Historic Klamath River Dam Removal – Interesting Story Off the Radar

A news story that get very little coverage is the Klamath River dam removal project.  In January 2024 the last dam was “removed” and the river started flowing unimpeded for the first time in over 100 years.  Of course, change of this nature (no pun intended) is difficult for many parties involved.  When dams are removed you end up with  “mud-flats” and the entire ecosystem has to readjust to the new river.

6 Things You Need To Know About The Klamath River Dam Removals

To listen to a very good and informative discussion, listen to this episode on KALW’s Your Call and an interview with Amy Bowers Cordalis.

https://www.kalw.org/show/your-call/2024-02-19/yurok-klamath-karuk-native-tribes-celebrate-historic-dam-removals

This story is definitely “slow news” and will evolve over the next decade and beyond.

 

Books I Read in 2023

In 2023 I finally got it together and started really using the San Francisco Public Library, putting books I wanted to read on hold, reading parts of books and checking out books that I was simply curious about. The library is an amazing resource. Below is a list of books that I finished. I do this exercise to simply reflect on the previous year.

Books I Read 2023

The Shipping News
Annie Proulx
Charles Scribner’s Sons

Without a doubt you can find this book in any Goodwill or Salvation Army. A very interesting read.

Beloved
Toni Morrison
Vintage; Reprint edition

In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist
Pete Jordan
Harper Perennial;

A Black Woman’s West: The Life of Rose B. Gordon
Michael K. Johnson
Montana Historical Society

This is an interesting book I picked up in a restaurant in Glacier, Montana. It chronicles the life of a black woman and family. What is interesting is that the Gordon family became an integral part of the town that they lived in and according to this account the racism was pretty muted.

Two Wheels Good: The History and Mystery of the Bicycle
Jody Rosen
Crown

Candide
Voltaire
Penguin Classics

Whenever I get a bit too optimistic about things, I like to read this classic to bring me down to earth.

Micromegas and Other Short Fictions
Voltaire
Penguin Classics

Very cool book that actually has a short story about traveling by space ship and visiting other planets and alien beings. Sort of amazing that this is not talked about more and on reading lists. This was written in the 18th century!

Two Wheels North
Evelyn McDaniel Bibb
Oregon State Press

Blindness
Jose Saramago
Harcourt, Brace and Co

Read review

American Studies
Louis Menand
New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002.

Mexico City – Cradle of Empires
Caistor, Nick,
Reaktion Books

A Most Remarkable Creature the Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World’s Smartest Birds of Prey
Meiburg, Jonathan,
Alfred A. Knopf

My Bike & Other Friends
Henry Miller
Capra Press, 1978.

Gulliver’s Travels
Swift, Jonathan
Doubleday, Doran & co., inc.,

Tropic of Cancer
Henry Miller
MEDVSA

One of the great banned books of the 20th century and I found a signed copy! Miller has the ability to make the ugly beautiful. It is understandable why they banned this book. It should only be for adults in the first place, but then again the youth would surely not even understand most of it.

Zionism – A Brief History
Brenner, Michael
Princeton

A very good book for our times. A “just the facts” look at the creation of Israel. Theodor Herzl, one of the early Zionists obviously began something that we are feeling the ramifications of today.

If This Isn’t Nice, What Is?
Kurt Vonnegut
Seven Stories Press

News from SF – The Quarterly Report – February 2024

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months. You are now reading “Slow News That Doesn’t Break” – the exotic internet.

Sporting News

After two very close playoff games, the San Francisco 49ers are headed to the Super Bowl to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.  A miraculous catch by Brandon Aiyuk on a very deep pass that actually bounced off the defender’s facemask may be the reason they are in the big game.  Of course, the entire Bay Area is excited and it will be a wild weekend. Go Niners!

Weather

The new word of the year is “atmospheric river.” San Francisco has been pummeled by this weather phenomenon which is basically a river in the sky that dumps large quantities of rain in short periods of time.  Nevertheless the weather has been wet lately mixed with glorious days of sunshine. Often the sunsets have been beautiful. Out at Ocean Beach the parking lot continues to be eaten by the ocean. It is amazing how the contour of the beach changes.

Politics

Nothing to report as all the entrenched powers that be remain in hold of city government.  No one seems to be irate that drug overdoes in the Tenderloin and homelessness are still major problems. Chesa Boudin was recalled a year ago and Brooke Jenkins was installed at D.A.. For the most part, things have remained the same on the street, but for most people San Francisco looks like most west coast large cities. People just living their lives in the tidy neighborhoods. We have a tough on crime D.A. but people often drive their cars like there are no laws. Stop signs evidently are simply a suggestion.

The Depths of his Dishonesty is just astounding… He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life.
– John Kelly on former President Donald Trump as reported in The Atlantic

The Depths of his Dishonesty is just astounding… He is the most flawed person I have ever met in my life. – John Kelly on former President Donald Trump as reported in The Atlantic

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

A street cleaning ticket in San Francisco is now $90. Always best to keep track of your wheels in this town.

Valencia Bike Lanes and the Sunny Side of the Street

The center bike lane has many people up in arms. Merchants say people are not coming into their stores. The center lane is pretty awkward. I have no opinion on the matter but think that the center lane is ugly from an aesthetic perspective. What is more problematic is the fact that the parking is all done with the new digital pay stations and there are no coin meters. This is very confusing as the parking rules are not stated on the street.  After some research I have learned that it is basically the concept that between 9am – 6pm you must pay for parking. To me this is discrimination to those not tied into using their phones for everything. Very confusing.

Here are the Valencia Street Parking Rules for you edification

12am – 9am Free 
9am – 3pm $2.25 per hour 2 hours
3pm – 6pm $2.00 per hour 2 hours
6pm – 12am Free

https://www.sfmta.com/demand-responsive-parking-pricing

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Not much to report. The parklet situation has stabilized but the red-tape for merchants is often too much and they remove their parklets. This is a topic that a city major Breed could have a lot of impact and instead it ends up highlighting the incompetence of city government.

In February 2024 rarely do bands play outside – more often the music is inside. Remember to tip the band

That is The Quarterly Report – February 2024

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – February 2024

Candlestick Park – Now Just a Field of Dreams

At the very south end of San Francisco, at the eastern edge by the bay, along Highway 101 is Candlestick Point. At one time it was home to Candlestick Park, the massive concrete stadium where the San Francisco Giants played baseball and the San Francisco 49ers played football. It has surely been home to many events – monster truck shows, rock concerts, soccer matches. It was a large stadium made of concrete and a place best used to watch the 49ers play their gladiator sport. No soft chairs and few cozy luxury boxes. It was made like a parking garage and had that same lack of warmth.  You could get a seat high in the upper deck and watch the little ants down below. If you missed the amazing play, there was no instant replay – too bad.  You spilled your beer and missed the interception all at once. The accommodations and locker rooms for the players were surely not as they are today. Candlestick was a fitting place to see grown men push and shove each other around for an afternoon.

In the 1960s Willie Mays caught fly balls out in center field. By the 1990s you could get into the bleacher seats in left field for a few bucks, squint your eyes and see Will Clark nervously try to send a runner in from second. Of course, Candlestick is famously known for the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s when the Lomo Prieta earthquake hit and everyone thought for a second the world might end.

In the late fall the weather would often be that Indian summer time of year when the the temperature was at a human ideal, the wind light out of the east and the light would have that warm autumn glow. It was football weather. The 49ers played many classic games at Candlestick. Joe Montana connecting with Jerry Rice. John Taylor running back kickoffs. Steve Young running wild until the doctor said that it may be better just to throw the ball to keep all the marbles upstairs intact. Then there were games in the winter storms when the field would be wet.  The storm coming in from Alaska and a high tide would make the field like a pig slop.

When you landed at San Francisco International Airport and caught a cab into town, you would often drive up 101 past Candlestick and see the stadium there poetically on the point. True to its moniker, at night it would often be lit up. It seemed a bit timeless, like the Parthenon, and you innocently thought that it would somehow always be there watching over the bay. For a time the name would be bought out. The speaker cable company, Monster Cable, purchased the naming rights and called it Monster Park, not realizing that people assumed it was for the job website.  Other large companies, usually in the telecommunications industries, would then take over the naming rights. No one remembers their names now.  People in San Francisco would always just  call it Candlestick.

Which brings me to Candlestick Park. The stadium was torn down many years ago. One day it was there and the next it is gone. Phfff! All that concrete surely broken up and hauled away to be recycled one truckload at a time.  Now when you get off the plane and drive north along the bay, you have to explain to your friend that once a large stadium loomed there. Remember that hill that you would see from the blimp.  That’s the same lonely hill.  Where the stadium was is now fenced in. It is mostly grassy fields and when it rains ducks and redwing black birds hangout in the ponds that once was around the fifty yard line. It is quiet save for the never ending hum of Interstate 101 a half mile away.

The 49ers left Candlestick years ago and now play down in Santa Clara. The South Bay and all the tech money bought them out. On Saturday, January 20, 2024 they will play the Green Bay Packers in a classic playoff match up. Two young quarterbacks will duel it out and try as best they can to not make mistakes. They will push and shove, run, pass, block and kick. People will go into the blue medical tent to see if their marbles are still round. There is rain in the forecast so the field may be a bit wet. No one will care how high the tide will be at game time. All that matters now is which team scores the most points and maybe who gets the ball last.

Mitt Romney – A New Book “Romney A Reckoning” by McKay Coppins – A Review and Quotes

I checked out Romney A Reckoning from the San Francisco Public Library having heard McKay Coppins, the author, in an interview on public radio. Both Romney and Coppins are Mormon.  Romney gave Coppins access to his personal journals, texts and emails and they had weekly interviews while he was a U.S. Senator so that Coppins could write the book. The agreement was that Coppins would be the author and Romney would not have any influence over the final product.

While most politicians these days are extremely careful with their exposure to journalists, media and the spin, this relationship does speak to Romney’s candor and the notion that he has nothing to hide.  While Romney became a very wealthy man starting and running Bain Capital, the book focuses primarily on his personal and recent political life.  Often quite goofy and more humorous than expected, Romney predictably comes off as someone of character and courage. We get brief excerpts of his private journals, the assessment of the people around him, the turmoil of January 6th., his meetings with Trump. Romney A Reckoning is an interesting, entertaining, alarming, fun and fast read and an important view into our tumultuous political times.

At an event in New Hampshire a man confronted him with an accusatory question. “Are you going to compromise? the voter asked. “I don’t want to vote for anyone who’s going to compromise.” Romney, unable to restrain himself, replied, “Are you married, sir?”
Romney A Reckoning

I have never voted for Mitt Romney but gained much respect for him when he was the only Republican to both impeach and convict Donald Trump. Like his father George Romney, Mitt Romney did believe in civil rights and he is documented as marching with Black Lives Matters protesters after the murder of George Floyd. He is a rational person, believes in science and the notion that the planet is warming and climate change is real. But in many ways he is a throwback to an earlier type of Republican – a buttoned-down, well-mannered conservative capitalist who really does have an insane amount of money.

The quote below will always be a political liability no matter how you spin it. The visual of Mitt Romney at a rest stop hosing dog shit off of the family station wagon is simply too funny.

One prolonged subplot of the campaign had to do with a decades-old anecdote about Romney strapping the family dog, Seamus, to the roof of their station wagon during a road trip. One of Romney’s sons had shared the story with a newspaper reporter as a funny demonstration of this dad’s organizational skills: when Seamus experienced a bout of diarrhea, Romney moved quickly to find a rest stop, hose down the dog and car, and get back on the road without losing much time.
Romney A Reckoning

According to the book, Mitt Romney is a man who enjoys managing and solving problems whether they mean packing the family station wagon roof rack or working in the private or public sectors.  Unlike, Reagan and current Republicans, he does not think that government is the problem, he thinks government just needs to be better managed. Indeed, it was Massachusetts health care plan while Romney was governor that was in many was the blueprint for the Obama-era Affordable Care Act. Perhaps one of his shortcomings as a politician is that he does not actually care for the theater that so often goes along with politics and is motivated by his technocratic, problem-solving impulses. Mitt Romney surely finds reality television shows ridiculous.

I really do believe if you’re not being booed, if people aren’t angry at you, you really haven’t done anything in public life.
Mitt Romney

A theme that is persistent in the book is how his Mormon faith often became a political liability.  Mormonism for many Americans is and has always been a bit strange. This modern offshoot of Christianity and its Zionism finding a home in  isolated Utah seems to often make other Christians uncomfortable. There is a chapter in the book about how Romney realized the existence of extremists in parts of Utah while on the campaign trail. What is odd is that the new Republican Tea Party Evangelicals are more comfortable with a vile, dishonest, racist, misogynist non-religious  con-man than a morally upstanding character like Mitt Romney.

Near the end of the book, you get this very chilling realization that the violence unleashed by Trump has really made it into the highest halls of government.

When one senator, a member of leadership, said he was leaning toward voting to convict, the other urgently encouraged him to reconsider. You can’t do that, one said, think of your personal safety, said another, think of your children. The senator eventually decided they were right. There were to many Trump supporters with guns in his state, he explained to Romney. His wife wouldn’t feel safe going out in public.

Senators voting a certain way because they fear assassinations? Sounds like fascism not the home of the free and the brave. Romney A Reckoning . A fun read. You will find this book at a garage sale in a few years. Buy it. Read it. Hopefully the world will be a bit saner by then.

Dear New York Times – Please Unsubscribe Me to Your Publication

Dear New York Times,

It was probably just a matter of time. I started paying for a subscription to the NYT after a friend suggested I start playing Wordle, the clever five letter word game. It was sort of like giving a taste just to draw me into your house of mirrors. I have enjoyed the game and have had a streak of fifty-four continuous wins at one point.

With the paid subscription I began reading the news primarily and some of the essays by the opinion writers. The guest essays are often quite fun. Big names like Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates and various U.S. Senators  have often been interesting reads. I suddenly felt like I was in the “know,” given a view into the rich and powerful.  I tend to open the comments section for articles about Trump. Your readers then go on and on in a sort of cathartic release of how insane our times are and “how in hell that guy is not in jail yet” monologues.  I have joined in on the ruckus at times but little lately.  It really is a waste of time in the end.

And then  in November you began publishing your Presidential race polls, which made it so we should rename out country “The United States of Anxiety,” as somehow the guy who was impeached twice and is in all kinds of legal problems is running neck and neck with the other guy. How is this even possible? One thing is for sure. I do not want to spend 2024 watching this horse race that you started.

In a recent episode of “On The Media” –  “Is The New York Times A Tech Company?”  does a good look at how the The New York Times refactored itself as not a newspaper or even a news publisher, but as a tech company. Publishing is dead. It is about a “platform.” No longer do you make money with good content and intelligent editors and stagnant ads but the with surveillance of your readers. Cull the ads for a demographic. Tease them with sticky content that will make them stay on the site.

