Because Southern California is so attitude…
(Picture taken in Grover Beach, California in January, 2015)
(Picture taken in Grover Beach, California in January, 2015)
I was about to photograph an oddly-painted van, but this scooter passed in front of me and what I got was an image of a corporeal woman optically shifted into a lovely ghost of blurred speed and bent light…
(Picture taken on Valencia Street in San Francisco, California on May 30th, 2015)
…to whom I have been married for 15 years as of today, and who lived and inspired this story and so many others in my heart’s yet unwritten library.
The old timers had been going there for over one hundred years, and I was finally back after more than twenty.
It was Kamiya Bar, in the Asakusa part of Tokyo, and in 2008 it was the oldest western-style bar in the city. Western as in high ceilings, with wood-veneer wall panels, chrome light fixtures and those patterned tin ceiling tiles you see in old saloons in Tombstone, Arizona or Virginia City, Nevada.
But I don’t mean it also had brass spittoons and buffalo horns on the walls.
“Actually, though being well read must be a part of the process, an angler is tempered chiefly by practice and experience, by learning and attempting to reach the successively higher goals of his sport, and thus acquiring, through any amount of disappointment and frustration, the satisfaction of knowing that he is doing the simplest thing in the hardest way possible.” – Arnold Gingrich
A slight detour from my pursuit of world literature classics via the 2015 reading list. I’ve had a couple of gifts this past week, both from my son Josh. The first gift is a new granddaughter, Susanna Quinn, our first grandchild and a wondrous new addition to the life of this old writer/professor/musician. Of course, in that endeavor he had notable assistance from his lovely wife Sandra, so credit where credit is due. The second gift Josh bestowed upon me was a book – you may let your shock and awe begin. We were on our way to pick up some dinner the evening that the amazing and lovely Susanna was allowed to come home from the hospital and when I got into Josh’s car, there was a book in the floorboard. “Take that, Dad,” he said. “I’ve been meaning to give it to you.” It was a copy of The Well-Tempered Angler by Arnold Gingrich. Having just muddled my way through Andre Gide’s Corydon and just become a grandfather, I was feeling the need for something – shall we say, self-indulgent? The Well-Tempered Angler fit the bill perfectly.
The book is on fly fishing, my favorite sport. I’ve written about fly fishing, on a number of occasions now. You can read this and this and this if you feel so inclined. I shall probably write about fly fishing again.
I think we have established that I have a certain fondness for fly fishing. So did Arnold Gingrich. For anyone who finds the literature of angling of any interest at all, or for those with a curiosity about how those of the New York literary scene lived back in the heady days of White, Thurber, and Parker at The New Yorker, and Hemingway and Fitzgerald at Esquire, the various sections of this book will be delightful. Continue reading
Completing the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in on March 25 was neither what I anticipated nor hoped for. My husband, John, and I have been planning our trip to New Zealand for months and since seeing the trek described as “one of the world’s top single-day hikes” we had put it at the top of our to-do list.
New Zealand consists of two main islands and Tongariro National Park sits in the middle of the North Island. For people who are not trekking enthusiasts, the way that the park is most familiar is that it was the filming site of the fictional Mt. Doom in Peter Jackson’s adaptations of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are several volcanic peaks in the park. Mt. Ngauruhoe, an iconic and stark volcanic cone became Mt. Doom–from which the One Ring was forged and to which it had to be returned.
First, let me say that the 19.4 kilometer “Crossing” was more of a “climb” than a “hike.” If I had understood more about the nature of much of the trail in advance–I might have had second thoughts. I read through the website, did some other research, looked at the beautiful pictures. The incredible scenery was all there when I did the hike. But, not surprisingly, there are not a whole lot of pictures of the narrow hogbacks that had to be climbed or descended (probably because few people are of a mind or stomach to stop and pull out the camera under those circumstances).
All the wide happy and the scattering crowds,
these are which I watch over.
For I am police, I am law.
