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Silver Surfer

To tell the truth, I've felt pretty shitty for almost 2 months. Maybe something I caught on the airplane coming back from Hawaii. My chi's been flatlining.

WELL, I've finally come out of it and yesterday I went surfing—for the 2nd time in 3 months—on the Sonoma coast. Windy, just a few guys out, robust swell. Had my 10' Haut 3-fin Surftech board. Got 2 rides, the first a late takeoff and I proned it—fun!— then shakily got to my feet riding the foam. Pretty feeb. 2nd ride I kneeled. Hey, I'll take whatever I can get.

The hard thing for old guys is going from paddling to upright. Once I'm up I'm fine, but right now my getting up is not a pretty sight. Gonna work on it.

BUT my energy level is off the charts. The magic of the Pacific Ocean…

Every time I drag myself out into the world and get physical, I feel great. Well, duh!

Eagle Playing Soccer


From Anonymous

63-Unit Apartment Building in Italy Covered With Green Foliage

"Designed by architect Luciano Pia, 25 verde is an unique residential building that has been constructed in Torino, Italy. The load-bearing structure is made of steel and columns shaped like tree trunks help support the 63 residential units that is covered in larch wood shingles. The concept of the scheme was to create a space with a transition between the interior and exterior, by the prominent use of foliage. illustrated in diverse ways such as green walls, planted in pots and gardens, altogether seamlessly coherently carried through the entire building.

The residential lofts are all different, fitted with irregular terraces that wrap around the trees with the top floor having its own green roof. 50 trees were planted just in the court garden itself, whilst they enhance the environmentally friendly setting, the trees reduce air and noise pollution. The building is like a living forest

Ultimately, the aim of the project is to be energy efficient. by utilizing geothermal energy for heating and cooling, harvesting rainwater to water the plants and a natural flow of ventilation. Over time, the building and surrounding vegetation will grow and age, side by side, establishing its own microclimate and when the plant life is fully in bloom, give its occupants a real taste of living in a tree house.…"
Photo © beppe giardino

History Of the Whole Earth Catalog and The Birth of West Coast Publishing

I wrote this article 27 years ago, so to bring the first sentence up to date, “It was 48 years ago…” Egad!

Its purpose was to describe the impact of the Whole Earth Catalog on a number of people, including me, and the birth of west coast publishing in the late ‘60s. I ran across it recently and thought it might be of interest in helping people connect some of the dots—especially younger people, who may have heard of the WEC, but don’t understand its significance.

t was 21 years ago, a cold, dark, early December evening when I walked into a semi-vacant storefront in Menlo Park, California. A sign out front said ''Whole Earth Truck Store," but there was no truck, no store, just an army-camouflage VW bus and Stewart and Lois Brand and a ton of books piled around in the back room. I was a dropped-out San Francisco insurance broker turned builder. I was about 10 years older than the inspired and visionary kids who were moving and shaking up America at the time, but I'd got the message and in a few years preceding that evening had latched onto many of the elements that were fueling the cultural, metaphysical and epochal revolution of the times.

I had just built a homestead, then a geodesic dome workshop in Big Sur, was tending a garden, listening to rock & roll, making weekend trips to Haight Ashbury, reading The Owner Built Home, Organic Gardening & Farming Magazine, The Oracle, The East Village Other, The Dome Cookbook, The Green Revolution, getting food by mail from Walnut Acres, listening to Buckminster Fuller and Marshall McLuhan, discovering B.B. King, Ali Akbar Khan, Buddhism, Alice Bailey, astronomy, astrology, prisms and Ashley automatics, learning about ferrocement, wind electricity, solar heating…what a time it was!

Staircase Up Solid Rock Cliff in Colombia

"'La Piedra Del Peñol (Spanish for 'The Rock of Guatapé'), is a monolithic formation located at the town of Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia.The wide Antioquian rock base, called 'batlolito antioqueño', and the 'Peñón' were formed millions of years ago.

The Tahamies Indians, former inhabitants of this region, worshiped the rock and called it on their language 'mojarrá' or 'mujará' (rock or stone). This rock is located in the country area called 'La Piedra, just 5 minutes from Guatapé Town, and can be reached by road."

Our Latest Publication: Stretching: Pocket BookEdition

We have just finished production of Stretching-Pocketbook Edition. Size: 5 x 7-1/4."

The original book has sold 3-1/2 million copies worldwide and is in 24 languages (the latest Slovenian!), and this is the first pocket book edition in English. (Preceding this were very successful pocketbook editions in Spain and Germany.)

It has all the stretches from the original book, and slightly abbreviated programs. It will be great to take on trips, and on airplanes, to keep in a desk drawer, etc.