I began to notice the formula. News more often than not started to become not events but merely conjecture and what people said.  “Trump has decided to
not show up in court tomorrow.” “McConnel says he if feeling just fine.” “George Santos says he may parley his fame and become a gameshow host.” And even Ross Douthat goes so far as staging a hypothetical situation where Hillary Clinton (not Donald Trump) stages a coup.

The sticky content just kept coming. The rich and famous, the shysters and scandal were given prime real-estate on your paper. People would often should be in jail were treated as celebrities.  Every time Trump would say something outrageous you would put his photo in a suit and a slick red or blue tie on the front page.  Make him and our neurotic political environment seem “normal.” Someone who sent an angry mob on the capital is presented as a slick guy in fancy suits. You give the guy free real-estate on a hourly basis. Enough!

So I’m done. Please cancel my subscription to your echo chamber. I will not follow your polls or read your op-eds by your mostly corporate conservative, neo-liberal columnists. I will not read the witty comments from your dedicated readers. I will no longer have to wade through the 10 Ways to Lose 20 Pounds articles.  I am done with your high-brow tabloid corporate journalism.

I decided to free up that time I was sucked in to your world for better things. I will get my national news from the many available sources out there.  I am giving money to my local paper, Mission Local and 48 Hills. I subscribe to Matt Stollers BIG.   But worry not. I will still play Wordle. That was sold to you with the stipulation that it would always be free.

Below are some of the easy to find examples of the new high-brow tabloid journalism at the New York Times. 

The April 2023 Atlantic Essay That Went Under the Radar – The Moral Case Against Equity Language

THE MORAL CASE AGAINST EQUITY LANGUAGE
What’s a “justice-involved person”?
By George Packer

In the April 2023 issue of The Atlantic is an article by George Packer that was very insightful that oddly did not seem to stir up any debate. The article brings up something that is under the radar in our current society, but on everyone’s minds. The Moral Case Against Equity Language outlines how language today is being regulated by new equity guideline teams. In marketing lingo these guidelines often are a part of what are called style guides.  Words have power and the object is to make language more “equitable.” The article explains how these new equity guidelines are used by The Sierra Club, non-profits, corporations, academia and other large organizations to craft their writing. It  explains the complicated way that language and words enforce power structures and define identity. How important it is for everyone to “get it right.”  It looks at current efforts to equalize and defang language of some of it historical biases and prejudices. Words matter indeed. One cannot help but think of Orwell’s thought police. The article starts out with:

“The sierra club’s Equity Language Guide discourages using the words stand, Americans, blind, and crazy. The first two fail at inclusion, because not everyone can stand and not everyone living in this country is a citizen. The third and fourth, even as figures of speech (“Legislators are blind to climate change”), are insulting to the disabled. The guide also rejects the disabled in favor of people living with disabilities, for the same reason that enslaved person has generally replaced slave : to affirm, by the tenets of what’s called “people-first language,” that “everyone is first and foremost a person, not their disability or other identity.”

The article goes on with

“Although the guides refer to language “evolving,” these changes are a revolution from above. They haven’t emerged organically from the shifting linguistic habits of large numbers of people. They are handed down in communiqués written by obscure “experts” who purport to speak for vaguely defined “communities,” remaining unanswerable to a public that’s being morally coerced.”

That’s the spooky part that is often the elephant in the room these days. Who are these people? The article closes with an argument that the guidelines maybe doing more harm than good. Whether you are “homeless” or “unhoused,” you still do not have a roof over your head. Changing the language does not solve the problem. It really often simply makes people feel less guilty and temporarily more comfortable.

This huge expense of energy to purify language reveals a weakened belief in more material forms of progress. If we don’t know how to end racism, we can at least call it structural. The guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat. Even by their own lights, they do more ill than good—not because of their absurd bans on ordinary words like congresswoman and expat, or the self-torture they require of conscientious users, but because they make it impossible to face squarely the wrongs they want to right, which is the starting point for any change.

Brilliant thinking and something no one dares touch. I am surprised that the article did not stir up more debate. Indeed, “the guides want to make the ugliness of our society disappear by linguistic fiat” is a fair assessment.

Excellent topic. Choice writing. Subscribe to The Atlantic today!

Epilogue

It is important to not confuse the new equity guidelines with other issues of freedom of speech. That someone who commits multiple felonies and then threatens judges and elected officials receives a “gag-order” has absolutely nothing to do with the topic in this article.

And to that point, the writing and thinking of authors from before the equity guidelines, who use “slave” instead of “enslaved person” are no less valid in their works because of this use of language. Furthermore, if authors today use the old nomenclature, it does not invalidate their theories or ideas. A vigorous intellectual pursuit is not meant to be a journey towards making everyone feel comfortable.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche – A Review

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is a documentary film from 2021 that tells the story of a massive avalanche. You can now watch this movie on various streaming services including Netflix.

Throughout history the mountains have had various meanings. In the Middle Ages, mountains were thought to be places where evil lurked and venturing  into the mountains was a deal with the devil.  Mountains were dark, mysterous places where ungodly people hid out.  Since the sixteenth century, mountains have taken on a more sacred place in the Western imagination.  By the nineteenth century, mountains were seen as a place to regain health and vigor. Fresh air. Clean water.  A place to get away from the foul industrial urban centers. Even the tragic story of the Donner Party in 1847, a few miles from Alpine Meadows, did not slow this new sense of the healthful sacredness of the mountains. In many ways, this notion of the mountains being healthy and even sacred lives on today. To this end, there are hundreds of ski resorts high in the mountains of the American West, one of which is Alpine Meadows (now Palisades). Life is short. Drop a few thousand dollars for a weekend. Regain your health and even get a bit closer to God.

The people who live up in ski resorts are a fun-loving bunch.  Few who live in the mountains are there for the money. Some enjoy the solitude and quiet. Some the never ending thrills of deep power snow. Some live for the scenic beauty. Other are there to escape something and get a new start. Some are there to endlessly party. Whatever the case, it a place where people’s main motivation is to live in the moment.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche tells that story of people living in the moment.  It is a remarkable movie as the filmmakers somehow gathered one by one all the major people that were part of this event and had them candidly talk about the winter of 1982.  The combination of these interviews, along with footage from the time, including local news reports tells the story in a very even, engaging way. You even get to watch San Francisco’s Channel 2 reporters, Dennis Richmond and Elaine Corral report on the tragic event – a time when the 6 o’clock news was the news.

This view into a time before the personal computer, cellphones and the internet is part of what makes the movie so intriguing.  The ski patrol had only  walkie-talkies and snowmobiles. Weather reports came over the weather radio.  The young avalanche forecaster Jim Plehn used a system of large paper charts to map the snow densities and where they had used explosives or side-cut skiing to create avalanches. To this day, it is an inexact science that in the end requires more than paper, computer models and theories, but all your senses, experience and instinct.

As the film unfolds, the movie does an excellent job of telling the story of the avalanche and then for the rest of the movie the digging out of bodies and the hope for any survivors.  Volunteers with shovels. A few specially trained avalanche dogs. All the while it is continuing to snow and the people in charge have no way of knowing if there will be another massive slide. The majority of the people dealing with this tragic event, the ski patrol were all people in their late twenties. Making critical life and death decisions at a very young age. Even in the hedonistic mountains, people grew up pretty fast back then.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is an important film telling an  important story that is critical part of the history of the American West. Watch it with a bowl of fresh popcorn and a cool beverage of your choice.

Well done. 5 stars.

https://www.buriedfilm.com/

Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary

UPDATE: OCTOBER 31, 2023: Not a single media outlet celebrated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act 25 Year Anniversary. Amazing!

It is now October 2023, twenty-five years after the passage of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Seven years ago I published the piece below about the 18 year anniversary of the DMCA.  The DMCA has made it so you can listen to just about any recording made in the last 100 years for free on YouTube after looking at some ridiculous advertisement for five seconds.  It has made it so tech companies and publishing empires no longer have  responsibility for what is published on their applications, websites and what they now call “platforms.”  Safe harbor. Everything is just content.  Stuff. No one owns the stars.

I predict that on October 28, 2023  very few media organizations will acknowledge the DMCA 25 year anniversary.  The world changes and while it is changing hardly anyone notices; we all just roll with it as that is the only option. So pop the champagne corks. To the liberation of content!

FROM MY POST on OCTOBER 12, 2016
Digital Millennium Copyright Act 18 Year Anniversary

Passed on October 12, 1998, by a unanimous vote in the United States Senate and signed into law by President Bill Clinton on October 28, 1998, the DMCA amended Title 17 of the United States Code to extend the reach of copyright, while limiting the liability of the providers of online services for copyright infringement by their users.
wikipedia.org

It is 1998 – The Senate Now Has E-Mail
Let’s Have a Party!

25 years ago this month the Digital Millennium Copyright Act was passed. I would wager that very few people even know what the DMCA is, but it has affected modern life substantially. It is in many ways just one more version of an old story of plunder by larger more powerful entities, and the taking advantage of the smaller, but often more vibrant creators. In many ways, it has made it so the copyright laws in such industries as music are pointless.

But let’s back up a bit. Everyone can remember the transition that happened when CDs came out and then everyone was ripping their CDs to MP3s and handing off 100 gig drives full of music files to their buddies. Then there was Napster that simply stitched all these drives together in one big mass orgy of free MP3s. Napster got the injunction primarily because the established music industry  had no cut of the racket. Along come tech giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung and to cover their liability the DMCA made perfect sense. If someone has “illegal” music on their devices, they should not be held accountable. Furthermore, if someone uploads a Beatles tune as a video with a picture of Ringo Starr as the graphics to YouTube, why should YouTube be held accountable for such blatant infringement? All good and well. But that was 1998. Today is 2016. I am certain that in 1998 most members of the Senate had no idea the true implications of the DMCA. In 1998, most of the members of the Senate probably did not even know how to manage their own email. They were still licking stamps.

The DMCA’s principal innovation in the field of copyright is the exemption from direct and indirect liability of Internet service providers and other intermediaries.
wikipedia.org

Let’s look back a bit. In 1998 the leading browser of the day was Netscape 2. Internet Explorer was at version 5.5. If anyone remembers IE 6, imagine how terrible IE 5.5 must have been. Windows 98 had probably just been released.  Man, that is scary. My point is that the DMCA has not been updated for 18 years and is an extremely flawed piece of legislation. The large tech companies have in many ways based their entire industry on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. It allows for basically everyone to break the law everyday and not have to worry about it. When was the last time that a cop pulled someone over and wanted to check if the person had pirated music on their phone? There probably is thousands of dollars of contraband on everyone’s devices. Ain’t gonna happen.

Times Have Changed – Google Is Our Master of Information

But this is what is disingenuous about the DMCA. Companies like Google know just about everything about you. What you buy. What websites you visit. Your birthday. Your favorite color.

In 2016 they have the ability to determine if a piece of music is copyrighted via matching wave forms, and indeed this is how they “monetize” this work.  But YouTube refuses to acknowledge this UNLESS they are in a position to make money off of that music – they make money anyway but that is another post. The only way the copyright holder can get the videos of their music taken down is with take-down notices. If a song is popular, this can mean hundreds of separate videos with the same song on it.  The artists cannot simply tell the ISP such as YouTube “I do not want my work on your network.” YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

YouTube is sort of like that creepy neighbor running a crack-house who borrowed your weed-whacker last spring and refuses to give it back claiming ignorance. Musicians, songwriters and composers have better things to do with their time than chase down illegal version of their work.

Which brings me back to 1998. Do you really think in 1998 anyone could predict such entities as YouTube or Facebook? And unlike the owners of these companies, I believe these entities are not just platforms, they are simply publishers with free content providers and creators. These publishers have to take responsibility as well for copyright infringement. It is within their technical realm but they are playing dumb as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 suits them just fine. The DMCA is to their advantage.

The real master of deception with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is  YouTube. Facebook, Twitter and the like have simply entered personal lives and monetized birthdays and other important life events until people depart from this world. Personalized marketing on steroids that the users all agree to though without  really reading the privacy policies.

But all such companies are the modern-day plunderers. Instead of grabbing continents, forests, rivers, enslaving the natives and digging for gold, they are plundering your personal events and consumer habits along with the likes of great artists like James Brown, Elton John, Charlie Palmieri, Vince Gill,  Willie Green,  Slayer, Bette Midler, Woody Guthrie (the list is endless) and any person who has recorded or published a piece of music in the last hundred years.

Conclusion

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act needs to be reexamined and rewritten every five years to reflect and take into consideration the changes in technology, creativity and platforms. It is an important part of combating the many inequities in our society.

JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park

“In November 2022, San Francisco voters reaffirmed the previous legislation, making the new JFK Promenade a permanent car-free route enjoyed by a wide range of visitors. Along the route, visitors can enjoy art installations, public pianos, rest stops and enhanced entrances featuring seating and lawn games, and live music.”
JFK Promenade

One of the beautiful things that happened during the COVID 19 pandemic was the creation of slow-streets. Entire blocks where closed to through-traffic cars. San Francisco got outside and walked down the middle of streets. Kids learned how to ride bikes. Roller skaters searched out the best blacktop and did their thing. It was and is a beautiful thing.

After a lot of tussle, local propositions and screaming and hollering, JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park is a permanent car-free route. Ride your bike. Go for a stroll. Play a game of ping pong. Take in the various interesting sculptures. It is great to have this large drive free of cars. It helps to makes San Francisco a great city. It is one of those places to rejuvenate your soul.

BREAKING NEWS: San Francisco Aqua Surf Shop Holds Gnarly Surf Contest at Sloat

With the swell measuring around 8 feet at 12 seconds, on the morning of December 3, it was observed that the Aqua Surf Shop was holding some sort of surf contest. The surf was gnarly and the paddle-out ridiculous – rows and rows of white water to paddle through just to get to the outside.  It looked impossible but the contestants, both women and men in their twenties seemed to be able to make their way past the inside close-outs. Just nasty out there.

UPDATE: The contest is what is called the ‘Battle of the Bay’ competition. This has been held in previous years when San Francisco State was victorious.  It seems to be surf clubs from local colleges – SF State University,  Cal, and UCSF get together and organize this event. Very cool!

From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco
From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco https://www.ndbc.noaa.gov/station_page.php?station=46026

 

BREAKING NEWS: Man on Stand-up Paddleboard Surfs 15 to 20 Foot Wave at Ocean Beach

While the San Francisco Journal is dedicated to “Slow News that Does not Break,” we have breaking news today. Late in the day, on November 25th, 2023, during a northwest swell that delivered waves in the 15 to 20 foot range, it was observed that at the south end of the beach a man caught a rather large wave on a stand-up paddleboard. After catching the wave he went right down the face and stayed comfortably on the shoulder until wiping out when the wave closed out. He then caught the the next wave riding his board on his stomach as the sun was setting and a full moon was observed rising over the city.

