Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Toots and the Maytals

Fire when ready

I am pretty sure that I know what a libertarian is. 

A libertarian is a capitalist who believes in the right to discriminate against other people and who also likes to get stoned. 

They have their own online forum now, Reason, funded by the Koch Network.

I saw this interesting article over at Reason yesterday, Scofflaws paved the way for legal marijuana.

"Willingness to break the law to do things that people know they have every right to do helps to make it acceptable for others to follow suit. As more people engage in illegal activities, those activities become less alien and threatening even to those who have no interest in joining the party and reveal legal restrictions as unenforceable. That makes it seem increasingly attractive to call off the cops and leave people alone to live their lives."

Having smoked for about 85% of my life at this point, the great majority of the time breaking a law or two along the way, I guess I agree with this guy. All this time I have been a warrior for the greater good and social change. 

Who knew?


In any case, today is 4/20, the pot smokers ersatz Christmas. Carries the same spiritual gravitas and authenticity as Festivus or Kwaanza, I suppose. A lot of my friends are totally into it. 

I must confess that I don't get worked up or excited about marijuana any more, more like brushing my teeth or drinking milk. Not going to bake a cake over the whole thing.

I'm old school. Don't want to hear about the new strains, they ruined a lot of great sativa when the indica craze hit and we lost them forever. 

Don't believe in a lot of indoor, don't trust the growers to flush poisons or not to over fertilize, still an outdoor sativa organic caveman. Sun, water and earth. Simple equation.

I don't vape, the lungs can't bong, truth is, I rarely even smoke anymore, an occasional hit on a joint is fine. I think it's legal now. But the thrill is gone, I'm not going full scale dreadlocks or religious about anything at this point in my life. The pot culture sort of bores me. I have other hobbies.

But you folks, go ahead and fire away. If you want to smoke, smoke, if you don't, don't. 

Have a good time either way. Happy four twenty.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Now I'm 64



One of my guilty pleasures is Thrifty Black Cherry ice cream. I wrote a blogpost on the subject a few years back. At the time Thrifty was the only rabbinically certified ice cream brand, super clean. Perhaps it still is?

Anyway I was driving home the other day and I had the itch and I stopped for a cone. Nobody has to know.

And I noticed that the girl behind the counter had a beautiful name, Azucena. And I asked her about her melodious name and complimented it and also asked if she had ever met another person with the same name? She said that she had. Two people in fact.

Her mother was named Azucena and so was her mother's mother. She told me that it was the name of a flower. 

I looked it up, it is the name of a lily. Actually two flowers share the common name, the fragrant tuberose and the Madonna Lily.

The former grows in Mexico, I have smelled its lovely fragrance filling the air at the old mercado in Oaxaca City.

The latter is from Asia and parts of Southern Europe.

In any case, the girl was very nice and sweet and I asked her where her family was from and she said Guanajuato. 

I told her about a ten and a half hour car trip I took from Puerto Escondido to Ciudad de Oaxaca through Huatla and the steep mountains the time my plane broke down in the jungle many years ago. The same verdant road where they filmed Romancing the Stone. No rental cars or buses back then, I had to hire a reluctant cabdriver.

She smiled.

She told me that in order to visit her grandparents when she was a child it took a three day journey through the mountains, a real ordeal. Fording rivers and dodging poisonous snakes.

Now with the highway robbers and cartels the trip is near impossible, far too dangerous.

You look at a person, a poor immigrant like this girl and you have no idea what they have endured and gone through in their life, do you? Yet she remains as sweet as a flower.

A prudent person should knock on wood and thank their lucky stars for the relative ease of our life here in America.

Be kind. One day it could be you on the other end of the stick.

The Bench - Cameron Burnett



Good word of the day. New one for me but it makes sense. Etymologic roots in the 1930's. If you are going to get disgruntled you might as well be gruntled on occasion too, right?

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Evil Assholes

The news that Trump's EPA blocked the release of a report regarding the release of toxic carcinogens in Illinois didn't exactly surprise me but it is still worth a read.

