Apex point - © Robert Sommers 2024

Monday, January 30, 2012


S.B. Postgame Notes

© Robert Sommers

It is sometimes said that people that oft trigger our most unpleasant reactions are those who most resemble ourselves. My dance with S started years ago, a relationship that has been characterized by swings between periods of love, camaraderie and deep empathy and equally intense periods of vicious hatred and savage venom. Like the vituperation you might show to a excommunicated family member or someone who knows exactly where to put the arrows in your softest underbelly. And vice versa.

The truth is that we are more alike on some strange level than either of us would like to admit, leaving the sexual narrative completely aside. Our lives and personalities were made out of the clay of west and south Texas, mine in the Rio Grande Valley, his in Matamoros. My name was Robert Fisher then, I had taken my stepfather's name when I was about five. My memories are of cotton fields and friends whose homes had dirt floors, nut farms and bits of broken glass on the small parapet walls of our little adobe in Las Cruces. Fishing for crawdads in the little sumps in front of the house, the Colonel next door hanging his deer next to our kitchen window. So dry the blankets would make sparks when you lifted them, lightning and thunder that would scare you to death, flies and swinging screen doors that you forgot to close at your peril.

The Colonel liked to leave his old truck running in front of the house in the twilight evenings, daring an interloper to try to steal it, he would be awaiting inside his darkened picture window with his deer rifle, in hopes of capturing a different type of game.

I don't know much about S's childhood, I don't know how similar or dissimilar it may have been to mine. I know that his rarified and special form has to be emblematic of a childhood that had a level of difficulty that equalled or exceeded my own. You toughen up or die or maybe you just mutate? Some of us are better at disguising our wounds than others. The indians have an old saying that "where you first put your feet will be your home forever." Sometimes it ends up being more like what you have to run from forever. I don't have total recall of my experiences back then, forgot what I was able to. Son of a missile expert who drank too much and beat us for sport, we were quite intimate with what poor was. Ate a lot of corn meal mush, sometimes for breakfast and dinner. We kids knew that our family was more than a bit abnormal.

Always in serious debt, life was a constant dash to escape the creditors, the principal one being the Speigel Catalogue Company. My mother had an unspoken rule that she seemed to live by, people were more important than things. And we never had any. Mom sewed a lot of clothes from the patterns they sent. She couldn't say no to anybody, at one time our little home in Cielo Vista had 13 people living in it. I will try to remember the names, Adelle, Don, Liz, Barbara, Robert, Buzz, David, Donna, Rusty, Gale, Johnnie, Pretam, Ralph. Our adopted sister Sherrie was married and stayed back in California. Plus the sheepdog, the cats and the great dane. Who ate a hell of a lot better than we did.

I still have a sad remembrance of the kids at school with the ringworm, they would shave their heads and put women's stockings on them, try to keep it spreading to the rest of us. I have a shifting twilight dawn memory of driving with my stepfather in the early morning through Alamogordo and pulling a mexican boy out of a burning sedan, saving his life in a memory that now almost seems fake.

We would drive the old plymouth through Mesilla and Anthony, T or C and Elephant Butte, a place my friend George's family would bring me fishing with my cheap Zebco reel. Don would sometimes drive me down two or three hours into Chihuahua, poorest place you could ever conceive. I remember helping him install an air conditioner in a house in the poorest slum or Colonia to provide respite from the grueling heat for the poor mexicans. We returned one day and there were at least 20 of the neighbors packed in the house, all seeking solace in the cool air during a killer heat wave. Only air conditioner in the whole slum. Don would take Buzz and I to Juarez for haircuts for a quarter. If you were lucky you would get a piece of chicle when they were finished.

Once a year we would all pile in and drive to Gallup for the Indian Pow Wow and Ceremonial, first time was 62 or 63. Gallup was wild and wooly back then, hundreds of drunks lying in the dirt streets, and even more all trying to simultaneously hop the freight train making its way through the town, hanging off every conceivable flange, opening and handle, some falling off. Gallup was known to have the longest trains you ever saw, you could sit for a long, long time at an intersection waiting to cross. Watched a blind indian sand painter paint a picture with the straightest lines you could ever see.

Don liked cheap whiskey, Old Crow and Old Grandad. He also favored Oso Negro, the clear industrial proof spirit with the plastic bear on a chain attached to the top that he would let us fight over. He would sometimes disappear into Mexico on a three or four day drunk and come back rolled, Mom having to pick up the pieces. She favored darvon and librium in those days, the more the merrier. It made for an interesting childhood, to say the least. They dressed me up in heavy black horn rimmed glasses, shorts, high black socks and my "church shoes." I remember the first time I came back to California people were pointing at me, laughing at the dark skinned, crewcutted, little kid that looked a bit like the alien child from My Three Sons.

We build an armor that gives us what we think is our best chance of emotional survival when we are tempered in such a furnace. I went my way and S went his.


This was a new show for both of us. When I saw that my booth was situated right next to theirs I shuddered. Because although we could vacillate between getting along and not getting along, when we choose to indulge in the latter, it can get overwhelmingly toxic. Imagine a family member who starts up the act and you know all their moves and it is like nails on the chalkboard. And truthfully my moves are equally grating. And I have, in the past, been less than an ideal gentleman concerning this couple, at times approaching and going over the line and being a complete asshole. We are a couple of junkyard dogs fighting over the very best bones and have the misfortune of having a very similar aesthetic.

This show started off with a very icy period, a minor territorial squabble where we pissed on the obligatory fire hydrants that defined our boundaries. T was caught in a nasty triangulation move between the two nasty old queens, castigated for talking to the enemy while work needed to be accomplished. Me taking passive aggressive pleasure in my semi innocent way at S's discomfort. After a brief period of horseshit, we all decided to get along and it was genuinely wonderful again. Friends. They helped take care of me when I was throwing up and coughing up blood. Couldn't have made it without them this week. I asked them why we always had to go through this snarly rottweiler, butt sniffing routine ever time but I guess that we do. Our personalities are both too big. Poor T.

