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Antibalas at Publishers Group West Party

For over 20 years, book distributor Publishers Group West has hosted a party with hot music on the Sat. night of Book Expo America. Last night it was afrobeat band Antibalas from Brooklyn, which Wikipedia says: "…incorporates elements of jazz, funk, dub, improvised music, and traditional drumming from Cuba and West Africa." Everyone stayed right up until the last song, dancing and happy.

Godfrey Stephens' Dory

Canadian artist/mariner Godfrey Stephens' junk-rigged dory Pookmis II, now owned by Godfrey's friend Nathan Penonzek. Godfrey sent me photos of this soulful little boat from his home in Victoria, BC, yesterday. The horizontal battens hold the sails open to catch the slightest breezes.

Motorcycle on 30th Street Made by Orange County Choppers

Spotted this on my way home from the book convention an hour ago. It was outside DEX, a very upscale hair and makeup salon, had been used in a photo shoot. Scott Wasserman, one of the hair stylists told me it was one of the bikes made by the father-and-sons team called Orange Country Choppers from Westchester, NY. They have a TV show.

New Book: New York In the '70s/Allan Tannenbaum

Photo (c) Allen Tannenbaum
Thursday night I went to a lively party at the Not Fade Away Gallery for this new book published by The Overlook Press. Blowups on walls of a rich artistic period in NY history: great photos of David Bowie, Iggy Pop, the Stones, John and Yoko, Talking Heads, etc., the exciting east coast scene that followed in the wake of the cultural revolution begun in San Francisco. My hair was in its sort of Einstein-ish-looking mode and a young guy came up and said, "You in any of these pictures?

Builders of Pacific Coast Gets Best Architecture Book Award

It was announced yesterday at Book Expo America that our latest building book won 1st place in the architecture category of the Foreward Magazine book awards

Midtown Manhattan Flower Store

On 56th, between 5th and 6th.

Master Masons

I've shot this beautiful building many times over the years. Someone just wrote in to inform me that it's the Jefferson Market library on 6th btw 9th and 10th Streets....For the really great and (less than it used to be) out of control Village Halloween Parade they often create a giant shadow/puppet of a huge spider crawling around its spire...

Alley Near Washington Square

Small Town Hick Once Again Dazzled By New York City

Came in on the redeye last night. No sleep at all; no can do on airplanes. Spent an hour standing in back of the 757 talking to a 6'-7"" pro basketball player from Serbia who is coaching the bball team at Feather River College in Quincy, Calif. Caught a bus from airport with surly Russian driver, $15 to Grand Central. As soon as I cross 3rd Ave —wham! — the vitality, energy, quality of the city; never fails. Get off the bus, a bit dazed (looking), and a woman says, Sir, want a cab? I nod and she hails one for me and I swear it's Loreta Swiit, "Hotlips Houlihan" from MASH. Gives me a big smile as a cab pulls up, then hails one for herself. Oh yes!
Check into the Affinia on 7th Ave (in the 30's) nice place, My redeye policy is not to sleep at all until the night, so head out in search of food (starving) and soon find myself down in the Village, get a not-very-good goat cheese omelette, then get a 30-minute Chinese neck massage ($30) that hurt, but loosens me up and wakes me up, so I walk to Washington Square and sit on a bench. Comfortable weather, grey skies, the city strangely quiet. Bunch of chess games. Two squirrels start chasing each other at high speed through the trees, noticed only by me and one dog. I like this very much.
Along comes a guy, 60s-ish-looking, riding a high tech scooter in front of the park benches. Um-um… I run after him and we have this great conversation about scooters, (since I ride one in cities and in fact brought mine along on this trip and plan on cruising tonight) then talk gravitates to the Whole Earth Catalog and he tells me he's an artist and in 1990 did the light show for 12 gigs of the Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour. Marvin Torrfield. We have so much in common I hate to see him go, a kindred spirit. Only in NY.

I first came to NYC in 1957 at age 22 (Nevada was the farthest east I'd been until then), rented a room on Morton Street in the Village and worked for 2 months on the night shift at a Durkee's plant in Queens processing shredded coconut. We processed (cooked in cement-mixer contraptions-with-heat) 10,000 pounds of shredded coconut every night. At end of summer caught ship to France, hitchhiked to Milan, bought new Lambretta motorscooter, spent 3 months traveling all over Europe.…I do digress.
Sun now coming out, the afternoon light is beautiful. I'm in the 24-hour-with free-wi-fi Esperanto coffee house, 114 McDougal just down from Wash Sq. Very cool place.
Everywhere I look are fantastic looking people. This girl had been sitting in the cafe, sun illuminating beautiful hair. This was after she stepped outside, through window.

Garden in Spring

With the late rains, the garden is in its prime.

Laundry to Landscape Grey Water System by Art Ludwig

Art Ludwig is the author of Create an Oasis With Grey Water, by far the best book on the subject. He's just recently come up with a new, cheap way to get laundry water into the garden, which is "…the simplest, least expensive, lowest effort way to get the most greywater out on to the landscape most effectively." Free plans here

Street Graffiti in San Francisco's Mission District

These were in an alley off the 600 block of Valencia St. Last Friday morning.

Photo Slide Show from 24 Hours in Columbus May 13-14 '09

Willie Brown at Cafe Roma, SF Weekly's "Best of San Francisco"

I leave home about 6 AM this morning, drive in to San Francisco along the coast listening to Bob Dylan's new album (raspy-voiced, some good songs, some same-old, same-old) and get to Cafe Roma in North beach around 7. There are cameras and lights set up and it turns out Channel 5 Eyewitness News does a 6 AM TV show from here each Friday morning. Well, at the next table to me is ex-mayor and political genius Willie Brown, who had been this morning's subject. He has an aura of vitality and playfulness. Beautiful blue suit, lavender shirt, darker lavender tie, cream white hat (when he left). Having an animated discussion with an Italian-looking guy, lots of laughs. Some people have magnetic auras, you can almost see an energy field around them. (You can see same when hallucinegen-ating, or if spiritually advanced, as they say.) It brought to mind my experiences with Mr. Universe Bill Pearl. I worked with Bill over a 2-year period on his weight-lifting book, Getting Stronger, and everywhere we went, people were drawn to him. I saw Clint Eastwood at a party and he had the same thing.
The SF Weekly is out this week with its annual "Best of San Francisco" and I recommend picking it up in a newstand if you live in or near SF. A few examples: Best Lowbrow Dance Club/Best Street Performer/Best New Place to Skateboard/Hottest Yoga Studio/Best Hip-Hop Club Night/Best Doughnuts…

Good Architecture in Corte Madera, Calif./Peets Coffee

Good architecture exists here and there. I like the use of corrugated metal in this Peet's coffee house. This is a nice little tidy, well-detailed building.

Little Farm Building in Marin County

I shot a photo of this little pump house about 35 years ago and used it in our book Shelter (1973). It's still there, still has that unselfconscious elegant non-architectural grace of utility and practicality. It's on the McIsaacs ranch near Tocoloma, Calif.

Church in Nicasio, California

This little picture-perfect church is down the block from West Marin's good-time blues/Cajun/rock and roll/Sunday-barbecue club, Rancho Nicasio, in the tiny town of Nicasio, about 30 minutes from San Rafael, Calif.

Roots Reggae in Fairfax

I happened to be going through Fairfax (local small town) last week around midnight and stopped at the 19 Broadway club, heard some great reggae, and went in. The Meditations, never heard of them, wow, were they good! Roots reggae, the real thing. (Sad to say, there are a lot of krappy reggae bands around these days.) Once in a great while I stumble into some truly great music. The planets must have been lined up. The singer at the right, older guy, was dignified and hip, so nice to see… two and 3-part vocal harmonies. The kind of music that fills your soul with joy…
Quote from Wikipedia:
"…they began recording as The Meditations in late 1976, shortly after which they released their biggest hit, "Woman Is Like a Shadow", which sold over 45,000 copies in its first month of release.[2] They recorded in the mid-1970s for producers such as Dobby Dobson, Joseph Hoo Kim, and Lee "Scratch" Perry, their righteously Rastafarian style gaining comparisons with The Mighty Diamonds. Their first album, Message From The Meditations, was released in 1977. The Meditations sang backing vocals on a number of Bob Marley songs, including "Blackman Redemption," "Punky Reggae Party," and "Rastaman Live Up", as well as providing backing for Gregory Isaacs, Jimmy Cliff and The Congos (on their Heart of the Congos album."

I just got two Meditations albums: Deeper Roots: The Best of the Meditations and No More Friend. Great music.

Flashback to 1973: a bunch if us from my small town went into San Francisco to hear what was said to be a good reggae band. We got there a little late, walked into what was then Mother's nightclub on Columbus Ave. It was just a big rectangular room, packed to the gills, everyone standing, and playing were — the Wailers. With Bob Marley. I'd never heard of them. (They hadn't hit the big time yet.) Holy shit! Walking into music like that — heaven on Earth…

Cob Sauna by Oregon Dept. of Kick Ass

Cob sauna, designed by Mark Lakeman and Vanessa Renwick; master builder: Lydia Doleman; assistant builder: Gordon Fry
Oregon Dept. of Kick Ass

Uncle Sam Wants You

Uwe Ommer - Transit

Transit: Around the World in 1424 Days, by Uwe Ommer.
Kevin Kelly turned me on to this stunning, joyous book. Photos of the photographer's four-year, 150,000 mile Land Rover journey in over 130 countries, it's in scrapbook form and a total delight. It's huge, must weigh 10 lbs., 720 pages. Like Japanese photographer Yoshio Komatsu, Ommer obviously has rapport with everyone whose picture he shoots. It's remarkable how happy all these people look, obviously comfortable with the photographer. It's such an inspiration to me.
Uwe Ommer's website

Brick Work in German Village, Columbus, Ohio

Tatoos in Columbus

I've shot tons of photos in the last 24 hours. This was last night. There are gorgeous buildings all over Columbus.
I'll try to put together a Picasa slide show from the trip (in my spare time!) Last night, driving around in the rain, Leonard Cohen's song "Never Any Good" came on and it was one of those moments. Rain pouring down, an incredible song! I turned it up full volume and was bouncing in the seat; stopped a few times to clap along. Embarrasing, huh?
What a rich voice; he gets down as low as you think he can, then goes lower. The band and the backup girls are exquisite, the poetry tough and tight and witty. Called my friend Sherm 2500 miles away and played the entire song for him at full blast driving on the brick streets of German Village, rain streaming on windshield. It was a movie in my brain.

Columbus is Photogenic

I got up at 2:30 AM yesterday, finally got to my hotel in Columbus (after a delay in Denver) around 5 PM, met with 3 senators last night, then gave testimony today at the Ohio Environment and Natural Resources Committee, which is trying to figure out which of two septic bills to adopt. More on this later. About 3 this afternoon, I got in my rental Toyota and headed for what's called German Village. It's a gorgeous district in Columbia, with brickwork I couldn't believe, it's truly a village within a big city. All the streets, miles and miles of them, are brick. I had a great meal of sausage and sauerkraut and local dark beer et Schmitt's Restaurant und Sausage Haus (est 1866), then drove around in the rain, listening to A fabulous Leonard Cohen CD, "More Best Of" as a storm blew in. Got a cheap umbrella and shot a lot of photos in the rain, juggling the umbrella in the wind to keep drops off lens.

Treehouse Restaurant in New Zealand

Here is an updated photo of a treehouse restaurant north of Auckland, New Zealand, that I posted about 6 months ago. From here

Math Magic With The Number 9

Sent me by Rick Gordon:

• First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate (more than once but less than 10).
• Multiply this number by 2 (just to be bold).
• Add 5.
• Multiply it by 50 -- I'll wait while you get the calculator.
• If you have already had your birthday this year add 1759. If you haven't, add 1758.
• Now subtract the four digit year that you were born.
You should have a three digit number. The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).
The next two numbers are:
(This will only work in the year 2009.)
This reminded me of a carpenter's trick someone showed me recently: take a tape measure and bring the end (tip) back around in a loop so it rests at 109". Now look up the year you were born on the tape measure, i.e. "56" for 1956. Turn the tape over and opposite the 56 will be your age. What is going on here?