A former top Environmental Protection Agency official appointed by former President Donald Trump withheld warnings to an Illinois community about a toxic gas linked to several cancers that was being emitted by local plants, the EPA’s Office of Inspector General revealed in a news report.

Bill Wehrum was the assistant administrator of the EPA’s Office for Air and Radiation in 2018 when EPA officials in Illinois became concerned about elevated levels of ethylene oxide at the Sterigenics sterilizing plant in Willowbrook.

The federal government has linked the gas to lymphoma, leukemia, and stomach and breast cancers. The local administrator “wanted to immediately release” air monitoring results to the public by posting them on the agency’s website to “avoid another public health emergency like the Flint, Michigan, drinking water crisis,” according to the IG report, which was released Thursday.

But Wehrum, who had been an attorney for gas, oil and coal companies, ordered officials to “not release monitoring results to the public,” said the investigative report, which was requested by Congress.

As a person who has battled cancer off and on since 1985, a cancer linked to methyl ethyl ketones, is it any wonder I despise these people so? 

Arthur Lee & Love - Seven & Seven

They killed


I shot this picture of two male lions nuzzling in Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania in 1989 with my Konica FT-2 film camera. Post wildebeest repast. I believe that my longest lens was 135mm but I still managed to get some splendid photographs.

I want to go back on safari in the worst way. I think Leslie is a little squeamish about the kills. She can close her eyes I hope, there is an awful lot more to see that I know that she will really enjoy. Some day...

Do you know what I mean?

Good Tunes

My buddy Stan is not only a great photographer and teacher of photography, he has spent a life in music. He played bass with the Incredible String Band, managed Janis Ian and Muddy, just has serious credibility on the subject.

And he was a roadie at the Fillmore East to boot. He got to see a lot of great music when the music was really good.

He sent me this letter the other day:

Last live concert I went to was four years ago…..

I don’t enjoy the experience anymore.  Even back in the days of ROADIE, I was always running around at shows.
I had a few memorable moments, while sitting in a seat…..

But considering the amount of shows I attended, this is really slim.

Elvin Jones trio at Slugs in 69…..
Little Feat at Venice something (small movie theater) in around 75,
Willy Dixon and the Chicago All Stars, (Somewhere in downtown LA in an old auditorium in a run down hotel….wooded seats, church ladies….May of 76
James Taylor at Berkeley Community Center…….1974 or 75
Stones farewell concerts at the Roundhouse, London,  Jan, 71
And the ultimate live experience for me:
New Years Eve 69-70, Band of Gypsies, Fillmore East.

All were somewhat intimate, the bands were killing it and you could see and hear.


I agree with him on one thing, I can't stand being packed in a room anymore and this goes back way before covid.

I like his picks. I never saw Elvin Jones live but he is probably my favorite drummer. I did see the Stones, Willie Dixon and Little Feat. Never saw Jimi or Janis, or Otis, unfortunately. Hard to trump Band Of Gypsies although I personally liked JME better, at least on the recordings. Big Mitch Mitchell fan.

I think I have listed some of these before but they are probably my favorite all time shows. Tough to pick, there were so many good ones. Hate leaving the great Dylan, Doc and Merle, Echo and the Bunnymen, Son Seals and Concrete Blonde shows off...

Taj Mahal - Catamaran. Small club, twenty minute impromptu a cappella back and forth with pretty blonde girl back row of the audience on Spoonful. Pure happiness.

Rolling Stones - Mick's birthday show, Madison Square Garden - 1972. Unbelievable, the show with Stevie Wonder and all the rose petals falling. Mick Taylor at his best. They made a movie that night.

Grateful Dead - Swing Auditorium, 2-26-77 - first Terrapin, full mind blower. DNA altering. Nothing's gonna bring them back...

Roxy Music - Griffith Park - taste and elegance personified.

Arthur Lee and Love - Belly Up Tavern The bitterest of Arthur, out of jail and just testifying. Unbelievably good.

Devo - California Theater - People doing swan dives into the audience, total cacophony of fun.

