravity.

Anybody ever seen one of these babies? What in the hell is it?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Masters of War

Daniel Schorr, Rest in peace

“I consider my presence on the (Nixon) enemies list, a greater tribute than the Emmys list.”
Daniel Schorr

Daniel Schorr, one of the most courageous journalists of our time, has passed away at the age of 93.

Schorr was a boy born in the Bronx to a Russian emigre family. He grew up poor and fatherless. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School and bagged his first story at the age of 12, an account of a woman falling out of a building.

He went on to become a protege of the great Edwin R. Murrow and eventually became the Moscow Chief for CBS in the 1950's.

After a 23 year stint with CBS, Schorr went on to a distinguished career for both CNN and NPR. He won three Emmys for his coverage of Watergate.

He was a thorn in the side of the Nixon Administration, much of the wrath for his role in pipelining the secret House Pike Commission Report on CIA abuses including political assassinations to the Village Voice newspaper. After congressional and FBI investigations, he was forced to walk the plank at CBS.

Schorr had one of the classic voices in radio. Every time I heard him I knew that I was getting the unvarnished truth. In my opinion, he dug deeper than any of his peers in rooting out the real story. A newsman, cut from a different cloth. A voice we could always trust to get us a deeper level of understanding of any issue.

This man will be greatly missed.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010


macro kingdom from clemento on Vimeo.

Lenny Bruce


I have had new neighbors move in recently. They are opening an art gallery and craft workspace next door for returning veterans. The name of the venture is Artiscape. The principles in the non profit 501 C-3 are Michael McCormick and John Graffio. A link to their website.

Here is their mission statement:

Artiscape's mission is to provide service members an environment to explore and create via artistic projects of any scope. This mission will be accomplished by various programs, including our "Artist in Residence" program.

Artiscape's goal is to help veterans and active duty military adjust to civilian life. The stress of returning from combat is a well documented phenomenon that has afflicted soldiers from every conflict throughout history. Artiscape's programs will provide a place and an environment for active duty military and veterans to engage their minds, hearts and spirit in a peace giving way. We hope these programs will be available to service members no matter where they serve or live.

I wish these guys the best. I know three people in town working on base with PTSD returnees and this could prove to be a great outlet for them, maybe a place to decompress. It's nice to have somebody occupying a space that has lain dormant for too long.

Interestingly neither Director is himself a veteran, but Michael's father came back from his war time experience somehow "changed" and this seems to be dedicated to his memory. I have had some doubts as to the willingness of macho soldier types to engage in this kind of pursuit but they seem to be have a lot of folks bustling about and I may have been wrong. At least I hope so. I am looking forward to their success in this admirable venture. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mean Old World


Cassandra - Evelyn De Morgan 1898

Never forget that in any given situation, there are more stupid people around than smart ones... Ken Kesey

I am suffering from a bit of writer's block. There ain't much to add to the mix right now that is cheery or upbeat. I don't want this blog to be a place where fellow depressives merely go to catch a buzz. There is plenty of that everywhere. But be forewarned: this is dark monday.

Cassandra Κασσάνδρα, "she who entangles men"was a greek lady who was granted the gift of prophecy by Apollo, with the proviso that she would never be believed. A real killjoy at parties, I suspect. The story goes that this beautiful daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba spent the night with Apollo and that his pet temple snakes licked her ears clean, giving her the power of prediction, the power to speak with animals and the ability to "hear the future." She rejected the god's advances and he placed a curse on her, leading to my long held belief that the gods are not to be trusted.

She foresaw the fall of Troy, where she was raped by Ajax the Lesser, and finally killed by Agamemnon's wife Clytemnestra, an act that she saw coming. Sort of like Rod Steiger in The Illustrated Man.

Ajax and Cassandra - Solomon Solomon - 1886

I have had a lot of older people coming by the gallery that are in really dire straits. People in their 60's and 70's that are losing their houses. People of all ages that can't find work.

A woman came by trying to sell some lovely silver last week whose close friend will soon be out in the street. She had never missed a mortgage but had been convinced to get an equity loan a few years ago. The loan company decided that the loan was now worth more than the home and she is out. Evicted. A woman who had made every payment. Pushing 80. When she complained to the loan company the woman on the other end of the telephone told her to "stop whining."

