Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Benton crags-wonderment

Rock grotto-Benton Crags
more pix on picasawebsite

Another blowy day, steady at 30 mph, i coccooned in working on projects, and the time flew. But i hadda get outta dodge, check the mail, see if the people at the cafe are still there, doing their cafe thing. Pulled out about 3, returned ann's new yorker which somehow got put in my box, they just cant get it right down at the po. then out on the road again, on a quest, for who knows what? first the line of aspens up toward the pass on the Benton crossing rd. Few leaves left, but those are glowing in the sun framed in pinons and adding an ethereal note to the landscape. I unleash the nikon d90 on them and get some fine results and collect some to send to judy.

I check out the cliffs east of the road on the way up, and recall there is a road from the top that might lead there. My fantasy is to do a hike from top to bottom thru the granite bosses, cut by fractures which erode out to selective paths, some blocked by pinons, but there always is a way through. It looks spectacular, like the Alabama hills, rounded bosses of granite sliced by furrows of fractures and light aplite dikes.

Out the track above find the road ends just above the maze of boulders. I am drawn to such places, they always harbor surprises, and beautiful sculptures. Head into the puckerbrush, sage and sand with a dusting of fresh snow. I focus on a dike, that reflects the fractures in the bedrock, and snap a few megapixels. It looks like a dropoff down the gully, so i peer over the top and look down 100 feet, not the right path. Scrutinizing the rocks, always on the outlook for petros, i see one, but its modern "HC" in fresh granite. Looking more closely there are other marks, faint but true, in the enigmatic shape of the local petros, by indians long ago. wow, if i can get down there, maybe there will be more, but ill have to find another way.

Breaking out of the gully, I try another route, again a major dropoff, guarded by a spire of granite and snap the scene, glass mt behind it, really cool, i can see this as another in a quiver of local hikes i can treat friends to. Back out and another path opens, a narrow slot between granite cliffs, but it goes, down into the next valley, through some tough trees, and along a snowy slope and into the bottom of the gully. I turn upstream, petro wards, and find a sculpture garden with arching grottos, carved by pleistocene torrents rotating rocks in cavities forming major potholes. This is very cool, I enter the grotto and admire the work of water. It still goes up into another grotto, and there on the wall is a fantastic display of petros, rivers, animals, paths, etched into the back wall. I try some flash pictures, and it looks like i got something , but its dark in there and there are rocks in front of the scene, so not a good place to be ansel adams. tricky light. oh well. i come back several times, try to get up into the shelf across the pond, but chicken out, no one knows im up here and it would be weeks before they found my truck if i couldn't get out on my own. Careful, careful, i keep saying, wishing i had my hiking sticks and helmet.

Back down the gully to the open meadow, and great vistas to glass mt and the valley over precipitous drops, another knickpoint, must be gorgeous with runoff from big rain or snowmelt. Getting late, and colder, i have on gloves, sweater, shell and merrills, not the best footwear, but i am careful. Return in my steps and take in the petros again, the place robert had taken kailen and friends, and ran into some indians having a ceremony, no one here now. Following footsteps in the snow, and back to the truck, a feeling of accomplishment, and joy at being here in paradise of the east sierra, with wonderment at every turn.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bob Dylan rides again Review of the Greek concert

Bob Dylan at the Greek 10/10/09

Newport, RI, folk festival, 1963

The two forms exploded out of the crowd, grabbed the doorlatch on my 47 chevy and breathlessly piled in chanting “we gotta go see Dylan”. Margie and Louise, bedecked in Woody Guthrie denim folk attire are on the warpath, we careen through the crowd to the big field and somehow shoehorn into a parking place and we are off at a run to the workshop tent.

OK, Dylan, I’d heard some echos of this new guru through folk circles, even had the first album, and had started singing his early songs. We’d even scoured Washington square for the dude to no avail one dark misty night in NYC, and here we were.

We made a grand entrance..high on our energy, working our way through the crowd, and theres this guy, I check him out. And he checks me out, scraggly beard, tousled hair---check. Stained workshirt with 1/2 smoked pack of Galoises in the pocket ----check. Battered levis, cowboy boots----check. Guitar over one shoulder—check. I look at him and say “whats with the bullwhip?”. He touches the coiled serpent on his shoulder, smiles and says “joanie and I are blowing minds doing bullwhip tricks around the pool at the motel”. “Cool, Bob sounds like fun”. And off we go.

We are blown away, the poetry most of all, and the style…gravelly voice, great guitar in all modes, and unassuming air. “Baby let me follow you down”, “Don’t think twice” “House of the rising sun”, all done in a howling style, immediately adopted by all folkies around. And the world had changed for folk music.

Newport RI folk festival 1965

The multitudes are gathered to hear the famous guru of folk, Dylan is now a superstar, with a mane of hair, followed by a wave of marmidons crossing the field to the workshop. You have to force your way into the crowd and fight for a space, and the poetry flows and the music bites hard into the words, the guitar sings for us all to hear.

We gear up for the evening concert, a big crowd in the football field, packed in to do homage to the new god of folk. But, there is a setup for a rock band, unheard of at Newport, and finally they come out, Paul Butterfield, band and Dylan with a very poor rendition of some songs, out of tune, feedback screeching, people outraged, a wave of booing running through the crowd. I’ve been talking to Pete Seeger, who was seated in front of me with his mom, Ruth Crawford, and he is outraged, jumps up and heads back for the stage. I hear later that he was going to pull the plug on the performance with an axe. Butterfield and Dylan screech some more, and finally quit. Bob comes out and does one song to mollify the crowd, still with boos echoing, and finally bows out, no apology, just an experiment in a new genre that the folkies weren’t ready for.

