Media-wise I’ve got a foot in both worlds. I love telling people about what I run across in the world. So much exciting stuff, things that aren’t getting covered anywhere. Extraordinary people doing unique things. They just don’t happen to fit into a formula suitable for mainstream media. I started “communicating” when I was in high school. Mr. Patterson, Lowell High School’s teacher of journalism got me and a bunch of other kids started with getting the 5 w’s in the first sentence (or was it the first paragraph?) of every news story. Then 2 years running a newspaper on a U.S. Air Force base in Germany — The Sembach Jet Gazette, can you believe it? — and I was hooked. On the base I started using an Adler portable typewriter to write. When I got back to the US and in the mid-60s started writing stuff for the Whole Earth Catalog and later my own books, I kept using the Adler and scissors and scotch tape.
Did you think that “cut” and “paste” were computer terms? Au contraire, they’re literal. I would end up with taped-together chapters up to 10 feet long. Then when that process was complete I’d retype the whole thing. (Each piece invariably got better by me merely typing it fresh. I’d nudge and rearrange and add bits and pieces. And of course we put books together “the old way,” pasting text and graphics on “boards,” which were then photo-copied by the printers and converted to negatives, which were then used to burn the aluminum plates for the press.
It was tough to make the transition to digital publishing and writing. I’d spent a lot of time learning the old craft of book production and now I had to start all over. Which I did — and the farther along I’ve gone, the more thrilled I’ve become with what we can do ourselves. Typesetting with a million fonts, complex photographic processes, research capabilities undreamed of 20 years ago. And on and on.
I know I’ve written about the same subject earlier, but it’s the very process of blogging that’s causing me to think these thoughts right now. To wit:
I got up at 6 this morning, went and checked the surf, tide was too low, so came back to the office, vaporized some cannabinoids, brewed some freshly-roasted (see below) Ethiopian coffee beans from Small World Coffee into a frothy cappuccino, put on Dance and Dense Denso by Molotov, hot Mexican rock ‘n roller (who socks it to pinche gringos, it’s about time!) Opened my email and my friend Eszter, who got me started blogging (with my dragging heels per usual) in the first place, pointing out I hadn’t blogged in 10 days. Jeez. Does this mean I have to do it regularly? Do I need yet another ongoing task? Well, now that it’s been drawn to my attention this morning, the thing I’m liking about blogs is that I can whip out thoughts without all the write and rewrite agony of preparing text for a book, or even for the web. Hmm … off-the-top writing, I could go for that. Maybe it’ll save my wife Lesley from having to listen to my daily reports of everything I run across; last week when I was tirelessly free-associating about the day’s events, she said: “Lloyd, don’t make me get the duct tape.”
I read an article in the S.F. Chronicle a while ago about roasting coffee beans, that it was simple to do and that once you did it, you’d never do otherwise, AND that you could do it with an old popcorn popper, one of which I found on a shelf, last used 10 yrs. ago. I just fill it with coffee beans and watch the beans until the roast looks right, shaking once in a while to get the chaff off (I do it out in the garden). You need a popper with air blowing in at the bottom so it keeps the beans moving. Man is it good! I now realize what I like about my favorite coffee places is that the beans are freshly roasted. Can also do in frying pan. If you’re caffeine aficionado, give it a try. You buy green beans.
Check out https://smart-boost.com for little packets of caffeine and vitamin C you add to juice in say the afternoon if you want the caffeine pickup without all the other heavy-duty constituents of coffee. Their website is presently tedious in that it takes too long to get concrete info due to zippy special effects, but the product sounds great. I just got a box and will report. Each packet contains 99mg caffeine. (Brewed coffee — 8 oz. — contains 65-120 mg.)
It’s America’s oldest cross-country race. It was first run in 1905, 7.2 miles of gnarly trails, up 670 steps to start with, then paths and trails and shortcuts across and up and down a flank of Mt. Tamalpais, starting in the small town of Mill Valley and ending up at Stinson Beach and the Pacific Ocean. The second Sunday of every June. It’s romantic, exciting, competitive, and tough. The “Invitational” part of the race has 750 runners, and it’s an age-handicapped race: the older you are, the more of a head start you get. A 30 year old male runner is “scratch,” the last group to start. At the other end of the age scale, a 72 year old runner (male or female) gets a head start of 23 minutes. The allotted handicap minutes have been worked out over decades of race history to presumably even out the field. Each year the first 35 finishers get coveted black shirts, the black belts of the Dipsea. For some reason, the guys I run with on Tuesday nights all trained like fiends this year. I got caught up in the obsession for a black shirt, but 3 months of training after too-little-training didn’t do it for me. I was 49th, was mildly disappointed. The race was on a beautiful day and our guys did sensationally well and vibes were so good in the crowd that gathered to picnic and award black shirts afterwards that it motivated me to train for next year more seriously. Running on the mountain has become such a big part of my life I thought I’d throw it in here. Hell, I could be blogging a lot more if I wasn’t out running.
Are Your Lungs Worth $500?
