Jelly, jelly so fine

Friday, July 31, 2020

Larry Robinson

Casa de Estudillo

The Casa de Estudillo sits in Old Town San Diego. It was reportedly the finest adobe ever built in either Alta or Baja California. The land was claimed in 1827 by Governor José María de Echeandía and given to Captain José María Estudillo, an Andalusian who died a mere three years later.

Jose Antonio Estudillo
Estudillo was one of the earliest settlers of San Diego. His son José Antonio Estudillo (1803-1852), who was born in Monterey Alta California, came to San Diego around 1820, when his father was Comandante of the Presidio.

The son constructed the U shaped adobe roughly around 1829. The younger Estudillo was the Alcalde of the town, a Spanish synonym for a position like a mayor today and he was also the tax collector and assessor. His land holdings throughout the region were massive and extensive.

Interestingly, Echeandía, as the first native Mexican elected Governor of Alta California, was active in both secularizing the region and liberating the indigenous natives who had been oppressed under Spanish rule.

He issued a "Proclamation of Emancipation" (or "Prevenciónes de Emancipacion") on July 25, 1826. All Indians within the military districts of San Diego Mission, Santa Barbara, and Monterey who were found qualified were freed from missionary rule and made eligible to become Mexican citizens.

earliest known photograph of Old Town, 1858 - Note the raging San Diego River.

The house was the center of social life in San Diego. There was originally a large cupola built on top for which the family could view the bullfights, fandangos and fiestas in the adjacent plaza or zocalo. The Estudillo home had a large room that served both as a town chapel and primary school.

The Estudillos lived in the home until 1887 at which time they moved to Los Angeles. It was at this point that life following art, the fateful decision was made to link the adobe to a work of fiction written in 1884 by the author Helen Hunt Jackson, Ramona.

This book romanticized the native fictional heroine and the house was suddenly marketed as Ramona's Marriage Place to capitalize on the tourist craze and intense national interest in the book.

You can still sometimes find paintings and postcards depicting the lovely poinsettias that grew in the garden.

From wikipedia:
In 1887, a front-page article of the San Diego Union declared the Estudillo home to be "Ramona's Marriage Place", saying, "To sleepy Old Town (the house) is known as the Estudillos, but the outside world knows it as the marriage place of 'Ramona.'" This was despite Jackson never having visited the house, but in the novel, Ramona was married in a "long, low adobe building which had served no mean purpose in the old Presidio days, but was now fallen in decay; and all its rooms, except those occupied by the Father, had been long uninhabited." Despite the novel being a work of fiction, visitors flocked to the building thinking it was the actual location of Ramona's marriage. To be clear, the Union did not simply invent this story; a tourist had already scratched the name "Alessandro" (Ramona's husband in the novel) in one of the walls.The caretaker decided to capitalize on the attendant publicity and began selling off pieces of the house as souvenirs. Naturally, the building's condition began to deteriorate rapidly.
The town cashed in on a good thing, a fact that reportedly bothered the Estudillos, who had by now moved up the coast to the City of Angels. Prominent San Diegan and sugar baron John Spreckels bought the building in 1906 through his agent Nat Titus for $500 and he hired a 43 year old widow named Hazel Waterman to restore the building, which had fallen into intense disrepair through vandalism and neglect, to its original glory. Waterman was the daughter of a former Governor, Robert Waterman, and worked for the great architect Irving Gill.

Waterman did an amazing and historically accurate job in restoring the structure, complete with soaking rawhide strips to secure the vigas or roof timbers. Please read this excellent article on the Estudillo House in the Journal Of San Diego History for much more on the subject.

In 1909 Spreckels hired a theater impresario and onetime minstrel named Tommy Getz to turn up the noise on the Casa's linkage to the Ramona fiction. And that he did, to many people's apparent consternation, including the Estudillo family.

True or not, the Ramona myth was a big hit with the muggles and over 125,000 people visited the adobe during the 1915 Pan Pacific Exposition.