Republicans, with the help of one misguided and traitorous Democrat, Ben Nelson, have filibustered the funding of continued unemployment benefits to the many Americans who find themselves out of work and needing relief. They cast the unemployed as selfish freeloaders intent on gaming the system.

These politicians, in their palatial suites, that dine with fine silver and linen, with their fancy health insurance packages furnished by the American public, are so out of touch with the pain that exists in America today. Can't make omelets without breaking a few eggs, they are desensitized to the anguish that resides in their districts.

I am not a christian, but I am continually told that we live in a christian country. I am not an expert on the subject but I harbor some doubts.

Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matt:25)

What would the man from Nazareth think about the behavior of his flock? Or that section of the flock that considers themselves the duly anointed bearers of his message?


I just came back from a visit to Silvergate, one of the expensive senior retirement homes in my town. A clean, cheerful place with uniformed orderlies wheeling folks around breathing their last few breaths of life in the most dignified way possible. Very expensive. I have my own premonition. I will not be one of those standing idly by waiting and knitting when Mr. John Death raps those final knocks upon my door.

Age fast approaches, for all of us, as long as we are in this earthly game. And it seems many are not content to wait. A man wearing body armour shot it out with cops in Oakland yesterday. His mother Janice Williams says that he was upset "the way Congress was railroading through all these left-wing agenda items. 

"I have no doubt it is him, he's been upset with the direction the country is going. ... He feels the people of this country are being raped by our government and politicians." Janice Williams said she kept the guns, which were locked in safe, because "eventually, I think we're going to be caught up in a revolution. He hasn't been able to get a job because he's an ex-felon and nobody will hire him," she said, adding that he was angry about his unemployment and about "what's happening to our country."

Momma feeds the criminal son a steady diet of right wing talking points and salts it with a dose of paranoia and you end up with a nice, living breathing, Manchurian candidate. Seems like there is a lot of suicide by cop and just plain suicide going on out there. People are getting too tired to fight. Many have lost their faith in their country and humanity in general. Perhaps if enabling mother had taken him to the woodshed a bit sooner he would not have ended up a habitual criminal.

June was the worst month on record for army suicides. Marine suicides are 24 in 100,000, the worst of any service branch. The nice Texas mayor did herself in the other day, taking a kid with her. Suicide is now the eleventh leading cause of death in America. Murder suicide pacts are now an every day occurrence, as is infanticide. Cheery blog, eh?


I guess the point is, if I have one, that people are surrendering hope. With all of our fancy electronic toys, there seems to be a dark foreboding across the land. We are certainly as divided as any time I can remember short of the sixties. Our politicians have failed us, our banks have raped us, our corporations have re-engineered our food, with an unhealthy dollop of growth hormone, and a chaser of pesticide resistant seed. They have fouled our waters and drastically changed our air. The thermosphere just underwent the biggest contraction in 43 years. A generally stupid electorate is so easily manipulated by those that would serve their corporate masters and aided and abetted in the crime by a willing Supreme Court.


Heavily armed Nazi stormtroopers are prowling the desert searching for illegals and in comments I saw, cheered on by their conservative cohorts.

If you got hope, I want some of your meds. And if you are not depressed, you are not paying attention.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Morality Police

As I love to sneeringly admit, my wife and I do not have a television, in fact we have been bereft of the blue cathode box for almost two decades.

I realize that this admission is practically un-American and beg your mercy for my omission.

Not having a television makes me somewhat of a foreign citizen in my own land. Never saw a Seinfeld, or House, or Law and Order, basically I am clueless about a lot of what passes for popular culture in this great land of hours. Would be a total washout on Jeopardy.

I try to make up for my cluelessness by watching television in hotels, mostly Nick at Night, TV Land and cartoons. When we were in Los Angeles the other day I watched C.O.P.S. or at least as much as I could stand of the program.

In the episode that I saw, these three porcine female cops stopped a car driven by a young brunette with a nose that resembled human buttocks who, camera thrust in face, was sucking down pieces of Popeye's Fried Chicken like an industrial strength vacuum cleaner. Her passenger was a black man. They seemed neither drunk, lewd or acting in any other unreasonable way. Appeared to be a couple of friends having fun.

The female driver explained that the man was a friend from work. He was evasive about his name and they discovered an outstanding warrant for him, but it was for some piddly ass offense.

