Black and White

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Harvey Mandel

Fallbrook Kid at Pala Mesa

I saw Anthony Cullins aka The Fallbrook Kid at Pala Mesa last night.

Joint was rocking, people were dancing, there were multiple acts, everybody having a good time.

Some people were dancing whose lives had already taken many revolutions around the sun. Good for them.

It was the promoter Ken Rexrode's 50th show and I felt like listening to some music. I don't get out much but I had the urge. Surprised the hell out of my wife.

Anthony is a prodigy, plays blues the way they should be played. He won the prestigious Dallas Guitar competition under 20 group last year and his career path is deservedly on a real apogee. Sky's the limit.

Anthony had an excellent band and a great drummer, didn't catch his name but talked to him for a bit.

He had a studio session in Corona after the set, a real hard worker. Plays in several bands including a funk band and a church band too in San Diego.

Anthony played a set with Bruce his regular bass player and then my buddy Pat Raymond came out and played with him for a short set.

Pat has been a bit of a mentor to Anthony.

I had never seen Pat play before. He is a very successful businessman but also a very talented musician.

Sort of blew my mind. I had no idea he was that good. Damn.

Lighting was scarce on the patio and obviously I am not a rock and roll photographer but I had a really good time!

I had not seen Anthony in over a year except for one time he sat in with Daring Greatly. He has improved in his command by leaps and bounds. If I could liken his sound to anybody the name that pops into my mind is Harvey Mandel. And it makes sense because Anthony, like me, loves Canned Heat.

The whole world is going to know about this guy and I think real soon.

I was very impressed with his original composition.

He's helping keep the blues alive. I wish him the very best.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

What you gonna do about the weather? Peggy Watson

More shots from breakfast

This is Jim, my ex marine fighter pilot pal aka Logan's grandfather. I'm titling it straight shooter and he is. I thought about taking the cholula bottle top out in photoshop but wanted to keep that natural verité as they say. He hates his picture usually but is actually pretty photogenic.

Kip, another great guy, better known as "he who dies with the best toys wins." Wonderful, genuine laugh and smile. Wish I was half as smart.

Paul Beach,  musician extraordinaire and another all around great guy.

Playing in Carlsbad tonight.

I can't stand the rain

breakfast shot

I met my Saturday group for breakfast today at Main Street. It started off as a photo group but evolved into a group of friends of all persuasions. We usually have the big table on the back porch.

This morning there was a huge table of hispanic men next to us. Got there before we did. Very nice and polite as these folks generally are. My guess is that they are all involved in agriculture. Before their meal they got up for a very fervent and heartfelt prayer. I think they might have been a Pentecostal group or fellowship, they may have been speaking in tongues.

My Nikon D7200 camera was sitting there next to me. Quickly and unobtrusively as possible, I took a shot.

I have been having problems with this, my backup camera and wanted Ken, my friend, mentor and teacher, to take a look at it. I stuck my old nikkor 55mm ƒ1.2 film lens on it in the car. It is an old school metal lens, heavy and solid, had it milled so it would work on newer digital bodies. Manual focus of course and manual exposure.

The lens has some obvious flaws, soft in the corners, lots of chromatic aberration but there is something I can't put my finger on about it, that I still love. And ƒ 1.2, though unforgiving, can be a lot of fun. This shot was taken at ƒ2.8. It has not been processed by me in any way. postscript: Jon Harwood suggested a small left margin crop and I did and he was right.

I got to thinking after I heard their prayer. ICE is supposed to start sweeping tomorrow in ten cities. Going to try to throw a million people out of the country, many hard working, god fearing people like these folks, who are merely trying to better their lot in life and feed their families.

Perhaps their prayers were offered for the safety of themselves, their companions and families. I wish them well also. As a fellow human being, of course.

Friday, July 12, 2019


Kawhi Baby

Kyle Kuzma
I am a fairweather Laker fan. I loved Wilt, Goodrich, West, Baylor, absolutely adored the Pat Riley Showtime Lakers of Magic, Wilkes, Worthy and Kareem. Ditto Fish, Byron, Coop, McAdoo and Thompson.

I was never a fan of Phil Jackson and the Triangle, in any city it operated in and had a tepid appreciation at best for Shaq and Kobe. The last few years have been really terrible, so happy the Ball experiment is over and now somebody else's problem.

I have been shifting allegiances the last couple years, followed Ok City for a while and the Spurs. When LeBron went to the Lakers I looked forward to their resurgence but the roster had no shooters and they absolutely sucked. Kevin Durant was my favorite player until he went to the Warriors, a team I despise.

