Peregrine flight

Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Jeff Tweedy - Simple Twist of Fate

YouTube feeds

I recently heard that more people watch YouTube every day than television. I know I certainly do. 

YouTube is the second most visited website in the world, after Google.

Launched in 2005, it is also owned by Google.

There are 3.7 thousand videos launched to the platform every day. It is a populist forum, mostly unfiltered. I love the fact that I get such diverse feeds on my algorithm as rural Pakistanis struggling to survive in remote canyon villages, Indonesian fisherwomen going about their lives on the delta and Vietnamese pimple miners. So much random material.

I thought that I would share with you some of my favorite channels.

Xiaoma. The remarkable polyglot from Chicago has done an incredible job learning arcane languages and becoming a global ambassador.

Eric Rosen. My favorite chess streamer. Brilliant guy, great teacher. Quiet, gentle, humble.

Vegas Matt. A zany Las Vegas gambler that lets me cathartically scratch my gambling itch and it doesn't cost me a dime.

Drumeo.  A channel dedicated to drumming that asks drummers to drum on pieces that they are not familiar with. I really enjoy this channel.

NDYak Angler. The most calming voice on YouTube, a very chill North Dakota based kayak angler. I love watching Matt fish for Muskie.

Cactus Quest. A new channel for me but very cool.  From Lophophera to Opuntia. These botanists are crazed.

Chef Jean Pierre. My favorite YouTube chef, have learned a lot from this guy. Classically trained but doesn't take himself too seriously.

There are many more. Brad Owen for poker, Chad Zuber for survival skills, a variety of Africa Cams, Chinese martial arts movies, Stan Mills for hiking around Yellowstone. What are you hooked on?

Monday, July 15, 2024

Red tailed, Red shouldered, Red tailed, Male Northern harrier





Many of my friendships have lasted decades, some well over fifty years now. I treasure my relationships and try to keep them going. They are like plants, they must be fed, watered and cultivated. Then they bear fruit and they make life worth living.

One of the worst feelings is to have been cast off by people you like and love, especially when you have no idea why? 

We have been ghosted by some very good friends this year, I honestly have no idea what set it off. No texts, emails, letters, phone calls, nothing. A cold cut. I've reached out and it is a dead end. The people have been remarkably good to us and we have enjoyed great times in the past but something must be up and they have evidently decided to cut us out of the herd. 

It hurts.

You start running tapes in your head and trying to examine our own behavior for clues. I am stumped on this one. That is not to say that I have not had to let people go in my life. I have. There comes a point when certain relationships are frankly not worth the work. It is painful for all parties to cut off communication but there are times it must be done. 

Perhaps they felt it was time. We were no longer worth the trouble. Or maybe they are going through something so intense personally that they just can't let anybody else in.

It just feels like crap when you are on the receiving end.

I lost my best friend in 1985 in a similar fashion. I grieved for a long time, finally came to a place where I realized that if he could act like he did then he really wasn't as close a friend as I thought. 

We grow, we move on.

Thanks to those of you who have stuck with me.

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts

Simply Twisting Fate

I have said it a million times but the most spiteful musician in the world has to be Joni Mitchell. Not sure if it is simply insecurity but this woman has lashed out at so many other artists it is pathetic. She obviously thinks that she is the greatest musician who has ever walked on god's green earth.

Who has she attacked? Who hasn't would be a smaller list. But let's see, Judy Collins, Neil Young, Grace Slick, Janis Joplin, Madonna, John Lennon, Taylor Swift, who have I left out? She has had her bullseye on all these people.

Anyway I was reading this article from American Songwriter the other day and it got me to thinking, Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue” Was Inspired by This Unimpressed Musician.

Joni Mitchell is evidently taking some somewhat deserved credit for the album that I consider my desert island disk numero uno, Blood on the Tracks. My favorite album of all time, no question.

Bob Dylan might have told Ron Rosenbaum that Joni Mitchell helped inspire “Tangled Up In Blue,” but Mitchell didn’t feel like her inspiration was a welcome interpretation of the album. Never one to mince words about music or artists she doesn’t like, Mitchell recalled hearing a bootleg version of ‘Blood on the Tracks’ in the mid-1970s. “It was really good,” Mitchell said in David Yaffe’s Reckless Daughter.