The cops started in on the woman - what if they called her husband and let him know that she was unattended in a car with a black man. Gasp. Shudder. Miscegenation as we live and breathe. The driver looked nonplussed but you could tell that the lady officers were ready to hang a scarlet letter around her neck right then and there. Bigamist and a race mixer.

You can call me a paranoid alarmist but I think that if the right wing elements get their way in the next election, and it looks like they very possibly could, this country will steer so far right that George Bush will look like George McGovern. This kind of puritanical fascism might be the new order of the day. The cops can enforce the social mores of the good book, maybe get serious about the blue laws again. Read about a community in South Carolina that banned whistling and singing this week. Dancing is still a no no in many small towns. Let's put the Baptists in charge?

We do not appear to be alone in our new Calvinism. Similar tidal forces are now surfacing in Russia and Iran, where people are getting lengthy prison terms or worse for demeaning the popular god.

It was very strange to watch this episode of C.O.P.S. to say the least. Like it is any of their fucking business.

Mose Allison

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday warbling

Mel Gibson thinks that he deserves to be blown before he burns his girlfriend's house down. How does one even begin to sort out the proper etiquette for this type of conundrum? Okay Mel, but you will have to let me net the goldfish out of the tank and give me a minute to pack a suitcase, you sure you have matches? Do I have time to clean up?


postscript 7.15.10
Leslie, Renee and I decided that this is the breakout performance that will finally get Mel that deserved Oscar.  We will redesign the statue so that a fair maiden is kneeling in front of the Oscar figure.


The evil Yankee overlord, George Steinbrenner, is dead. The shipping magnate was pardoned by Reagan in 1988 for his conviction on charges of obstruction of justice and conspiring to make illegal contributions to President Nixon's 1972 reelection campaign. Steinbrenner's slap on the wrist guilty plea brought a $15,000 fine and a ban from baseball that lasted nine months.

I had lunch with friend "R" today who said that it was wonderful that Steinbrenner and his ilk are dying off, the world will now be a better place. I won't go that far, not wishing to speak ill of the dead, but found the Yankee boss to be your basic loutish egomaniac.


Saw the excellent documentary Gasland on HBO when I was in Los Angeles. Gasland is Josh Fox's incendiary film on natural gas drilling and its effects on the environment. You can rent it on Netflix and it is certainly worth a peek. Won the special jury prize at Sundance this year.


"I want to look good when I'm dead." lunch companion R.


After three years as head judge for the Fallbrook Film Festival, I have been booted out on my ass, ostensibly so that the new directors of the Festival can put their own imprimatur on the event. They told me that they heard I was quitting and I said it was the first I heard of it but would resign if they desired. They did.

I have been told that it needs to be more "family friendly." I am guilty of screening films that may have been too liberal or secular for "the friendly village." We are discussing our own anti festival. It was good while it lasted. Best of luck.


My friend Dave Jacobs is getting ink for his kidney organ transplant program, Matchmaker. Great job, Dave.


These two GOP congressmen are lobbying countries that kill their native homosexuals to ban new NGO International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission. Any bets as to when these two will be forced to come out of the closet?


Residents of Beatrice, Nebraska are complaining of a partially nude mannequin in a store window. Police were forced to paper over a window. Get all the lurid details here. Next we will be suing Barbie for obscenity, another vaginaless icon forced to curb her prurient interests.


I made a democratic political contribution during the last election cycle. Now I am being inundated with weekly form letters from Gore, Biden, Plouffe, Obama et al. regarding the imminent breakdown of western civilization as we know it. You know, please send money. I stopped reading this crap long ago. This drive for internet saturation is totally annoying. From either party.


Judge Barry Moskowitz in San Diego is denying James Stacy the right to present a federal entrapment defense for his medical pot peddling arrest. Stacy wanted to show that he relied on the statements of President Obama and dutifully followed state law.  Moskowitz says that you can't rely on what a presidential candidate says:

As discussed in the Court’s prior order, a presidential candidate clearly is not
empowered to speak for the federal government regarding the application of federal drug
laws or any other matter. No reasonable person believes that campaign promises bind the
candidate in the event that he or she is elected. At any rate, the statements lack specificity
and do not make any representations regarding changing federal law to make the use,
cultivation, and distribution of medical marijuana legal.

