A Memorial Ride. Last weekend I attended a Memorial for someone who completely changed the direction of my life. 31 years ago Professor A. Doyle Moore was our senior year Graphic Design teacher at University of Hawaii. He paved the way for me (and 4 other classmates from Hawaii—we were “The Hawaiians”) to attend the University of Illinois Master of Fine Arts program, and that lead to a design career in Chicago. I wanted to take the long way there, the “Governor’s Highway”, route 50 and 45, stopping in small towns to appreciate the quiet, vast, open spaces and reflect on all the good times and people I met during that period. My first stop was Peotone, where I met Melanie, proud owner of the most beautiful barber shop I’ve ever seen. Then continuing on to Manteno, Chebanse, Clifton, Ashkum, Danforth, Gliman, Onarga, Buckley, Loda, Paxton, Rantoul (quite a nice air museum there!), and finally Champaign-Urbana. The trip included towns visited 30 years ago, and confirmed what I already knew—the midwest people are friendly, congenial, and more than happy to provide directions, tell a tale, or give a tip to see a site. I loved the quiet streets, endless site lines that seemed to go on forever, and the expressive sky. A fitting pre-Memorial drive.
Limantour Memorial Daybreak. Early morning hours at Limantour Beach in Point Reyes provides ample wildlife action and strange surreal landscapes carved out by the overnight surge. Pelicans fly-surf waves, along with ducks and gulls. And everyone is feasting on a variety of crabs on shore (and at 7AM I’m getting hungry for shellfish). The low tide exposes strange sand patterns that are normally under water at the very north end of Limantour, as well as pristine, foot-print free sand dunes. At this hour no one is around, except perhaps a big cat, coyote or some other animal, as I noticed the tracks leading from the shore to the dunes. Another animal enjoying the seafood buffet? By mid-morning the birds are gone, the tide rolls in, and the ocean hides what was once exposed–crabs, jellyfish, sand dollars, kelp, etc. And more people arrive in the parking lot as I leave. A perfect start to part 1 of Memorial Day, and its not even noon yet.
Pole Day at Indianapolis 500. A reunion. 25 years ago living in Chicago I attended the Indy 500 time trials with my dear friend Jim. It was about time to repeat the experience. The 3 1/2 hour drive from Chicago to Speedway can be boring, if you have nothing to talk about, but we had much to discuss. We relished each minute as we headed east, and the conversations and humor flowed endlessly. A rain delayed Saturday gave way to perfect track conditions, carrying into Sunday’s “bump day”. Immediately entering the race course we walked to turn 1 where you can watch at eye-level cars whipping into the turn at 225 MPH. No braking, full throttle around then bend, a blink of the eye and the car is gone. You are only 4-6 feet away from the driver at this spot and the wind will blow your cap off. Multiply this by 33 cars and you have the Indy 500, oval track madness. In August, Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma arrives here, and a road course is my favorite. Let there be summer!
Reclaimed, Salvaged, Recycle. Traveling on Highway 116 in Sonoma, a roadside gallery clearly stood out, and a u-turn was necessary. Renga Arts produces on-site and sells fine and functional art, including many larger than life, colorful pieces from Patrick Amiot and Brigitte Laurent, the signature art style of Sebastopol. Objects normally bound for the scrap yard end up in their show room, transformed into art. Robots, flying saucers, bird nests, gadgets and clocks, everything unimaginable imagined. Behind the small gallery were several art studios that really were intriguing, so I asked if I could wander around and take a look. I liked their studio facades more than the showroom exhibiting their art. So Sonoma, I dig it!
Outdoor Graffiti Jam. Top graffiti artists from the west coast and NYC paint together at Oakland’s Loakal Gallery for “The eleFUNK Gallery” event, April 2013. Featured artists included the founding members of The Ex-Vandals Crew, Wicked Gary (NYC), Flint, Kool Kito, Refa, Resek, Kufue, Nate1, KAYTWO, Pengo, Cuba, Mace, Nite Owl, all in all around 30 artists. The following day there were 3 artists still finishing up their work, including Agana and Stan 153. Agana (also known as DJ Agana) has a line of graffiti inspired jewelry that was begun by Kickstarter funding. Stan 153 started graffiti in 1970 and has exhibited at over 40 shows across the US and Europe. He was featured in the first book ever published about graffiti in 1974 by Norman Mailer. And he was definitely cool to talk with.
Spring Fever in Sonoma. If interested in explosive spring flowers, the Sonoma Horticultural Nursery off of highway 116 provides a visual rush without the crowds or long drives to Bear Valley or Hite Cove, Yosemite. Now is the time to view Azaleas and Rhododendrons in all their glory. Besides selling every species of these two plants, the 8 acre nursery and garden includes secluded paths and separate garden rooms, picnic areas, and a beautiful pond surrounded by color. The elevated walkway over the gunnera marsh was another unexpected visual treat, dappled light on the giant leaves. Spring is powerful, even the wild California poppies along the roads are brilliant and energizing.
Strictly Sail Pacific The west coasts largest “everything sail boat show” at Jack London Square, Oakland this past weekend. Couple observations: these yachts are beautifully designed objects, and the attention to details remarkable. Everything is fabricated to the highest quality using the most modern materials. Temporary walkways connected piers in a network for exploration, an “open house” for boats. My favorite was the Lagoon 450 Catamaran, what an ultimate party boat, beyond description! And the small “Tugs”, immaculate replication of tugboats, starting at 49K, less than a luxury car. But the highlight of the day was a bay cruise on the Potomac, FDR’s yacht that’s anchored at Jack London Square and occasionally ventures out for bay cruises. A BYOB cruise, what a riot. Some very interesting views of the Bay Bridge and The Rock added to memorable day.
This place is a zoo. Really. The experience is a dichotomy, both wonderful yet somber knowing these animals are captive. Since there are more tigers now in captivity than in the wild, maybe it’s a good thing for survival’s sake. For this outing, I don’t want context in these photos whatsoever, just tight facial compositions minus any distractions. The eyes and facial expressions created a nice set of animal portraits. And luckily it was an overcast weekend, beautiful diffused light.
Expect the unexpected. Driving west from wine country to the Sonoma coastline on zig-zag roads we saw plumes of thick smoke and the smell of fire. I braked hard and reversed into a cemetery. The scene was incredibly erie. Numerous piles of smoldering leaves created a surreal, horror film landscape. No one was present, the groundskeepers maybe were on lunch break. I pictured black and white compositions–rays of light, expressive gnarley oak branches backlight, and silhouettes of the crosses and tombstones. I love to photograph low, on my knees and elbows, and this worked to my advantage, since the smoke was suffocating when standing, and I smelled like smoke for the rest of the weekend. There was no wind, no sound, except the crackle of burning leaves. Even at mid-day, it was pretty haunting.
Los Carnales / La Familia Oakland Chapter Motorcycle Club, St. Pats weekend ride. I’ve passed their red clubhouse numerous times but never saw anyone. Last weekend a few bikes pulled up, I walked across the street and began a conversation. I asked if I could photograph them, and I was invited to the clubhouse before their memorial ride, and also welcomed to the post-ride BBQ. What’s interesting is that LCMC members are ex-Law Enforcement Officers. Their memorial rides take them across the state to pay respect to fallen officers and families. They maintain and clean up the grave sites, acting as extended family. But make no mistake about it, besides the loyal camaraderie, there is a fierce love of the open road and as they proclaim “American made V-twin motorcycles”