December 31, 2015

A Note on the Calendar Year

The ball dropping in Times Square is meant to signal the moment 2016 officially begins in America, though those of us on the West Coast remain unconvinced. We're partial to a later midnight unqualified by the ghost of Dick Clark. That midnight, the one going on in New York when the ball drops, the one sanctified by Dick Clark's ghost for the benefit of a grateful nation, is a fine midnight, having now passed, and cause for a certain kind of person to celebrate, I warrant, but fundamentally unpersuasive. We have it down as still to come at this point around here.

December 13, 2015

War On Xmas

The Heathen Christmas Penguin Itself, Edging Ever Closer to the Middle of Things

December 10, 2015

Jostling In The Age of Trump

George Will becomes incensed by the characterization of Ronald Reagan in Bill O'Reilly's book, it says here.

Now, George Will has been an odious presence on the American scene for decades longer than Bill O'Reilly, such that as the tarnish of many a long-past episode involving him and ratifying his assholery fades from current memory, as tarnish so often will, we are yet left with him choking out new affronts from behind that bowtie year after year producing his rendition of the most scrupulous wording for it that Republican money can buy.

With regard to the politics of it all, if the premise is addle-pated nonsense, then rational human beings are best suited to advance such nonsense to its full potential, being that crazy people, who are quite capable of entertaining a host of crazy ideas and often enough even creating a marvelously crazy premise or two of their very own, are more often than not at a loss over what to do about it all beyond that, to carry it on. To advance the given premise, you need a platoon of chaps with skills like Will, smart tendentious sorts who can write to deadline on any premise.

[Whether or not O'Reilly is right that Reagan's brain was mush during any portion of his presidency is beside the point. Historically, Reagan's Central American policy was based on savage, deadly, senile nonsense of the sort entertained by George Will, who was there to applaud the politics of it all in real time.]

December 09, 2015

Still Life With Foot-Long Foot

Most of the photographs that surface at the Quotidian these days are shot during Dog Walk, that two hour period immediately after waking devoted exclusively to rambling about with the dog. The photos have what a snapshot can have, immediacy. There it is, Santa Cruz Harbor, at such and such a time on such and such a date, as given through the auspices of the iPhone 6. Very little "post-processing," using any of the clever tools available to fiddle with the look, just the processing inherent in the combination of software and camera required to make a file of what the iPhone's pointed at when the shutter's pressed.

Let's say every snapshot is an instance of discovery. The snapshot discovers a fact about the apparent world, and presents that discovery straightforwardly to the observer. The iPhone is a fine tool for just that.

So, yes, Dog Walk, iPhone 6, sidewalk, foot-long foot:

I've never taken a photo that so cried for a narrative plausibly tying the discovered fact to what went before.

I mean, there it is in all its harvested glory, dried clumps of buds still attached to the eight main stems of the thing, the Hanukka Bush Itself, ready to burn for eight days if started right in on, is what I'm saying.

I do not have the story, and do not want to make up a story or choose from among all the plausible alternatives to attach this bush to its previous condition, however much the usual urges insist.

December 04, 2015


Today, December 4, marks the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the newly-named Grateful Dead music band. They had been the Warlocks, notionally, for awhile, but, rebranded, went on to a nicely achieved career in music.

Grateful Dead Blues For Allah, Stained Glass, installed in the Grateful Dead Archive exhibit space, McHenry Library, UC Santa Cruz

November 27, 2015


Nearly two decades later, in March of 2015, I sat in a soundproof booth and recorded the audiobook for my first memoir, about the years when I drank and smoked too much. If the play had given me the ability to hide backstage, or behind an actress who was taller and prettier than me, performing the audiobook was the inverse: just me, unadorned, seated on a wooden stool with a microphone in front of me and a bottle of water at my side. The only audience I had in that tiny studio was a bearded engineer named Gary. I tried to pretend he wasn’t on the other side of the glass as I read aloud lines I had certainly written but never intended to perform. The opening scene of the book also takes place in a hotel room, strangely enough, although the episode is not a stylized fiction but an incident that took place in Paris when I was 31, where I came out of a blackout in the middle of having sex with a guy I couldn’t remember meeting. “Who are you, and why are we fucking?” is one of the early lines, and I tried to keep my voice calm and honeyed as I read it, even as I was dying inside. — Sarah Hepola at The Morining News
And yet in the back of her mind, a note in a small, ineradicable voice: herself saying, "Whoah, this shit is memiorable!"

