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

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

Oregon Timber Frame Barn 2014

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

Surfing Swans in Australia

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

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

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

Rainy Night in Canada

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

Food Market on Granville Island

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

Salmon Boats/Rain/Skateboarding/Waves

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

Cedar/Copper Art by Godfrey Stephens

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

New Octave

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

Moto Guzzi V7 Scrambler Kit

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

Why Burning Man is like the Bohemian Grove

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

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

My Kinda Skateboard Park

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

Guardians of the Galaxy - Wow!

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

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

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

4-wheel Drive Van

Not sure what make this is. On the side it said "Intercooler Turbo 2800." Have never seen one of these in the U.S.
Note: See all the comments; it's a Mitsubishi Delica.

Old Farm Building

Kwagiu'l Totem in Duncan, BC, by Richard Hunt

Duncan (just south of Nanaimo) is another pretty good-feeling town. For one thing, the town has commissioned a bunch of authentic First Nations art. This one was carved by Richard Hunt, son of famed carver Henry Hunt.
The 3 animals represented here are (from the top): frog, bear, beaver.
The art of First Nations tribes is still very much alive in Canada.