This set the pattern for his career, and each time we heard a new set of tunes and a new band (most notably The Band), a new page was written in the bible of Dylan. Nashville Skyline with some great country ballads, Slow Train Comin, songs of his Christian phase, Time out of Mind with some uptempo ballads. He continued the poetry, and the captivating presence in concert.

So when we heard about the Greek Theater concert October 10, it was time, I stalked the ticketmaster website and scored 2 tickets in the first public minutes, and was off to the music event of the year.

The Greek was packed, we got there at 5 and stood in line for good seats, which we got no problem, center up 10 rows behind the mixers, huge electronic affairs, studded with computer screens. We prepped for cold, and bundled up, with low back chairs, blankets and partied. The house beer and wine was lousey, so we had a little reserve and mellowed out, watching the people. I wore an Uncle Sam top hat so our late friends could find us. We got an early taste of the band during the sound test from the parking lot, and they were solid, with punching bass lines rumbling our chests

On time, they came on and introduced Dylan as an icon of

American music and master of many styles and genres. A shout went up from the crowd as he entered the stage, dressed in black hat, double breasted black jacket and red scarf, launching into the solid big beat reverberating around the amphitheater.

The playlist was eclectic, (see Bob Dylan website for list and other reviews) with versions of Mama you been on my mind and the Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll with very creative arrangements; interfaces with Highway 61 revisited during which I cried with happiness, Thunder on the mountain and old classics Like a Rolling Stone and finishing with All along the Watchtower. All done in the same style, big beat, up tempo, Dylan,s voice was gravelly and low as always, and occasional snippets of words came out, but I knew most of them and sang along. The faithful in the mosh pit were packed in, and well-behaved, and let out a collective spine chilling scream every time a favorite line came on. The crowd in general was mellow, I thought we were going to have some loud people behind us, but they mellowed out as soon as the music started.

The best part for me was to watch Dylan sing with his body, small movements and twitches, sometimes arms raised, leaning into the music, emphasizing the words with his body, Pushing into the lines sent chills up and down my spine. You can see him playing with the words.

“Oh God said to Abraham, "Kill me a son"

Abe says, "Man, you must be puttin' me on"

God say, "No." Abe say, "What?"

God say, "You can do what you want Abe, but

The next time you see me comin' you better run"

Well Abe says, "Where do you want this killin' done?"

God says, "Out on Highway 61."

This says it for the poetry, It has always been a creative tour de force, and he can spout out rhymes with amazing words like a fountain. There is a clip in Pennebakers film where he is given 5 words and makes up poetry for 10 minutes, and incredible feat.

The band was solid, Charlie Sexton on lead guitar is top notch and the pedal steel, standup bass, and drums equally talented. They did make a lot of noise, but that’s what its all about in the new Dylan mode. The tour continues across the country, first to LA, then Las Vegas and ends up in Boston Its worth flying to.

for west county gazette 10/23/09


On the blog again

Twearly, like a pigs tail
Benton 10/27

woke at 3am to a thumping noise; outside at the source, i found the cover to the breaker box thumping in a north wind. very cold, front coming in, secured the lid and back to bed. phone rings at 7 am, like a pigs tail-twearly (too early), not for this neck of the woods, people are up and about 630-7. its Win, my neighbor, telling me to batten down the hatches for the incoming storm, the radio says 3-6" in the valleys, gotta run around now and drain the irrigation system, empty water outta the hoses, and a dozen other things before it gets nasty.....and so it goes.

Clouds over the mts, a quick trip to the cafe for coffee, i forgot it back in soco, gulp it down, wreathed in down jacked, crocheyd hat and 2 different gloves, un leash the load from the pickup, camping equipment piled higher and deeper in the office trailer. Enter the cafe, the door opens for me and its Jackie, smiling, i quip "the doorman, oops the door person" she laughs,the skin cracking around her mouth, great lady. She's off into the storm, coffee served by smiling indian waitress, $1.62 for a big one. I emerge to the vision of a blue puff ball, totally wrapped up, helmet, on a pink bike, its Katy, smiling and laughing to see me, one of my favorite recalcitrant kids here, doesn't do her homework even after i impressed on her that that was her most important job in life.

A silver sliver of light focused by the clouds in front of the sun breaking over the east ridge bathes the hills to the west, accentuating the moonscape of granite boulders, gravelly slopes. the mts behind dark and ominous, roiling around Glass mt, a taste of things to come. (twss).

Contemplate the day ahead of rest, gotta exercise or die, work on the tuol. guidebook and catch up with friends scattered like chaff up and down the eastside. This is a frame of mind, all very aware that nature is in control out here, in spite of long periods of sweet times, do anything any day, now we enter the time of conflict, man vs. nature, creative solutions to life-threatening, or at least uncomfortable events."people out here have to be resourceful" was Judy's observation. I've got 2 chords of wood, hard and soft for warmth and a flick of the switch activates the propane furnace, so i'm set, just some details like the irrigation system, drags from my reverie watching the mts go by, sun on the trees at the top of the vast fan of M. canyon, my viewscape. Lights were coming outta there last night, late, who was up there? an annual trip to the waterfall has to be planned and executed. Ill call some friends to see who might be up for it. Walt Hoffmann retired ranger, or Dancingbears? or even D? too many thoughts, not enough action, gotta get to it. Dylan on the radio spurs me on.

Into the driving snow flurries, comin down over the fan, drain the irrigation, empty the hoses, check the heater in the pump house, gotta check again. Look over Wins handiwork, neatly stacked cord of fir, awaiting their deaths in a blaze of glory. Raked and shoveled area to drain away from the house, trees still kickin some bursting at the seams from the rabbit fence looking like hourglasses. Cover the outside furniture, load the dump run, and so it goes. Ill post this, if you dont wanna hear it lemme know.