Blue Heron in flight

Friday, May 31, 2019

the 13th Floor Elevators - You're Gonna Miss Me (1966)


Being a temporary bachelor, I opportunistically waggled my way to a dinner invitation over at the Accent Mark and Vern's house last night.

She is an incredibly good cook and I was definitely not disappointed. Delicious, moist, roasted chicken, sweet potatoes and a salad. And I left with a large bag of avocados.

They have a large coterie of hummingbirds making themselves a regular presence at their feeders.

What was I supposed to do, the camera was in the car?

This guy has pollen rubbed all over his head, sort of looks like a hare krishna.

Donald Byrd

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Current events

Good Jonathan Chait article on the Mueller brouhaha today. And another. Barr says that if things were so bad Mueller would have brought charges. Mueller says that charges were never a legal option. The split widens.

North Korea executes five officials for failed summit, sticks another in hard labor. Is it any wonder that Trump loves this guy so much? And who really cares about a few short range ballistic missiles?

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Harrier female

White tailed kite

Needle In a Haystack

One of the cool things about Sirius Radio is that occasionally great musicians will DJ and play stuff from their personal collection. Long time blog readers know how much I love Tommy James and the Shondells. Tommy played this cut on his excellent show last week, but I forgot the name of the Velvelettes tune and couldn't find it on line. I wrote to him on his website and one of his peeps named Ed Osborne kindly wrote me back. Thanks Ed and thank you Tommy!

Black Headed Grosbeak

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Topanga Windows

Arizona, take off your hobo shoes...

I had a delivery in Phoenix this weekend. Left Saturday morning, made it back safe and sound Sunday night.

I can't say that by the time I got to Phoenix I was crying but I was certainly whimpering.

There was an hour and a half wait on the 10 East near Chiriaco Summit. Big rig went right off the side and was reduced to little bits. And reduced the highway to little more than a parking lot.

Cops and ambulances, tow trucks and hazmat, it was an optimal time to bake in the intense desert heat and take stock of the dismal state of my life.

I had water, I had gas, I had jerky and I had corn nuts. The essentials. I would certainly survive. The only road food that I was lacking was skittles but I would just have to rough it and do without. Show them what I'm made of.

Eventually the road was cleared and I could head towards Arizona, known to the prescient Navajo as Hoozdo Hahoodzo which fuzzily translates to "future land of the angry white people." Made the delivery somewhere near Squaw Peak and headed over to Friedman's pad. Which is mind blowing.

Words can not not describe how obscure and awesome his collections are. Tamale steamers from the thirties that you would give your left como se llama for.

Here's an old picture of his kitchen nook, gives you a flavor of how he rolls. Picante style. His pals David and Lisa were there and we all went out to dinner. Place called OriginalChopShop. Hmm, nice veal chop, can't be bad.

Cue the grumpy old man tape bitching about the millennial whippersnappers again... The wall menu has a column called protein. "Do you mean meat?" I cautiously inquired. "And between bread, why that must mean a sandwich? Am I right? No, no, don't tell me, let me guess."

I don't know Lisa and David all that well and didn't want to come off poorly or be the pissy old fart yelling at the kids to get off my lawn but I was about one "no problem" or "absolutely" away from blowing my koppf. Didn't help that my "between bread" was inedible due to an excessive use of dijon mustard and an unknown caustic mystery fluid that would be at least a misdemeanor to serve in most civil locales. The part of the bread that I could eat was really delicious, shame it was so miniscule.

But I didn't say anything, pulled the meat out with my fingers like a barbarian and tried to wipe off the excess schmutz without calling too much attention to its basically inedible nature. I'm a team player and I hate to rock the boat.

I know that we created our own lexicon in the 1960's, e.g. groovy, bitchen and far out and pardon my generational narcissism, I still find them a bit more creative then ordering protein and no longer being able to say you're welcome. Call me old fashioned. Ordering protein off a menu is like trying to feed your pet paramecium tang.

We got back to Barry's and he showed me his lovely garden, a large portion of which is either poisonous or carnivorous, pointed out the home of the manic depressive neighbor and was just about to entertain me with his victorian tiddlywinks collection when I slowly backed away and took my leave. Had a big day approaching. School night.

Stayed with Sue and Steve. They have a gorgeous and wonderful new akita pup named Toshi. Took a picture of this pretty house sparrow at one of the rest stops on the way home.

Happy to be back in the Golden state. Where I can still believe in Robin Hood and brotherhood and colors of green and gray.