Wierd attire, great singing.
"The Voca People is an ensemble of 8 talented musician-actors; 3 female singers that bring the very best female sounds (alt, mezzo, soprano) and 3 male singers (bass, baritone, tenor. In addition there are 2 beat box artists that create extraordinary human beat box sounds and are considered to be the best performers in their field. This innovative performance is one of the only acts in the world that combines singers and beat box performers to bring an entire orchestra without any musical instruments. This unique comical and theatrical framework and the mega mixes they bring to the stage - distinguish them from other vocal groups."
-From http://lidorproductions.com/vocapeople/

Hester Street

Wow! What a beautiful movie (1975). Last week we saw a clip of a Jewish lawyer negotiating with Carol Kane regarding her divorce and it was hysterical, one of the funniest comic bits I've ever seen, so we rented the movie, and it's a masterpiece. Great acting, black and white photography, beautifully-composed shots. It's got integrity. Independently produced and distributed, it cost $350,000 to make.

Cobweb in the Garden

In what looked to be another dry year in Northern California, we got over 2" of rain earlier this week. My friend Louie in Mendocino county reported 5". Never remember this much late rain. Mary spotted this dew-laden cobweb outside her office window. How do spiders know how to spin webs? They anchor them so they'll hold up in wind, then make their lacy tapestry. Do mama spiders teach little ones?

Lloyd to Ohio to Testify on Septic System Scams At Ohio Environment and Natural Resources Committee

I'm flying to Columbus, Ohio Tuesday (May 12) to testify at the Ohio Environment and Natural Resources Committee on a bill (S.B. 100) sponsored by Senator Tim Grendell that seeks to stop Ohio realtors, lobbyists, engineers, and health department regulators from forcing the state's homeowners into new high-tech, expensive, and most often, unnecessary septic system standards.

I got a call from Senator Grendell's office two days ago; they had read my March 2008 article in The Mother Earth News on septic systems scams throughout the U.S. (Click here for article.) They had printed 100 copies of the article to distribute to various people. Would I be interested in testifying. Yes!

Briefly: we published The Septic Systems Owner's Manual some years ago since there was no clear book on septic systems for homeowners. I was fascinated by this method of "on-site wastewater disposal" that used gravity for power (no motors or electricity), and naturally-occurring soil organisms for purification. Talk about something green!

But: "Where there's muck, there's brass."
-Old English saying

There's big money to be made. Right now, throughout the U.S., homeowners are facing self-serving engineers, regulators, lobbyists, realtors, et al, who have a modus operandi something like this: pathogens are (supposedly) discovered in a creek, river, bay, or ground water and assumed to be from failing septic systems. No effort is made (via DNA testing — now available) to ascertain just which mammals are responsible. Cows, deer, raccoons, birds, humans? Homeowners, entire towns are being faced with draconian regulations and, guess what? Huge costs — in my neck of the woods, $40,000 or so. And ironically, environmental destruction with "mounds" — elevated drainfields.

If you're a homeowner and this hasn't happened to you yet, be aware. It's coming. Be forewarned. See chapter 10 from our book, "Excessive Engineering and Regulatory Overkill" by clicking here (There are 5 full chapters from the book on our website that you can read, free of charge.)

So I'm off to Ohio to present a layman's, non-academic, homeowner's perspective on the validity of the gravity-fed septic system. Stay tuned.

Ukulele Ike's Collection For the Ukulele + Ain't She Sweet

I've had this book of ukulele songs for about 60 (ulp!) years. It's got wonderful songs from the '20s and '30s like Five Foot Two, Ja-da, Five Foot Two, Sleepy Time Gal, Toot Toot Tootsie, Peg O' My Heart, I'll See You In My Dreams, and Singin' in the Rain. Best of all it's got graphic diagrams of the chords. Long out of print, there seem to be a few available at http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=Ukulele+Ike+(Cliff+Edwards).

Speaking of songs of this era, I just ran across this youtube clip of a guitar player named Fret Killer doing Ain't She Sweet
Ain't she sweet?
See her walking down the street
Now I ask you very confidentially
Ain't she sweet?

