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Officials say man must tear down ‘Phonehenge’ house in L. A.

"Los Angeles county officials are demanding that a creative homeowner tear down a 20,000-square-foot domicile he calls "Phonehenge West"--or face up to seven years in jail.

Former telephone technician Alan Kimble Fahey began building the structure three decades ago in Acton, the Los Angeles Times reports. Fahey, who christened the project "Phonehenge" because it sits atop pilings modified from phone utility poles, says he intends to turn the compound into a museum.

The labyrinthine network of buildings where Fahey, his wife, and teenage son live even includes a 70-foot tower covered in Italian stained-glass windows, and a barn. Fahey uses a "motorized cart" to get between buildings, an earlier report said.…"

Post on The Lookout News blog by Liz Goodwin:


Sent us by Paul Adam Brown

Godfrey Stephens' sailboat Mungo is cruisin

Godfrey and his wife Megan plan to go cruising this summer on the Chief Mungo, along with their friends Bruno Atkey and Mecea in Bruno's boat Ola Suerte. The latter about to be launched after 20+ years of work. See Builders of the Pacific Coast for the work and lives of these two best friends.

World First BMX Triple Backflip - Jed Mildon May 28, 2011

Sent by Kevin Kelly:

Madrid's green wall

"The vertical garden, designed by Patrick Blanc, is 4 storeys high and takes up one outside wall, overlooking the plaza. It has 15,000 plants from more than 250 different species and most of it is flourishing.

There is an irrigation system which seems to be ongoing, given the gentle mist of droplets that emanates from the garden. The architects said that they wanted to 'create a very unusual encounter between the rough and the natural, ...to incorporate nature so there can be the smell of a garden where you would not expect it.'"


Yet more NYC Pix #2

Yet more NYC pix #1

Bowls made of plywood at MOMA. Were they made from real thick pieces of plywood, or were they bent?

Spiffy little Fiat on display at Book Expo America

The Hyena Men of Nigeria by Pieter Hugo

I'm back home and want to post a bunch of NYC pics before getting on to a ton of work here: making a notebook of all the cards and notes from my trip; sending out promised books; garden and maintenance work; and, most exciting of all, getting back to final layout of the tiny homes book -- especially after the great reaction I got to it all last week.
I saw a book on these guys at the MOMA bookstore just as they were closing Monday night. On his website, the photographer Pieter Hugo writes of his first discovery of these people in Lagos, Nigeria:
"In Abuja we found them living on the periphery of the city in a shantytown - a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons. It turned out that they were a group of itinerant minstrels, performers who used the animals to entertain crowds and sell traditional medicines. The animal handlers were all related to each other and were practising a tradition passed down from generation to generation. I spent eight days travelling with them."

The only books I can find online are $3-400, signed by the author. I'm going to call MOMA tomorrow to see if maybe this was a normal-priced version, and if so, order one.

Super black and white photos by super photographers

These were at the Haster Kraeutler gallery in Chelsea. The first 2 are by Richard Avedon; one of these had sold for $70,000. The cowboy is by Robert Frank, no listed price. There's just something about photos shot with film, and in black and white, that you don't get with digital, in color. You don't really see it here, in these digital photos, but the real things are stunning.

Wandering around in Chelsea

I spent yesterday afternoon with Ivory Serra, son of my good friend Tony Serra ( I've known Ivory and his  twin brother Shelter since a few days after they were born). Ivory's a working photographer, worked with Annie Liebovitz for a while, and knows the NYC art scene. (It's quite wonderful that Ivory and Shelter, coming from this little town of 3000 people, have survived and thrived in NYC, and as artists.)

We went to some bookstores and a few galleries. I can't find my notes on which gallery this was , or the sculptor, but he's quite famous, and these are ultra expensive (prices not listed, but Ivory thinks maybe $150,000). It was a great afternoon, we started out at Grumpy's coffee house on West 20th, and then went to all these places I would not have known about otherwise.

3 photos last night NYC

Grand Central Station

According to Wikipedia, it's really Grand Central Terminal, but commonly called Grand Central Station. Built in the early 1900s, it really is grand. I'd forgotten. 

