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Old International Scout

This was in San Francisco, out by the beach. I thought it had integrity.

Brown Sugar by -- Little Richard

Brown Sugar by Little Richard on Grooveshark
Never heard this before. The whoooos are still tremulating here. Not sure of date -- '71?

Some years ago, Little Richard was called upon to introduce Paul McCartney at I believe, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. At that point, I don't believe L.R. had been inducted. I was watching it on TV and was surprised and pleased to see him come up to the mike and say "I am -- the architect of rock n roll!"
Well, all right…moment of truth. Who should have been introducing whom here?

Heard this on maybe my favorite radio show, Michael Des Barres' program on Sirius' Underground Garage channel, preceded by the Stones original. Michael plays such good stuff, incl. many bands from the 60s to 70s I've never heard of.

Two of my favorite Little Richard songs (not so well known) are "Bama Lama, Bama Loo," and "I Got It," where he says
It ain't what you eat,
It's the way how you chew it…

Our Next Book: SMALL HOMES

Our book TINY HOMES has sold over 60,000 copies and with a recent surge of interest in the subject, is selling over 1,000 copies per month. We are getting a lot of inquiries from reporters and film makers about the subject; they want to contact people living in (or building) tiny homes.

I've taken to telling people I'm not the tiny homes guy, I'm the build-it-yourself guy, and that the important thing about the tiny home "movement" is not that all people should be living in tiny homes, but that the size of new homes should be getting smaller, rather than continuing to grow in size.

Bring it on Home - Sonny Boy Williamson

Bring It On Home by Sonny Boy Williamson on Grooveshark

New Book of Godfrey Stephens' Art Just Published

At long last a book documenting the art of Godfrey Stephens has been published, and it's stunning. Godfrey has been painting, drawing, carving, and assembling all his life (he's now 70), and his niece Gurdeep Stephens has performed a Herculean task of sifting through a blizzard of Godfrey's art to assemble this collection. Oh yes, he's also built over a dozen sailboats.

I'm hardly an objective observer: I've known Godfrey and his art since meeting him on a Mexican beach in 1964, and he's a dear friend. I've never been able to figure out why he isn't world-famous. The quantity and quality of his output is staggering. And his energy: there are almost 800 emails in my "Stephens" mailbox, over 600 photos in my "Stephens" photo folder. How Gurdeep ever prevailed to assemble this excellent collection is beyond me. High five!

It's best to let his art speak for itself, but I'll just point out something about his carving: when he was 12, he hung out around Mungo Martin, a famed Kwakwaka'wakw chief  who was creating totems and building a "big house", at Thunderbird Park in Victoria. Godfrey's best friend, Tony Hunt was Mungo's grandson, and Godfrey and Tony started out carving little bears to sell. Godfrey has always been close to the native "First Nations" culture,  with many Indian friends, and it shows in his carving. It seems to me a blend of the powerful north coast indigenous art and wide-ranging abstract and representational artistry. Godfrey doesn't drive and he's never had a "job." Just art.

Wood Storms, Wild Canvas: The Art of Godfrey Stephens will have a first book-signing at Munro's Books in Victoria, BC, on November 1st at 1 pm. Both Godfrey Stephens and the author Gurdeep Stephens will be signing copies at Munro's between 1-2 pm on Saturday November 1st.  The book will be available for sale at local independent book sellers in addition to online.  For each copy sold, the publisher will plant one Native tree species locally in BC.

Homemade Teardrop-type Trailer

Note bike locked to trailer yoke and tire lock so someone can't tow it away. Parked on 48th Avenue in San Francisco out by Ocean Beach

Photos of San Francisco in '40s & '50s

Photo by Fred Lyon
Article in Slate by Jordan G. Teicher here
"At 90, Fred Lyon is a legendary San Franciscan photographer. He is now known for capturing the ethereal feel of the city and its people, but in the 1940s and ’50s, Lyon was scrabbling to gain a footing in the magazine industry. Luckily, it was a good time to do so: San Francisco was entering a new golden age, consumed by a post–World War II hunger for creative expression. His new book, San Francisco: Portrait of a City 1940-1960, out last month from Princeton Architectural Press, is a portrait of the city bursting with life, from its streets to its stores to its grandest palaces of art and culture.
Based 3,000 miles from New York—the center of the publishing industry—Lyon was left mostly to his own devices because editors knew he could be relied upon to organize, shoot, and deliver a story on deadline. What he strove for was “seduction, creating images that demanded more space than had been planned for them,” he said via email.…"
From Evan Kahn

