Showing posts with label san fran. Show all posts
Showing posts with label san fran. Show all posts

Monday, July 5, 2010

HOMELAND of the Brave New World

The 4th of July is always a fun holiday for most of America, and especially in our family because Mighty Mo celebrates her birthday on the 4th. This year (her 44th) - our agenda was fourfold, 1) To photograph California Central Coast lighthouses; 2) To provide a field test for Mighty Mo's new Canon PowerShot SD 1400 IS - that some really nice guy gave her for her birthday - and compare it to our older model camera, the Canon PowerShot A710 IS; 3) Visit some California State Beaches for the first time, and use some of the passes we purchased to support the financially crippled California State Parks; 4)And maybe most importantly : ) to review Laurie Anderson's latest and timely release, appropriately called HOMELAND. What a perfect theme for our West Coast tour, and the lighthouses that stand as the sentinels to our homeland.

The Lighthouses

Lighthouses are kind of mysterious... almost magical.
Their never-ceasing watchfulness always peering through the darkness and fog directing the mariners upon the black deep.

When I was in sixth grade, our teacher selected a handful of kids in the class to take turns reciting the same poem about a lighthouse. I nervously waited as the other kids presented the poem as best they could. I had to go last, and felt a little self conscious about reading aloud.
I was, however, a confident and talented singer. Therefore, rather than suffering humiliation in front of class, I hid behind my strength, and sang a rousing version (to the tune of the Beatles', "Don't Pass Me By"). When I was done, the class erupted with hoots, hollers and applause. The teacher liked it too, and even called for an encore. The entire class joined in the singing of the lighthouse song. It's been a million years, but even now, whenever I see a lighthouse, I think about that day in sixth grade.

I'd like to be a lighthouse

All scrubbed and painted white
I'd like to be a lighthouse
And stay awake all night

To keep my eye on everything
That sails my patch of sea
Oh, I'd like to be a lighthouse
With the ships all watching me
(author unknown)

First, we stopped at California's newest lighthouse, right here in Santa Cruz. We have a cool hyperbolic million photos of this lighthouse, but not many from this perspective taken from across the mouth of the harbor with the new Canon PowerShot SD 1400 IS.

This photo of the familiar Santa Cruz Lighthouse was taken with the new Canon PowerShot SD 1400 IS, and features the old building in a rarely-photographed perspective.
We then headed north, and inserted the new Laurie Anderson CD. The fog wisped and flowed like smoke as we traveled north. Fields alive with colour surrounded us. Before long, we had arrived at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, a most impressive, and picturesque structure located near the quaint little town of Pescadero, where we had lunch. The Pigeon Point photo was taken with the older camera, the Canon PowerShot A710 IS.

We almost missed this cute little lighthouse at Point Montara. We actually did pass it and had to turn around. I'm glad that we did because it was well worth seeing, and we had the entire place basically to ourselves. I took the photo with the old Canon PowerShot A710 IS.

I spotted this pseudo lighthouse in San Francisco. It looks pretty good considering I got the shot through the dirty windshield while sitting at a red traffic light, and with plenty of overhead power lines in the way.

On HOMELAND's first track, Transitory Life, Ms. Anderson masterfully and tenderly blends the netherworldly sound of Tuvan throat singers with her own unique style to create a surrealistic soundscape that seemed perfectly suited for our beautiful drive along California's spectacular coastline. "It takes a long time for a mouse to realize it's in a trap," says Ms. Anderson. It seems strange to be able to relate to that enlightened mouse. Such awareness seems to make the colours, hues and highlights of the nature all around me even more vibrant, impressive and appreciated. A wonderful distraction from the maze. A beautiful theme for a HOMELAND drive.

I've always thought of Laurie Anderson as being covertly humorous, even subtly hilarious at times. She never fails to make me smile in an "I get it" kind of way. Sometimes, Ms. Anderson's poignancy reminds me of those amusing apocalyptic musings of Isaiah, (another funny guy), whose literary message is layered with meaning. Ms. Anderson is no shallow gal. Her clever choice of words always seem to resonate on many levels, too. Her
words are carefully crafted, with content, timing and inflection... and no one can tell a story like Laurie Anderson.

