Thursday, April 24, 2008

Days 55- 59

Day 59
Monday April 28th
Have you ever gone free diving with only a snorkel and a mask? You know the temporary feeling of panic you get when your snorkel fills with salt water and catches you by surprise? Your brain in a microsecond realizes that you are under water and that you can't breathe. As fast as your synapses can fire, your brain is seized by fear. The adrenaline starts pumping. Your soul freezes. Fight or Flight sets in but there is nothing to fight, no where to flee. Your under water and your one link to fresh air is full of more salty water. Then the microsecond passes and the brain equalizes. Common sense, experience, and training sets in. You have been there before and know what it is all about. You slowly surface, clear the snorkel and breath a deep lungful of cool sea air. You barely remember the lightning bolt of panic later after all is said and done. It is nothing too disturbing, just an initial reaction.

That panic, that is kind of how I feel today, except it is not over in the flash of an eye. Its lasting all day and will probably keep me up all night. Strange these brains of ours..., then again it is Monday after all. Maybe it is par for the course. Oh and over the weekend the Red Sox got swept by the D-Rays, quite possibly one of the worst teams in the history of baseball. When it rains it pours....

Day 56- 58
Friday April 25th- Sunday April 26th
I wanted to paint all weekend but somehow lost
my motivation. I am not feeling very creative. I don't really want to tap into that part of my brain right now. Being creative would mean dealing with feelings and emotions I would much rather ignore for the time being. Being creative and working that into a canvas means standing before the world naked and vulnerable. I am tired of being vulnerable. I like my walls. Maybe it is an "artiste" thing, or a French thing, or a Catholic guilt thing (I know I am not Catholic but go with it right).

I try to read instead. It doesn't necessary drown out the voices and the whirlwind in my mind's eye, but it at least dulls them a bit. Poor escapism I know, but an escape nonetheless.

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high
take a look, it's in a book, it's reading rainbow!

Day 55
Thursday April 24th
Okay I admit it, I am lazy and good for nothing. So be it, as it has been spoken so too shall it be. Tonight I blogged a few days. Things were rolling then that which we shall not speak about happened. I turned off the battle-scarred Mac and turned on Grey's Anatomy. But come on seriously, it hasn't been on since December 6th! Hey even Superman had his kryptonite right and Kerouac his booze, Bukowski his underage girls, Pinero his needle? I can have Izzie & the doe-eyed Lexie. Okay okay okay? I am comfortable in my alpha male sexuality to admit it. My name is Aaron and I am addicted to overly dramatic poorly written sensationalized hospital serials set in rainy Seattle. Hey I am cool with it...

Days 48, 49, 50, 51

Day 51
Sunday April 20th
I am not quite sure I did anything today. In fact I am almost certain I ceased to be for a period of time that just happened to fall between Saturday night-ish and Monday morning-ish. I didn't take a photo, the CF card is ominously blank. I didn't write in my journal, it goes from Saturday night and skips to Monday morning. I certainly did not blog anything otherwise I would have nothing to do right now. I remember Saturday clear as a bell, as I do Monday. Strange, I must not have existed for this day. Huuunh, cool!

Day 50
Saturday April 19th
**Also known as Half Way There**
I can't believe it has been 50 days. Sometimes I look back and think it has been 50 LOOOONG days. Other times I look back and think, wow really 50 days, it went by so fast, this is cake. Either way it doesn't matter. What matters is that this journey is now half way over. It is all down hill from here. Or so I would like to think...

Marco, polo, pudding & pie...

"A first-rate soup is more creative than a second rate painting." -- Abraham Maslow
I would suggest that a first rate soup in your hands
whilst painting is even better old boy...

What do you meeeeeeean I have paint in my hair monkey boy?

The shed half way there.

Day 49
Friday April 18th
Took off for Ojai for the evening. I needed to recoup and think things out. Built a fire. I was proud of myself.

"Dirt-ey wurk 'tis, fetchin' far'wud 'n all, ay-yuh, yessuh, ifn I da say-so mesilf..."


"Aha Wilson! Look what I've created. I have made FIRE."

Day 48
Thursday April 17th
DATE NIGHT!!! Fun times!

Prince Jamu al Abu Fierce de la Taj

Lamb Vandala at the Taj

I can't think of anything fittingly quirky enough to write here...

Elvis, Picasso, Einstein

"Men, they're all the same!"

Andrea working her magic with the "actors."