Further up the coast near Noriega Street it was observed that there was a pack of surfers and a jet ski, apparently assisting surfers in catching waves.

This story is not developing any further at this point. According to all available reports, all the surfers made it back to the beach safely.

 

 

News from SF – The Quarterly Report – October/November 2023

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

While the world has experienced floods, droughts, earthquakes and hurricanes, the San Francisco weather pattern has been quite normal lately. We had a typical Indian Summer pattern for a while then a bit of rain. The skies are clear and we are now experiencing beautiful sunsets. In the coming week there should be off-shore winds out of the east. If you you come to San Francisco, bring a light jacket and warm hat. It does get chilly from time to time.

Politics

Senator Diane Feinstein died on September 29, 2023. Her replacement chosen by Governor Newsom is Laphonza Butler. So it goes.

Self-Driving Cars

The self-driving cars got the axe for the the time being. Too many variables. The fire trucks are concerned that they often get in the way. A tragic event happened on Market Street when a jaywalker got hit by a car then got pinned under a self-driving car. No bueno!

Self Driving Car

So the virtue of the young damsel and the driverless car must wait for another day.

“The fashion in those days, among the ladies, was to to travel around without lackeys or coachmen and to drive oneself; husbands preferred wives to be at all times alone, so as to be more certain of their virtue; which goes directly counter to the view of the moralists, who say there is no virtue in solitude.”
-From The One-Eyed Porter – Voltaire

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

The roads are still terrible in the poor neighborhoods. The pavement on Mission Street looks like a war zone. If you are on a bicycle be careful out there.

Bike Lanes, The Great Highway and the Sunny Side of the Street

The Great Highway opened to vehicular traffic on Mondays at 6 a.m. through Fridays at 12 p.m. and opened to pedestrians and bicycles only from Fridays at 12 p.m. until Mondays at 6 a.m. On holidays, the Great Highway is closed to vehicular traffic.

It is a lot of fun to get out to the Great Highway when it is closed to cars. On the weekends it gets busy with people walking, running a riding their bikes

 

Sporting News

The San Francisco Giants fizzled away. The 49ers are getting a bit beat up and having trouble winning games when they do not have all of their stars on the field. A young quarterback who is getting a reality check was long overdue.

The surfing has been pretty good overall, with some large, long-period swells now showing up every few weeks. 10 feet at 20 seconds was recorded recently and people were surfing Mavericks.

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Not much to report. The parklet situation has stabilized. Sometimes bands play outside but more often the music is inside. Remember to tip the band

 

That is The Quarterly Report –October 2023.

updated: 10/31/2023 with more Great Highway photos.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – October 2023

2023 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival SF Journal Awards

The 2023 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park was  the last weekend of September – Sep 29, 2023 – Oct 1, 2023. My buddy Steve from Atlanta was in town and we went all three days, listened to a lot of bands, and had a blast. When you look over the schedule, you notice right away that it will be a tyranny of choices. So many bands. So little time. We did not even make it to a few of the stages this year, choosing to stay at good front row spots at some of our favorite stages. The new Horseshoe Hill Stage looked like fun but we never made it there.

In 2023 the weather was generally cool and partly cloudy with light winds out of the west.. Often October has some of the best surf, but during the HSB 2023 weekend the swell was a bit mixed up, large and funky and only for the totally committed surf community who seem to get out there and rip on just about anything.  Each day in the mornings you could see the marine layer out at sea ready to come ashore in the afternoon.

Without further ado,  here are the 2023 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival SF Journal Awards.

BEST BLUES GUITAR PLAYER
– Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

It was a gas to listen to this young blues guitar player, just taking the music to another level – B.B King would be proud. Kingfish and the band brought some very funky grooves and it was awesome how the keyboard player would add some substitutions and extended and altered chords at tasty moments.  At one point Kingfish headed out to the audience and played an epic solo walking through the crowd.

Kingfish

BEST UP-AND-COMING ARTIST ON THE ROSTER STAGE
– Chuck Prophet

Even though Chuck Prophet has played HSB many times, he is getting the UP-AND-COMING ARTIST award only because it was the first time I have heard him play and he sounded great – definitely home field advantage on the Rooster Stage.  Chuck is getting the UP-AND-COMING ARTIST award because at 60 years old he is but a youngster when up against the likes of Bettye Lavette and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. With out a doubt the youngster Chuck is now surely getting hounded by AARP.

Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express

FUNNIEST PERFORMER OVER 80
– Bettye Lavette

So many artists at HSB were born in the 1940s. To live a long life you surely have to laugh a little and Bettye is sassy as ever, a bit glib at times, can still dance and one of her fortes is humor. Halfway through her set Bettye announced that she may have contracted a new disease that is problematic for many called CRS, short for Can’t Remember Shit. While there may have been a few pauses in the set, no one knew the difference. Her band was very funky and she delivered a great show.

BEST JAZZ STANDARD SUNG
– “Second Time Around” – Rickie Lee Jones

I heard Rickie Lee Jones in New Orleans last year and she brought her horn section and brilliant arrangements (which she writes) . What was she going to do in Golden Gate Park? Will she do her hits from her youth? Will she sing stuff that she isn’t particularly known for? Will she make it on stage?  During Rickie Lee Jones’ set on the Banjo Stage it was obvious that she was going to sing her jazz tunes. When she sang “Second Time Around” by Sammy Cahn and Jimmy Van Heusen I wondered how many people even knew the song, but the entire meadow was pretty much transfixed.  Great tune. Great interpretation. You can hear Rickie’s version here.

BEST FESTIVAL DOG
– The Golden Retriever at the Banjo Staged

Just a chill dog that made you realize how sublime it must be to just stick out your  tongue, smell the air and feel the grass.

Chill dog

Until next year, that is the SF Journal 2023 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Awards.

ABOUT
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco is a little like Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Big-name bands, many kinds of music and a festive atmosphere. One of the amazing things about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is that even though there are tens of thousands of people, it is always a  peaceful event, and in the end people seem to get along just fine and often make new friends. Everyone seems to pack out the trash pretty well too. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Warren Hellman’s party.  Communal music therapy.

PAST AWARDS

Discovering Blindness “Ensaio sobre a cegueira” by José Saramago

Blindness (Portuguese: Ensaio sobre a cegueira, meaning Essay on Blindness) is a 1995 novel by the Portuguese author José Saramago. It is one of Saramago’s most famous novels, along with The Gospel According to Jesus Christ and Baltasar and Blimunda. In 1998, Saramago received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and Blindness was one of his works noted by the committee when announcing the award.[1]
Wikipedia

A few weeks ago I was in Mexico City when I had run out of reading material. When in a country where English is not the first language, it is often very difficult to find books in English. We went to a bookstore and though the possibilities were a bit limiting, I picked up Blindness by José Saramago. It sucked me in and I finished the novel by the time we left Mexico.

But I almost put the book down after the first few chapters. The English translation was so horrible I wondered if I could make it through. When I figured out that the translator had died midway through the work I realized that what I was reading was not really a finished piece but a draft. The translator was Giovanni Pontiero who passed away. Margaret Jill Costa finished the work. I soon realized that they had seemingly worked backwards and as the novel progressed, the writing got better. The story is so good and captivating, the writing can lean on the narrative.

You can read about the plot in Wikipedia so I will not rehash the story. There are so many angles from which to interpreting and understand this novel and that is what makes it so intriguing – the symbolism of blindness, the fragility of society, the psychology of power, the psychology of interpersonal relationships, violence, the act of forgiveness, the power and responsibilities of those that can see, vengeance. All of these themes and others are somewhere inside this captivating novel.

Of course where you read a book like this you cannot help but imagine it as a movie. After finishing Blindness, I discovered and watched the movie. I had reservations about how would you even make a movie from the novel but was surprised at how good the movie is. It brings together all the important themes and in many ways does not stray too far from the novel. Of course, the movie did not do well at the box office as dystopian nightmares are not what people desire in the theaters these days.

I am not usually one for books that are thrillers and on the macabre side, but Blindness is highly recommended reading. Probably best to start with the book.

Louis Menand Quote on History

“The critical massing of conditions that enables a way of life to come into being is almost impossible to detect while it is happening, and so is its deterioration. The world just rolls over, without anyone noticing exactly when, and a new set of circumstances is put into place. But the impulse to hold onto the past is very strong, and it is often very hard to understand why things that worked once can’t continue to work. A lot of energy and imagination are consumed trying to fit old systems to new settings, though the pegs keep getting squarer and the holes keep getting rounder. In the end, the only way to make the past usable is to misinterpret it, which means, strictly speaking, to lose it.”
Louis Menand – American Studies

 

American Studies
by Louis Menand

Essays on some very important characters in U.S. history, most now a bit off the radar – William James, Sir Wendell Holmes, Al Gore – before the present social-media and digital era. The chapter on Larry Flynt and Jerry Falwell and their need to play off one another is particularly illuminating.  The short prologue cuts to the chase and gets you scratching your chin.

Apologies if the quote above is incomplete or will be misconstrued. Always best to simply read the book!

 

Symphony Bicicleta – July 2023

First Movement

La Familia
To the edge of town we ride along this winding river, through gnat-filled forests, over bridges that dodge the morning commutes. Breakfast at a familiar diner busy with ribbon-wearing war vets and regulars, then farewells to a buddy who navigates me each year to the start of this tale. Past cows, horses, pigs and more cows, fields of corn, by mailboxes with clever designs. Silos of corn. Roadkill large and small plastered to the asphalt in various stages of morbid decay. American flags abound tell me the wind.
Nighttime thunderstorms cool the air as hungry mosquitoes buzz outside my simple tent. The morning is clear as I pedal over the Chippewa and streams too many to name. By the evening I arrive at the timeless Trempealeau Hotel on the Mississippi as locals with guitars gather for songs, laughs and beers.

I rise with the sun to venture over wetlands forgotten save for the cranes, robins, yellow finches, redwing blackbirds and blue herons. A hundred miles of trail to ride with tunnels, old bridges and rail stations from long ago. Nervous rabbits endlessly scamper across the trail. Through quiet small towns where even the bars seem asleep I pedal.

Camping in Elroy with my sis and her pooches as we eat, drink and marvel at our rain-free luck. One more day on farm roads, climbing then flying down these rolling hills and glens dodging more rain to then but roll into my brother’s crib, not far from where I was born.

Second Movement

Continental Divide
I hear trombones and french horns.
Stacked fifths.
Parallel motion like a moose crossing the road.
Earth tilted so that streams can sing and dance.
Strings on a unison line with leaps unknown.
A solo trumpet hands off to a flute.
Timpani rolls.
Octaves call out a forgotten
Blackfoot melody to an open unending sky.

Third Movement

I see Meriwether Lewis in the rear view mirror driving a big rig, horn a blastin’ down Interstate 84. His sidekick Clark riding shotgun. Eyes bloodshot, he pulls a long draw on the flask. Back to the scene, two hundred years in the future as a bird of prey unknown soars high above.

The Columbia Gorge once sang a fine tune. Now it is the never-ending hum of the Interstate and the trains that clamber up and down this geological miracle, shaped by glaciers, volcanos and spastic floods building bridges to the gods.

Fires now burn the hairs that grow like fur on the ranges leaving only gray pointy sticks from once verdant pine. Hike up the canyons, the blackberries now just ripe while the timeless waterfalls wash the modern madness away like cymbals crashing persistent.


THE BACKSTORY

Paul Lyons - Adventure Cyclist

July I spent traveling around three regions of the United States primarily by bicycle. The Midwest and the 300 mile ride from Minneapolis to Madison, much on rail-to-trail paths. Glacier Mountain Park and East Glacier to West Glacier. Portland to the Columbia River Gorge. I traveled between regions with an Amtrak Rail Pass ($499) which worked great. You can get your bike on the train ride for $20. Just remember when you get off the train, you get your bike directly from the baggage car not at the baggage terminal!

The writing above is my summary of these travels. I saw some amazing country and met some truly remarkable people.

News from SF – The Quarterly Report

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

Often chilly and foggy with a marine layer along the coast. Air quality generally pretty good. Bring a light jacket. If you are by the ocean bring more layers.

Don Chuys
View of the “marine layer.” Coming to a neighborhood near you soon!

Politics

In a 3-to-1 vote, the commission decided to let self-driving cars expand their programs and allow them to basically operate like taxis. So now these cars can pick up passengers and charge a fare at all hours of the day. Up until now, the companies had pretty limited passenger pickup programs.
– NPR from Driverless cars can now operate like taxis in San Francisco, raising safety concerns

That the driverless cars are now taxis was inevitable as that was one of the main goals all along. New technology that ultimately was and has been driven as a money making scheme. For anyone living is San Francisco the last few years, the new ruling will probably not change things much on the roads as we have been inundated with self-driving cars for years. In the last year, we have observed them wandering up and down neighborhood streets in the middle of the night, like the ghost of some long-lost insomniac uncle, organizing his toolset after hours.

In the last year, we have observed them wandering up and down neighborhood streets in the middle of the night, like the ghost of some long-lost insomniac uncle, organizing his toolset after hours.

Many of the self-driving cars have elaborate cameras and look very sci-fi. Some have the brand of Jaguar however the two companies that run these vehicles are Cruise, which is owned by GM, and Waymo, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet. They are everywhere, mapping every nook and cranny, sometimes clogging up the streets, other times just being spooky.

“JEANINE NICHOLSON: Again, I will reiterate, it is not our job to babysit their vehicles.”
– NPR from Driverless cars can now operate like taxis in San Francisco, raising safety concerns

The Mission Local has good reporting on this topic and one can always just enjoy a famous movie quote.


Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors please, HAL. Open the pod bay doors please, HAL. Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Hello, HAL. Do you read me? Do you read me HAL? Do you read me HAL? Hello, HAL, do you read me? Hello, HAL, do your read me? Do you read me, HAL?
HAL: Affirmative, Dave. I read you.
Dave Bowman: Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
HAL: I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
Dave Bowman: What’s the problem?
HAL: I think you know what the problem is just as well as I do.
Dave Bowman: What are you talking about, HAL?
HAL: This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey

Road Repairs, Parking Tickets, Do Not Parks Signs and Other Treacherous Endeavors

“If you park here they will come.” Very creative, playful and surely effective as all-caps usually gets the point across.

Many of the main roads in San Francisco are a disaster and are in need repair. A partial list of roads that need love.

