That Curious Blue Dot

There’s something strange about this photo ….
I just can't place it
There's something missing
In this picture
In this song

Its out of place
And out of time
Something's strange
Something's wrong

I just can't seem
To put my finger
On the point
Of this song

I'll keep on looking
Keep on searching
For an answer
To this song
The foundation pour vigil continues …

1961 Venice Beach Beauty Contest

In preparation for our move, I’m digitizing all film. I’m done doing my 20 boxes of at least 20 pages with 6 strips of 6 images each plus many boxes of slides – for tens of thousands of images.

Now I’m going through my wife’s father’s many boxes of slide film – where he had taken many photographs in Los Angeles – in the early 60’s. One of the best themes was the Venice Beach Bathing Beauty Contests.

Black and White version

This photo reminds me of the “glamor” and even “decadence” that we in the Northeast felt Los Angeles was all about. In fact, my father wanted to move to California by riding his Harley across the country – and just after WWII. He made it only a couple of miles from Newark when he had a motorcycle accident. He wanted that West Coast thang – just like Jack Kerouac did. (My father was born the same year as Kerouac but Kerouac and I share the same birth date).

My first Gimp attempt at color correction

This post is a test of looking at this old film and trying to achieve the best color balance. Some of the film has a very strong red tint – and I am trying to be true to the color scheme of the film from that time.

The original badly tinted red

Just for fun – I wanted to see if there were such bathing beauty contests in New Jersey about the same time – and sure enough, there were:

I grew up near Lake Hopatcong, and it was not known as a hot bed of decadence or immorality. It was a “town and country” place – far from LA and even 50+ miles northwest of NYC. Very boring and quiet, actually.

The first Miss America contest and perhaps first bathing beauty contest was held in – that’s right – Atlantic City, New Jersey!

The California that was hyped up and revered on the East Coast seems to be more myth than reality – there was plenty of racy, scandalous stuff going on right in my own back yard. Trends happen across the country – but I must admit – places like Los Angeles and Las Vegas do get some great publicity as being “over the top”. But if you look into the history of each of these places – many New Yorkers and New Jersians moved there – for Aerospace in the 50’s and 60’s and they went to “Vegas” for fun. My family moved to the Bay Area because of a resurgence in aerospace during the Reagan years – and my father took a job at Lockheed.

Even in the 50’s and early 60’s California was very much agrarian. Orange orchards were all over LA.

My guess its just the weather – if you can be outside in a bathing suit almost year round- there is just more opportunity to have your picture taken as a bathing beauty – Now, couple the beach and City and of course, Los Angeles! – and the movie industry had many chase their dreams in LA. Silicon Valley happened many years later in the cooler North.

Todays song matches the “other-worldly” nature of a 60’s bathing beauty pageant at Venice Beach and the fact that this negative was badly damaged in processing. Its not a social statement per se – while some may find such pageants (and hordes of men photographing these women) a bit creepy – the other side of the coin is that these women wanted to be noticed – Los Angeles attracted many who wanted to end up in Hollywood or whatever. There were also men body builders posing for the camera nearby – I hope to find some of those photo’s. Vanity was a thing back to the first days of photography – and long before. Were cave men and woman vain?

The more I look into the history of bathing beauty pageants – the farther back I go – in todays world it does seem like this was life on another planet. There is a certain innocence about it – nothing vulgar as compared to today’s mass media – which is a total cesspool. This photo is even kind of cute. Kitschy ….

In a sense these older times were people having fun – Just trying to follow their dreams . . . We’ve all become way too sensitive and worse than prudish.

Here’s Looking at You

Unintended selfie

If you do it right – a move can do you some good. Like photography – taking the time to take a good look around and looking at the object or problem from several angles usually results in surprises and “happy accidents”. Many times – what you intended was inferior to something else that magically just “popped up”. The old “happy accident”.

The vigil presses on

No News as far as the foundation is concerned. We did some research and found that it is usually done 3 weeks from when they pull the permit. This means next week or the week after at most.

In the meantime, we will most certainly be ready to list this house in July.

Torch Singer

Our Lady of the Ache . . . .

One of the cool things about leaving Orinda is that it forces us to get rid of all kinds of old junk – even my beloved old creepy assemblage pieces, puppets and dolls. These, plus other “flotsam and jetsam” were perfect for the old Ham Shack turned Recording Studio – but they would look awful in the new house.


This has given me “Devine Inspiration”. I’m photographing the stash of junk like its no tomorrow, and having great fun. Expect to see the fruits of this project for weeks – just like Collier State Park, I expect it will go on for a while…

Broken Top Vigil

One day closer …..

My wishful thinking says the foundation for our Bend house will be poured this coming week. Fingers crossed, and I’ll post a picture each day that reflects the Broken Top Bourbon “victory lap” / good luck charm.

We got a ton done today. In fact tomorrow we will be able to start packing.

Gee – this really is happening – pinch me!

Trap Door

I was wondering about the Roaring 20’s – after WWI and the 1918 “Spanish Flu”. From about 1922 – when my father was born – until the Stock Market Crash of 1929 – times were great in America, and people partied like it was 1999. There wasn’t an aspect of life that wasn’t effected by growth and innovation – culturally, socially, scientifically, politically, and the list goes on. Radio Broadcasting started, automobiles and all manner of mechanical and electrical innovation thread through all of the social changes (being able to hear radio broadcasts and listen to phonograph records) and even tearing down prohibition and the new “dress code” opened up new opportunities for woman (suffragette movements).