“But people said, ‘Oh, it’s like a Joni Mitchell album,’ so he went and recut it with his brother in Minnesota,” Mitchell continued. “They butchered it all up. They stomped all over it. But originally, the writing was different. It was more vulnerable, and the orchestration was subtle, very like when I was using just a little of that stuff to my performances. It was beautiful.” Mitchell loved it so much that she played the bootleg version for parties she held at her Laurel Canyon bungalow—including one Bob Dylan crashed.

Mitchell said that when Dylan arrived at the party, someone told her he wanted to see her. “The bootleg was still playing, and I said, ‘Why didn’t you put that out?’ And he said, ‘Somebody stole the tape.’ Which was not true. He chickened out. People said it was like a Joni Mitchell album. He took the vulnerability out of it, and in the process, he took the depth out. The New York sessions were touching. The Minnesota sessions were not touching at all.

First of all, I have listened to the New York tapes as well as the Minnesota tapes and I happen to disagree. While the New York material was good, it was in no way, at least to my ear, as magnificent or musically beautiful as the later finished product, created by a bunch of unknown draftee musicians in St. Paul, something I have written about previously.

Blue Heron Blast - 2010

The album is plenty raw and vulnerable, so much so that Dylan refused to play many of the cuts for years. It was post divorce and the pain is palbable. No depth? Give me a break Joni, you didn't invent depth or vulnerability or creativity for that matter. Blood on the Tracks is a masterpiece. And it is offputting the way she takes credit for the album as if Bob Dylan needed to be inspired by her in order to create this crown jewel.

Joni Mitchell needs to either s.t.f.u. or lay on a therapist's couch and find out why she is such a nasty person who has to continually denigrate her peers, some of them whose musical contributions far outshine her own and will be remembered and celebrated long after she is gone.

Bobby's Apple Cobbler

Not much happening in our world, I decided to bake last night. Renée gave us some organic Anna apples and I decided to turn them into something while they were still crisp and precious.

I decided to make a cobbler.

And I cobbled two recipes together, like I often do and came up with my own take. And I was an apple short and added a Cosmo from Leslie's stash.

My pals told me not to cook the apples down, that they would get too mushy, I did anyway but only for five minutes.

They were fine, still super crisp.

With vanilla, lemon juice, brown sugar, molasses sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, corn starch, a bit of flour, butter and water.

I made a batter, using both all purpose flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda and cut in my frozen butter.

I used half and half instead of buttermilk and after adding it to my mixture I poured the batter over the top of my fruit.

Sprinkled a little cinnamon and sugar on top.

I did a forty minute convection bake at 375°. 

The last ten minutes I put foil over the top so it wouldn't burn.

This was the best cobbler I have ever made, if I can say that with all humility.

Admittedly I have not made that many but this batter rocked, so light and moist.

I hope that I can do the exact same thing again!


Saturday, July 13, 2024

Saturday bloviation

I received a very chiding text from a conservative friend, Bruce, who says that the blog is a bore lately, not enough politics. He surmises that I am depressed. Well, I am depressed, as should be every American with an i.q. over 75 that is paying attention. Have at it, Bruce, push my buttons.

Look at the choice we face. A current President, clearly slipping cognitively and an ex President whose policies represent everything I abhor in this country. I said it before, I would vote for Biden's cold corpse over Trump and I mean that.

I believe in our country and I believe in the constitution. I believe in choice and reproductive freedom and freedom of people to love whomever they choose to, regardless of gender. I treasure clean water, clean air and a clean earth. I think people should be allowed to vote and not in artificially gerrymandered districts that takes away their political power.

Trump and the Supreme Court Majority that was hijacked by double dealing McConnell chicanery is a clear threat to all of the things that I cherish.

The GOP could not give a shit about the environment and the last GOP figure that did, Christine Whitman, was purged. They care about one thing, money, and that is enough for a lot of people. So if I am sick of thinking about the prospect of a second Trump term, well, that is my right. I'll write about whatever I want to write about and you don't have to read it.

How about that?


“My point is, God's still up there,” Inhofe said during a 2012 interview during promotion for his book focusing on global warming as “a conspiracy”. “The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is, to me, outrageous.”

Senator James Inhofe died last week. This buffoon Senator from Oklahoma is a perfect representation of how Republicans feel about the environment. The guy was an ardent climate change denier.