One of their clients came by at the last minute and made my show in a big way. Bought the tea service for my price with a second left in the day. Taxes can be paid, vacations can be taken, all is right with the world again, well except for my bronchitis. I owe them many thanks.

I am going to try and be more civil with S and not be such a shit. After all, we were both constructed in the same crucible.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Don't you let that deal go down...

It didn't take long today for me to figure out that this show was turning into my own personal version of the Bataan death march. I have gone over my assorted aches and pains on this blog countless times ad nauseam; ankle, wrist, knee, heel, I get to add a couple new maladies to the list today. Today ranks up there with one of my toughest show days ever.

I guess I had my first inkling of how things were turning when I approached a familiar face I had seen sitting in the fancy black mercedes in the parking lot. When he entered my booth, I told him that I had seen him around on the circuit and I got a nasty snarl, asking me if I was a cop or something? I let him know that he could hit the road and he cordially wished me the same.

Anybody who has ever sat at a blackjack table knows that you can neither win or lose forever. I tried to tell myself that many years ago after losing 21 big hands in a row in Vegas, which included eight consecutive dealer black jacks. People ask, "Why didn't you get up from the table?" Those people are not gamblers my friends. A gambler knows that in the darkest disaster we are only one hand away from riding out the storm, with Lady Luck perched on our shoulder. But the other truth is that some times you just can't catch a card. Fickle fate conspires to thwart us amid dark lines of spiteful in-congruency.

My cold or flu or whatever it is just beat the shit out of me today. People no more wanted to enter the foreboding booth with the black cloud in the corner than they would have welcomed a new venereal disease. I couldn't stop hacking and coughing all day while I heard the ching ching of my neighbors' cash registers pouring salt into my wound. My temporal headache has been pounding all day like a randy jackhammer.

This is not the ideal time for me to get my teeth kicked in, it has been a successful month but I have leveraged like a mofo and my ass is dangling perilously close to the fire. Once again.

I see no purpose in giving you a complete blow by blow. There are two days left. I am running a fever and may have a bit of strep. I guess that it is conceivable that things could turn around somehow. I have to remember the Norman Mailer quote about minor defeats not necessarily turning into large transcendental collapses. But I feel like Casey Jones heading over the cliff. I want to get through the weekend without a total collapse. But maybe this is the trip my ticket gets punched?

I ended up throwing up in my hands several times near closing time at 6 o'clock, the tangelo I had eaten this morning presented neatly back in my cupped palms for inspection. Had made continual trips to the head for paper towels to catch the mucus that has now completely inundated my asthmatic lungs. Oh yeah, I forgot my asthma medication too.

I got out to my car and saw that a flock of pterodactyl sized geese had peppered it with ass grenades. I drove in the dark night to a gasoline station car wash, paid the high fee for gas only to find out that the car wash was broken. Went to Pollo Loco for chicken soup and had a woman screaming at her fat daughter behind me, normally I could tune it out but I just scrammed. Avoid unnecessary confrontation. You are having a bad trip. It will end one day. I promise. This could have been the day I went all Michael Douglas in Falling down.

I almost got hit leaving the parking lot and took the wrong turn and went north on the freeway to some dark street in Isla Vista. I stopped at a CVS to buy Nyquil and Sambucol and a mexican guy buying tequila took pity on me and let me scan his rewards card. I am obviously at the end of my rope.

I made it to the hotel got the key to the new room, and breathlessly confessed to stealing breakfast. I got to the new room and used the commode, which was broken of course, my tragic contribution listing like a beached italian cruise ship. I managed to jury rig the thing finally and empty the poor life boat and then proceeded to jump in the bath tub, which I found had a leak and covered the floor in an inch of water somehow. I could have changed rooms again but instead will take all of the cold medication I can muster, grind my teeth and grab my gideon's bible for an old fashioned winner take all lucha libre with jehovah or maybe one of his saintly minions.

At some point, not having yarrow sticks, I found an online i ching site and got the hexagram about the wanderer with all of his possessions being holed up in a hotel and the importance of keeping my nose clean. 56 to 50 with the second line changing. So I guess next up is the cauldron, or the frying pan. Goody. Can't wait to see what happens next...I'll be the guy hiding underneath the covers.

Weekend up the coast

In a perfect world, we would all be living in Santa Barbara. Fabulous weather, gorgeous palms, the azure waters of the pacific resting off of our port side. Handsome children with exceptional confirmation and straight teeth, life's most pressing concerns might be perhaps deciding between a few volleys of tennis or a trip to the day spa. Alas, I must blame my lack of the necessary je ne sais quoi to settle into the ancestral home of the Chumash on my parents for not birthing me into the requisite tax bracket to permit my living in the custom in which I would like to grow accustomed.

Of course now it is not even enough to be filthy rich to live in these parts, now you have to be mega super rich, Oprah and Maria Shriver rich, two celebs who are regularly sighted in the pricey burg.

I am up here of course to do an antique show, a show with the lovely sobriquet of The C.A.L.M. Show. C.A.L.M. is a charity for abused kids. It is being held at the Earl Warren Showgrounds, with the cremé of my business peers. The waiting list for the show is 18 years, I was a last minute fill in.

I feel pretty good about displaying my wares to new clientele. It will all be fresh to them. The booth looks really good. Unfortunately I feel really awful, my throat is scratchy, I have a slight fever and I am worried about getting myself and others really sick. Not a lot I can do except try not to breathe and smile. No help so I will tough it out and hope for the best. As my friends are aware, I am no walk in the park when I am feeling lousy.

I am staying at the Holiday Inn and will switch rooms tonight so that I can get one with a bathtub. When I have a cold I go into a serious hot bath mode. The hotel is all right. I thought that the free breakfast buffet was amazing yesterday. Waffles, made to order omelets, fruit of every description. Quite the deal. I went back this morning and the server quickly handed me the bill for morning fare. Oops. Guess I dined and dashed. The old chew and screw. Will settle up.

I went out seeking chicken soup last night and on the recommendation of a security guard, found Rincon Bohemia near Hope Ranch. Maybe the worst chicken soup I have ever tasted. Tough chunks of fowl swimming in a crude broth of squash and potato. I downed it anyway.

