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HIDDEN WILDS OF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

In my travels I sometimes come across a slice of Americana so remote and hard to get to that it remains essentially unchanged from earlier times. As you might imagine, locations like this are becoming increasingly scarce. The only thing that keeps these communities isolated from progress are roads so treacherous that transport along them is ill-advised.

I recently came across such a location on my last trip to California. Continue reading “”

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NATIONAL STEINBECK CENTER FINE ART PRINT EXHIBIT

I am pleased to announce that I have been honored with a 40 print photography exhibit at the National Steinbeck Center in Salinas, CA during this year’s Steinbeck Festival weekend August 5-8. In addition, I will be presenting a multimedia film that will also be playing in the Center’s theatre during this time until October 22nd. My humble thanks go to the Center’s Executive Director, Colleen F. Bailey, and Curator, Deborah Silguero-Stahl, for their support of my project. Hope to see you there! Continue reading “”

THE EARLY 911, FILM AND VINYL – PART 3

So why do those who cling to artifacts from the past continue their quest for experiential freedom? Well, for one there is a considerable amount of “feel” connected to these arguably archaic hobbies of vintage sports cars, film and vinyl. The pursuit of these involvements is more art than science. It’s not pure instrumentation and technology that will get you all the way there. Intuition and a willingness to be open to a non-black and white world are often necessary to achieve that elusive bliss these fans strive for. The pay off is a feeling of satisfaction when the visceral pleasure of playing a great LP, using a mechanical rangefinder, or driving an early Porsche 911 well is truly experienced. Even ordinary tasks become part of the appeal of caretaking something so old, unique and inherently valuable. Continue reading “”

THE EARLY 911, FILM AND VINYL – PART 2

My history with cameras is remarkably similar to that for early 911s. I learned to photograph and develop my own black and white film in 1979 with a German made Leica M3. That first rangefinder camera led to the use of numerous film-based Leica cameras and lenses, which have a smoothness and mechanical precision missing from many other models. I still love using the Leicas for their purity, quiet shutter and silky film advance lever. However I’ve made Canon digital SLRs my choice for most subjects since photography has become my profession (and Leica discontinued its SLR line.). Continue reading “”

THE EARLY 911, FILM AND VINYL – PART 1

You’ve probably read enough analogies of sports cars, fine cameras and luxury audio equipment in high-end lifestyle magazines to get the idea that journalists are passionate about these in a big way. I’m not immune and vinyl records, Leica rangefinders and Porsche 911s have been a primary fascination of mine since 1964. That’s when I bought my first LP, was gifted a camera, and was introduced to the early 911. I immediately fell in love with the feel and sound of the long playing record, the shutter advance of the film camera, and the Porsche 911’s hooligan nature with its air-cooled flat six barking a nasty exhaust note. School and financial obligations kept me from fulfilling my dreams of ownership for a long time, but I promised myself that someday I would have a top notch analog stereo system, a Leica M series rangefinder, and a pre-‘74 911. Continue reading “”

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THE BEATLES PART 4: Bargain Pressings

The vinyl resurgence has brought many older music fans back to their turntables and a younger generation into the wonderful world of records. Large art work and the visceral experience of listening to vinyl is the payoff for many. If you are on a budget and want to acquire clean LPs of this Beatles title at a reasonable cost – there are some options for you. Continue reading “”

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THE BEATLES PART 3: Choosing a STEREO Pressing

The White Album is probably most familiar in stereo, so that’s where I’ll focus most of my attention. The recently re-mastered CD of this seminal album sound very good. It’s a little compressed for my tastes, but successful as a very clean transfer of what it must be like listening to The Beatles in Technicolor. Just be aware that the quieter songs are mastered louder to more closely approximate the dynamics of the rockers, so purists may be a bit shocked by the changes due to limiting. The previous release may be preferred in this instance. Continue reading “”

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THE BEATLES PART 2: Choosing a MONO Pressing

The blank cover of The White Album was perhaps symbolic of the Fab Four’s reluctance to reveal their internal disintegration. Lennon and McCartney still shared songwriting credit, but were being pulled apart by their differing creative and philosophical interests. As a result they were composing almost exclusively on their own. Their songs, along with George Harrison’s, covered a wide variety of emotions – joy, disdain, empathy, boredom, hope, sadness, love, anger, even hysteria. The White Album not only stretched the rules, it broke them.