Dianne Feinstein just lost the pothead vote too, with her anti-legalization stance. It is just a matter of time before a) there is a wave of sanity that overturns all this stupid and wasteful prohibition or b) we are in a total police state. I wouldn't take bets at the moment.


Hard to feel sorry for the people in Louisiana who cry on one hand for the lack of federal help in fighting the oil spill while simultaneously trying to stop a temporary moratorium on deep water drilling. If you want to live in a shithole you are welcome to it, my cajun friends. Don't whine to the rest of us about your choice of friends. Jindal is in a snit because he can't dredge up an area that experts fear will destabilize the outer islands. Hey Bobby, why not exorcise the spill?


Just like the Blues Brothers, Nevada Senate candidate Sharron Angle is on a mission from god.
"When you have God in your life ... he directs your path," Angle told the Christian Broadcasting Network in an interview posted on its website Wednesday.

Asked why she entered the race, Angle said "the reason is a calling."
"When God calls you he also equips you and He doesn't just say, 'Well today you're going to run against Harry Reid,'" the tea party favorite said.
In the Bible "Moses has his preparatory time. Paul had his preparatory time. Even Jesus had his preparatory time," the former legislator said, citing her years in public office as her preparation for the race.
"God knew all of this in advance," Angle added. "I don't know what's coming up tomorrow but I do know that He is there. He saw it and that He has provided a way of escape and a way for me to endure." 
God help us.


Over at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they came out today with a new platform for more tax cuts,  a cut in social security, more offshore drilling, privatize roads, log the national forest, and provide tax breaks for companies that move jobs overseas. And a pardon for Mel Gibson.


Got New York Stan's new book in today. "World gone wrong in the belly of the beast" indeed. Very professional job, excellent - no criticism whatsoever. Congratulations, Stan Schnier!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Shine on me, shine on you.

Pato Banton

Julie Reeder, the publisher of the Village News, asked me to help spread the news.

Reggae star Pato Banton is coming to Fallbrook July 24 for the Soul Roll Music Festival at the Elder House.

This awesome, first-time local performance will be preceded by five additional bands, including Social Green, Irusalem, LeperKhanz, Kingsland, and Better Chemical -- making for a full day of live music and fun, fun, fun.

All ages are welcome. A beer garden is available, and food from Pop 'n Mama's and the Rib Shack will include ribs, hamburgers, kettle corn, funnel cakes, smoothies, and more. Advance tickets are only $12 for the full day (available at the Village News office, 127 West Elder, in Fallbrook) and $15 at the door. Gates open at 11 a.m., and music begins at 12 noon.

Don't miss this exciting event under the oaks at the Historic Elder House in downtown Fallbrook! Go to soulrollexpo.com to pre-register, get more information, and see photos of previous Soul Roll events. 

Gates open at 11 am, but the music won't start until noon.

This sounds like a fun event. I am pretty sure that I and I will be able to attend. Please join me for a sun baked day of reggae in the Friendly Village.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Show me the way.

It has been a whirlwind weekend. I am in Los Angeles at the Westin Bonaventure with Leslie and we are running on fumes.  Last night the Vintage Motorcycle Show opened at the Fallbrook Center for the Arts, partially sponsored by my friends at Monster Energy Drinks. My compadre Jim Swan helped coordinate the show and brought a lot of important motocross bikes in. The show will be up for a month and is worth seeing if you like rare motorcycles, beautiful Harleys and Ducatis and bikes of every description.

We had a good time at the opening and I got a chance to get up close and personal with the lovely Monster Girls. We ducked out with our friends Morgan and Brigitte and were treated to a great sushi dinner at Yama.

After dinner, the group jumped in my van and drove out to Harrah's Casino in Rincon to see the double bill of Peter Frampton and Yes. It was such a beautiful drive through Pala and Pauma Valley, past miles of orange groves and ancient pepper trees. We finally approached the Harrah's monolith rising up out of the Rincon Valley. Harrah's most reminds me of a maximum security prison with its tall hotel breaking the visual harmony of the once pastoral setting.

We walked into the small outdoor venue through the pool area and checked out our fellow concert goers.  Leslie thinks that the average age was around fifty, I would say most of them are already getting a senior discount. We all looked pretty snazzy in our leather and nice threads, but were a bit out of the norm.

