Something Lurks in the Doorway! SOHO, London – 1989
So late in the night
That its early morning
Reappearing each day
Without warning

He's friendly
Ghost of milk deliveries
Like this film
Of ancient memories

For about 4 – 5 months, I lived in London in SW10 and worked at 77 Oxford Street in SOHO. I would walk to work – or take the “Green Line”. It was great fun – and I wish I had the right mind to stay as long as I could have. However, I at least had the presence of mind to do a pretty darn good job at street photography all over Europe, and as it turns out – that is now my “life’s work” photographically speaking.

I went to work extra early and stayed late – in SOHO. I found it easy to walk anywhere in London.

I’ll probably never be known as a artist or musician, but its better to have such memories where you actually “lived the life” vs. fantasized about doing so and regretting that you didn’t.

Modern Gargoyles

London, 1989

I’m halfway through scanning my old film. I’ve done 7 archival boxes and have about 7 more to go. There’s at least 20 pages of negatives per box and each page has about 30 photos, and I’m only scanning the best of the best. I started this around Christmas and went through January – then we sold our Oakland house and I got pulled away. More interruptions, and now I’m back in full force.

Its a bit weird to decide to digitize then give away what is your life’s work (photographically speaking), but after my parents passed away I had to deal with their place and their stuff. I found it kind of sad that they never bequeathed anything or thought about this sort of thing – but maybe that was a good thing – they didn’t care about stuff or things in the end.

Anyway – its kind of fun digging through old archives and bringing these images back to life after being in the “vault” all these years. I guess I really like sharing them in this venue – because its no risk and much work than trying to get shows as I did back in the 80’s.

I do love my new “digital life” . . . . I wouldn’t go back to analogue for anything in the world . . .

The Psychology of Traveling Lighter

A bad pun . . .

When I moved from Lafayette to Orinda, it was during a divorce, so I packed a small-ish U-Haul and drove it 7 miles away. I hired a kid whom I helped get his Ham Radio license – and so he was pleased to earn some money. BTW – he went on to become an Electrical Engineer – so that was a nice experience. But I digress.

During that move I just left so much crap behind – and turns out that was a figurative and literal thing. One day while at the old house an overwhelming feeling of “I’ve got to get out of here” came over me. You see, my ex wife left me – and while it turns out to have been the best thing that could have happened – I was still in a state of shock. To be kind and fair – the priest who married my ex wife and I gave us the Myers – Briggs test and asked us point blank “Are you REALLY sure you want to get married?”. That seemed very odd at the time – but oh was it so honest – and we blew him off (as 20 – somethings would do). Turns out that was one thing we should have listened to. That relationship was doomed from the start.

From there I went on to meet Kat and we are the same ENFJ, and I do swear by the Myers – Briggs Test. Anyhoo – both of us has had compromises in life – where we moved to places with the wrong people in our past lives – so we made a pact not to compromise this time. That doesn’t mean splurge and go hog wild (I’ve lived in a McMansion before – and trust me – they suck). Less is ABSOLUTELY more – and if you feel “Buying Up” will make you feel better – the exact opposite happens. In fact – its a marker that something is terribly wrong in your life.

Our house in Bend has about the same square footage as our 50’s California Rancher – and even the rooms are somewhat equivalent. The yard will be flat and smaller – by quite a bit, and there is no basement.

In Orinda – someone dug out the basement. Another house on the block did the same thing – and they added a room or two downstairs. Ours is just an unfinished basement – but great for storing tools and stuff. Therein lies the rub – “stuff”. If you haven’t seen George Carlin’s skit on “Stuff” – please check it out on YouTube – its really funny.