Giant berm protects single family home from flooding Mississippi River

"This levee protects a home surrounded by floodwater from the Yazoo River on May 18, 2011 near Vicksburg, Mississippi. The flooded Mississippi River is forcing the Yazoo River to top its banks where the two meet near Vicksburg -- causing towns and farms upstream on the Yazoo to flood."
                                                                                             -Scott Olson/Getty Images


Chicken coop built of recycled wood

Built by Efrain Zamora: Size: 6' X 8', Recycled redwood barn boards. Cedar shingles for the roof."

Check out his small structures at: https://picasaweb.google.com/ixtahua/GentleFootprintDesigns?authkey=Gv1sRgCIy6wcC-xaCyUA#

Korean dinner & the Baby Soda Jazz Band

I just had dinner at Han Bat, a 24-hour Korean restaurant a few doors down from the hotel. Meals served in stone bowls heated to near-incendiary temperatures, very exotic, many side dishes of pickled vegetables, almost all people eating there Korean. Like stepping into another country.

Upon the recommendation of Janice at the Spoonbill bookstore, I had dinner at Caracas Arepa, a Venezuelan restaurant a few blocks off Bedford last night. Hugely popular place, rightly so. Rum drinks. Their specialty is arepas, various fillings inside a wrapping made of white cornmeal, which is not fried, but grilled, then baked, making it crunchy. Wonderful food, wonderful place.

There were 4 girls having dinner at a nearby table. They had a pitcher of sangria and were having a great time. In the past week I've seen a bunch of girls-nights-outs at tables in various restaurants. So different without men. They're really connecting, sharing, tuning into each other, comfortable without the big T present. Harmony.
Then I went over to the Ragegast Hall (a serious beer bar) on N. 3rd Street to see The Baby Soda Jazz Band. The bass player is Peter Ford and he plays a box bass that he sort of invented. (A year ago I finally talked him into making me one -- I'd seen the band playing in Washington Square --  and I play it a little almost every day.) The band was in great form, doing '20s-'30s music like Baby Won't You Please Come Home and Struttin' With Some Barbecue. Peter's awesome on this one-string bass. A guest trombone player, who has played with Wynton Marsalis,  sat in. Great dancing, wonderful to see young people picking up on songs from this era. Diga Diga Doo…

Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers in Brooklyn

There are always going to be what are now called "print books." Those you hold in your hand and don't need electricity to read. There will always be independent bookstores, as I realized upon going into the Spoonbill & Sugartown bookstore on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn last night. It felt so right. My type of books, my type of bookstore, obviously run by book lovers. A place I can spend a lot of happy time browsing. I was turned on to it by Bill Getz, the Publishers Group West sales rep for the NYC area, who said he loved the place.

Sean and Janice knew who I was. Sean said be thought they had sold maybe 1000 copies of Shelter. He looked in his data base and said they'd sold 108 copies of Builders of the Pacific Coast and 70 copies of Home Work. Wow.

If we could only get more independent bookstores to display our books face-out like this. If people pick up our books, we're off and running.

They have used as well as new books, and in the back room were original copies of Steve Baer's Dome Cookbook ($165) and our Domebook One ($120). Extremely rare books. 218 Bedford Ave in Williamsburg (Brooklyn); take the L train from 14th street, get off at the 1st stop in Brooklyn and check out this hip neighborhood. It's got a buzz.

Trip to Brooklyn yesterday

Several people told me that Brooklyn is the new Village, i.e. rents are so high in Manhattan that people have moved out. Several things led me out there last night: I'd heard that the Spoonbill & Sugartown bookstore was selling a ton of our books, Bedford Avenue sounded hip, and I wanted to hear The Baby Soda Jazz Band, playing that night at a brewpub in the hood.

For many years in my visits here I'd avoid subways, walking many miles and taking cabs. Intimidated by being underground, never sure which train to take. Several years ago I realized this was stupid, and got back into subway travel by going out to Coney Island (in the winter). That got me back into it.

The subway trip out to the Williamsburg area of Brooklyn is short and simple. I came up and walked to Bedford Ave. and felt immediately at home. It's quiet. That is, compared to the laser intensity of Manhattan. Relaxed. A skateboarder whipped down the street. I saw a bunch of great stuff in what you might call an antique store, called Ugly Luggage. There was an old Underwood typewriter and boy was it fun to hit mechanical keys for a change. (I bet my writing would be better if I used a mechanical type writer -- yeah, duh!) I liked just about everything in the store and ended up buying this little 1934 Boy Scout Diary, partly filled out way back when. (I was born in 1935.) It belonged to Victor Teinour of Slatedale, Pennsylvania There are pages of drawings of storm cloud formations, trees, plants, fish, music for bugle calls, etc. It's about 2" X 6." Good vibes.