I was happy when the Lakers obtained the services of the talented Anthony Davis, although they had to mortgage their future to do it. Less happy when Magic took his leave.  When it looked like they were going to get Kawhi Leonard, an Aztec I regularly saw up close and personal in college, I was stoked.

But it now looks like Kawhi played them, in the most dishonest and manipulative way possible. He pretended to be interested but never had any intention of signing with them, got Anthony Davis to give up $4,000,000 so that he could sign, money that he would never get back, and caused the Lakers to sit on their hands and miss all sorts of free agents in the interim.

It was almost like he had already signed with the hated Clippers, and was intentionally harming the Lakers by feigning interest since they would soon be his crosstown opponent, even though he was still technically a free agent.

It seems like very bad form to me. Definitely bad faith. Many of his cohorts, from Chase Tapley to Danny Green, said that he would never have even considered playing with LeBron, but he sold the fabricated interest perfectly and hurt the purple and gold as best as he could. This seems beyond the pale of normal sportsmanship to me, to "do" a team that is sincerely wooing you.

So he looked for a Robin for his Batman, tried KD and Kyrie, was rebuffed and then settled on Paul George. I am sure that the Clippers will be great. I just don't think I can root for him again because it seems like he is so clearly dishonest and unethical. He crossed the line with Anthony Davis. He took advantage of his altruism and generosity. It was selfish and mean spirited and I doubt that the Lakers will ever forget it. Kawhi has left a bad taste in San Antonio and probably now in Toronto. Karma is a funny thing.

Heron in shadow

Generation Landslide


My two favorite science or speculative fiction writers are the late Philip Dick and Roger Zelazny. While I tend to favor the latter in my recreational reading, with his beautiful floral prose and the incredible power of his myth mining, Dick had a cold prescience of the future that was startling in both its accuracy and dark foreboding.

Philip Dick
Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) was the real father of cyberpunk, Gibson, Stevenson and the dystopian like that followed owe much to him. Bester may have had a glimpse beforehand but Dick fleshed out the coming darkness thoroughly.

I was thumbing through the Philip Dick Reader the other day and I reread the story Paycheck. It was written in 1952, published in Imagine in June of 1953 and is remarkable in its predictive vision. I understand a crappy movie was once made of it that had little resemblance to the short story, I never saw it.

Dick visualized a future world where the rights of the citizen were largely extinguished but the powers of the corporation were basically unfettered. A man wakes up after being used for a two year job with his brain scrubbed and finds that he has kept the random keys to his awakening and memory close at hand.
...But the real problem right now was not a problem of speculation. It was very concrete. The Security Police were looking for him. They had his name and description. There was no use thinking of going to his apartment -- if he even still had an apartment. But where, then? Hotels? The SP combed them daily. Friends? That would mean putting them in jeopardy, along with him. It was only a question of time before the SP found him, walking along the street, eating in a restaurant, in a show, sleeping in some rooming house. The SP were everywhere.
Everywhere? Not quite. When an individual person was defenseless, a business was not. The big economic forces had managed to remain free, although virtually everything else had been absorbed by the Government. Laws that had been eased away from the private person still protected property and industry. The SP could pick up any given person, but they could not enter and seize a company, a business. That had been clearly established in the middle of the twentieth century.
Business, industry, corporations, were safe from the Security Police. Due process was required. Rethrick Construction was a target of SP interest, but they could do nothing until some statute was violated. If he could get back to the Company, get inside its doors, he would be safe. Jennings smiled grimly. The modern church, sanctuary. It was the Government against the corporation, rather than the State against the Church.
It is hard for me to read this short story now and not think of the Citizens United SCOTUS case, where Corporations were granted the free speech privileges of human beings in order to deliver unlimited donations and shield their donors from public eye. The rights of corporations have been greatly extended while the rights of regular citizens have tended to suffer.

Philip Dick saw it, or something very much like it, coming way back in 1952. Like he saw so many other things. He had one thing wrong, he didn't get that the government and the corporations would, rather than fight with each other, tend to consolidate their power and work together against the individual citizen but Ike wasn't there yet to tell him to beware the military industrial complex. That wouldn't happen until 1961.

Frank Zappa - Bolero in Barcelona

Per Patrick Raymond. The concert was in 1988, the video and audio are from two different performances.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Skinned for posterity

I had to go to Walmart this morning to pick up some bubble wrap. Like it or not, Walmart is a great spot to take stock of the human condition. Ground zero.

Actually had a great salesperson and didn't see too much to sear the retinas, it is what it is. Unvarnished.

