Monday, August 23, 2010

Family Home

"Years pass in the blink of an eye on the pink and grey linoleum floor."
The blogger reflects on the sale of his family home.

What inspired this  floor covering  choice? Makes me think chipped beef.
 My parents'  home for more than 50 years. Sold this summer.
Who will remember all the life lived here?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Random Woman #4 (Chinatown)

I almost deleted this test shot taken from the train.

I ride the Gold Line light rail from the suburbs into downtown Los Angeles. A young couple are seated in front of me. I instantly like them. They both have "old" film SLR cameras. Both have a sense of personal style, but not overdone. I'm struck by the calm and lack of nervous distraction they seem to possess. For the entire ride neither takes  digital device to hand. Not even a cellphone! Instead, they talk quietly to each other or silently look out the window. Neither use their cameras, but look intently, like artists. They both point, as the train crosses the concrete constrained Los Angeles River. That's when I take a shot with my little digital camera, and another of a large building very close to the tracks as we approach Chinatown.

We all disembark at Union Station. I head for the connecting Red Line subway to Hollywood and Vine, they move in the opposing direction towards the entrance. I almost turn to catch them, to complement them on their cameras.  I hesitate, sparing us my awkward, gratuitous comment. I hope they have creative fulfilling lives.

The subject found her way into the photo of an inattentive photographer

Tonight editing my photo of that Chinatown building I discover the woman's face, which I inadvertently caught as a reflection in the train window, but she appears instead  as a spectral face gazing out of the window of the building. My test shot is chaotic and uninteresting and she was only revealed during editing, when I started paying attention.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Encinitas, California August 2010

"I wander 'round in a daze/I wonder what my skeleton weighs"
from Lying Again
by Peter Blegvad

Memento mori; Even on vacation.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Tuli Kupferberg 1923-2010

"Marriage is nothing,
(ain't divorce something), having kids is nothing...
they all grow up and leave you anyway,
lost sons and daughters of  NOTHING..."

" You mean this is it?

"This is It."


Nothing by Tuli Kupferberg,
Performed by the Fugs October, 1997,
From the Harry Smith Connection, Smithsonian/Folkways

The Fugs


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Encouraging Words

Robert Aitken 1917-2010

A brilliant and incisive mind and words I return to.

"When I was a teacher of creative writing, I had a hard time persuading my students to treat their first drafts as something preliminary. They thought of them as something sacred that could not be touched. With this emotional investment, they were unable to finish their work.
We all have this problem. When we do something, we feel obliged to defend our action. when we say something, we will then argue from those words as though they formed an irrefutable premise.
Yet our teacher Shakyamuni is still doing zazen and really is only halfway to complete enlightenment. Keep yourself open to correction, open to change. This is the Buddha Tao."


"Do you deplore waste? Live by cultivating. Cultivating begins with the agent of realization, the one drawing this breath. Use this breath.
Do you deplore violence? Live by nurturing. Nurturing begins with this spoon or with this friend.
Thus you ground yourself in awareness and compassion. Decisions about Right Livelihood and social action arise here".


When your eye is upon joy and misery, you are a person of joy and misery. When your eye is upon realization and ignorance, you are a person of realization and ignorance. But when you see clearly that all these concepts are transparent, with nothing to them at all, then you are a person of torch ginger.

From Encouraging Words by Robert Aitken, Pantheon Books, 1993

Robert Aitken Website

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"Neon Lights, Shimmering Neon Lights"

I live just off a busy street; a highway superseded by local freeways. It possesses a generic, terminal ugliness. Fast food joints thrive like weeds next to empty storefronts,  discount furniture outlets and massage parlors. Walking down the sidewalk I could be almost anywhere in America. A poison tawdriness is accented by signs. Crass, garish signs advertising nail salons, cell phones, cut-rate insurance, paycheck advances, palm readers, discount mattresses, acupuncture etc. There is even a business that specialises in banners and signs and for all I know is responsible for many that I see as I stroll. This is my favorite.

I could be almost anywhere. But I am not walking down Piedmont Avenue.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cannery Row Montery, California

"When the war came to Monterey and to Cannery Row everybody fought it more or less, in one way or another...the canneries themselves fought the war by getting the limit taken off fish and catching them all. It was done for patriotic reasons, but that didn't bring the fish back."
John Steinbeck, Sweet Thursday, 1954, Viking Press

Cannery Row summer 1974. The last cannery closed in 1973, though the sardine population had been decimated decades before. Structures tottered on a grotty cusp, abandoned by those who wrung out their last profits and left to collapse into the sea, until the next set of business men moved in to make them "viable" again. Tourism was nascent; a few restaurants and shops.