Peregrine flight

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Peregrine Falcon, Torrey Pines

I went to the Torrey Pines Reserve today with pro bird photographer Larry Moskovitz.

Larry was kind enough to tell me that the peregrine falcon juveniles were fledging. He asked me if I would like to join him for a photo shoot.

Saw at least three juveniles. Caught some nice acrobatics. It was dull and overcast but managed to get off a few clicks.

Lots of serious bird photographers around, I definitely felt like I didn't have enough lens when I saw all the nice fast glass.

I made do. In fact I think I got some epic shots, got very lucky. Here are a couple to wet your appetite that I randomly picked out of a hat. I will process more tomorrow.

Really looking forward to seeing what I caught!

Thanks Larry!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Skip James

I'm so glad

It has been so beautiful in my yard that I really hate to leave. I am not sure how many of the five hundred gladiolus I ordered I actually planted, probably about 80% and I gave the other hundred away to friends. I staggered them so rather than one big crescendo we get a constantly changing color palette.

Best sixty five bucks I ever spent.

I have a huge mass of them that will be blooming in a couple weeks, will take pictures then, until then you get a single low resolution shot with my phone. I had a pretty white glad bloom this morning. Lots of purples, reds, yellows and pinks so far.

As you can see the yucca rostrata still has a nice bloom, the pin cushion plant center left is a dasylirion, Shawn. Planted a blue hibiscus, "concha" variety ceanothus, blue verbena and a very strange colored rose today along with a bunch of new succulents that we got at Evergreen yesterday. Just filling in the canvas now.

The hummingbirds are coming in two and threes, lots of butterflies, furtive orioles sail through like thieves in the night. All manner of birds attacking my feeder like piglets, grosbeaks and finches, scrub jays and sparrows.

Neighbor called today. A critter took a doe down by their turkey cage. Last week they lost a couple turkeys. I wasn't sure if the large cat I had a stare down on the road with a few weeks ago was puma or bobcat but now I am thinking the former. And I bet it killed the deer because the neighbor's horses were going crazy last week and I remember thinking it sounded like they had been spooked by a cat.

So we are going to watch our own cats. No one in the neighborhood has lost anything for a couple years, since James's goat anyway. Lion got it and killed one of my pussycats too the next night.

Something you have to live with when you live on the edge of the wild. It's a shame about the deer. We so rarely see them anymore and they weren't real common forty years ago either.

Al Kooper - Come down in time


The story of the President appropriating another family's coat of arms in the New York Times is worth a read. Sleazy but not necessarily too shocking.

It just goes to reinforce the truism that one can not buy class. Or taste for that matter. Doesn't stop people from trying but the result usually looks real ugly.

In my life and various professions, I have been around numerous multi millionaires and billionaires. Some had impeccable taste. But I could write a book about the gaucheness and tawdry taste of some of the new money and other wealthy people that I have observed. Donald Sterling and his ugly zebra skin rugs come quickly to mind.

It is almost as if there is an inverse equation working between money and taste. A quick drive through the residential areas of Beverly Hills will illustrate my point quite succinctly. Or maybe people that have spent their lives scratching and clawing their way to the top take a little longer to civilize.

Of course there are wealthy people with exquisite taste, but they don't usually rub it in your face in a vile way.

Now our President did come from money, it is true. His father was a rich landlord so vilified for not renting to minorities that Woody Guthrie, who lived for a time in one of his public housing projects, Beach Haven, an all white development, wrote this song about him in 1950.

Old Man Trump

I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project

Beach Haven ain't my home!
No, I just can't pay this rent!
My money's down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain't my home!

I'm calling out my welcome to you and your man both
Welcoming you here to Beach Haven
To love in any way you please and to have some kind of a decent place
To have your kids raised up in.
Beach Haven ain't my home!
No, I just can't pay this rent!
My money's down the drain,
And my soul is badly bent!
Beach Haven is Trump’s Tower
Where no black folks come to roam,
No, no, Old Man Trump!
Old Beach Haven ain't my home!
Woody Guthrie

Ouch. Money aside, I think it is fair to say that this might be our first "white trash" presidency. Surprised Kid Rock and Ted Nugent don't have cabinet positions yet.

I read a talking head early on in the Trump term hit on something that might explain some of the tawdriness. The fact that Trump is from Queens. You see most New Yorkers of all income levels and stations are imbued with a certain high degree of class and style. There are five boroughs, then you have Long Island and upstate. And fair or not, there is a definite pecking order. An inherent knickerbocker snobbery.

Edward Steichen - New York, the Flatiron evening, 1904
When people ask me where in New York I am from, I used to be loathe to mention Syosset or Smithtown. I would usually say "the city," meaning Manhattan.