I wrote this prelude and hope that it is not too exhaustive, for a reason. I recently obtained a magnificent folio of silver gelatin photographs of the Casa de Estudillo by the early San Diego photographer Harold Taylor (1878-1960.) Taylor was an Englishman who  lived in Coronado and printed this folio at his Three Arrows Studio, which may have been located in the Hotel del Coronado. They are still in the original hand lettered binder. I wonder if any others exist?

I have been told by local historians that they date from around 1910. It is possible that some of these nine photographs are entirely new and fresh to the public domain. Please correct me if I am wrong. One photograph is apparently missing from its tipped in page. They are all pencil signed Harold Taylor, Coronado.

These photographs give us a great view of Waterman's restoration work. It looks to my unlearned eye to be pre Getz's "Disney" version. I have been on a San Diego history bent of late and hope that you find as much beauty in these magnificent reminders of our rich historic past as I do.

The folio is for sale but I would like to keep it intact.  I hope that you enjoy the pictures.

Prokofiev - Violin concerto n°2 - David Oistrakh

Thursday, July 30, 2020

V is for vapid

Dr. Kelly Victory
Our County Supervisor, Jim Desmond, has been on a crusade for months to open up the businesses, health concerns of the general public be damned.

He has a habit of enlisting the most right wing and reactionary medical professionals to make his case for him, people like Dr. Scott Atlas and Dr. Kelly Victory.

Who happen to, more often than not, be wrong about the facts.

They in turn make wild claims that are usually completely contrary to the views of the great majority of the actual experts in the medical profession and that are also sometimes downright misleading, incorrect and dangerous. The San Diego Union does a great job today taking Victory's talking points and shredding them into so many little bits.

It turns out that she is way out of her depth, having no degrees in public health, virology or epidemiology. Leadstories.com did a great job debunking her baloney recently as well. Definitely worth a read.

Victory is on record calling Covid 19, a disease which has killed over 600,000 people globally, a mild disease. She also says it poses little risk to children. I wrote Desmond a letter about Dr. Victory a few weeks ago but as usual received no response. She sounded fishy. All I could find on her was that she was an anti marijuana crusader who had been arrested for pulling a gun on another woman in Colorado at an Ann Coulter event. She plead no contest. Beautiful. But hey, let's cut her some slack, she was drunk. Funny how many anti pot people are actually lushes.

She was also a big booster of hydroxychloroquine and pumped a lot of her bilge, swill and misinformation around Colorado until the people there evidently got tired of her too.

Dr. Scott Atlas is your typical Hoover Institute contrarian. But he appears to live in a bizarro universe of sorts. You don't eradicate the universe by locking down in Atlasworld, it gets expunged by lots of close communal contact and everybody lives happily ever after. So many reasons to be optimistic, nothing to see here folks. He is also on record as saying Covid 19 poses no risk to children, a baldfaced lie not supported by several recent deaths of kids.

In this link Atlas gets taken down bigly by Tracy Mayne PHD, a former director of HIV epidemiology and surveillance at the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, who has spent more than 20 years doing epidemiology and health economic research in the health care and pharmaceutical industries. Jeremy Mayer is an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Read about the "Frontline doctors", the out of their depth wackjobs who are carrying water and spreading misinformation for the Trump administration. If I have to make a choice between listening to a retired ophthalmologist or a virologist in regards to the current epidemic I think I will take door number two.

Can't wait for these people to crawl back under their rocks.

Carly Simon

Pear picking time in the Central Valley

Gimme Shelter - New offerings from the Blue Heron Gallery

Volga boatmen

When I read a few minutes ago that Trump had suggested delaying the November election, I immediately thought "Isn't that something that Putin or a Soviet dictator would do?"

Americans of all stripes and ideologies should put a quick kaibosh on the idea or we will be in a world of hurt.

It is easy to see his thought process. Perhaps his chances of getting re-elected will be better in the future? That is all this is about, not any real worry about safe and secure elections.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

More prints

My source for the old printing blocks brought five more woodblocks over the other day. All continuing with the early California theme. These blocks were quite a bit larger than the last batch. They were clearly done by different artists. One has a 1920's union label impressed in the block.

