Rapt attention

Monday, September 26, 2016

Just My Baby

Sterile Cuckold

Interesting article in the Navy Times. President Obama and Susan Rice have muzzled our top military commander in the Pacific. Four Star Admiral Harry Harris has been advocating for a more muscular pushback to Chinese island building and aggression. The administration doesn't want to rock the boat and wishes he would just shut up.
Harris and his U.S. Pacific Command have been waging a persistent campaign in public and in private over the past several months to raise the profile of China's land grab, accusing China outright in February of militarizing the South China Sea.
But the Obama administration, with just nine months left in office, is looking to work with China on a host of other issues from nuclear non-proliferation to an ambitious trade agenda, experts say, and would prefer not to rock the South China Sea boat, even going so far as to muzzle Harris and other military leaders in the run-up to a security summit.
"They want to get out of office with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of cooperation with China," said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and defense strategy analyst with the Center for a New American Security.
The White House has sought to tamp down on rhetoric from Harris and other military leaders, who are warning that China is consolidating its gains to solidify sovereignty claims to most of the South China Sea.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice imposed a gag order on military leaders over the disputed South China Sea in the weeks running up to the last week's high-level nuclear summit, according to two defense officials who asked for anonymity to discuss policy deliberations. China's president, Xi Jinping, attended the summit, held in Washington, and met privately with President Obama.
I point this out because I read a scathing article regarding Obama's treatment of the Department of Defense and Pentagon brass the other day. Will try to put my finger on it. Defense Secretary Ash Carter is pissed because he was kept out of the loop on the Iran ransom money. Neither he nor the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph Dunford, had a clue what was going on, nor were they aware of the nuclear entreaties to Iran.

Much like Obama has alienated certain allies, he has also kept his own military out of the loop for both terms in office. It is no wonder that Trump is up 19 points with active military. Obama has done his best to castrate and neuter the United States military, who have often taken the fall for his strategic cuckoldry.
The disclosure is also the latest example of how U.S. military leaders have been distancing themselves from Kerry's Middle East diplomacy. Senior military leaders could barely disguise their opposition to Kerry's latest cease-fire plan for Syria, which would have resulted in the U.S. cooperating with Russia to select bombing targets had a cessation of hostilities held for a week. It didn't. At the hearing Thursday, Dunford said the Pentagon had no plans to share any intelligence with Russia.
Most important in all of this, though, is that the fissures between the military and the White House, which have been growing since Obama's first term, are coming out in the open in his presidency's final months. Since leaving office, all three of Obama's prior defense secretaries have talked publicly about their frustrations with the White House.
Robert Gates, who was Obama's first secretary of defense, wrote a scathing memoir where he complained about being ordered around by senior White House staff. Leon Panetta, who headed the Pentagon between 2011 and 2013, told the New York Times Magazine earlier this year that he never saw the letters Obama sent to Iran's Supreme Leader, when he served as CIA director or secretary of defense. Panetta's successor, Chuck Hagel, told Foreign Policy last December that he believed the White House had set out to destroy him.
We'll have to wait, but if recent public testimony is any indication Ash Carter will write a lively memoir once he leaves office
I read an interview with the defrocked sailor who commanded the boat commandeered by the Iranians. He said that he was confident that if he had tried to defend himself, the administration would have stabbed him in the back and court martialed him. And unfortunately, he is probably correct. This is not an administration that supports the U.S. military.

Three minutes, fifteen seconds

Darron Cummings/A.P.
Such a nasty time. I can not wait for this election to be over. Trump is making a steady and scary climb in the polls, a month ago he was an 82 to 18 shot, it has swung ten points his way. Frightening. He certainly could win.

Lots of friends have announced that they are moving somewhere else if he gets elected. Not me, I'm making popcorn, going to enjoy the show.

The guy is a brilliant communicator and he is playing the media like a fiddle. He reminds me of one of his supporters, Bobby Knight. Working the refs so he can get a call late in the game.

Today was a brilliant snapshot of Herr Trump at his trumpiest. Last week he called out tonight's debate moderator, NBC's Lester Holt.
The Republican presidential candidate said on The O'Reilly Factor Monday night that he respects NBC "Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, who is moderating the first debate, but took issue with the political lean of the moderators as a whole. 
"Lester is a Democrat. It's a phony system. They are all Democrats. It's a very unfair system.
I've worked pretty well within the system. I guess by a lot of polls I'm leading many of the polls," Trump told Bill O'Reilly on Fox News. "I think we are doing very well, and the system is aghast."
All well and good except for one thing. Lester Holt is a Republican.