It was the place of my formative roots, and Long Island was frankly not really worth mentioning.

Manhattan has the ultimate New York cachet, now closely followed by hipster laden Brooklyn.

Then comes the Bronx and Staten Island, unless of course you are a brain that graduated from Bronx School of Science, which elevates you to the head of the class.

Honestly, Queens is the ass end of New York. I had cousins in Bay Side I wouldn't even acknowledge as a kid, snob that I am, place was so skanky even then. Anyway the writer posited that Trump could never get over being a kid from Queens and that it bred a big inferiority complex that was not even eased by all the groping he did at Studio 54 and Maxwell's Plum.

So there you have it. Trump is suffering from Q.I.S. (Queens Inadequacy Syndrome).

If I may expound, Donald's idea of taste is more like his casino decor, a gaudy cartoon that celebrates the gilded look, think Thurston Howell the II or early Jethro Bodine. Something that will look real grand to the new imports from Appalachia.

Subtlety and understatement has no place in his calculus, you have to look Richie Rich rich; now for the first time in history we have gold drapes in the Oval Office. Egads.

Buster Brown can buy a presidency, and rip off a family crest or two, marry a couple beautiful waxy faced models that look like synthetic cyborgs from Blade Runner. The tiger can not change his stripes.

At his heart he will always be the punk greaser bully from Jamaica Estates. He may run the country, hopefully for a very short time, but he will never take Manhattan.

Oh and the coat of arms? I came up with my own. And I know that the hand is too big.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Why can't he be you ?

Fallbrook Vintage Car Show, Pala Mesa

Yesterday I was a judge at the Fallbrook Vintage Car Show, the longest continuously running show on the west coast, now in its 52nd year. I believe that this was my ninth year judging, missed it last year while we were in Yellowstone. it was a fabulous day replete with lots of steel, chrome and other assorted eye candy.

The show was held once again at the Pala Mesa Resort, cars were parked right on the fairways. All manner of cars, trucks, antique brass, woodies, rods. Soup to nuts.

Although the day was warm, we always had a nice breeze and you couldn't have asked for better weather.

Having said that, the show physically kicks your ass when you are judging. Being the youngest judge, I always get a lot of cars and I am pretty savvy now and it isn't really a problem, but if you don't stay hydrated you can hit the wall really hard.

I was supposed to have the help of a friend but he punked at the last second. In his place I had two cheerleaders from the high school, Danni and Skyler, and the latter's lovely mom to chaperone.

They were all a delight and I am happy to say that Tom wasn't missed one bit and that they were far better looking than my lamented friend. And they caught on quick, we were a well honed machine by the end.

I don't like what they have done to the judging but it doesn't matter what I think, I'm not in the car club.

This year there are no grouped classes, for us anyway, meaning each judge had a bunch of cars from different eras and classes. I usually do vintage sports cars, this year I had stock, modified, trucks, all manner of vehicles. gets very difficult.

The problem is that the class entries don't get judged the same way by different people. My scoring might be much more tolerant or critical than the next person. I don't like it. Not a uniform or consistent system. Much better to see and judge all of them together.

Great cars this year, I believe over 475 paid entries. This incredible Bugatti on top, first one I have seen at this show. I used to show my father's Mulliner Rolls Royce Silver Wraith Sedanca Deville at Pebble Beach in the seventies and there were a lot of Bugattis, Talbot Lagos and Duesenbergs around but they sure have never made it to Fallbrook. This beauty is owned by Alan Taylor of Rancho Santa Fe and I enjoyed a chat with him.

Really had fun. Did the entirety of Row B.

Maybe the best year ever. I think it was. Cars were turned out great, everybody had fun, good food, music, family friendly. My helpers were dolls.

And there was some great out of the box stuff like Jim Ramsey's 1927 Model T Rat Rod with the toilet passenger seat. Epic!

You couldn't find a nicer guy or a cooler car. Although in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that Jim's wife Debbie is one of my favorite Fallbrookians.

I didn't lug around a camera so phone pics will have to do this year. When I got finished at two it turns out that no one had judged Row A, which had all the rest of the Shafter Car Club cars so I went back and hit them. Was dead tired but I manged to do it.

Shafters get a lot of respect in these parts, the car club founded back in 1949, if I have my facts straight. I have several friends in this group and they are all serious car people.

If you have never been, come out next year, see cars and meet your neighbors and maybe some other nice folks. I saw a zillion old pals yesterday. Beelined for the ibuprofen when I got home. Little sore today. No one ever told me how bad your hips can hurt when you get old.