Track five - Only and Expert, is a snappy and catchy little ditty about how Americans have become addicted to experts and how the experts use their authoritative expertise to fleece the actively complying public. In the second to last verse, Ms. Anderson seems to take a shaky expert-trusting stance when she says, "But when an expert says it's a problem, and makes a movie about the problem, and gets the Nobel Prize about the problem, then all the other experts have to agree, it is most... likely... a problem." (No doubt a reference to Al Gore and the so called, global warming problem.) Unfortunately the experts who make the official global warming claims have been exposed for committing fraud for discouraging and disallowing any scientific data that hasn't complied with their "sky is falling" agenda. They've threatened and even destroyed the careers of experts who present alternatives. I'm no expert, but I'm amazed that people are still trusting global warming models based on incomplete and hand-picked data... but it seems there's nothing I can do from inside this maze anyway, especially when everyone believes that 2+2=5. Amazing! Masterful marketing though.

Many years ago, Ms. Anderson created a character through whom she could view the world differently. A clone of herself... a stature-challenged, chain-smoking male clone. Lou Reed, (Ms. Anderson's hubby of nearly two decades), recently gave the clone a name, Fenway Bergamot. Today, Fenway has grown older and wiser and shares some of his perspectives on HOMELAND. One of Bergamot's observations concerns his admiration of the stars in the sky. He said that what he loves most about the stars, is that we can't hurt them. Their distance ensures that we'll never damage them.
His attitude is a bit reminescent of the wide-eyed naive nature of Don Van Vliet, a boy who never had to grow up. I'm curious about Bergamot's query about his mother and father, "Are those people over there really my parents?" he asks. An interesting question for a clone to ask.

HOMELAND is Ms. Anderson's first studio recording to be released in a decade. It was a blast to listen to over and over again as we toured this region of California. HOMELAND sounds like a Laurie Anderson album. There are no big surprises, or new revelations here. It's kind of like "fun meets melancholy" and have a great time hanging out together for an afternoon at Rocket Park. At the end of the day, they part, knowing that they may never enjoy another such occasion. I give HOMELAND ***** five stars, and will probably listen to it a hundred more times before 2012.

I hope there will be many more Laurie Anderson performances and new music. She's done so much already, we may never see all of it. Bravo

We stopped at Ano Nuevo State Park to hang out with the Elephant Seals who live there. The cute little guys are good eatin' too.
This one looked just like Scratch!
A Bumble Bee carrying a huge bulky payload of collected pollen bounces from flower to flower in search of more pollen at Pigeon Point. I shot this photo with my Canon PowerShot A710 IS.

Pillar Point Radar Station near Half Moon bay was difficult to photograph because I was in motion and had to hold the Canon SD1400 IS out the window.
The fog was nearly as thick as the traffic when we arrived at the Golden Gate Bridge. I took this photo through the dirty front windshield with the Canon SD1400 IS. We spent the afternoon at China Camp State Park, where there was no traffic. We had a wonderful time driving around the peninsula. Passing the Stanford Satellite Dish means that we'll be home within the hour. Also, as we passed the Lark Avenue Exit on Highway 17, we heard Laurie Anderson's Story of the Lark again (for the seventh time).

Twas a fun trip. The new camera fared rather well. The old camera has a view finder, is easy to hold, manage and operate with one hand, and takes rechargeable AA batteries. The batteries make the old Canon a bit heavier and larger than the new SD1400 IS. The rechargeable battery on the new
SD1400 IS makes the new camera much lighter and smaller, but limits the time it can spend in operation. We'll have to get a spare battery to have on hand. I purchased two nickel cadmium AA batteries with a charger for the old Canon for $12, but will likely pay more for an extra rechargeable for the new camera. The mount on the new camera is more centrally positioned which means that it will work better on my bicycle attachment. . . but just pry it from Heidi Mighty Mo's hands. : )

Monday, October 19, 2009

e-Z Listening: Adrian Belew Power Trio in SFO

An old-school Crimson fan poses for a photo

I hadn't planned on writing about the Adrian Belew Power Trio, but something so impressive is difficult NOT to mention. I've seen these three perform together about five times now and last night's show at Slim's in San Francisco was one of the finest performances I have ever beheld. I wrote extensively about this crew a couple of years ago, therefore I'll refrain
from saying much more this time except that I had an opportunity to talk with the trio after the show, and was impressed with their warm and friendly reception to those of us who stayed late to say hello. I also had the privilege to meet one of my favorite bloggers, the mother of two-thirds of the Power Trio, Robin Slick. She must be so proud of her two outstanding children who are not only professionally adept, but friendly and personable as well.