Day 47-- The Debate

Day 47
Wednesday April 16th
Tonight I crashed pretty early. It was one of those days you can't wait to be over and for tomorrow to start. I caught a bit of the BoSox- Yankees game on the radio. I really enjoy listening in to the boys of summer go at it on the diamond as the afternoon disappears. Don't get me wrong live games at Fenway are a sight to be seen. The sights and sounds and smells of the old ballpark bring back a rush of memories both past and future. Televised games are fun too when you are in the mood. But there is something incredibly simple and unadulterated about fixing the AM rabbit ears to catch the perfect signal to follow the game via radio. Every few innings you have to sit up and readjust before the play-by-play is eaten up by clouds of static. For me that is all part of it, just as much as hot dogs and cracker jacks. The Red Sox lost 15- 9. They were absolutely killed by a mediocre Yank's team. Oh well, the summer has really yet to wake up. Thank goodness there are 160+ games in a season. It does make it a little easier to stomach on a daily basis. Besides folks are just finding there summer legs, it is too early to panic after every loose pitch.

Next up we switched mindset and caught the Democratic Debate.
"Live from Constitution Hall in Philadelphia..." we heard a million times. My day went from poor to just down right bad. You know in all honesty I am so tired of these two bitter people. And I am even more tired people telling me I should care. These two democratic candidates haven't had an original idea in decades, why pray tell should I be excited about their candidacies? In all honesty I was a little excited about this new face on the Dems side. Obama intrigued me. I tried to believe, I really did. Maybe it is just that the whole process has gone on entirely too long. Then again, maybe it hasn't. Why can't we just settle this the old-fashioned way? How abouts pistols at down, that always seems to do the trick.

Despite all this crap about Hope & Change, it really is the same old same old. It is just more of the same. The debate was filled with back-stabbing covered by contrite smiles and diplomatic cross-speak. No one answered a question. Hillary looked like a '50s housewife on meth, almost like a porcelain dummy grinning no matter whose pulling the strings (not dummy as in a stupid person, but dummy as in wooden headed ventriloquist puppet). Obama impressed me as someone not used to being questioned, as if his entire life he never had to face the music and was able to get out of tight situations by simply smiling. Every time he was pressed to answer a direct question, he grimaced like he had gas. He had one talking point and no matter the question, he always went back to the same tired talking point.

In all fairness neither bothered to actually address any of the questions. There is no surprise there. The art of the debate was lost after the very first televised debate between JFK and Nixon. It is now all about looking good and saying nothing. It is not about real answers or original solutions but rather the 30 second sound bite and not saying anything that would give your opponent ammunition for later slur ads. Hillary for her part looked great and almost trustworthy. She had a few sound bites for the morning papers. Obama for his part was dapper and cut an authoritative visual figure as usual. He too had his share of 10- 15 second sound bites to make the evening news writers happy. For the most though it was business as usual in presidential politics.

Overall Obama did say one thing that did really impress me. This debate really drove home the point. In his conclusion he made the point that,
"And most importantly, I believed that change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up."

If you believe change is coming from your elected officials you are sorely disillusioned. Change starts with you. If you want real change in this country stop shopping at Wal-Mart, stop purchasing crap on credit, stop talking about government bailouts for the lazy and ill-informed, stop driving your damn Hummers & SUVs, stop eating fast food, stop supporting overly subsidized industries with your check book and with your vote. Stop complaining about the state of our world and do something. Stop passing the buck, stop blaming others, stop looking for a political savior. I am talking about active nonchalance. Go out of your way to avoid the establishment. I am not talking about open revolution, but rather an active movement to turn our backs on the debased society we have become.

Wearing a pin with a candidates name on it or slapping a bumper sticker on your SUV or voting for a traditional party candidate does nothing but hinder change. It gives no one hope but the Wall Street fat cats and the upper 1%. Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot. Tell the world that we believe in the democratic process, but that we disavow the petty indifference in the entrenched parties and there representative candidates. Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot. Tell the powers that be that you value our rights and responsibilities and you sure as crap wished they would to. Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot. Tell the traditional parties that they have nothing to offer anymore and it is time for ethem to hit the dusty trail. Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot. Tell your neighbors that you believe in them and a government governed by men & women who are not career politicians. Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot. Tell the founders of this great nation to stop turning in their graves, that you finally get it and are working on it.

Go vote but turn in a totally blank ballot, send a message to the enshrined powers that be to go screw themselves. Or go vote for Obama and then join your local church, give as much money as you can to your local synagogue, go pound nails at the local mosque, say a harekrishna nightly to the Hindi floaty thing and hope you covered all your basis so that when the world goes swooshing down the toilet boil you will be able to tread water. (Is anybody still reading this? Woooowie, got a little crazy there hunh! The DTs will do that to a man..., did I mention the Sox dropped a winnable game to those bastards down in NY?)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Day 46

Day 46
Tuesday April 15th
Bend over & pay the man fool, its Tax Day! Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and shut the crap up!