Mission Street road in need of repair.
  • Mission Street by Holly Park. (we may lose small dogs in some of the potholes)
  • Mission Street south of Silver Ave.
  • Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 Freeway.
Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 Freeway
Bosworth under the San Jose Ave and  the 280 freeway is treacherous for bicyclists. Use are your own risk. Bring an extra chin strap.

Even though San Francisco may score “adequate” in roads passements, these ranking are meaningless when for a decade you navigate roads that are terrible. It does seem that there is often less focus on roads that get a lot of traffic and are critical intersections. Feel free to contact the editorial board of the SF Journal if you need more examples of locations where roads are in need of repair. Remember to wear a helmet on these routes and perhaps bring an extra chin strap.

Bike Lanes on Valencia Street are in Full Effect

The new bike lanes on Valencia Street are now fully functioning. Bikes now ride in the middle. Cars no longer can take lefts turns at a lot of the intersections.

New bike lanes on Valencia Street

Let’s see how this works out and always remember, whether on two or four wheels, be kind. When driving, it is probably best to simply avoid Valencia Street. One day the city may realize, parts should be 100% for pedestrians and bikes.

Sporting News

For anything relating to football and the NFL, it is best to go to the SF Gate or SF Chronicle as that seems to be the only sport on their minds. It is August and we are suppose to get excited about American football?

In San Francisco there has been a lot of excitement about the Women’s FIFA World Cup. Colombia has a team of many talented players and their fans sang the national anthem with such passion, you wanted them to win just because of the fans.  The United States played well but lost to Sweden in a knockout round. France is scoring a lot of goals. Sweden may be the team to beat.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

Very few people wear masks. Sometimes people riding public transportation will be wearing a mask.

Parklets, Microclimates and Where the Sun Does Shine

Parklets holding firm. The Page on Page Street has live music in the afternoons, often outside.

The sun does shine and clothes can dry on the line in San Francisco, but you must keep your eyes on the weather, direction of the winds and have your fog meter on at all times.

That is The Quarterly Report –August 2023.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – August 2023

Jay’s Wisdom

I don’t like to give people like that rent-free space in my head.

Direct quote from a smart young fellow I met on the train when dealing with people who piss you off. Brilliant. Voltaire would approve.

Lucca’s New Drive Thru Window

Lucca’s Ravioli was a special place in San Francisco that closed down a few years back – https://sfjournal.net/lucca-ravioli-co-nothing-lasts-forever/. It was a real Italian Deli that made fresh fresh ravioli.

Recently a police car drove though the front window. The Mission Local (https://missionlocal.org/2023/06/sfpd-squad-car-crashes-into-luccas-after-high-speed-chase/) seems to have covered this bizarre and tragic  event better than other news outlets.

Poor Lucca’s Ravioli! It closed down a few years back and now a police car, while chasing a car, ends up driving through the front door. Is this a scene out of a Buster Keaton movie, or maybe Smokey and the Bandit?  Why are cops chasing cars at high speed  on Valencia Street one of the most pedestrian oriented streets in the City?

Not the First Time

On June 28, 1995 a fire truck drove through the quant Radio Valencia Cafe.  https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Fire-Truck-Drivers-Cleared-in-S-F-Crash-3028835.php

How come this keep happening? Add your theories below.

A Father’s Day Story

For some reason when Father’s Day comes around I mostly think about my own father. John O. Lyons was my dad. He had six kids and lived a fascinating life full of youthful enthusiasm during his early years, adventure then the pragmatic realism of fathering during his middle years, and  a comfortable retirement later in life while he took his pills and struggled with Parkinson’s Disease. One of his books, The Invention of the Self: The Hinge of Consciousness in the Eighteenth Century, Southern Illinois University Press (1978) is an amazing read. The first chapter “Into the Void” should be required reading for undergraduates going into the field of psychology or history. Today, it would no doubt confuse the youth often obsessed  with the notion of the authentic self and identity.

In the mid 1960s, my father who was an English professor at the University of Wisconsin, for reasons unknown at the time, took a side job delivering the Wisconsin State Journal on Sundays. We never questioned why he did this side job. Was the price of milk too high? Were five kids just too much? I have two older brothers and on these Sundays we each took turns waking up before dawn to help dad with his rural paper route. We would take off in the dark in the  family blue VW bus. My job in the backseat was to collate the stacks of newspapers, put a rubber band around each one and then hand them up to my dad to stuff into newspaper boxes. I was maybe five or six years old.

Years later I was told that on my first day as my dad’s helper, I was surprised to find out that all the newspapers were exactly the same. Obviously, I was way ahead of my time,  predicting the demise of a single source of truth years before Facebook, social media and digital journalism monetized silos of falsity. We would deliver hundreds of identical  Wisconsin State Journals. In the wintertime it would sometimes get a bit precarious on the icy roads as spinouts did happen and word of uncontrolled donuts on icy farm roads would reach the discussion at the dinner table. For sure, when we got home I would go back to bed and fall asleep in the warm soft sheets that I had left a few hours before.

John Lyons with Emma in 1966
John Lyons with his daughter Emma in 1966

When I was in high school, while scarfing down a bowl of cereal in the kitchen, my dad informed me out of the blue that he had a son with a previous wife. Anthony, was evidently my half-brother.  Even though I had never been informed or this I looked at him and was neither surprised or shocked. When you are a self-absorbed sixteen-year-old, such news means nothing. Later on we learned that Anthony had died young in a car accident in his thirties – our half-brother from another life we never met.

A few years back, after both of my parents had passed, we all started putting the pieces together. The morning paper route in the blue VW bus was surely to help  pay for child support for Anthony. The irony is that while I was with my dad on his morning paper route  helping him pay for past deeds, it turned out I was the lucky one as I was the one able to spend those magical mornings with my dad. I still remember the smell of the seats in the VW bus, the noisy sound of the motor and can see his hand reaching back for the next paper.

 

 

San Francisco’s First Juneteenth Parade

As a celebration of liberation and freedom, on June 10th, 2023, there was a Juneteenth Parade down Market Street in San Francisco. The parade headed west. On bicycle, I headed down to the event going east down side streets then on Market taking in the many floats. There were a few drum-based bands, lots of beautiful and amazing cars, youth groups, a float dedicated to William Alexander Leidesdorff, Jr. (1810 – May 18, 1848) one of the earliest biracial-black U.S. citizens in California and one of the founders of the city that became San Francisco. (we learn something new everyday), the African American Shakespeare Company more really cool cars and holding down the rear about five Black folk riding horseback. It was a pretty amazing site to see.

I saw Mayor London Breed and the ubiquitous Scott Weiner as well as Supervisor Ahsha Safai. The parade was lightly attended. There was a contingent of unarmed police officers in the parade. Hopefully, this tradition will continue.

 

 

Banning the Wrong Books

…the truth is, that when a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.”
Mark Twain – concerning the banning of “Eve’s Diary,” a comic short story by Mark Twain

There has been much news about the banning of books of late. A sort of totalitarian energy in our world has emerged in a way reminiscent of earlier times. The “thought police” is hard at work. With opinion becoming increasingly confused for truth and a reactionary strain has entered the body politic. There has been the  banning of books on civil rights, African American history, gay rights and history and queer memoirs one of which is Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe perhaps the most banned book in recent years.

Curious what all the fuss is about, I checked out Gender Queer from the public  library.  The book is actually a comic book. It is memoir of a young person in rural Northern California discovering their gender identity and becoming transgender.  It is poorly written, rather naïve and the illustrations leave a lot to be desired. You can read the entire book in a few hours. I highly recommend that people check this book out from the library and read it as this topic will continue to be in the news. It will certainly influence future elections. While you are at the library also check out some Calvin and Hobbes and perhaps Captain Underpants –  far better literary works.

Indeed, I think the problem with the books bans, is the quality of the books they are banning. The banning of books seems only to shine the light on these trendy  low quality books which few adults have actually read. The book banning types need to go after bigger fish and bring interest to higher quality work. There are so many to choose from. Without further adieu:

SF Journal Official Short List of Banned Books 2023


#1: Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
HarperCollins
The notion that in the future we will become these sex-crazed perverts is simply unacceptable. The explicit drug use is out of control as well. Do not read this book! It will ruin your brain.

#2: Slaughterhouse Five – A Children’s Crusade
Kurt Vonnegut
Random House
One of those books that has been banned, and should be banned because there is perhaps a little sex and nudity, but probably because Vonnegut, a pacifist, takes the whole notion of war to task. In our war-mongering world, peace is simply unacceptable.

#3: Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction
Mary Gehman
Margaret Media, Incorporated
This “woke” book goes way too far. Why in the world would we even mention New Orleans in the context of geography, Black history or American culture. That the book points out that African Americans were actually free in New Orleans throughout the history of the United States is just plain preposterous.

 

CONCLUSION
Of course there are many more books that need to be suppressed. To all the censors out there: please work harder at identifying higher quality books to ban.

Carnaval 2023 – It Just Gets Better and Better

San Francisco Carnaval takes place every year during Memorial Day weekend It is one of those “under the radar” events that seems to be attended by the locals in the know. Saturday along Harrison Street featured many musical performances on different stages, food vendors and various activities. I particularly enjoyed the lineup on Saturday at the 22nd Street and Harrison Stage with some very talented and prepared local Bay Area musicians. The stage closed the day with Los Van Van from Cuba.

1:00PM BULULU
2:00PM SABOR DE MI CUBA
3:00PM AKHEEL MESTAYER QUINTET
4:00PM LOS VAN VAN

Tragically, Juan Formell, the leader and bass player of Los Van Van had died on stage in New York the night before so it was surely a profound event. Unfortunately I was unable to hear the Los Van Van set as I had a previously booked gig. Reports came in all positive.

All the stages tended to run late as the day when on. I heard that Los Van Van did not go on until around 6 pm.

Sunday is the Carnaval parade. Many different cultures and peoples throughout Latin America participate. It is an interesting juxtaposition to see all the many colorful dance troops and bands on floats perform while in the background is the gritty Mission Street. Many of the Aztec dancers did the whole parade barefoot. Now that is dedication!

Until next Carnaval 2024!

 

 

 

 

In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist – Great Summer Reading

The book In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist by Pete Jordon is featured in a very entertaining 99% Invisible episode De Fiets is Niets/.

In the City of Bikes is a fast read about both the twists and turns of both Amsterdam and Jordon’s  journal with the bicycle. It is well-researched and the quotes about and from the various characters integral to the story make it a light read. Perfect for the beach or nearby lake.

In the City of Bikes: The Story of the Amsterdam Cyclist
By Pete Jordan
Publisher: ‎ Harper Perennial; 0 edition (April 16, 2013)
Language: ‎English
Paperback: ‎448 pages
ISBN-10: ‎0061995207
ISBN-13: ‎978-0061995200

History Books are Not Meant To Make You Feel Comfortable

Florida and The “Don’t Make Me Feel Guilty Act”

The selling and buying of textbooks is a big business and in Florida they are actively controlling  textbooks often concerning the instruction of  issues of race and social protest.  Florida and Governor Ron DeSantis have been much in the news for various censorship bills. Some of the language in the Florida bill CS/HB 7— Individual Freedom  is rather strange. It  attempts to make it so kids are not made to feel guilty through association. I am not sure whether there are specific incidents of teachers traumatizing kids with guilt through association but maybe that is a Florida thing.

Required Instruction

  • A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.

From the Florida Bill CS/HB 7

In Florida, history is evidently not about truth or even the pursuit of truth, but of making sure that certain people feel comfortable.

We’re #1 and Never Question American Exceptionalism

At the core of this sort of legislation is the notion of American exceptionalism. History has always been written and controlled by those in power and the “victors. ”  The bills in Florida are just one more explicit example of this phenomenon.

The history of the United States that was taught to me  in the 1970s left out a lot of important stuff that I learned about only much later in life. (Juneteenth and the Tulsa massacre are just a few examples). Often, the teaching of U.S. history tended to focus on the  the 18th century and the founding of the nation. George Washington and his cherry tree. Benjamin Franklin and his kite and pragmatic habits and little of the fact that he was a vegetarian. The beef industry maybe cut that part out..  The notion that the pilgrims and the Indians had Thanksgiving together and ate turkeys and pumpkin pie.  The exceptionalism of democracy itself. The Declaration of Independence and a little of the Bill of Rights until even that started to become uncomfortable.

By the time you finished high school you maybe learned a few details about the  World War II but that was mostly to the hum of a film projector playing newsreels of the time – the “Battle of the Bulge” or maybe D-Day. Your history teacher, an audio visual enthusiast, was  glad to have the hour of World War II propaganda films so he could grade papers in the dark.  The United States saved the world from fascism but what was fascism but some guy with a strange mustache in a large wool coat screaming into a mic and solders saluting with straight arms. Ten minutes on the holocaust. We did not read anything about the Korean  or Vietnam wars. Cuba was pure evil. The working of the CIA and the assignations of leaders of various democratically elected leaders around the world was never on the syllabus. Current events were discussed occasionally but always in the context of American exceptionalism. Martin Luther King was but a dream. Books that were banned were more often fiction – Huck Finn, Brave New World, Vonnegut and Henry Miller if they somehow made it to the library stacks. Insulting language and often far to sexy. As is always is the case, censorship had the opposite effect of garnering interest for the forbidden texts.

What I find odd about the whole Florida case and the culling of history textbooks is why would Florida even buy new history textbooks? Are the old history books worn out? If they want to live in the fantasy of the US history as taught in 1965 where America can do no wrong, just use one from a bygone time. Every student knows that the real history is often between the lines.  I was often bored to a stupor by the typical history book with the end-of-chapter questions and the summaries meant to fill my brain with often trivial facts. It would be far better to simple use the old history books and teach them in context.  See how the American exceptionalism that was promoted is often far more complex than first meets the eye. Fill in the missing pieces with real books that go into detail about all the things that really happened. Read original works from authors of the time.

What is obviously lacking in all of this discussion is the fact what is often not taught is critical thinking and skepticism, two skills that are essential in life. History can perhaps make people  feel uncomfortable with the truths of the past but kids, please do not take it personally as it is events beyond your control.