Driving through Hope Ranch really gives you an idea of how the other half lives. Beautiful Spanish Revival mansions dotting the most spectacular golf course. Just idyllic. The Santa Ynez mountains to the east forming the border of what is sometimes called the American Riviera.


Will correspond as boredom sets in and the day and weekend progresses.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wasn't Born To Follow

Charlie Baty

The Little Walter harp show at the Belly Up was very cool. I am having problems with my right foot, plantar fasciitis I think and the pain became unbearable and I had to split halfway through. School night. Saw three or four of the harmonica acts, Hummel, Curtis and my favorite, Sugar Ray from Providence. John Mayall played the keys.

The highlight of the show was watching Charlie Baty on guitar backing everybody up. Late of Little Charlie and the Nightcats. A Birmingham native, the guy looks like he should be slogging steel in Pittsburgh, a dude you might find down at the thursday bowling league. I watched him play a 175 goldtop but heard he switched later to the Strat.

If you get a chance to see this guy perform, definitely check him out. Not flashy but understatedly brilliant.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why Newt's infidelity might be good for our country.

I couldn't let this one go by without posting it. Newt Gingrich is so darn hot that maybe there's just not  enough of him to go around. It's not his fault. Psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow published the following opinion on Foxnews.com the other day:
Newt Gingrich's three marriages mean he might make a strong president -- really.
Former Speaker of the House and Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich was attacked Thursday in an interview on ABC News by his second wife Marianne. She accused him of beginning an affair with his current wife Callista  while Marianne and he were still married (which Mr. Gingrich admits). She also accused him of lobbying her for an open marriage that would allow him to continue seeing Callista without getting divorced (a claim Gingrich denies).
Well, in any case, no open marriage was in the offing, and the Speaker married his current and third wife.
As I have written before for Fox News Opinion, I don’t think voters belong in a candidate’s bedroom. (Unless of course we are talking about Bill Clinton.) But the media can’t seem to help itself from trying to castrate candidates for the prurient pleasure of the public.
I will tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s personal history actually means for those of us who want to right the economy, see our neighbors and friends go back to work, promote freedom here and abroad and defeat the growing threat posed by Iran and other evil regimes.
First, one note on what Mr. Gingrich’s married life, including his history of infidelity does not mean: It does not mean that Mr. Gingrich would be unfaithful to the United States of America or the Constitution of the United States.
You can take any moral position you like about men and women who cheat while married, but there simply is no correlation, whatsoever—from a psychological perspective—between whether they can remain true to their wedding vows and whether they can remain true to the Oath of Office. (Translation, you should be able to break a marriage vow and lie to your spouse without people making any spurious judgements about your lack of moral character. Cheating on your wife, as everybody knows, is different.)
I want to be coldly analytical, not moralize, here. I want to tell you what Mr. Gingrich’s behavior could mean for the country, not for the future of his current marriage. So, here’s what one interested in making America stronger can reasonably conclude—psychologically—from Mr. Gingrich’s behavior during his three marriages:
1) Three women have met Mr. Gingrich and been so moved by his emotional energy and intellect that they decided they wanted to spend the rest of their lives with him. (Mr. Irresistible.)
2) Two of these women felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married. 
3 ) One of them felt this way even though Mr. Gingrich was already married for the second time, was not exactly her equal in the looks department and had a wife (Marianne) who wanted to make his life without her as painful as possible. 
Conclusion: When three women want to sign on for life with a man who is now running for president, I worry more about whether we’ll be clamoring for a third Gingrich term, not whether we’ll want to let him go after one. (sound of jaw dropping on floor.)
4) Two women—Mr. Gingrich’s first two wives—have sat down with him while he delivered to them incredibly painful truths: that he no longer loved them as he did before, that he had fallen in love with other women and that he needed to follow his heart, despite the great price he would pay financially and the risk he would be taking with his reputation.
Conclusion: I can only hope Mr. Gingrich will be as direct and unsparing with the Congress, the American people and our allies. (The country needs an irresistible philanderer in office, for the good of the nation.)
If this nation must now move with conviction in the direction of its heart, Newt Gingrich is obviously no stranger to that journey.
5) Mr. Gingrich’s daughters from his first marriage are among his most vigorous supporters. They obviously adore him and respect him and feel grateful for the kind of father he was.
When I want to know who in a marriage (or, for that matter, a series of marriages) is the one who actually was aligned with their best interests, I never dismiss evidence of who the children gravitate toward and admire. In this case, they have judged the father who left their family, then remarried twice. And they judge him 10 out of 10. I only hope my own children love me and respect me as much when they are adults.
So, as far as I can tell, judging from the psychological data, we have only one real risk to America from his marital history if Newt Gingrich were to become president: We would need to worry that another nation, perhaps a little younger than ours, would be so taken by Mr. Gingrich that it would seduce him into marrying it and becoming its president. (This sentence alone should be enough to get the good doctor's licensed removed and investigated by the Medical Board. Exactly what medical school did he supposedly attend? Fawning brown noser non pareil. Perhaps he needs to see his own shrink) And I think that is exceedingly unlikely.
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team. Dr. Ablow can be reached at info@keithablow.com. His team of Life Coaches can be reached at lifecoach@keithablow.com.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Jimmie Rodgers

Long Strange Trip

I think that the Republican nomination is shaking down perfectly for Newt Gingrich. The way the cosmos is aligning with the primary trip to the south. He will nail Florida. The damage the candidates will inflict on each other when they reach near parity will be deafening and maybe fatal to each of them.

The former speaker is arguably more malevolent but he is also assuredly smarter than Mitt. I mean malevolent in an evil sort of "let's pull the wings off of bugs" way.

All this Cayman Islands offshore talk might be upsetting Romney's chances with the rubes. I thought Newt was dead a few weeks ago but this thing could be a toss up now. I am sure that the thought of Newt as a GOP nominee and target has Axelrod and Plouffe creaming their jeans. Just wait for the guy to say something stupid and implode. What's the under?

