Monday, February 22, 2016

Robert Palmer - Looking For Clues

A Southern California Institution

Coming back from Palm Springs Sunday afternoon on our trip to get more swag, Leslie and I decided to stop at Morongo to gas up and stop at Hadley's.

I bought gas there for $1.99 which might sound expensive to some of you but is real cheap for California.

Don't recall how long it's been since we've been under two bucks but it has been quite a while.

We drove over to Hadley and guess what, it wasn't there! Damn. I've been going to Hadley since I was a kid. I was bumming to see the old green building boarded up but Leslie espied the small sign that alerted us to a shiny new facility on the hill. We drove on over.

Place is pretty spiffy!

Hadley started in business in Pasadena in 1931. I have been going to the funky Cabazon location at least since 1971, when I was in boarding school at Desert Sun in nearby Idyllwild. Place is famous for their delicious date shakes.

The Hadley family had various locations, one long since closed in Carlsbad. Great place to buy dried fruit, nuts and trail mix, that sort of thing. Not cheap but great quality. Somewhere along the line the business was sold to the Morongo Indian Tribe, who had worked for the original family since its inception.

The place is almost too modern and clean inside now, like a Sprouts. Miss the funk a little bit. We both favor the date banana shake and bought a large one to share. Very thick, seriously yummy. I bought some succulent dried peaches and a couple other things. The cashier told me that they had been open since New Years. An interesting mix of bikers, gays, heartlanders and punk rockers in line and at the new, enlarged eating section. Even some normal muggle types like me.

Glad they're still in business.

Governments Don't Understand Cyber Warfare. We Need Hackers

Perhaps it's a generational thing? Kids weaned on the technology will always run circles around the late adopters...

Rodrigo Bijou is a friend of mine. This is his recent TED talk. A brilliant young man, in the last ten years he has had a meteoric rise to prominence in the field of cyber security. I am very proud of him and look forward to more of his contributions to the cyber debate in the future.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sure going to miss Dan Hicks.


If you hadn't noticed, my literary production is way down over here at the blast. I have been on a rigorous schedule, just came back from yet another trip to Palm Springs. Steve and I were lucky and fortunate enough to buy some things from a nice estate.

This has required my seeking out additional storage space and spending all week sifting and cataloguing. I am fried and exhausted. And Hillsborough is coming right up.

In any case it has been rather nice not to have to blather about the political scene, Scalia, Trump, the Bern etc. I hate being reactive and I think posting a pretty photograph or two is so much easier on the blood pressure!

Plenty of tongues wagging already, you certainly don't need my help sorting it all out.

Now in its ninth year, or it will be March third anyway, you know how it works; I try to shut up as long as I can but all this hydrostatic pressure builds inside the dam and one day it just blows.

Coming soon.

I bought a new Epson SC P-800 printer after the 3800 died. Printed up my portraits and sent them off to the framer. Hope that you will join me at the Fallbrook Library on March 11 for the reception of the annual Fallbrook Shutters show. I am quite happy with the work.

Met a decorator in Palm Springs who said that her practice is centered on the seventies. Oh god, I bit my lip. Frankly the seventies forward is a big, dead aesthetic blur for me. She bought the hideous brass owl I had dissed in this forum so badly from Steve.

We got punk in the seventies but we also got sheit like Toto, Asia, Foreigner, cork ceilings, white shag, cocaine, herpes, running injuries and a host of other ills. The abysmal Martha Davis and the Motels, or was that the eighties? Talking Heads were good, maybe glasnost, not much else...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Worried Man

Light up with cannabis

I am back home from a successful trip. Long, arduous and fruitful. Maybe more on the trip later.

Like two ships passing in the night, Leslie has her own show in Las Vegas and the cat was a bit out of sorts about spending so much time alone.

I think we have it all worked out now but when I got home he let me know in no uncertain terms that he wasn't real pleased.

I got an interesting call tonight. A woman in Arizona, married to a very successful performer that I will not publicly name, found out about a lamp I own and gave me a call.

If you have been to my shop you might have seen one of my prized possessions, the early twentieth century Handel lamp with the marijuana leaves and encircling smoke tendrils.

People have been trying to buy this lamp off of me for years and I just don't ever feel like parting with it.