It is being printed right now and bound book completion is March 31. It should be in the bookstores late April-early May.

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart on Grooveshark

My New Skateboard

Just put this together and it feels good. My little street truck. I wanted a short, low-to-ground board, so cut down my old Tamalpais board and added risers and some really good trucks and wheels from Loaded Boards. Turns really well, still in testing stage. Gonna notch out 4 corners to avoid board rubbing against wheels on sharp turns. Possibly I'll reconfigure with a board maybe 3" longer.

Trip Into San Francisco Yesterday

My friend Louie and I started out the morning with Irish coffees and split a crab omelette out by the beach. Beautiful sunny day, fresh ocean breezes AND whales now migrating north. Lots of them cavorting off Ocean Beach, on their way back north after having calves in Baja.

Then, since I was looking for leather to make knife sheaths with (been making custom handles for Russell hand-in-USA carbon steel knives). We ended up going to the S. H. Frank Co on 17th street and it was an amazing place. Been there over 100 years, tons of leather, animal skins, tools. I got some leather working tools and some leather. Excited to finally have the punches, cutter, leather scissors, etc. so I can work leather.

Sunset Last Night

The "Bo Diddley Beat"

I listened to this CD the other day for the first time in a few years. It's an eclectic compilation of songs by all sorts of musicians using this beat, which was not original to Bo Diddley, but used extensively by him. It's called kpanlogo and originates in Ghana. It's a wonderful beat. I'm pretty sure you'll know it when you hear it.

Bo Diddley bought his babe a diamond ring
If that diamond ring don't shine
He gonna take it to a private eye…

SO, for some cosmic reason on last night's quite wonderful "Bakersfield and Beyond" Thursday radio show on our quite wonderful local station, KWMR, on came this song by the "cowpunk" LA band Lone Justice with the same beat.
East of Eden by Lone Justice on Grooveshark

Fantastic Blues Concert - Joe Bonamassa - Muddy/Wolf Tribute At Red Rocks

Check it out if you can find it. Watching it as we speak. Wow!  Red hot band!

Not sure, but I believe this was in 2014.


Small Houses in Cities and Al Green This Overcast Saturday Morning

Came on this morning as I was here working on a big shift in Shelter Publications' future output on building.
Nutshell: from country to city,
i.e. from Walden to Detroit

Small Houses in Cities

Stay tuned…

This is such a perfect song:
Tired of Being Alone by Al Green on Grooveshark

Hillbilly Rock - Marty Stuart

Hillbilly Rock by Marty Stuart on Grooveshark

Muddy Waters & Willie Dixon - Hoochie Coochie Man

This was one of the songs in a fabulous recording session in 1974 titled "Soundstage - Chicago Blues Summit - 1974" and it was on TV last week. It's a treasure. Includes above 2 guys, and -- Pinetop Perkins, Junior Wells, Buddy Miles, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Winters, and Dr. John. Willie Dixon wrote this song.
Muddy looks so serene and beautiful in these songs.
Check out also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4i5XGnCyN2s

More on Small Homes in Cities

You know what? I am suddenly REALLY excited by this idea. Just as I was with the idea of building on a piece of land in the country in the '60s-'70s.
Different time now.
The last 2 posts hit a nerve: there have been 24 comments on the subject so far.
I was thinking last night about the concept of building in sketchy city neighborhoods:
To be sure, there are these. A beautiful young woman was gunned down 2 days ago in Oakland, trying to protect her kids from a gun fight on the streets. But I believe there a lot more neighborhoods that don't have drugs and gunshots. When I go to Berkeley, I often cruise Oakland, Richmond, El Cerrito, San Leandro; have checked out Hayward (big town) and Vallejo (on the bay, old buildings downtown, about to get hot I'll bet). Then there's Martinez, Benecia, Hercules, San Ramon, Livermore, Danville…This is San Francisco Bay area, my turf, but others in other urban areas will know the outlying towns of big cities.
Point is: not every part of every city's small building neighborhoods is a crime combat zone. I find tons of neighborhoods that don't look dangerous.
Here are a few homes in the East Bay. How many little homes like this are in the USA?

I just decided we'll have a big section in our forth coming book, Small Homes, on "Small Homes in Cities." If you have something to contribute, write us at smallhomes@shelterpub.com.

Fixing Up Old Small Homes In Cities

There was an article in the New York Times on March 7, 2015, that mentioned that there are 800 or so abandoned homes in the Bay Area city of Richmond. I think that fixing up run-down homes in less than opulent cities is one of the most viable, practical, and economical things that people wishing to create their own shelter could do in these times.