Trump likes to rail against the liberal media. I think the guy has been getting a free pass.

It is estimated by Politico that Trump lies once every three minutes and fifteen seconds.  And I know that many of you don't care, you've told me, I get it. Maybe its time we had a liar, yadda, yadda, yadda. Do the country good. Anybody but that bitch Hillary. I just ask that you be honest with me later after you vote this schmuck in.

Trump's oh so smooth spokeswoman Kellyanne Conway, when confronted by the Holt prevarication said that it wasn't really a lie because Trump didn't actually know Holt's party fealty.


“Every critic, every detractor, will have to bow down to President Trump.”
Trump Outreach director Omarosa Manigault

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Cañoncito cemetary

MARIA CALLAS La Traviata, Addio del passato 1953


It is hard to think about going to Italy without thinking of my father. He loved the country. In fact I dreamt about my late father Amos Sommers last night.

I am not sure what triggered it but it might have been reading about Parma being Verdi's birthplace as well as Toscanini's. We will be in Parma in just a few days. Or maybe it is just the fact that I miss him.

My dad loved opera and he loved classical music, always humming one aria after another. He loved the food of Italy, especially  the region of Trieste.

He visited many times. Once he rented a yellow Ferrari Dino and toured the country at jet speed.

The factories for Ferrari, Lamborghini, De Tomaso, Maserati, Pagani and Scaglietta were all located near Modena, located in the area of Emilia Romagna we will be touring.

That was another passion of my dads, fast cars. His love was his Aston Martin DB 5 convertible, with body by Carrozeria Touring Superleggera. And there were many more of near equal distinction.

My father had style and he was a renaissance man and he wrote his own ticket. He had an art and antiques collection that would rival some museums. Loved magic squares and mathematical puzzles, relativity and physics, golfing, photography and watching basketball. Wrote complicated algebraic equations for fun as well as a book on economics. Built perfect architectural models out of foam and balsa.

He put up with a lot of crap from us, or should I say me? Once got me out of jail in Los Angeles at four in the morning after I had been arrested and roughed up by some cops at a Grateful Dead concert. Wasn't real happy but he was very forgiving. Loved his kids.

Les and Dad
I both salute him and miss him terribly. We may try to catch an opera in his honor.

Skating away

First puff

Friday, September 23, 2016

Dorothy Ashby - Hip Harp

Homeland Insecurity

I thought that the recent story that at least 858 recent immigrants to the United States were mistakenly granted citizenship was not very reassuring. Oops. I guess that their fingerprints were missing from the federal databases.

These particular emigres were all from “special interest countries” — those that present a national security concern for the United States — or neighboring countries with high rates of immigration fraud. The report did not identify those specific countries.
The U.S. government has mistakenly granted citizenship to at least 858 immigrants from countries of concern to national security or with high rates of immigration fraud who had pending deportation orders, according to an internal Homeland Security audit released Monday.
The Homeland Security Department’s inspector general found that the immigrants used different names or birthdates to apply for citizenship with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and such discrepancies weren’t caught because their fingerprints were missing from government databases.
I love this part:
DHS said in an emailed statement that an initial review of these cases suggest that some of the individuals may have ultimately qualified for citizenship, and that the lack of digital fingerprint records does not necessarily mean they committed fraud.
It was estimated last year that one of three Syrian refugees in Germany is using false documents and is actually from some other country. You suppose that it is any different here?

The anger and fear of the average American let alone Donald Trump supporter after Boston, San Bernardino, Miami and now New Jersey is understandable. Naturalized citizens expressing their gratitude in the most horrible of ways. It is hard if not impossible to have faith in our government's ability to vet immigrants and refugees properly, let alone protect us from domestic terrorism.

Even a father calling the FBI and telling them that his son is traveling to Pakistan and associating with terrorists isn't enough to raise alarm bells. How many more tragedies will have to occur before the government starts taking its job more seriously and starts acting more competently?

Tufas, Mono Lake

I had forgotten that I had taken some shots with the Sigma 150-600mm C superzoom last week. This was coupled with my Nikon D7200 dx camera. Minimal color adjustment and processing, pretty sharp.

Thursday, September 22, 2016


The Kick Inside

Why does it take so long for you to speak to me?

Stop that train

Obeying the hive directive

Short rant today.

I used to love baseball, played growing up, sandlot, little league minors and high school. Never a great player, steady, generally hit them up the middle.

Played on dirt, played on the grass. We played catch a lot as kids, never really see that anymore.

Would create magical neatsfoot oil potions and sleep with our new gloves, forming them around a baseball.