It is probably the earliest decorative graphic depiction of marijuana I have ever seen. Founded in Connecticut in 1876, Handel produced art nouveau lamps for several decades, before art deco and moderne sent the movement for a loop and into an eventual death spiral, with Handel finally closing its doors for good in 1936.

My shade is signed Handel Co.with an R and numbered #2750. I presume and estimate that it was made in the teens. And don't try to tell me that it is an aurelia or some other plant. Take my word for it, I happen to know what a pot leaf looks like. Kid knows his weed.

In any case, I got to talking to this nice lady and it turns out she wasn't trying to buy my lamp.

She actually has one of her own and her brother in law wants to buy it and she was wondering what it was worth?

I told her  it would have to be a whole bunch of money and she agreed with me. I think that we are both going to keep our reefer lamps. You aesthetically inclined viper heads will have to find your own.

She kindly sent me a picture of her own beautiful shade. Very nice.

I had never figured that my lamp was a lone orphan but I had never seen another in the last twenty years. I decided to google Handel and the shape number. Lo and behold, a third. A 10" version (mine is 12") that had been unfortunately cracked somewhere along the way was sold on ebay in 2013. So maybe there are a bunch of them hiding under wraps out there in various dens of iniquity.

Now pot has been used by humans for a very long time. It has been found in a shaman's grave in China that dates back 2700 years.  Traces of cannabis are said to have been found in Shakespeare's clay pipes and good Queen Victoria is said to have used it for feminine cramping.

But you rarely see it used in decorative motifs and that is what makes these old lampshades so special.  Something to light up your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Sea Eagle

Leslie and I drove to Bakersfield yesterday to pick up some pottery from the restorer. Long day, nice to have good company for the trip. On the way home I noticed the osprey in the tall dead tree on the river that he favors for a perch. I didn't have the long lens but made due with what was on the camera.

Always nice to see an osprey!

Palm Springs Modernism

Henrietta Berk (1919-1990) - Moraga 48 x 48"

Isn't it time for a nice trip out to the desert? I am pleased to announce that the Blue Heron Gallery will be exhibiting at the Palm Springs Modernism show this weekend. Would love to see you if you are able to attend. Over 1000 tickets have already been sold for the opening night party, not including press and VIP.

I will be offering a nice selection of studio ceramics and fresh modern paintings as well as some exceptional silver and decorative objects.


Robert Sommers
Blue Heron Gallery
113 N. Main Ave.
Fallbrook, CA 92028

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Upcoming show

I will be participating in a group photography show at the Fallbrook Library during the month of March titled "Images of Fallbrook." Opening reception is the evening of March 11, 2016. I will be showing large scale portraiture and a few other topical works. Hope that you can join me at the reception or make time to see the show sometime during the month.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Doc Watson - Little Sadie

I had a dream last night that Doc Watson came down and visited me, even gave me a guitar lesson. Thought I should acknowledge his kindness. Saw him at least three times, maybe four. The greatest flatpicker ever.

Super Deluxe at half the price

The scribe writes in the book of hours with a golden feather...
Painted hills near Winslow

Raven frieze - Wrigley Memorial, Catalina Architect -  Bennett, Parsons and Frost, 1933
Roadside grave of Macario Griego, Trampas, NM

Me and my late pal, Sam Maloof

Crow and branch

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Stupid Pills

I am so sick of politics. I can't wait for the election to be over. Both sides demonizing each other, being spoon fed news that merely reinforces their respective positions, no political discourse, no critical thinking, frightening.

The self righteousness and self congratulatory fervor is so thick that you can cut it with a knife, makes me want to puke.A media that focuses on winners and losers and pays little attention to policy. So little intellectual integrity today.

I never thought that things could get this stupid. A pox on both their houses. I guess we are getting what we deserve.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

High Flyin' Bird

Sweet Thrills

I worked late yesterday and I was starving when I left the office. By the time I looked up from the computer it was already dark. Leslie was coming home to make dinner, but there was no way I could make it that long. It was snack time.

I was jonesing for sugar but what to do? The doughnut shop closes early and a piece of fruit from El Toro Market simply wouldn't cut it this time. I continued down the road and decided to case the nearby Circle K for something sweet.