Jefferson Airplane - House of Blues - Tribute to Papa John, with special guests Grace Slick, Merl Saunders and David La Flamme. Grace shows up at midnight and tears the place apart with her searing vocals. Leslie and I drinking shots with Jim Marshall at the bar.

Its a Beautiful Day and Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks - Sports Arena

Country Joe McDonald and Lee Michaels - Sports Arena - Nice to meet you, Mr. Orange Sunshine. ☀ And when exactly do you plan on going home?

And my #1, numero uno show of all time - Thick as a Brick, Jethro Tull - Sports Arena 1973

What are your favorites?

Feeding the goose

Glass Onion

Trip to the desert

I drove to Palm Springs yesterday to pick up two collections for the auction. It was nice out there, not too hot yet. 

My friend Ken and I had lunch at Rick's. Ken lives in one of those storybook modern Palm Springs houses, his was designed by the legendary architect William Krisel. Great pad.

Rick's makes really good food. I have been very good of late, almost no red meat for two months, I have been bad on exactly two occasions.

Trying to limit my salt and sugar too. I honestly feel pretty good on fish and chicken.

I broke down yesterday.

The owner of Rick's is Cuban and prepares his native cuisine exceedingly well and so I went for the pork loin sandwich. 

First pork I have eaten in a long time and darn did it taste good! Great black beans and rice and plantains too. If god didn't want us to eat it why did he make it taste so damn good?

Afterwards I drove out to Big Morongo Canyon to try to do a bit of midday birding, never easy.

I took a short hike with my friend Vickie who lives nearby.

Vickie is an artist who does great assemblages. Tom gave me an old guitar and Vickie is going to do something cool with it. I delivered it to her yesterday. We always have interesting conversations, in some ways having similar and parallel youths and deviations. Took a few of the same wrong turns. And right turns, come to think of it!

The Morongo Canyon is so neat. A little oasis. You see birds there you rarely see anywhere else, like summer tanagers.

Wonderful to get out and stretch the legs for a little while and talk with my good friend.

Unfortunately my avian timing was not optimal yesterday. I did see a yellow rumped warbler and a female vermilion flycatcher but not a whole lot more.

This was my second time there and I already want to go back and hike the whole eight mile canyon loop.

Very cool day and that is pretty much all I got.

Our Lord's Candle


Since we have been on the subject of agaves and yuccas I thought I would post a picture of a chaparral yucca native to my area.

I shot this picture out of my car window on the way to work in the early morning.

This one is growing out of a bank around the hairpin corner next to my house. 

They grow out of extremely dry and rugged banks on my road. Thrive on abuse. Incidentally, the natives have used it for years.

The botanical name for this plant is Yucca Whipplei or Hesperoyucca whipplei. 

It is also known as Spanish bayonet or Spanish dagger. I got stabbed by one of these guys once when I was cutting wood as a kid and my leg looked a lot worse than Kerry's.

It was given the name "our lord's candle" on account of the lovely red color of the inflorescence.

From WikipediaThe taxonomy of Hesperoyucca whipplei is complex and controversial.Hesperoyucca was described as a genus by Georg Engelmann as long ago as 1892, but it has taken recent DNA analysis to confirm that they are genetically distinct from Yucca.

You will notice that it also has a beautiful burgundy colored sheath around its spike.

There are purportedly six subspecies of this plant and I wonder which one grows on the native banks of my Santa Margarita River? It is the wispiest yucca you could ever imagine.

More on the plant here:

It has been used extensively by Native Americans.[17] Yucca species such as the Yucca whipplei have been documented to have been used as a fiber and food source by Native Americans in the Southwest cultural region, prior to European settlement efforts.[18][19] Archaeological evidence show that use of yucca species extends to approximately 5000 years ago within groups such as the Serrano of the San Bernardino Mountains and San Gabriel Mountains of the transverse mountain ranges of Southern California.[20][21][22] The Serrano harvested the hearts of the plant during the spring growing season.[19] Yucca whipplei grows on the rocky slopes and washes of the chaparral area of the transverse mountains of Southern California up to approximately 4000 feet above mean sea level.[23] Harvested plants were chosen based on the growth of the stalk; the hearts were the preferred portion of the plant, and would be harvested before the stalk was fully developed. The heart contains the sugars stored to rapidly grow a stalk to flower, and become bitter as the stalk grows in height.[24] The hearts would then be roasted in stone lined pits (earth oven) over several hours in a manner similar to that of agave species. Once cooked, the hearts would be removed and allowed to cool before eating. Uneaten portions could be dried for storage.[24] Though slightly bitter, the stalk and flowers can be harvested and used as food sources as well. The stalks can be prepared roasted in a manner similar to the hearts, while the petals were often parboiled.[24]