Over 17 years that basement got filled up with “Stuff”. And now I’ve been living in purgatory getting rid of said stuff. When we move we will winnow down ALL of our stuff and being only what we truly need. Luckily, I’ve worked through my Ham Radio days – which accounts for piles and piles of shit – and I’ve even worked through Assemblage art – with more piles and piles of shit. Since about 1997 I gave up having a darkroom but I have been working all winter scanning my old film – and have been downright shocked how good my street photography was back in the 1980’s and in London, Paris, Amsterdam, NYC and San Francisco. It was a lifetime of great work done in a decade. I did have another decade of pretty good Assemblage art – so I have no regrets about trying new things – even though I did accumulate too much stuff. Oh – the Ham Radio days – they were very important too – I needed something to do while being sequestered watching kids, working and having some spare time left where I refused to watch TV – and haven’t since about 2002 or 2003.

This time the new house demands that I weed out and bring only the essentials. This means Musical Instruments, Photography gear and two bikes – street / gravel and mountain bike. Our furniture will be sparse since its old and we are giving a lot away. Now that I’ve lost 30 pounds – I will get rid of my “fat clothes”. Some of these are getting threadbare – so all of this is timely. If we move during the Summer or Fall – I can avoid bringing my threadbare Winter clothes.

Its actually starting to feel great thinking about what is essential in my life these days – and it is very funny how we accumulate so much shit over the years – I know for a while – I would get bored and buy shit at the hardware store. Or Etsy. Or Amazon. I wasn’t being a hoarder on purpose – and I did use everything I purchased – but some of the things I did was a bridge to far. That “haunted puppet theatre” idea was a HUGE bust – and it ended my Assemblage days. I do have a small collection of “doo dads” that I can use for still life photography – which is portable and small.

The “digitization of life” has been remarkable – digital recordings or music and digital photography lets me travel much lighter – a laptop and a few things and I have a full on recording studio that all fits on one small kitchen table. Digital cameras may be just a little smaller than the previous analog – but you don’t need all the archival binders full of film and prints. I haven’t printed a photo in 20 years.

Gimp, Raw Therapee and Cubase have replaced a room full of stuff. And I don’t feel less creative – but actually more – because I have room to move around – and my bowing of the cello isn’t hitting the desk and wall when I play. And I can look out a window – which is amazing because the view is like being in a forest – and iots very calming and soothing. I’m so glad to be out of my “Man Cave” in the garage. Oh yeah – heating and cooling – who would have thought?

With new knees I’ve been obsessed with hiking. Kat asked me what the most important thing is moving to Bend and I said “Hiking”. This is because I had struggled for 10 years to walk – and carrying way too much weight. In fact, my latest obsession is looking at the toplogy and maps of trails in and around Bend – and to me its 100 million times what Disneyland or Disneyworld is.

Tumalo Falls

A year ago last October we were in Bend for a week and found some of the best fall colors just before you get to Tumalo falls. Our house in Bend is on a ridge overlooking the Tumalo creek which is a beautiful creek that flows through a small town also called Tumalo, just north of Bend.

The Tumalo Creek starts either from No Name Lake or from Broken Top itself. The creek joins with the Deschutes River near Tumalo and the Deschutes then flows northward to the mighty Columbia River.

Kodak Autographic 2c Brownie

Just goofing around today in the new studio. I’ve had two weeks of stressful cleanup preparing the house for sale. These two weeks no doubt were the worst – they required getting rid of a lot of old junk – 17 years worth. I call this “Phase 1” and there will be two more iterations – Phase 2 and Phase 3, but each will be much easier and dare I say more enjoyable than Phase 1.

10,000 Maniacs, R.E.M. and The Decemberists

I recently read a Robert Christgau review of 10,000 Maniacs and its obvious that he thought more of R.E.M. but didn’t totally trash 10,000 Maniacs either. Then I read the Trouser Press reviews – and I like Trouser Press much more than Robert Christgau.

HOWEVER, Christgau did say one thing that I think is correct – but I wanted to dig deeper to see if I could better understand things when you compare the two bands – who were two of my all time favorites in the 80’s and still today. He more or less said that Natalie Merchant was creating “word salad poetry” and that she had a funny weird Polynesian accent.