By 1968, stereo albums were becoming increasingly popular, and this would be the last Beatles album to receive a dedicated mono mix (1969’s Yellow Submarine mono soundtrack is a fold down). The mono mix of The White Album differs from the stereo version on several songs. This makes for interesting listening for those who are intimately familiar with the US LPs – released in stereophonic sound only. One example is Eric Clapton’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, which is more modulated and goes on longer before the fade-out. Continue reading “”

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THE BEATLES – THE WHITE ALBUM

After Rubber Soul and the artistic heights of Revolver and Sgt. Pepper, The Beatles followed up in 1968 by forming Apple Records and releasing a double LP that would go on to become their biggest seller and perhaps the favorite Beatles album for younger listeners. Sporting a clean white cover featuring only their embossed name and a serial number printed in gray ink, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album) was a strong departure from what had come before.

Many of the tunes were written in India where the group had attended a spiritual meditation retreat with the Maharishi Yogi. Recording the tracks in England was a less than blissful experience however. John was bringing Yoko into the studio every day, Ringo temporarily quit the band in frustration, and producer George Martin was unable to end the bickering or edit the band’s output. The result was an album of thirty songs that bordered on the self-indulgent. Continue reading “”

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MT. ST. HELENS BLOW OUT ANNIVERSARY

Thirty years ago today, Washington state’s Mount St. Helens had its catastrophic eruption. It was the most destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed, and 250 homes, 47 bridges, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. The eruption spewed ash for hundreds of miles and caused a massive debris avalanche, reducing the elevation of the mountain’s summit some 3,000 feet from its prior height of nearly 10,000 ft. The resulting crater, dust covered surface, and barren fir trees made for an eerie lunar like landscape. Continue reading “”

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GENE CLARK : NO OTHER

Backed by Lee Sklar on bass, Russ Kunkle and Butch Trucks on drums, Michael Utley on keyboards, Chris Hillman on mandolin, and influenced by Sly Stone and Brian Wilson… well you get the picture. No Other was the fourth solo studio album by ex-Byrds Gene Clark, now widely regarded as a lost masterpiece of ’70’s folk rock. Continue reading “”

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BACK ON THE ROAD

I’m back on the road again – this time to Monterey in my modified 1972 911T/ST. I’m headed for the annual R Gruppe track day and weekend gathering (Treffen). I’ve been to every one of these over the past ten years, so there’s no reason to stop now! I’ll also be photographing along the way – shooting HD video is my latest passion. So inland Oregon, the Redwoods and coastal California will be my subjects over the next two weeks. Continue reading “”

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EARTH DAY

On April 22 1970, Earth Day marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Approximately 20 million Americans participated. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values. Continue reading “”

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NATIONAL RECORD STORE DAY

Today marks the 3rd annual Record Store Day, a national celebration to support independent music shops. Brick and mortar record stores have been a dying breed across America for several years now. The on-line convenience of downloading music from the internet is at least partly responsible. Unfortunately, the community reality of a well run and experienced local record store is being lost in the process.

If you saw the movie “High Fidelity” you know what I’m talking about. In order to celebrate independent record stores across the nation, the Alliance of Independent Media Stores, Coalition Of Independent Music Stores, Music Monitor Network, Newbury Comics, and Value Music Group of Indie Stores have named this Saturday in April as Record Store Day. Continue reading “”

TARGA CALIFORNIA

The 2nd Annual Targa California Rally took place this past week south of Monterey. Over fifty pre-1975 cars (twenty of which were Porsches) drove 1,000 miles over varied terrain during the peak of this spring’s wildflower season. The participants experienced a unique blend of long country roads, sports car museums and automotive companionship over three days traveling at their own pace. Continue reading “”

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EARTHQUAKE!

Yesterday I was sitting in my parked car working on a new title for my book on America when the strangest thing happened. In the middle of Joshua Tree National Park, with absolutely no one else around, my car started moving as though someone was bouncing up and down on the rear bumper. I jumped out of the car only to discover a hummingbird off to my left side and nothing else. Discovering a new title was a revelation, but I did not think it would be followed by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. Continue reading “”