Why?  From his obit:

“With all of the hysteria, all of the fear, all of the phony science, could it be that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people?” Mr. Inhofe said in a 2003 speech on the Senate floor. “It sure sounds like it.”

A self-described “one-man truth squad” on the subject, Mr. Inhofe published a 2012 book called “The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.”

He argued that only God could change the climate, writing that “God is still up there, and He promised to maintain the seasons and that cold and heat would never cease as long as the earth remains.” It was arrogant of human beings to suppose otherwise, Mr. Inhofe contended.

Seriously? Are we still living in the dark ages?  Are the priests and deacons now running the show? So what did Republicans do? They made the buffoon the head of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. He called the EPA the Gestapo. Personally I find people like this very dangerous. 

And we live in a dangerous time, with PFAS and all sorts of other pollutants coursing through our bodies and water plants and a political party and  a Scotus majority and their base constituency totally content to look the other way. Fake electors, Insurrectionists, lovers of dictators, downstream pollution, Dobbs, Russian sycophants... You want more of the same? Go ahead, vote for the felon.

Yes, I'm depressed. You should be too.


Inside Ziklag - ProPublica

A network of ultrawealthy Christian donors is spending nearly $12 million to mobilize Republican-leaning voters and purge more than a million people from the rolls in key swing states, aiming to tilt the 2024 election in favor of former President Donald Trump.

These previously unreported plans are the work of a group named Ziklag, a little-known charity whose donors have included some of the wealthiest conservative Christian families in the nation, including the billionaire Uihlein family, who made a fortune in office supplies, the Greens, who run Hobby Lobby, and the Wallers, who own the Jockey apparel corporation. Recipients of Ziklag’s largesse include Alliance Defending Freedom, which is the Christian legal group that led the overturning of Roe v. Wade, plus the national pro-Trump group Turning Point USA and a constellation of right-of-center advocacy groups.

Three Rings

This moving testament came to my attention on Linked-In. Danusia "Dana" Schwartz passed away in May. As most of you know, only one other of my paternal grandmother's eleven brothers and sisters, Malka, did not perish at Auschwitz, with the sole exception of Rachel who was bombed in the Vistula Forest, sustained a brain injury and died soon after.  This strikes home for me. My personal future fate hung from a very slender thread. My family was from Wyszkove, Poland, hers from Lvov. 

May her memory and light live for eternity.

Here is her story from the Holocaust Memorial Museum archives:
Dana Schwartz (born Danuta Schapira) is the daughter of Ignacy and Ludwika Schapira. She was born January 30, 1935 in Lvov, where her parents worked for the National Lottery. In the fall of 1941 German officers confiscated the Schapira home. The family was given 30 minutes to leave and find new housing in the ghetto. They moved into an unheated, one-room apartment that they shared with Danuta's uncle, grandmother and another older woman. During a deportation action in 1942 they all hid in various parts of the apartment house. The two older women were discovered, however, and were sent to the Janowska concentration camp, and from there to Belzec. Soon after, Danuta's father paid a local farmer to hide her and her mother. They departed only two weeks before the June 1942 liquidation of the ghetto. The farmer took Danuta and her mother to the home of another farmer named Gotner in the village of Zaklikow, who was not informed of their Jewish identity. As an educated, urban woman, Ludwika was not obligated to be a practicing Catholic, but Danuta regularly attended church with the farmer. She had some familiarity with Christian rituals having gone to church with her nanny before the war. Gotner rented out his barn to Ludwika and Danuta to sleep in. Ludwika had to trade her clothing, watch and engagement ring to a local baker for a daily ration of bread and whey. Danuta befriended the baker's daughters and was allowed to play with them. Once a former Jewish neighbor of Gotner knocked on the door seeking medical help for his injured son. Gotner promised to find a doctor but instead informed on him to the Germans in exchange for 2 kilos of sugar. While living in Zaklilow, Danuta and Ludwika also witnessed the round-up of the Jewish community. The Jews were locked up without provisions in the synagogue prior to their deportation to the Majdanek death camp. Towards the end of the war Ludwika found new housing near the edge of the village. After their liberation by Soviet troops, Danuta and her mother returned to Lvov, where they learned that Danuta's father had been shot to death in Janowska and her uncle had died of exhaustion after being forced to run from one end of the camp to the other until he collapsed. Danuta and Ludwika stayed in Poland for a year before going to Sweden. From there they applied for visas to the U.S. While waiting for their papers to come through Ludwika worked in a post office in Stockholm and Danuta attended school for the first time in her life. In 1949 they immigrated to the United States. Three years later Ludwika died, leaving Danuta bereft of family. She was then taken in by a Mr. Safier, who had been the owner of the Polish National Lottery where her parents had worked before the war. Danuta returned to Zaklikow as an adult and repurchased her mother's ring.
Another interview with Schwartz.
“Don’t hug him. Don’t kiss him. Say goodbye like you hardly know him,” Lusia Schapira instructed her 7-year-old daughter, Dana (then Danusia), as they re-entered the ghetto in Lvov, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), from which the two had recently escaped.