But looking at all the plastic and rubber and cheap Chinese crap, I got to thinking about just how I fit into the whole picture? To think I used to write about and sell fine silver. Way out. Never coming back. Artwork and antiques? We have been down that road before, not this current generation anyway.

You can go down the list yourself, you know this one by heart if you read me regularly.

And I'm thinking, the millennials really don't buy much of anything besides disposable electronics, vaping pens and tattoos, how do I function and thrive in this brave new world of ours?

And then it hit me. Tattoos. It was right under my nose the whole time. Some of these people are spending a literal fortune decorating their epidermis, why should their loved ones be deprived of their masterworks after their eventual passing?

We take a note from Ed Gein and merely perfect our skinning and tanning technique. Stretch them and frame them. And enjoy our dearly departed for ever, or at least until they really start to smell!

You miss Uncle Albert's giant battleship tattoo on his chest? Or Crazy Larry's spiderweb and SS elbow?

We at Blue Heron Taxidermy™ will send them home with you so you can view them hanging on the wall right next to the wide screen. Skinned and stretched in the time it takes to see a preview and a matinee.

I saw what is maybe the third full face tattoo I have seen in Fallbrook the other day. What a great idea and investment that is. Nothing screams proclaiming your own individuality like covering your entire face with indelible ink.

And I'm thinking "what a pity that one day all this beauty and creativity will go to waste." But it doesn't have to.

No-sir-ee. Blue Heron Head Mounts.™ Keep your loved ones close and at hand long after they expire or are one day maybe unfortunately shanked in their holding cell.

During the holidays you can put funny hats on them and put cigars in their mouths like we used to do with the big antlered guy at the Moose Lodge.

I really think I am on to something here. And if you think that I am just jealous because I am too scared to get a whole face number myself, well you are right.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Four thousand holes in Blackburn, Lancashire


Sunday was the anniversary of Buzz's passing. Two years and three days since I lost my brother. They say time heals all wounds, it's bullshit.

I like this horrible, depressing picture. In a sad sort of way. I took it in the street in front of the hospital, the last time I saw my kid brother conscious and alive. Toronto General. I walked about twenty blocks to get there. Would walk back alone, with Leslie.

The photograph perfectly captures the utter bleakness of the moment, the cold grayness of the day, the loss I felt then and still feel every day.

You think that you will have those people you love forever but it unfortunately doesn't work that way.

Ignominy. I love that word. Having to spend eternity with a pigeon or gull standing on your cap or a sparrow soiling your brow, even if your birthplace was in fact a forge or furnace. Or quarry of stone. Nature offers cruel desserts and nasty last acts.

Don't let me down

Need some cheddar.

The blog is now in its twelfth year. As you know it is a labor of love and I put a lot of work into it. It has allowed me to make friends far and wide and reach a lot of people.

But I am tapped. With the contraction and basic collapse of the antique business things are really dire. Bobby is on fumes.

So I need to think about monetizing this Blast in some way. What to do? Now I could let Google Ad Sense run ads on the site. They would strain our conversations and blogposts for keywords and try to stay somewhat germane but I fear that it would be a massive failure.

A few years ago Joseph and Linda Sherwood generously bought ads for six months to promote their business, High Noon. That was awesome. They have since basically retired.

I am talking to a friend with a CBD company who might run some ads. A friend at dinner last night, unprompted, suggested a readership subscription fee but I am not sure if that would work. Everybody wants everything for free these days. I am talented and all and the pictures are great but will people pay to play, I don't think so? He brought it up and is willing but I think he might be the lone ranger. And Paypal buttons look so desperate.

Google metrics are a funny thing. I tooled along at about 600 to 800 views a day in the early years, then saw it cascade up to a couple grand a day for the great middle period. It was amazing and weird, the blast was everywhere. I would be researching any old topic and my own writing would pop up and that's plain scary.

Google was giving me a metric of somewhere around 15 million views when they changed their algorithm and started to kill Google +. Some guy in Mountain View decided I was getting a little too popular for my own good.

The algorithm change definitely restricted my traffic, which really didn't bother me because I know my hardcore following and basically write for them and myself. 800, 2000 people, what's the difference?

So post algorithm shift, my traffic dropped back to roughly a thousand views a day. Which is still very good and something I am grateful for. But this week, I am getting these huge hit volumes again. Three or four thousand views a day. Don't think it is all Russian bot and porn traffic, at least I hope not. My George Washington thing got hit on a lot. I thought maybe I had been picked up again by Crooks and Liars but that didn't happen.