Oregon Timber Frame Barn 2014

As I mentioned, I'm shifting over to putting more time into The Shelter Blog, and less into the personal posts on this blog. I'm trying to do 2-3 posts per week now on building, gardening, and the home arts. I have a lot of photos and info to share, accumulated over the years. As an example, here's the latest: http://www.theshelterblog.com/oregon-timber-frame-barn-2014/

Surfing Swans in Australia

From Aija Steele via Godfrey Stephens
See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQfSx6zEey0

10,000 People in Japan Singing Beethoven's Ode to Joy

"In Japan, it's an end-of-year tradition to sing "Ode to Joy," the final movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The song is so well-known in Japan that it's known simply as daiku, literally "number nine." In Osaka, a 10,000-person-strong "Number Nine Chorus" of amateur singers performs daiku every December, to thundering effect. While there are some professionals involved (the soloists and orchestra), the Number Nine Chorus is largely a community effort. And the sound of 10,000 singers, trained or untrained, is unbelievable.…The Beethoven craze began, strangely enough, during World War I, when German soldiers being held as prisoners in Japan staged the very first performance of number nine here. The Japanese liked what they heard, and by the mid-20th century, number nine had become a holiday hit.…"

Rainy Night in Canada

I pulled into Courtenay,
Was raining and getting dark…
Friday night on my book trip to Vancouver Island.
Went to Serious Coffee for caffeine, wi-fi, town orientation. It's good to get away from SF/LA/NYC etc. sophisticated areas. Courtenay's a pretty real town. Real people. Refreshing. Got nice motel room, started looking for music venues…Whistlestop Pub…well, yeah-uh. I lucked out. Big place, multi-levels. sat at bar, great beer, great food…what type music they gonna play, I asked bartender. "Sorta rockish…"
Lead guitar player probably 60 y.o., other guys young. They did covers -- Dylan, Credence, some better than others. Then they did the Beatles' If I Fell In Love, the drummer singing John's lines, and it was stunning. I don't know if the band even knew what was happening, but they were channeling this great song from 50 (!) years ago; it was perfect…

Food Market on Granville Island

Granville Island is a public market across a narrow stretch of water from downtown Vancouver. Lots of tourists, yes, but it's solid. Everything there seems to be of high quality, not the usual krap you see at street fairs. The food market is the best I've ever seen. Here are some photos from last month.That's Victor Pollan standing by his artistically designed fish display.

Salmon Boats/Rain/Skateboarding/Waves

I just went out and let the raindrops hit my face. We're parched out here in the west, and the smell and freshness and moisture and life of rain -- elixir! Just a few drops, but hopefully a hint of things to come. Us and fungi, we can only hope.
Sk8ing In The Park Got up early Sunday, went across the ever-beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, out to Ocean Beach in San Francisco. Latte, wi-fi, and, um, crumb donut at Java Beach Cafe, then parked and took the Fulton Street bus up to Arguello and met Joey O'Mahoney, 31-yr-old skateboard park designer from New Orleans who was in Bay Area to build a private skatepark -- his project in New Orleans is here: http://www.parisitediy.org/
It was a great way to visit. The park is closed to cars on Sundays and it's 2-1/2 miles of gentle downhills. I had my Loaded (Tesseract) longboard with Gorilla (v. fast) wheels and Joey on a shortboard with hard wheels, pumping like a madman to keep up, and doing jumps, slides, all manner or playfulness as we rolled and talked our way back to the beach.
The waves at ocean Beach were so big I didn't see any surfers out, 7:30 AM. The beach was more alive than I can ever remember. Waves pounding, misty fresh-smelling negative ion air -- charging up the chi of everyone on the beach. It's been a few weeks of good surf on the entire California coast. My ocean thermometer registered 62 degrees last week. Shades of LA…a few guys are surfing without wetsuits, yet.

Cedar/Copper Art by Godfrey Stephens

I'm printing contact sheets (ooops -- thumbnails) of recent photos and running across some interesting things like this, from my trip to British Columbia last month.
The book on Godfrey's art is just about out. I'll post details when it's available.