November 22, 2015

Sundown Behind Santa Cruz, CA

West, September 2015

John F. Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963)

I suppose somewhere in the depths of today's paper there's a note mentioning that November 22 marks the anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. It's been more than fifty years, though. The shockwaves have settled: the anniversary was front page news for decades, but no longer. Those of us who lived through those days are a shrinking minority, our residue of shock and dismay now just a whisper in the roar of current events.

Anyway, it snapped then. Kennedy's death killed the Fifties. The Sixties snapped, and bent toward a new destiny.

Goodby again you shiny man.

November 18, 2015

Au Revior I Guess

Battling to the End: Politics, War, and Apocalypse by Rene Girard, a fellow I just heard about in passing, is said to be his best last book in a long and remarkably distinguished career (qualifying him for election to the self-consciously famous French Académie française of France at that), a book that achieved some level of notoriety there when it was issued in that land's language in 2007 as Achever Clausewitz.

Just from the article's blurbed mention of that book and another earlier one with perhaps even greater notoriety in France called Des choses cachées depuis la fondation du monde(1978), which would become Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World when published in English in 1987, makes me think I should know about this guy already, who, after all, lived a thirty minute drive from here and thrived on a good French-style argument, which, like many of their cheeses and a few of their wines, are about as good as you're ever going to need, argument about the kind of stuff I'm always at least tangentially interested in, and never once got wind of him while he lived. Sad the best I can do now is feed, zombie-like, on the remains of the brain of Girard.

Toward the End of October

Morning East of Santa Cruz, CA, October  2015

November 10, 2015

Allen Toussaint (January 14, 1938-November 10, 2015)

Alan Toussaint, as central to the music coming out of New Orleans as Willie Dixon was to the music coming out of Chicago in his time, has died. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform a couple of times at Kuumbwa, the jazz club in Santa Cruz. He was a remarkable talent.

October 30, 2015

Gray Day

A Lone Sea Otter in Santa Cruz Harbor. October 2015

October 29, 2015

Morning Moon

Santa Cruz Harbor, October 2015

October 28, 2015

Relatively Riparian View Towards the Southeast

Arana Creek in its Natural Setting, Santa Cruz, CA , August 2014

October 22, 2015

Whittled down to the Needed Figurine, In Effect

People will express their preferences for the Steve Jobs they wish to carry forward into the future: modelled on the Steve Jobs actual, currently living human beings dealt with in person, with all the baggage he and they brought to such occasions, or perhaps reminiscent of the Steve Jobs Aaron Sorkin chooses to give us, a guy in the next universe over with the same name and, well, jobs, relating to his daughter over time.

It's not clear that people need to carry forward into the future the version of Jobs offered up by Sorkin, any more than people need to carry forward into the future an image of William Randolph Hearst inflected by Orson Welles's version of him, though they do. But if that's what Sorkin achieves, then, well, there's art for you, manipulating its materials to serve its own priorities, arbitrarily replacing the knowable record with the desired construct every chance it gets, following the precept known to all that great stories trump history. Whether Citizen Kane is a better story on balance than the reprehensible William Randolph Hearst of actual record is debatable, of course. In any event, Sorkin naming his Steve Jobs Steve Jobs is cheeky.

October 20, 2015

On Yet Dark Morning

The view Northwest along Arana Creek, October 2015

Today In Data

First, we need to ensure across the Atlantic that people’s legal rights move with their data. This is a straightforward proposition that would require, for example, that the U.S. government agree that it will only demand access to personal information that is stored in the United States and belongs to an EU national in a manner that conforms with EU law, and vice versa. —Brad Smith of Microsoft

If in the United States the government feels justified in hoovering up all the data engendered by its citizens, does this "legal" right of the state emigrate along with its citizens' data when that data is lodged in Europe? Enquiring worry warts want to know.