If you partake of cannabis, people who know recommend the top-of-the-line vaporizer, a finely-machined $500 German product called the Volcano. The brilliance of vaporizing is that you are not pulling smoke from leaves and flowers through your lungs, only the consciousness-enhancing essence of the flower resins. For $50, theres a very good portable unit, the VaporGenie pipe, which is used with a lighter. This all from a friend who has tried out 8-10 different type vaporizers.
Talk About Off-The-Top
I’ve been having a bit of a problem figuring out what to do after HOME WORK. A book on Southeast Asia? Builders? Baja California? Off-the grid-Houses? Lew, Rick and I were talking about it last week, and Lew said why not do a small book on Baja, and it came to me this morning, a vision of a book about the same height as Lonely Planet books, but wider, like 8 or 9.” called Baja Destinations/Destinaciónes en Baja, bilingual. I’d give up my throw-it-all-in-but-kitchen-sink book production style and do a small book with maps of maybe 50 great places to go in Baja. Remote missions, surf spots, the Miraflores Pithaya Festival, the Angel Azul little hotel in 100-year old building in La Paz, the killer skatepark in Pascadero, the hot springs just off the highway south of Ensenada, the 4-5 east-west water-filled canyons of the Sierra de La Laguna where you can hike from the Sea of Cortez through to the Pacific Ocean, the Cabo San Lucas Bikini Contest, The Posadao Señor Mañana 4-coconut hotel, the Magbay Surf camp, remote rock painting and petroglyph sites, the beautiful tropical desert east of San José del Cabo, cool places to stay, cool places to camp, the unique tropical reef at Cabo Pulmo,… hey, I’m liking this better all the time! A book like this could go in with travel books and people could take it along on trips or just read about Baja, of which Erle Stanley Gardner once wrote:
“It is impossible to account for the charm of this country or its fascination, but those that are familiar with the land of Baja California are either afraid of it or they love it, and if they love it they are brought back by an irresistible fascination time and time again.”
Shit, the idea of confining myself to a a small book is exciting. You may have just witnessed the birth of a book, just about 3 hours ago. It may mean I focus on the ton of material I have from my 12 years of exploring the far reaches of Baja before I shoot more pix in S/E Asia. It also means I can hang some more with one of my bestest friends, Chilón, in Baja. I’m going to try starting on this book and see if it works and if it “resonates” with my publishing friends.
I know lots of people who would love to create their creations and have them fly out into the world and magically generate enough income to keep creating. No so symplístico, José. You’ve got to market, strategize, and agonize over how to actually sell your fucking product. And since HOME WORK, our most highly-praised book of all time, is selling moderately (15,000 copies in a year), we’ve been looking for the right form for the abundant content we’re sitting on. What will work in today’s bookstores?
It’s 11 AM, sun is out and I’m gonna go surfing and post this later.
Back from the water. I hit it right for a change. It was windy, but there was a good swell and it was great having it be warm and sunny after getting out — in contrast to the usual freezing routine of going from wet suit back to clothing. Hey (it’s not always this way but today) — we’re out here having fun, in the warm Califonia sun…
Like a surfer who never goes along any coast without scanning for waves, so every downhill skater (into cruising rather than aerial maneuvers) is constantly scanning streets, highways, country roads, parking lots plus smoothness of pavement when driving. I come down a 4-lane section of Highway 101 that’s the right slope and can’t help but think, “If I could just have it for 20 minutes with no cars…” You can also call it longboarding, or the practice of “carving,” seeking the longest possible downhill ride and carving back and forth like surfers or snowboarders. IT IS FUN! Of course, the more you do it, the more speed you want, and I’m trying to learn to slide, where you come into a turn and need to slow it all down before things get out of control, you crouch down and place a padded glove with a hard disk on it on the ground and force your wheels to go sideways, thus slowing you down. About a month ago I got an hour-long lesson from Cliff Coleman, downhill skating legend and originator of “The Coleman Slide” (see https://www.ncdsa.com/68/Cliff-Coleman-on-Sliding-and-Safety.htm). Cliff is a legend, famous for his downhill speed and for teaching 100s if not 1000s of skaters to slide. He’s 50-something-years-old and still skates like a samurai. He actually got me started in sliding, against my self-preservationist instincts and now I’ve got to practice. I have to get psyched to do it and now that the Dipsea is over I can maybe focus on this for a while.
Also see the info-filled Northern California Downhill Skateboarding Association site.
And finally if you live in the S.F. Bay Area, check out The Purple Skunk skate shop, which has in addition to all the usual short boards, a huge collection of longboards (that you can take for a spin) as well as a ton of safety gear as well as sliding gloves. At 5820 Geary Blvd. (at 23rd) in S.F.
An Amazing Book on Leonardo
And finally finally because I need to get back to work: at the Book Expo a few weeks ago I took a close look at a bunch of Taschen books and ended up buying about $300 worth, the most unique of which is Leonardo da Vinci — The Complete Paintings and Drawings — a 12″ by 18″ 19 lb (huge!) masterpiece of a book on this most remarkable and prolific of artists. Beautifully printed in (of course!) Italy on beautiful heavy paper, it retails at $200. Taschen has a ton of interesting and stunning books.
Over and out for today. Monday Monday, it was all I hoped it would be…