Art, Music, Theatre and Literature all had major advancements – Deco, Dada, Surrealism, Lost Generation Writings, etc.

We don’t seem to have that now – in fact, it seems like we are sliding down the behavioral sink – going backwards, politically, socially, and even on the mechanical and electrical fronts. The Internet has degraded life and caused people addicted to “social media” to act as anti-social as I have ever seen, politicians are now fully out of their minds – fascism is on the rise – instead of decline, and I can go on. I was really saddened to hear even BART – our local mass transit stalwart – and all of its connections through the bus system(s) are in deep trouble. Returning to cars and pollution and the crime in the cities is running rampant now. NYC in the 1970’s was like this – it seems quite dystopian.

I can only hope that the kind of people who bought our Oakland house can join forces with other young people – who are bright eyed and enthusiastic can bring about change. The world is now theirs – it no longer seems like mine – as I head into my final years.

On a much more upbeat and happier note – getting out of a major mass metropolis and moving to Bend – the mountains and forests and even desert nearby couldn’t come at a better time.

Broken Top Express

In the post entitled “Thirty” I predicted that the foundation for our Bend house will be poured on the 30th of May. When it does, we will open this bottle of Broken Top Bourbon. Our new house is one block away from the most amazing view of one of the many very cool mountains and buttes surrounding Bend – called Broken Top. In fact, I guess if I had to list only one thing that attracts me to Bend more than anything – its the Cascade Mountains.

Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely LOVE the Sierras – they are spectacular – and having just visited the eastern side of the Sierras – I only learned late last year that the east side is actually in many ways even more beautiful than the western side. I am sure its the combination of mountain and high desert. That appeals to me more than the wetter western slopes.

Yesterday I completed the worst of the worst jobs I had to do to get this house ready for sale. As soon as I was done with cleaning up the mess I made under the house and taking down and getting rid of the ham / music shack in the garage – and then getting rid of all of the many bins of crap – I felt energized. Basically – today was the first day where I really realized – “Hey, we are moving – and way sooner than later” – in fact, sooner than we had ever guessed we would when we started this journey only 1 month ago.

I’ll place this bottle within eye’s sight somewhere – I can feel the progress and “movement” happening for our move.

The Yellow Wheel

Here lies
Love lost
Time gone
No cost

Hearts broken
At a loss for
Words spoken

Some win
Some lose
Love is mad
Feeling blue

Today’s theme is a mash up of feelings after going through piles of old photo’s and family documents that had been above my recording studio / ham shack that I just tore down. Lots of dead people in those boxes – and almost every girl / woman whom I had the pleasure to know in my life. Some broke my heart and some I broke theirs. One or two were pretty much friends with benefits – just a passing fun time – where we had our fun and moved on. I also found photo’s of my Mothers ex Husband and a Divorce paper for both my Mother and Father’s ex husband and wife.

When we were at Collier State Park – as much as I hate graffiti – I had a nice chuckle at the yellow truck where someone had professed their love for Shane.

The song is “dirgy” on purpose – and the opening bit is trying to be one of the old Shortwave Radio station “Intervals” – a theme that radio stations would play over and over for quite a few minutes before they started up on the air. This is because when I was going through the old photos, I also have some excellent 70’s era QSL cards from shortwave stations. These stations started disappearing throughout the 90’s so these have some serious sentimental value – like my old girlfriends and love lost – my love of shortwave radio was also a passing thing – something I will never see or hear again.

The synth sounds are squarely from the 70’s and early 80’s – on purpose. I am going to scan all of the old QSL cards and then recycle them. Like a big dummy – I put them on the wall using pins – so I will use Gimp to fix those holes. I might even have them held by the old creepy dolls and puppets that I will also donate somewhere after I preserve them digitally . . . .

More to come on this new theme. File under “Unrequited Love” . . . from The Twilight Zone

The Reckoning

Its seems rather odd
That we have dreams
All this for death
Till our last breath

Halloween rules
Message received
Live your best life
In sunny daylight

Autumn of years
Beautiful scene
Waning of leaves
Rust coated dreams

For our move I have had to go through piles of documents – death certificates, last will and testaments and other personal items of my Father, Mother and even my Aunt. Because I have digitized my entire Family Tree in Ancestry – I was able to put all of my old genealogy papers in the recycle bin (making sure to shred anything with personal identifiers of course). What’s amazing is that this is book-ending that grey day last October when I stood in that old Catholic cemetery in Martinez and finally resolved to get my right knee replaced and lose at least 40 pounds. These were required to prepare for this move.

While going through my parents papers – I found my Mothers British Passport. It is the most exciting and interesting item in that whole stack. It is so awesome that it deserves its own post – which will be the next post for sure.

This “cleaning and consolidating” – book ended between October and May (7 months apart) is a pure cleansing of my soul. Its like my ancestors are telling me to “Go for it – live your final years in Bend – follow your dream”.

I’ve been wondering why – in my excitement to move to Bend – that I’m also experiencing some melancholy. I knew it had more to do with where I am in my life’s journey – and that all of a sudden I am here – a juncture that seemed to be so far off when I was going through a divorce in 2005 – but man – some how almost 20 years has flown by, and here I am.

Thanks Mom and Dad for the encouragement – I hope I also have the same 20 years you did when you left the Bay Area and moved to Roseville and very much enjoyed your final days on this mortal coil.


Today I “decommissioned” my Assemblage art pieces – and put them in a bin – where I will take them apart and re-use the pieces for still life photography. Its a little sad – but they were decoration for this funky old house and my garage based “shack” for quite a few years. They have served their purpose – and its time to move on.