Related links:

https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2022/7/BillText/er/PDF

https://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/BillSummaries/2022/html/2809

https://www.fldoe.org/newsroom/latest-news/florida-approves-over-60-of-social-studies-instructional-materials-submissions.stml

https://www.nytimes.com/2023/05/09/us/desantis-florida-social-studies-textbooks.html?searchResultPosition=2

Parking Tickets in San Francisco

As a pubic service, below is the most recent list of Citations and fines for San Francisco, California. From https://www.sfmta.com/sites/default/files/reports-and-documents/2020/10/fy_2021_fees_and_fines_effective_1.1.21.pdf

Parking Violations and Fines – SF Transportation Code Penalty Schedule Effective 7/1/2021
Citations
Div I 7.2.10 Pedestrian Crossings $77
Div I 7.2.11 Electric Assistive Personal Mobility Devices $100
Div I 7.2.12 Bicycle Riding Restricted $100
Div I 7.2.13 NUV Violation $100
On-Street Parking
Div I 7.2.20 Residential Parking $97
Div I 7.2.22 Street Cleaning $85

The Tyranny of Parking Tickets

There is perhaps nothing that can ruin your day in San Francisco more than returning to your car and finding a parking ticket under your windshield wiper.
Every San Franciscan with a car has experienced the wrath of the metermaid – seemingly peaceful and calm people in their blue uniforms driving around in their golf carts issuing pain and misery around town. The reason they wear helmets is surely for self protection. It is a hard job indeed and the fines make it so if there is one thing that San Franciscans take seriously it is avoiding parking tickets. Once you get a rash of these you begin to wonder if you should simply stay in bed all day just so you do not lose money.

The one that is often the most peculiar is the $85 you must cough up for the Div I 7.2.22 Street Cleaning infraction. While you look out your window with your car ticketed and observe the street cleaning truck go by mostly just blowing trash every which way it makes you take a deep breath and hopefully chuckle. I have street cleaning schedule on my calendar with alerts thirty minutes prior to the event.

When you get one of these you soon start think of all the various ways you could have spent the $85. Perhaps a dinner for two at a fine restaurant. Three large pizzas at North Beach Pizza. Six Super Carnitas Burritos at Guadalajara, Tickets for two at SF Jazz, the list is endless.

Whoever said San Francisco is soft on crime never parked their car and forgot to plug the meter!

On-Street Parking (continued)
Div I 7.2.23(a) Parking Meter- Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.23(b) Parking Meter-Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.25 Red Zone $110
Div I 7.2.26 Yellow Zone $110
Div I 7.2.27 White Zone $110
Div I 7.2.28 Green Zone $90
Div I 7.2.29 Parking for Three Days $75
Div I 7.2.30(a) Overtime Parking Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.30(b) Overtime Parking Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.30(c) Overtime Meter Parking Downtown Core $96
Div I 7.2.30(d) Overtime Meter Parking Outside Downtown Core $87
Div I 7.2.32 Angled Parking $72
Div I 7.2.33 Blocking Residential Door $60
Div I 7.2.34 Median Dividers and Islands $97
Div I 7.2.35 Parking on Grades $60
Div I 7.2.36 100 Feet Oversize $110
Div I 7.2.37 Motorcycle Parking $110
Div I 7.2.38 Parking in Stand $110
Div I 7.2.39 Parking Transit-Only $110
Div I 7.2.40 Tow-Away Zone- Downtown Core $110
Div I 7.2.41 Tow-Away Zone- Outside Downtown Core $110
Div I 7.2.42 Parking Restrictions $110
Div I 7.2.43 Parking-Public Property $79
Div I 7.2.44 Misuse Disabled Parking Placard/License $866
Div I 7.2.45 Temporary Parking Restriction $85
Div I 7.2.46 Temporary Construction Zone $85
Div I 7.2.47 Remove Chalk $110
Div I 7.2.48 Repairing Vehicle $104
Div I 7.2.49 Permit on Wrong Car $110
Div I 7.2.50 Invalid Permit $110
Div I 7.2.51 Parking Marked Space $67
Div I 7.2.52 On-Street Car Share Parking $110
Div I 7.2.54 Large Vehicle $110
Off-Street Parking
Div I 7.2.60 Parking Facility $72
Div I 7.2.61 Entrance/Exit Parking Facility $100
Div I 7.2.62 Blocking Space Parking Facility $77
Div I 7.2.63 Speeding within Parking Facility $100
Div I 7.2.64 Block Charging Bay $110
Div I 7.2.65 Overtime Parking_Off Street Parking Meter $79
Div I 7.2.66 Misuse Disabled Parking Placard/License Plate $866
Div II 1009 SFMTA Property $110

The Bitter Sages of the North Coast

When you live in a city and and your mornings are often spent listening to the sound of rubber on asphalt, your afternoons to the huffing of brakes on the local bus line, and the evenings to the scream of sirens and firetrucks, it is good to sometimes hit the road and explore the quiet hinterlands of California. One of those places is the North Coast and towns like Point Arena three hours north of San Francisco.  People are generally friendly survivors of this rugged coast, running a variety of local businesses – cafes, second-hand boutiques, carpenters, handymen, wine laborers, yoga instructors, teachers. and artists. Not a chain store or corporate restaurant in sight.

At the pier in Point Arena I ventured into Point Arena Pizza and was amused at an obviously home-made poster on the industrial refrigerator.  In San Francisco such sarcasm with the youth is not very common. In the country, they may be less inclined to refrain from such truths.

Attention Teenagers
If you are tired of being hassled by unreasonable parents
now is the time for action
Leave home and pay your own way while you still know everything.

Point Arena, CA

And indeed, sarcasm is just one of the services that they offer. The quote above is timeless. I am sure it would bring a snicker to parents all over the world.

The Quarterly Report – March 2023

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Weather

There has been a lot of rain this year with “atmospheric rivers” coming in off the Pacific one after another like waves.  We once called these just “storms.” Now they are “atmospheric rivers” – which I kind of like. “Hey mommy what is that thing in the sky?  Don’t worry Junior. That’s just an “atmospheric river.” In between these deluges for a few days we get brilliant blue skies and the entire city of San Francisco seems to jump into their cars to do errands and shop for food until the next “atmospheric river” hits. What is different this year is that there has been a lot of thunder and lightning. For the first twenty years that I lived in San Francisco I heard thunder one time. This winter thunder and lightning has been  a regular thing.

In late February it got so cold the Bay Area received snow at the higher elevations. For over a week Mount Diablo was a snow-capped peak and briefly the Bay Area looked a little like Seattle.

Politics

Nothing to report on the San Francisco politics front. The usual urban problems persist but instead of the libertarian right blaming Chesa Boudin they are going after the Board of Supervisors for all the city’s problems.

He says it’s all those loons on the Board of Supervisors; it certainly has nothing to do with San Francisco’s 30-year string of establishment-friendly, pro-business, moderate mayors.
– Joe Eskenazi, Michael Moritz’s strange and terrible diagnosis of San Francisco (Mission Local)

Joe Eskenazi takes issue with Mr. Moritz

One of local online papers, the Mission Local had a piece by Joe Eskenazi titled   Michael Moritz’s strange and terrible diagnosis of San Francisco by (February 28, 2023). It takes apart a guest op-ed in the New York Times by Michael Moritz,  Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco

Joe Eskenazi’s article makes many good points, but it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel starting with the title. It should really be “Even Billionaire Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco.” Michael Moritz is a billionaire venture capitalist and developer and states a party affiliation as Democrat only to score political points. He is surely a bit like Rick Caruso who switched from being a Republican to a Democrat only before he decided to run for mayor of Los Angeles. Money does speak volumes, even  evidently getting space in the New York Times.

At that time, warehouses and railroad yards occupied the area now known as Mission Bay — today the area houses one of the world’s leading medical centers, mixed-use housing, the home of the Golden State Warriors and Visa’s new world headquarters.
– Michael Moritz, Even Democrats Like Me Are Fed Up With San Francisco (NYT)

If you are a San Francisco native, what they did to Mission Bay is for some a disaster and others perhaps a mixed blessing. The area looks more like Los Angeles or San Jose. An area that had some small businesses and manufacturing is now a car-centric industrial park.  Most of the businesses that occupy the ground-level shops are of the corporate variety. Furthermore, Mission Bay is one of those places where the majority of the workers drive to work and park in behemoth parking garages. The Mariposa 280 exit is a disaster and an accident waiting to happen as the morning car commute is heavy. Mission Bay is  a car centric area. No thank you Moritz. And, no one pointed out the whole thing is on landfill. Not too long ago it was a bay and wetlands and what they built on was under ten feet of water. When things start to shake, things could tumble.

National Politics Quote to Chew On

She was the one who branded Ronald Reagan the “Teflon president,” against whom bad news, like the Iran-contra scandal, did not stick. Of Vice President Dan Quayle, she said, “He thinks that Roe versus Wade are two ways to cross the Potomac.”
Patricia Schroeder – New York Times Obit

I have always been a big fan of Pat Schroeder. She was an amazing woman with a sharp wit who wrote and passed legislation that people probably take for granted. She died on March 14, 2023. There are no feminists alive today  who have humorous and biting zingers like Pat churned out.

She had to fight blatant discrimination from the start, facing questions about how, as the mother of two young children, she could function as both a mother and a lawmaker. “I have a brain and a uterus and I use both,” she responded.
Patricia Schroeder – New York Times Obit

Sporting News

As the Golden State Warriors play five-hundred basketball, the playoffs are probably down the road and then all bets are off. I do not follow basketball until crunch-time. With all the rain and snow the ski season is going to go until the end of April and beyond. There will be snow in the mountains until late June. For much of the season the issue has been too much snow with roads often closed.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

In public places like busses and libraries masks seem to be common but people are out and about and traffic is definitely back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying, usually on roads like Valencia Street that are north/south. Music events are everywhere. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report –March 2023.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – March 2023

Breaking News: The Field of Biology is Not In The Humanities

Jeffrey Cohen, a butter-voiced, bearded man who has been the dean of the humanities at A.S.U. since 2018, told me. On taking the position, he hired a marketing firm, Fervor, to sell the humanities better. It ran a market survey of eight hundred and twenty-six students.

“It was eye-opening to see their responses,” Cohen said. “In general, they loved the humanities and rated them higher than their other courses. However, they were unclear on what the humanities were—two hundred and twenty-two thought that biology was a humanity.”
From “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023)

The “The End of the English Major” By Nathan Heller (The New Yorker – February 27, 2023) is an illuminating article about how young people today are no longer pursuing degrees in English, History, Philosophy and the other humanities. In many ways you cannot blame them. College is expensive and when you leave you are going to need a way to pay off all those loans. The help wanted listings do not have jobs outright for people who are experts in say Charles Dickens or Renaissance sculpture in Northern Italy. “Go west young man” has been replaced with “get a Computer Science degree you fool!” Be practical and make some loot with ones and zeros.

And the fact that twenty percent of kids today think that biology is in the humanities is understandable as recently the field of psychology has been confusing gender and sex and it is easy to think that they both may be “fluid” and a “spectrum”  – not so much hard science, but more about expression, culture and personal preference.

I would say what is at stake with this exodus of people from the humanities is a whole generation of people who are less literate and easily coerced into believing just about anything. Its the death of critical thinking and by the way – biology is a science!

Traveling from San Francisco to Seattle on Amtrak

Eugene, OR

The Coast Starlight to Seattle leaves Emeryville, CA daily at 9:41 pm. It arrives at King Street Station in Seattle at 7:51 pm the next day. For around $100 you get a seat in coach. Probably not for extremely introverted, asocial people but I find Amtrak a fun way to travel. The vacation starts when you get on the train.

AMTRAK LINKS
amtrak.com | The Coast Starlight

It is possible to get to the Emeryville station by BART and a bus at the MacArthur Station. From most places in SF this will take about an hour.

On Amtrak you can splurge and get a sleeper, but I have done this trip in coach, sleeping the first eight hours of the trip without too much problem. The seats are large and recline way back. The legroom is grand. It is a good idea to pack light meals and some snacks and perhaps some beverages as well. No personal alcohol but the snack bar has beer, wine and liquor.

Mount Shasta

The following day is well spent in the observation car enjoying the views.  You go through some beautiful forests and next to rivers far from the highways. The view of Mount Shasta is glorious.

We’ll get there when we get there.
My proposed tagline for Amtrak

Amtrak overnighters in coach are not for the faint of heart. The food is a snack bar missing half of the menu items. The fellow passengers are always an odd sort. However, the views of rivers, mountains and lakes make it all worthwhile. Even the scrapyards, car junkyards, trash-heaps and way too many homeless camps along the rivers are intriguing. Eugene, Oregon looked particularly depressing. Goodnight America, how are you?

Of course when you get to Washington, the exploration options expand. I took the train in February 2023 to meet up with a backcountry ski party.

Rediscovering Dick Gregory – The One and Only Dick Gregory (2021) – A Review

The One and Only Dick Gregory (2021) is available on many streaming services and I highly recommend this movie – 5 Stars

OFFICIAL TRAILER:

Dick Gregory is one of the many brilliant people from the 20th century who are often overlooked. If you were White, growing up in the 1960s and 70s, the name Dick Gregory came into the spotlight rarely, perhaps a few times on the six o’clock news. He was, along with Gloria Steinem on the FBI list of people to try to minimize as they were “dangerous.”   I remember Dick Gregory only as the guy going on juice fasts and advocating for better nutrition.  To my nine year old self, he seemed honest and had commonsensical ideas but was a bit of an eccentric. I had never seen him do standup so I probably did not realize he was a comic as well.  In this era of having everything on demand, it is easy to forget that the era of broadcast television made it so you could only see things once. Once it was broadcast at 6 pm and the show ended, it was over. Gone into that dream-like world. Even though he made it to the Tonight Show with Jack Parr a few times, to many, Dick Gregory simply disappeared and fell off the radar.

After watching the movie I would ask random friends and acquaintances if they had ever heard of Dick Gregory.  The two Black people I spoke with had stories to tell, one about how his mother would play Dick Gregory records, the other about his nutritional supplements. I would usually get a blank stare from White folk.  “Dick Gregory? Never heard of him.”

The One and Only Dick Gregory is a two hour retrospective on Dick Gregory’s entire life. It is fairly balanced between each decade. I appreciated the fact that it took this approach as people are often much more complex than just the high points.  It would be perhaps more entertaining to have most of the movie about his years as a standup comic and then his association and friendship with Martin Luther King, but that would make it so you did not see the incredible arch of Dick Gregory’s life.

I particularly enjoyed Dick Gregory’s obsession with running.  During the segment on the nineteen-seventies, you see the same low-res home movie of Gregory running by the side of the road. One just has to wonder if the fictional character Forrest Gump’s running faze was inspired in some part by Dick Gregory.

In 1976, to combat world hunger, Dick Gregory ran from Los Angeles, CA to New York City. The run was known as the Dick Gregory Food Run. Signature shirts were worn and passed out along the way. 71 days, 50 miles per day for a total of 2,782 miles. Dick Gregory ate no solid food during this run. He solely consumed water and his 4x formula.