Printmaker Dixon Fish had some time yesterday afternoon and he called me over to the Fallbrook School of the Arts. He mixed up the ink and we printed up the new batch. The man who loaned me these says that he was told that not many of these pre World War II blocks survive, they were repurposed for some reason in the war effort. I do not know but have seen more than a few in my years.

I really like the print on top. I suppose that it could be avocados but I am going with pear picking. I really like the old timey staccato cross hatching at the bottom of the clouds as well as the old style hats. This one would be nice to color.

Here we see the fruit of the missions' labor, with the phoenix canariensis planted clearly in view.

While Serra was supposed to have brought the phoenix dactylifera or date palm, in 1769, that may not be entirely accurate and there is no record of the Canary Island palm arriving until the 19th century.

The first nursery to offer phoenix canariensis for sale in California was the nursery of Miller and Sievers in San Francisco in their 1874 catalogue.

In any case, you most often see the native washingtonia filifera palm illustrated in these sorts of illustrations.

The pineapple I believe is purely artistic license. Next we have two rancho fiesta scenes. The lower one is earlier and bears the union printing cartouche.

For some reason I think that the block above was created by a woman but I could be wrong. Something about the line work.

The bottom fiesta scene is very tight, intricate and pretty well drawn. Can't help but think that the dancer with the sombrero bears a resemblance to Dick Tracy. Very nice print.

 The desert view looks like it might have been created to illustrate different types of desert flora, saguaro, yucca, ocotillo, beavertail and barrel.

I am going to run a limited edition of these prints one of these days, on good hand torn heavy paper. These are test prints and we will try to make them as perfect as possible. They will be signed by the printer. The cost will be fifty dollars per print and a little less for multiples. Let me know if there is any interest in these or the original batch. We can even do them in custom colors, I believe. They will look very pretty framed up.


Senate GOP won’t extend pandemic food stamps but doubles ‘three-martini lunch’ deduction


Our newest medical expert and Trump confidant believes that people are having illicit sex with demons and that other nefarious rascals are actually using space alien's dna in medicine. This person is now advising our President. Perfect. 

Apparently she also thinks that the "evil ones" are working on a vaccine to inoculate people from being religious.


Word has passed down the pike that Christo Javacheff, the brilliant Bulgarian born conceptual artist, has died at his home in New York.

The iconoclastic visionary, who like his wife and partner of five decades, Jeanne Claude, insisted that he be called only by his first name.

His death was reportedly of natural causes. The coroner, upon examining the body, was quite succinct.

"It's a wrap."

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hear The Wind

Bill and Jean

Bill and Jean Cade are two of our dearest friends. They have done so much for us over the years, it is frankly impossible to list. Bill is a craftsman and has restored my furniture, We sleep under quilts that Jean has sewn for us. A fabulous cook, we always get a call when she has made my favorite peach cobbler or her famous posole or lasagna.

We are family at Christmas and always included. Because they are older than we are they are the closest things we have to parents I guess but we are just really good friends. When I was ill and the cancer came back in 2007 I recuperated at their house.

Their beautiful house is getting too big for them and I look forward with profound sadness to the day that they leave our community.

Bill is a master gardener and their house and garden is a wonder. Bill has been into bonsai for a long time and has some beautiful specimens.

We went over on Sunday for cobbler and ended up playing bupkis, a dice game, with them. Jean, who is known for her incredible luck, kicked our butts once again.

They showed us some of the beautiful gladiolas that were still blooming in the garden, from bulbs they originally got from us and a pineapple that is growing and now getting ripe on their walkway.

What a touch they have, at everything they do. We are so blessed to have them in our lives!

Monday, July 27, 2020


Ice cream up, deodorant use down.

Sunday, July 26, 2020


The biggest big business in America is not steel, automobiles, or television. It is the manufacture, refinement and distribution of anxiety. Eric SevareidThis Is Eric Sevareid (1964)

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Peter Green

When Jerry texted me today to tell me that Peter had died, I actually started crying. Good thing I was alone. We have lost an incredible artist, one gifted with impeccable rich tone and subtle touch. One of the titans.