October 18, 2015

Baseball Report 2015

The 2015 baseball season ended for the San Francisco Giants on completion of the club's 162nd regularly scheduled game, ushered out, finalized the season was, by an ignominious 9th inning defeat at the hands of the Colorado Rockies on October 4.

Relatedly, the 2015 baseball season ended for San Francisco Giants fans with the defeat of the Los Angeles Dodgers by the New York Mets in this year's National League Division Series, closing this season's books on a positive note. Always, for a San Francisco Giants fan, there's consolation to be had in a Dodgers loss, however administered. Sweetest is when the Giants themselves defeat the Dodgers directly, of course, and it should be noted that the Giants did beat the Dodgers 11 out of 19 tries this season. They did their part, at least in that respect, this year. That it took the Mets to extinguish the Dodgers hopes is to their credit, and may cause many Giants fans to wish the New York squad well in their upcoming series against the Cubs for the National League pennant.

2015 Season Evaluation Checklist

☒ A. Beat the Dodgers
☐  1. Every time
☑  2. Most of the time
☐  3. Foil them in their quest for the pennant

☒ B. Win all games at least half the time
☐  1. Half the time
☑  2. More than half the time

☐ C. Win The Pennant

☐ D. Win The World Series

An A2 year for the club, then, by this measure, and a B2 year as well, having won 84 of 162, second in the National League West Division, in spite of a problematic rotation backed by a leaky bullpen and an injury-depleted lineup patched with rookies and bench players. Tomlinson and Duffy performed well beyond what any reasonable analysis would have predicted for either of them, and Gregor Blanco responded with his best year. Marlon Byrd proved a canny add. But still, without Pence and Panik and Crawford and Belt and Lincecum and Cain and Aioki and Pagan, all out for extended periods, the team simply could not muster wins down the stretch, when the schedule saw them pitted against the Pirates, Cubs and Dodgers, and their play showed that they couldn't measure up to those playoff-bound teams this year.

Pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in early February.

October 17, 2015

Too Soon?

The Dead Reap Their Reward, October 2015

Early on the people of Santa Cruz established their Catholic cemetery just outside the city's eastern limit. It's a fair number of acres reserved for that sort of dead people, be they the Iberian Portugese or Mesoamerican Mexican or Hibernian Irish variety of Catholic who, having inhabited the county in life continue to literally inhabit a certain amount of the county's space in theoretical perpetuity there in that ground, just beyond which lies the neighborhood of Live Oak, an amorphous stretch of unincorporated space between Santa Cruz proper and the city of Capitola, such as it is.

Here in Live Oak we appear to be rushing the season a bit, which for technical reasons, as if I need to repeat, is only supposed to last one day, be it Halloween or Day of the Dead or what have you, timed in ancient days to the night of the year the Pleiades rose in the east just as the sun set, a day set aside for wallowing in the sad repetitive downward spiral of the dispiriting existential nullity of it all, heralding the approaching winter of the year as it tends to do, all swept up together into that one fine day for overriding public expressions of dread of it all each year, and that day, the day the Pleiades and the sun stand across from each other in the sky, the sun giving way, the Pleiades ushering in the dour night sky, isn't meant to be spread like marmite over a season of it.

The power of just having the one day of it is vitiated, spread over a season the way it is now, in my view, which admittedly was all about the irrelevant candy of it for quite a long while.

October 10, 2015

Look Homeward, Grammarian

Though bad writing has always been with us, the rules of correct usage are the smallest part of the problem. Any competent copy editor can turn a passage that is turgid, opaque, and filled with grammatical errors into a passage that is turgid, opaque, and free of grammatical errors.