Today after work I grabbed PonyBoy and we walked on up to Two Trees. I have never been up there and as my time in Ventura dwindles down I really wanted to make it a priority. The whole hillside area is private and completely surrounded in places by barbed wire and 8 foot fences. By some of the more popular trail heads they have strung and restrung fencing so many times it starts to look like Gitmo. It is such a joke that some old white man thinks he can keep all this land and everything for himself. There are some things that should not be owned and hidden by a single entity. Natural beauty should be shared by all those who appreciate it. Wake up pal! The people will not be denied! If George Washington Hayduke ever made it out to these parts he would have a fit at the audacity of it all.

Anyhow we found a whole in the fence and tucked on through. About an hour or so later we were relaxing under the big tree and scoping out the sunset. It was a nice walk indeed. After spending the last few days driving up and down the coast and stuck in an office I needed something quick to stretch my legs. This certainly did the trick.

PonyBoy taking a breather at the first bluff.


"Dude I got this man, just shut up and keep walking..."

Half way up, pausing for a quick peek at the sun set.

These poor trees, totally krunked up from years of wayward adolescents tagging & grinding their names for posterity's sake. If only they actually did something memorable they wouldn't need to carve up a majestic Ventura tree to be remembered by.

Enjoying the sun set, embraced by Mother Earth herself (yah I hugged a tree today, what do you expect!). Note to self; NEVER ever do this ummm "walk" again in flip flops you retard!

Good ole' Ventuckey, looking back down towards the Channel Islands.

Day 41, 42, 43, 44

Day 44
Sunday April 13th
I woke up this morning at the ripe ole' hour of 7am. I packed everything up and headed back to the car only to find a pleasant surprise. Someone had left me a Starbucks on the trunk of my car, and it was still warm! The note next to it said, "Hope you had a great night, it was nice to meet you! (big heart) love, your secret hips admirer." The coffee hit the spot, the note certainly perked me up. And with one last dip in the ocean I was down the road and back to VTA.

**I wanted to take a sec to write a quick note to all the chill folks at the Belly Up & the Knitting Factory. All of you that let me jump in front of you to bang out these photos, it is definately appreciated and I am very thankful. A very special heart felt thanks to the fine young ladies w/ the sparkling smiles in the front row the last night at the Belly Up.. the place was super packed & crowded to the hilt but you all volunteered your spots right up front to me for a few pics. That was super cool and I totally am in your debt. If I stepped on any toes (literally or figuratively)
or got in anyone's view I certainly apologize.

Day 43

Saturday April 12th
Mother Hips w/ Jackie Green at the Belly Up, Solana Beach, Calif. 2008.

I slept surprisingly well on the patio of a construction zone. Even though the sun had been up for an hour or so, I had picked a spot that was in shade until early afternoon. One of my biggest pet peeves is trying to sleep but the sun keeps drilling into your head. No worries about that this weekend. I slowly, very slowly got up to start the day just after 7. I was pretty impressed with myself truth be told. When I made it back out to the parking lot I was blown away by how many people were out and about. The place was crazy with people running and biking and generally being in shape. It was sickening! If I wanted to see beautiful people all fit and trim being active this early in the morn I would have slept at a gym. I was no longer impressed with myself for being up and about at this hour. Instead I did a sit up and three jumping jacks and felt a little better. I woulda broken out some pimp yoga but I forgot my organic vegan hemp mat at home and I never do yoga without.

Kidding aside, I really did plan on being active all day but it turned out to be so bloody hot. I drove up into the hills (if you call them hills, they are honestly about as high as golf bunkers). I found the trail head easy enough and with a bottle of water I headed out. I made it about 3 miles, and that was probably a very liberal interpretation of "mile." I had sweet coming off me like a cow pissing on a flat rock and I was wheezing like a stuck pig. I couldn't quite seem to get out of the way of my own belly. Never in a hurry I turned around and headed back to the shade of the car. A quick rubdown w/ baby wipes to get the red dirt dust out of every crack and crevasse and it was nap time. I found a quaint little parking spot under a huge tree that provide a nice breezy shade and konked out. It was great, I love my naps something fierce!