Lonely Blue Boy - Conway Twitty

Date with some chicks

I had heard that there were baby peregrines at Torrey Pines but of course have been too busy to go down and take a look. Three chicks this year, last year there were four. The first known photo of them was taken by somebody on May 10th. I thought that perhaps they were now flying. I think that Larry M. was down about a week ago and they were not as yet fledging.

A little Memorial Day traffic but really not too bad. I paid my twenty dollars and headed up top. It was pretty unsuccessful. Although I saw the male peregrine a few times, he was always too far away to get a good shot. After a few hours of futility I decided to call it a day.

I ambled down the hill and parked in the Torrey Pines Beach parking lot, decided to see what I could see from the beach. I went to last year's nesting spot and saw nothing.

I decided to go a little farther and saw three or four photographers set up with tripods, monopods, extremely big lenses and proper footwear. Birds are a long way away.

I had a 1.7 teleconverter on the Nikon D850 and Nikkor 400mm 2.8 but took it off, I really think it is not worth the resultant loss of detail and clarity. This camera gives me ample opportunity to crop and still have something usable left over.

Most of my peers had 600mm lenses, pretty evenly split Canon and Nikon and even one Sony mirrorless body.

I've done next to no processing on these images, they really didn't need anything. Click on one and you will see them all larger.

The birds were resting on a high ledge. The nest is further down the beach, south of last year's.

The falcon chicks are not yet flying but they are awful close.

I saw my ace photographer friend John there and he thinks a day or two more max. He has been on top of it. Says that the male falcon is not doing so great a job at providing food for his kin this year. I think that the parents are getting a bit tired of being providers and are ready for their progeny to fly.

I heard the birds squawking. I only saw two babies, the third was hiding somewhere. The birds are definitely not far away from being airborne.

The rising tide soaked my feet. Next time I wear rubber boots or galoshes. I didn't bring a tripod and my shoulder and legs were killing me after a few hours of handholding the heavy Nikkor. In fact it was murder walking back to the car with the shooting pins and needles pain in my left thigh.

This is the mother soaring above you. I saw the adult male a couple times up top, once chasing off a brief of pelicans that ventured under the off limits cliff line. Word is that he has recently fatally dispatched two of the birds. He is browner in color. Never got a decent shot of him.

Here is mom.

She is obviously a new mother, I believe last year's mom bore a leg tag.

I love this time of year, look forward to returning several times to take pictures and enjoy the aerobatics and food exchanges.

Obviously more to come...

Monday, May 27, 2019

Khumbu Ice Fall

Memorial Day Coastal Reprise

© Shawn Mayes 2019

My bud Shawn is one of my oldest friends. He sent me this picture recently from one of his tropical journeys. He wished I was there. Me too, Shawn. Me too.

He left for Thailand over twenty five years ago for six weeks and never came back. Well maybe once for a visit. Left his Avanti in my back yard. Told me to sell it. I subsequently lost the key and the title. Oops. Now nature has basically reclaimed it.

Shawn is a very productive man and a very talented artist, if I remember correctly, he was schooled at the Art Institute of Chicago. We used to play at the beach a lot with our little tribe, lots of frisbee and good times. Made hanging out and chilling into an art form.

He says that he has become very good with the disc after all these years in the tropics, having myself once been a really good freestyle player, I will reserve judgement until I get the chance to see him play one day. But in any case he is very fit and could run circles around me quite easily at this point.

Lost another forty year friendship recently and very unfortunately. Shouldn't have said anything, shouldn't have been so honest. You learn that some relationships can only exist in certain environments. Really bums me out.

I dreamt about Shawn the other night. I was in Encinitas or Leucadia but not the one that exists today. The great Encinitas of the early seventies. The Daily Bread. Before the money and the Orange County moved in. Before the Lumberyard when we still had the A&W on the cliff and the Hobbit Houses. Before blow and the BMW's.

When the homes on Vulcan and San Elijo were little modest one story bungalows with paisley longboards leaning against the walls and fat iridescent abalone shells lined the front yards and they all had these lovely little succulent gardens in the sandy soil out front.

Before the soulless, lot line hugging, mega monstrosities moved in. When we rarely ventured east of the Interstate 5. Life was mellow and people were friendly and kind.

Country Surfboards and Sattwa and the I Street Cafe. Evelyn and Gail. Danny Dolphin and People's Food in Solana Beach. La Paloma bookstore. The Old Time Cafe. The Leucadia Flea. It was all a little bit of heaven.

