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500' cable ride across river to Louie's house

I shot this with my GoPro Helmet Hero camera a couple of months ago on a winter evening. You climb up 30 feet to a platform, hook a bosun's chair on to the cable, and let gravity zing you across the river to Louie's house in Northern California It's an ingenious device and Louie has been using it for over 40 years. The first time I did it, I was petrified, but I've become accustomed to it and look forward to each trip. Way fun! To get back, there's another platform and another cable on the other side.

Louie's a good cook and was making us clam pasta when I arrived. After dinner, along with his home-made Zinfandel, I rode the other cable back across the river in the foggy blackness of night, with a headlight. Hurtling out into the foggy darkness, scary, but coming into the landing platform on the other side, what a relief!

Whole Earth Catalog exhibit at Museum of Modern Art, NYC

Everyone, including Stewart Brand, likes this exhibit. In an article on the NY Times yesterday, Ken Johnson wrote a perceptive article on the WEC. As Kevin Kelly says, "They get it." True that.

"Brainchild of the visionary techno-hippie artist Stewart Brand, this compendium of resources for the New Age is the subject of 'Access to Tools: Publications From the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968-1974,' a modest but stirring time capsule of an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

The Whole Earth Catalog did for counterculture youth in the ’60s what the Sears Catalog did for children of the Great Depression and what Google does for people of the Internet age: provide a way for ordinary people to connect with and make use of the global economy. Against the dominion of capitalist profiteers and the top-down cult of technocratic expertise, it aimed to put practical, intellectual and spiritual means of self-determination into the hands of the people. A telephone-book size tome printed on cheap paper in black and white and in all kinds of typographies, and peppered with sharp, often funny commentary on its products by its editors — as well as essays, short stories by writers like Wendell Berry and letters from readers — the catalog was nothing if not user friendly."

Runs through July 26th. Since I'm heading for NYC Saturday, I'll be able to check it out.


Animated Anatomies: exhibition of antique medical pop-up books

"Animated Anatomies (an exhibit at the Duke University Library) explores the visually stunning and technically complex genre of printed texts and illustrations known as anatomical flap books. These publications invite the viewer to participate in virtual autopsies, through the process of unfolding their movable leaves, simulating the act of human dissection. This exhibit traces the flap book genre beginning with early examples from the sixteenth century, to the colorful “golden age” of complex flaps of the nineteenth century, and finally to the common children’s pop-up anatomy books of today."

Discovered by Rick Gordon (via: http://laughingsquid.com/)

Catamaran appears in bay

Our bay after the rains. A sailing catamaran appeared this morning, anchored in the bay—which affords protection from onshore winds.

Trouble with an 11-photo collage like this is it gets so small on a computer. (I didn't take the time to even out the exposures.)

Small town rainy night

Spring garden photos


Color photography in Russia in 1907-1915

Wooden Chapel on the Site of Old Belozersk. First mentioned in Russian chronicles for the year 862 A.D., the town of Belozersk or "White Lake" was abandoned and relocated several times. The original settlement, commemorated here by a small nineteenth-century wooden chapel, was on the north side of the White Lake in north central European Russia.

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii.
A Chapel on the Site Where the Old City of Belozersk Stood, 1909.
Digital color rendering

This is from: http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire/architecture.html.

The whole digitized collection of thousands of photos can be found at http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/empire

Sent us by Kevin Kelly

1940-41 Graham Hollywood sedan

This beautiful old Graham was parked in the garage at the Oakland Museum last Friday night. It looks so stylish.

Lady Gaga at Madison Square Garden

I'm not exactly au courant on popular culture, so it was with open mind that I watched the HBO special of Lady Gaga in her 5th consecutive sold-out performance at Madison Square Garden. She is great! Pardon me, but she is. What a talent. First off, she can sing. The songs are good, and she writes most of them. Tight dancing. I've watched the first hour so far and enjoyed it greatly. She did a lovely song, just her and her piano, "Speechless." And of course there's "…her outré sense of style in fashion…" -Wikipedia

There seems something real and vulnerable about her, in spite of all the fame and glitz, and in this show she was back on her home turf and loving it.