Monday, January 23, 2012


Very wonderful to see Doc, arguably the world's greatest flatpicker, playing an alternating bass line thumb pick style. He named son Merle after Merle Travis and he shows his absolute mastery here of the Travis picking style. He is playing with old partner Jack Laurence in this clip.

Walter's Jump


Tommy's RG Board
I know that I am an incessant name dropper but I need to share this anyway.

One of the great joys of my life was developing a close relationship with one of my artistic heroes, the late Rick Griffin. Rick was brilliant and like a god to me, a keeper of secrets deep and vast who had a higher alignment with the cosmos than I could even conceive.

Our relationship had ups and downs, dangerous to get to know your heroes, but I loved and respected the man.

Fast forward to yesterday. I'm at the show and a friend walked up, an ex girlfriend to another old friend.
"This is Tom, Robert." "Hi Tom." I looked at a guy about my age or a bit younger, straight, white hair, an older guy. Seasoned the way Encinitas surfers tend to season. "You guys have something in common. Tommy is a deadhead. He's gone to over a hundred shows." I grumbled something nasty about not gaining entry into deadheaddom until at least 200. Tom volunteered that he was friend's with one of the artists. "Which one," I asked, rather slowly? "Rick Griffin," he says. I said that we had that in common and we tried to sound each other out on the when's and where's. Pre Miles, christmas tree. Aurora. Check.

It was at that point that I looked at him and something sort of clicked. "Tommy," I asked? He looks at Deb sheepishly, "They used to call me Tommy." Tommy, the little brown haired grommett who hung out with Jose and rode waves with Rick and was always around Rick's scene. "Tommy, I says, you were this kid man, look at your silver hair now, talking about your grandkids." He said, "Look at you, you put on a lot of weight man. I remember you in the fancy BMW."

We both shared a laugh. It is strange running into somebody that you haven't seen since you were a kid. Things change. Great to see Tommy and hope to see him again.

© Rick Griffin

Jump In The Line (Shake Senora)

Manny G sends this one over:

Perfect day for Odetta. My parents would blast this on weekends. Along with Harry Belafonte. Our friends thought that we were sure weird. But you know what it sounds freaking great. You need some good ol Harry B.


Soup Day and Redemption

© Lena Leichtling
My friends Ron and Lena are on an extended trip throughout asia and posted this picture of a Bagan family in Myanmar.

Relations and the general situation in Burma have been improving of late and forgive me if I attribute the thaw to the presence of my wonderful friends in the country.


I am just unpacking from my show in Del Mar, which was pretty lackluster. Had a lot of interest, just not a lot of people wanting to spend high dollar money right now and I can't say that I blame them. I marshaled on and did my best to turn chicken sh*t into chicken salad. Met a lot of nice folks and who knows what might happen down the road.

Phil from Palm Springs rose up once again and kept it from being a total disaster as did Dennis and Bob. It is strange, objects and art seem to get an old, stale smell on them. Everything bought in the last two weeks sold which just tells me I have to keep getting out there. People can sense"fresh."


I got a last minute phone call yesterday asking me if I had any interest in doing a show in Santa Barbara this week. Somebody dropped out. I said, "What the hell why not?" So I will spend the next two days unpacking and packing again, unfortunately in the rain. Will be showing at the C.A.L.M. Antiques Show at the Earl Warren Fairgrounds. Anybody in the area should stop by and say hello. I bought an outrageous and very special Georg Jensen tea set that I will be exhibiting. Should be interesting.


Tonight the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach is having a tribute to harmonica great Little Walter which will include John Mayall and Mark Hummel. I am going with my friend Ricardo from Thailand, who is here trying to put things together after the passing of his mom. Nothing better than the blues on a cold rainy day.

Roy's dad is in the home stretch as well and we send them both our best wishes.


The talented artist Igor Koutsenko has a broad selection of his wonderful work currently displayed at the Fallbrook Library.


I have so much to say that I better not say anything until I have time to collect my thoughts and do things properly. I will say bravo to the SCOTUS for shooting down the warrantless GPS constitutionality.


Tracy gave me this poem to share by the late James Broughton (1913-1999):

This is It
and I am It
and You are It
and so is That
and He is It
and She is It
and It is It
and That is That

O it is This
and it is Thus
and it is Them
and it is Us
and it is Now
and Here It is
and Here We are
so This is It


My only thought is, is it?


Had a client tell me that the blog was "much ado about nothing" yesterday. One of the most dismissive reactions I have received to date. She tried to be nice but you could tell there was no traction. Can't please everybody. Maybe I have to step up my game?


Sheebz says that she is catching lots of errors on the Blast, both spelling and grammar. Spelling I understand as I am a lazy and unorthodox typist. Grammar, I have my doubts. Perhaps she is mistaking some alliterative affectation of mine for mere garden variety ignorance? Let me know...


I had a friendly intellectual argument with my buddy Ken Seals, who is a longtime outstanding photographer and teacher and just won a major award from a professional photographer's group. We were shooting in the foundry last year and Ken said that it would be improper of me to use this photograph in an exhibition we were having:

Redemption © Robert Sommers

Ken's point was that this was somebody else's work. This is a photograph I took of one of Christopher Pardell's base forms for his bronze sculpture. I call it redemption, the pained look toward heaven and the pierced needles.

I think that this is why I consider myself more artist than photographer. Artists are more comfortable utilizing "found" objects. I love mannikins and puppets and doll parts. I was looking conceptually, Ken was seeing it in a different way entirely. I was taking a picture of the eggs, not the omelet.

It is an interesting argument. At the furthest extension, one would think that those that held this view would never want to photograph buildings or architecture as they are also somebody else's creation.

Seattle Prow © Robert Sommers
Ricardo sends this over:

Jokes of the proper kind, properly told, can do more to enlighten questions of politics, philosophy, and literature than any number of dull arguments. -Isaac Asimov, scientist and writer (1920-92)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ian and Sylvia

Orwell gets cheaper

NPR has a very interesting tech podcast today with John Villasenor of the Brookings Institute. The piece is titled "Technological Innovations Help Dictators See All."