I went back to that place on this somnolent journey. It was a balmy early morning and Shawn beckoned me down to the beach on a path between some unrecognizable buildings for a swim.

Being merely a dream, my brain was granted some creative license. Tall spires of earth protruded from the ocean and reflected the apricot hued light of the morning sun. The water was unnaturally warm and it felt like the dawn of the world. Like swimming in birth fluid, our beings flooded with intense joy.

I woke, sad to leave the exquisite sensation of feeling like the world was new. And remembered a real life event that I believe happened in 1977. Maybe March. Shawn, Ricardo and I had been up at Winterland in San Francisco tripping around one week and our bodies and brains were scrubbed clean and full.

Agnes Pelton - Orbits, 1934

And we culminated the return of our journey by walking in formation to the bluff of their house on Neptune, overlooking Stone Steps, the place where Shawn hung mobiles of dried roses and Ronald used to skateboard inside in the living room, and as a final chapter of our cosmic grail quest we looked down at the water, facing the setting sun.

And like a Vegas choreography, or a page scripted at the beginning of time, three dolphins jumped up in the air towards us in perfect symmetry, matching our own psylosibic triad and the cetaceans on either end peeled perfectly left and right in crescendo and we somehow knew that things were exactly as they should be.

I was at coffee the other day and commented to a friend that I felt lucky and blessed about a certain something and he said I had to pick, it couldn't be both. I'm not really so sure, it is a lofty question, definitely out of my pay grade. Have a beautiful week.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Steam Powered Aereo Plain


I'm not exactly sure why but I have been on a pretty productive jag lately.

Doing every show I can, making things happen wherever possible. Not really sure if I can pinpoint a reason, maybe there isn't one. Not nearly out of my hole but I can see a little light.

Haven't had a drink in months, not that I was ever much of a boozer. No cannabis either. I stopped the former because it was affecting my atrial fibrillation, the latter because of a persistent cough and bronchial problem.

I am scheduled for an ablation pretty soon. The heart drugs that made everything tolerable for years suddenly stopped working. I lost considerable energy.

The new ones zonk me out. The little energy I still have has to be used efficiently and productively. Not sure if the procedure will work, the odds are about 70% on the first go. But I guess I have to try.

One of the upshots or should I say downsides of my newfound burst is that I have little time to engage in the activities that bring me joy. I haven't taken any serious photographs in over a month. No trips. No time to play guitar, when I try I usually make it through a song and then put it down in disgust at the diminishment of my skills. Not much time or inclination to write either. Am reading a bit, about halfway through a collection of short stories by the Russian writer Pushkin.

Would love to take a shooting voyage somewhere, I just don't have time. Keep the pedal to the metal. Make hay while the sun shines. Pay my debts. Hopefully the birds will still be there when I catch a break.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

St. George Quintet - Eleanor Rigby

Anciano de Córdoba

Jose Villarreal

Jose Cardenas Villarreal was killed in the early morning hours in Fallbrook on May 15 in a hit and run accident. He was a poor, hardworking man from Mexico, seventy one years old.

I drove by the scene of the horrific event an hour or two after the tragic accident occurred. I have never seen so many cops and emergency vehicles in Fallbrook.

I have been inquiring about the identity of the victim for the past several days and only learned it this morning. Jose was apparently trying to catch a bus to the Social Security office.

He was hit by a white car like a Suburban and drug for a block. Obviously, being a hit and run, the driver of the car never stopped.

Jose picked avocados and citrus for a living. He had lived in Fallbrook for over forty years. He was originally from Totatiche, Jalisco. His family needs help sending his remains back to his homeland. You can help them in their efforts by donating here. Please help.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Steppenwolf - Hippo Stomp

Carpenteria trip.

I am back from a week in Santa Barbara. Show was good, I felt pretty good, weather was crummy at times but alright, no traffic to speak of, couldn't hope for a better experience.

Two decent shows in a row, hallelujah!

I stayed in Carpenteria. We ate at a local place a couple nights in a row that wasn't too bad, Teddy's. Maple planked salmon was excellent there and the Brooklyn born manager was a great guy.

Went out with Alyssa, Mary and Barbara one night. We went to Chuck's for a steak. Alyssa told the staff it was my birthday, they brought a cheesecake with a candle and sang birthday greetings to me.

I muttered under my breath that I was a scorpio but in the end there was no escaping my fate.

Bill and I walked to the Carpenteria Bluffs park and visited the seal rookery one morning.

Lots of buzzards and geese hanging around, not to mention a flotilla of harbor seal flesh.