Huge, interesting Wikipedia piece on her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Gaga

Photos of store fronts in NYC

From Boing Boing, posted by Cory Doctorow yesterday (Perfect timing for me, since I'm taking off this weekend for the Book Expo America convention and a week in NYC, one of my great loves.)

"How To Be a Retronaut has a large gallery of images from Store Front: The Disappearing Face of New York, a new book by James and Karla Murray that documents the vanishing golden-age shop signs of New York City, including interviews with the shop owners. The Associated Press review says, 'They tell the story of the 20th century in New York, with wisps of the 19th and hints of the 21st. If you want to understand the aesthetics of the country's most famous city at street level, this is the best way to do it short of actually going there.'

"During the eight years it took James and Karla Murray to complete this project, one third of the stores they featured have closed"
   - Newsweek


Sneak preview of tiny homes book at Maker Faire Saturday May 21st

I'm doing a sneak preview (slide presentation) of pages from the tiny homes book this Saturday at the Maker Faire in San Mateo, Calif. It's billed as the "World's Largest DIY Fest-ival," created by Make Magazine to "celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset."

It's a pretty huge event, I think something like 100,000 visitors. It's mostly tech stuff, but there's a corner called Homegrown Village where I'll be.

Tip: get there early because traffic at this event is a bear.

(The robots walking around the fairgrounds are spectacular.)

It's Saturday, May 21st at 11:30 AM, at "Homegrown Village." Fair opens at 10 AM. More info: http://makerfaire.com/pub/e/6148

Sporting-Sails for skateboarding

I just got one of these sails and tried it out for the first time skating late yesterday afternoon. It's mainly used to slow down when skateboarding downhill. Fun! I'm still getting the hang of it, but I was able to go down some hills where I'd normally get going too fast and have to jump off.
Two women came around the corner when I had the sail deployed and one said, "Oooh that looks like fun!"
I also tried it out last week on my paddleboard, sailing with the wind.

Junior Brown and the Beach Boys singing 409

Good way to start the week, early this Monday morning, sent by Lew Lewandowski:

Hi-speed skateboarding wizards in the Sierras


Sent us by Freedom Sausage

Baby Maceo comes to visit

My good friend from Baja, Chilon, told me that Mexican slang for the grandpa of a boy, is "Abuelito de Batman." Well, all right!

Here's me a few hours ago with Batman. I'm awed by babies. The perfect little hands with grasping fingers, the smooth skin, the smiles, and the deep look into your eyes that infants practice before they learn not too. I love the feeling of thus little guy on my shoulder. I took him out to watch the chickens. I watched his eyes as he scanned the scene. Seeing things for the first time. He's 4 months old.

Talk on The Whole Earth Catalog at Oakland Museum Friday night

I took off early Friday for Oakland, to do my talk on "The Whole Earth Catalog and Alternative Structures" at the Oakland Museum. I went across the Richmond bridge, but when I got out to Hwy. 80, it was so jammed up (late Friday afternoon) that I cut up Gilman and then went along San Pablo all the way into downtown Oakland.

Oakland is always a relief from the preciousness of Marin County and the slightly jaded beauty of San Francisco. The people, the buildings, the civic projects -- they got soul. I love the visuals (I Am A Camera). The Hotsy-Totsy Club with its confederate-looking flag logo, the motorcycle shops, the ribs and burger joints, the 1000s of great buildings. Oakland is like the younger sister of a great beauty (SF), more fun to hang out with, more laid-back, not so pretentious.

About 40 people came to my talk, it was a great crowd. I showed them two collectors' copies, the first Whole Earth Catalog (1968) and The Dome Cookbook ($1, 1967) by Steve Baer and described how the WEC became a pre-computer network for the counter-culture. Plus how it transformed the West Coast publishing scene; by the time it sold 100,000 copies, it got the attention of New York. Random House took over distribution and this led the way to a bunch of West Coast books getting major muscle NY distribution, including Domebook 2, The Tassajara Bread Book, Anybody's Bike Book, The Massage Book, and in 1973, our book Shelter.
Here's a photo shot by Zach Klein on his iPhone, of me with Isaiah and Sean, who are living on a piece of land in Aptos, and building tiny houses: