Tuesday, June 18, 2019

VIRAL HAIKU


Ice cream is what's for dinner.
Fever finally broke but walking
is a surreal experience.

Slept all afternoon.
Yesterday I was so tired
I dozed off in the car.

Isn't it lovely to contemplate
ice cream for dinner and have no guilt?
Remorse, maybe later.

Maybe that wasn't such a bright idea.
Ice cream is hitting my lower gut
with a renewed vengeance.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Historic Dixie School District to lose its name


In a reference to Nazi Germany, novelist George Orwell wrote, in his science fiction novel, 1984: Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. In an alarming trend to be "politically correct" replete with an Orwellian twist, school boards are intent on whitewashing the past. In June, a Marin County school board voted to expunge the name of a school, the school district, which includes the historic one-room Dixie School building, now a museum, though its founder, pioneer James Miller, did not support the Confederacy during the Civil War. It's an odd case of guilt by association.

The man who founded the school ca. 1862, rancho owner, Irishman, James Miller had a right-hand foreman who was a Coast Miwok named Dixie, whose wife was Mary Dixie. Miller, who had also adopted two Coast Miwok children, XXXX named the school after her, Hence the name Dixie School, or so one story goes.

Wilfred A. Lang, painter (1915-1994)

in progress....

from the  The Wilfred A. Lang Gallery 

My growing collection of Wilfred A. Lang notes from my previous post, suggests another post entry is needed. So little information on him on the internet. Where to even begin, when my imperfect memories gathered in youth, imperfectly recollected and transposed now that I'm older that dirt, makes this more of an act of fiction than anything else.

A defunct Angelfire site was the only decent reference I could find on Wilfred. (No I'm not referring to the Shanghai artist, born in 1954, who cranks out dreadful urban landscapes and sailboats with a palate knife and a fan brush.) Wilfred A. Lang was a complex artist, a student of Robert Stackpole, who worked in complex layers, embellishing a mythos to ordinary subjects.

I knew one of his wives, perhaps it was his first or second wife Betty—who was like a second mother to me, and four of his children, and the infamous Sausalito Hoffmans, so the Angelfire biography seems accurate.

Wilfred was always larger than life. As kids, we were terribly excited when he came to visit Pat & Betty Wall. I remember him grizzled, and laden with massive turquoise and silver jewelry, and his haughty wife Marcia in her long flowing skirts, and aquiline nose, who walked like a goddess. She resembled her portrait that hung above the daybed in the living room.

That colorful full-length abstract portrait that Wilfred gave to Betty mesmerized me. I always thought it odd that he gave Betty a painting of his next wife, who left him soon after. But it was gorgeous. As a child, I stared at it for hours on end, following the intricate ghost calligraphy embroidered on the painting.

I didn't know of Wilfred's Sonoma County presence. I'm sitting here writing this blog post a stone's throw from where he lived in Mays Canyon. Wilfred was friends with Zachaim, and also stayed at Marguerute Wiildenhain's Pond Farm, in Guerneville. So he also had Bauhaus connections as Walter Gropius was a frequent visitor to Pond Farm. (MORE LATER)


Giving back old photos



Scanning old photos and trying to date them always conjured up the most unlikely of memories. Like the photos I took of Pete Lang in Park City, near Nanaimo, on Vancouver Island in 1981. I never expected to find his daughters on Facebook when I posted some old photos on my friend Micaela Wall's page. It was such a magical time for me hanging out with Pete's family. I always adored Pete, I knew him since I was a child. Almost as long as I've known Micaela. She was called Miranda in those days. Pete was her step-brother. He mooned after her while she mooned after his handsome younger brother, Stan—a wild one with hair slicked back like James Dean. Those New Mexico boys with their tall boots and tooled leather belts, seeking distant horizons, got under the skin like fine desert sand. I was always the one left out of the moon's capricious equations. Pete saw me as the little kid down the road. Sometimes he'd drop by to visit my granny and me in Forest Knolls after Micaela's dad, Pat Wall, sold the house moved north to Fort Bragg. Pete was living in a trailer on the headlands by the botanical garden. Paradise on earth. I've an early memory of Pete leaning against our sawhorse, by the woodpile, playing his Martin guitar. He left town, became a spy, joined the CIA, or was it the FBI? The Lang brothers went the way of lost cowboys in search of a one-horse townor a horizon that just wouldn't settle. Maybe it was the high desert winds spurring them on. But they couldn't stay still in any one place for long. We ran into each other in BC, by then Pete was married, with two daughters, but the wife was stepping out with the mayor on the side. It broke my heart. We lost touch. They moved to Florida where he built wooden boats, got divorced. Last I heard, he was in Galveston, Texas, working as a private eye, probably to be closer to his father, the Bohemian sculptor / painter Wilfred. Stan sailed off to the Virgin Islands became a carpenter, and met death by bottle on the old plank road. I eventually got a Martin too, but I could never play it like that. Pete gave me some folk songbooks too. Back copies of Sing Out!, a little Woody Guthrie, some Baez, but no Dylan. But I never could play those songs without remembering Pete bending over his guitar, head canted as if he were ciphering a story from those whispering guitar strings.

JUNE GLOOM


Winter blankets back on the bed.
Eyeing my folded flannel sheets
will not warm my feet.

Revising old Facebook posts: Ebbe Borregaard, Stephen Torre & John Haines


An old Facebook fragment also written on a dreary Saturday, in 2013, evolved into a memoir piece of sorts, Woodbutchers and carpenter poets: Remembering John Haines, Stephen Torre, and Ebbe Borregaard. Six years later, I still haven't found out much about those poets. They seem to predate the internet, as it were, and were obscure enough poets, that no one has taken up the torch to post their work online, or to mention them on blog pages. They were my teachers. And here I am, still wondering about those poets on this grey misty morning, mid June. I sometimes revisit my FB memory lane pages to see if there's a fragment of writing I might have missed or that that I might want to add to my blog. Mostly dross. But every so often, I find a fragment that's still compelling. I had already added my knee comments and fashioned them into a blog post, but not this first bit on Ebbe. Like Death, I stopped to fix a typo, and an hour later, I'm still revising it, hammering the nails into the memory coffin. Ya never know what will spark another bit of writing. I'm certainly the last to know. Typical. So, the question begs: is it a piece from 2013, or a new piece if it's extensively revised? Too OCD for my own good.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Feeling blue


Feeling a bit blue today—as if the light
at the end of the tunnel was closed
due to unforseen circumstances
& I'm left without a torch.

This sadness is palpable. I know it will pass, but when? One foot in front of the other. Trying to stay absolutely in the present tense, knowing this too shall pass, which helps. Sometimes I think it help to admit it, and then it's easier to let it go. I feel better now, more empowered, thanks to a core of Facebook friends. Better. Emerging. Slowly. Thank you. My litmus ones. My heart's core.

I edited some Tomales Bay pix, etc., and it got me out of my head for a few moments. Hanging out in bed today....much better today. So far. Absolutely hate it when this happens. So crippling. When I was a child I'd curl up somewhere and hide. Reading was my escape, or my horses. When it happens, I can barely do anything at all. Doesn't happen often, TG. A few times a year. A reading jag usually works. I understand it's all part of the process. The ups and downs. It's just so debilitating when it happens.

Form a Facebook post

Indus Arthur, Renaissance Pleasure Faire, photo, 1984


I posted some photos of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire on Facebook’s Lost Marin site. My post was wildly popular and soon I had hundreds of hits—and so many wonderful comments emerged as people began identifying each other, and sharing the post. I wanted to capture a slice of oral history so I asked people for their stories. One viewer took umbrage because I had asked people to tag themselves, or their friends on my posts. I asked, so that I could credit the Ren Faire actors, and also so they could have a copy of the photos for their own archives. Her rage—it toppled my house of cards. She started maligning me, calling me a stalker because I wanted people to share their stories.

In frustration, and dismay, I took the entire post down rather than leave the negativity up. Katelin Stuart said don’t rent space to them in your head. But it was too late. The reason why it was so distressing was that because for 35 long years those slides were locked away behind cellulose, never before seen by the world, and I was so excited to finally have a scanner that could scan those slides and negatives, and I thought Lost Marin would be the perfect venue to do a wild release of those photos... But Carrie Smith wanted to equally share my photos—while berating me, the photographer, for wanting to know performers' names, and of their Ren Faire stories... Kill the messenger.

Indus Arthur, Renaissance Pleasure Faire, Agoura, CA, 1984

The photo that set off the imbroglio was of Indus Arthur, a beautiful harpist, which ignited a FB war in the Lost Marin group. The reason was completely lost on me. It was like a bully scene right out of Animal Farm. Sadly, Indus died in December, of 1984, a few months after my photo was taken. Complications of skin cancer, and a brain tumor.

This may be among the last photos ever taken of the stage and screen actor, Indus, who, like her grandmother, was named after a river in Tibet. I remember that we talked about our grandmothers. I had no idea that Indus was a popular TV star—none of that mattered, we were in a time out of place, in a backlot of Paramount Ranch, in Agoura.

The photo was a moving tribute, or so I thought. I had spent the afternoon talking with her, a lovely soul, both ephemeral, and fey. Did she know she was dying? That this was her last gift to the world, this harp music? She died so young, she was only 43. She is buried somewhere in a secret location in Los Angeles.

But Carrie Smith wouldn’t let it go, she objected to my asking people to tag themselves, or my even knowing who Indus was. Then Carrie waged war on me, she began tagging her equally obnoxious friends, dragging them into the fracas. Where did all this anger and rage come from, over an old photo? Clearly Carrie (aka Mrs. Owens, Dickens’ cook for the Dickens Faire) had some deep-seated anger management issues, but for some reason, she came unhinged when I asked for people to tag themselves. It was the last straw, too many other negative things going on in my life. I saved the vitriolic conversations thinking I might someday use it, but it’s so depressing. And I so wanted to honor those actors who brought us such delight during the heyday of the RPF.