And one gopher baring his chompers and giving us a cold stare.

I didn't get out much, had one delivery to the hills of Montecito but the foul weather put a damper on much personal exploration or photography.

Got home exhausted Sunday night. Read a message that I had won some online auction that I had forgotten about.

Barry turned me on to this cool stock certificate. Fallbrook Water and Power Company, circa 1890. Three years after incorporation. Eighty four shares at a hundred bucks a share, that was real money back then.

Nice little engraving of the Santa Margarita River, whose banks lie less than a hundred feet from my front door. Will have to get it framed.

This company was organized in 1887 in order to dam the Santa Margarita River, a proposed task that led to protracted litigation and was never ultimately accomplished. Fallbrook was established the very same year, the area first known as Mt. Fairview, then as Fall Brook after a town in Pennsylvania where founder Vital Reche was from.

My property is at an elevation of 525'. The banks of the dam were to be at 500'. When I bought my property there was still talk of a potential dam and I was planning my future hotel and bait shop. Was not destined to be.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Johnny Come Home


Bonnie Raitt and Ruthie Foster

Big world

Socialism is terrible. Unless it is bailing out American farmers, than it is evidently okay.

Did you know that a new study shows that jews are the least islamophobic ethnic group in the United States? And 72% of jews in the United States believe that U.S. muslims face major discrimination in our country.

I don't think all that much of Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib but acknowledge and applaud her passion for her Palestinian people.

But she is dead wrong about the Palestinians creating a safe haven for jews fleeing nazi oppression during the holocaust.

Don't take my word for it, read the best book I have ever read on the subject, O Jerusalem by Collins and La Pierre. Told from both points of view, it is honest and objective.

Mufti in Nazi Germany - 1943.
The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al Husseini, met with Hitler in 1941. They quickly found that they had congruent goals in removing the jews from both Palestine and Europe.
Al-Husseini began the conversation by declaring that the Germans and the Arabs had the same enemies: “the English, the Jews, and the Communists.” He proposed an Arab revolt all across the Middle East to fight the Jews; the English, who still ruled Palestine and controlled Iraq and Egypt; and even the French, who controlled Syria and Lebanon. (The British had secured a mandate for Palestine at the Paris peace conference in 1919, and made halting attempts to create a “Jewish national home” there without prejudicing the rights of the Arab population.) He also wanted to form an Arab legion, using Arab prisoners from the French Empire who were then POWs inside Germany. He also asked Hitler to declare publicly, as the German government had privately, that it favored “the elimination of the Jewish national home” in Palestine.
In fact Hitler paid the Mufti a monthly stipend to foment aggression against his favorite nemesis.
Husseini, who died in Beirut in 1974, was apparently paid 50,000 marks per month, and 80,000 additional marks a month for living expenses, according to a contract with the Germans. This was a time when a German field officer typically earned 25,000 marks a year. According to the report, on November 28, 1941, Adolf Hitler told Husseini that the Afrika Korps would “liberate” Arabs in the Middle East and that “Germany’s only objective there would be the destruction of the Jews.”
Doesn't sound like much of a safe haven to me.
...Nazi authorities planned to use Husseini as their leader after their conquest of Palestine. Husseini was paid handsomely by the Nazis for his efforts, recruited Muslims for the SS and was promised that he would be made Palestine’s leader after its Jewish population of 350,000 had been murdered.
The ethnic problems in the middle east certainly did not begin with Hitler. My father was born in Palestine and told me about anti jewish riots in Hebron in the 1920's. But he said that the real jewish ire of the time was mostly directed at the British.

Sorry Rashida, but you are way off base here.

A Reagan era economics advisor, John Rutledge, thinks that our current trade gamesmanship with China is ill advised.
“The idea that you can change China’s entire economic system — the way they manage state-owned companies, the way they manage their technology policy or their industrial policy — in the course of a trade discussion is just nuts,” said Rutledge, now chief investment officer at the global investment firm Safanad. He has also advised leaders in the Chinese government.
“It was nuts in the beginning. It’s nuts now,” he added.
Overreach ultimately is the bane of all of these sorts of disruptor regimes. Ours and theirs.

Iranians are crying that the recent action against Saudi pipelines by Houthi rebels is a U.S. contrivance and mockup, designed to be a pretext for a new war against Iran. Gulf of Tonkin anybody?

Laura Ingraham is once again railing against immigration but this time it's the legal immigration that is bothering her. Changing the demographics. Could she be any clearer?

