The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Desi Makes Himself at Home

Monday, July 28, 2014

This Could Be the Beginning

OK, Dan got up the tree and brought down that 12 0z. jewel on the left. Some might say waiting twenty years for one large and one small avocado is a lot of wait for not much guacamole. But the weather is warming up. Could this not mean larger crops season after season, as our planet prepares to burn itself up and raise sea levels past a point of no return for humans?

While we wait for that day, wouldn't it be great to have unlimited guacamole and fresh salsa from peppers and tomatoes already thriving on the back deck?

Plus, there are more avocados on the tree, they're just in places where we can't get them. Pruning the tree will help, as will repeated use of the Guacamolotor.  Who can say this tree hasn't been saving all its energy for a few seasons of unfathomably large avocado production?

Can you say that? I didn't think so. #guacforall.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dan Puts in Two Pins, Plus Dinner with the Berkos

Dan put Tel Aviv and Jerusalem right next to Bron's Amman and Petra.

Claire is heading off to Paris to find (love and) adventure.

Jillian just keeps getting prettier.

And Isabella has mastered her Teenage Angst Pose. But it's a ruse.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Bells: July 2014 Self Portraits

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Another Great Day

First we got to see Rachel and Tenley down at the Ferry Building, after Barack's motorcade went by.

Then look who arrived!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Jumping For Joy

Isabella arrives tomorrow and we have to pay up. I owe her for each base hit she got this year and she got four.

She is bringing her brother Desi the Entertainer. He is known as the Tasmanian Devil around his house. We have been moving things a foot or two higher.

The Great PD and the Great 5H are coming too. Many things planned, of which few if any will actually get done. We'd like to go pick peaches out in Brentwood but may end up with padrones from the back porch. The Giants-Dodgers were a possibility but there were only bad/expensive tickets available, so maybe it's TV. Maybe we'll keep the kids here and send PD and 5H out on their own to explore their new home in the Mission, the one that they're going to stumble on and pay cash for, right after they get home from flying to Arabia with Tinkerbell and Spider Man. Or maybe they'll just go to la Nebbia for lasagna.

These trips come rarely and are over too soon, but it's too early to worry about that.  The good news is we'll see them again the following weekend at Mummy P's Big Blowout.

I was looking at an old story I'd published a few years ago in the Noe Valley Voice, and one of the sections is about turning fifty. 50! At first, I'd thought I'd read the story at Mummy P's Blowout, except she's turning a hundred! 100!

Fifty seems pretty darned puny, doesn't it? Anyway,at this point I can hardly remember fifty.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Omar Sosa

Wow, what a show last night at SF Jazz Center. It had been close to twenty years since we last saw Omar Sosa and his band smokes more than ever. Cuban-Mozambiquan-with plenty of strangeness and even more grooves.

First time for the P's in the new Jazz Center building, but not the last. Going in a few weeks for the Yemeni Dance Party and then we see Alan Toussaint is coming in November. CanNOT miss that.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Scenes from Blue Tooth 2014

Chef Pickle

Bill, Mush, Ms. P. And Mr. P.

Ms. Mush getting ready to dance.

The Cowboy and the Amazing Chicken Dance

Farmer Sam on right, who makes this whole miracle possible.


Taking a break.

Man, it was hot in the barn.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Posting from Rapid City: "Passenger Yee"

The following post, "Passenger Yee," comes from our Mountain Time Correspondent Dee Akay. Akay seems to have this thing about flying. -- ed.

Passenger Yee

Before the plane from Denver to SF took off, they brought an unclaimed bag onto the plane, asking for "passenger Yee." At first no one answered, then someone did, but she didn't look like any Mrs. Yee.

I'm not afraid to fly anymore, but maybe I am. That bag, placed in the overhead now, has caught my attention. They all seemed so interested in getting the plane into the air on time, was anyone paying attention to what could be inside the bag?

And what am I, or anyone else, going to do about it for the next 2 1/2 hours? And how will you read this account, of what could be our last joyful day on earth, if all of a sudden our entire world goes black?

I'll try and write fast.

Rapid City was old but cool, in its un-reconstituted way. Restored downtowns these days are usually just Tropicana, with a tiny bit of the original powder left but liquefied down to tastelessness by Sharper Image and Evelyn and Crabtree.
Rapid, as locals call it, is still the real deal, long dusty blocks of mom and pop stores, big, one-of-a-kind places, maybe with mom still behind the counter. We found four of our Vernon Kiln plates in an antiques mall very much like our favorite place in Pawtucket, but only one plate was below the $10 maximum, so now we have VERMONT.