No longer wearing their Star of David armbands and posing with false papers as Christian Poles, they had come to say farewell to Syd Schapira, their father and husband, under the guise of conducting some small commercial transaction. As they stood with Syd near the guardhouse, Dana politely said goodbye, tensely holding her shoulders and arms and suppressing an urge to scream. “I was very painfully aware that I may never see him again, and I can’t hug him,” she recalled. Syd walked away; Dana and her mother exited the ghetto. It was June 1942.

Billy and the Kids

The incredible sax player on this soullul Jimmy Cliff song, James Casey, passed away about in August of last year, of colon cancer. The wonderful musician played for a long while with Trey Anastasio.

I would rather listen to Billy Kreutzmann's band than either Bobby's or Phil's at this point in time. Billy Strings does a real nice job on vocals. I love Tom Hamilton Jr.'s leads, guy is very underrated.

Sure wish I was on the beach in Hawaii.

Friday, July 12, 2024

Santa Barbara Antique Show


The Blue Heron Gallery will be once again exhibiting in Santa Barbara next week, July 19, 20 and 21, 2024. 

I will be showing some great paintings and midcentury works including works by Alexander Harmer, Carl Oscar Borg, Willem DeKooning and prints by Calder Haring, Miro, Picaso and Warhol.

Decorative furnishings include works by Harrison Macintosh, Bob Stocksdale, Natzler pottery, Walter Reiss teapot, an early Edward Bohlin buffalo bolo tie and a large figured tulipwood bowl by Philip Moulthrop.

for more info please visit the following link:


Two figures - Lawrence Murphy (1871-1947)

Glen Gruenhagen

A woman called out of the blue yesterday and asked if I wanted to buy a painting or two. She had a rather dreadful canvas by a guy who did four books for Walter Foster in the how to paint series. Dark and gloomy. And then she brought this one over, artist unknown, the signature also somewhat obscured.

It was obvious that it was the old church in Hanalei, one of favorite places in Hawaii, Kauai being my favorite island. I bought it instantly, for a meager sum. The painting came from her father.

Dirty, late for me and rather naive but it had a certain folky, primitive quality that I find appealing. I love the happy brown faces in front of the church!

Jennifer took the painting out of frame and I quickly cleaned both it and the frame liner.  It brightened up considerably. She put a new wire on the back for me. I could now see the signature,  Glen Gruenhagen - 88.

I did a quick search and there were no auction records for the guy. Sort of figures, the whole painting strikes me as being painted by a self taught "outsider" and that adds to its overall charm.

I sent image to a few friends who live or who have lived in Kauai, wondering if the name meant anything and started to do a little research of my own.

I found this. The artist is currently doing time for threatening a County Councilman.

Sixty-seven-year-old Glenn Gruenhagen is facing first-degree terroristic threatening charges, a class C felony, and harassment, a petty misdemeanor, after he brought a document, described by police as a “threatening letter,” to the Historic County Building in Lihuʻe on Jan. 12. The letter was left on DeCostaʻs desk and reported to police on Jan. 16. Gruenhagen reportedly returned to the building on Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 before being arrested. He has been jailed at the Kauaʻi Community Correctional Center since Jan. 25.
He is a little older than I am and looks to have quite an independent streak. 

I was struck by this particular message in the threatening note, henceforth known as exhibit 1:

Hunted me down, like a wild animal, in Kokee for 25 years, couldn't catch me!

Kokee is a very wild area above Waimea Canyon and a favorite place of mine. It is near a place in the Kalalau called the Valley of Lost Tribes. People like Glen have been getting lost out there for years. An idyllic wildland.