Randy California

Randy California (1951-1997) was an amazing guitar player. This might be a bit of a rocker for some of you but here goes. California, born Randy Wolfe, was the guitar player extraordinaire from the seminal California band Spirit. Randy was such an amazing player, he played with Hendrix as a kid in the band Jimmy James and the Blue Flames. Tragically, Randy died saving his 12 year old son Quinn from drowning in Hawaii. In this video he plays with an all star cast that includes Steve Howe.
Turning it up.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

russians are coming

"This is off the map. I know of no other experience like this in our history, and certainly not within my life experience."Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA

with the knowledge that the president could do anything imaginable and 38% of the population would not care in the slightest, no matter what - this Kushner secret backchannel story with the russkis may be the greatest malfeasance uncovered yet. old hands in the intelligence service are reportedly aghast, no matter what McMasters says about the practice. Mind you, this occurred before Trump was crowned king. Presidents can back channel, President - elects can not.

the question at breakfast was - in the event that the fiasco gets opened up, does Trump throw his own son in law to the wolves? the general consensus was - yes, he would. and I have no knowledge either way but if I was a betting man, I would say that it was all the donald's idea. somewhere in the old soviet union is a bagman who was willing to finance trumpco when times were tough, he sent the kid over to fix things, who knew that the feds make it a standard practice to tape these people? kid will fry, donald will skate, his type never gets dirty and never takes the fall.

next - Team Trump goes to the mattresses.

stay tuned...

Greg Allman - Midnight Rider (Live At Farm Aid With Willie Nelson)

Crowded House


So who's left, Jaimoe? I first saw the Allman Brothers back in a time when practically no one had heard of them, they were a backup band for I want to say Steppenwolf at the first show of theirs I attended but went through the mental archives and can't put my finger on it. Maybe 1971. Post Hourglass but not a household name yet.

I remember being astounded at how tight they were, maybe the tightest syncopated groove of anybody this side of James Brown. And the idea of two drummers was new to me at the time, haven't seen the Grateful Dead yet. They were wonderful. Got to see Duane. Berry. Awesome.

I had my coming of age during a time that I call the blue jean bands - Dead, Allmans and The Band. Straight ahead American roots music. My pals and I would argue about their relative merit but we loved them all. The Watkins Glen lineup. A well crafted sound that held up for decades and through numerous painful losses, for all three bands.

The Allman Brothers were a southern psychedelic band, the first.

There was a good reason they were associated with the psilocybin mushroom, they grew wild under the patties in the swamps near Gainesville and Micinopi.

And as much as the recently departed Gregg Allman tried to disassociate from that aspect and say it was overblown in his book, I remember the time and they were very psychedelic. The Macon sound.

You put on Mountain Jam or Le Brers and you knew that it wasn't about show with these guys. They could play with craft, timing and artistry like no one else of their day.

Their rhythm section was superb. Duane's chops were legendary, Clapton himself was supposed to have had a religious epiphany when he first heard Duane's session work on Hey Jude for Wilson Pickett.

Gregg had one of, if not the greatest, white soul blues voices. Sang like sweet caramel. He started as a guitar player, switched to the Hammond and created an explosion heard wound the world when he handed his brother a coricidin bottle when he was sick.

That bottle launched Duane onto slide. And the rest was history. What amazed me about Gregg was how hard he worked, how many songs he sang. He was the voice of the band, and often the sole principal voice after Dickie left. Or meaningful voice anyway.

Good on you and god bless Gregg. You were a musician who worked his ass off and played his heart out. Daresay too soon, but livers and kidneys are precious organs and sometimes a payment must be made. You sang and played beautifully.

Here's the dead and allmans from Watkins Glen. The soundcheck, night before.

Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Never the twain shall meet

Republicans used a "blue slip" procedure to hold up 42 judgeships during the Obama administration. Now the hypocritical GOP is threatening to change the rules so that they don't get a taste of their own medicine. Typical.
“We can’t allow Democratic senators to continue to obstruct this president’s agenda. If they’re just arbitrarily not returning blue slips, we have to consider changing that tradition." Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR)
Hard not to puke when faced with such double talk. The behavior of the Republicans during the last administration was nothing if not an exercise in continual obstruction, judicial, legislative and otherwise.

I usually write a story about a current political event in a similar fashion, first with a broad brush hypothesis and then I try to surround it with both supportive and non supportive facts and information, hoping that people holding opposite views will at least consider their position after my onslaught. But no more. Because people from both sides of the spectrum are largely incapable of critical thinking.