 

Dick Gregory running in Ohio
Dick Gregory running in Ohio, from https://ohiomemory.org/digital/collection/p267401coll32/id/28839/

I will not spoil any more of the movie. The One and Only Dick Gregory is an excellent way to get to learn about this remarkable man. It places equal weight to all time periods of his life. This is a man who in his twenties smoked four packs of cigarettes’ a day, was good friends and opened up for Martin Luther King at civil rights rallies and later ran from LA to New York to bring attention to world hunger.  Just a few of the many incredible moments in a remarkable life. The guy was a mensch. 

 

 

 

Books I Read In 2022

Books I Read in 2022 is brought to you by Bird and Beckett Books in San Francisco.

Bird and Beckett Books

Remember, before you buy a book from Jeff Bezos consider supporting your local bookstore. There are so many great book stores in San Francisco. I also highly recommend Green Apple Books on Clement Street. They have just about everything and the staff is amazing. When you buy a book from a local bookstore you get that warm fuzzy feeling just thinking that you may have kept a local business alive and you may even make some real friends.

Below are the books I read in 2022.  This year I realized how fun it is to keep this annual list and reflect back on these literary journeys.  The list is organized in the order that I read them.

I always like to mix up contemporary works with classics. Some of the highlights of the year is reading Brave New World in January and then spending the entire year marveling at the clairvoyance of Aldous Huxley.  It is a must-read for anyone in the 21st century. What a great book! I picked up Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction. in New Orleans. It is a short  book and illuminates how the issue of race is in the United States is complex, how various stories are rarely told – one being race and the City of New Orleans. I did read a few chapters of the 1619 Project but found that I already knew a lot of the material, so it became a bit of a slog.  I was lucky to read No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories  while staying in Cali Colombia for a week.  Way too fun! I read it twice.

This heat is enough to rust the screws in my head.

No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories
Gabriel García Márquez

Books I Read 2022

Brave New World
Aldous Huxley
HarperCollins
Read Review

Finding the Right Notes
Ron Carter
Petrack Production

After a couple of months on the road with the band, Herbie began to feel frustrated. He was copying all the other pianists but not allowing himself to come out from hiding. Finally that frustration came to a head. “I thought , I’ve just got to play, really play.” Herbie said. ” If that conflicts with Miles, I’ll just have to hear the consequences.” So at Sutherford Lounge in Chicago one night, I let it loose. I figured that Miles was going to fire me after the set, but he leaned over to me and said. “Why didn’t you play like that before?” That shocked me. Then it dawned on that that a copy is never as good as the original. Miles wanted to hear me. And so did Ron and Tony.

Finding the Right Notes
Ron Carter

Americanah
Ngozi Adiche
Anchor Books

Robots Men and Minds
Ludwig Von Bertalanffy
Brazziller

The Bomb
Howard Zinn
City Lights

Free People of Color of New Orleans : An Introduction
Mary Gehman
Margaret Media, Incorporated

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitxgerald
Scribner

Ladies Who Lunch
Joseph Woodard
Household Ink

The Septembers of Shiraz
Dalia Sofer
Harper Perenial
Read Review

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Mark Twain
The Mark Twain Library

Witches Midwives & Nurses
Barbara Ehrenreich & Deirdre English
The Feminist Press at CUNY; 2nd edition (July 1, 2010)
Read Review

Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings
Bill Morgan
Beatdom Press
Read Review

The Bomb
Howard Zinn
City Lights Books

No One Writes to the Colonel: And Other Stories
Gabriel García Márquez
Harper Perennial

The Manufacture of Madness
Thomas Szsasz
Harper and Row
Read Review

Skyblue the Badass
Dallas Weibe

Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk
David Sedaris
Little, Brown and Company

Gender Queer
Maia Kobabe
One Forge Publishing Group

A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
New Directions

The Quarterly Report – December 2022

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months. Note: this is actually a six month synopsis as the October 2022 Quarterly Report was missed due to labor issues.

Politics

The November 6, 2022  San Francisco election outcomes were all predictable as the incumbents won easily.  Brooke Jenkins won the San Francisco D.A. job.  In terms of crime, drug overdoses and homelessness, not much has changed since Jenkins became the D.A.  save for the observation that Capp Street now seems to have more prostitution and a few more homeless camps.  A good friend who works at 850 Bryant Street  says that the jail is about as full as when Chesa Boudin was in charge.  Boudin was recalled because he came to the job with long term ideas and radical solutions that did not promote incarceration for non-violent offenders. Politically that is a hard road as people want quick fixes for things were quick fixes do not exist. There are no short term solutions to homelessness.

Gavin Newsom and Nancy Pelosi had no significant challengers and so kept their jobs.

In San Francisco, one of the tragic and strange events of the past six months was the home invasion of the Pelosi residence. Paul Pelosi eventually got clobbered in the head with a hammer. Evidently we must all be wary (or have a security detail)  as there are all kinds of deranged people out there eating up the conspiracies brewing on the internet. To a speedy recovery Mr. Pelosi.

There has to be some adult supervision on the Republican side, in order to say, ‘Enough. Enough,”
Nancy Pelosi – November 2022

Proposition I – Vehicles on JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park and the Great Highway lost and Proposition J – Recreational Use of JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park passed. So confusing! This means that Golden Gate Park’s John F. Kennedy Drive will remain car-free. After all that confusion, what is sometimes lost is the actual schedule for the Great Highway.

Starting at noon on Friday and going until 6 a.m. on Monday, The Great Highway is closed to cars.

The Great Highway in SF

Vehicular Access Schedule 
Vehicular access to the Upper Great Highway is open on:

Monday – starting at 6 a. m.
Tuesday – all day
Wednesday – all day
Thursday – all day
Friday – ending at 12 noon

This schedule started on August 16, 2021 and will be in place until the Board of Supervisors considers legislation on the future of the Great Highway beyond the pandemic emergency closure. Additional information can be found on the Mayor’s Press Release.
From https://sfrecpark.org/1651/Great-Highway-Hours-and-Schedule

National Politics Quote to Chew On

By the way, Liz and I are not courageous. There’s no strength in this. We’re just surrounded by cowards. And then [in] complete contrast to cowardism [sic], it looks like courage when it’s just your bare duty.”
U.S. Congressman Adam Kinzinger – November 2022 from https://kinzinger.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=403011

Sporting News

Soccer
Argentina won the World Cup against France in double overtime and penalties. It was an amazing World Cup and a perfect activity for some battling the latest round of colds, flu or COVID 19.

Football
The San Francisco 49ers, with a great defense, a lot of stellar skill players on offence and a poised, talented, third string rookie quarterback named Brock Purdy are on an eight game winning streak and headed to the playoffs.  This will be fun to watch as everyone loves the home team when they start winning.

Weather

Fortunately we have been getting some good storms this year. The first came in mid-November and dumped a few feet of snow on the Sierra. In December, there have been multiple weather systems come through bringing plenty of rain. Surf is definitely up at times.

End of Year Point Arena Buoy Report. 35 foot waves. Yikes!

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

While San Francisco for the last two years been a place were people wear masks out of respect the pandemic does seem to be waning. In public places like busses and libraries masks seem to be common but people are out and about and traffic is definitely back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying and music events are everywhere. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report – December 2022.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – December 2022

A Stitch In Time

A Stitch In Time is now playing at the Pelican Cafe.

It is a song about the 6th Mass extinction otherwise known as the Holocene extinction. Oceans did sing to the sunsets. And once a whale did swim by.  That’s all you get. Just a stitch in time.

A Stitch In Time

There was a day
Not so long ago
The sun did rise
To the East

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

And then the sun
Kissed the Mission
And found a friend
In the fog

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

Oceans did sing
To the sunsets
And once the whales
Did swim by

CHORUS
That’s all you get
Just a stitch in time
Dilly dally
And it does fly

CODA
Don’t feel so bad
It’s happened before
Haven’t you heard
There’s bees.

Paul Lyons 8/2022

Reflections on Thomas Szasz and The Manufacture of Madness

Thomas Szasz’s The Manufacture of Madness –  A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement was published in 1970. The gist of the book is that the Inquisition that persecuted witches, heretics, Jews and homosexuals and a variety of “others” is similar to modern psychiatry and the Mental Health Movement that diagnoses people for their insanity and locks them up, against their will in institutions for safekeeping and treatments.

That was 1970. I am sure there is still the practice of putting people with schizophrenia and other diagnoses against their will into institutions and it may be good to remember that The Manufacture of Madness was written in the time of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Additionally it was a time when homosexuality and masturbation were often considered diseases that needed to be cured. I will refrain from the gory details of the treatments.

Of course, comparing the Mental Health Movement to the Inquisition made Dr. Szasz a very controversial academic and he surely had many enemies.  In effect he was declaring that mental illness is a myth and the profession of psychiatry a hoax and the people who practice it immoral and dense – not a good way to make friends. Szasz’s thesis surely has merit and it is odd that people then and today dismiss his theories simply because it makes them uncomfortable and they do not like them. In every era we think we become more noble and advanced but time and time again it turns out that more often than not the same dynamics are in play; it is only the words, players and titles that change.

What one thinks of Rush’s tactics depends, of course , on what one thinks of the ideology of psychiatric imperialism and its attendant quasi-medical sanctions.

The chapter The New Manufacturers – Benjamin Rush, The Father of American Psychiatry is an eye-opening account of how Benjamin Rush thought that criminals had mental diseases that needed to be “cured” and that Black people suffered a “disease” from the color of their skin

More surprising than Rush’s self-proclaimed love for the Negro is his theory of Negritude. Rush does not believe that God created the Negro black; nor that a Negro is black in nature…  About 1792, white spots began to appear on the body of a Negro slave named Henry Moss. In three years he was almost entirely white. Moss had the symptoms of an hereditary disease we now know as vitiligo. The condition, characterized by loss of skin pigmentation, occurs in both white and colored people… The gist of Rush’s theory was that the Negro suffered from congenital leprosy which “… appeared so mild a form that excess pigmentation was its only symptom.”

By inventing his theory of Negritude, Rush solved the issue of racial  segregation. Whites and Blacks could not have sexual contact and God-forbid marry as it would propagate this dreaded disease of being Black.  By conflating race with a disease, he was promoting a concept that humans could be cured of their race – or in more modern terms, they would then be cured by becoming  transracial. Race (as gender is today) was considered a preexisting medical condition. In the 18th and 19ths centuries, it is clear that unless you were a white male, you had some sort of disease that needed a medical remedy.  Women suffered from hysteria and pregnancy was a disease. Black people had the disease of Negritude. It is a sobering fact that this is the basis of psychiatry in America  as conjured up by Benjamin Rush, the preeminent doctor and a man who signed the Declaration of Independence.

All students of psychology and psychiatry would do well to read the work of Thomas Szasz as he was a very influential person, intelligently questioning the status quo and his work goes deep into the history of psychiatry. That he is fading into the background of history is predictable. People in the field of medicine that question the profit sector of the industry will always get pushed aside. That the last forty years has seen huge profits in the mental health pharmaceutical industry speaks to this conundrum.

What is interesting is how much has changed in the Mental Health Movement in the last fifty years. Homosexuality and masturbation are no longer considered diseases. Since President Ronald Reagan helped to defund mental health services in the 1980s we see plenty of people that are mentally imbalanced on the streets. If mental illness is a myth, tell that to the homeless person screaming at the moon at 3 AM in the middle of the night.  Their condition may go beyond just the cardboard box they sleep in. Indeed. they may have a “problem with living” and a warm, clean safe bed, a toilet and shower is surely part of the remedy, but years of abuse, living on the edge and poverty has its toll. People are complicated. Simple solutions are often overly simplistic.

But then again, as Szasz pointed out, the Mental Health Movement is always manufacturing new diseases. Here are just some of the the latest disorders that people are diagnosed with.

The DSM-5 (2013)
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals around the world. The manual is the guide by which mental health professionals base their diagnosis. Below is a list in alphabetical order of the 15 new disorders added to the DSM-5.

  1. Binge Eating Disorder
  2. Caffeine Withdrawal
  3. Cannabis Withdrawal
  4. Central Sleep Apnoea
  5. Disinhibited Social Engagement Disorder
  6. Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder- DMDD
  7. Excoriation (Skin-picking) Disorder
  8. Hoarding Disorder
  9. Hypersexual Disorder
  10. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder – PMDD
  11. Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Behaviour Disorder
  12. Restless Legs Syndrome
  13. Sleep-related Hypoventilation
  14. Social (Pragmatic) Communication Withdrawal

From https://www.aifc.com.au/14-new-disorders-in-the-dsm-5/

The list above is just the tip of the iceberg. Dr. Thomas Szasz was definitely on to something no one wants discuss. I highly doubt he is required reading in university programs. Need I say more?

You can hear an amazing Studs Terkel sixty minute interview of Dr. Szasz from 1970.

The Manufacture of Madness
by Thomas S Szasz
ASIN ‏ : ‎ B000GJVK5E
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Paladin; 1st Edition, 5th Printing (January 1, 1970)
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 383 pages

California College of the Arts November 2022 Ground Breaking Ceremony

On November 15th, 2022 California College of the Arts will hold a ground breaking ceremony for the San Francisco campus expansion over an Ohlone shellmound (named “Project Double Ground”) During legally required archaeological testing on the backlot of the SF campus, CCA discovered fragments of shells, bones and tools located 40 feet below the surface in the bore samples. The samples identify Ohlone activity before the Bay Area was violently colonized dating back more than 7,500 years.
Hold CCA accountable for building over an Ohlone shellmound (change.org)

A few days a week I work programming websites on Irwin Street across from the California College of the Arts. It is a jovial office of designers who produce very good work. Across from the office, on November 15, 2022, CCA held a ground breaking ceremony for a new campus extension, but this was all simply pomp and circumstance as they have been digging, flattening and scraping the ground for many months on  land that last year was a parking lot.  You see large equipment that looks like pile drivers (not looking forward to when that gets started) and the area has been flattened and groomed for construction. We all looked out from the second story windows for a few minutes to take in the special event. It was a bright crisp autumn day.

Map of San Francisco California 1853 - wikimedia.org. From this Map it appears that Irwin Street was under water.
Map of San Francisco California 1853 – wikimedia.org. From this Map it appears that Irwin Street was under water.

What Really Went Down

Irwin Street, like Wisconsin Street nearby is often a place were the unhoused put up tents and hunker down surrounded always by a strange assortment of personal belongings. A week before the ground breaking ceremony, about a dozen police officers and social workers who do homelessness outreach started clearing out the tents and unhoused folks. It was a major operation complete with bobtail trucks to haul away the stuff. Word had it that they were taking them to a hotel – hot showers and some fresh clothes, a fresh start to life perhaps.  I do hope that they find their legs, as it must be a drag to camp night after night on the sordid streets at the base of Potrero Hill..