The Power Trio played a handful of old favorites, and a few selections from their recently released CD simply titled, e. It's nice of Adrian to allow someone else to play on one of his records. He usually plays all of the instruments himself, but invited the Siblings Slick to play on this latest release. I may review e after I've had a chance to hear it a few more times.

Adrian Belew and Julie Slick playing new music from e

Eric Slick - percussionista magnifique

Santa Cruz' favorite bassist, Mason Rosenberg, (the Vox Jaguars and A Quantum Visionary), poses with the Adrian Belew Power Trio after the show. Mason admits that Belew has been one of his major musical influences because King Crimson was his very first live concert when he was just ten years old. That show at the Fillmore back in 2000 helped to inspire Mason to become the talented musician he is today, and the rest is history in the making. Maybe Mason and Adrian will have an opportunity play King Crimson's Level Five together next time the Twang Bar King visits the left coast.
The play list.
Moments after I snapped this photo, a young woman crawled up on to the stage and stole the list. A staff person chased her down and grabbed it from her.

Eric's sparkling drum kit is like the one used by the Vox Jaguars' drummer, Trevor Hope.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today - Remembering the Loma Prieta Earthquake of 1989

Santa Cruz was experiencing one of the hottest days of the year, much like today... hot and muggy. A few miles to the south, in Nisene Marks State park, Mother Nature was preparing to play one of her nastiest tricks on the Central Coast. At 5:04 PM, six miles below the surface of the forested hills of the picturesque park, the San Andreas Fault released a 7.1 magnitude earthquake that caused the mountain to heave, and as if a stone had been dropped into a pool of water, a ripple wave radiated out from the epicenter, snapping trees as it spread in every direction. Within moments, the powerful shockwave began to devastate the homes and buildings of California's Central Coast region.

Eileen was standing in the checkout line at Staff of Life grocery store when the wave hit. The shaking caused the hanging light above her head to break free, and
nearly hit her as it came down, swinging just inches from her face.

Andrea was playing Frisbee on the big open athletic field at the university that overlooks Santa Cruz. She happened to look down towards Santa Cruz, and noticed little puffs of smoke moving across town. As
she peered at the unusual scene, she saw the wave crossing the field, and heading toward her. She braced herself and rode out the wave as it passed beneath her. She reported that lamp posts pivoted back and forth as the wave crossed the field. When it reached the buildings, windows began to explode in it's wake.

I was living in Madison, Wisconsin at the time, and remember turning on the TV news soon after the event. From what was being reported by the hyperbolic mainstream media, it appeared as though California, especially San Francisco, had been destroyed. A good life-lesson to not put too much trust in the mainstream media.

The damage was extensive, but not nearly as bad as the evening news had made it out to be. Santa Cruz was hit hardest by the quake. All of the roads were closed and the folks in Surf City were left to fend for themselves. The road closures made it impossible to use trucks to bring in relief supplies into the area. Therefore the Watsonville Airport became one of the most important municipalities in the county, and was the only way in or out of the area for days.

There was no electricity, so only battery operated radios and televisions worked. Unfortunately, there was no television being broadcast, and a quick scan of the radio dial found an eerily quiet hiss of static from one end to the other, except for one bright spot at 1080 on the AM band. Fortunately for Santa Cruz, KSCO was equipped with a generator, and immediately returned to the air within minutes of the quake. The local news radio station quickly became the only source of information in Santa Cruz, and served as the primary staging area for all of the media and other operations who used KSCO's generator to recharge batteries.

Thanks to KSCO for their community service in the Loma Prieta quake and every other major event that has taken place and will take place on the Central Coast.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Art Rock is Alive and Well in Santa Cruz Dreamstate EP by A Quantum Visionary *****

I knew that the first CD release from A Quantum Visionary would be good.

is the title of the new CD by five of Santa Cruz's finest musicians who refer to themselves as A Quantum Visionary, and their new CD is even better than I expected it would be.

