Blue Heron in flight

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Rapist wins and Justice maligns

A Republican State Senator from Indiana, Ron Alting, who voted against the state's recent draconian anti abortion bill, delivers perhaps the most poignant quote I have heard yet on the subject.

“I’m very disappointed, very concerned, very worried, particularly for women 16 years of age and under, minority women. This is a big setback because of the fact, not that I’m for abortion, but because of the fact that how they have it worded with rape and incest, is almost impossible for that young lady or for that woman to make a choice. So, who the winner is, is the rapist. It was said at the mic by two women at the mic today. Two female senators. Now the rapist can choose who he wants to have as the mother of his child.” Ron Alting


“It is hard to convince people that religious liberty is worth defending if they don’t think religion is a good thing that deserves protection,” he said, and warned about a “growing hostility” to religion, “or at least to traditional religious beliefs that are contrary to the new moral code that is ascendant in some sectors.” Justice Alito

Justice Alito wins the irony prize. His self awareness is nil. He decries hostility to religion but fails to understand how those same religious beliefs he extols are often used to persecute and discriminate against others. How about a little less hostility towards the secular, hey Sammie? Good article on the subject by Robin Abcarian.

I'll take the new moral code, thank you.


"They're just going to let me die." One woman's abortion odyssey.

Saturday, July 30, 2022



This is a fully mature butia capitata, commonly known as the pindo or jelly palm.

A native of Minas Gerais, Brazil, it bears a delicious small fruit, similar in taste to a loquat.

I planted it over thirty five years ago. It probably stands 18 to 20' tall, I have never measured.

Here is an older picture of Leslie underneath its boughs and you can see how it dwarfs her.

Anyway, I had the idea long ago to put pieces of night blooming sereus in the crooks of the palm and as you can see, it has taken over.

We have kept the beard on the tree for decades to give the epiphyte some sun protection but finally trimmed it back this year.

We are near a superbloom. Look at all these buds. Roman candles of gigantic flowers are getting ready to go off and explode! The periodic blooms we get every year are really spectacular. This one will probably be the best ever.

The initial bloom started this morning, tomorrow should be quite epic. The flowers are 12" to 15" across. I am going to bring a tape measure home and hope to get a nice picture in the morning to share with you when it is at full resplendence.



Friday, July 29, 2022

Art Institute of Chicago

I have to say that after my trip, I am extremely embarrassed that I have never before visited the Art Institute of Chicago. It is one of the greatest museums in the world, on par with, if not exceeding the Met, Musee D'Orsay or the Rijksmuseum in my personal opinion.

So many phenomenal works of art, in the fields of impressionism, regionalism, western, antiquities and antiques. 

Great asian, American Indian, craftsman, secessionist, abstraction, just a murderers row of Monets, Renoirs, Van Goghs, Sargents and the like. 

I took so many pictures that I would bore you and don't have room to show them all but will share a couple photographs with you.

Hopper's Nighthawks, one of my personal favorites.

I last saw Grant Wood's American Gothic at a traveling show at the Whitney Museum of the West in Cody, Wyoming, several decades ago.

A startling piece of American art history, always a thrill.
Thomas Hart Benton.

I wasn't familiar with the artist Peter Blume (1906-1992) but this large regionally surrealist canvas was extraordinary.

If you get a chance to visit the museum do so. Great Tiffany window too. Wish I had room to share more photos but maybe later.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Biafran brother

For as long as I have been me and had the opportunity, I have happily engaged with cab drivers. It has been a long time source of amusement to family and friends alike. I like to shpiel with them and get their story.

This might be the first time I have been able to get one to sing ABBA with me. Dave recorded it for posterity.

Chicago Part Two

As I was saying, where was I now? Chicago is a pretty nifty city. 

I learned so much more about it this time, hanging with the locals, never had much appreciation before. 

Probably in my top two cities architecturally nationally, neck and neck with Washington D.C..

My whole life, a great number of my best friends in the world have come from the Chicago area but I have hardly spent any time at all there for some reason. 

I gravitate towards Chicagoans and as my wife terms her clan, the Great Lakeans.

It was hot back there, not as hot as it is here mind you, and I couldn't help but notice that people were stripping down a bit in the heat. 

While the ladies were perhaps not as conspicuously toned as your typical hard body Encinitas beach bunny, there was less silicone, botox and body ink and I found that rather refreshing.