Apparently with the price of data storage dropping, your typical autocracy can now not only listen to all of your conversations but archive the conversations for perpetuity. The cost of recording all the communication transmissions of a small country with a population of 15 million for a year? About $750 per year. Give this one a listen.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Del Mar

"We just love the paintings in your booth. We come to visit it every show. It's like a museum. Don't let anyone buy them."

Madam, I think there is very little chance of that.

Johnny Otis

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Trespass Parade

Interesting anarcho/artist site that sells funny stuff. Wear them to your next occupy gathering.

Masters Of War

Jive ass wednesday

I have 17 minutes to write something intelligible. Then I take off to do an antique show at the Del Mar Fair. I have very low expectations that can practically only be exceeded by whatever commercial reality comes my way. I decided to throw a wrench in and go more modern and abstract, try to hook a few kids. Maybe shoot my self in the foot but will mix it up. Probably won't write for a couple days at least.


Somewhere in Hollywood is a body looking for its head.


Signore, I a trippededa into the boat...


Relative to increased tensions with Iran and our Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, I had a vision of Obama as Pacino talking with Tom Hagen - "Sorry Leon, we need a war time consigliere. You are going to run the operations in Vegas." Panetta doesn't seem like the swaggering macho type. No Condoleeza.


Today, Wikipedia, an organization I financially support and respect is blacking out as are several other websites. The Blue Heron Blast is not blacking out, being a fair and balanced blog that strives to understand all points of view. SOPA had some very chilling and freaky potential ramifications, depending on how it would be utilized. Potentially this blog could be shut down for running Youtube videos. But why not take your issue up with Youtube? Why screw with a little guy like me who can't afford adequate legal representation and would crumble if you merely blew at him?

I believe in intellectual property rights. The idea that everything on the net should be free is ludicrous. The anarchist assholes at anonymous once again prove their immaturity by going after SOPA advocates. If anonymous is involved, I am going the other direction. But isn't it funny that Pro SOPA Rupert Murdoch is shaking his fist at Silicon Valley, a guy who's newspapers have this long history of tapping people's phones? A guy who couldn't figure out an opportunity like MySpace.


I see that the cyber war is now on between Israel and its mideast opponents.I believe I know who I will put my money on in that battle.


The Tebow story is over for this year. Guess that god didn't really love him enough. Rick Perry is also on the verge of withdrawing from the race. He doesn't blame god for his failure, and said the experience has made him a better christian. Bully for Rick, I actually have found myself agreeing with the guy several times recently and he would be my favorite candidate to have a beer with.


Jesus didn't do real well in the Supreme Court this week either. They refused to take the Forsyth County case where the appeals court had ruled against the North Carolina community for overtly sectarian prayers in its county commission meetings.

The federal appeals court ruling held that the predominantly Christian prayers at the start of Forsyth County commission meetings violated the First Amendment's prohibition on government endorsement of a particular religion.


I live in a town with a lot of marines. I have drank with many of them on occasion down at the Moose Lodge and am proud to call many former marines my friends. They are by in large very proud of their service and do not fit the standard cartoon caricature at all. Mostly they enlisted as poor kids from the country who needed to catch a break.

I was thinking about the urine incident and some of the responses I got from my post. My own brother went after me. And I got to thinking. We give 18 year old kids a gun, send them halfway around the world to kill people and then we pretend that it won't affect them emotionally. But it does. I have three friends who work on base with PTSD patients. These are humans, fighting a sometimes unseen enemy, mostly scared shitless and definitely not robots. They get affected. Who wouldn't? Maybe I would have done worse.

I remember my marine friend Tony, who has gone back to Nebraska, drunk after retirement and seemingly incapable of fitting into society. I remember him looking me in the eye and screaming at me, with tears in his eyes, "Did I know what it was like to have to shoot and kill another human being." I did not.

We need to be very careful before we make flip judgements about "crusading baby killers." Very hard to go through what they go through and not get any on you. These marines are more like you and me than you might think.

Foggy Notion - Velvet Underground

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Town

Fallbrook is having a moody, drizzly holiday. It looks like a cross between a Norman Rockwell and a Guy Wiggins painting today. The flowering pears are beautiful against the peeved gray skies.


Monday this and that...

This is a low resolution shot of the MLK Memorial that I took in the fall after the grand opening. I don't have a vote but personally feel that the hubbub about the paraphrased quote is misplaced and don't have a problem with it.


I have the Del Mar Antique show this week. My booth is right next to the door and I get great visibility, all the cold air and barbeque smoke wafting in all day. Today I am coming down with a cold. Should make for an interesting week. Watch for my bitchiness quotient to go through the roof. If there is no business you may want to keep me away from tall buildings and sharp instruments.


I have been pondering the notion of friendship of late. Being an itinerant drone missile brat in my youth, moving from one test base to another ( Edwards to White Sands and in a convoluted way to Pt. Magu) I went to a lot of different schools. This had advantages and disadvantages. The advantage is that people didn't have a long time to build a dossier of infamy on you as often happens in a small town. If you found that a particular part of your character drove people nuts, you could tinker with the presentation and re tailor yourself at the next stop.

The disadvantage or the principal one is that you got used to cutting contacts with your friends. Serious abandonment issues.  Perhaps because of this, you witness a near pathological desire to maintain connection with the important people in my life, including several thousand of you close friends out there.

Last week I had made several overtures to a rather standoffish but very talented photographer to join my Fallbrook Shutters group. She made an interesting comment. She had a handfull of friends and you didn't get to join up easily. She said that she didn't pick names out of a phone book. I respect that. I am not so picky and can always use a new friend.

The reason I bring the whole issue up is that I have a friend, or let me rephrase that, I have an acquaintance that I like very much whom I have always considered a friend in the three or four years that I have known him. A college professor of greek and latin, last year he let me know that I was a typical follower of Plato and that he was from the other side, an Aristotelian. We made an agreement to not let this philosophic divide get in the way.