Car Day

Jim sends a picture of his new '57.
Good Morning Robert,
Here are a couple pictures of my new purchase. It is a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air 2 DR hardtop.
The interesting features are the Fuel Injection engine, same as used in the Corvettes. It has a
3 speed column shift and was considered one of the earliest factory hotrods. It is rare to find one of these in original stock trim.
Jim Swan 

Bill L shares a photo of his restored 61 Maserati at the Monserate Winery. I think that it is a 3500 GT Spider.

61 Corvette

I have never been a big Chevrolet guy but I make an exception for early corvettes. Joel brought his 61 to coffee yesterday. It is the special fuel injected model and is just an absolute cream puff. Please excuse Ray zipping his fly or whatever he is doing.

Joel bought it many years ago from the original owner who took meticulous care of it and logged every mile driven. Joel has continued the immaculate stewardship.

I used to think that I liked the late 50's versions the best but this particular car is tough to beat. All original including the paint.

The tail was redesigned in 1961 and it is now an iconic automobile design feature for the ages. The stingray was born.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Terry's insane goat caper

I got this amazing letter from Terry DeWald yesterday. Terry is a very fit, ex pro baseball player friend of mine who sells great native American material and likes to climb huge mountains in his spare time. He sent a ton of photographs that I have to consolidate in the interest of space but I have to share this:

Quick report on an adventurous day.

Yesterday I drove south to hike up Mt. Wrightson to take a Covid break, and to hopefully see some monsoon moisture coming up from Mexico.  It’s a 13 mile round trip that gains about 4,000 feet in elevation to about 9,400 feet.  There were several county police cars at the trail head and some Game and Fish guys warning everyone that a bear had been spotted on the trail.

It was a refreshing morning with light cloud cover.

Looking down into the Tucson basin.

The trail goes up and over these rocks. I took a picture of this family for scale, without knowing that in a few hours we would be having a little fun together.

As I started up I saw this panicked woman smoking down the trail with an aggressive male goat on her tail.  I thought at first she was just hiking with her pet goats.  Hardly the case.  She said they were wild and had been below the trail and he had been charging her and then butting her but she was able to keep her balance and stay on her feet.  I told her to go by and I would try to stop them.  

I had my camera out and took a picture of this bad boy as he was checking me out and before he really got pumped up.

His horns looked like 2 twisted switch-blades.  If he would roll you on the ground he could definitely give someone a punctured kidney or a Caesarian Section.

He then came after me as I tried to go up the trail to the summit.  I was able to dodge him but he just kept on charging and charging. I figured if I got off the trail he might stay on it and go back to where he came from.  Instead he came right down the trail at me lickety-split. Luckily there was another couple coming up in back of me. Alberto is from Argentina and his wife Nicola is an Emergency Room Doctor. When they saw what was happening they gratefully decided to help me.  Alberto and I started throwing rocks at the goat to scare him away.  That just got him more enraged. We must've thrown rocks at that guy for at least five minutes, nailing him several times with big boulders making direct hits on his head.  Didn’t phase him at all.

Here he is charging Alberto and being fended off with his hiking pole.

We eventually decided to retreat back off the steep trail to the saddle to give the 2 goats more room to hopefully spread out and calm down.  But the Billy-Buck started it all over again. Nicola guarded their two small dogs and keep them out of the way but also kept taking a few pictures. After getting pounded with lots more rocks from us the goat stopped for a second to catch his breath here in this shot below. What I learned then was that when his tail went straight up like you see here …you were in trouble…. that meant his gas petal  instantly was going to go to the floorboard and he started coming right at you like a Tesla coming off the line.  So when the tail springs up, you had better get ready for the fastball.
By this time the couple I passed on the trail in the earlier photograph had made it to the saddle as well. The dad, Andrew, picked up a sturdy pole, as did I, and Alberto next took the 2 dogs on down the trail to make sure they wouldn’t become mince meat.  

