Egret and crab

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Salinger's ball

I read about a new Facebook setup that will keep users from "oversharing." As you can imagine, oversharing has become a monumental problem in this new internet world of ours. I should know.

"Lars"called me up to bitch and moan the other day. Said his viagra prescription had doubled in price and the pharmacy wouldn't give him back the old script. Had to buck up emotionally to go through the whole rigamarole with the doctors again.

Never knew Lars's pencil lacked lead. Didn't need to know. But he obviously needed to tell somebody and I was there to lend an ear. That's what friends do. Good luck on that, Lars.

I had a client die a few months ago, weeks apart from his wife. At first our relationship was alright and then he got sort of pushy, liked to demand things and wag his finger in my face.

I was discussing the matter with an acquaintance who apparently had similar problems with the same gent, an ex Vice President of Contracts at a major Fortune 500 concern.  I guess I had it easy. He said that the man would force him to drive to Rite Aid and then buy him Depends™ and whiskey, because he was too embarrassed to do it himself. Said he got some real funny looks from the people he knew that saw him in line.

This week in literature department gave us the bombshell that J.D. Salinger only had one testicle, a fact that the deceased author was deathly afraid of becoming publicly known. Great reason to live your life in total isolation waiting for the other ball to drop.

I actually have a lot of good dirt i could spill. People tell me stuff. But I think that I will pass. Don't want to overshare or anything.

I hope that all of you are ready to have a great weekend and labor day. Be safe, drive carefully and don't miss the opportunity to tell your peeps that you love them.

Until then,


Friday, August 30, 2013

Louis Collins


WildBill told us a couple of good jokes at coffee:

 I asked my friend from New Zealand how many sexual partners he's had, he started counting and fell asleep.

Two nuns were riding their bicycles through the back streets and alleys of Rome.
One turns to the other and says, "I've never come this way before."
The other nun says, "It's the cobblestones."

I was walking through the cemetery and saw a guy crouching behind a tombstone. I said, "Morning..". He said, "No. Taking a shit."

Big Mike called me from Washington with this one:

Two young boys are standing at the urinal when they notice that each other's units looked different. "What's that?" said Johnny, pointing to his friend's foreskin. "That's what yours would look like if it hadn't been circumcised."

"Did the circumcision hurt?" he asked his friend. "Did it ever," he said." I couldn't walk for a year."

Mississippi John Hurt - Salty Dog

Palomar, East Grade

My lens came. It is a monster. They call it the Bigma. It is effectively a 75 - 750mm telephoto zoom on my dx sensor. Will be interesting to see if it can handle the added distortion and additional stop from the 1.4 teleconverter that I have ordered for it.

Did I mention that the lens was big? I don't want to hear the sniggling little jokes about compensation, either. But this baby is heavy. Shooting it off a borrowed Gitzo monopod and quick release but the optical stabilization actually prefers to be handheld.

Yesterday Doug and I test drove some photo gear, driving up the east grade to Mt. Palomar and the Henshaw Overlook, usually a fine place to site raptors. Didn't see a lot of things but it was a fine view and we familiarized ourselves with our gear and its limits.

Caught a family of vultures in a tree.

It is plenty sharp. Ken took this nice picture of Brett with it at breakfast, at 750mm at 1/1000 with the iso doubled to 2000 at f6.3. I am looking forward to continue working with this nice piece of glass, fruit of my labors after a successful blackjack run.

The East Grade is such a nice quiet route, later we stopped at this beautiful roadside shrine for a firefighter from Picuris Pueblo near Chimayo, the Penasco Handcrew, that gave his life fighting the terrible 1999 La Jolla fire. Thank you, Gregory Pacheco, for your courage, service and ultimate sacrifice.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bill Callahan

Denis Wheary sent this over for our perusal and enjoyment.


I have received three out of four of my freedom of information act requests back, from the CIA, DIA and FBI. I sent a passel out, just for the heck of it, not that any past behavior on my part would warrant my inclusion in any government list or database. The responses all say pretty much the same thing, not much. Here is the text from my letter from the Central Intelligence Agency:
Dear Mr. Sommers,
This is a final response to your 6 July 2013 Privacy Act request, received in the office of the Information and Privacy Coordinator on 12 July 2013 for records pertaining to yourself. We processed your request in accordance with the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. §552 as amended, and the Privacy Act of 1974, 5 U.S.C. §552a. Our processing included a search for records that would reveal an openly acknowledged Agency affiliation existing up to and including the date the Agency started its search and did not locate any responsive records.
With respect to responsive records that would reveal a classified connection the the CIA, in accordance with section 3.6(a) of Executive Order 13526, as amended, the CIA can neither confirm of deny the existence or nonexistence of records responsive to your request.  The fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified and relates to intelligence sources and methods information that is protected from disclosure by section 6 of the CIA Act of 1949, as amended and section 102A (i)(1) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended. Therefore you may consider this portion of the response a denial of your request pursuant to FOIA exemptions (b)(1) and (b)(3) and PA exemptions (j)(1) and (k)(1). I have enclosed an explanation of these exemptions for your reference and retention.
Although our searches were thorough and diligent, and it is highly unlikely that repeating those searches would change the result, you nonetheless have the legal right to appeal the decisions above. As the CIA Information and Privacy Coordinator, I am the official responsible for this determination. You have the right to appeal this response within 45 days of the date of this letter. You may address your appeal to the agency release panel, in my care. Please explain the basis of your appeal.
M.M. Information and Privacy Coordinator - Central Intelligence
I must admit, I am a little bit bummed. John Lennon gets 15,000 pages and I can't rate a paragraph? Life simply ain't fair.