Yesterday he let me know that Aristotle believed in three types of friendship; friendships of utility, i.e. you are my "friend" because of that which you can provide for me, friendships of pleasure and virtuous friendships, the most exalted variety. These are all laid out in his book, Nicomachean Ethics.  A friendship of utility is the most shallow type of friendship, a friendship of pleasure might be what you could ascribe your relationship with the boys at the pub and a friendship of virtue the rare friendship that wishes the best for another person even though you gain nothing from it personally. Some psychologists are of the mind that even our most altruistic acts are performed because of some selfish motive, wanting to feed our ego's in some way or have the world look at us in a certain way. Almost impossible to do anything nice these days without looking like a liar or a marxist. Ayn Rand would be so happy.

I don't want to dive too much into old Aristotle but I was a bit startled when this good person that I call a friend said that our relationship was maybe moving out of a friendship of utility into one of the more exalted stratas. Because I sure would hate to think that any of the people that I honestly call my friends can accuse me of doing so for pure personal convenience.

Anyway, I am happy I am moving up on the list. That's cool.


The Grand Tradition in Fallbrook had its first Foodie Night on Saturday. I wasn't going to go at first but I did. Faro Trupiano from Trupianos did an italian food cooking demonstration. Fallbrook Winery's Ira Gourvitz paired some of his award winning wines with the four course meal.

I have some small standing in our quaint little town as a person who knows his way around a knife and fork and thought that I should go. The event sold out and was even oversold at $65 per head. I sat at a table with a bunch of my best friends of both pleasure and virtue.

Food was mixed, event was great. Nice that everyone could get together and support a feast. Surprised at how many people I didn't know. Everyone learned something. Faro's great restaurant bread can't stand being out of his restaurant and got soft and mushy. Needs crust. I learned that cabernet sauvignon can be served with dessert. Who knew? Although I admittedly wasn't crazy about the placement. Wines were pretty good throughout the night.

Meal started with Pasta Fagioli infused with an herb sachet. I was at the wrong seat and had to crane the neck around to watch the cooking show. People that have grown up around these parts need their food spicy from too many hot chiles eaten in their lifetime. The soup lacked any punch. Might have been an easy save with some cracked red pepper. That segued to a really nice dish, Arroncini, deep fried risotto balls stuffed with ground beef and pancetta. Very tasty. We had torre filet mignon with a marinated vegetable sauce that was less successful, mine a bit cold. It is pretty hard to serve 80 plus plates at the same time and nail the timing. Dessert was a panne cota.

It was a nice night and will only get better. Neat social gathering, looking forward to the next attempt.


We have been swamped with a plague of rabbits for the last two years. The whole area. We don't have a dog anymore, might fix that next week, so my front yard is pretty much a warren. As I opened my gate this morning, a huge coyote trotted by with a coney in his mouth.

The huge rabbit population has seemed to give rise to an equally big predator population. The coyotes are around in large numbers and the bobcats sightings are off the charts. Haven't seen a mountain lion in a couple of months. But I am seeing the bobcats almost daily. Saw a fawn colored bobcat kitten the other day. Leslie saw it a bit later than I did and tried to coax it to her car. I watched the dark parent scale a six foot fence like it was nothing, touching the top and swaying for a brief second before vanishing on the other side.

These guys are as savage as a bunch of souped up private equity venture capitalists. But the difference is they only kill when they are hungry, not merely for pleasure and they don't usually eat their victims alive.


I was going to do a little politics but will spare you. I am sure that you are grateful.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Subjective pop culture test #1

I don't usually rank anything. The best this, the best that...Robert Hilburn made a career out of it and it always bugged me. Consider this more of a goofy survey with no right answers. Like to get a read on my readership. Let's give it a shot.

1. Which band had a greater impact on popular rock music?
a. Steely Dan
b. Little Feat

2. Which guitar player had a greater impact on popular music?
a. Larry Carlton
b. Mark Knopfler

3. Name your favorite two Stones albums.

4.Who was your favorite Beatle?

5. Who was the bigger babe?
a. Barbara Eden
b. Wrangler Jane from F Troop
c. Donna Douglas
d. Maryann
e. Laura Petrie

6. What was your favorite Dylan period?
a. protest (Freewheeling)
b. electric (Highway 61)
c. christian (Slow Train)
d. country (Nashville Skyline)
e. old man (Time out of mind)

7. Favorite sweetened breakfast cereal
a. with milk____________.
b. out of the box_________________

8.Which was your favorite Darren Stevens on Bewitched, Dick York or Dick Sargent?

9. Which cartoon do you miss the most?
a. Peanuts
b. Opus
c. Calvin and Hobbes
d. Miss Peach

10. Do you think that Fred Gwynne did a better job acting as_________?
a. Herman Munster
b. Officer Francis Muldoon in Car 54

11. Which was your favorite Hollywood Square?
a. George Gobel
b. Paul Lynde
c. Charlie Weaver
d. Rose Marie
e. John Davidson

12. Which of these bands would be a worse experience to sit through?
a. Ratt
c. Molly Hatchett
d.Phil Collins

13. Which of the following four performers was the lamest:
a. Harry Chapin
b. Billy Joel
c. Wayne Newton
d. Dan Fogelberg

14. Who was hotter, Zsa Zsa or Eva?

15. Greater performer?
a. Dean Martin
b. Jerry Lewis

16. Rank the following sitcoms:
a. Taxi
b. All in the Family
c. Barney Miller
d. Soap
e. Night Court

17. Rank them:
a. Steve Allen
b. Johnny Carson
c. David Letterman
c. Jay Leno
d. Jack Paar

18. Best Pipes
a. Sinatra
b. Crosby
c. Martin
d. Bennett
e. Nat King Cole

19. What did you give your steady?
a. i.d. bracelet
b. St. Christopher  medal
c. class ring

20. Who would have been a better mom?
a. June Cleaver
b. Donna Reed
c. Roseanne
d. Morticia Adams

21. What would you eat first?
a. liverwurst
b. olive loaf

22. Favorite western?
a. Bonanza
b. Big Valley
c. Gunsmoke
d. Have Gun Will Travel
e. Branded

23. Most under appreciated Dylan album?

24. Can you give me the first seven words to desiderata without looking it up on line?

25. Andy Griffith Show. Better in color or black and white?

Freddie King - The Things That I Used To Do

Listen very loud.