Here is a later article on the disposition of the case, Gruenhagen eventually pled guilty but many did not think he got a square deal.

A local Kaua’i artist was sentenced to a year in jail in a Līhu’e courtroom on Tuesday in a plea agreement for a case revolving around an alleged threatening letter left on a County Councilman’s desk in January.

The sentencing raises questions about the fairness of the legal proceeding due to the ambiguity of the document in question, a cited lack of intent to threaten, medical professionals deeming the defendant unfit to proceed, and potential conflicts of interest due to personal relationships between key partiesRoughly a week before the latest hearing, Janice Slomenski, who said she had been Gruenhagen’s landlord for approximately 12 years, contacted Kaua’i Now to share her thoughts on the defendant. “He’s nonconfrontational. Never fights, never argues,” she said. When asked if she had seen the letter, Slomenski stated, “Knowing Glenn, it’s harmless.” 

Adam Killermann, who lives in Hanapēpē, also contacted Kaua’i Now about the case, claiming to have known Gruenhagen for years and initially hiring him for a work release program for a prior conviction, related to a class C felony marijuana charge in 1994, which resulted in him serving five years in prison. “I never, ever saw any violence. And he was never confrontational,” Killermann said.

“Violence is not in his playbook,” he added. “Anyway, he was a very harmless guy. He didn’t bother people. He worked well. He was working well with people.”

I asked my friend W, herself a longtime artist in Hanalei, if she knew the guy?

Only by sight and to say hello.  He painted outside even sometimes in the rain. I admired that.  

I will think of you and Leslie when I am in Hanalei… will actually be helping with an annual Bingo night at the green church which is for the food bank and school backpacks for kids.  Very Lake Woebegone.

When he had no glasses, he painted on location with a prescription snorkel mask.  Gotta love that.

I am starting to like this guy more and more. Whole thing seems way blown out of proportion. Just a crazy artist blowing off steam. And the man he allegedly threatened, Billy De Costa, obviously has his own issues.


I had a friend, a long time Hanalei resident, whose name will not be mentioned, who ran afoul of the good old boys network there and basically packed up and fled, fearing for his life. The dynamic for non native Hawaiians or Portuguese can be quite interesting.


Ricardo, who was a longtime Kauai resident before moving to Thailand, had this to say:

Lovely painting. Makes me want to see it again partly to see if the bell tower is really leaning like that. Just looked at a bunch of pictures, my impression is that the tower may lean mauka but apparent sideways lean in photos is probably just camera being held not at a horizontal angle. Ironically, one weakness of the painting to me is that it only shows one of the many waterfalls in the background. At the rainiest times I have counted over 20. One time I even saw a vertical flash flood turning into waterfalls!

Now I think my friend is being a bit harsh here. First of all, Gruenhagen painted plein aire in the rain with a scuba mask on, not from a camera. I can forgive a less than perfect representation. That is what cameras are for, not paintings. Straight up and down is overrated.

And perhaps ol' Mt. Waialeale was having a bit of a dry spell that day, one waterfall is sufficient for me.


A few examples of his work are out there, not many.

Nothing else came up on the guy but this note from 2022:

Glen Gruenhagen is very difficult to find online, and at most, his works are found on Etsy and vintage art websites. He specializes in oil paintings around Kaua’i, ‘Oahu, and Maui. These works look like real photographs when hung on a wall and are detailed down to the last blade of grass or droplet of water. He began painting at the young age of 8, and it’s truly amazing to see what he could create during the time he was selling his works. I am unsure if he is still around painting today, most of his works are dated in the 90’s. With how rare his original works seems to be, I am grateful to have so many pieces hanging around my apartment.

W sent me a note with a picture of another Gruenhagen piece that a friend of hers owns.

Definitely outsider art. Love the rainbow! Good luck to you, Glen.

2019 photo

Kathi McDonald

Thursday, July 11, 2024

God save us from the urban planners

I was driving up Santa Fe Drive in Encinitas or Cardiff the other day and I couldn't believe what they were doing.

Construction crews were narrowing the street, increasing the bike lanes and landscaping or something or other. 

Basically making a mess of things.

Ron and Lena were with me in the car and I asked what the hell this was about?

Much like they did with the recent destruction on Coast Highway in Leucadia, I was told that the social engineers and urban planners have decided that people won't be driving cars so much in the future and they are getting us ready for that.