And the heavier people seemed to be less hung up with their looks, more comfortable in their own skin. Bravo. 

Rock on, my fellow fatties. 

After the apocalypse the skinny minnies will be desiccated bags of skin in a matter of days, we full figured folk will have ample storage for about six more weeks of fast and hearty living. 

I wouldn't necessarily make the same sartorial choices as some, but hey, last time I checked, it was still a free country.

Plaid over plaid can be a tough marriage but I think this fellow has ably pulled it off. 

Seeing a lot of this fashion statement lately. Must be end times approaching.

Another nice thing about the windy city is that there is a lot of free stuff to do. 

Even the zoo is free.

People of all creeds and ethnicities hang out and play in lovely public parks.

Humans having fun.

Parks with beautiful public sculpture.

We enjoyed a free classical concert one day at the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennial Park, a Frank Gehry designed building. 

Guest pianist Simon TrpĨeski played the Rachmaninoff Symphony #2. 

It was nice for the rube to get a bit of culture. 

Lots of people sitting in the grass, this fellow was happily conducting away, right along with the music.

Second day we decided to take the architectural boat tour, through the river and out to the lake. 

We chose the First Lady Co,, after consulting with our excellent concierge at the Pendry, Alex Yu. 

I think it was a good choice, they work with the Chicago architecture Center and the guide was very knowledgable.

Much of the downtown landscape and waterway has changed with the installation of the Riverwalk and some is brand new. 

She did a great job of incorporating both the new and old architecture and bringing it to our attention. 

She explained that at one time the river was a big polluted sewer so there were no windows on the buildings on its bank, now it is a wonderful thing of beauty!

One leaves the waterway with a new appreciation of just how important Chicago was as perhaps the most major hub in our nation's transportation corridors, both by rail and by boat. It was home to the behemoths of American business, perhaps second only to New York, but serving a very different purpose. Wards, Sears, many of the American business leviathans had their homes on the shore of this river.

Dave lived with his father on the fourth floor of this Lakeshore Towers building when it stood alone on the horizon in the 1970's.

We walked to Navy Pier after our boat trip, tired my ass out. 

My knee started hurting.

I went to CVS and bought a brace the next morning.

I think that it is a truism that people that live in the city probably walk more than us country folk.

I certainly did back in New York.

I have one more chapter to go with this travelogue but will end this installment with this nice fellow.


We were trying to score a pedicab to the Millennial Park after our visit to the Art Institute and everybody wanted ridiculous amounts of money to take us the relatively short way. 

Dave spotted Dale with his skull and roses banner blowing freely behind the cab.

A kind soul who cut the other people's price in half and a fellow deadhead to boot.

"Hey, I think I remember you from the Uptown Theater show in 1980? Wasn't that you up in the balcony?"


It's the same story the crow told me
It's the only one he know
Like the morning sun you come
And like the wind you go...

to be continued...

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Star Track

Chi-Town, Part One

Once upon a time, in another dimension that we will call the late seventies, in a faraway land called Cardiff, there lived three young men. 

Their real names are unimportant but we shall call them Dave, Jeff and Robbie for the purposes of this short tale.

Now these three young men were assuredly not of the normal variety. 

While other lads of their day studiously hit the books and dreamed of one day inheriting their father's widget factory or engaging in some similar constructive endeavor, these three seemed to have only one thing in mind, courting beautiful lasses and continuously pushing the fun meter button up to levels that it had previously never been pressed or that practically anybody else even knew existed, frankly.

Their home, their parties, their hijinx and gross debauchery, were all things of wide renown, albeit in their somewhat limited circles. 

The famous sage and scribe Rick Griffin once anointed them the "Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers" after a legendary barbecue and psychedelic hoedown. Rick was the odd man out and he got a pile of bones that night but that is a story for another place and time.

The nitrous tanks in the living room were industrially sized and the herbal consumption simply ridiculous.

They toured the globe, following their musical heroes and cut a mighty swath through lawful propriety and normal standards of decorum.

Robbie and Jeff went to play school while Dave went to a proper university.  They had a little deal. Robbie, a fabulous writer, would write an occasional term paper for his roommate and Dave would wash Robbie's BMW. 

As usually happens everything went along quite hunky dory until it finally didn't and the young lads eventually went their separate ways. 