The long leaves of species such as the Yucca whipplei are made of strong fibers which can be pounded and scraped to expose long threads which run the length of the leaf.[24][23] The leaves could be processed in many ways to remove the outer layer of leaf material which could be processed into threads and cords, used for basketry, blankets, and sandals.[19] Green leaves can be heated over coals or directly on flames to heat the leaves. Cooking the leaves removes some of the saponins and allows for easier scraping. Ethnographic accounts dating to 1938 describes the preparation of leaves for fibers as any one of the following: boiling or pit roasting of live leaves to be scraped clean or the pounding or soaking of dry leaves expose fibers.[20] Shells or stone scrapers were often employed to remove outer leaf material from the fibers.[20] Once exposed, these fibers were often soaked in water to soften fiber. The fibers could then be twisted into cordage, used as materials in a basket, or woven into sandals.[19]

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Combat pay for this one

 My friends and readers are truly the best:

Hey Robert, thought you might like to see photos of a Century Plant on my street, it just grew a big spike a couple days ago, getting ready to bloom. Will send you more pics when it blooms if you want.

I got up on a short retaining wall to take the pictures and when I hopped off it jabbed me in the arm. Didn’t even notice at first but it got me pretty good, must’ve hit a blood vessel.

Thank you for going the extra mile, Kerry. Love you bro. Treat that.

Mechanical World - Spirit

Looking Back

Robert Williams

I think about how lucky I am to have had so many great experiences in the art world. I have sold works by masters including John Singer Sargent, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Maynard Dixon, Wayne Thiebaud and so many more. What a privilege. 

I have even had original Pissarro and Van Gogh canvasses in my very own hot little hands.

To think I started out as a kid pulling handbills off telephone poles and cutting images out of magazines to tape on my wall...

I was into underground comics and posters way before I was into the straight stuff. Before a lot of other people were into it. Because I knew how cool it was. 

And honest to god, the great material I sold back then is the stuff I really wish I had back right now. 

Like this piece of Jesus and the feathered serpent by Rick Griffin. I sold the original art to this. Man, do I wish I could have kept it. But things were tight and I had to give it up. It happens. Life gets in the way.

Of course, after living twenty or thirty years with the album cover art I also felt that the world should see it, that it is selfish to keep the great stuff salted away. So I sold it and paid the mortgages and managed to survive and hopefully now more people can enjoy it than inhabit my little corner of the world.

What a break to meet and get to know people like Alton Kelley, Dave Sheridan, Jack Kirby, Spain, S. Clay Wilson.  Greg Irons. All passed now. To hang around people like Stout, Williams, Nino, Lealoha, Pound and Corbin in the early days of the El Cortez, what a thrill it was! And Crumb, Mouse and Victor, these people were my artistic heroes and I still love their work. The titans of underground and psychedelic art. It was incredibly visionary and in my opinion it is still not appreciated at the level it should be. 

How did a punk kid like me get an opportunity to put a Zap comics together?  To rub shoulders with the greats? But I did. Living the dream.

And it wasn't just about hanging out with Rick and obtaining the precious artwork, it was even better to stay up for a night or two in the gallery and be there at the moment of creation. As Dave and Jeff will attest.

Did you know that I had art director screen credit on two surf movies? It is true, not that I did much. The first was for Blazing Boards.

Chris Bystrom was a friend of mine, in fact I found and sold psychedelic records with him at his gig at the Leucadia Flea Market.

Chris was a super smart guy, english lit major, his mom was a professor if I remember correctly. 