I caught a quick lunch at the Tidewater Tavern, a favorite of mine. It is an airy little dive bar that is cheap, not too friendly, and has a crazy cast of locals that filter in and out all day. They are right off the main highway through town though parking can be a pain. After stuffing myself with fish tacos and iced coffee I was ready for another nap. But I didn't. I drove down to Cardiff and found a spot to leave the car just behind Swami's. I bounced over to the bluffs above Sea Cliff. I found a nice shaded spot under a palm tree almost overlooking the ocean and took a seat. I spent the afternoon finishing this stupid letter and just watching the 50+ surfers all fighting to catch the next shoulder high slow roller. It was pretty funny watching some of these chaps. When i was sufficiently covered in sand and sweet (and more importantly finished this behemoth of a letter) I hike down the cliffs and walked along the beach over to the cove in Solana. The cliff faces at sunset are totally majestic!

Chillaxing at the cove.

The Lineup.

Golden Hour at the bluffs.

By the time I made it back to Cardiff-by-the-Sea (is there any other Cardiff? like Cardiff- just-across-from-the-Bakersfield-Dennys-in-the-middle -of-no-where?) it was dark and I was jonesing for the last night at the Belly Up to get under way. I flew back to down town Solana and found my trusty unmarked parking spot-- it is the only spot that doesn't have a sign saying ti is for cafe use only, quite the find which ensures I do not have to worry about being hassled in the morning. Mabel's was looking as good as ever. Within a few minutes the Dana Point Gang had pulled up and the party was in full swing. Bottles of Sierra and Negro Modelo sin limon and chocolate mushrooms were passing around the parking lot. Vans full of greasy hippies parked next to SUVs full of polo-wearing aging hipsters. Laughter mingled with the smoke from baby back j's and curled up into the tungsten evening. Everyone had a smile, even if they didn't have a ticket.

The Dana Point Gang gearing up at Casa Mabel's before the show.

After smoking & joking in the parking lot w/ assorted strangers we all collectively turned toe and headed into the show. I don't even know where to begin or how to describe what came next. Jackie Greene opened up and promptly blew the doors off the joint and the toupee off the dude in the front row and the trousers off the lass in the back row! There were sweaty rocking bodies just piled on top of each jammed around the stage for rows and rows and rows. Dancing rocking fans were doing shots hanging from the rafters and swinging on the chandeliers to the thumping bass lines and waltzing with the ghosts of Jimmy & Jerry and Woody & Kerouac. Actually that may be an exaggeration, I don't remember the Belly Up having chandeliers.

The darkness was piercingly bright! It was intense! Jackie may not live in a dream or live on the moon or drink martinis in the afternoon, but that night everyone jamming to his tunes were most certainly doing all three though not necessarily in that order. I didn't think it could get any louder or the crowd more intensely keyed in-- we were like a single animal bopping and weaving along to every beat, every grimace, ever gyration of the guitar. Then the Prince of Americana went on and busted out Ball and Chain and sure enough it got louder and even more intense. We were all wild animals devouring every bar every lyric -- with every taste leaving us eager for more. It was brilliant indeed!

Jackie Motha Frakin Greene down on the corner lookin' like a foreigner!

The Prince of Americana giving up the ghost like a ball and chain!

Oh yah and the Hips played too. Opening up with Jackie on keys w/ a rip-roaring old fashioned Esmerelda they started out sprinting and never let off the gas the rest of the night. By the end of the night I was covered with exhausted elation, along with the assorted mixed beverage that half the crowd insisted on periodically showering me with. It was a frakin stellar display of old Hips & new Hips.

Not to be out done, Tim strutting his stuff w/ the Mo'Hips.

Ohhh here she comes, white head phones in her ears...!

One last tune before calling it a night, packing it in, and hitting the road.

Day 42

Friday April 11th
Mother Hips w/ New Monsoon at the Belly Up, Solana Beach, Calif. 2008.

It was a long drive but we made it into town w/o a problem even though I forgot my map on my desk. I kinda played it by ear and it was a straight shot down the 5. Funny story that has nothing to do w/ anything: while driving down after work my phone starts a tingling. I didn't recognize the number so i was a little hesitant to pick it up. I am super against phones & driving. then again I hate this electronic leash we all call a cell phone in the first place and usually just ignore. I am not sure why I picked up, but I did. And lo and behold it was my first job offer in practically 6 weeks. January and February things were sketchy, but at least interview requests were trickling. Since March 1 I haven't heard a peep, that is until my cellie started a jingling. So I pick up and this voice is like yah we dug your writing samples and want to learn more and see if you are a fit. Of course my mind goes blank, I don't remember the job lead at all. i mean seriously, in the last 6 weeks I have sent out probably two dozen resumes to places all over the world for writing positions, production, post-production, pre-production, photog, coffee whore, etc., etc., etc.