Tony Perez
Loved Feller, Aparicio and Perez as a kid and Willie of course. Huge fan of the Big Red Machine, in my opinion the greatest offense ever assembled, perhaps just short of the 27 Yankees.

I started watching the San Diego Padres when they played in the Pacific Coast League at Westgate Park. The park was located at what is now the Fashion Valley Mall in Mission Valley.

They were a Phillies farm club and won the PCL pennant in 1967. At the time they were owned by the notorious financier C. Arnholt Smith. It was intense at the park when the heavy fog rolled in. My first local hero was a Padre by the name of Roberto Peña.

Team never did much, had some great stars like Ollie Brown, Nate Colbert, Cito Gaston, later Winfield, Jones and of course Gwynn. Characters like Enzo Hernandez and Fingers. But they were respectable. Teams won some games. Haven't been able to say that in years.

Because the owners stopped caring. They figured out that they would make money win or lose. So the Padres became notorious for cultivating great players and then giving them away, being too cheap to pay them.

One time Padres President Tom Garfinkel said it best, it wasn't necessarily about winning, fans wanted a "great baseball experience." Have the public fund a shiny new ballpark, put on what passes for a show and all the money will be made on the adjoining real estate.

So here is my minor bitch for today, electronic signs at the ball park that tell you when to yell and how loud you should yell. Lame. So scripted. Okay kids, time to do the stupid dance for the camera...

What kind of real fan needs a sign to tell him when to yell? I feel like a monkey on a string. Manipulated. My anti authoritarian streak makes me want to do just the opposite of whatever they tell me to do.

Our friends Bill and Jean were kind enough to share tickets in their suite last night. Padres had two or three players that could make a legitimate major league roster, the club is currently undergoing one of their noted purges where anybody of value has been denuded from the club like a clear cut forest. But hey, who cares, what a great baseball experience. Did you see all those flashing lights? Brother.

All this canned, manufactured, fake, obsessively controlled theater and mind control at the "new" ballpark truly nauseates me. Simple game, ball, bat, nine fielders, but they find a way to muck it up.

Soon the Padres will have a whole new set of promising players that they can give away to their masters in the Cubs and Red Sox.

Of course all that will have to wait until the General Manager is free to reassume his duties with the club, having been suspended for keeping two sets of medical records, in house and for public consumption, and hiring a Department of Defense medical trainer to manage the charade. At least three other clubs evidently got sore when A.J. Preller sold them badly damaged goods.

Padres lost to the lowly Diamondbacks. And it ain't going to get better for a long, long time.

Have you noticed that you can't make an online booking for a hotel or buy a widget on Amazon, Expedia or the like without being immediately pestered for a review so that you can report back to the hive? God forbid you don't fulfill your obligations as a cyber-citizen.

Once again, I will review when I want to. I have no duty to, or obligation, nor do I have a duty to cheer when you tell me to. So stop bugging me.

The suite was full of free food and libations. Leslie brought me a box of crackerjacks.

Jean said look, you can download the app and bring the ballpark to life, unlock all four Blipp Ballgame CrackerJack mobile experiences.

And I'm thinking, I'm at a game, how much realer can it get? I want to stop watching the game and download an app and get trapped in one of your mindless compulsion loops?

I don't think so.

Stutz told me that I was so out of fashion last month. I'm not on Instagram. I've heard it before. Hundreds of thousands of people can see your stuff in a millisecond and there are ways that you can grab them with proper post production.

He's probably right. I'm not on Facebook either. I write a blog. Nobody blogs or reads blogs anymore, it takes too long and no one has the attention span for it. Even 144 characters is too long.

But I find it weird that so many people judge their output by the amount of likes they get and I'm not seeking that kind of muggle validation.

Fuck it, I am so over.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Slim Harpo - Shake Your Hips

Life's hourglass

Reading my friend's essay regarding the passage of time I thought back to something I heard on satellite radio yesterday.

A caller from the south mentioned to Phlash Phelps that he was turning sixty. He said, in his great southern drawl, that his brother asked him if he ever thought he would make it to that august marker?

And he said that yes, he did, only he didn't think it would happen quite so fast.

Isak Lindenauer

Isak Lindenauer is not only a friend, he has been a leading purveyor of antiques in the Bay Area for over forty years. He is a specialist in the arts and crafts period and known nationally for both his fine eye and scholarly approach and for his dedication to the aesthetic period that he loves.

I am proud to say that he has been a role model for me in many ways and I have always appreciated his slavish dedication to those objects of finery that he considers the best.

What I didn't know until very recently that Isak had a website. I just read his seventh essay, which is a magnum opus and look back at a life well lived as well as a curious tale of a crime committed way back in 1882 by a poor dutch craftsman.