—Steven Pinker The Guardian October 6, 2015

September 28, 2015

Previously In Flowering Plants

Fuchsias in Santa Cruz, 2011

Department of Categorical Announcements

Heidegger is the only world-famous philosopher of the 20th century about whom it can seriously be argued that he was a charlatan

—Bernard Williams, London Review of Books, June 4, 1981

September 27, 2015

Looking Down On The Pinnipeds

A Crowd of Seals, Santa Cruz Wharf, June 2009

Previous Azaleas

Edge of Entryway, Santa Cruz Home, April 2007

September 18, 2015

Passing Thoughts

In my neighborhood to be Irish-American was to be whiter than any Italian-American. Whether there was a hierarchy of whiter whites than Irish whites was really of no concern as long as it was recognized that Irish was essentially whiter than Italian, in this view.

I'm thinking in his time Will Rogers wasn't white at all except by general acclaim, and despite all appearances. But then it's always been defined by general acclaim, white being a slippery notion, the precise white being applied or denied in the instant a matter of exacting public judgements, which fell in favor of Rogers back then.

September 15, 2015

Mooring In Morning

Looking East Across Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2015

Monterey Bay Morning

Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2015

September 14, 2015

September 07, 2015

September 05, 2015

September 01, 2015

Today in Septembers

An Interruption of Sea Otters in Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2015

August 21, 2015

Summer Morning

Loma Prieta viewed from Schwan Lake, Santa Cruz, CA.

August 10, 2015

When Trump Is Too Mainstream

Illinois visits Santa Cruz, August 2015

July 12, 2015

July 09, 2015

July 04, 2015

Sweet Land of Liberty

America is the Budweiser Beer of nations: very big, very important in the scheme of things, not nearly as good as one might wish in the event. Another round, if it pleases?

June 27, 2015

Dead Dead at 50

The group that continues to think of itself as the Grateful Dead, now comprised after all these years of only Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, has vowed to stop calling itself that anymore after this one, last, 50th Anniversary tour, which begins tonight at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara before moving on to Chicago for some shows around the Fourth of July. May their 401K's increase.

June 24, 2015

Looking South South West Or So

From the Trail at Twin Lakes, Santa Cruz, CA 2014

June 22, 2015

Phil Austin, April 6, 1941 – June 19, 2015

Phil Austin and his confederates created, in Firesign Theatre, the most sublime aural comedy ever made. His is the voice of Nick Danger, Third Eye.

June 13, 2015

W.B. Yeats (June 13, 1865 – January 28, 1939)

The renowned Yeats originated a hundred and fifty years ago today. So, there's that. I'm fond of this setting of Yeats to music:

June 09, 2015


Base of Redwood, Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, 2013

Part of a Large Tree, Henry Cowell Redwood State Park, 2013

June 04, 2015

The Other Side of the Bay

Pacific Grove beach, September 2009

May 30, 2015

Escape Officially Denied

Not Far Enough From Santa Cruz Harbor,  CA, 2015

May 15, 2015

B.B. King, Sept. 16, 1925-May14, 2015

I remember in my callow youth how very old I reckoned B.B. King to be, some lingering relic of a long-past era, when I saw him play Winterland in December of 1967. "Caldonia, Caldonia," he sang, "what makes you big head so hard?" Little did I know at the time that this was the first song ever described as "rock 'n roll" in print when recorded by Erskine Hawkins back in the 1940's, and that B. B. King had been a disc jockey back then, and probably played the record on the air, since it was a pretty big hit, and probably knew it had been called "rock 'n roll" at the time, too. And there he was in front of a crowd of the white student/hippie sort that Winterland attracted, reading the origins of rock 'n roll back to us before getting on with the regular order of business of the blues.

May 11, 2015

May 07, 2015

April 24, 2015

April 21, 2015

Three Quarks for Muster Mark It Says Here

The Idea of the Last Quark Before the End of the Universe, Illustrated

In the Falkland Islands, the bird is called "quark", which is an onomatopoeia similar to its name in many other languages, like "kwak" in Dutch and Frisian, "kvakoš noční" in Czech, "квак" in Ukrainian, "кваква" in Russian, "vạc" in Vietnamese, "kowak-malam" in Indonesian, and "waqwa" in Quechua.