I knew that the CD would be good because over the past couple of years, this bunch has been demonstrating their unique and intense sound at various bay-area venues, surprising and shocking audiences everywhere they've played. Their catchy and intelligent songs are an eclectic blend of genres, that I can only describe as epic. Most of their works are upwards of seven minutes long, but there is never any meaningless meandering or boring jamming in their lengthy constructs. Rather, every note of their intriguing music is calculated and precisely delivered without a flaw, keeping the listener alert and engaged. Although the new CD is technically an EP, it is nearly a half-hour long and features a broad cross section of music that is consistently interesting, and occasionally challenging.

I'm fortunate to be among the first to receive a copy of the new
DREAMSTATE EP and this will certainly be the first review of AQV's snazzy new CD release which is already a classic in my own music library.

The Review

As I embark on my musical adventure, I discover that t
he first half-minute of the first song, Insensatus Insania, makes me feel like I'm listening to early King Crimson. The song progresses through a multitude of movements and verses as powerful and involved as a Homeric epic. After nearly six minutes, the heavy-hitting first piece quickly transforms into the second track, Dragnet Enigma, a piece that begins as an almost Enoesque, ambient tune that begins to feel more like the Residents are nearby as it progresses. The hesitantly-calming track terminates as the third track, Battleship of Madmen, abruptly begins. The rowdy and unruly song reels me to and fro upon the rough seas of one of AQV's longest songs that includes a fifty-second drum interlude where three of the band members participate. PTA, the fourth track, is the shortest tune, clocking in at 1:22, and seems at first to be a bit of a tribute to Keith Emerson and further demonstrates this band's versatility and broad musical scope. The last song is listed as being 11:45 long but that is a bit of a misnomer because it is actually two songs... and a bit of dead air. Dreamstate Luz Mala, a poppy song that, at one point, makes me feel like I'm listening to Asia, is actually 4:54 long and is followed by 1:16 of dead air which quietly fades into The Hypocrite, a 5:40 version of a song that has become familiar on You Tube, where an instrumental version is used in a video by Rhetro Zenberg, called, Ching - Drive to De Laveaga.

The design of this artsy disc also deserves mention. All of the impressive album art was created by AQV member,
Stefen Lazer Smith, the artist who created the now famous Vox Jaguars Cowboy. The photo, sketches and drawings on this disc are reason enough to own the CD which itself is a work of art.

In addition to the art on the CD, Stefen Lazer Smith also wrote lyrics, provided keyboards, percussion, and vocals to the DREAMSTATE EP.

Mason Rosenberg, the renowned bassist of the Vox Jaguars fame, who released a CD on Anodyne Records earlier this year, lends his mastery to this CD by contributing vocals and percussion as well as bass and production skills. He also plays guitar on the secret track, The Hypocrite.

Shane Terry plays ripping and intricate guitar without breaking a sweat. He lends his shredding skills to this CD in addition to providing backup vocals. Shane also plays bass on the secret track, The Hypocrite and helped produce the CD.

Trevor Brenchley also plays guitar, and as a lefty, provides a symmetric visual and musical balance to this unique band who's
two guitarists shred harmonically and melodically as one. Trevor also provides backup vocals and production assistance to the DREAMSTATE EP.

The newest member of the band, Greg Wesenfeld, who plays hard-hitting drums and masterful percussion has proven to be an asset to this already powerful band.

Something else that impressed me about the DREAMSTATE EP, is the fact that all of the songs were written, engineered, recorded and produced by A Quantum Visionary.


AQV is currently the most interesting musical ensemble in the greater San Francisco Bay area. I see limitless potential with this crew of talented friends who see it as their duty to make music interesting and even a bit challenging. And, you can tell that they're having a good time too.

Good going guys, and congratulations on a splendid first CD.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Halloween $ong for the San Francisco Girls

On Halloween I went with the Vox Jaguars to the Halloween festival in San Francisco where they played with such notables as Cathy Richardson with Big Brother and the Holding Company, and the Jimi Hendrix Tribute. This is some of the video and a handful of photos from that show.