Isak is also a poet and has been active in the Rainbow Walk and gay rights movement for many decades. Like me he has battled serious health issues but has managed to keep them at bay. A sensitive renaissance man with a big heart and a great mind. Privilege to know him.

Frankie's Blues

Victim and the crime.

Two confluent stories have got my attention of late. Very sad stories. The first is the saga of Brandy Buckmaster that was recounted in the Guardian the other day. An admitted tweaker is forced to exchange sexual favors with a jail guard in Oregon.
In 2012, at Coffee Creek, the only state prison for women in Oregon, Buckmaster met Balzer, a 42-year-old guard who she said repeatedly coerced her into sex and exploited her until her release in 2014. She spent some of her sentence in the prison’s mental health unit, records show.
“He was in a position of power … and took advantage of someone who wasn’t mentally stable,” said Buckmaster, adding that her past abuse made her vulnerable to his advances. “I didn’t have anybody.”
According to the Washington County district attorney’s office, Balzer “engaged in sexual conduct” with Buckmaster and gave her perfume samples, and the abuse only came to light after she was released, when she mentioned the “relationship” to a staff member at a facility where she was living.
Prosecutors charged Balzer with felonies of custodial sexual misconduct and supplying contraband. Buckmaster testified in front of a grand jury last year, and Balzer was indicted in November. On the day of his arrest, he posted $2,000 bail and was let go.
Brian Balzer, a guard with a passion for his "celtic" identity, bails out and she gets locked up as a material witness and is forced to appear at his hearing in belly chains and shackles.

And she could be in jail for a very long time, one poor guy did 900 days as a murder witness.

The Deputy District Attorney, Dan Hesson, says he had no other choice.
“It is a terrible idea that she is in jail,” Hesson said, “but I can’t find a better alternative.”
Not the first time for these sort of allegations of sexual impropriety at Coffee Creek.
From its inception, Coffee Creek has been a flashpoint for staff sexual assaults on inmates. By 2012, over $1.2 million dollars had been paid out to seventeen victims—not through trials, of course, but passed under the table in the muffled hush of a settlement agreement. This was only, of course, after the Oregon Department of Justice abandoned its argument that the women had brought the sexual assault on themselves through their conduct.
Something is very wrong here.

In Suwanee, Georgia a high school student was suspended after accusing a fellow student of sexual assault.

The girl reported the incident in tears. And then things went off the tracks.
The Peachtree Ridge resource officer who first questioned T.M. set the tenor of the school’s investigation when he asked her to describe what she was wearing at the time of the assault, according to the complaint, which the family’s lawyers provided to Slate. The complaint says the officer also requested that she explain why she didn’t fight off her assailant: “Why didn’t you bite his penis and squeeze his balls?” he allegedly asked. 
There are many common elements here; the double traumatization that sexual and physical abuse survivors have to grapple with, the stigma of reporting such abuse, the victim shaming.
“We begged and pleaded with the superintendent to hold the hearing for each one separately, so that it would be less traumatizing,” T.M.’s father told me. “We even considered not having her attend at all.” But not showing up would have resulted in an automatic finding of guilt. They weighed “the moral thing of what’s right—is it right to let that boy get away with it? Is it right to not try to hold the school accountable?” T.M.’s father says. “In the end, we decided, and [T.M.] decided, that she wanted to try to stand up for herself. Of course, that did no good whatsoever.”
The boy in question of course sees things differently:
“She says she told him to stop, and he does not agree with that, but both she and he agree that he never asked her whether [the oral sex] was OK.” When the male student was asked how he knew that the act was consensual, he said, according to the complaint, that from “the look that [T.M.] had on her face, I could just tell she wanted to.” 
I find the idea that the victims here should have been expected to fight off their attackers very troubling. As anyone knows who has fought a large bully, if you are not up to the defense, the attack and outcome might get a lot worse.

A Canadian judge used the same stupid logic recently; "why couldn't you just keep your knees together?" Uh, because she was terrified? Why are you so dense and clueless, your honor?

Brenda Buckmaster, sexually abused as a child and an admitted drug abuser, is a ripe target for a predator. Obviously with no self esteem and continually degraded, she enters into a Stockholm syndrome dyad with the guard but in such an unequal equation, no sex could ever be deemed willing and consensual. Now look who is paying the price?

Sick world.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

spread the rainbow

I took the liberty of altering this photo. This is the migrant kid that got kicked by the Hungarian photographer. We can't forget that little kids are just little kids. They deserve better. Every color.