New Octave

I'm easing up on the one-a-day posts on this blog. Change of course in my life.
Finishing Tiny Homes on the Move was sort of a punctuation point in my work. And now, having finished a couple of months of promo (I love being out there, meeting tons of like-minded people, seeing old friends, exploring new territory, but getting there and back is the problem -- air travel and too many hours of driving/sitting).
I knew an artisan dope grower years back in Santa Barbara and he said that his plants would be almost dormant for a while and then, in a burst, would grow. Ideas are like that: you'll think about something on and off, now and then, and suddenly—Eureka!—breakthrough. You've put it all together, a new level of, um, consciousness.
Likewise I was in the Gasser photo store in San Francisco once and a hip tattooed bike messenger was telling the counter guy that he'd just had his first kid. "It's a whole new octave, man."
Body and Soul Plato had it right: balance intellect/mind with the physical. I've gotten too far away from the body of late. Now that I'm back home, I'm swimming a little, running a little, about to cycle and kayak. I have 15 lb Reebok dumbbells at the computer, by the TV, and you can do a lot of light weight training this way. (I'm going to do a short video of office workout equipment soon.)

Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler Kit

The kit Guzzi Scrambler V70Tre transforms your Guzzi V7 from a Classic Roadster in aggressive Scrambler. The Kit is completely "Plug and play". You can mount it easily in a few hours, anyone with a minimum of mechanical aptitude can do it. The kit is compatible with all models Guzzi V7 products from 2008 to 2012 and from 2012 to 2014. Via : www.70tre.com or your local Moto Guzzi dealer.

Why Burning Man is like the Bohemian Grove

In the early '70s, John van der Zee, a San Francisco writer, got himself a job at the Bohemian Grove, posing as a waiter. He then wrote the book, The Greatest Men’s Party on Earth, about the Grove and its wierd right-wing shenanigans. Now he has written this article, comparing it to Burning Man:

Why Burning Man is like the Bohemian Grove
 It is a kind of annual human migration from opposite poles.
     Each year, in midsummer, significant numbers of people abandon their homes, jobs, partners and families and travel, sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles, to take up residence in a distant, intentionally remote corner of the American West, where they reconstitute a self-contained society, a retreat from, and in many ways a critique of the larger society they have fled.
      One destination is wooded, arboreal, druidic, the other desertine, hermitic.  Yet both involve at their core, the shedding like an outer skin one’s routine response to the outside world’s demands and constraints.  Both involve the celebratory cremation in a fiery spectacle of a totemic figure. Both form communities, divided into tribal camps,  under a nominal devotion to the arts that are as brief, fleeting and ephemeral as frontier boomtowns, yet have had profound influence on the society at large.
     Both have influenced our lives, whether we choose to admit it or not.

My Kinda Skateboard Park

In Victoria, BC. It's the only one I've seen that I feel I could skate, but never have have a board when there. Anyone know of ones like this in NorCal?

Guardians of the Galaxy - Wow!

So here I am Monday afternoon, heading south on Vancouver Island, with a plane to catch the next morning from Victoria to Vancouver for the flight home. I get into Duncan around 3 PM and see that Guardians of the Galaxy is playing at 4:15. Well, all right! I'd read that it was pretty good.
First movie I've seen in a theater in about a year. Sunny afernoon no less. I sat pretty far up, center, and darned if I wasn't the only person in the 350-seat theater. I had a bag of popcorn. How much better could it be?
I loved the movie. All the elements worked. The hunky hero Peter Quill is vulnerable and likeable. The talking raccoon brilliant and believable, with a great patched-together leather suit. Everyone's got a sense of humor. For once the special effects are effective and not weird and overdone. The little space ships are sleekly designed. Marvel studios. I enjoyed it the same way I loved movies when I was 12. Fun!

Attention Car Nuts: 1930s Cord (810/812),1939 Studebaker Pickup Truck

A week ago, while in Vancouver, I went to have dinner with my friend, Vic Marks. Vic is the publisher of Hartley and Marks, and I got to know him years ago because of his elegant book Japanese Joinery: A Handbook for Joiners and Carpenters, published in 1983. Since then, Vick has developed a line of journals, or "blank books," called Paperblanks, with beautiful covers, and it's hugely successful.
Vic lives on a farm south of Vancouver and I got there as the sun was starting to set. Lo and behold, he's a car collector, and here are two of his vehicles. I'd seen pictures of Cords, but never one close up, and it was a beauty. In 70 years, I don't think there's been a more beautiful car designed.