Born Under Punches

In the words of Bob Dylan, I don't believe you.

"In defending the NSA surveillance programs that Snowden revealed, Deputy Attorney General James Cole told Congress last month that the administration effectively monitors the activities of employees using them.
"This program goes under careful audit," Cole said. "Everything that is done under it is documented and reviewed before the decision is made and reviewed again after these decisions are made to make sure that nobody has done the things that you're concerned about happening."
After word came out last week that NSA analysts were using the giant surveillance apparatus to spy on their personal love interests, the powers that be took great pains to explain that violations were few and to extoll the virtues of the wonderful system of checks and balances that are in place.

Does anyone else find it slightly funny and ironic that they then have to explain how Edward Snowden managed to work around all those checks and balances? Perhaps all of our incidentally collected personal information isn't quite as safe in their hands as we are led to believe?

The NSA is trying to figure out how Snowden bypassed their electronic logs, disabling all the trip wires and trap doors that supposedly guarded our data. They still don't have any idea exactly what he took. And of course if Snowden was storing all of your secrets on his many thumb drives, who knows how many of his cohorts were doing the exact same thing? Pardon me, Mr. Government man, for once again believing that all of your many assurances are total bullshit.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Slippin' into darkness

Mideast blather

Not to sound too cavalier or red blooded, but is this Syria fiasco any way to conduct an ass kicking? There is an ancient oriental proverb, Musashi or Sun Tzu, take your pick, that says that one should never draw one's sword until it is time to bloody it. Fight or shut up already.

I am no brawler but I have scrapped a couple times in my life and I know one thing; You never have to worry about the guy who spends an inordinate amount of time telling you what he is going to do to you in a fight. The guy at the schoolyard who dares you to cross some imaginary maginot line. It's always talk. You need to worry about the guy who never says anything and comes over and punches you in the mouth. Works the same way in the bar. Those are the guys to be afraid of.

Syria used gas on its own people. Not the first time, read up on Bashir's pop wiping out the town of Hama. Now why exactly are we playing world cop again? It's not like there is a single good guy in this drama. Or that we are apt to win over any hearts and minds this go around. Are we on the side of Al Qaeda or Hezbollah this time? Let these particular antagonists kill each other down to the last man for all I care. But please, enough of the spaghetti western bravado.

Iran is of course, opening their fat mouth too, promising vengeance on Israel as retribution for any United States aggression. Hey Persia, don't make any promises with your mouth that your ass can't fill. Israel won't talk, that's not their game, they will simply turn your god forsaken country into the middle east's largest asphalt parking lot before you know it. Hezbollah is talking big too about their plans. Sow the wind, reap the whirl wind. The Israelis aren't like Uncle Sam, they will shoot first and leave the talking for later.

We shouldn't be forced into some silly butch display that risks a disproportionate response and unforeseen deck shuffle in order to salve Obama's wounded pride. Hey Prez, if you feel a need to launch a surgical strike or two, be my guest. But for god's sake, shut up about what you are planning to do or not do. Frankly, it's unseemly. All the schoolyard bellicosity makes you sound like a sissy.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Waiting for the man

First Glow

The sunrises and sunsets the last few days have just been totally epic.

Of course everybody's phone is a decent camera these days so I have seen lots of sweet pictures today. Shearer and Bruce both took really great shots.

Mine is okay, first glow this morning through my windshield.

Water of Love


I am initiating the once in a decade physical (what do you mean I need a colonoscopy?) and driving back from the doctor today, decided to stop off and see my friend Sheebz. Sheebz is an old pal, one of my true beach buddies. She manages to spend her time pretty evenly split between the snow and the surf, lives a very physical existence, I love her to death.

I called her yesterday and she said that it was time we had a nice bike ride on the beach, something that sent a chill up my spine because the last time I had a "mellow" beach ride with her I ended up having a heart attack the next day.

"What are you trying to do, finish the job?" I asked and she started laughing, I guess it was supposed to be a joke. Hysterical.