Chris had a degree in filmmaking from UCSD but mostly he loved to surf. Great guy. He spent a lot of time in Australia. Met an unfortunate end in an accident in Asia. 

We would go to the Capitol Records swap meet every month and scrounge for stuff. He introduced me to Bob Hite of Canned Heat and we bought Kaleidoscope posters from him. Lots of other cool people too. People with crazy repositories of music.

Anyhow, I introduced Chris to my friend Rick Griffin and Rick ultimately painted this poster for him, which I was sort of ambivalent about at the time. Later I appreciated it a little more.

He wanted Rick to do his next poster too but Rick was busy at the time so he recommended a Belgian artist he knew in San Clemente to do Thunder down Under. 

Nice guy. I don't remember his name after all this time but I have art credit on that one too. 

His name might have been Luke now that I think about it.

It wasn't terrible.

So when you fill out my obit, please don't forget to add art director to my huge cv, okay?

Be Stoked

People often ask me "Hey, you are a longtime art dealer. What do you have hanging in your own house?" It is a good question. The truth is, mostly the work of our friends, that is the stuff that is most important to us. Some tribal art and art nouveau. Honestly most of the paintings and prints on our walls are works by my long time friend Brett Stokes.

This colorful painting of a humpback and a dolphin hangs in our bathroom.  I am not sure when he painted it. We also have a large and beautiful painting of a shrouded kachina figure by the longtime Fallbrook artist above our fireplace. Other stuff scattered around.

I met Brett right after I saw a menu he designed for the Divine Cafe. It was sort of Griffinesque. I think I confronted him in a checkout line. We took art and painting classes together in college. Later we worked together at my sign shop on occasion. Have remained friends ever since. I used to watch baseball games with his mom and dad in the summer, classic people.

This is a logo and business card that Brett designed for my first art business, way back when I was selling psychedelic poster and original art. It was called El Flechador del Sol, which means the archer of the sun.

I bet that many of you own works by Brett. He's still around town, not quite as visible these days. Still a wonderful person and artist, still the same classic dude he ever was. Fallbrook's own.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

You don't miss your water (til your well runs dry)

The original Sweetheart of the Rodeo outtake version with Gram on vocals. Jay Dee Maness on steel.

Mose Allison

Still life with egg and peacock feather


Flora time

My Caribbean agave, the variegated one that is blooming early and had the beautiful burgundy spike, is starting to flower.

It is a really pretty color, the petals a two tone of cream and burgundy with darkened accents.

I will post a picture when it is fully blazing.

My plumbing problems continue. No water at home again last night.

I thought I had everything licked, and capped off the inch and a half lateral that connected the old and new system.

Guess what? No water to the house again.

There has to be a hidden lateral that we have never found.

Tom, my savior in many respects and household emergencies, has been my friend for 38 years and rode to the rescue this morning, reconnected the systems.

I will deal with it again at a later time, hopefully when I am in a better spirit.

Probably will have to trench a new line and finish the job, put in another three hundred or so feet of schedule 40.

I am getting awful tired of this crap.

Here is Tom at home under his Japanese wisteria.

He and Stacy have a beautiful garden.

Whale's Tail

Our buddy Johnny is an avid lover of the sea. He is from back east and had not been on the Pacific since 1977. We fixed that.

Leslie and I wanted to take him whale watching, but told him he could not hook up a tarpon rig to take along, as much as he loves to fish. 

There has been a lot of activity on the seas of late, huge dolphin pods of both common and pacific white sided, both humpies and gray whales and a lot of sunfish seen every day.

We left from Oceanside Adventures yesterday at 2:20.

Don was supposed to come too but he chickened out at the last moment, the weather on the gloomy day being a bit too nippy for his delicate Illinois constitution and temperament.

I called a few other people at the last minute, nobody wanted to go.

I recognized a guy I see in Fallbrook all the time, walking around the pier, also named Robert. He said he was behind me in line at the hardware store the other day. 

I winced at the memory of the flatulence incident and kept my mouth shut, no way, right?

Leslie and I have been out on this boat ten or more times, we love it. And it turned out that yesterday might have been the best day of all.