Maybe that is what they wish will happen but I have news for you, it will never happen, as hard as they hope. 

Southern Californians won't ever give up their cars, suitable mass transit will never be built. All they are doing is making things worse.

Just watch what happens when they try to put tunnels under rich people's homes in Del Mar. 

End of story.

All it is going to do is make the current traffic bottlenecks more unbearable. Why couldn't they do something like they did on Leucadia Blvd. going east? That was a first class job that didn't affect traffic flow.

Their misguided hopes for the future are running smack square into reality and the result is not looking pretty.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024

Hesitation Blues

Bye bye, Dave Press

I was sad to hear that Dave Press has died, very recently, from complications of a fall. 

I didn't know Dave that well but I did know his brother Gary. 

Dave moved back to Fallbrook from Mariposa a few years ago.

He, like all of the Press family, was known as a remarkable athlete in his time at Fallbrook High.

Left town and went through a mountain man phase, I reckon.

Dave developed a taste for the grog, somewhere along the way and made no bones about it. 

Ran around town on his scooter and lived in his camper. 

Usually had a flask of some libation in tote. 

Stayed drunk but never lost his smarts or sense of humor. Had an honest laugh.

Took a while to figure him out and it turned out he was just another human being.

I liked the guy. We would talk quite a bit in front of the hearth. 

He and Brett got along really great and would often hang out.

I believe he had a kid or two somewhere.  I know that he will be missed.

Welcome addition to the garden

It is hot here in Southern California, like a lot of the country and I decided to give some of my plants in the garden a drink this afternoon. 

As I wandered by squirting the philodendron I wondered what the hell that was in the middle? 

Such a beautiful flower. 

Did a calla lily somehow invade its space? No...

How lovely!

And why hadn't I ever seen it before?

Have I been sleepwalking or worse, brain dead?

And what else have I missed?

The I did a little research and have decided to give myself a pass. 

It turns out that they take fifteen or sixteen years to reach sexual maturity and bloom. 

Mother plant is fairly massive.

This might be the first time it has bloomed?

 I will check with Leslie, who usually waters this part of the garden and keeps better tabs on it. 

Perhaps she has seen it bloom before?

There are more unopened blooms to enjoy.

They are gigantic, about 18" inches tall. 

Quite phallic.

I am not sure of the exact variety but some cultivar of philodendron bipinnatifidum, I would think.

Going to have to keep tabs on this one.

Crime and criminals

Progressive Mayors and District Attorneys are not helping the California communities they serve.

A tourist from New Zealand, Patricia McKay, age 68, was recently killed in a Fashion Island robbery in tony Newport Beach.

According to police, McKay and her husband had been outside Barnes and Noble on Tuesday afternoon when two men tried robbing them at gunpoint. There was a struggle, then a third suspect ran over and killed McKay with their getaway car. The three suspects were located and arrested after a multi-county chase that came to an end in South Gate.

"The hell with these guys," said Newport Beach Mayor Will O’Neill. "They came into our city knowing they were going to commit crime and a woman is dead today because of it."

The suspects are now identified as 26-year-old Leroyernest McCrary from Compton, 18-year-old Jaden Cunningham from Lancaster, and 18-year-old Malachi Darnell from Los Angeles.

Leroyernest McCrary
Leroyernest McCrary has a long rap sheet. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's inmate data, McCrary has been booked at least three times, including a felony arrest in Santa Monica in January 2023. 

But he was given probation, part of Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon's willingness to play nice with criminals and end incarceration.

District Attorney candidate Nathan Hochman also issued a sharp critique of the current district attorney on X stating, “George Gascon’s malpractice appears to have cost another life. LeRoy McCrary, one of three suspects in Tuesday’s tragic robbery-murder at a Newport Beach mall, was given probation by Gascon last year after pleading no contest to two separate felony cases — robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm. If McCrary had been sent to prison — as he very likely should have been — he would have been unable to murder a 69-year-old tourist yesterday, and her family would have been spared immeasurable grief and suffering. Enough is enough!”

Gascon is not doing Democrats any favors with his "soft on crime" stance. And as an aside, some are accusing his office of being quite anti-semitic, as are many on the progressive left these days.

The Daily Mail has a pretty good article on the case and the only rebuttal from Gascon, which sounds ridiculously lame and weak to me.