Courtesy - Village News

I walked in, hadn't visited in ages and noticed that the fencing was still up inside near the front door, the stuff they had to install to keep kids from running out of the place with stolen beer. Clean inside, dingy out, some nefarious folks in the parking lot as usual but no visible tweakers. Wisegirl tried to sell me a promotion and I told her to amscray.

I looked around and considered my options. Was a little late for hostess cupcakes, the three pack was overkill and then there was the problem of hiding the evidence from my wife.

I looked long and hard at the Rice Krispy treats, which now come in several new flavors including butterscotch, but they are quite large and the decadence would have overwhelmed my already pinned guilt meter and I thought better of it.

Wasn't in the mood for skittles, my relationship with them has gone sour since the hard one broke my tooth a few months ago, hmmmm?

Then I saw them, like a beautiful mirage on the other side of the store, a shining city on a hill, there stood a Thrifty Ice Cream counter, at least ten different flavors nestled happily in their tubs.

When did this happen? When did the Circle K start selling ice cream? I asked Juan, the man behind the register and he told me that they had been there for a few months but confided that ice cream dried him up and he did not personally partake in the frozen confection.

I was informed that the favorite flavors were readily apparent by their paucity, the green which I assume is pistachio and the synthetic looking multicolored swirl, of undetermined origin, the scarcest in the tub. I opted for a personal favorite, Rocky Road, in a cup thank you, but was notified of various available container options including the waffle cone.

The base of the kiosk said Bon Suisse company and I made a mental note to check them out.  Thrifty Ice Cream at the Circle K. I would have to do some digging.

For those of you that are not aware, Thrifty Ice Cream is the stuff that they sell at Rite Aid. It made the news a few decades ago when it received its kosher certification as the cleanest ice cream around and is definitely a favorite of many people. What makes it different? Here's what I found out about Thrifty:

Harry and Robert Borun, and their brother-in-law Norman Levin, founded Borun Brothers, a Los Angeles, California drug wholesaler in 1919. Eventually they opened a few Los Angeles retail outlets under the name Thrifty Cut Rate. The first drug store was located at 412 S. Broadway in downtown Los Angeles, across the street from the Broadway Department Store.

“Save a nickel, save a dime.
Save at Thrifty every time.
Save a dollar and much more,
at your Thrifty Drug Store!”

By 1950 they had one hundred stores, all operating in California. They eventually expanded to the Pacific Northwest and Nevada and later on, down into Mexico. Thrifty initially bought their ice cream from local wholesalers but eventually had to start producing their own to meet heavy demand. In 1940 they purchased Borden Ice Cream Company's existing Hollywood factory for $250,000.00.

Thrifty makes the ice cream for at least 559 Rite Aid stores, Farrell's Ice Cream Parlors and Costco. They won the Orange County Register's prize for best ice cream in 2010 as well as numerous gold medals elsewhere. The secret? A flash-freezing technique in the manufacturing process to minimize the size of the ice crystals. Then a final freeze at −60 degrees for at least a day before being shipped.

Flavors include Chocolate Malted Krunch, Butter Pecan, Mint 'N Chip, and Rocky Road and Circus Animal Cookies, made with real Mother's Cookies as well as many more. They use real fruit, cookies, real whole California milk with a butterfat content of 10.25% butterfat, far less than their competitors.

They also pioneered their own cylindrical scoop design way back when. And did I mention that the stuff is cheap?

Somewhere along the line Thrifty bought Pay Less. Thrifty Corp. itself was acquired by Pacific Lighting, the parent of Southern California Gas, in 1986. So who in the heck is Bon Suisse? A California company, they have held an exclusive license to use the Thrifty brand name and sell Thrifty ice cream in Mexico, Latin America, and the Middle East since 1995.

And they apparently have worked out a deal with Circle K. But here is where it gets a little squirrely. In October of last year Walgreens bought Rite Aid and though they have not yet announced if they are planning on jettisoning the much loved ice cream, in fact they are definitely considering the big ixnay. But not to worry, you can always swing by the Circle K. For now.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Monday, February 1, 2016

That's the other side of this life


I am back from my show in Santa Barbara. It was difficult, very difficult. I quickly remembered why I had considered not returning. Same reasons as always, I don't need to delve into them again. But I managed to pull it out with a quite respectable an almost adequate ending. The key for me is to not turn myself inside out when things go south.