There were very few other customers on the boat, usually there are twenty, yesterday there were ten. Fine with me.

The Captain let us know that it would not be a normal adventure. We would be driving very fast and it would be choppy. We had a place to be.

We drove past a seal amongst the sea lions, a rare occurrence in the harbor.

The noon trip had been in a pod of five humpbacks. He relayed the information to another whale boat and they guarded the pod as we hauled ass back to it.

We eventually spotted the other boat and saw a mother humpback, the baleen whale in the water with a young calf.

We stayed with the pair and at least one other humpback for about an hour and a half.

Typically the boat goes a limit of eight miles out, we went eleven.

It was remarkable. Unfortunately I did not bag any great photographs, missed two opportunities to shoot a breaching whale.

Ineptitude really and bad luck. Hard to know when a whale is coming out of the water and to be ready.

Plus my battery was running low and I brought no spare, totally unprepared. So I had to be somewhat judicious with my clicks.

I was using my nikkor 70-200 ƒ2.8 vr, a lens I do not use often enough but perhaps the best choice for ocean shots. 

It will hopefully be better next time. An opportunity missed.

Still, it was so wonderful to cut our engines and just hang out with these great leviathans. Very chill.

Common dolphins bopped up everywhere.

A sea lion playfully cavorted with the friendly cetaceans.

The day was epic. The Captain Chris said, and I believe him, that he had seen three horizontal humpback lunges into bait balls and two were yesterday afternoon. Ivy, our first mate, said that she had never witnessed a better day. It was a wonderful time. We ran over the allotted time, nobody wanting to leave.

I feel sort of bad for botching things up photographically but it only makes me want to get back out there and do the job right. 

At least I saw what I saw, I guess.

I won't show you the one that got away, I will leave that to Melville.

Perhaps it takes a fluke to get a good whale shot.

I promise to do better. Let me know when you want to go. We have discount passes. About thirty five bucks to have a whale of a time. Our worst trip at Oceanside Adventures was fantastic.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Monday, April 12, 2021

Nina Simone

Blue Heron Auctions LLC

 Rebecca Emes and Edward Barnard George IV era Sterling Silver Argyle - 1817

Le verre francaise - Fuschia vase

As many of you know, I am embarking on a new venture and have now created a new online and telephone bid only auction company for selling quality fine art and antiques. 

My first auction is set to take place May 25th, 2021 through Live Auctioneers. 3:00 p.m. PST.

Louis Comfort Tiffany Favrile vase

I am assembling, photographing and cataloging the lots as we speak. It is a tremendous amount of work. You can find a preview link to the auction here. Hopefully all of the cataloging will be complete in the next two weeks and you will soon be able to see the lots in their entirety. Many great items are still coming in!

Monumental Duhme Winged Victory Presentation Ewer circa 1865

May I ask that you hit the link and follow me and follow my auction? It would be a great help to me going in. Because it is a new venture I seriously need followers.

Please send the link to anyone that you know that might be interested in either bidding on the auction or just looking at the material. 

Egyptian Revival art deco vase, glass and silver
attributed to Cystallerie de St. Louis, France


I am selling from three great and very fresh California estate collections as well as items from my personal collection that have never been offered for sale before. 

I do not know what the future will bring but I guarantee that this first one is going to be an incredible auction.

Georg Jensen #96 grape necklace and earrings by Harald Neilsen, designed 1925

I will be selling my normal wide variety of material, art, glass, pottery, silver, arts and crafts, art nouveau, jewelry, Native American, Modern and more.

The common denominator is that it will all be good if not exceptional material!

This auction will be loaded with exceptional art glass including Tiffany, Steuben, Quezal, Loetz, Lalique, Stevens and Williams, Mt. Joye, Daum, Galle and more.

Beatrice Wood Mug

I am really looking forward to hosting my first auction and I hope that you are looking forward to it as well. 

Pima basket with female figures

Please join me on May 25th. 

Mark your calendars. And spread the word.

Henri Farre (1871-1934) - etching Bears at Stagg Field - 1928