Sickest new phone

Is it a state of the art camera or is it a futuristic android smart phone? Check out this link, the Polaroid SC1630 Android HD smart camera phone is definitely insane.


I sort of live vicariously through my friend Kip. Kip is smarter than I am, takes better vacations and has way better swag. No middle aged paunch, he has a more refined taste in music, favoring late fifties Verve and Blue Note vinyl, rides a killer Ducati and owns a stereo that blows mine away. How come the smart guys get the really good jobs, it just isn't very fair?

When I was young and flush with lucre, I once had a great audiophile system. I would thumb through the latest Absolute Sound with a look of disdain and pinkie aloft in the air, preparing to throw down with any audiophile gunslinger about arcane arguments of soundstage and midrange bloom. But somewhere along the way I realized that it was tough for married guys to build really good systems. The prices have always been obscene. Relationships would quickly end if we tried to pull that stuff. So honestly I haven't had a system upgrade in twenty five years. I had the early morning epiphany that somewhere along the line I had forsaken or stopped chasing the perfectly manicured life, and it honestly shows in the worn holes in my ride, my jargon, my dress, my ever growing antiquity. And my dated audio system.

Kip went to CES in Vegas this week, hunting vinyl, think he said he got a new Clifford Brown record  or maybe it was Lee Morgan? And he wanted to check out these behemoths, Berkeley's  Magico Speakers, a cool 165k for the pair. Baby, if you got to ask, you just can't afford them. He said that they didn't sound very good, either. God's way of telling you you are making too much bread.

The Hunter Gets Captured By The Game

SEC Rear Entry

If you want an idea why our governmental regulators are so screwed up, you might want to read financial guru Don Bauder's column in last week's San Diego Reader. Bauder is always at the top of his game. Apparently there is a neat little "rotating door" between the regulators and the regulated. If I was a whistleblower, I would watch my ass. God save us from our protectors.
Snug and Smug at the Hotel Del
By Don Bauder | Published Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012
Gary Aguirre heads a San Diego law firm that since February has specialized in representing whistle-blowers, those who blow the whistle on financial fraud — often inside the companies they work for — and government employees who see wrongdoing within their agencies.
On January 20 at the Hotel del Coronado, a panel of nationally known securities silk-suiters will hold a seminar on what to do about whistle-blowers. Aguirre won’t be there. One reason is that he has blown the whistle loudly on some of those panelists while he battled the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
More than almost anybody, Aguirre has publicly stated how this commission, born in the 1930s to protect the public from Wall Street, now protects Wall Street from the public. The mechanism is what Aguirre calls the “rotating door.” A law firm will dangle a juicy job in front of a securities commission lawyer who is investigating the law firm’s client. The rascal gets off and — voilà! — the agency lawyer gets a $2-million-a-year job with the law firm.
This works the other way, too. When the securities agency is looking for a lawyer to run its enforcement division, it is likely to select one from a powerful Wall Street law firm rather than from within its own ranks. These private-sector attorneys who take lofty temporary posts at the agency “are Wall Street players on sabbatical at the SEC,” says Aguirre.
This month, “the rotating door comes to San Diego,” says Aguirre. The 39th-annual Securities Regulation Institute will be held at the Hotel Del January 18–20. The seminar focusing on whistle-blowers will be from 9:00 to 10:30 a.m. January 20.
The panelists are Robert Khuzami, director of enforcement of the securities commission, formerly an attorney for the German giant Deutsche Bank; Richard Walker, a former securities-agency enforcement director who is now general securities counsel for Deutsche Bank; and Stephen Cutler, still another former enforcement director who is now general counsel at Wall Street’s JPMorgan Chase.
Mary Jo White of the Wall Street law firm Debevoise & Plimpton will moderate. She was once the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which prosecutes criminal securities cases.
You can see a pattern here. Some call it “Wall Street–Washington incest.” As Aguirre explains, this incestuous relationship between the regulators and the regulated is a major reason the Securities and Exchange Commission lets the Bernie Madoffs of the world off the hook.
As Matt Taibbi wrote in the August 17 issue of Rolling Stone, the route by which Walker left the securities agency and landed the remunerative job at Deutsche Bank is redolent of the rotating door. In 2000, Darcy Flynn, one of Aguirre’s current clients, was on a securities-agency team of investigators looking into possible violations by Deutsche Bank. Its chief executive had told the press that Deutsche Bank was not interested in acquiring New York–based Bankers Trust. The bank’s stock plunged on the news; ergo, Deutsche Bank could buy it at a lower price. It eventually bought it. Investigators considered the case a slam dunk. Deutsche Bank took the usual course: it hired still another former securities-agency enforcement chief, Gary Lynch, to argue the institution’s case.
Suddenly, commission investigators got word that Walker, the agency’s head of enforcement, had recused himself from the case, and two weeks later the inquiry was jettisoned. It soon became obvious why: Walker was named general counsel of Deutsche. Wrote Taibbi, “Less than 10 weeks after the SEC shut down its investigation of the bank, the agency’s director of enforcement was handed a cushy, high-priced job at Deutsche.”
Then, in 2004, Walker hired a young federal prosecutor to become his protégé at Deutsche. His name: Robert Khuzami.
Well, it came to pass that on May 18 of this year, Khuzami, now himself head of enforcement at the securities commission, shot out a mass email to agency staffers saying he wanted examples of “lawyers behaving badly.” Actually, Khuzami wanted examples of outside lawyers misbehaving.
But Flynn thought Khuzami wanted examples of wayward attorneys inside the Securities and Exchange Commission. So Flynn sent him a decade-old example: the dumping of the Deutsche Bank investigation right before Walker departed as enforcement chief to become a lawyer for the big German bank.
“When Flynn sent his letter to Khuzami complaining about misbehavior by Walker, he was calling out Khuzami’s own mentor,” wrote Taibbi.
Flynn has gone on to become a nationally famous whistle-blower and still has a job at the agency, thanks in part to Aguirre. In July, Flynn told Congress that the Securities and Exchange Commission since 1993 has been destroying information on so-called “Matters Under Inquiry,” or preliminary look-sees into possible securities fraud. The agency earlier had worked out an arrangement with the National Archives and Records Administration that all records, including those related to preliminary investigations, should be maintained for 25 years. But the securities commission has ignored — possibly illegally — this agreement.
It has destroyed preliminary files on Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers, and beleaguered Goldman Sachs, among many miscreants.
That’s why Flynn, knowing the agency’s proclivity for getting revenge on whistle-blowers, hired Aguirre. Senator Chuck Grassley, senior Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, believes the Securities and Exchange Commission “might have sanctioned some level of case-related document destruction.”
Back in 2005, Aguirre worked for the securities commission and was fired after he wanted to pursue an insider trading case against a Wall Street hotshot. Grassley’s committee, and one other Senate committee, along with the agency’s inside investigator, sided with Aguirre in the matter. He got a generous settlement from the agency. And who do you think stabbed Aguirre in the back when he wanted to go after the hotshot? Mary Jo White, the ex–government prosecutor, now big-shot Wall Street lawyer, who will moderate the whistle-blowing seminar at the Del. 