Advertising has always scared me because I am a loose cannon and don't want to worry about offending sponsors and having to tailor my message. But I need some cheddar. So don't be surprised if you see some ads but at least I will have control of who is putting what where.

I appreciate you. If you have a business and would like to advertise, a month, a week, a year, let me know. I am not going to threaten to quit because you and I both know that I can't stop writing. It would be nice to not feel so guilty about the time I put into this blog and to start having it pay for itself.

What are your thoughts?

Always happy to share.

Sun above the Panamint Range, Death Valley
You folks have been sending me a lot of music to check out of late. Cool.

Shawn liked this Paco Lucia - Al Di Meola number. (bit frenetic) And this wonderful fingerstylist, Christie Lenee. (check out her harmonics stuff, amazing)

Jonathan is a great musician himself and thought I would like this guy - Sylvain Luc. (very talented, not in love with the tone)

Sano doesn't want us to forget the legendary SoCal surf band Honk. (How could we?)

Peter likes the band Snowpoet. (very nice, Bjorkish)

Fillmore has us weeping for Prince. (Goodnight sweet prince)

Jerry offers the Hollywood Vampires. (Hate Johnny Depp, poser, saw him on stage with Ian Hunter, waste of time. Alice is cool.)

Ricardo likes this version of Crackin Up. (with Lady Bo, Peggy Jones)

The case of the flatulent felon

Jack the ripper? Cops in Liberty, Missouri apprehend perp who cuts major cheeser while attempting to hide from the law. German shepherd passes out. Wonder if he'll get the gas chamber?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Back in your shell

Mitch McConnell said something a bit dickish today. There have been recent revelations that his ancestors owned slaves.
Two of McConnell’s great-great-grandfathers, Richard Daley and James McConnell, owned at least 14 slaves, all but two of them women, in Limestone County, Alabama, NBC reported, citing countywide “Slave Schedules” published as part of the 1850 and 1860 censuses.The records indicate most of both James McConnell’s and Daley’s slaves managed to escape, with the 1860 census showing that all of James McConnell’s slaves had fled, as had all but one of Daley’s. The 1850 census shows that four of Daley’s five slaves had escaped, suggesting he acquired more over the 10-year period.
In response McConnell said, “I find myself in the same position as President Obama. We both oppose reparations and we both are the descendants of slave owners.” In 2007 a man named William Reitwiesner published a history of Obama’s mother’s family suggesting the future president’s great-great-great-great grandfather George Washington Overall owned two slaves in Kentucky.

Now I wasn't alive back then and what McConnell says is probably categorically true. However there is a major difference in having a relative who was raped and impregnated by a white plantation slave master and willing and voluntary cohabitation. Despicable job, Mitch. What an asshole thing to say.

Meet me in the morning

It's an old dilemma...


Gatemouth wrestles with all sorts of problems but they marshal through it. Albert was the best.

The Great Divide

Our national political fracture is deeper than ever. When I examine the roots of the chasm I have the sneaking suspicion that the break could be rooted very deeply into our biological DNA.

At one time I would have taken a more jungian tact as an explanation, and merely ascribed the split to a person choosing between the matriarchal and patriarchal archetype. Usually in early childhood development.

But the chasm may be deeper than that, it may in fact be more systemic and biological in nature than psychological. This article I came upon today doesn't pretend to solve the puzzle but does further illustrate the divide. Conservatives and liberals travel differently.

A consumer analytics company called MRI - Simmons did a study and found out that people who self-identify as politically liberal are more likely to hold a valid passport than those who call themselves conservative by a nine point margin, 57% to 48%. That is a wider gap than one would think would occur and far outside the normal +/- 3% error rate. (Unfortunately the original study is behind a pay wall so you will have to go to NBC like I did.)

Furthermore, liberals are more likely to visit foreign countries and travel by plane. Which is sort of obvious given that they have more passports but never mind. And we favor and visit different destinations. Where the liberal tribe might like to hang out in Gstaad, NYC or Jackson Hole, they are probably less inclined to go to Dollywood, Branson, MO or Wall Drugs. There is an obvious coastal/heartland split.

We also tend to vacation differently.
Those of the liberal persuasion are more likely than conservatives to want to go to the beach to relax, by about 8 points. And they are more likely to favor fine dining, by about 9 points. Conservatives, meanwhile, show a somewhat smaller edge in their preference for fishing and playing golf.
Sounds about right. You might get off at hitting the links, gigging catfish or wrestling gators, I would rather visit a museum or take a hike in the mountains. Room for everybody in this great world of ours. Maybe better that we keep out of each other's space.