Dave and Jeff got wise, grew up and went straight, got married, had children, slayed dragons, got serious positions and titles at major tech companies, Robbie toiled away at menial jobs in obscurity, in a far off podunk land called Fallbrook. Had a disastrous starter marriage but then finally found the purple haired girl of his dreams. Life, in all its erratic web and flow, moved on.


Fast forward forty five or so years, the three young men, a touch beyond middle aged, two with grown children that have now left the nest, decided to reconnoiter in Chicago for a rehash of the glory days in a geographical middle ground.

I think it was my idea but it might have been Dave's initially. I had not been to the windy city since 1995 and did not know it very well at that, having been there for a short time on business. Honestly looked down on it a little bit with my native New York snobbery. Boy was I wrong! What a city!

Dave grew up there and Jeff worked there for 12 years. They knew the city very well and we took a trip back down their memory lane.

I picked the hotel, the Pendry, a relatively new hotel in the classic Carbon and Carbide building. 

Used to be the Hard Rock. 

Classic moderne styling which later became known to the world as "art deco."

I wanted to stay in a beautiful building and it certainly was. 

Originally built in 1929, it was designed by the Burnham Brothers to resemble the shape of a champagne bottle with its beautiful gold foiled top.

Really a beautiful hotel, my cohorts I think grudgingly accepted it, although I believe they honestly would have preferred a newer boutique box with more modern conveniences.

I personally found nothing lacking but admit I am a bit of a rube.

Was definitely a step up for me, in any case and not cheap. 

But hey, we do something like this every fifty years, right?

We're putting the band back together, as they said in the Blues Brothers.

I mostly just shot pics with my weak cell phone but I hope you get the general idea.

Very pretty, in a classic and civilized sense.

Jeff flew in first and I followed.  Took the blueline train downtown, lost power on the tracks for about ten minutes. Saw some colorful people in colorful t-shirts, throughout the trip.


I had scored a cheap nonstop from John Wayne airport. Dave was not due in until midnight or later.

Jeff and I met up at a mostly forgettable Italian restaurant near the Goodman Theater. Hadn't spent much time together in the last forty years, maybe one other short visit in San Francisco.

Was one of the few regular sit down meals on the trip, Dave being super covid cautious and wanting to avoid interior dining where possible.

I had the Lake Superior whitefish, quite good, a Chicago staple but something rarely found out here in California.

We threw in an overpriced crabcake. I should mention that one of the purposes of the trip, for me anyway after the camaraderie and all that, was to try all the Chicago food I had heard so much about for these many years. I read reviews and queried friends, made lists and did my homework. But there is no way to do an exhaustive gustatory study in a week without constant motion, not to mention serious heartburn so lets just say that we got a good introductory taste.

Geno's, Lou Mitchells, Portillos (twice), Al's, Wrigley, I sucked up more nitrates than blows out of an industrial smokestack in Erie in a week.

Probably could have stuck with the dogs and char dogs and forgot the polish and grilled sausage. I was certainly testing my intestinal limits and fortitude (fartitude?) But we bravely marshaled on. My stalwart companions and I were on a mission from god. 

There would be no chop house, G & G's or Gibsons on this trip. We were strictly down and dirty, with one salad tossed in at the end to appease the vegan gods. Did not try the plant based dog at Portillos, I am so sad to report. Loved Portillos, Genos okay, nothing special, wasn't crazy about Al's, decent, the guys went across the street and raved about the Italian ices at Mario's. Would not go back to Greek Isles...

My first human interest story was meeting Doug here at Lou Mitchells.

Doug stands on the street for five hours a day near Lou Mitchell's selling Streetwise Magazine.

Streetwise empowers people who are having a hard time, many of them homeless.

I didn't ask Doug if he had a home but he was clean and well dressed, did not appear to suffer from any of the common addictions.

He worked servicing copiers for forty years and found out that his retirement and social security couldn't cover his expenses. An honest man making a go of it.

Great guy, could be any of us in a heartbeat. I really liked him and I bought a magazine.


The piece de resistance or culinary (coronary?) for me food wise was certainly Manny's, a deli that matches any deli anywhere east or west, if not surpassing them.

I had the kugel and the pastrami, corned beef combo. Everything I ever wanted and more. Good thing I don't live in Chicago, I would live there...

to be continued...