For the good times

Cañon Blanco Sunset

The Royal Scam

Ged's Bakery and Cafe

We have a new bakery in Fallbrook at the site of the old Cafe Primo/Espresso Lounge. My god it has been through so many different  owners and managers, it is frankly hard to keep track. All I know is that I have been drinking my morning coffee at one incarnation or another of this location for the last ten years or so.

This time it is different. It is a really good bakery. No more retread pastries from Costco. Not a red headed stepchild of a restauranteur's food empire or a passing fancy for a real estate broker.

Place has only been open a few weeks and I love it. Because the food is so good, at least the baked goods that I have tried are fantastic. Haven't stopped in for lunch yet.

Owned by husband and wife John and Geraldine (aka Ged), the baker, this establishment has some of the most superb and creative pastries you will find anywhere. This morning I had a banana oatmeal muffin. They made it the first day and I have been bugging them to make it again. They did.

This morning they let us sample the new blueberry bourbon pastry. Out of this world.

And the list goes on and on, peach and strawberry danish, cream cheese filled croissant, homemade bagels, so much more.

Coffee is a little different, not sure that I am down with it yet but they are trying. A little strong for me. I sort of favor Peet's Kenyan AA.

Restaurant is clean and fresh. I hope that you will give them a try. If you are not happy with anything talk to the owners and they will gladly listen and try to make it right.

Ged's Bakery and Cafe's food is so beautiful I have been taking pictures of it.

food porn

Monday, September 19, 2016

Fish Tale

Some men can dance. Some can fix their own brakes. Certain males make beautiful music. There are guys that are wizards in the kitchen and men that can make a serviceable computer out of a few resistors, a piece of copper and a lemon.

I, on the other hand, can do none of these things.

I eat but I can not cook. And the times I try can be truly frightening. Like tonight.

I guess that I should start at the beginning. Gary has a friend named Rich who is a commercial fisherman. I've been bugging him for tuna and the other day he turned me on to three huge shrink wrapped chunks of yellowfin. Yowza.

Leslie was going to cook it but she had a spa day and called and said that I might want to cook it myself. No problem.

Now you have to understand that I am basically persona non grata in my own kitchen. About twenty six years ago I attempted to cook an esoteric Chinese dish called velvet chicken and ended up getting oil everywhere including the ceiling and behind the fridge. The kitchen was a disaster area and I basically soiled every pot and utensil in the house and ended up throwing the frickin chicken away.

Some guys can write and take pretty pictures, nobody gets to do it all.

Anyhow, Leslie kind of gets nervous when she sees me cooking and besides, we live in a little house and it is a small kitchen.

Gary had given me explicit instructions for this tuna, the Royal Polaris method wherein you first drop an 85/15 hamburger patty on the grill and cook tuna marinated in Bernstein's commercial Italian dressing on the beef fat on the grill afterwards. Sounds easy, right?

Well I had no beef, and come to think of it, no dressing, whipped up a little half assed marinade of soy sauce, garlic powder, balsamic, olive oil and red chili and after a quick dip gave the succulent fish an organic mayo rub down.

Here is where the train started coming off the track.

I knew that the electronic ignition was on the fritz on the propane grill but it wouldn't even match light. As the smell of the gas wafted through the air (I finally remembered to turn it off) I went to plan b, the Weber, but the rusty thing hadn't been used in several years and I should have done a better job cleaning out the old ash.

There was a bag of mesquite charcoal but today was trash and recycle day and we only had one sheet of newspaper to light the metal cylinder dohickey. My intense concentration was broken by the realization that the neighbor kids were wheeling their trash cans up the long driveway and I was standing there close to naked in my underwear. I reached inside and got my shirt, not wanting to create any stir in the neighborhood.

I stood and watched the hot sparks rise into the air and try to light the palm tree and adjoining roof fascia on fire and then the pitiful old Weber petered out on me too. I even tried to burn a paper bag but decided it was now time for plan c, the fry pan.

I accidentally stepped on the cat on the way in, who sensing my desperate clumsiness had pity on me and tried not to yelp. I then proceeded to kick the laptop which I had left propped up against the couch. Ouch.

I tried to think of which fry pan wouldn't get the wife angry and settled on something thick and heavy. She wouldn't have to reach very far if she decided to beat me with it later.

I sprayed some coconut oil in and popped the fish on high heat. Damn, do you put it on high or medium? I don't know, I don't cook, I eat. It finally looked like the parasites had been sufficiently warmed in the center and I shut it down. Turned the loud fan on high and tried to cover my tracks.