My ass has been pulled out of the fire many times in the past and it was once again. Sometimes it is just a matter of waiting for the wind to change. And having a little faith.

I did a few things that were good for my mental health. I set up quick and got out of town, exploring a few ridges and back roads and driving out past Ojai. I went to Super Rica with the boys and had my favorite jugo de sandia and a dover sole tamale with cream sauce and chiles. I was invited to a great dinner at a friends' house and met some new wonderful people. Talked long into the night.

Kept my head in a better place through the adversity this week.

Tired today.

Jefferson Airplane takes off

It is hard for me to express my sadness at the passing of Paul Kantner. I didn't know him personally, mumbled a few words to him once, but still feel that he was an integral part of my life. There were lots of great psychedelic bands, the Dead, Quicksilver, Beatles to name a couple but few if any managed to weave a radical social and political message together with such a potent musical fire as the Airplane. And Paul Kantner was arguably the principal architect of that message. The Jefferson Airplane touched me hard.

I first was exposed to the airplane in Texas when my angry stepfather used to break my older sister Liz's 45 singles of white rabbit with regularity. This was sometime between 1966 and 1968. No sooner would he break them than she would replace them. We moved to New York soon thereafter and I recall waiting outside the Fillmore East late in the night for Liz on at least one occasion while the Airplane were playing. They were her favorite band and maybe mine. The dead were planes, trains and card games but the Airplane hit you in an altogether different place.

And then my little weird story. I had seen Tuna many times and Kantner sitting in with them on at least one occasion but never the airplane or starship. One day, many years ago, Leslie and I were walking down the street in Ocean Beach for one reason or another. We were walking by a tiny little club and the marquee said Jefferson Airplane and we looked at each other and said oh right and we walked in and there was Paul Kantner sitting in the middle of an empty room on a stool.

I walked up to him and asked him if he would play Other side of this life and he looked me straight in the spectacles and said coming right up and launched right into it. I stood next to him all night and called out a few favorites for Paul and his smoking band which if memory serves, included Slick Aguilar in that incarnation.

It was amazing and surreal. There can not have been more than 40 people in the room all night.

Jim Marshall Photography LLC
I do not think that Paul was particularly either a great singer or even displayed too much virtuosity in his rhythm guitar playing. What he had was a fantastic and giant brain and a beautiful being. I think that intelligence makes up for a hell of a lot. While not blessed with what could be termed a great voice, his harmonies a bit discordant, they were distinctive and functional. His lyrics were priceless and occasionally sublime.

It is very hard today to explain the impact of psychedelic music, for the simple reason that if you have never been psychedelic there is really no proper way to adequately describe the experience.

But if you happened to "make the trip" people like Paul Kantner and the Jefferson Airplane could provide some auditory touchstones that might lend needed comfort and navigational help on your personal interstellar excursion. Of which some of us were quite grateful.

My friend Vlad videotaped the Jerry Memorial in Golden Gate Park and we watched the previously unseen footage last time I was up in Monterey. And I remarked to him that Paul Kantner was the most moving speaker, his words were transcendent, eloquent and brilliant. Maybe one day he will let me post the video.

Leslie and I caught Papa John Creach's memorial in Hollywood many years ago. Merle Saunders played as did David La Flamme and then the airplane without Jorma. About midnight Paul announced a special guest and it was Grace and she sang long into the night, powerful, precise, beautiful and simply amazing. Another very magic moment in our lives. Leslie and I hung out at the bar with the late photographer Jim Marshall, a great guy himself.

Signe at the Matrix - Herbie Greene?
I wrote Michael L when I heard the news about Paul dying the other day. Michael had a leather shop in the Haight back in the day that eventually morphed into something huge. He wrote me this note:

I was at the Fillmore in 1967 it was either  Feb 4 or June 4 I looked it up,  to hear Grace Slick take over for Signe who had a baby, light shows, people dancing it seemed like everybody was high and non violent, if we could only recreate that favorite song, Miracles 1975ish thanks for sharing I miss your blog


Lo and behold I couldn't believe it when I heard the news. Signe Anderson, original singer for the Airplane, who was incredibly loved (people were in tears when she left the band), died the very same day as Paul, January 28th. What a strange coincidence! Bless you guys. Bless your pointed little heads.