Asked to explain why McCrary didn’t get jail time for his previous crimes, Gascon said in a statement that ‘the case against him had significant problems with proof’ so ‘the management team at the court authorized a plea offer that allowed him to be placed on probation,’ plus a prison sentence that was suspended.

There is either proof or there is not. This guy Gascon is clearly awful and he is obviously also pandering to a very specific base.


Similar news up in Oakland. 

A flash mob caused major damage to an Oakland gas station and it was all caught on camera. The organized flash robbery happened Friday at the 76 Gas Station & Mini Market on Hegenberger Road when about 70  to 100 people rushed into the store around 4 a.m. The store owner estimated damages and losses totaled about $100,000. If Hegenberger sounds familiar it is the same road that In and Out Dennys and Subway were forced to close locations because of rampant area crime.

The owner, Sam Mardaie, told Bay Area television station KTVU that it took Oakland police about 9 hours to respond.

He was upset with police for not responding right away after he said his workers called 911.

But Oakland police disputed the timeline, saying they received the 911 call after the thieves had left so it was no longer a priority since officers were handling other active scenes.

When asked about the response time, Oakland police say based on the initial details the caller reported, the crime was listed as a Priority 2 burglary - which means no suspects are on scene - and the caller was referred to online crime reporting.

However, video evidence was later reported to OPD that made clear the scale and details of the incident, including the large number of suspects, and the incident was immediately elevated to a Priority 1 incident, which prompted an officer to go to the scene.

Sheng Thao
The Mayor, Sheng Thao, has been an unmitigated disaster for her crime ridden city.

Since she took office in 2023, crime in Oakland has sharply increased, with violent crime and burglaries rising more than 20% from the year prior.

Some have of blamed the progressive Thao for the troubles, and in May a petition for a recall vote gained the necessary 25,000 signatures needed to bring it to ballot this November.

She says nobody would be criticizing her if she was rich. The woman ran on an anti-crime platform. She would try a new approach.

Oakland is in an acute public safety crisis. This moment requires real urgency – too many of our neighbors, friends, and fellow Oaklanders have suffered the pain of loss or have been traumatized by the weight of fear. To bring change, we must put forth smart policing policies, not revert to the same, old approaches that haven’t worked. 

Public safety will be Sheng Thao’s top priority as Mayor of Oakland. That’s why she has a comprehensive public safety plan focused on increasing investments in violence prevention, more community-oriented policing, and community building. This holistic strategy will make our city safer, address the root causes of crime, and help heal our neighborhoods and communities that have been ignored for far too long. 

Obviously it didn't work.

Alameda District Attorney Pamela Price is another "soft on the criminals" type like Gascon.

Price... responded to criticism from the sheriff’s office, which publicly called her out for not charging 59-year-old Robert Barroca for a January stabbing. The sheriff outlined Barroca’s extensive criminal history and noted he was later arrested and charged by federal prosecutors for a felony probation violation.

Price again stood by her decision.

"If the individual is on federal probation then the penalty through allowing them to go through the process of having their probation or their parole revoked is actually going to result in a harsher penalty," she said.

Soft on crime is not going to bring many converts to the Democratic side, no matter what their color or ethnicity might be. Crime is epidemic in the East Bay and it is victimizing every community, black, white, brown or yellow. Trying to protect people who stab their fellow citizens seems strangely misguided to me.

Price likes to talk about "restorative justice" as an alternative to incarceration.

“We have to stop investing in incarceration and start investing in education.” 

She tells prosecutors to seek the minimum prescribed sentences, to pursue probation whenever possible and to ban sentence enhancements except in supervisor-approved “extraordinary circumstances.”

Good luck with that.

It's wolves and sheep and it is time to pay attention to the people being assaulted and butchered, not baby the violent criminals.

I miss astrophotography.


I haven't ever done too much of it but it sure was fun. 

Unfortunately, most of my peeps got old or lost interest. More fun to do with pals.

Delaney and Bonnie - Groupie (Superstar)

Monday, July 8, 2024

Whinin' Boy Blues

I have had the serious blahs for about a month. Not just the state of the world or my wallet. Not sure why but I think the chemo set me back some, affected some changes in my physiology and head. Lack of appetite, nausea. Pissing blood clots. Can't really find my sea legs. Feel a little cognitive slippage. Just rockin' back and forth on a creaky rowboat, trying not to get sunburned and hoping a passing freighter rescues me or at least doesn't run me over. Chemo is poison and it gets to you somehow.