After the goat kept charging again and again I suggested to Andrew that we just sit down on this big log and hopefully the goat might "mellow out”.  So here we are trying to second-guess what his next move would be.  As you can see he had our full attention as we were hyperventilating with our poles.  Andrew at this time told his family to go on down the trail for safety. But Nicola said she wanted to stay with us, being an Emergency Room  Doctor, in case we got badly pounded or sliced up, so she kept taking these shots. 

The" mellow out" theory didn’t work and here the goat is leaping over the log coming at Andrew.  If he could get close enough to you he would try to bite you.  I grabbed his horns a couple of times to stop him and his strength was amazing.  With my legs locked as I held his horns he pushed me all over that saddle like I was a feather.    

I now believe the whole circumstance was a male macho display for the ewe who was his wife.  He had testosterone coming out his ears.  He just wouldn’t stop.  We tried to keep behind this metal sign post so he didn't have a clean shot right down the baseline at us. 

He would rear up on his hind legs like a bighorn sheep and just propel himself at you. 

We kept telling him that we were both very happily married and didn't want to have anything to do with his wife. But he kept checking her out ….. and then coming right back at us.

A couple of times when he charged me I hit him square between his eyes as hard as I could.  He did not even flinch.  I think if he could've talked he would've said, “Is that all you’ve got?  Come on, bring it on mate”. Below is one of my follow-through's after I cracked him right across the nose so hard that I almost fell over. He has already re-loaded back on his hind legs and he's coming at me again. 

Andrew and I were pretty exhausted…my arms were shot…it had been almost an hour since the goat decided to pick me in the second round of the draft behind the old lady….so we decided to all start retreating down the trail ourselves. But he was immediately, pugnaciously right on our rears….and the toughest aspect of “down-climbing" down the trail was that you had to backtrack facing him to protect yourself …..so you're going down backwards over all these rocks on a pretty vertical trail while trying to keep your eye on him while at the same time whacking him away with your log as he would charge at you with the force of gravity on his side, because he was coming downhill at you.  Plus it started raining.  He and his spouse pushed us down the trail for well over a mile, close to another hour, when finally we met a surprised wide eyed hiker coming up.  We asked him if he had a rope and he said no, but he had some bear "pepper spray".  Those two words were the sweetest thing I had heard all day.  So we immediately nailed the goat with a good blast from about 10 feet away.  It didn’t even get his attention.  The second blast another 100 feet down the trail didn’t stop him either.  He was still coming at us.  But the fourth and fifth from about 3 feet from his eyes did put the brakes on.  And during that media time out he took, we booked it straight down as fast as we could.  It had started to rain harder and we were slipping and sliding down the trail but eventually made it all the way back to our cars.  

I can honestly say that ordeal was tougher than any cross-fit routine ever created. And when we got there the Search and Rescue guys had arrived after hearing what was going on from Alberto and they had a helicopter up and were looking for the goats.  I don’t think they found them though.  And the game and fish guys were still there, after over 5 hours, because they said that now that over the course of the day there were 6 bear sightings on the trail.  

I would vote to take on all 6 of those bears rather than duel with that goat again.

Postscript - Green Valley News

Greatest Rock and Roll concert lineup of all time?

I was sent a link to this video from Farout Magazine in England. Imagine this lineup - Moody Blues, Freddie and the Dreamers, Georgie Fame, The Seekers, Herman's Hermits, The Ivy League, Sounds Incorporated, Wayne Fontana, Rolling Stones, Cilla Black, Donavan, Them, The Searchers, Dusty Springfield, The Animals, The Beatles, with the Kinks closing the show. It happened on April 16, 1965, at Wembley's Empire Pool.

The Fab Four took home top honors for the night, which was a celebration of the New Musical Express’ Poll Winners. But as my buddy Barry Friedman noticed after I sent him the video, how would you like to be the Kinks having to go on after the Beatles? The Beatles by the way, start at around 1:16 and the excitement and energy of their opening is incredible.

I must confess to not having watched the whole thing yet but I look forward to it. I love watching Brian Jones on the Vox teardrop. Barry says it is fantastic, noting great performances by Them, Dusty and the Animals as well as the boys from Liverpool.