So I was like well refresh my memory, what exactly is the job you are calling about? And the faceless voice squawking in my ear gives me the low down-- growing production firm in the valley, looking for a writer, some solo work, some collaborative work, some PR writing as well every now and again, good pay, some benies, flexible hours. It definately peaked my interest so I ask more about the company. The voice becomes excited, well she says, we are one of the fastest growing production companies in SoCal and one of the most respected names in the adult entertainment genre. Errrrrrrrrrrrrgh...!, slam on the brakes, drop the phone into my coffee cup, back the bus up. Did you say...? Nawwww, really? I wasn't sure what surprised me most-- that I was getting a call for a job in porn or that porn movies had writers! I politely declined although i did take her name and number just in case. You never know right!

Back to the Hips,

There's some boys I know... that play that rock & roll (from L to R: Paul, Greg, Tim)

I think I need a small vacation,... Some place where I can’t hear a sound.

I can't sleep, with my head on fire
Walkin' around like I'm some kind of woman.

I drink a little beer in a tavern Sing a little bit of these working man blues...

She comes from sunny Santa Barbara...

Take a sad song and make it better...

Day 41

Thursday April 10th
Mother Hips w/ New Monsoon at the Knitting Factory, West Hollywood, Calif. 2008.

If you wanna read this re-post from The Grotto, you gotta high lite it w/ ye cursor. Yah it was one of those nights...!

I always feel guilty when the Hips come to LA, they are playing right in my backyard but it is such a pain to get down to Hollywood on a week night. Besides I am not really a big fan of the town in the first place. But I sucked it up and ventured south, and man what a show! It was stellar to hear KC Southern> Whiskey on a SB at the top of the night. Colonize and Poison Oak were tack on to end the night-- with just the right amount of cosmic noodling to put stars in everyone's eyes.

To top it all off, what a bloody eclectic crowd. I mean seriously only a Hips show in LaLaLand would have pink mohawks dancing next to hippy chicks w/ hairy pits dancing next to graying pranksters in tie-dyes dancing next to fake blonds w/plastic lips on iPhones dancing next to confederate rebels with 14 inch beards drinking PBR dancing next to a gaggle of photographing paparazzi dancing next to a dude in a Blue Turtle Seduction t-shirt dancing next to an emo-head in a Ramones t-shirt! It was a rad. I can't wait for the rest of the weekend & the Belly Up. On on...

The professor Paul Hoaglin wailing on the bass.

The philosopher Greg Loiacono rocking the guitar.

The maestro Tim Bluhm on vocals.

Chuck's Chucks.

Screw that 90's unplugged fad, these boys are totally electric, plugged in, tuned out, and cranking it nightly to 11!

Poison Oak noodling...

One more time, pink mohawk-- Hmmmm, note to self, I think there is a song in here somewhere...

*Sorry John Hofer (on Drums) not much I can do with a wide angle lens to get a decent shot of your ugly mug. Next time amigo, next time--
strike a pose, vogue or whatever dude its all you.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Days 38, 39, 40

Day 40
Wednesday April 9th
Tonight was an interesting one. I spent the early part of the afternoon reading on the beach. I have been reading a new book and it has been hard to put down. It is called "Play for a Kingdom" by Thomas Dyja. It is loosely based on the Wilderness campaign of the last part of the Civil War. The book follows a small detachment of hardened veterans from Brooklyn in the last few weeks before they are mustered out. It is an interesting read. The soldiers all know they are going home and the war will be over for them in a few days and all of a sudden the inherent risks of war are even more vividly apparent. No one wants to die only a few days before shipping home. Every order is mentally debated and motivations are questioned. Psychologically it is quite the conundrum. Each individual trooper has to really address his priority in the daily comings and goings of Army life in 1865.

To make matters a little more compelling, the detachment meets up with a Confederate unit from Alabamy during picket duty. The two enemy units decide to put their guns aside for a few tense hours for a friendly match of baseball. Eventually the two units go out of their way to meet up and continue to play out a five game series. It comes to a point where each soldier, despite the color of his uniform, has to question and reaffirm his loyalty to whatever it is they pledge. It is a pretty good book. Though fiction, it doesn't have the common tendency to romanticize the Civil War (think any Shaara work-- like most famously the movie Gettysburg, based on his book "Killer Angels", great read but super SUPER over-the-top ramanticism).

After reading I cooked up a quick meal in the parking lot and then headed downtown. I met up with Giggles who finally made it back down here to the Ventuck' from Sac-town. We chilled for a bit and checked out a couple live bands along with a photo exhibit. By the time the night was over I was beat. I headed back up the 33 and found a little-used access road. I turned off my lights so as not to attract attention and gingerly backed down the access road. When I reached the end I parked it where it was and called it good. At first I robotically went about the common motions of setting up camp. After I got the fire going, I realized I really had no interest or any energy to set up camp. Back into the Focus I went. I curled up in the back seat and passed out yet again. Screw setting up camp!

Camping off the 33, I didn't realize until sunrise exactly how close I really was to four lanes of bustling belching traffic. I eventually gave up on the fire, put on an extra sweater and curled up in the back seat. No sleeping under the stars for me tonight, too much dang trouble.

Day 39
Tuesday April 8th
After work today the sun was shinning brilliantly. I decided to head out to the river up the 33 in Ojai for the afternoon. On the way I finally picked up a new sine-wave power converter. My other converter kept blowing fuses left and right and was totally unreliable. In fact the first trip w/ Sparky to Telescope I blew my last replacement fuse and could not recharge batteries for the entire trip. yah it totally stunk when added on top of everything else that crapped out that trip (hint: water filter). It was time for an upgrade, and long overdue at that. A quick stop at Fryes and I was on my way with a new converter. Once I got to the river I spent a few hours before sunset hiking around and snapping pics. It was a great afternoon to spend paddling the Matilija. The river was ohhh so cold, but it felt great! Once it was dark I packed up my gear and headed downstream to a certain favorite semi-secret camping spot. I spent the night reading, playing in the fire, and getting a few more pages written for the infamous letter. It was definitely a relaxing Waldonesque evening. The next morning I felt refreshed and alive for the first time in a long time!

Cold water but it felt so darn good on my poor dawgs! Yehaw!

Whoever gets this letter better feel pretty dang special!

Day 38
Monday April 7th
Monday is laundry day. I have been super anal about clothes these last few weeks so I have managed to really cut back on laundry duties. Unfortunately I had stretched it way too far this time and there was no way I could go another day w/o clean clothes. Its like this: I have two packs, one for work and one for play. Immediately after leaving work I change into my play clothes and pack up the work clothes. Then I try to only wear the same pair of play clothes for a week. That way I don't get everything I own smelling like a campfire (obviously if I am w/ people for the evening I will forgo camp clothes for something a little less ripe). Then the next morning wash up and change back into another set of work clothes. Its pretty simple really and what with the exuberant prices of coin-op washing machines, it helps keep costs down.

Unfortunately I still had to spend a beautiful afternoon stuck at the laundry mat. Fortunately the Final Four championships were on the tele. Though I am not a big hoops fan, this years college tourney was pretty eventful. I had seen a few games and was mildly looking forward to the final game. Neither team disappointed and it was definitely an instant classic. The Kansas Jayhawks fought back from certain defeat, down by 9ish with only a handful of minutes left. The Memphis Tigers struggled to hold on to their diminishing lead, but a couple bad bounces and all of a sudden they, the Tigers, were only up by a trey. Enter Mario Chambers with what many will call the greatest shot in Kansas history. As the time ran out Chambers hits a long three to send the game into overtime. What a beauty of a game and it is not even over yet! Isabella must be crapping himself, and Peaches too-- both Kansas expats! The entire laundry mat had ground to a halt as everyone was clustered around the 9 inch TV. Kansas stormed back in overtime and totally decimated the deflated Memphis defense. The poor Tigers couldn't do a single thing right, the game was well beyond their reach at this point. Five minutes later the Jayhwaks were national champs and the Tigers were left to wonder how they let the championship slip away into the night.

By the time the game was over it was quite late and I was exhausted. Laundry at a coin-op can take a lot out of you believe it or not. I headed out into the VTA hills thinking of doing a few more long exposures. I set up the camera for what I had hoped would be a 20 minute shot. It was kinda chilly so I sat down in the car to relax. Oh and the hills were swarming w/ hungry grinning coyotes so there was no way I was going to hang out outside the car! Some time later I awoke to find that the camera was still going and it was pushing midnight. Dude I had totally fallen asleep without knowing it. I packed up the camera and curled up in the back of the car. To tired to care about being parked just a few feet off the highway, I was out immediately.

Sleeping in the car, total rock star.

Technically it is the morning of Day 39, but who is counting.