Sheebz' late husband Dave was an incredible ski photographer and all around prince. He helped me out a lot when I started getting back into photography. The good ones always get taken from us first and way too soon.

Sheebz is a really interesting human being. Because, but not limited to, something which she calls her "condition." (con-dee-shun, sort of latin sounding)

In Sheebz case the condition means neatness way past ocd, an organizational compulsion that would make many of us run screaming. God have pity on you if you track any foreign matter onto that beautiful white shag carpeting... Shoes off, Sommers! I think that a few cell phone pictures might help illustrate.

I got to Sheebz's house and she had a load of sod and flowers perfectly packed into her car's trunk, which I helped her unpack, being that kind of guy.

We walk into the garage, her effects perfectly sorted and compartmentalized into individual totes.

Sheebz said that she can't help it, runs in her family, her german grandmother was like this as well. Tidy.

The condition is not merely about tidy, organized and clean. It also entails a strange need for supplies. Cleaning implements of every type.

Hence five bottles of windex on the work top. Next to multiple flashlights. Because you never know when four bottles of windex just won't be enough to do the job.

The condition also extends to paper towels.

And of course plastic bags.

Lots of plastic bags.

God forbid one should run out. Is it just me or does the single triscuit box seem very lonely to you?

I, of course, am the antithesis of neat and tidy but as has been noted repeatedly by the sages, it takes all kinds and there is an apocryphal ass for every saddle.

I have my own, equal if not greater compulsions, which I will not sully these pages with at the present time.

Thank you Sheebz, for allowing us this quick peek into your life. You run a clean ship.

Monday, August 26, 2013


"Terry?" "Sure, Meyer."

Terry S. sent me this beautiful iphone shot of the St. Louis Arch.

I goosed it up just a skoche.


Early equestrian

When I was a young man my mere presence on this earth caused my father's second wife no small degree of unction. I was summarily shunted off to the obligatory boarding school where inconveniences like me tended to get sent. However truth be told, I scored. While my brother Buzz was practicing his cadences at his Über straight military academy in Carlsbad, I got the e-ticket to Desert Sun, the most liberal bastion of learning one could ever imagine, nestled in the creche of the splendid San Jacinto mountains.

I will skip the long version, suffice it to say that besides the strong curriculum I was also provided with a strong extra curricular education, everything was going swimmingly until they found the water pipe in the closet, a cacophony of tubes and pipes wound in every direction that would make the most jaded chemist peal with envy. Eighth grade, my first suspension. Dad must have been awful proud.

Anyway, as I said, skipping the sordid details we really did get a great education up there. Medium format photography and darkroom work, rock climbing, soccer, all the normal school stuff. Desert Sun had a great biology department. The teachers were hands on and we did a lot of hiking as well as exploring back roads so remote that they almost seem a fantasy to me now.

One thing I will always remember is showing up at a private ranch somewhere near Anza. Our professor knew the rancher, an older man who was kind enough to allow us admittance. We were led to a rocky cleft where after passing over a coiled rattler we found ourselves in some high caves on the property. These caves had a pictograph that we were told was the earliest North American pictograph ever found of a man on a horse. It is now sharply incised in my memory.

The year was 1971, the cave had been sealed to the public for, by my count, fifty nine long years. The newest graffiti in the camp was Irma, 1912, if my memory still serves. Have to thank Professor Beauchamp for his pull in getting us near these drawings, some forty plus years later.

Ayer's Rock, Inyo County
I have thought about the pictograph many times through the years and decided recently to see if I could find out any more information regarding it's location. I googled earliest horse pictograph, North America and will share some of the things that I have found. Nothing yet about my specific horse and rider.

Mescalero Apache petroglyph, Hueco Tanks

First I guess we should talk about the horse. The modern horse, Equus Caballus is the last surviving member of a once broad family whose cousins include tapirs and rhinos. The horse belongs to an order known as Perissodactyla, or "odd-toed ungulates", which all share hooved feet and an odd number of toes on each foot, as well as mobile upper lips and a similar tooth structure. The genus is said to have originated in North America about 4 million years ago and then spread to Eurasia across the Bering Strait 2 to 3 million years ago. There were then various back and cross migrations before the final extinction of the North American horse.

He or she died out between 13,000 and 11,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene, but by then Equus had spread across Europe and Asia. They were then reintroduced to our continent during the sixteenth century by Spaniards. So I guess we should assume that all of the pictographs and petroglyphs extant are of the modern era. The oldest petroglyphs on the continent at a site in Nevada were recently found to be over 10,000 years old, Le Cheval was long gone by then.

Horse and rider pictographs and petroglyphs dot the entire continent. Here is a rather rough and faded pictograph of a horse and rider from Washington County, Arkansas.

Piedres Grandes - Anza Borrego
I found information about the famous Chumash four horsemen pictograph from the Santa Monica Mountains. It is possible that these depicted horsemen are from the Portola expedition of 1769 traveling on their way to Monterey.