I listened to several of my favorite 10,000 Maniacs songs and read the lyrics closely – “Back of the Moon” and “Can’t Ignore The Train” and yeah – the lyrics sound like a 20 year old straining to write poetry and perhaps trying to be a little too literate. I did try to decipher the lyrics and only could a little bit. Then it struck me – Natalie Merchants absolutely fabulous voice NEEDS lyrics – because the way she phrases her singing. To prove that theory I listened to her singing “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” by R.E.M. and while a decent cover – it sounded pretty boring, actually.

I then read several of R.E.M.’s lyrics and listened to Michael Stipe’s “Mumble-Singing” and found the lyrics to be more direct – even when he’s mumbling. Later he did try his hand at political lyrics – but I think I’ve learned from this that political lyrics always have a way of sounding out of date or too “preachy”. Maybe if you were playing folk style in a Greenwich Village coffee house in the 60’s – but hate to say it – rock music should be a little less obtuse, dense or preachy.

Another band that is in this genre somewhat is The Decemberists. Their album “The King is Dead” is really superb – probably their best and most like R.E.M. and 10,000 Maniacs – and having Peter Buck and Gillian Welch (plus many other super guests) was brilliant. But I still do like some of their really quirky earlier stuff – I think I listened to Picaresque 10,00 Million times . . . The first two albums were pretty great two. I didn’t care for their live shows where just when they were building steam – they stopped and had these stupid sing along thingies that totally broke the mood. Why did they do that?

Anyway – damn the critics – sometimes there are secrets to why a song and a band sound great – and the critics miss the whole point. Natalie Merchant singing straight on simple lyrics sounds boring – but when she sings word salad dense poetic lyrics its beautiful strong and compelling.

I’m Already in Bend!

My Bend Proto Studio

I’ve lived for 17 years in a man cave that I built in the garage that was funky and quite cool. Literally and figuratively speaking. I froze my ass off until a space heater kicked in and when it got hot, the AC couldn’t keep up in that space. For Ham Radio it was perfect. As a recording studio, not so much. When I played cello my bow hit the recording desk and wall.

I’ve taken over our unused small middle bedroom – which is the same size as my studio room in Bend and YOWZA!

Our new house that will be built starting in June – ish, will give me the same space as our middle bedroom, where this photo was taken. OMG – being in such a room with great light and heat / AC leaves me totally verklempt.

Talk amongst yourselves …..

Synchronicity 1919

Back from the War 
To End War
They had a plan
She'd be his wife
He'd be her man

On the Bremen
Hamburg to Newark
Shiny new City
Shiny new Country
Sure looked pretty

Family photos
On the new Kodak
Folding device
Mother with Children
Sure turned out nice

I bought this 104 year old antique on Etsy for $50 if I remember right. I’ve used it as a prop but just realized how it crosses my family history at two most important times – when my Grandparents were in their 20’s and when I was in my 20’s I worked for Kodak in Rochester, NY.

Synchronicity perhaps?

Just goofing around late today in my new studio . . .

Adios Orinda – Part 3: Apple Blossom Express

Our Heirloom Gravenstein Apple Tree
In the dead of night
Hear the whistle blow
Green and slightly tart
This is how they start

Green Apple Man
Smiles a brimming cup
He knows your secrets
He knows whats up

You finally learned
Patience for your dreams
Wishing Chair: Fall Harvest
Tasty tart and green

There are quite a few beautiful old trees on our property, and this old apple tree is one of our favorites. It could be 70 years old, and when watered enough it delivers the tastiest green apples, crisp and slightly tart. Absolutely perfect for baking.

Ironically, some of the best fall colors around are right in our front yard.

I’m now really looking forward to moving and worked very hard getting rid of quite a bit of stuff on Next door and with our garbage companies “Bulky Waste” and Recycle days.

Its been a very busy week – time for a well earned cocktail!

The Red Hand

Camera Obscura
Hidden from site
Red hand controls it
Lets in the light

Shutter is open
Wide open lens
Surveillance is Love
You and your friends

Your every move
Watched from inside
Government Compound
Give em' a smile!