On downtown street corners in Rapid City you are greeted by lifesize bronze statues of every American President, sometimes two and sometimes four per corner. Reagan wears a cowboy hat, Jefferson runs a bronze quill over the entire embossed Declaration of Independence and Harry Truman holds aloft the famous DEWEY WINS! headline. Bushes One and Two are there, but no Obama. It may be too early. Or too late.

South Dakotans don't have much of an accent, but they can do a mean parody of North Dakota, sounding exactly like William H. Macy in "Fargo" or Barb's Aunt Orpha. They are the nicest people in the world, going out of their way to be friendly, but unlike Safeway clerks in the Bay Area, in Rapid City they seem to mean it. "How ARE you?" "Are you enjoying your stay in South Dakota?" "Oh, have a wonderful rest of your day." "No, thank YOU."

Boulder was friendly too, but Colorado freaked me out. That legal concealed weapons scary can a society get? A student at enormous UC being allowed to carry a gun into class? AND, pot is legal? "Har har, dude, wow, what colors! I've got the munchies! BLAM!"

Perhaps it is just a coincidence that in Colorado we saw no gay people holding hands or anyone wearing a head scarf. South Dakota was the same. At Mount Rushmore we noticed plenty of gaydar-activating men walking together, wearing, you know, one guy has on madras shorts and the other the exact same pattern madras shirt, like they're being careful but still need to make a muted statement? Muted because that yoho over there in the cowboy hat could get angry?

Of course, I am that yoho. I bought my cowboy hat in the Lakota camp store in Badlands National Park, and haven't taken it off in three days. The sales girl, who had a broad face with Sioux cheeks and Sioux eyes and that unique shade of sunbaked brown, said I looked good in it. And Diane, the sweet woman in the red blouse who worked the check-in counter at the Badlands Host Campground and Motel just a mile outside the entrance to Badlands National Park, told me I looked just like all the guys over at the Lazy J Bar.

Of course we went to the Lazy J for dinner. There were four men in the place. True to Diane's word, three wore cowboy hats, me, the owner of the place and his friend. The two of them sat at one of the tables playing cards while Barb and I sat at the bar. The fourth guy was the bartender, a Latino guy who said their pizza was homemade. In Exterior, South Dakota, "homemade" means frozen dough the bartender grates cheese onto and then pops in the microwave.

Two women were in the bar, both of them off-duty employees. One, forty-five-ish, hair twisted into a graying knot at the back of her neck, sat on a stool, eyeballs glued to the video poker machine, while the other, younger, cashed out her paycheck. The owner got up from his card game to ring $120 at his register, walked to the end of the bar where they also have a package sales business, counted out the cash to his employee, then took it all back in exchange for twenty or so pint bottles of what appeared to be gin. 

She stuck all the bottles in a large bag and walked through the front door framed with signed dollar bills from past customers ("Best" of "Luck" from "LeRoy and Dolly"), and moved quickly out to her truck.

Barb and I were halfway through our "homemade""pizza." We looked at each other -- Exterior, SD, is only a few miles off the Pine Ridge Reservation, where they are not allowed to purchase liquor, except maybe out of the trunk of a young white woman they already know from waiting on them at the Lazy J? Maybe, maybe not?

This is nasty business. So are the Badlands, dry, sere, forbidding. You are staring at the dried up bottom of a vast interior seaway that once cut what is now America into two parts, kind of like we are now, but physically. South Dakota was completely under water for several million years, and what is visible is what has been left after the Rockies formed and the ocean dried up, ancient, striated rock formations, moonscapes devoid of life except for a few longhorn sheep.

And Buicks! Chevrolets! Fords! What ARE these strangely named vehicles we never see in California? Chryslers!

This year they ought to call the Badlands "The Not So Badlands" because they've had rain, lots of it. It only happens once every twenty years. Wild clover is everywhere, acre after acre of stately green leaves below golden seed pods, waving like blond, aromatic cheerleaders at a dusty reservation rodeo. The whole county smells like clover honey.

We had to have some of that honey. Darla, the lady at the old sod homestead, told us she'd sell us a gallon but we'd have to come by her house tomorrow in Wall. Diane at the Badlands Host said she knew a woman, Janice, whose husband Dave is a bee keeper and makes honey and maybe we could buy some from her. Janice's family runs the Valley View Resort a few miles down the road, so we drove out there.