Still I can't find my single horse and rider. Although I have one decent lead. Read a couple things about the Cary Ranch near Anza that is said to contain two horse and rider glyphs.  They even have a website that I need to peruse that unfortunately has no graphics and few pathways that will help me in my immediate quest.  But the Cary Ranch just might be my spread. It is possible that this is the very same pictograph that I was once told was the earliest on the continent.  Could there be any veracity to that old claim? Of course it is entirely possible that the horse and rider I saw lies forgotten on some other ranch...

I am interested in chasing this horse and rider down. Would appreciate any help you can provide.

From Wiki:
From the late 1860s on, Anza was largely settled by families seeking to build ranches under the Homestead Act. Of the homesteads in the area, one, the Cary Ranch on Cary Road (south of Anza, east of the Tripp Flatts Ranger Station) still exists and is still owned and occupied by family members of the original settlers. The ranch is now occupied by the Hopkins family. The Hopkins are direct descendants of the Cary family. Although the Cary Ranch used to encompass hundreds of acres of land, most has been sold off, and only a 20-acre (81,000 m2) parcel and several original buildings exist.

They even run the occasional tour. This mystery is definitely solvable. Let's find that horse and rider.

Nine Mile Canyon, Utah
Postscript 8/27/13

Reena Deutsch was gracious enough to contact me and send along these two pictures. Read her note to me in the comments section. 

 Yup. Mysteries don't stick around forever these days. Now if I could just get some pics of the old graffiti...

Photos courtesy of Reena Deutsch
If anyone is interested in joining me on a tour of the Cary Ranch next year, please let me know soon.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


The dude abides

I took my foot off the gas and it's frankly a little hard to get back on the literary highway. Been writing like a sumbitch all year. You lose your momentum and go what the hell? What do I have to say at the moment that hasn't been said? Or needs to be said? Try to rise above the chatter and maybe come up with something worthwhile.

You need a slight tailwind or it is just another job. Of course if I was J.D. Salinger and not some stupid blogger I could say, "I have written three books but they are not to be opened until 2019. My work is so precious that it can't even be viewed or shared."

After weeks on the road I actually stayed home today and tried to do chores. Which I failed miserably at. Cleaned the blinds and now they won't clip back into the brackets. I am a total handyman failure. A whole electrical circuit is out in our home, I think a bad breaker and I have to find an electrician to troubleshoot.

Filner is out and the newspaper and conservative establishment is positively giddy. Now maybe they can get the city back on track at getting the stupid public to underwrite and subsidize a new stadium. Whooey! Worked for Moores. Of course Spanos has screwed us before. But he's got a buddy over at the newspaper now. Step up to the larder.  Gonnif Filner did nobody any favors. Another yid politician caught with his schmeckel in his hand.

Took the normal three days to get the gallery together after a show. This time a little harder because of the long absence. Bought a nice small Laguna Robert Wood and a Peter Ellenshaw yesterday.

I took a bit of grief, probably deservedly so, from a couple of dealer friends in New Mexico about my shop. Specifically the spider webs in the window and not hardly ever being open. They said that I was becoming like one of those nasty old book dealers in Paris or Royal St. with their musty shops and crusty attitude. Egads!

We are going to Hawaii soon for a little recon and a chance to play with my new camera lens. It has been one hell of a summer and the fun continues! Got to have a good time when you can because there are no dress rehearsals and no second acts, at least as far as I know. One day you wake up and bam, you are old and/or dead.

Linda Ronstadt

Hunting for Alfred Morang

Morning, Plaza in the snow - Alfred Morang
One of the most interesting Santa Fe artists of the last century was the late Alfred Morang. Morang is said to have, like Utrillo, fancied himself the last french impressionist, which is sort of funny since he never made it to France. His work favored barflies like Lautrec, and electric cats à la Van Gogh. His canvasses are typified by a heavy impasto and palette knife technique.

Morang arrived in Santa Fe from back east in 1937, looking for a better clime for his tuberculosis. He was a member of Raymond Jonson's Transcendental Painting Group. Other members of this group were Emil Bisttram, William Lumpkins, Florence Pierce, Horace Pierce, Stuart Walker, Dane Rudhyar, Lawren Harris and Agnes Pelton. The stated aim of the Transcendental Painting Group was "to defend, validate and promote abstract art." They sought to carry painting "beyond the appearance of the physical world, through new expressions of space, color, light and design." 

The following is a brief biography on Morang from AskArt:

Alfred Morang grew up in Maine, learning to paint from the various artists who summered near his home. His formal education in the arts consisted of a MFA from Fremond University, where Alfred Morang studied in Caroll Tyson and Henry Snell.