It was turning into a gorgeous summer night and Frampton opened the show right on time, before we had even found our seats in the bleachers. I was never a huge fan of Frampton when I was younger, when he made it big in the seventies, I was lost to the bluejean bands like the Dead or the Band, and always felt he was a bit too commercial. I was a fan of Small Faces and as I got more tolerant in my old age, I started appreciating his work in Humble Pie more and sort of became more tolerant.

I saw him backing Bowie on the Glass Spider tour, after he had faded out of view a little bit and was blown away by his musical proficiency. I remember watching play the guitar riffs on Fame and thinking about the irony of him falling off his perch at the top and into what was now pretty much musical obscurity.

I didn't know what to expect from Frampton last night but knew that we were going to have fun no matter what. Thought that we would hear some hits and some pyrotechnics and then get the main course with Yes.

Guess what, Frampton kicked ass. He had an easy stage banter and told the crowd that all of his equipment had been destroyed and then subsequently replaced after the recent floods in Nashville. He is going back to do a fundraiser for the gulf.

Frampton started off playing some slower jazzy stuff and I was blown away with the way he structured his songs in such a tasteful and musical way. Then he put the metal down and he never let up. He can play jazzy and he can grab the Les Paul and rip, he is just a tremendous player.

I saw a player with similar chops a few years ago, Jeff Beck, and pretty much hated the concert. It was all pyrotechnics with little emotional feeling or heart. With Frampton on the other hand, the music was still very relevant, and even more so for me, since I had never been a true believer. Excellent keyboards and second guitar player, improvisational jamming, even a new topical song attacking Wall Street greed. He played the Soundgarden song Black Hole Sun and totally nailed it, including some great, weird sonic touches.

The only downer in his set was when his son came out to sing a song with him that bombed like a fart in church. Frampton ended the evening with a blazing version of While my guitar gently weeps.

I turned to my mates after the set and asked if it was possible that Yes could hang and play with the kind of irascible energy that we had just witnessed? They certainly hoped so but alas it was not to be. We walked over to the pool and had drinks between sets. Attitude adjustment in the parking lot and ready for business.

Yes came out with a greatest hits medley. Very old guys playing compositional prog rock note for note like it sounded on the album. And unfortunately I could have just listened to the albums. It was like not a note had changed in 40 years and that is death for any artist. I know that it works for Mozart or Rachmaninoff but not for rock and roll. I remember when Yes was thought of as one of the consummate psychedelic bands in the mid seventies. I wonder if I could have mustered any fervent belief if I had been zonked out of my head?

The band is now fronted by Canadian Benoit David, a vocal ringer for the departed Jon Anderson. He reminds me of Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan and Leslie said she was expecting him to launch into a broadway show tune at any time. I figured that it would be curtains for the bands if his testicles ever dropped. Rick Wakeman has been replaced by his son, Oliver on keyboards. The fantastic bass player Chris Squire is still on board, but looks like a grizzled sailor from an old viking fleet. Howe is also ancient. The last time we saw the band 20 years ago, they had Trevor Rabin playing the second guitar and I found it more interesting. Howe played an acoustic number doing a travis picking thing that was just embarrassingly bad. He also had an annoying habit of having a roadie place another guitar in front of him at certain points in the concert so that he could be playing two guitars at once, as if that is ever enough? I was hoping that he could go for three.

After about 6 or 7 numbers we decided to call it a night. I think that it is great that these guys are still working, they have a fine library of work, it just didn't offer anything new for me. While Frampton sounded totally engaged, they were going through tired motions. One of the most annoying things were seeing the words Yes constantly floating around on the video screens, lest any one in the audience or the band forgot where they were.

We went to the cafe and had some monster sized desserts and coffee and drove back home. Harrah's is a super venue, small, intimate, pretty, with a natural bowl of hills behind the stage that made for good sound. Nice place to see a show. We got home at twoish. The alarm went off at six and we drove to Pasadena to meet a client at the Rose Bowl swap meet. He never showed. I found a nice little painting by Charles Partridge Adams and walked for miles.

Then Leslie and I headed over to Zankou chicken on Colorado, with their great humus and garlic paste and pickled turnips. Leslie had tarna, a marinated chicken and beef dish with tahini.