Espaliered Apple Tree

The garden at the San Francisco Zen Center's Green Gulch Farm was started years ago by Alan Chadwick, an English gardener who left behind a wonderful legacy of gardeners and gardens (including the farm at UC Santa Cruz). There's a row of these espaliered apple trees. If you're a gardener living in the San Francisco area, this is a wonderful garden to visit. I believe they're open to the public on weekends.

Inside the Curl with George Greenough and Clark Little

Photos (c) Clark Little: http://www.clarklittlephotography.com/

In 1971, Bob Easton and I were finishing up production of Domebook 2 at his house in Santa Barbara. Bob's next-door neighbor was a surfer named George Greenough, and one night George came over to show us his surfing movie. George had rigged up a waterproof wide-angle movie camera with a motorcycle battery, and had been shooting waves from a kneeboard. George was getting into the tube and recording waves from the inside. I'd never seen anything like it before.

Bob pointed out that regular surfers stood up — conquering the waves — but that George was on his knees, respectful, tucked into the curl, like a martial artist becoming one with the wave. The camera showed the curl, the view of the beach and palm trees at the end, and it would get smaller and smaller, like closing down the f-stop on a camera lens, until George wiped out and there was an explosion of bubbles and light and turbulence.

No one knew George at the time. As the years passed, George went on to become a legendary waterman, with his breakthrough stunning wave images. In 1973, Bob and I got George to bring a new film to my home town, Crystal Voyager. It was directed by David Elfick and combined George's photography with Pink Floyd's Echoes. It was other-worldly in its beauty. I can still see a shot from low down, of a 10' wave at sunrise in Australia, with sunlight streaming through the wave in dappled gold.

Yesterday, Jan Janzen, one of the featured builders in our book, Builders of the Pacific Coast, sent me photos by Hawaiian surf photographer Clark Little, who has obviously taken George's pioneering inside-the-curl view to a new level, showing the seldom-seen beauty of the ocean and its waves. Isn't it incredible, this is just something that is there, that has always existed in nature, and these intrepid watermen have shown us this dazzling beauty?

Tiny House on Wheels For Sale San Francisco Bay Area: $30K

Right in line with our forthcoming book on tiny houses is this 126 sq. ft. house on wheels for sale in Santa Rosa, Calif. for $30,000. See SFgate
It was put up on craigslist a few days ago.
-Sent in by Lew Lewandowski

Ten Books on Architecture, by Vitruvius — Free Project Gutenberg EBook

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci, an illustration of the human body inscribed in the circle and the square derived from a passage about geometry and human proportions in Vitruvius's writings

The concept of building with natural materials is nothing new. It was codified by Vitruvius, who wrote his treatise De architectura at the end of the 1st century BC. The work consisted of ten scrolls, or volumes, and has survived as major work on architecture for over 2000 years. It's now available in ebook form from Project Gutenberg

"Vitruvius is famous for asserting...that a structure must exhibit the three qualities of firmitas, utilitas, venustas — that is, it must be strong or durable, useful, and beautiful. According to Vitruvius, architecture is an imitation of nature. As birds and bees built their nests, so humans constructed housing from natural materials, that gave them shelter against the elements. When perfecting this art of building, the Ancient Greek invented the architectural orders: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. It gave them a sense of proportion, culminating in understanding the proportions of the greatest work of art: the human body. This led Vitruvius in defining his Vitruvian Man, as drawn later by Leonardo da Vinci: the human body inscribed in the circle and the square (the fundamental geometric patterns of the cosmic order)."
-Above quote and Leonardo drawing from Wikipedia


Last Friday on a dock. This young seagull let me get real close.

Carved Signs in Forestville, California

Shot this photo last night in Forestville, on my way home from a few days in Mendocino county

Treehouse in Japan: Takasugi-an by Terunobu Fujimori

On April 19, I posted a photo of this treehouse. Here's a better shot, from de zeen Design magazine
"The tea house is built atop two chestnut trees, cut from a nearby mountain and transported to the site, and is accessible only by free-standing ladders propped against one of the trees."