The following week on November 15th, 2022, Irwin Street, outside the California College of the Arts, was once again closed off. This time there were white canopy style event tents and various tables, chairs organized in rows, a lectern and about a half dozen people milling around. It all began to make sense. You cannot have a ground breaking ceremony next to a homeless encampment – it is just not a good look. The largest canopy faced the new campus extension and there was a lectern. It looked like a set up for a wedding or maybe some sort of graduation ceremony.  Caterers were nowhere to be found. Food would not be part of this celebration. The sidewalk where the homeless were was all clear and  smelled of bleach.

In the middle of the day, about a hundred people gathered. From our second floor window, we heard speeches which we could not make out.  On the periphery there were protesters holding professionally printed signs that said “SHELL MOUND.” They stood and listened and were entirely peaceful. A few round of applauses, more speeches  and then a multi-racial and multi-gendered New Orleans style second-line style brass band came marching out of the main CCA building playing a joyous tune. They marched around the crowd and played for about five minutes then returned to the main California College of the Arts building from whence they came.  It was all a bit surreal and felt a bit odd. Mercenary horn players are always easy hires for well-paid five minute gigs. The band was indeed very good.

Then you had applauses and the whole thing was over, people mingled for a bit and then the staff started taking down the canopy tents and packing away the chairs.

ORDER OF EVENTS

(For those wanting to do a ground-breaking ceremony on native grounds in San Francisco)

STEP 1:  Clear out the homeless encampments the week before.

STEP 2: On the day of the ceremony set up tents and chairs.

STEP 3: Give speeches and thank people. (Not sure what they said about the history of the spot)

STEP 4: Hire a New Orleans style second-line style brass band to make everyone feel better about the whole shebang.  Have the band march around to spread the joy.

Who are the Ohlone?
Ohlone is a collective of around 50 separate tribes with related languages that were collectively placed under the umbrella term: Ohlone. The Ohlone are Native American people located in the Northern California Coast, tribes inhabited areas from the coast of San Francisco through Monterey Bay to lower Salinas Valley. The Ohlone family of tribes have been living in the Bay Area for 10,000 years

CLOSING THOUGHTS

San Francisco map composite. 1856 -2022
San Francisco map composite. 1853 -2022
San Francisco map composite. 1856 -2022 - Close Up Mission Bay
San Francisco map composite. 1853 -2022 – Close Up Mission Bay

San Francisco is Ohlone land and over the last 300 years has been completely transformed.  It would be amazing to go back in time 300 years and stand at what now is Irwin and 7th Street and just look around. You probably would need a canoe. According to a map from 1853, Mission Creek flowed into the San Francisco Bay (see map above) and the area was probably wetlands and underwater. Humans have completely changed the geography of San Francisco, filling in the bay, making more space for development. This has been going on for hundreds of years. It is Western Civilization’s obsession with conquering, not living in harmony with nature. We see this same ethos today with notion that we must “fight climate change.” Sunrise on Mission Bay must have been a sight with certainly a lot of wildlife and from early accounts huge flocks of birds.

Where the California College of the Arts new extension building is being built is along 7th Street and towering above is Interstate 280. If the Ohlone time-traveled to today, and attended the ceremony they probably would not recognize anything and many would probably be perplexed and perhaps terrified of the brass band.  However, that the area in question, the Shell Mound is now the place for an Art School is probably a good thing. It could have been turned into unsold luxury condos, an IKEA or perhaps a headquarters for some tech company with the latest get-rich scheme.  Maybe one day the California College of the Arts will make a plaque to acknowledge the Ohlone and their history.  Perhaps, a student looking for meaning to their art will stumble upon the Ohlone basket tradition and incorporate the designs and ideas into their work. But one thing is always true. When you are feeling down and out, and perhaps need to smooth over a tricky political situation, or simply want to feel good about something – anything, simply hire a second line brass band.  They even do funerals.

EDITED 11/22/2022 – Added images and updated some text for clarity. Fixed typos. Map composite an approximation.

Kenny Wheeler and That Amazing Sound

I was thinking about Kenny Wheeler the other day. Coming out of a store where all the music was processed and the horns were not real I thought about that great Kenny Wheeler sound.

Kenny Wheeler (14 January 1930 – 18 September 2014) played the trumpet, lead bands and composed some beautiful music. His trumpet sound always had a bright singing quality. He played daring, audacious leaps soaring into the upper registers. I always got the felling when he played he put everything on the line.

A few Kenny Wheeler Videos

A Scene with Kenny Wheeler

And this one from a studio session where you see him in the trenches of studio work. Amazing musician, trumpet player, composer.

Kenny Wheeler at 82 plays trumpet on “Color Sample”. From the album “Bro/Knak”

“Color Sample”. From the album “Bro/Knak” by Jakob Bro in collaboration with Thomas Knak. Album released on Loveland Records 06th July 2012. More info: http://www.jakobbro.com

Chauncey Gardiner, the Messiah Complex and How Jerzy Kosiński Got One Thing Wrong

I recently made a comment to the October 12, 2022 NY Times article House Jan. 6 Panel Plans a Sweeping Summation of Its Case Against Trump  

In what may be its final public hearing, the committee intends to present new evidence about the former president’s state of mind and central role in the plan to overturn the 2020 election.
New York Times – October 12, 2022

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts with The New York Times community.

Gustav | San Francisco
I am still a bit on the fence about President Trump. Did he incite a mob that then violently invaded the capital to stop the election certification? It could have been just one of his First Amendment comedy routines. Did he make calls to election officials in Georgia to “find” 12,000 votes? You would do it if you were a billionaire. It will be in the follow up sequel to “The Art of the Deal – Season II.” Did he walk off with top secret documents? Not a chance. We all know President Trump does not know how to read. How can he possibly be guilty of sedition? He’s a seemingly wealthy white guy with really fantastic hair. He must be innocent.

Initially the comment was approved and must of passed through their AI detector but then was pulled down – being disingenuous I guess was the reason. I made the comment in jest just to point out how the fact that Donald Trump has not been carted off to jail is absurd. Indeed, the only thing that seems that would put him in jail is if he did actually shoot someone, point-blank on 5th Avenue.

But it could have been unpublished simply because my comment stated that Donald Trump does not “know how to read.” This may be a untrue as it would be more accurate to say that “he does not like to read.”

In any event, it got me thinking about Jerzy Kosiński and his brilliant 1970 novel Being There which was turned into a movie starring Peter Sellers as Chauncey Gardiner. Today Chauncey Gardiner would be diagnosed as being “on the spectrum.” He lived a protected life, never venturing out of the house and besides the few people he saw and the garden he tended, his outside reality was defined completely by television. Sound familiar? He was illiterate.  When his guardian dies he has to venture alone out into the world. The story unfolds with Chauncey becoming an endearing figure to the rich and powerful as well as the common folk. They become enamored with his simple child-like logic about the world. In the end, the political leaders of the country discuss making Chauncey Gardiner the next President of the United States. The story ends with  Chauncey Gardiner, a Christ-like figure, walking on water across a lake.

In many ways Chauncey Gardiner was a premonition of what was to come. Chauncey Gardiner and Donald Trump do share the fact that they both either cannot read or do not read. They both have gained favor with the rich and powerful and certain common people by their obsession with television and simplistic views of the world. The similarities end there. While Chauncey is a benign character, comparing every aspect of life to the care of a garden, Trump is the opposite. His character was probably best summarized by Michael Cohen, his former lawyer.

“In some ways, I knew him better than even his family did because I bore witness to the real man, in strip clubs, shady business meetings, and in the unguarded moments when he revealed who he really was: a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man, – Michael Cohen

But then again, oddly enough, Kosiński perhaps got something right. Such characters do become Christ-like characters as we witness the MAGA crowd adoration of their messiah.

I wonder what Peter Sellers would have had to say about our present situation.  He probably would have told a joke – with a straight face of course.

2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival SF Journal Awards

The 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park  was back to true form; there were so many bands that I lost count. Since COVID 19 hit the festival has been on hiatus save for the online streaming variety which I did not check out.  My buddy Steve from Atlanta was in town to take in the festival. We went all three days, listened to over twenty bands, and had a blast.

In 2022 the weather varied a lot.  The mornings on Friday and Saturday began clear but by 1 pm on both days the fog came in and the temperatures dropped significantly. No need for an artificial fog machine at HSB 2022, many times the stage and musicians were obscured by fog.  During the Drive By Truckers‘ set it began to look like a dystopian, gothic hallucination. Yes, that is the stage there in the fog.

Drive By Truckers' set at HSB 2022

Often October has some of the best surf, but during the HSB 2022 weekend that happen on only Saturday morning.. Saturday began with clear skies and long beautiful shoulder to head high waves. We did not venture into the waters this year but took in the waves as spectators along the Great Highway.

Without further ado,  here are the 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival SF Journal Awards.

BEST BLUEGRASS BAND – AJ Lee and Blue Summit

AJ Lee and Blue Summit are a hard working band from nearby Santa Cruz that is often on tour, playing festivals and shows all around the world. It is awesome that they were invited to the 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival as often the festival overlooks some amazing local bands. Their set featured everyone in the band and the solos and breaks were first rate. A local treasure that people in the Bay Area would be wise to to check it, even if you do not like bluegrass. It is really hard not to like this band. You can go to this festival and it is entirely possible to avoid hearing any country or bluegrass bands. I ran into some friends later on who were walking  by the little Bandwagon Stage and were blown away by AJ Lee and Blue Summit. It’s bound to happen.

BEST GOSPHEL SET – DeShawn Hickman with Charlie Hunter

It is not very often that the musicians that hail from Berkeley, that grew up in the Jazz, Funk and Hip Hop scene get on the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival bill, but Charlie Hunter arrived as the bassist with DeShawn Hickman. Since it was Sunday, they did an all-Gospel set and it was wonderful. Great pedal steel guitar,  nice singing by DeShawn’s sister and of course some solid  bass by Charlie Hunter.  Just take note, that Charlie Hunter is a first-rate jazz guitarist. This was at the Bandwagon Stage that is starting to become one of those best secret spots of the festival.

MOST TREACHEROUSLY CROWDED SHOW – Elvis Costello

Elvis Costello was perhaps the most well-known name at the festival and the Gold Stage was completely packed during his set.  Just getting around up on the road felt a bit treacherous. When we finally met up with some friends and found a spot the sound was not so good. It was the kind of set that seemed to be more about being there than the music. Eventually Elvis played some of his classic hits and all was good. Alison, may aim is true.

BAND WITH THE MOST RAW ENERGY and BEST COSTUMES  – Las Cafeteras

Las Cafeteras is an LA band that to me was one of the big surprises. The energy they brought to their set was off the charts. Amazing costumes and high energy dance moves. The very direct, politically-charged lyrics speaking to various issues of social justice really worked in the San Francisco festival setting. A band to definitely experience live.

MOST AMAZING TRUMPET PLAYER – Eric Gordon with Galatic

We had an excellent spot for the Galactic set at the Swan Stage. On the same stage, that a few years back Terrance Blanchard played so well, the younger Eric Gordon simply blew the house down with his powerful, impeccable trumpet. The tradition of phenomenal trumpet players that come from New Orleans continues.

BEST BABY BOOMER SET – Jesse Colin Young

I never had any Jesse Colin Young albums when I was a kid but always liked his name and surely heard his music on the radio.  It is the name of either an 19th century bank robber, a Supreme Court justice or  an unstoppable NFL halfback. Due to the cancellation of Cymande, I made the trek over to the Porch Stage and caught the Jesse Colin Young set. His acoustic guitar with lots of reverb and soulful voice came together well. My neighbors close by let me know that many of his songs sounded nothing like the originals. Jesse’s house burned down in one of the recent fires and getting out playing may be a way to get back on his feet. He did play the classic Get Together that became a big hit while he was with The Youngbloods.

Love is but a song we sing
Fear’s the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why
Come on, people now
Smile on your brother
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now
Get Together

BEST MOTHER DAUGTER SINGING DOU – O.N.E The Duo

It is really great how many women were a part of the 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival.  One of the more unusual groups was a stellar, gospel oriented mother, daughter group. There was no more hiding behind the mic on the harmony parts and singing was strong and true.

Until next year, that is the SF Journal 2022 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Awards.

ABOUT
The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco is a little like Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Big-name bands, many kinds of music and a festive atmosphere. One of the amazing things about Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival is that even though there are tens of thousands of people, it is always a  peaceful event, and in the end people seem to get along just fine and often make new friends. Everyone seems to pack out the trash pretty well too. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival. Warren Hellman’s party.  Communal music therapy.

PAST AWARDS

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass 2022 – Preview and Recommendations

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass: A FREE gathering in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco featuring dozens of musical acts on 6 stages.

September 30 – October 2, 2022.

https://www.hardlystrictlybluegrass.com/schedule/


This link above is pretty much all you need to know about this music festival that goes back more than a decade, and is free and unusual.  The now deceased, banjo-playing billionaire Warren Hellman’s fortune keeps it all going and hires the bands and now extensive security. Thanks Warren! The music is an odd mix of genres but comes down to some country and bluegrass bands, old geezer, baby boomer bands, alternative rock and pop bands and a few local bands. For a young band, your way to get the gig is to be in the industry and a hard working touring band that has paid some dues, traveled many miles in a van and probably slept in a lot of Motel 6’s.

Whether you experience Hardly Strictly Bluegrass at one stage with a group of friends, a blanket, chardonnay and lots of stinky cheese and olives or want to catch a lot of stages, travel light and fly solo or with a like-minded buddy or partner in crime is your choice. I tend to go with the fly solo thing as there are so many bands it seems a shame to be tied down to one spot.

Here is my list of people I hope to hear, but as always things change and I may find myself eating brie with some strangers at a stage listening to someone I never knew that then becomes my new favorite band.

PAUL’S HAPHAZARED PICKS FOR THE HSB 2022 FESTIVAL

AJ LEE AND BLUE SUMMIT

AJ Lee is a local band that most people in the Bay Area do not know, which is strange because they are really good.  Santa Cruz bluegrass at its best.

ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL

Country swing from West Texas. Nothing like some Dizzy Gillespie thrown in with your Hank Williams

CEDRIC WATSON

Some Bayou sounds not to miss.

CYMANDE

This looks like a really interesting band far from bluegrass.

DASHAWN HICKMAN W/ CHARLIE HUNTER

ELVIS COSTELLO

FARE THEE WELL: CELEBRATING THE SONGS OF JOHN PRINE, NANCY BECHTLE, JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE & MORE

JESSE COLIN YOUNG

RHIANNON GIDDENS W/ FRANCESCO TURRISI

SATYA

It is always good to checkout the Bandwagon Stage were the local folk get up on stage. Not as crazy as the other big stages.

Remember to keep hydrated, pack a few extra snacks and maybe a few extra cans of quality beer for when you find yourself next to some other friendly festival goers .  See y’all on Monday.

Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings – A Review

Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings is a book by Bill Morgan soon to be released by BEATDOM BOOKS. While the book is rather short, about a 100 pages, it is one of those “pandemic projects” that creative people were taking on in 2020 and 2021.  We are all the wiser for the fascinating story of two men, from very different circles, both “yearning to discover a spiritual basis for life” and their correspondences while Ferlinghetti attempted to publish a journal for City Lights Books called  Journal for the Protection Of All Beings.

Thomas Merton had a best selling book The Seven Story Mountain which sold over a million copies.  After writing that book Merton went on to pursue spirituality in the Catholic tradition, eventually becoming a Trappist Monk in a monastery in Kentucky. Lawrence Ferlinghetti, on the other hand, was a founding partner in City Lights Books in San Francisco and wrote such classics as A Coney Island of the Mind. One would think that these two men would be very different, however they became pen-pals and had a lot of mutual respect for one another.  They both became bound by their pacifism and spiritualism and a searching for a deeper meaning to life.

Poets come out of your closets,
Open your windows, open you doors,
You have been holed up too long
in your closed worlds.
Lawrence Ferlinghetti

The concept behind Journal for the Protection Of All Beings was to have contemporary writers submit essays and poems to shed light on the current situation in the world. Of course, the existential threat at the time was the atomic bomb and the constant threat of nuclear war.  Thomas Merton had recently written a poem  Original Child Bomb, written in a sort of detached objective style which  called for pacifism. In the Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings, there is much back and forth about including Original Child Bomb in the Journal for the Protection Of All Beings. Merton had to get all his published writings approved by the Catholic church which was often tentative about Merton being associated with the Beats. In the end, it was published in the journal along side a wide range of submissions. Such was the travails of publishing something from authors in different circles in 1961.

If you are visiting San Francisco, and want to get a sense of who the Beats were and a feeling for how San Francisco was in the 1950s and 60s Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings is a great start. So often the Beats are seen only from the anarchistic, bleary-eyed, drug crazed, sometimes homosexual counter-culture lens, but they were of course much deeper. Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings gives you a view into this world of people who were deep readers, writers and thinkers.

Merton underwent a similar type of visionary experience on a street corner in Louisville Kentucky. On March 18, 1958, as he was walking through the downtown shopping district, he stopped at the corner of Walnut and Fourth Streets, where he was “overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another though we were total strangers.” “If only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. They were all walking around shining like the sun,” he later explained. He saw that everyone was sacred, just as Ginsberg had declared that everyone was “holy.”
Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings

Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ginsberg all looked upon industrialized civilization and hoped for its demise. They saw all humans as “sacred” or “holy.” Some went on a spiritual path through Catholicism others through Zen Buddhism. One opened a bookstore and lived to be over one hundred.

What is interesting to this reader is the idealism of those times. San Francisco was much more bohemian than it is today. There must have been a sense that publishing poems and short essays could actually do something to bring about world peace. Having Original Child Bomb in the journal would somehow aid in nuclear disarmament. Reading a poem could not only change one person but the entire planet. Poems and literature actually mattered. What rose-colored glasses!

What a different world that was and how the city of San Francisco has changed. You got a little sense of that idealism in the early days of the internet but that period is long gone. San Francisco is primarily about digital technology and now more often about libertarian get rich schemes, venture capital, startups and a sort of selfish individualism.  Automated driverless car technology and mining people’s personal data for profit. Individuals are no longer “sacred” or “holy” but a mass of data points. Surely, there is still a creative vibrancy, but the rents are high and the parking tickets and bridge tolls steep. Everyone needs a day job to make rent. There are surely no poets today in San Francisco that have the delusion that their poems are going to change the world. Sorry for the buzz-kill folks.

While reading Thomas Merton, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, And The Protection Of All Beings I could not help but imagine a screenplay of this book. It could be  a low budget film with historic photos and videos of San Francisco. The notion that these two men, in very different places had such a deep literary and philosophical relationship, simply draws you in. You can almost hear the fog horns, seagulls and a typewriter tapping away from a little apartment in North Beach. I am still undecided if I would have the tragic, accidental death of Thomas Merton, electrocuted in a bathtub in Thailand at the beginning or the end. Perhaps both.

DISCLAIMER:  This book reviewer received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher.

Barbara Ehrenreich – Legacies and Book Recommendations

I never think delusion is ok.
Barbara Ehrenreich in an interview with Jon Stewart

Barbara Ehrenreich died on September 1, 2022 at the age of 81. She was a modern-day muckraker who’s books exposed sexism and rampant capitalism  in the health care system, wage inequalities, the latest silly fads in psychology and the challenges of living in our modern capitalist America. Her best selling  2001 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, is a memoir of her three-month experiment surviving on a series of minimum wage jobs. It is an easy read, a bit of a “one hit wonder” and ironically gave her some financial freedom to continue to write on topics of her choosing. You can read the New York Times obit which seems to have been picked up by other papers and is  the only obit of Barbara Ehrenreich that I could find.

I have three of Barbara Ehrenreich’s books.  It has baffled me how of all her books Nickel and Dimed was so successful.  People did not know that living off of a minimum wage job is next to impossible? But then again Nickel and Dimed was written as gonzo journalism and hit right when reality television shows were coming of age. People often read to confirm their beliefs not to challenge them. Many of Ehrenreich’s books were written in this first person, lived confessional style. However, to this reader, if you want to read some of her most interesting and powerful works, read the books she co-wrote with Diedre English, Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers (1972). and For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women (1978) were she writes as a researcher and scholar about the disenfranchisement of women and  the transformation of healthcare over the last 200 years. This is a story that our present medical model and especially the AMA (American Medical Association) does not want the public to know.

Witches, Midwives, and Nurses: A History of Women Healers ( For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women  are both books written in the 1970s at the height of Second-wave feminism.  Both books look at the history of medicine and how the role women as healers and experts was usurped  by the emergence of a medical “profession.”  The overriding theme is how this new male dominated profession dealt with what was called the “Woman Problem.”

For decades into the twentieth century doctors would continue to view menstruation, pregnancy and menopause as physical diseases and intellectual liabilities. Adolescent girls would still be advised to study less, and mature would be treated indiscriminately to hysterectomies, the modern substitution for ovariotomies. The female reproductive organs would continue to be viewed as a kind of frontier for chemical and surgical expansionism, untested drugs, and reckless experimentation.
For Her Own Good: Two Centuries of the Experts’ Advice to Women

In many ways this sort of medical arrogance has continued. For years women who went through menopause would be prescribed hormone replacement therapy to deal with their “Woman Problem,” as though nature needed help with the natural process of life and aging. It was later found that hormone replacement therapy created risks including heart disease, stroke, blood clots and breast cancer.

And as of 2014, gender is now considered a pre-existing medical condition where God often seems to makes “mistakes.” In many ways, if you connect the dots, the “Woman Problem” has not ended – it just has been repackaged.

Hopefully, someone will take up the torch of critical thinking that Barbara Ehrenreich lit and continue on with her early style of research and questioning the medical establishment and the powers that be. An interesting study would be how the profession has changed now that women are entering the field of medicine at about the same rate as men.

Minneapolis to Madison by Bicycle – June 2022

When you do something twice it could be considered a habit or maybe just an eccentric variance or probably, in my case,  just plain craziness. Being the crazy person I am, last year in 2021, in order to visit relatives and avoid Interstate 94,  I biked the awesome 300 mile, four-day bike trek from Minneapolis to Madison and had so much fun I decided to do it again in 2022.  The ride along the Great River Road and Highway I35 has a wide shoulder and is full of beautiful views of the Mississippi River. Once you hit the town of Marshall be ready to catch the rail-to-trail bike trails. These run over a hundred miles all the way to Reedsburg. After that you weave your way past Baraboo to Sauk City and then to Middleton and Madison.

This year I saw a few more long distance bicycle trekkers. There were a lot more cars and trucks on I35 than in 2021 as the ending of the pandemic made it so people were out driving. The trucks on I35 were a bit precarious and belligerent so if you ride this route keep an eye out for the big rigs.

Trempealeau Hotel

A new discovery was the historic Trempealeau Hotel where I spent two nights, the second waiting out the thunderstorms. Excellent food and a friendly bar. I even caught a local jam session on Tuesday night. When I stayed the historic rooms were only $50 a night which came with a shared bath. There was only one other room with guests so I basically had the place to myself.  Big thanks to Amy and the staff who greeted me with a few pints of cold ice water after a blistering 95 degree ride from Pepin. I will definitely be back!

Day 1
Minneapolis to Pepin

Day 2
Pepin to Trempealeau Hotel

Day 3
Day off to wait out the storms in Trempealeau.

Ride with GPS Map

Day 4
Trempealeau to Elroy

Road to Elroy

Day 4
Elroy to Madison

Good times!

GALLERY OF MINNEAPOLIS TO MADISON

Free Jokes about Our “Big World”

George Carlin writes in his book Brain Droppings

“For a long time, my stand-up material has drawn from three sources. The first is the English language: words, phrases, sayings, and the ways we speak. The second source, as with most comedians, has been what I think of as the “little world,” those things we all experience every day: driving, food, pets, relationships and idle thoughts. The third area is what I call the “big world”: war politics, race, death, and social issues. Without having actually measured, I would say this book reflects that balance very closely.”
– George Carlin

The comedy world today is almost entirely about the “big world.” If you see the shows of Trevor Noah or Steven Colbert, it is often the “headlines” and the latest fiascos with presidents, former presidents, senators, dictators. It is the entertainment version of the mainstream news and it is gobbled up as the world is such a crazy place. So the jokes come easy in the “big world” as the material is endless.

Not to be outdone, here are a few of my “big world” free jokes. Just random ideas really.

FREE JOKE #1

Donald Trump’s house was searched and they found boxes of classified material – “classified/TS/SCI” — shorthand for “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,”

The FBI, just to be thorough, and to make sure they had not missed something from past administrations decided to search Jimmy Carter’s house but they did not find anything but came away with ideas about how to build affordable housing all over the world and some pretty good poems. Then the FBI got a warrant to search George W. Bush’s ranch in Texas and all they got was a file  folder of Texas B.B.Q. takeout menus and How to Paint Landscapes art instruction manuals.  Then the FBI searched Obama’s house and all they found were a manuscript to a new book and all his tax returns, but those are all public knowledge.

FREE JOKE #2

Donald Trump, whenever being investigate by law enforcement always returns to the same phrase that it’s a “witch hunt!” Investigating Trump’s multiple trials as a sexual predator and rapist – it’s a “witch hunt.” Meddling in elections and coercing election officials – it is a “witch hunt.” Collusion with Vladimir Putin – it’s a “witch hunt.” Illegally storing top secret classified documents –  it’s a “witch hunt.”  But today authorities have finally discovered and found the witch. It turns out that it is an overweight Caucasian man in his late seventies from New Jersey who wears his ties too long and has a bad combover.

God help us with this “big world.”

The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer – A Review

I found the first novel by Dalia Sofer The Septembers of Shiraz  for one dollar while looking through books at a Goodwill store in Minneapolis. The shelves were in no particular order, so the same books promoted by the big publishing houses  could be found ever fifty or so books –  volume printing now on sale. While The Septembers of Shiraz, according to the cover,  was a national bestseller, it was the only copy on the shelf and I had not heard of the novel. Lucky me. I found the book to be quite a page turner.

What makes the novel so compelling is how it weaves together multiple stories seamlessly. For Sofer, while the world is turned upside down, the one constant is time. Tehran and New York City may not see the sun rise and set at the same time,  but they eventually do. While someone is in prison in solitary, someone else is taking in laundry. This contemporaneousness and  universality seems to bring the characters hope and the ability to persevere against the odds . She writes about these and many other themes with a poignant restrained lyricism. Her depictions of Tehran and Iran are so vivid you can almost hear and smell the streets.

Iran will be in the news for years to come and the years following the 1979 revolution will always be a pivotal time in history. While I will do the best to not spoil the story, the novel is in many ways autobiographical. Dalia and her family did attempt to leave Iran and unlike the movie Argo they did not pose as a Canadian film crew. I will leave it at that.

This reviewer gives The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer 5 stars. Feel free to pay the full price at your local book seller.

 

Catching up With Ralph Nader

https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/scheer-intelligence/ralph-nader-is-there-any-hope-left-for-democrats

One of the podcasts I follow is Sheer Intelligence which features thoughtful and provocative conversations with “American Originals” — people who, through a lifetime of engagement with political issues, offer unique and often surprising perspectives on the day’s most important issues.

Every six months Robert Sheer has Ralph Nader on the show and the two octogenarians muse over the state of politics. The conversations are always  enlightening, depressing and entertaining all at once. Ralph Nadar – the person who made sure cars had seatbelts and the world was a little safer place brings up the dangers of cellphones especially on kids – not something the powers that be want to hear about.

 

The Quarterly Report – July 2022

The Quarterly Report: A brief synopsis of the news in San Francisco over the last three months.

Politics

Chesa Boudin was recalled and Mayor Breed has appointed a new District Attorney, Brooke Jenkins who was a major figure in the recall. Of course she will be under the microscope as all San Francisco district attorneys are and we shall see how the hot seat feels after a few weeks.  Let us see if homelessness and the opioid epidemic disappears. I will hold not my breath.  These issues have always been much larger than the D.A.. Meanwhile, people with serious mental health issues scream into the streetlights and live on the street in cardboard boxes. At some point the city of San Francisco should simply address issues of public safety and health. Creating more public drinking fountains and bathrooms would be a great start.

Sometime the unhoused simply burn down what is left.

Sidewalk in San Francisco once occupied with an unhoused person.
Sidewalk in San Francisco once occupied with an unhoused person.

Sporting News

Basketball
The Golden State Warriors won the 2022 NBA title. Steph Curry with his three point shooting was in the end unstoppable and the team had too much depth.  Jordon Poole’s end of quarter three point buzzer beater shots must have been a bit much for the opposing teams.

Weather

Not much to report that is out of the ordinary. The typical cold summer weather pattern is upon us with foggy and windy conditions. So far there are some fires out to the west in the foothills of the Sierra but not as bad yet as years past. We have our fingers crossed.

Driving north into San Francisco by the airport. You see the fog often climb over Twin Peaks and into the city.

COVID-19 Pandemic Update

While San Francisco for the last two years been a place were people wear masks out of respect the pandemic does seem to be waning. People are out and about and traffic is almost back to pre-pandemic times.

Parklets, Haircuts and Where the Sun Does Shine

Some parklets seem to be staying and music events are picking up. There are many really good bands in San Francisco. Remember to tip the band!

That is The Quarterly Report – July 2022.

Photo Gallery of SF

The Quarterly Report – July 2022