In fact, I make a point of shooting photographs of small homes in cities like Richmond, San Leandro, Hayward, Vallejo—nearby places where (some) neighborhoods are run down, but hopefully not infested with drug dealers and crime. I guess it's a balancing act—if you can find a neighborhood that is on its way up, instead of one that is dangerous and has no hope for the future.

Detroit, for example, has scores of well-built small homes in decaying neighborhoods.

I sort of have a fantasy about fixing up an old place and planting a garden and making friends with the neighbors, who will be pleased that someone is improving their neighborhood. Having a house party and inviting the neighbors. People respond to positive action. It could work.

This will be one of the main subjects in our forthcoming book, Small Homes.

Photo by Peter DaSilva for The New York Times

The Near Impossibility of Building Your Own Home Near Great American Cities These Days

A lot of young people who visit our half-acre compound are inspired by what we've got going here. Handmade home, garden, chickens, workshop, office/work studio. How can they get something like this going, they want to know.
Well, it was sure easier 40 years ago. Our land was $6500, building permit $200, I drew up my own plans, was my own architect and engineer, building and health department officials were reasonable, there was no coastal commission…
Since then, the bureaucrats have weighted things heavily in their own favor (bureaucrats beget ever more bureaucracy) and building permits in Marin County (Calif.) are something like $50,000 (more than my entire house cost). Building and health departments do not get their funding from the county, but from fees paid by homeowners (or builders), so guess what? Fees are ever higher, now to the point of absurdity. Regulations also have grown to have their absurdities (having to install sprinklers in single family homes is one such absurd requirement). And to the point of it being just about impossible for an owner-builder without a trust fund to build around here now.
So I tell young people, if they're looking for land to build upon, they have to get a couple of hours away from any of our great cities.
Tomorrow, I'll post a few ideas of what I might do now were I starting nowadays. It's a challenge!

Building Your Own Home in the 21st Century


Getting a human on the phone…

Using Get Human, I just got through to United Airlines in less than two minutes. Maybe everybody knows about this, but in case you don't: http://gethuman.com/ provides you with shortcuts so that you can skip all the annoying robot voice requirements, and get a real person quickly at just about any of the large companies in the US.

Maori Jade Pendants

The Spirit Wrestler Gallery in Vancouver,BC, Canada, carries art by the First Nations tribes of the Pacific northwest, the Inuit of the Arctic, and the Maori of NewZealand. I bought a jade pendant made by a 23-year-old Maori artist there about 5 years ago and have been wearing it ever since.

It's a wonderful store. Here is a link to the Maori pendants: http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=5_17
Or you can look at their catalog here: http://www.spiritwrestler.com/catalog/index.php.

Nice Batch of Oak Firewood Yesterday

(The stuff on top.) It's healthy oak, not rotted out with sudden oak death disease. I've got 2-3 years of firewood ready to cut up and split. I love getting out and foraging…

Bring It On Home To Me

If I had to pick my favorite record, it'd have to be "Live At Harlem Square" with Sam Cooke. (I know I've said this before, but hey, I'm an old guy…) This is the raw Sam, without the violins, in 1963,in front of a mostly black audience in the Overtown neighborhood in Miami. This morning I went into Grooveshark and did a search for the song and found such a wealth of good versions. Otis Redding and Carla Thomas from their great "King and Queen" collaboration, Wilson Pickett, Rod Stewart, the Animals (yes!), James Cotton, Aretha…
Bring It On Home To Me by Sam Cooke on Grooveshark

Otis and Carla
Bring It On Home To Me by Otis Redding & Carla Thomas on Grooveshark

I think there could be great programs on the radio of different musicians doing a great song. (I don't say "covers" because these are all like original interpretations.)

Driftwood Architecture

Nicely Designed Tiny Home

In doing an article for Mother Earth News on "Tools for the half-Acre Homestead," I've been searching through my old photos and this little place just popped out (sic). The pop-out windows are a brilliant way to expand the actual and physical space. By Bodega Portable Buildings. They make sound, well-designed portable tiny homes.

Vintage Hawaiian Photos

I bought these at the Hanalei Coffee Roasters on the island of Kauai. They are published by Cool Breeze Productions, PO Box 11421, Honolulu, HI, 96828.

The Barefoot Farmer grows more than food

"Take a trip to Jeff Poppen’s Long Hungry Creek Farm and you’ll find a year-round farm. You’re also likely to stumble across some agricultural teaching moments or discover yourself in the middle of a 1,000-person celebration. And it's possible you’ll find all of that occurring simultaneously.
 Poppen, known to many as the Barefoot Farmer, uses his land to grow and raise food like plenty of other farmers do. But much more happens around his 250 acres in Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee, and most of it centers around Poppen’s many passions — a passion for small family farms, for community, for getting young people back on the land, and for healing the environment.…"
Comment from Anonymous