I threw some cooked fish on the plate and ravenous, it tasted pretty good. No sides or anything, I'm just not emotionally equipped to deal with the added stress.

Twenty six years of cooking, Leslie glides around the kitchen with the grace of Ginger Rogers. I look like a caveman rubbing two sticks together.

Can't wait until she gets home and comments on the lovely piscine smell. I think I probably still have time to clean up. Live and learn. I'm just not cut out for cooking. Too stressful. A man must know his limits.

Link Wray - Taildragger

Governor Brown vs. the People of California

I used to think Jerry Brown was a pretty decent governor. But his unseen hand is all over the recent legislative failure to provide more transparency on the shenanigans of the PUC and it stinks. Loretta Sanchez fired off at her opponent Kamala Harris the other day for her reluctance to investigate her boss and his cronies on the board.

Governor Brown will not release his communications with the PUC board that could possibly shed light on the secret Warsaw backroom deals with Edison. Why not? The CPUC is now seeking over twelve million dollars to cover the cost of private attorneys to defend themselves for this debacle.
AB 2903, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), would have appointed an internal auditor at the commission to improve transparency and accountability. It also would have required the CPUC to appoint an ombudsman to monitor ethics at the agency and create a position for a new deputy executive director for safety, or “safety czar.”
But the measure died in the state Senate.
In an interview with inewsource, Gatto said he was shocked that the bill failed to reach the governor. He placed some blame on Senate Minority Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) for blocking a key vote on the bill, but added: “I don’t think it was just her.”
Fuller’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Brown had agreed to PUC reform in June and the word is that he then worked out a deal to kill it but not necessarily leave any fingerprints.
“I don’t know how to explain to the people of California that their leaders let them down,” said Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Los Angeles, who proposed a constitutional amendment to strip the commission of most of its authority before agreeing with Brown and others to an overhaul with less fundamental changes.
“You always have to decide whether a bill failed through incompetence or something more malevolent,” he said. “I have not decided which of those ended up killing the bill.”
Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said one sticking point was an existing law that allows commission employees to be charged with a misdemeanor if they release confidential information.
Hill said commission President Michael Picker wanted that provision removed but some of the regulated entities lobbied for it to remain. Still, he could not blame that impasse for the demise of the larger reforms.
You never know what the real reason is,” Hill said of the legislative failure. “You don’t know why it happens.”
The Leno Bill, 215, was designed to provide governmental transparency to the people of California. Last year Jerry vetoed six different bills designed to provide even greater reforms at the PUC.
“Clearly something that was orchestrated happened,” he said, noting that he’s “heard nothing” from the governor on the bill’s death. “It was a set of comprehensive reforms. I surmise that some pretty powerful people didn’t like them.”
The Governor's appointees to the appellate court (including Tony Kline) issued a last minute ruling that put the icing on the cake and kept the citizens of California from ever figuring out what really went down between the board and Brown's office.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge allowed the lawsuit to proceed but commission lawyers took their case to appellate court, saying the lower court had no legal jurisdiction to hear the case.
In a 16-page ruling issued hours before the reform legislation fizzled, the 1st District Court of Appeal reversed the Superior Court and prohibited it from conducting further proceedings in the case.
“If there is a dispute as to whether the CPUC has complied with the PRA, filing an action against the CPUC in an appellate court … will not limit the public’s right to access to the documents,” the judges wrote.
Aguirre disagreed with the ruling, noting that aggrieved parties have a right to be heard at the Superior Court level, but not by an appellate court.
“The appellate court waited until it was too late for the legislature to respond, then announced they were going to shield Gov. Brown’s files from disclosure,” Aguirre said. “They really are not interested in any kind of reform.”
Two of the three judges that signed the ruling were appointed by Brown.
Besides allowing plaintiffs to sue the commission in Superior Court over public-records disputes, the Gatto legislation would have moved oversight of car services like Uber and Lyft away from the commission.
It also would have created a deputy director position in charge of safety and a chief ethics position, and directed the commission to work with federal regulators to move 3 million-plus pounds of nuclear waste from San Onofre away from the San Diego County coast.
We deserved better.

The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Teton peak

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Doonesbury was great today.

Sort of a strange day. My phone went into a spaz attack and wouldn't stop talking gibberish. Couldn't shut it down, turn if off, thought about smashing it with a hammer.

Went to ATT and they had no clue, sent me to San Diego to the warranty center. They managed to fix it but my day was shot so I decided it could only be repaired with a little nearby dim sum.

Tore through the dishes like General Sherman tore through Atlanta, left far fewer prisoners.

I heard recently that the most consumed vegetable for toddlers is now the french fry. Very sad but then we have all seen infant's bottles filled with coca cola so who can be surprised?