I read a good comment in the Huffington Post about the recent Montana body slamming incident by a Democratic official from the state.
“The lesson here, and I think frankly even around the country, is that it’s too soon for there to be a backlash,” said Jacquie Helt, a vice chair of the Montana Democratic Party and the state director of the Service Employees International Union.
“It takes a while. People want to dance with who brung them,” Helt added, referring to her fellow Montana voters. “They also, I think, are reluctant to admit that they made a mistake.”
Perhaps the incident even lifted Gianforte's numbers. It is said that his post slamming votes were even higher than the absentee tally. A culmination of a long battle against the press, orchestrated by the President himself, an attack that has brought cheers from GOP officials and loyalists alike.
"I feel like, it's all just propaganda, you know what I mean, it's hard for me to believe anything the media tells me," said Nathaniel Trumper, who cast a vote for Gianforte at a polling station in Helena.
The commenter said that the body slammer failed to change voter's minds, at least the ones that had not already voted by mail, because to do so would be an admission that they were wrong about Trump.
"The body-slamming? Ah, yeah, it just seems a little too good to be true to me," said Chandler Ortman, who works in the restaurant industry in Bozeman and voted for Gianforte. "I guess I'm just gonna say he's innocent until proven guilty."
James Baker, a lobbyist in Bozeman who also voted for Gianforte, said, "Sometimes I think a lot of reporters get aggressive, and after the heat of a long campaign people can lose tempers."
Debbie Warriner of Kalispell called the reports "a crock of baloney."
"I mean, that story — it's possible it's not even true," she told Montana Public Radio.
Shaun Scott, a computer science professor at Carroll College in Helena, said the assault charge was barely a factor in his decision."If you have somebody sticking a phone in your face, a mic in your face, over and over, and you don't know how to deal with the situation, you haven't really done that, you haven't dealt with that, I can see where it can ... make you a little angry," Scott said Thursday. 
I think that the failure of egregious displays like this to move the meter a tick just show that people are not capable of being shamed anymore, let alone consider the propriety or basis for their beliefs.

Everything is excusable. Trump could literally shoot somebody in the street and his followers could find a justification and roll merrily along. America is in two camps and never the twain shall meet.

I can see the candidate going ballistic on the reporter. While inexcusable, people do get angry and fly off the handle.

What is most pernicious and disgusting is how fast Gianforte's press team went live with a knowingly false and concocted story that the reporter had somehow initiated the physical contact. Ironic that a Fox team served to rebut the bullshit. They'll never get work on the network again.

Saw that John Daly went to bat for his buddy Donald Trump the other day. The golfer was responding to the threats of an anti Trump protest and had this to say:
“I just ignore them,” Daly said. “I think that’s the thing you got to do.He’s the President of the United States; I think people need to get on his wagon and ride with him and let him do what he’s doing and leave him alone. It’s not going to change for at least, you know, this year and three more."So, it just seems like the Democrats always have a problem when a Republican gets in office. Republicans seem to kind of put up with the Democrats sometimes, we just go along with it. But I think they just need to leave him alone and let him do what he’s doing. I think he’s doing a hell of a job. I really do."I followed up by asking if Daly has any concerns about all of the investigations and allegations that have enveloped the Trump administration.“No, I mean, if anything’s wrong then we’ll see. But I don’t think so. I think we still need to worry about Hillary (Clinton) and what her and Bill did all these years. That’s the ones we really need to worry about.But she’s not in office.“I know that, but there’s been a lot of things going on with the Democrats that people just want to ignore now. They don’t, they just want to pick on my buddy. Let him do his job and just see what he does. He’s doing great so far.”
Now John Daly is entitled to his opinion, as we all are. He has had his share of problems but who hasn't?

But it is also fair to judge a person, or even a President by the company they keep.

Surprised that Daly isn't miffed for missing the family picture and so is Scott Baio, Johnny Rotten and Stephen Baldwin, other prominent Trump supporters. Seems like there is a common thread here. Unhinged?

Jason Chaffetz is a real piece of work. The lame duck congressman was like a nasty bulldog chasing the sins of Obama, Clinton and Co. but he will retire rather than hold the present administration accountable.

If the Democrats had done a tenth of the things Trump is doing, from collusion and Flynn, to secret channels to Moscow and ethics violations at the hotels, we would never hear the end of it.

But Chaffetz, Gowdy and their ilk have been so passive quiet about the potential sins of the new regime. Amazing the lack of integrity these people show and occasionally admit.

Senator Rand Paul said it best:
“I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party,” he said. “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing Obamacare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”

Hannity's advertisers - Media Matters

Friday, May 26, 2017

Expressway To Your Heart - Todd Rundgren

Toronto monuments - color

The Hondells "Hot Rod High"

52nd Annual Fallbrook Vintage Car Show

I hope to see you at the Fallbrook Vintage Car Show at Pala Mesa this Sunday. I know that many of you don't believe that I would know the difference between a dipstick and lipstick, and that very well may be, but I actually started judging the show in 2009 and have only missed one year since.