Alfred Morang's early career was marked by an artistic restlessness that drove him to create in many media, not all of them visual. While living in Boston in the 1920s, Alfred Morang studied art and music, illustrated books and magazines, gave music lessons, and began work on a number of works of fiction, some of which would be published in the 1930s.

In 1938 Alfred Morang contracted tuberculosis, which prompted a move to Santa Fe, NM, a climate more hospitable to a man in his condition. While he recovered, he focused primarily on painting for the first time, with marked success. Along with Raymond Jonson, Emil Bisstram (sic) and William Lumpkins, Morang founded the Transcendental Painting Group, which strived to paint what could not be rendered visually.

The flowing, stretched iconography of Alfred Morang's paintings is vivid and challenging still today. His development as an artist continued until his tragic death in 1958 in a fire that burned down his Canyon Road studio.

Walt Wiggins wrote a good monograph on Morang titled Alfred Morang, Neglected Master. I have a copy laying around somewhere but I can't quite put my hands on it at the moment. One story in the book still sticks with me. A man went to visit Morang one winter day and Morang was so focussed on his painting that he didn't know that he had a visitor. He was a poor man and there were holes in the roof. The man was amazed to see a mountain of snow on top of Morang's chapeau as he stood there blissfully unaware and totally engrossed in his work.

I met a man named Paul Parker in Santa Fe who is an ardent admirer of Morang. He wrote the following story which he is graciously allowing me to share with you.

Hunting for Alfred Morang

I will always remember that cool rainy April day in Santa Fe. It was a perfect day for a visit to the library and I found myself seated in front of this antique microfilm viewer the size of a small refrigerator. I had loaded the reel containing the early 1958 issues of the Santa Fe New Mexican. I was not sure why I had this unremitting need to know more about Alfred Morang. 

I had first seen his work painted on the adobe walls across from the bar in El Farol on Canyon Road and in Maria’s on Cordova, but I know the real inspiration came from my good friend Jim Parsons in Taos. Jim was an art dealer and appraiser forever and a friend and mentor for 20 years. When he mentioned that Alfred Morang was one of his favorites I knew I needed to pay attention. It was like Willy Wonka telling me about one of his favorite chocolate bars. It helps that Alfred was such a compelling man, so well versed in music and literature as well as painting. 

He was one of the youngest persons ever to perform a solo violin concert in the prestigious Jordan Hall in Boston and he was also an accomplished writer. The London Times once called him one of America’s leading non-political short story writers. He was friends with Erskine Caldwell and his short stories and poems were published alongside Frost, Poe and Mark Twain. I do know the main reason I am so drawn to him is that his art touches me. Behind that art is Alfred’s story, his life experience and that is what drove him to create the art that Jim and I and many others enjoy so much. 

There is a very sad part to his story and it is that part that drew me to the library. Alfred Morang died in a fire in his Canyon Road apartment studio on a cold January night at the age of 56. I had wanted to come here to the library and read the January 29, 1958 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican for some time. I wanted to know the details, I wanted to read what people said, I wanted to know what page it was on and how big the article was. I was scrolling through the microfilm and as I started approaching the day he died I realized I was reading the papers that he probably read unaware he only had days to live. 

The closer I got to the issue of the paper I had come to see the more time I took reading the articles and I even started reading the ads. I lingered the longest on Tuesday’s edition dated January 28, 1958. That was the last paper Alfred could have read. 

There was an article on that day that I am sure must have caught Alfred’s eye and the headline read, “French Ballet loses Backing”. Alfred never made it to Paris, but his heart was there. His heroes were the French impressionists and he considered himself to be one of them. Monet and Bonnard were his favorites. The article explained that the French Education Ministry had withdrawn the government subsidy for the production of Francoise Sagan’s ballet “The Broken Date”. The ministry’s action followed a storm of protest. Apparently one dance was performed in a bathroom setting designed by painter Bernard Buffet and was described by some critics as scandalously erotic. I would like to have gone to Paris with Alfred and attended that performance. A French ballet with a bathroom setting designed by Bernard Buffet coupled with scandalously erotic, I am sure we both would have enjoyed that. 

That Tuesday the Lensic was showing “Pal Joey” starring Rita Hayworth, Frank Sinatra and Kim Novak. Kaune’s was having a sale featuring Pork Chops at 59 cents a pound and Swanson’s Pot Pies at four for a dollar with your choice of chicken, turkey or beef. Cherry Motor’s at 607 Cerrillos Road had an ad for the new Rambler American for $1789. The ad proclaimed that one had been driven from New York to Los Angeles using only 80 gallons of gas averaging over 30 mpg. I remembered that time. One week before this ad ran I had celebrated my 12th birthday and becoming a teenager was in sight. Unlike today I was looking forward to getting older and that was the time I began thinking about cars. Chevrolet had just introduced the 283 V-8 a year earlier in the now iconic 1957 Chevy. The fuel economy push left over from the war was fading fast and the Plymouth Hemi and the “Little GTO” were on the horizon. The economical 6 cylinder Rambler American never had a chance.