Talked to a friend the other day whose life with his new girlfriend has been short circuited somewhat since they now find themselves raising her grandchildren because her daughter is binging on meth.

Unbelievable. Or not unbelievable I should say, because you hear the same story all the time. The failed generation.

Rainbow Falls

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Skeewiff - Brutha Noah

Piute Squaw

Edwin Austin Abbey - 1872
We were having the complimentary breakfast within earshot of the front desk at the motel in Bishop.

"Now I know what King Tut felt like. That bed was so hard it was like I was a sarcophagus on a bed of marble."

Truly it was the worst bed I have ever slept on. The two hours or so that I got anyway.

The very pretty girl at the front desk overheard me and asked me which room I was staying in?


"Oh, that's one of the new ones," she said, with a hint of apology. Not really willing to let it go without at least a tad more bitching, I started up again and she artfully shut me off with the look. This was a strong woman and I could tell that she wouldn't take much crap.

I asked if she was a native to the area and she said she indeed was. Native American, I asked?  She responded in the affirmative. "Paiute."

Now this is where it gets sort of funny. You see I recently purchased this large watercolor titled Piute Squaw - Nevada May '86 from Don Perry. Love the blanket and the little terrier dog on a leash.

This painting was the work of an artist named Frank Hamilton Taylor (1846-1927). Taylor was an artist who worked for several periodicals in the 19th century, including Harper's Weekly, Frank Leslie's, The Saturday Evening Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer.

He not only wrote but illustrated. A historian, he covered Ulysses S. Grant's trip to the south in 1880 and also served as President of the Philadelphia Sketch Club. He is in several museum collections.

Really an accomplished artist with a fascinating biography. A woman named Nancy Gustke wrote a book about him titled The Special Artist in American Culture: A Biography of Frank Hamilton Taylor (1846-1927) which I confess I have not yet obtained but plan on reading.

Here is an annotated biography from Askart:
He was born in Rochester, New York on April 21, 1846.  Taylor probably developed a strong tie to America and American History early on through his family who could trace their roots back to William Bradford and Alice Carpenter Southwork of the Plymouth Colony of 1620.  Taylor went to public high school in Rochester before joining the Rochester Grays Battery Light Artillery to join the struggle of the Civil War in 1863.  Taylor only served briefly and saw little action.  However this time was of great importance to him and demonstrates his fierce patriotism; to literally fight for what he saw to be just in America.  He would later publish a book on the Civil War (Philadelphia in the Civil War 1860-65) at the request of the city of Philadelphia and the first guidebook for the Valley Forge Parks Commission. (Gustke)
Shortly after his discharge in 1865, Taylor moved to Philadelphia to take an internship in a Lithography firm; choosing the city for its strong publishing industry as well as artistic community.  On his first day in the city, he met Margaret, who would become his wife and be the mother to his only son Frank Walter.  By the 1870's Taylor had his own lithography firm.  During this time he also worked for the Daily Graphic, "the Only Illustrated Daily Newspaper in the World" as a "special artist" which helped to broaden his reputation as a talented artist and designer.  Special Artists were artists hired by newspapers to sketch important events before the widespread use of photography.  Special Artists can be equated with story tellers; with their pens they capture moments realistically, and more importantly, communicably.  This training helped to solidify Taylor's individual artistic style.  By the 1880's Taylor had begun writing articles as well as illustrating them.  One of his most cherished assignments was in 1880, when he was hired by Harper's Weekly to cover Ulysses S. Grant's trip to the American South.  Taylor had a strong reputation in Philadelphia as a historian and artist.  Intimately involved with the Philadelphia Sketch Club, he would briefly serve as president and be a member for over 55 years.  He collaborated on many guidebooks and was asked to write several publications by institutions such as the City of Philadelphia, the Poor Richard Club (for whom he wrote a dictionary of Philadelphia) and the Philadelphia Maritime Exchange.  
In any case, I have only had this watercolor for a few months and once found an exact reference to it in some sort of compendium late one night, which I unfortunately misplaced and I am now unable to put my hands back on. Tried to contact Gustke but she may be in Europe and has left no trail.

The American Magazine Vol. 63 C. 1907
But I did discover something interesting in my scant research. The phrase Paiute Squaw was synonymous with the ugliest woman you would ever want to lay eyes on in the 19th century.

And as I could tell from this enchanting tribal flower on the other side of the motel desk, it is certainly unfair, misplaced, or at least a broad and partially false generalization.