Whistle Blowers ramp it up, Bloomberg. More on the SEC clusterfrok from Larry Doyle.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Danse Macabre Camille Saint-Saëns

Getting Pissy.

Please forgive me for a nasty sarcastic chuckle if I fail to muster suitable sympathy for our current "urinegate" fiasco in Afghanistan. Pissing on corpses breaks all international rules of decency not to mention Marquis de Queensbury and good taste. We are told that it is particularly galling to the peace loving followers of Islam. But wait a second.

Not to engage in a moral equivalency tit for tat but what is worse; pissing on an enemy already dead or throwing handicapped people out of their wheelchairs and off the side of the Achille Lauro? Or massacring little children at an elementary school at Ma'alot? Or trying to kill a cartoonist for drawing a picture? Or blowing up the World Trade Center? Burying your daughter in the dirt and stoning her for getting raped? I could of course go on and on, I won't. But isn't it a strange type of selective moral indignation to raise a hue and cry over piss, when the normal accepted currency of your culture and theology is the suicide bomb?

"Almost Saturday Night" Gene Clark & Carla Olson



I got a little bit tipsy last night. I was eating dinner a bit north of here with a couple friends. Only had a couple glasses but definitely got addled. Not drunk but almost seasick. A bit nauseous. I had mixed white and red. White wine does strange things to me. Plus I had been up since four in the morning, having gone to an early sale in Point Loma. So it hammered me.

No problem driving but the experience was a little liquid. 

I can count the actual times in my life I have been drunk on one hand. I like to taste but I usually have a foot on the brake pedal. Am I lying?

Oy, shiker iz a goy, shiker iz a goy,
shiker iz er, trinken muz er,
vayl er iz a goy. 

We were drinking Rombauer, lovely stuff. Wonder what's the alcohol content? Keister knocking fun. But I have been feeling funky all day. And what's tonight? A wine tasting. Oy.


My friend the accent aigu ´ showed me a very cool app on her iphone. If you have friends with iphones have them check out the app called songify. You speak into it and it makes a song out of your words, in a variety of musical styles like techno or reggae. There is as yet no android version. I am almost ready to get a iphone because this app is so damn cool.

´ had a book on her kitchen table by Paul Hawken. I picked it up and started reading about how the information economy was going to overtake our goods or commodities based economy. I looked at the date of the book, The Next Economy. It was written in 1983. Very prescient. Hawken is just an amazing man.

Ten Years After - Hear Me Calling (LP Stonedhenge)

Il Moro

Interesting news on the genetics front. Scientists have tested Napoleon Bonaparte's DNA. He is an E1b1b1c1* (m-34) just like yours truly. I am in the D-1 cluster, Napoleon the closely related D-2.

Here is the original research paper on the discovery from the Journal of Molecular Biology Research. A jewish origin appears to be a distinct possibility, and likely. It should be noted that his allele value of 7 at 454 is four off of the modal.

Another article at Dienekes. And an involved discussion at the Double Helix website, which you may not be able to access.

Napoleon joins an interesting cast of despots from the E1b1b haplogroup which includes Hitler. Coppola. Michael Dell. Einstein, purportedly. Me.


I love a good quote. My all time champs are Groucho and Hemingway but I started reading some of Napoleon's the other day and was blown away by his intellect and wisdom. Amazingly bright and I am not saying that because he's a relative.

And so I serve you up a few:

A throne is only a bench covered with velvet.
You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.
The people to fear are not those who disagree with you, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know.
The surest way to remain poor is to be an honest man.
There is one kind of robber whom the law does not strike at, and who steals what is most precious to men: time.
What is history but a fable agreed upon?
When small men attempt great enterprises, they always end by reducing them to the level of their mediocrity.
Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.

I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.
I love power. But it is as an artist that I love it. I love it as a musician loves his violin, to draw out its sounds and chords and harmonies.
If you wish to be a success in the world, promise everything, deliver nothing.
If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.


Teen with Autism Finds Inner Voice

Dominick told me about this girl's video. My story about the disabled kid in the deli triggered the link. I felt the same kind of innate intelligence from the young man I saw the other day. What an incredible story. A link to Carly's blog.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cry me a river

According to an article in the Daily NK, a South Korean newspaper, citizens who failed to show the proper amount of public bereavement and sorrow in regards to the recent death of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong il will now spend six months in a re-education camp. Teach them how to mourn properly. Another crime that will get you sentenced to a long stretch is harboring doubts about the dynastic succession.

“The authorities are handing down at least six months in a labor-training camp to anybody who didn’t participate in the organized gatherings during the mourning period, or who did participate but didn’t cry and didn't seem genuine.”

Furthermore, the source added that people who are accused of circulating rumors criticizing the country’s 3rd generation dynastic system are also being sent to re-education camps or being banished with their families to remote rural areas.

I'd be crying so loud you'd think I was on Queen for a Day. Quite a country they got there.