Michael Moore at Book Expo America

Michael Moore showed up yesterday in cargo shorts and signed copies of his new book, Here Comes Trouble: Stories From My Life. He clearly enjoys people and posed for a photo with each person.

Our tiny book of tiny homes

The day before I left, Lew made up this tiny little book, about 1½" x 2" and it's been a huge (sic) hit with everyone I've shown it to. When I showed it to publisher/media guy Richard Nash a few hours ago, he was delighted and said, "Dude, that's publishing!

We're going to print up a passel of them when we publish the book.

Photos NYC #2

Running, squid-ink pasta, and NYC pix last night

 I headed out for dinner around 8 last night. For once I wasn't lugging my backpack, just the fanny pack. Wearing my Asics trail running shoes, I felt light, again reflecting on the skills of running being useful in navigating city streets. Also thinking that being mobile is one of the greatest abilities to possess, being able to walk as one gets, um, older.

Running friends: pay attention to the cartilage in your knees. I quit running before I was down to bone-on-bone and I was thanking my lucky stars as I moved along at a pretty fast pace last night. I want to be able to walk as long as I'm breathing. It was a warm night and as I went up 5th Ave, there was a rosy sunset glow over the Hudson, looking west down the numbered streets.

It's now early morning and Howlin Wolf is singing, "I'm built for comfort, ain't built for speed…" via Sirius radio on my iPad. Last night I had Linguine Nero, pasta made with squid ink, ay Cafe Pescatore, a great Italian restaurant on 2nd and 50th and 2 glasses of Nero Davila red wine. Ummm!

Here are some shots from last night:

Skateboarding, the Whole Earth Catalog at MOMA, bread and sushi in Manhattan

Photo by Walt Denson

A blast from the west coast: today I'm sitting on the bus after a long (and productive) day at Book Expo America, and I check my email on the iPad, and there's a message from my friend Hans with a link to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, showing me skateboarding in a weekly column called "Healthy Obsession." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/05/24/DDM31JHPOO.DTL

Yesterday I went to see an exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art Library on the Whole Earth Catalog and other books from the cultural revolution of the 60s and 70s, including our Domebook 2. It's a nice exhibit, with maybe 50-60 books, and it's a blast to look back at those days and see the newsprint books we were producing about what was going on. 1st photo below is an early WEC; 2nd photo is Domebook 2 at top and Steve Baer's Dome Cookbook (which actually preceded the WEC) at lower right.

(See Wikipedia on the WEC.)

One thing about all my years' running is, I can navigate city streets pretty well. I've always told my kids, "Watch the cars, not the lights. New Yorkers cross against red lights en masse when there's a break in traffic. I saw a mother with a kid in a stroller crossing on a red light. (Kind of reminds of a time years ago when I heard a mother in a park playground here tell her kid, "If you don't get over heah I'm gonna break yer ahm!")

I love this chain of restaurants here called Le Pain Quotidien. A great bakery, and breakfast and lunch. A lot of the food is organic, everything is freshly baked, and tables are broad-planked pine with one 35-foot long community table, and motif of a French farmhouse kitchen.

Had fabulous sushi last night across from the Beacon Theater at Fusha. Four sushi chefs dressed in all black were putting sushi together with lightning hand speed. I said to the guy next to me at the counter, "They could make a movie of these guys," and he said, "It's better live."

California surfers live on NYC building

Kind of hard to see what's going on here, but this is the facade of a large building (on 6th or 7th?), about 70 feet across, showing surfers in Huntington Beach, California. (Surf was up!)

California surfers live on NYC building

A bit

NYC tonight

I went to a sold-out Elvis Costello and the Imposters concert at the Beacon Theater tonight, a lovely old gilded playhouse, and it was dynamite.
On the way home from the concert on entrance to 50th Street subway station: Lady of the hour.
Great article on Gaga in Sunday New York Times by Jon Pareles. He understands her and is a good writer. By contrast, a snarky and semi-snide review of her new album, Born This Way in USA Today this morning, Monday May 23rd, by Elysa Gardner. Get over it, Elysa!

See ya tomorrow.

Yes It's Me and I'm in Love Again, Fats Domino, old film clip


Photos NYC #1