“Are you a detective?”
I honestly didn’t understand the question.
Like most of the graffiti art I see in San Francisco, I had no idea what the hell this blue cartoon bear with the rainbow-spitting belly button face was supposed to mean. But it was colorful and had a whimsical quality I liked, and to me those are good enough reasons to photograph just about anything…
(Picture taken on Valencia Street in San Francisco on January 3rd, 2015. The artwork is by Sirron Norris.)
I once tripped through these lands like a god,
like the pure embodiment of all the liquor
the Allies ever drank in Tokyo.
It is quiet here now,
and the Americans are gone,
but I know these streets.
My wife and I needed a break from where we live in Brisbane, California, so we took a drive down the California coast to Pismo Beach for a weekend vacation. We found modestly-priced hotel on Shell Beach Road, and stayed for two nights.
It was nice. We liked it…
The Ark of the Covenant, well,
I use it as a coffee table now.
It holds many remotes with which
I flip channels to see the world.
The world doesn’t bother me,
what people say about how it used to be does.
A straight arc is a line.
These Fritos in my pockets,
I’ve had them since 1977.
…in a hotel room in San Juan Bautista, California.
My wife and I had been having a lovely time until then.
I am fortunate she returned from the hotel pool in time
to switch off the set.
If she hadn’t, I might have ended up on Fox News.
(Picture taken in San Juan Bautista, California on June 22nd, 2013)
The tiny neighborhood bars and watering holes distributed throughout Tokyo are probably as numerous as the stars on a clear night in the Himalayas. Perversely, they’re often the kinds of places that are easy to miss, at least in the daytime, even if a given joint is open when one happens to walk by.
But sometimes one can pass a Tokyo bar, even a run-down looking place, and feel strangely drawn to it somehow. Something about it catches the eye, perhaps the way it’s painted or how the bar’s name is displayed on the street. And suddenly one finds oneself walking into the joint even if one wasn’t originally in the mood for a drink.
Freedom in Nakano 5-chome is that kind of place, an unassuming little neighborhood bar that doesn’t look like much on the outside, but had an allure that made going inside an unexpected but rich Tokyo experience…
“Pretty cool, huh?”
I looked at the owner, driver, whatever, with a look that probably betrayed my massive disdain for his ride and what he just said.
“The girls love it,” he proclaimed.
“Not any girls I know over the age of 10,” I thought to myself as I snapped one more picture and walked toward my car.
Ye fucking gods, at least that idiot Springsteen sang about a Cadillac…
(Picture taken at Midtown Market, Brisbane, California on October 2nd, 2014)
Since my last post on the subject of Facebook (see Goodbye, Facebook below), I’ve paid next to no attention to it at all, reminded of its existence only by the slow feed of occasional email notifications, an onslaught that slowed to a trickle once I stopped feeding the best. Once in a while I’d click a guilty click to see a picture, perhaps of a friend’s newborn. Other times I was curious to see if the powers that be at Facebook ever bothered to get back to me on my request to cancel my Ars Skeptica page.
A quick bit about that, as an aside:
For whatever reason, of the handful of silly pages I created, Facebook’s magical data gremlins must have realized that Ars Skeptica was different. The others it let me delete without an issue. The Ars Skeptica page deletion provided a prompt that they would get back to me in two weeks time (many weeks ago now) to confirm that I do indeed mean to delete said page. Continue reading
do a rag time in Tokyo
smashing the feedback
of a million wartime guitars…
A destitute man in San Francisco’s Japantown. He was digging through public garbage cans, apparently for containers having California redemption value…
(Picture taken in San Francisco, California on September 7th, 2014)
For those of you who enjoy my work on these pages, I was absent for nearly four weeks due to a death in my family. My apologies. I won’t let it happen again. Death, I mean. I have recently begun diverting all my beer money towards developing an immortality serum in my basement lab. I also have a new photography project in development. Click here to have a preliminary look.