I read every bit of that Tuesday’s paper. It was as if I felt that Alfred would be okay as long as I did not turn the page, but I knew it was time to see what I had come to see. I took a last look at the classifieds and marveled at an ad for a 2 bedroom adobe with wall to wall carpet “close in” for $16,500 and then I hit the button and watched the microfilm reel turn slowly.

The first thing I saw positioned on the top left side of the front page of that Wednesday edition of the Santa Fe New Mexican was a large photograph of a cat crouching on the corner of a charred mattress. The rest of the bed was strewn with papers and tubes of paint. Underneath the right half of the photo was a caption “Mourning for Her Master…This lonely cat was found wandering through the charred ruins of the home of her master Alfred Morang who died in the fire early this morning. The cat is on the bed where he died.” Morang’s friends had commented on his love of cats and noted that he often went hungry himself so he could afford to feed them. Two other cats perished in the fire with him. 

Unfortunately I discovered that the cat on the mattress in the picture had to be put down because her lungs were injured. There was also a picture of Alfred. A cigarette in a holder was hanging from the corner of his mouth dangling over his scraggly beard and he was wearing a black hat with a brim that was tilted slightly to the left making him look decidedly like an artist and decidedly French. The story next to the photo read “Well Known Artist Dies In Home Fire… Alfred Morang, 56, one of Santa Fe’s best known and most colorful Bohemians died at about 1:30 am last night in a tragic fire at his home in the 600 block of Canyon Road.”  Friends reported they had last seen Alfred in Claude’s bar around midnight. His apartment was just up the alley out back.

Five days after the fire the New Mexican noted…“Funeral services were held Saturday at the Fairview Memorial Park Crematorium in Albuquerque for Alfred Morang, widely known Santa Fe artist, writer and critic who was burned to death early Wednesday morning in a fire at his home here. The body was escorted to Albuquerque by a group of close friends, including Randall Davey, Will Shuster, Harlan Lizer, Walter Dawley and William Currie. Alfred was transported in a Spanish Colonial coffin made by Abolonio Rodriguez, custodian of the art museum.” 

Alfred was born in Ellsworth, Maine in 1901 and came to Santa Fe in 1937. Like many who came here he suffered from TB. He immediately became a fixture in the Santa Fe art scene. He wrote a weekly column for the newspaper and he produced a weekly radio program for 17 years on KTCR called “The World of Art with Alfred Morang.” Most of all he was famous for his enthusiasm for art and his ability to teach and many benefited from “The Morang School of Fine Art”.  

Walt Wiggins authored a book published in 1979 appropriately titled “Alfred Morang…A Neglected Master”. Walt uncovered several quotes during his research for his book and my favorites include the following.  “When Alfred Morang’s life came to a tragic end in January of 1958 nothing before or since has so shaken the New Mexico art colony. Some say it was a sense of guilt that struck the community for not having shown a greater sense of appreciation for one who, by destiny, was different.” One Santa Fe artist reasoned, “Why shouldn’t Santa Fe be stunned with the loss of Alfred?  After all, he taught half of us how to paint and the other half how to see.” 

The February 10th 1958 issue of the Santa Fe New Mexican carried the report of the local memorial service for Alfred in Lorraine Carr’s column “It Happened in Old Santa Fe”. Dr. Reginald Fisher, director of the Art Museum spoke first. “Friends this is not a funeral, we are simply gathered here for a creative expression of merit and appreciation of a spirit that has been active in an activity that we in Santa Fe like to call art. Alfred was an inventive, searching and daring spirit as French as Lautrec, yet he never saw Paris. Last week his restless spirit found peace.”   

Painter and close friend Randall Davey was next. “I have known Alfred since he arrived back in 1937. He was a kind, a gentle and a humble soul and in all those years I never heard him speak unkindly of his fellow man. He was a great painter; many of you did not think so, because often he sold his work for a mere pittance through necessity. Nevertheless it was great art and the happiest work I have seen in New Mexico. He had a love and a delight for painting and I doubt that anyone will surpass him in this field.”  

I hope Alfred enjoyed himself on that Tuesday. I hope he spent some time with friends and some extra time petting his cats. I hope he wrote another poem and put the final touches on his most recent favorite painting before he headed down the alley to Claude’s that evening. 

Claude James ran the well known Canyon Road bar where he often spent time and, as legend has it, her rowdy spirit was just what was needed to run that place. I would love to have met Alfred there that fateful night for a few drinks. I’m sure we would have talked through the evening about art and life as we cast occasional glances at the ever present ladies that were often the subject of his paintings and when Claude said “It’s midnight, would you fellows like another one?”  I would nod and say, how about a couple of shots of your best cognac. I would love to take a sip, lean back and turn to him and say “Alfred I know you often say that you don’t believe in art for art’s sake, but you believe in art for people’s sake. Can you explain to me what you mean by that, and please…take your time?” 