Sadly ironic that the administration is celebrating the release from jail of the journalists in Myanmar while simultaneously revoking White House Press asses for certain reporters that have given them trouble in the past.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Songs for our mothers

It was mother's day yesterday, if you didn't know. Leslie lit a yartzheit candle for our late mothers that burned through the night. This was one of my mother's favorite songs as was Que sera sera, the song by Doris Day, who happened to pass herself yesterday.

A toast and a kiss and love to all of our mothers, wherever they may now roam. We would not have gotten here without them.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Yellow rose of Fallbrook

Through little effort of my own and a steady diet of benign neglect I am happy to report that due to a steady winter and spring of rain, my roses have never looked better.

I bet yours do too.

Drop down mama

Sleepy John Estes cover


The restaurant is new and still finding its way. I have seen it be intermittently open for the past several weeks as it gets its feet wet and act together. The hours are a bit scrunchy.

Located almost directly across the street from my shop, I have been intrigued about the little snippets I was hearing regarding the new farm to table establishment opening in Fallbrook.

I cannot tell you how many different restaurants have been in the spot since Joanie's Lace Apron left so long ago. I've been across the street for twenty two years now.

And how many places have tried to serve quality food in this town only to be ultimately rebuffed? Michael still does. Fallbrook Grocery comes to mind in the wayback machine.

I had meant to try it for the first time with my wife but she is seeing music at the winery and I was hungry for lunch. So I walked across the street and sat at the bar, the place being a little crowded for Mother's Day Brunch.

The staff was young, friendly and attentive. Place looks good. I asked for their recommendations between the frittatas and the smoked salmon benedict and they said that all were good but the latter was great. I was convinced and followed their lead.

I received a beautiful plate and all the individual components were delicious. Unfortunately elements of the dish were quite cold, the purple cauliflower was really cold and when mixed up it was a little bit of a downer. This may be because of the rush and it may be because of the available equipment.

I didn't want to be Mr. Complainer and send anything back, especially the first time over. They were busy and they are figuring it all out. They are trying to do things right and operate without a heat lamp. But something is probably necessary if they are going to run a production kitchen. Cold toast points are a drag.

Still they get major points for trying, for serving me delicious salmon and hollandaise, no matter the temperature. Eggs were perfect. I can't think of a dining establishment in this town since Robert shut down Le Bistro that had food of this quality and that was obviously paying so much attention to what they were doing.

I wish them the best and also look forward to coming back for dinner with Leslie. Everyone I have talked to that has had dinner there has thoroughly enjoyed it. I talked to the general manager after my meal, praised it but also honestly explained the problems I had with the cold elements of the dish. She was apologetic and sweet and offered me a discount because of my experience that I felt somewhat sheepish accepting.

May Smalltown have a long and successful life on Main Avenue. I think that it will ultimately be a real winner.

118 N. Main Ave.
Fallbrook, CA 92028
Wednesday – Saturday from 5:00p – 9:00p and Sunday Brunch from 11:00a – 3:00p.

Michel Camilo - Caribe

Kip had a bunch of us over for a listening session yesterday. He offered many great treats to titillate our auditory networks, including this marvelous selection from an extraordinary Dominican musician that I was not really familiar with. No longer. Guy is amazing.

Aqua Soleil

Leslie and I went out to Desert Hot Springs for a soak Thursday to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.

Our anniversary is actually on the 15th but I will be out of town on that day so we went a bit early.

We have been going out to the desert for a long time. Started out at the Desert Hot Springs Resort but the staff and clientele got real seedy at some point.

We had a friend who was the architect at Two Bunch Palms and could get us deals but after the place was taken over it got too expensive. Still definitely the best pools around there.

We have tried near everything, the late Hacienda, the Hyundai, El Morocco, Miracle. This time we went to Aqua Soleil. Leslie found us a great deal, something like $69 and then management freely upgraded us to the poolside Sophia Loren suite.

Room was nice and clean, no complaints. Ordered pizza in the first night. It was windy and gloomy and we spent ample time in the pool and two jacuzzis. Not Two Bunch but not three hundred plus either. Nicer than the last time we stayed there, ages ago.

Still a bit sterile. Restucco a seventies building, throw a modern chair or two in the room and appeal to a young clientele. I get it.

Just missing a little warmth and love. Some schmaltz. But okay. At least it was clean. Very few fellow lodgers midweek. Staff and management very nice.

I called our dear friends Ron and Lena and was surprised that they were in Palm Springs the same day celebrating Ronnie's birthday. We talked about maybe getting together but it didn't happen and didn't necessarily need to.