We turned off Hwy 43 onto a long, narrow gravel road made narrower by arches of overhanging flowering sweet clover. Never has gravel smelled this good. We drove all the way to the top of a flat butte, invisible from the highway.

Up on the butte is an old red farmhouse guarded by the world's oldest dog. Janice sells Dave's honey by the gallon, quart, pint or bee. She allowed as to how she thought the plastic bees would travel better than the glass jars, if we wrapped them up well and stuck them into a checked-in suitcase, so we bought half a dozen bees-worth. Then we saw the bars of soap, made in her kitchen by an Ojibway woman, and we had to have some of those too, if only to hold up the bees.

We walked out onto the back patio. We could not see forever but maybe all the way to Nebraska. The White River down below, green farmland next to rushing river in front of light red, brown and maroon and dark red, brown and maroon, rocky, ancient.

You can stay at the Valley View for $120 per night or $160 for two beds, but we'd probably stay at the Badlands Host again. For $60 we got a room upstairs, two decent beds, a shower that worked with plenty of hot water, a view out the window of an elderly Indian man on a riding mower seemingly riding in circles cutting down dirt, and, that night, when the bright bulb outside our curtain threatened to make sleep impossible, and I stepped outside to unscrew it, I was met by the sight of fifty kajillion tiny flying black bugs, rampaging against that light bulb, participating in what had to have been the Big Bug Jamboree of 2014, where bugs come to meet other bugs and perpetuate their flourishing race, which was working out great for them until I unscrewed the light bulb and everything in their world went black.


Friday, July 11, 2014

Two Hayseeds and Another Bridge Picture

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

George, Tom, Abe, Teddy and Crazy Horse

Three great nights in Boulder with Bron, three so far in the Black Hills. Never knew Colorado was so dry, never knew South Dakota was so green. Apparently, it isn't, but this year they had rain, so the sweet clover is in flower everywhere, even in the Badlands. They make a special honey from this clover and tomorrow morning we're going to meet Dave the honey-maker's wife and try to get her to sell us some.

In the Wagon Wheel Bar in Interior, SD, you get bottled beer, cowboy hats and country music, but not many customers. In the Cedar Pass camp store the sales women are all Lakota but they speak like TV teenagers on sitcoms. Tomorrow, after buying honey, we can choose between visiting the Minuteman Museum (that's a decommissioned nuclear missile site) or the Pine Bluff Lakota reservation.

We fucked the red man, shot Crazy Horse in the back after guaranteeing him safe passage and sent his people and all the rest into permanent exile. But he's still here. It may be that we are bright comets who are burning out, and when we are all gone Crazy Horse will return, along with Geronimo, Sitting Bull and Red Cloud, who you see side by side on t-shirts up here, in a parody of the four white chiefs on Mt. Rushmore.

The Lakota say Crazy Horse defeated George Custer in about as much time as it takes to eat a meal.

The Crazy Horse Memorial is half an hour from Mt. Rushmore and will take another hundred years to finish. But you can see him already, head raised above the granite mountain that will someday display his hair flowing backwards and his horse turning beneath him. 

Rushmore is interesting. They never finished it. When the sculptor died, funding dried up and that was that. What you see is all there will ever be. But the Crazy Horse Memorial just keeps growing. The sculptor died but his sons and grandsons are still working, blasting rock, designing, chipping away. They don't think even their grandchildren will live to see it completed, but the family will keep at it until they're done.

And then, in that distant day, George Washington, Tom Jefferson, Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt will look across the mountain and they'll see Chief Crazy Horse, flying away on his steed, always half an hour in front of them and not a damned thing they can do about it.

Breaking Through the Tourist Veil

Everybody wears cowboy hats in Interior, S.D.

Except Iggy.

Monday, July 07, 2014

Oh Give Me A Home

South Sixth and Mt. Rushmore Streets, in Custer South Dakota, has a glorious buffalo statue on each of the four corners. The old bank building in the top picture now makes a mean latte.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

It's a Beautiful Place to Work

The Great BZWZ can work up here at NCAR, in the Flatirons above Boulder. Or, she can hike on any of the numerous trails above the town.

Boulder is a city that seems to work. The average age appears to be around 20, though BZ insists it is older. The towns infrastructure is pristine, biking trails, hiking trails, street musicians, delicious food, and many places to rent summer or winter gear. 

This must be the greatest place to go to college, especially with pot legal. Of course, it's also legal to carry concealed weapons into class, so I'm not sure how many pop quizzes I'd be giving.