A few weeks after I finished writing this story I found myself engrossed in the details of planning a trip to Paris. I was not sure why, but suddenly it came flooding over me with incredible clarity. Human life really is very fragile and it really is all going to come to an end someday and we do not know when. I knew then I needed to go to Paris and I needed to go now. Unfortunately most people have that epiphany too late in life. They start thinking about the things they never got to do after it’s too late to do them. I knew then that this sudden obsession with Paris was a message from Alfred. Paris was his promised land, but he never made it there and I was going to go for both of us. 

I told a friend in Santa Fe this story and he said, “You should do something for Alfred in Paris.” It was a great idea, but what would I do? I had been in Paris 5 days when I suddenly knew. I found an image of a Morang painting on my laptop. I printed it and wrote a bit on the back about Alfred and headed off to the Musee d’Orsay. This time as I enjoyed the paintings I was also searching for a repository for Alfred’s work and I finally found it. I can tell you that a fine example of the genius of Alfred Morang now has a home in Musee d’Orsay on the banks of the Seine and it will take a jackhammer to find it. He is close to Monet and Bonnard, the masters he so admired. Alfred, you finally made it.  

Paul Parker 
Santa Fe Art Club

Friday, August 23, 2013



Interesting NSA discussion going on over at TPM. I believe that you will be able to guess my nom de plumé.

Rainbow Girl

Leslie had a birthday today as did my mother. Wish the both of them the best of birthdays.

This is a picture of Leslie at one of her favorite places on earth, Niagara Falls a few years ago.

I am such a lucky man to see this smile as much as I do. What a perfect partner to move through life with!

Bridge of Tears

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman asked the United Nations to censure Israel today for its targeting of an area south of Beirut in a retribution strike yesterday.
President Michel Sleiman strongly denounced the Israeli [air strike] on Naameh and tasked caretaker Foreign Minister [Adnan Mansour] to file a complaint over the attack to the United Nations Security Council,” a Baabda Palace statement said.
It is sort of stupidly funny. Lebanon is falling apart and so who do we blame? Israel, of course. Yesterday, guerrillas staging in southern Lebanon bombed the western Galilee with a barrage of missiles. Today two bombs went off in the Sunni northern city of Tripoli. They hit two mosques, killing many worshipers and injuring hundreds, providing further conflagration to a sectarian conflict that is pitting Shia Hezbollah against the rest of the country's inhabitants.

Last week it was a Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut that was struck, we are now in a bloody and seemingly irreversible game of tit for tat with no chance of abating.

When I heard about the Galilee rocket attack I had a strange feeling and went looking for my maps. It seemed much like the place in Israel I called home, Kibbutz Gesher Haziv. And I was right. According to the following German news bite, Gesher Haziv was struck.

Rockets hit northern Israel. A Sunni group called the Abdallah al-Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the rockets. Experts are worried that this might be a new front for Al Qaeda fighters, you know, our new buddies fighting the Syrian government.

"Israel's Channel 10 TV showed pictures from Gesher Haziv, a communal farm near the Lebanese border, of a large rocket fragment lying on the ground near a white car with shattered windows and flat tires and pocked with shrapnel holes in its side. Security men cleaned up rocket fragments from the ground."

The year was 1976. I was young and out of high school and made the jewish kid trip back to hang out for a year in the land where my father was born. I settled on Gesher Haziv, a lovely kibbutz a half mile away from Lebanon that bordered the Mediterranean. Right next to the Club Med at Achziv, no less. Gesher Haziv means Bridge of Splendor, after a particularly bloody battle in the War of Independence called Night of the Bridges that claimed 14 Palmach lives.

The Kibbutz had been founded in the 40's by a bunch of guys from Detroit and it was a natural fit for me. I worked as an electrician's apprentice for a year, everything from wiring apartments to fixing lamps and machinery.

I took a hebrew ulpan study course with a bunch of freshly minted Russian emigres. Did a little bit of touring, got the feel of the place. Our farm raised oranges, primarily the delicious yaffa orange and the green clementine, as well as avocados, bananas and turkeys. We had a small factory that made plastic parts, worked there two weeks on my second go round and hated it.

Met a lot of good people, many world travelers from England, Argentina, South Africa and other locales.

We had three tanks on the farm, I believe that our population was about 500. We had some legitimate war heros, a guy not much older than I from Philly who managed to decimate a whole Syrian tank brigade on his own, Jonatan, who later had a role in Entebbe.

I was about two weeks in before I witnessed my first rocket attack. The first explosion of the Katyusha rocket startled me, it had a whistle like the approach of a supersonic train. My room mate in our spartan cubicle freaked and threw a full glass against a wall in fright. The strapping hulk was on the next plane out. You never really know who can handle it or not.