Found a Mexican grocery the next morning and bought grade #a medjool dates for $2.99 a lb., about a fifth of Hadley's price. Cruised back refreshed and slightly invigorated.

First glance

The Mountain Whippoorwill

I saw Nitty Gritty Dirt Band quite a few times in the early 1970's, I think the first time maybe with Steve Martin and the Allman Brothers. They were a great band. Always loved this rendition of the old poem by Stephen Vincent Benet above all.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Calm Antique Show

The Catch - Millard Sheets - Kona, 1951

The Blue Heron Gallery is happy to once again be exhibiting May 17 through 19, 2019 at the Calm Antique Show in Santa Barbara. The Calm Show is held at the Earl Warren State Fairgrounds. More information and a download for a ticket discount hereCALM is a worthy charity that has been fighting child abuse and neglect for the past forty years. 

I am bringing an excellent selection of antiques, paintings and prints, both impressionist and modernist, many of which I have not yet put on my website. I hope to see you at the show!


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


Bee Gees - In My Own Time

I heard this song for the first time the other day. It comes from the Bee Gees First album, which is actually their third album. This came out in 1967 and the Beatles influence from Revolver and Sergeant Peppers is unmistakable. I hear lots of Taxman here. Not necessarily a great song but not altogether awful and a definite nod to Paul McCartney on the bass guitar. Lamest part is the horrid and out of tune lead guitar solo.

Silly me, I didn't know the Bee Gees had a psychedelic period.

Walter Amalric

I wanted to share this new acquisition with you. This is a piece of french art glass made by a man named Victor Amalric Walter (1870 – 1959). Walter had a studio in Nancy in the early part of the twentieth century. He specialized in a type of glass called pâte de verre. This is a method where finely crushed glass is mixed with a binder and becomes a paste. The paste is mixed with color and enamel, applied to a mould and fired.

Walter pieces are very rare. I have one other in my life, a very small example. This is a very large piece, about eight and one half inches in width, a very fine form known as a vide poche. Signed, mint. This particular piece may have been designed and executed by Walter's longtime collaborator Henri Berge.

Production at Walter's studio was limited, he had very few employees and was known to be a perfectionist. I am asking a very modest sum for this piece, which I own with a partner. An older woman who lives in Mexico brought it in, it was collected by her late husband.

Look at the asking price for smaller similar examples online, I am asking less than a third of this one. And less than half of this one, which is half the size.

If you have an interest in beautiful art glass please come by and check it out.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Lay down

Copy of letter to Eileen Delaney - Design Review Board, FCPG

Dear Eileen,

As a neighboring landowner, I want you to know that I am appalled by yesterday's removal of the beautiful mature trees at the Mission Resource building on Alvarado. It is my understanding that you and your community planning group approved the removal. My wife and I have been in the desert for a day celebrating our wedding anniversary, she just drove into town and alerted me to what had happened. In the four years since this organization took occupancy of this county property, the landscape around the building has been long neglected and now totally denuded. Obviously they have little regard for either beautiful mature trees or their neighbors. What was the sin of these magnificent specimens? That they were non natives with the gall to provide a little shade and beauty on public land?

There is some small irony that a quasi public entity that professes to teach the community proper environmental stewardship can be such a poor, inconsiderate tenant and leave such an awful legacy in its wake. In 2016 it took several letters from me to get them to even weed their property. Their director suggested that I either do it myself or make a contribution so that it could be cleared.

I wish that my fellow property owners and I had had some prior notice of their intentions to cut down the trees but we did not.

I want you to know that I am extremely angry about this arboreal travesty. I think it is both shortsighted and tragic. I will miss those beautiful trees.


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

Dear Robert,

I appreciate your email and I can understand your anger.

I was completely opposed to the removal of the trees until I got more information. No one else was happy about it either. We even tried to find a way that the trees could be replanted somewhere else.

The only reason that we approved the removal was that the roots from the trees were causing major safety issues with the gas lines.

Jackie Heyneman who is on the Design Review Committee and our resident tree expert investigated this for us and went over the plans. She confirmed that the trees did pose a safety issue, as did an arborist. As a result all 15 members of the Planning Group approved the plans.

Courtney Provo became the new Director of Mission Resource Conservation District in June. I think if you contact her, she would be happy to go over the plans with you. You can reach her at the email above.

No one wanted the trees to be removed, so I hope this gives you a better understanding about why they needed to be. 

We have monthly meetings of the Design Review Committee and the Planning Group. Our agendas and the projects we are working on are published in the Village News as well as being posted at the fire station.