Apparently Carrie, thought I was a stalker, or worse, because I was asking people to tag themselves in the photos of themselves. But it’s not my job to explain her aberrant behavior. Get out of my head. I had merely asked people to tag themselves so that THEY could keep my photos—and/or share stories from the Ren Faire days among themselves. After all, that was the whole point of the Lost Marin Group. Here I thought that it generous gift from the past. No strings attached. The cadre of Ren folk even objected to my use of the word Ren Faire, took umbrage to the term Ren Faire, and to the rather endearing term, Ren folk... All of this tempestuousness is so ironic as the Renaissance Pleasure Faire’s actual web address is renfaire.com

Suffice to say, it was a total bloodbath. So, rather than leave the negativity up, I deleted all 36 photos. Most folks were thrilled to see the photos, one woman even tagged the Patterson sons... but I didn't want to leave an album of my photos up, as a chronicle their bad behavior.

From a Facebook post

Phyllis Patterson RIP – She changed my life! JoshWillTravel blog, a good inside peek into the Faire.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Rainbow at the end of the tunnel (photo)



This visage certainly stopped me in my tracks. I thought I was seeing things. Turns out, I was. I was also at the right place at the perfect, if odd time—the right angle of the sun, and right time of day, as the light rapidly changed. I was thinking about what photographer Jerry Downs had said about seeing ordinary, or mundane things "different" when I climbed the rise. And gasped. The old adage rang true—tho  best camera was the one in my hand, tho it be on its last legs. I wasn't expecting to find a rainbow in a culvert at the end of a fireroad. Or a magic portal to another world in a dam runoff overflow culvert.



Upon closer inspection, it looked like an entrance to the Otherworld. At first I thought I was having some sort of flashback, or heatstroke vs. brainfreeze. The side view was equally astonishing. By then I was singing Somewhere Under the Rainbow.....



Added bonus, it was a huge swamp cooler. I stood in front of the colorful culvert to chill out on this hottest day of the year. No rainbows were harmed in the process. Synchronicity at Soulajoule Dam, Walker Creek Road, West Marin. The synchronous moment was right before I got out of my hot car, I was using a little battery-operated spray fan, wishing it was way bigger. I think I got my wish, and then some.

Truth be known, I was feeling a bit despondent, and in need of a lift. From a rainbow, apparently. It was hot, I took the weird way home, planning to stop at the Elephant Rocks. See, 22 years ago, I was in a horrific car accident on Walker Creek Road, something that changed my life completely.

Today, I was making amends with the road. I forgave it, and the person who drove us off the road. This was merely a madcap pitstop, a girding of the loins segue enroute to the spot where my life irrevocably changed. I think it also means after 22 years, I get my old life back. Trying hard not to think of those years as wasted years. But, in retrospect, it was a life-sentence of sorts.


The mystery rainbow revealed—a dam overflow runoff valve with so much pressure, it's ricochetting off the culvert creating a fine mist. The culvert, acting like a hood contained the rainbow.

This version was shared in Digital Photo Academy Community

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Brownie Mary photo scan




Well, that's done. Spent three intense days cleaning up a 27-year-old photo of Brownie Mary Rathbun for a traveling show. On its way to the Weedmaps Weed Museum where it will tour for three years. I scanned it in 24-bit color at 800dpi, so I could capture all the greyscale range, and to properly clone out the artifacts....all those slubs on her sweater had what looked like lint, OMG!

And I was aghast by all the embedded artifacts and surface scratches. I don't like DigitalIce, it softens the image. Ah, the joys of Tri-X, pushed. My trusty old Pentax K1000 with a Vivitar zoom lens. Good glass. Not that I know much about PS, but after I cleaned it up, I did a sharpen layer, for her face, then a Gaussian blur layer, sans her face, to soften the clone clean up (even tho the print looked fine, it was a mess!) I also scanned the negatives later. They came out better than expected.

We met Brownie Mary at SF General Hospital's AIDS ward, as she was making her volunteer nurse rounds delivering respite to her AIDS patients. Her boys,, she said. I first met her at the Sonoma County Jail where she was arrested for buying pot in Cazadero. I covered the story for The Paper. Tony Serra took on the feds and won. I coordinated a photography expedition for Dutch photographer Jan Bogaaerts who was doing a story on the AIDS crisis for Granta Magazine. It was a heart-wrenching time. The frailness of mortality.

FWIW, I ate some of those brownies, but I may, or may not have swallowed. Mary and I had an Irish heart connection that went deep. In the process of working on the photo, I just found out my aunt Jane used to make travel arrangements for Mary at Valley Travel. Small world. Of course, she never knew... Special thanks to Jerry Downs for contract advice.


Museum of Weed coming to Los Angeles in early 2019



Que Sera, Serra: Remembering Tony Serra
Brownie Mary