April 09, 2015

April 08, 2015

iBillboard Scanned on the Information Superhighway

An unnecessarily ineptly worded pronouncement considering the number of underemployed English majors who could whip its phrasing into plausibility in a trice, unless, of course, the purpose of the missive is to underscore the fraudulence of the whole affair by lending the strong scent of corrupted language to the effort.

April 05, 2015

April 02, 2015

Fools Day Narrowly Averted

I see in the comments to this video of Paul Butterfield performing with his band at the Monterey Pops Festival that there is some sentiment for electing him to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.

However much his albums, particularly his first few, might be found in the record collections of many many discerning people who really really like rock 'n roll, just because the music he laid down there with his band is compatible with what many discerning people look for in rock 'n roll, it is not rock 'n roll he played, at least that I ever witnessed.

Electing him to The Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame would be equivalent to electing Tiger Wood to Cooperstown. There are sports that are not baseball to judge the performance of those such as Wood who choose for whatever reason not to play the game, just as there are musics that are not rock 'n roll by which we can  judge the excellences of Paul Butterfield.

All of this because of a stray David Sanborne saxophone comment here, reminding me that I've pledged to forgive whatever infelicities Master Sanborne may ever deliver with his horn for the sake of the sequence of notes he managed here:

April 01, 2015

March 22, 2015

March 18, 2015

Bush Too Florescent for Photos

A clump of azaleas crowding the visible spectrum, March 2015

March 12, 2015

Notably Dead, Terry Pratchett (April 28, 1948 – March 12, 2015)

Terry Pratchett died today. He wrote literally scores of very entertaining novels about Discworld among the 70 or so book he saw into print during his life, which lasted 66 years, and I am not one to say if that is too long or too short for him, now that he's passed and we have only what we're left of him instead of himself to account for.

Terry Pratchett died, as he knew he would, of the cumulative effects of a peculiarly deadly form of Alzheimer's Disease, posterior cortical atrophy, which, misdiagnosed, first visited him sometime in 2004 or 2005. Terry Pratchett made all this publicly known in late 2007, little more than seven years ago. He got a knighthood and shit at the end, so I suppose it was not an unbearable seven years for him, even knowing.

March 08, 2015

Simultaneously Up to Date and Later Than You Think

Occasionally I'm blindsided by Daylight Savings. It doesn't happen often, not every decade, but once in a while, yes, I'm thrown by the clear difference between my conception of the hour and the authorized count itself.

It happened this morning when, waking, I looked at the time on my phone. Nearly 7:30 somehow, though I never sleep much past 6:00.

Soon enough the black hands of the clock on the bathroom wall brought some clarity to the situation. They pointed to 6 and 27, just about where they would if I'd slept no longer than normal. Could the bathroom clock have stopped working an hour ago? No. The clock operated still, evident in the continuing motion of the narrow red hand sweeping along in its remorseless course of seconds.

Therefore, let's see. The phone displays what it's told is the perpetually updated time in the real world according to some reputable agent out there. The time in the real world is therefore almost certainly being displayed on the phone.

The bathroom clock is almost certainly wrong, then, if concordance with the real world is our standard. But, clearly, just an hour off. There is a procedure for rectifying the difference between the time displayed on the phone and that displayed on the bathroom wall around this time of year. It is called Daylight Savings.

Thus, guided by the tenets of of rational inquiry, I successfully resolved this morning an instance of the most pressing problem — the hour itself — before directing the full brunt of my so recently awakened attentions to the rest of the day's interests.

March 04, 2015

The iPhone 6 Greasy Lens Test

Rainbow over Santa Cruz, February 2015

February 24, 2015

The Tree In the Other Way

The Previous Tree Presently, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015

The Tree In The Way

Above Santa Cruz Harbor, November 2, 2014

February 21, 2015

Harbormouth, Santa Cruz, 2014

Santa Cruz Harbor, September 2014
Santa Cruz Harbor, October 2014
Across Santa Cruz Harbor at Daybreak, October 2014
To the mouth of Santa Cruz Harbor, October 2014