After lunch we went to the Huntington Gardens and walked the amazing landscape. Checked out the new chinese garden and the bonsai zen garden. We walked until our feet hurt and it was very hot. They were having a  Charles Rohlfs show at the Huntington that was wonderful. We also went to the Scott Gallery where we saw the same Allan Adler teardop teaset I have in my collection as well as some great Sam Maloof furniture. Sam and Allan were both good friend's of mine and their families loaned great stuff to the museum. I laughed when I saw that the Maloof's had lent them a yellow piece of Natzler pottery that I had once given to Sam on his birthday.  I had also sold a lot of paintings by the same artists that were hanging in the exhibits which is always a good feeling.

We are chilling, Les has an appointment in the morning with a vendor. I just got out of the rooftop pool. The show goes on.

Friday, July 9, 2010

ATT Scam Artists

I noticed that the computer has been really plodding along and decided to call up ATT and see why it is so dog gone slow.

After all, last year when the nice lady called and told me that they could upgrade my DSL speed for a nominal fee, I was so happy!

I called ATT this morning and we went over my router settings to make sure that those new neighbors weren't poaching my bandwidth. No problems there.

The rep guided me to the Speedtest site and apparently my connection was moving along at a snails pace, 600 k and 400k peak signal.  "Oh no," she said, "you should be at 1.5 to 3.5m. We are just going to have to get you a ticket number and send out a repair man."

About three hours later, the troubleshooter showed up at my door with a grin. "You should be running about 385k" he told me.

"Wait a second," I protested. "The nice lady on the phone said I should be running ten times faster."

"And I bet a nice lady sold you an upgrade about six months ago that promised all this speed, didn't they?"

I silently nodded my head.

"You can't violate the laws of physics, my friend. Your whole block can only go a maximum of 385k. The switching station is way over on Reche. They could easily put new cards in the box outside but they won't  upgrade it. You only get 10% of the signal strength that you were promised."

"But why didn't they tell me that on the phone? Why didn't they inform me of that when they took additional money all these months? Why didn't anyone admit that they couldn't deliver? Why, that's fraud."

He just smiled at me. He said that he adjusted something that would reduce the signal even further but allow me to use whatever signal I had more efficiently and wished me a pleasant day...

Suffice it to say, I am totally pissed about the whole matter. It is a corporate bait and switch and I have been played for a sucker. Rather than make capital improvements that would allow them to deliver decent service to my small town, they operate on the QT, hoping nobody will notice.

It's not really much different than getting shorted on money at the ATM, only we are dealing with bandwidth. But they own the equipment, the only game in town. And if we are too dumb to notice, well shame on us.

So check your speeds, reader and see if you too, are getting rear ended by these pirates. I am going to dash off a few letters, to the PUC and to ATT, not that they have a snowball's chance in hell of getting anything fixed. But I hate feeling like a shlemiel. Class action, anybody?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Opening Salvo

With the signing of LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, the Miami Heat have just lobbed a very serious shot at the Los Angeles Lakers hope for a threepeat.

The Heat have arguably assembled the most athletic threesome ever to play on the same team, with the exception possibly of the Showtime Lakers of Kareem, Worthy and Magic. Parish, Bird and McHale might have been a more effective unit, but they couldn't stand up to the new troika in terms of athleticism.

I do not think that the current roster of Lakers can hang with this Heat team. No matter who Manny, Moe and Jack are.

If Odom played to his potential every night, they would have a shot but he doesn't. He is fabulous one night and then he disappears. The Lakers have to find a top quality point guard. Fish, you were great, couldn't have done it without you but better to leave a year early...Jordan Farmar, I know that you are mishpucha but we need a Deron Williams, Chris Paul, Nash kind of catalyst. Get Nash for a year or two. Steve Blake? You think so?

The Lakers will certainly have the length if Bynum stays healthy, but when has he done that? Is he Sam Bowie? Or Greg Oden? Or can he have five or six productive years?

Shannon Brown just jumped out of the building, pulling an Ariza in search of gelt. Luke will always be a lunchpail tweener. Everyone counted out the Lakers before the playoffs last year, 5th or sixth best on ESPN's depth chart. Then Kobe Brant, the best basketball player since Magic, ripped his opponents throat out.

What is interesting about the move, which appears to be player driven, is that it may augur a whole new era where the players themselves play general manager and start stacking teams. I predict that the rich will certainly get richer and that it sucks to be Cleveland.

If the Los Angeles Lakers want to contend, Dr. Jerry will have to back away from the tables and secure a big time free agent. He doesn't have the horses or the cards right now.