This show will have 450 lovely cars. It is the longest continuing and non interrupted car show on the West Coast.

Might see some people you haven't seen for a while, like Mike Breining here.

Hope to see you there. Come say hi and see some beautiful cars. Leslie will be there too.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


I have lived on the Santa Margarita River for twenty eight years and was in the next valley over for the preceding ten. I am very lucky as it is a wonderful cañon to live in. I know the area well. I daresay as intimately as anyone. It is populated by a large range of birds, reptiles, fish and mammals, from beavers and puma to deer and turtles. We used to have a breeding pair of herons across the way. For years. And I haven't seen them in ages, and I only rarely see osprey now. Why is that?

Last year the CCC sent people out to clear the Santa Margarita of what they consider non native fish. The river has a bunch of fish including an indigenous red eyed bass. You can find a list here from the state.

I am not sure how successful they were but I think it has harmed the native balance and affected the native bird population that depend on fish. They thrive on  fish like blue gill and bass and yes, even carp.  I personally think it is rather stupid that this is all being done for a southern steelhead that hasn't been seen in these upper parts for fifty years, the last specimen on the Santa Margarita supposedly sighted in 2003 near the ocean. A fish that purportedly got lost.

There are supposedly less than 500 of these fish left on the earth, unfortunately. And due to a variety of reasons, including ground water extraction and dams, they just can't make it up here anymore.

In the 1960's they stocked the river with rainbow and brook trout, at the mailboxes at the end of my road actually. But the powers that be were afraid that they would breed with the "phantom" steelhead so they curtailed the stocking. Wouldn't be the first time that a bunch of academics with good intentions fail to see the ramifications of their handiwork while they elevate one species above another.

An interesting old blog on the subject from Southland Beaver here. Would love to consider other points of view.

Love the steelhead but love all the other animals too. Primum non nocere.

red eye bass

Mama take this badge off of me...


I am always trying to become a better artist. Luckily I have friends that continually teach me new techniques to improve my craft, people like Ken Seals. I am revisiting some of my older shots with my new knowledge and acumen and finding ways to improve them. These are some pictures that I messed with today.

peregrine falcon - Torrey Pines
I was invited to contribute to the Raptors of the world site on Google+. Some excellent international raptor photographers there and it is a privilege to put my work beside theirs.

Peregrine falcon

I don't think that I ever gave this shot of a golden eagle more than a cursory glance, being bothered by the obstruction. But if you can get past that, the form of the bird is actually quite pretty, probably the best eagle shot I have (which isn't saying much.)


juvenile red tailed hawk

Marsh Hawk

What's wrong with Ringo? - The Bon Bons

Sirius Radio has a Beatle channel now, channel 18, and it is really great. With my voice activated car system I merely say Beatles and I get the fab four now 24 -7. Lots of interesting fill, Chris Carter, Beatles covers and rarities, whoever put the thing together deserves a big hand. They really were the defining voice of my generation.

Now all we need is a Dylan channel and everything will be perfect. Zimmy's birthday yesterday, happy b-day. Bob!


The CBO numbers are out on the Republican health care plan and they are frankly pretty scary. Not only are twenty four million Americans expected to lose health insurance if the bill comes to pass, it will disproportionately affect the old and the infirm. This line item says it all for me:
According to the CBO, 64-year olds making $26,500 per year would see their premiums increase by an estimated 750 percent by 2026. While they are on track to pay $1,700 under the current law, the CBO projects the American Health Care Act would force them to pay $14,600. 
By my rough calculations, this would amount to 55% of a person's annual income going to pay for medical care. With necessary expenditures for food, shelter, gas, heat and clothing I just don't see how this works in the real world. Well, actually I do see how it works, people will forego health insurance, they will get sick and they will die.

The GOP, sensing the brewing firestorm, is filling the netwaves with senseless blather about health insurance rates doubling under Obama. And being totally dishonest. Because they don't include the Obamacare health subsidies in their recap.

My personal health insurance did go up under Obamacare, but fairly gradually and incrementally and nowhere near double. Not anywhere near a potential 750% increase like this. How did the line go from the old Band song? "They're trying to shuck us..."

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

George Harrison - Mama, You Been On My Mind

Another hummer

I saw this hummingbird in my Hong Kong Orchid yesterday. It was very brown and I think that she might be a female rufous.

I predict that the bug upper left is not long for this world.