Paiute Squaw, Yo-semite Valley - John Soule 1870- Albumen Silver Print

Or this one:

California Sketches New and Old - Oscar Penn Fitzgerald - 1882
So this painting may have been in fact early propaganda designed to perpetuate an unfortunate and untrue pejorative stereotype of the native people.

While many Americans sought emancipation for blacks and to protect the rights of minorities and the downtrodden, one only needs to look at the words of  seemingly enlightened people like Lincoln or Samuel Clemens to see that native people were long looked at as subhuman beasts not worthy of protection.

I look forward to finding out more about this painting, where and when it was published, etc..

I told the girl about it but didn't mention the crude characterization and asked her to see if the tribe was interested in purchasing it.

Might send it back to an auction house in Philadelphia if I don't sell it privately. A fascinating portal to the past.

The Dolphins

Tufas in evening light

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)

Sierra Roadie

I've just returned from a short road trip to the eastern Sierras. My ace photographer friend Ken accompanied me on our journey. He had never visited the region before and it had been decades for me.

We drove up early Tuesday and managed to make it to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest with enough time to hike the shorter of the two trails through the forest.

Unfortunately I have been having serious respiratory issues lately as well as asthma and the combination of the trail and altitude sickness pretty much kicked my ass.

I threw up as soon as I got out of the van. My poor lungs have been fighting for oxygen at sea level, this was over 10,000 feet.

I pretty much would rather die than stop going forward in these sorts of situations and after a few seconds we marshaled through the preserve.

Got very lightheaded and queasy going up the incline.

Everything stabilized for me after a couple minutes and then it started to snow and we weren't really prepared and didn't want to damage our equipment so we hightailed it back to the van.

This was a very early snowfall for the area. What I thought was a remnant of last winter's melt had actually fallen that very morning.

The pines are the oldest nonclonal plants on earth, the eldest clocking in at 5066 years. They look to me like wizened old gnomes engaged in an age old conversation. The gnarled forms are simply amazing, an artist's delight.

I feel frustrated because I didn't really dial it in photographically.

Light was never perfect, was trying out some new filters and equipment and basically felt behind the eightball all weekend.

Life is like that I suppose. I need to go through my stuff and see what is worth saving, if anything.

Sometimes things look better after a few days to ripen. What I really need to do is go back and nail this place.

We stayed in Bishop that first night. Next morning we drove through Mammoth to the Devil's Postpile National Monument.

Very interesting place, polygonal basalt columns formed eons ago by a process involving glaciers cooling lava. Walked up to the top too and saw the interesting honeycombing geometric patterns of the basalt rods. This place is also where the John Muir and Pacific Crest Trails intersect. Talked to a few trekkers midway through a long hike on the JMT.

Devil's Postpile almost didn't make National Monument status.  They wanted to dynamite it in 1921 to put in a dam. Give it the old hetch hetchy.

Afterwards we hiked through the Ansel Adams wilderness to Rainbow Falls. It was such a beautiful day, so nice to be out in the crisp, clean air. Falls are tall and lovely.

Rainbow Falls
As always others skipped past us nonchalantly on the trail but it is a little different bearing heavy equipment and tripods. Not to mention, speaking strictly for myself, being old and plump.

I kept chiding myself for my recent lack of exercise. Need more walking and less computer. Beautiful falls, light wasn't perfect. Put five or six miles on and we weren't near finished with our day.

We then drove to Red's Meadow and had a good late lunch at the Mule House Cafe, which is only open three months a year. We were too late for the homemade pie but had excellent turkey and swiss grilled on rye.

Up to Mineret Summit and we assayed our position vis a vis the surrounding peaks.  Very nice indeed.

We then headed over to Mono Lake for sunset shots. My equipment is acting up but we made do and talked to a lot of folks. The near full moon came up as the sun went down.

Got to Bridgeport at dark and ate dinner at the old Bridgeport Inn, across from the lovely old Pembar Garage. Expensive but good and they turned me on to a free piece of pie! Sat next to some wealthy fisherman from So Cal. Town runs on fishing. Not much else. Drove a half hour in the morning on the 395 and didn't see another car. Hooray!

We headed back this morning. Fast three day excursion, just wet our beaks and got familiar. Quick stop at the lovely and very clear Convict Lake to top off our tank.

The eastern Sierra seems somewhat parched and denuded in comparison with its western kin. But it has its own singular beauty. Worth getting to know better.

Also stopped at Manzanar on the way back, the World War II Japanese internment camp. Might as well continue the Adams theme. Which was not intentional.

Drove back through the dreary mojave and home. Will throw some more pictures of the trip up on the blog soon. Hope it doesn't take thirty years to go back.