The meetings are open to the public and we want community input on each agenda item. In the future if you see something on an agenda that you are concerned about, I hope that you will come to the meeting/s.

Eileen Delaney

and the sin of the Washingtonia filifera?
Dear Eileen,

I appreciate your quick response. I admit to not knowing the facts about the root growth of these particular trees. But I have my suspicions that you were being fed a line. These were ambers, not ficus, the roots are relatively shallow. Gas lines can be lowered and they are made out of flex these days, they can be rerouted. I heard that the MRCD wanted to do a native plant exhibition garden and the trees and their attendant roots were interfering with their grand design. I think that these fabulous trees were probably sacrificed needlessly as a convenient excuse. But I hope that I am wrong.  Before I was an art dealer I built subdivisions. I had to alert my neighbors in writing when things like this took place. Unfortunately I don't have a habit of reading your planning group's agenda items. I would have made my feelings known.

Thanks very much once again. What is done is done, the trees will never reappear no matter how badly they are missed. At least I have pictures of them.


Robert Sommers

Thursday, May 9, 2019


© Mike Reardon

My friend Mike Reardon took this excellent picture of Bob Weir at the Beachlife Festival in Redondo Beach last weekend. Weir was playing with the Wolf Brothers. Mike said it was a great performance. I think that it is a really great photograph.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Boogie Woogie Blues - Hollywood Fats Band with Roy Brown

I feel really lucky to have seen Mike Mann aka Hollywood Fats play the blues while he was alive. Fats was the real deal, the West Coast Mike Bloomfield.

As good as it gets. When he was a kid his mom would take him to blues dives in Los Angeles so he could jam with the greats. The story is that Buddy Guy gave him his nickname.

Fats toured and played with some of the legends including James Harman, Magic Sam, Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon, Eddie Vinson, J. B. Hutto, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, Canned Heat, Dave Alvin and Albert King.

He was friends with my old pal, the late Jose Kent, as was the bass player here, the great Larry Taylor. Jose took me to see the band a couple times up at the old White House Tavern in Laguna.

Mann had so much talent and great tone, but like many of the great musicians he idolized, he got nailed by a junk addiction and passed away at the tender age of 32, far too soon. What a shame that he never achieved the acclaim that he was certainly due.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019


Once again today, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell attempted to blame President Obama for not doing more to stop Russian election meddling.
“The attorney general reports that Russia carried out online disinformation campaign and computer hacking efforts designed to sow discord in our nation and interfere in American politics. It is deeply disturbing that the Obama administration was apparently insufficiently prepared to anticipate and counter these Russian threats,” McConnell said. “It was hardly a secret prior to November 2016 that Putin’s Russia was not and is not our friend. And yet for years, the previous administration ignored, excused and failed to confront Putin’s malign activities both at home and abroad.”
Which would be funny if it was not so ironically sinister and dishonest. Since it was Mitch McConnell himself who stood in the way of the last administration divulging the details.

The Obama White House, swayed by enormous amounts of evidence compiled by the U.S. intelligence agencies, asked for  bipartisan support to push back against Russian intrusion.

In mid-September 2016, Obama sent counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, FBI Director Comey, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to brief top members of Congress. He didn't want to appear partisan so he sought a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian meddling in our democracy.

But it didn't happen – because McConnell refused. He didn't want to go public and he questioned the validity of the intelligence. He finally agreed to a watered down version that didn't mention Russia. Time to look in the mirror Mitch, if you are still capable. If you want to find a reason and a person most responsible for the breakdown in governance and comity in this country, look no farther than Mitch.

Peter Sprague

Slippery slope on religious liberty

You may have heard about the dustup in Hoschston, Georgia this week.

The Mayor of the town, Theresa Kenerly, and a city councilman had a conversation in a closed door council session about a job opening they were trying to fill.

The mayor said that she didn't think the town was ready for a black administrator, one of four potential candidates for the position.