If you will allow, I will indulge in a little Monday pity party.

I just lost my third estate in a month. And it pisses me off a little bit. I have been in the fine art and antique business for over thirty years and feel fortunate to have survived as long as I have. You may not have noticed but there are not a lot of survivors hereabouts. I've done pretty well, considering, even though my wife has had to forgo a lot of common necessities that most people take for granted.

I got a call four days after my chemo to look at an estate in the Ontario area. I was not feeling well. I knew that. The client knew that. But I drove two hours each way because I thought it would be mutually beneficial for me and the client. I spent hours with the couple, appraising hundreds of items and being completely square with them about who made what and actual value.

I told them that it would be in their best interest to let me sell off the better material, about twenty items. The stuff was specialized and right down my wheelhouse. If left to an estate sale person I expect they would be killed. I offered to buy it outright.

They cut me right out of the herd. No gas, no expenses, no real thank you. Sucked me dry and then spit me out.

Same thing has happened twice since, one after a three hour appraisal on the coast and once after refreshing an old extensive appraisal of my own that was about four times higher than that performed by their "friend" who they ultimately decided to work with.

Sayonara. A.M.F.

I get a call or two a week from people asking me what something is worth. My philosophy is to be open and honest and not charge unless the appraisal is extensive and then I am at a fraction of most appraisers. The problem is that increasingly, people think my time, expertise and knowledge is worth nothing and they are content to use and exploit me as much as they can without compensation, like it is my job to serve them. 

It is a tough conundrum, you want to see new material and you figure people will do the right thing and offer to compensate you or give you a shot at buying something. The truth is they will screw you for a nickel.

You hear stories of dealers being predators, well, it works both ways.


I am trying to walk, to work in my garden, to bake, to do something while I wait for the wind to change. I have a show in Santa Barbara next week. Hopefully I will be feeling better.

Here are some of the flowers blooming down at Los Jilgueros Preserve right now. Not sure what makes the red stains on the white flower but the leaves are similarly discolored.

Sort of pretty.


I made a chicken tarragon the other night, the second time. Dijon, heavy cream, the full ride.

Served over orzo, it was pretty luscious.

After dinner I told my wife that I was planning crab quiche for the next night, prepared in the little phyllo shells I had bought the other day.

"No, you're not."

What, I asked. Why not?

"Because we are having cream and butter and all this rich and heavy food every day. I can't continue to eat like this."

Last night we had a salad.

But my maple bacon scones are coming soon, butter or not...


If I can kvell about a tree I would like to brag about my jubea chilensis.

My Chilean wine palm is about twelve feet tall now. 

This palm species has the fattest trunk of any palm in the world. 

Mine is now about four feet wide in diameter at the base, truly impressive.

It is an odd tree, the trunk matures to full width before the tree gets taller.

It is very healthy as is my mule palm, which looks incredible for its young age. 

A mule is a sterile cross between the queen palm and the pindo or butia palm, with the best characteristics of both.

Jubea in Santa Barbara
The jubea is one of the slowest growers in the world and I will probably not live long enough to see in its full glory.

Still it makes me very happy to have it in my garden! 

It is going to look better every year and it already looks fantastic!

I typically wait for fronds to die and turn brown before I trim. 

I have been waiting a long while on the jubea, it is very healthy. 

It will look better trimmed but in its time. 

I may not see it at its most beautiful but I know that somebody will someday!

I did trim the Mexican blue brahea armata yesterday.

The garden does take my blues away.


Postscript: Jerry Hall sent this nice photo over.

Postscript #2 - As if the day couldn't get worse, I accidentally swung an elbow when turning on my alarm to go home and connected with this full bottle of Jamesons.

My shoes and socks are soaked and I had no towels in the shop. Will deal with it tomorrow. My feet smell like an alcoholic. I had to go to the store to pick up maple extract and people were sniffing at me funny, my pants also taking a direct hit. Oh well, can't help what people think. Could probably use a drink right now.

I went home to clean up and found that the power company shut the power off. It was supposed to be fixed by two but didn't come back on until 6:30. I laid down for three hours and did absolutely nothing, afraid to tempt the fates again.

What a day.

I made these maple bacon scones with a nice maple glaze in hopes of turning things around. We will see.