Days 35, 36, 37

Day 37
Sunday April 6th
The next morning I woke up a little disorientated. My sleeping bag and crash pad was completely covered in this thin crust of whiteness. Then it hit me: FROST!!! I was completely covered in frozen little frost crystals. Lets just say it was difficult to get out of my nice warm bag and stat the day. I procrastinated as much as I could, but in the end my worries of being found out by the rangers was enough to get me moving. I tried to have some breakfast but my banana & Nak'd Juice were completely frozen. I set everything out in the sun to thaw. I ended up taking a long walk around the lake to get the blood flowing.

I spent most of the day hanging out down by the river. I worked on some more writing, banged out another couple of letters and started a really cool book. As the day carried on I headed back down the mountain and out to the beach. I spent the rest of the evening reading Dave Berry. I actually read his entire book at the beach. It was a good read, hilarious as you would expect from Dave Berry. In the end though it was really just a cheap piece of fireside entertainment. It is certainly no classic, most definitely not the next great American novel but definitely a good read. I ended up crashing on the beach that night. I was pretty lazy and worn out from staying up all night taking pictures so I hit the hay pretty early in order to rest up for the week ahead.

Thawing out by the lake. (The 2nd of two frames I took Sunday before my camera batteries died for good.)

Day 36
Saturday April 5th
I headed up to Rose Valley for the weekend. Even though I got up there pretty early all the official camp sites were completely packed w/ RVs, frat boys, high schoolers and other assorted riff raff. It looked like I would be backcountry crashing for the next few days. Actually that is perfectly fine with me, I doubt with all the partying going on at the official sites I would get much sleep anyhow. Besides I really wanted to get in a couple long night time exposures so a packed camp ground is not the best place for that. I decided finding a site to crash wasn't the priority and headed out into the desert for a long walk. I left everything at the car-- no book, no journal, no camera, no cell phone, no iPod. It was just me, my GPS a liter of water, trail bar and my thoughts for the day. Sometimes it is good to just think without having any distractions. And think I did. It was well worth while and long over due.

Later after the walk I drove down to the other end of valley. I found a barely discernible Jeep trail up the side of a mountain and slowly forged ahead in my poor Focus. I got to the top and was greeted by an amazing view of the entire valley below me. I parked and promptly plopped down on my crash pad, opened an ice cold Sierra and decided to write a letter. When I was a kid I used to write letters to friends all over the world on a weekly basis almost. Then again that was before this new-fangled internet or IM or email or text messaging or cell phones. Crap this was even before long distance was affordable. Remember all those 1010 xxx commercials for 25 cents/minute long distance? Those were the days, a bloody for a quarter a minute! Forget about free nights and weekends, this was revolutionary! Anyhow no one bothers to take the time to actually sit down for an hour or two and write a letter long hand. That is a shame. There is something about running out to the mail box one day to find a battered envelope with a crisp stamp in the corner. The excitement of wondering what is inside is irreplaceable. I used to read letters 20 times a piece that I got from all sorts of strange and foreign places (like Ohio & at times even New York City!). I miss those days.

Up on rocky top...

Writing, the old fashioned way. Remember pen & paper? Foreign right, strange!

I wrote and wrote and wrote. The pages were flying around me. I wrote until I could barely see the paper any more. Then I busted out the head lamp and kept on writing. I wrote until I was shivering so badly I could barely hold the pen. Then I curled up in the car and wrote some more until the windows were all fogged up. It was quite the escape from our hurried lives. Finally though I succumb to the freezing cold night. I packed up my things and head out into the pitch black desert to find a nice secluded spot to bed down. I finally came upon a dry creek bed full of nice soft fluffy sand. Ahhh heaven really. I built a quick fire and tried to take a couple more longish exposures on both the 10D & the old behemoth 1V. After each exposure with the 10D I had to bake the batteries in the fire. It was so cold they would be good for about 20 minutes before dying. Then back in the fire to heat them p and squeeze every little last piece of juice out of them. In the end I didn't loose a single frame because of a dead battery. Unfortunately though I could only get about two frames squeezed off the next day before they died for good. Oh well there is always next time.

Piedras Blancas, Rose Valley, Calif. at 1/200th of a second.

Piedras Blancas, Rose Valley, Calif. at 30 seconds.

Piedras Blancas, Rose Valley, Calif. at 3583.0 seconds.

27.1 degrees, this is Southern California-- 50 miles from the palm trees and surf.

BLOODY freezing, time to stoke the fire.