The councilman, Jim Cleveland, agreed. And his justification was eye opening.
I’m a Christian and my Christian beliefs are you don’t do interracial marriage. That’s the way I was brought up and that’s the way I believe...I have black friends, I hired black people. But when it comes to all this stuff you see on TV, when you see blacks and whites together, it makes my blood boil because that’s just not the way a Christian is supposed to live.
Another council person was shocked by the repartee and was told by the city attorney not to put her concerns in writing. In any case, as you can imagine, there is now quite a hubbub and current calls for the Mayor to resign. Racial discrimination in hiring has been against federal law since passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

The reason I bring the incident up is because this is a week after Trump enacted one of a series of religious liberty bills, this one allowing health care workers and large corporations to refuse to provide services if they run afoul of their religious inclinations.
Two final rules on religious and moral exemptions to the contraceptive coverage requirement set forth under the ACA carve out conscience protections for employers that allow them to withhold contraceptive coverage requirement services to their employees based on “sincerely held religious beliefs” and “non-religious moral convictions.”
And I think to myself and extrapolate, well doesn't it follow that the Councilman in Hoschston has a sincere religious belief or moral conviction against miscegenation and the mixing of the races? Why do we not honor his sincere theological convictions? After all, it is forbidden in the bible. Cursed be the son of Ham.

Isn't it logical to think that if allowed to continue, the direction of the Trump administration will be the end of discrimination enforcement in this country as we know it, be it racial, sexual, orientation or otherwise? As noted in this article, the Trump administration has elevated religious liberty to a position above all other rights.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court has long recognized that religious freedom should not be interpreted to permit harm on others, the Trump administration has redefined the extent of religious liberty protections, establishing a broad license to discriminate. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ guidance on “Federal Law Protections for Religious Liberty”—which he claimed would clarify the existing protections regarding religious liberty—serves as the groundwork for writing discriminatory actions into law. The guidance prioritizes religious exemptions over all other rights, and it defines the constitutional and statutory protections of religious liberty broadly so that they can be widely implemented. For example, previous analysis by the Center for American Progress found at least 87 regulations, 16 agency guidance documents, and 55 federal programs and services that the guidance could undermine—most of which the Obama administration created to advance LGBTQ equality and prohibit federally funded programs from discriminating, including on the basis of religion.The guidance establishes an overarching license to discriminate for the federal government. Moreover, it puts vulnerable populations at risk of being denied equal treatment under the law.
Dangerous stuff.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Mike Doyle, a life well lived.

Mike Doyle - 1963
I was sad to hear that Mike Doyle has passed away after a long battle with ALS. He was a world champion surfer, one of the very best to ever grace the water.

Mike and his mom, Mama Doyle, were old friends of mine and when she was alive he would often drop by my gallery or see the gang at the coffee shop. Early on I sold some of his old surf memorabilia off for him.

Mike was a pioneering waterman, a champion surfer and he developed the original prototype for modern snowboarding, the monoski. I am not sure if I ever met his wife but I believe that I did.

Mike was movie star handsome and always had a winsome lass on his arm prior to his marriage. Later in life he started painting and opened a gallery in Cabo.

Just a super nice guy and phenomenal athlete. Who once told me the spookiest ghost story I have ever heard. But I will only share it with you face to face.

He left one of his mom's paintings for me to sell in my shop. It's big. Any family member wants it, it's yours.

Great obit here.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Edwin Rist

Fit to be tied

I have just finished the exceptional book, The Feather Thief  by Kirk Wallace Johnson. A real life who-done-it about the 2009 theft of 299 rare bird skins and feathers from the British Museum of Natural History at Tring.

Much of the material had been collected by the famous English biologist Alfred Russel Wallace in the 1850's and had been donated to the museum by Lord Lionel Rothschild from his personal collection.

A theft promulgated by a very unlikely young man who ultimately manages to pretty much skate unscathed for his misdeeds thanks to a gullible or perhaps crafty psychiatrist.

My friend Lois loaned me the book and it was fascinating. I learned much about the 19th century craze for exotic feathers, which the author said cut the native bird population of twenty six states nearly in half between 1883 and 1898. At one time feathers were worth more than gold as a commodity in this country and close to the value of diamonds.

Reaction to the denuded landscape and bird populations were the impetus to the founding of conservation groups like the Audubon Society.

I learned a lot from the book but what it mostly is, is a deep look into the esoteric, mysterious world of fly tying, the ultimate recipients of the booty from this heist.

Apparently many fly tyers are not above trafficking in and receiving illegal feathers in order to tie some of the classic Scottish salmon flies of yesteryear. Their greed, rationalizations, self justification and moral wiggling as illustrated in this book are startling.

Typical entitled millennials, "It is the museum's fault for not having better security" and "No one ever looked at that old stuff anyway."

The book is a story of obsession, on the part of many of its characters, not the least of which including the author who makes it his temporary life's work to solve the puzzle.

The author pursued his quarry like a bloodhound and in the end left the rest of us with a very informative and interesting read.

Female hooded oriole in strelitzia