Your idea of a fine meal might be Waffle House, I might fancy some snooty left bank retreat in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Grits to escargots, it is all good. Obviously there is no right answer for everybody. Oddly enough, liberals are more likely to have college degrees and slightly more likely to have household incomes above $100,000. The liberal respondents also tended to skew slightly younger.

I don't have anything really brilliant to add to this conversation but I did have one thought. The xenophobia on the right and the studies that show that conservatives are more bothered by people speaking spanish or a foreign language might be attributable to fewer right wingers ever leaving the country and seeing how the rest of the globe lives. After all the average European is conversant in three or four different languages and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Americans are definitely more provincial in nature.

Let's fight for our right to remain ignorant! 🇺🇸

Viva la difference!

Cool story

Monday, July 8, 2019

Dark falcon

I usually open these birds up, lift some shadows.

I decided that we would keep this one in the dark, essentially untouched out of the can.

I think it has its own charm.

This falcon had only been flying for two or three days when he soared towards me in his unsteady flight, landing shakily a mere couple feet from my arm.

The sky was this gray. Nothing has been touched or altered.

Rollin an tumblin'

Leslie has a friend in Northern California who claims to be a psychic. Now I have no reason to say she is not, if this is what she says she is. I would always give a person the benefit of the doubt in these matters.

She calls up yesterday and says there is going to be an earthquake down here. Get out of town. Now. I appreciate her caring, I really do.  I believe that there have been something like 4800 quakes in the last week, so it doesn't look like she is going out on much of a limb here. But thanks, honestly.

Maybe she is warning against the big one, which I believe scientists say we have about a one in twenty chance of getting hit with in the next month or so?

I know I'm a little bit of a cynic but I would have been more impressed if she had called before the last two big ones struck. But hey, if she is right, you can all say that she told me so.

Cry For Me Baby

Pics and whatnot

The osprey continues to be a regular visitor to the river valley.

Have to wonder how many big fish we have left to feed him?

Tony Z and his wife Anita just came back from an extended trip in Quebec and Maine. He sent over this pretty picture he took in Cartier National Park. Not exactly sure where that is, will have to look it up.

Another friend sent this picture of a unique Thai approach to environmental clean up.

Warren just came back from a trip to Iceland and Greenland and took some fabulous shots. This one is from Iceland.

Sanoguy took this pretty sunset shot on his recent excursion to Nicaragua.

Big Dave sent this one over.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Astronomy Domine

Hot Pot

Over the years I have received continual prodding from friends that I could be (have been?) the next Bourdain or Jonathan Gold if I either applied myself or caught a break. That is very flattering, not sure if it is true, but I appreciate the sentiment. It is true that I am a rather critical sort. And I do love to eat and try new food.

The truth is that I may feign a degree of culinary sophistication but there are some big holes in my game, mainly because I am ensconced in a relatively provincial burg and not some big urban melting pot.

So a lot of foods that normal New Yorkers and San Franciscans encounter so casually every day are totally foreign to me. Embarrassing but true. And one of those things is the hot pot.

This style of Chinese cuisine, which has branches in both Chengdu and Chongqing, has totally escaped me. I've watched people eat it but I don't really know how to attack it.

The hot pot vogue started way back in the Han dynasty, about 206 b.c. to 220 a.d.. There are many regional schools and variations. The Chongqing style dish translates to 麻辣 "numb and spicy." The Chengdu version fancies itself as being more culturally "refined."

In hot pot cooking there is typically a large taoist shaped server with two different communal broths that you dip various foodstuffs into, one broth usually spicier than the other. The yin and the yang, if you will.

文王之製 - King Wen, the literary King
When I meet asian people the conversation quickly comes around to food. I am always looking for tips. And many of the places around the San Diego area that they favor are hot pot restaurants.

I have heard good things about both Tasty Hot Pot and Little Sheep. Interestingly, both of these restaurants are part of national chains. Never been to either one.

There is an excellent article on the cuisine in this week's New Yorker by Jiayang Fan titled Go Bold at Da Long Yi Hot Pot. Fan breaks the subject down wonderfully and whets my appetite for a try.

I am not going to belabor this, but I am going to ask a favor. Is there a reader out there who really knows the cooking who can take me on my embryonic journey with the hot pot and show me my way around? Soon?

Incredible rack

Top Gun

Without able aviators like George Washington, do we even win the Revolutionary War? When #1 turned his big M-197 Gatlings on the redcoats, he sunk them like loose tea in Boston Harbor.

And to think; the father of our country did it without teleprompters.