Day 35
Friday April 4th
Man what a week it has been! Seriously, I am thankful it is over! I did manage to get some writing in, but not nearly as much as I had first hoped. All told I have now about 23 more pages, tightly edited, then a did a week ago. I suppose that counts for something. Two more chapters are in the can and I am slowly moving out of the crux of the book and into the real action. I figure another ten pages or so to wrap up the first climax and then things will really start to happen. Even though I feel like I need a little time away to refocus and collect my thoughts before pushing on, I am happy with how it is progressing. Right now as I think about it, I can't wait to see what happens next!

After work the weather was really crappy. It was cold and cloudy and just miserable to start off the weekend. I decided I needed a little m time, the weather be damned. I figured a soak in the hot springs would be just the tonic I needed to quiet the voices in my head. So up to the Matilija I went. As soon as I got away from the coast the weather broke, the birds started singing and the sun popped out. It turned out to be a glorious afternoon. The hot springs were a perfect end to a cerebral week after all.

I had planned on spending the night there and then heading up to Rose Valley in the morning. As I was soaking up the last of the sunshine just floating around in the spring I got a message from DR. She was back in town a day early. Instead of hanging out in the woods, I collected my things and headed back down to the Ventuckey for the night. She along with Parsons and I hit up a quaint little Mexican bodega for late night tacos and a quick margarita. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves in to! About ten minutes after we were seated at our table, a rather intoxicated woman took a seat next to me. She would not stop smiling at me and batting her fake eyelashes at me. It was comical though slightly disturbing. She ended up being quite the character!

We were not exactly quite sure what to make of her. She made it a point to tell me quite frequently how beautiful I was, I did mention she was rather Christmasy right? Every now and again her hands would star a wandering and I would jump out of my seat each time she grabbed my leg. She was dressed really nice in the latest Paris Hilton fashion but something was a little off. Her fingernails were chipped and packed with dirt. She had huge scars on her forehead and told us stories about being raped as a kid. We were a little taken a back, this is not exactly dinner conversation right? No one really knew what to make of her. And she only got stranger still!

When she found out it was DR's birthday she immediately wanted to do shots. The resto was closing down so we tried to make and excuse that we probably shouldn't do shots because the bar was trying to close. Her face brightened up. No problem she said and picked up this satin white purse from the floor. She was like hey no worries I have vanilla vodka and raspberry chocolates in my purse, screw the bar. So we are thinking to ourselves, hmmm must be a couple tiny little bottles of vodka, like nips or shooters, the bottle you get on airplanes. She proceeded to pull out a bottle from her tiny little purse. The bottle kept coming and coming. My eyes got wider and wider. Finally she sets this HUGE bottle of Stoli on the table. She had an entire handle in her purse! By then we are laughing so hard we can barely convince her to put it back in her purse before we all got kicked out.

Throughout the course of dinner this poor lady kept trying to kiss me and I always managed to avoid it. the last time though she had me cornered. She practically had me pinned in the corner of the booth without any place to hid. There was no where left to run. She is trying to be all sly and sexy but it is just drunken goofiness. She is leaning closer and closer to me, eyes closed and lips all puckered ready to go. I can not run away. I decide to make th bes tof it so I grit my teeth and turn my cheek to her figuring that would be least amount of damage possible. The next thing I know I feel this infernal furnace of red hot love bearing down on my poor head. She licked me from my chin to my ear. She didn't stop there, despite my squirming (admittedly I was probably yelling like a thirteen year old girl watching a boy eat a worm on the playground). She started munching on my ear. So much for a peck on the check! Thank goodness I have had all my shots up to date, including tetanus!

After that it was time for the check. We boxed everything up pronto and flew out of the place. Only problem was that she followed. We were flying but she moved pretty quick for an intoxicated homeless prostitute. She followed us out to the car and was like heeeeeey, soooo where are we partying. Parson immediately was like oh um, we are going to Paddy's (the uhhh gay bar across the street). Not to be deterred she followed. We ran inside barely stopping for the bouncer to check our IDs. Thankfully the bouncer refused to let her in. She was obviously pie-eyed and didn't have an ID. The three of us ended up hiding at one end of the bar waiting for her to give up and leave us be. After about an hour we ventured outside. I was so worried she would be sitting by the car waiting. Or worst yet, I was super worried she would have slashed out tires or done something else just as nasty. Thankfully she was no where to be seen and we were able to escape into the night.

Just another Friday night in good ole Ventuckey, nothing here surprises me much anymore. Of course I left my camera at home, I thought we were just going out for tacos...

Ahhhhhhh, hot springs...