It was when the large, first baseman's mitt fragment came through the wall that I had my own start. I reached out to touch the molten hunk of metal and carelessly burned my own palm.

The lebanese had pretty poor aim, they tried to hit the nearest big city, Nahariya and usually hit us. Luckily, there was always a bomb shelter within pretty easy reach. The kibbutz had a novel solution to the blasts. Wherever they hit, we planted a tree. Saved on a lot of digging.

We were remonstrated not to talk with Palestinian construction workers that we worked with regarding the precise location of the rocket strikes. This could lead to certain people recalibrating their aim.

I went back to Israel during the time of Operation Desert Storm, The only salmon pointing the wrong way and trying to get into the country. I arrived three days after the start of the war, stopping long enough to grab a gas mask and an atropine injection kit to guard against chemical attack. We really didn't know what was on the Scuds then. I was in the country an hour, on a bus up north to the Kibbutz, the only civilian, when the word came on the radio that the scud was in the air, pointed in our direction. We donned our masks and waited for the sword to strike. Luckily it landed offshore nearbye off Akko.

I witnessed 75 katyusha strikes on my settlement the first night. Bit nerve wracking.  We had to enter the sealed rooms practically every day and await our possible doom. I have more scud stories too but would prefer to talk about them some other time. I was in Tel Aviv when the war ended, miraculously on Purim, the same day that the jews were released from their Iraqi captors courtesy of Queen Esther three thousand years earlier.

I hope that everybody at Gesher Haziv is all right. I hope that the Lebanese can save themselves from themselves.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Der Berliner Soulchor

Val McCallum

Living in Los Angeles would pretty much suck, well except for the fact that you could catch Val McCallum's band Jackshit playing around town every once in a while if you looked.

I caught Val with Lucinda Williams two years ago and he is a truly incredible musician.

The mirror study

Is there a nexus between wealth and narcissism?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

My soul went down last friday

The wages of sin is perdition

It maybe wasn't the smartest move to take off for Vegas a mere two days after the long trek through New Mexico but sometimes you must play the cards that you are dealt. Leslie had her biannual clothing show, I had a small bone to pick with the gods of Black Jack and the piles on the floor in my office would have to wait. A short stopover at the city of sin in the accompany of the one that I love the most, how could I pass that up? Although I now must admit in the aftermath, I am completely wiped out.

I am too tired to give you anything but the quite abridged version, short on much but the bare facts. We followed a big dust storm up the I-15, baking in the 115° heat and then hit the tempest, a storm that made the freeway a duck pond and exceedingly difficult to navigate. The rain cooled the thermometer down to about 75° when we hit town but it quickly rose to a stasis point of around 105° and decided to stay thereabouts for the duration.

Really good trip, amazingly I won every black jack session. Not giant bank but a nice affirmation that my "spidey card" sense was intact and that I could once again revert to my asskicking ways after one or two beat downs. Think I can now better justify the new super telephoto lens without too much guilt. Will work out quite nicely in Yellowstone.

We stayed at the Trump, thirtieth floor upgrade to a suite, very nice. No gambling and awful food but a nice hotel, nonetheless. Went to the spa one day and self applied an aloe scrub, steam, sauna, pool, the gamut. My normal comp room at the Venetian was unavailable with a million people in town for MAGIC and the fashion shows.

I decided to catch a little bit of the scenery and eschewing a $20.00 cab ride downtown each way, I bordered the city bus, known in these parts as the deuce and made my way down to Fremont St. for some local color on the cheap.

Fremont St. is a quite interesting zoo, lot of shtick, everybody looking for an angle.

I guess the pictures speak for themselves.

Downtown definitely caters to a different clientele. Hadn't been in a while and look forward to further exploration in the future!


We had a great meal at Valentino with Loughlin and a couple of his best friends.

I ordered the rib eye with the shaved australian truffle along with polenta with a mushroom medley (sing a few bars). Outstanding. Cannolli.

Unfortunately Valentino is supposedly closing up shop, high rents and whatever. Sold off their incredible wine. I will really miss this place. In this day of stupid idea of the week food faddishness it simply delivered fabulous food every time.

This guy was laying down the facts of life pretty hard and heavy at the back of the bus. Had a Filner rap too. Took a while to convince him to let me take a shot with the camera.

Black lady next to me was complaining on the phone because the union was going on strike and her boyfriend didn't have work right now. Landlord won't fix anything.

A crazy young woman lunged at the side of the bus in a violent motion, screaming unintelligibly. She ended up sprinkling us out of her bottle of holy water, than pirouetted in a jerky manner and settled back to her very private trajectory. Eccentric Orbits.

Saw a pack of wild burros on the way back. Very cool sight. Couldn't get a shot.

Glad to be back. Time to put nose to grindstone and clean up a few things, starting with the gallery. Repair relations with the cat.