Saturday, January 31, 2015

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Geckos hanging out

My Tokay gecko is trying to hide, inadequately:

 My Grandis Geico gecko doesn't bother with the hiding thing.

The Raconteurs - Salute Your Solution, Nashville 2015-01-28

OK, here we go! Thank you Chuck Heeke, uploader, and whomever it was who dared to bootleg Jack White's ban on video, if that was someone else.

God, I miss the Raconteurs. Everyone I know seems to like Solo!Jack but I think he plays best when he's with other songwriters as strong as he is. Brendan Benson is one of the best collaborators, an awesome power pop songwriter who on his own lacks a bit of oomph, paired with Jack White, 100% pure pharmaceutical grade oomph who writes middling songs but plays the shit out of them. While the video above may not be the greatest ad for the Raconteurs - it sounds like they can't hear their voices on the monitor - it has all the energy and atmosphere you came to expect from them. Little Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita are reunited with the twosome, but unfortunately not Patrick Keeler. Daru Jones was demolishing his drumkit drumming for them.  They also played Steady as She Goes, and if video of that goes up, I'll post it here as well.

I hope they do something new together this year.

More here at the Tennessean.

Jack White and Loretta Lynn - Portland Oregon and Whispering Sea 2015-01-28

Here's Jack and Loretta singing Portland, Oregon on 01/28/15. Yes, I posted about that yesterday, but this is a video from an uploader with a tele lens, so you can see everyone on stage - including Jack Lawrence and Brendan Benson. Still waiting for video of the Raconteurs songs!

Edited to add - uploader Chuck Heeke has put up a second video of Whispering Sea.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Jack White and Loretta Lynn in concert 2015-01-28

Jack and Loretta sang Portland, Oregon, and Whispering Sea tonight in his hometown of Nashville.

He calls her 'the greatest lady singer-songwriter of the twentieth century'.

Edit:  Better resolution video here.

I am hearing that he also 'reformed the Raconteurs, but without Patrick' for Steady As She Goes and Salute Your Solution. I'm awaiting video on that to be sure. Edit: Video of Salute Your Solution here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Dana Point geology trip

On Saturday, we took a trip to Dana Point. A friend of ours we hadn't seen for over five years - but we have kept in touch with via mailing lists and Facebook - teaches a class on Earth Science, and local beach Dana Point is one of the field trips, where he gave a detailed presentation.

The 'point' in DP is a lump (technical term) of San Onofre Breccia, which is harder than the younger Capistrano Formation beside it, and comes to prominence at the point.

According to Caltrans,

The Early-Middle Miocene San Onofre Breccia: [...] great landslides fell down the slopes of a large landmass west of our present coastline. Catalina Island is a remnant of that landmass and cyrstalline Catalina-type rocks were eroded to form the San Onofre Breccia. The breccia formation has been uplifted by faulting and forms the headland of Dana Point. An estimate is that the speed of the landslides must have at times exceeded 100 mph to create such a large boulder breccia. The rocks and minerals include asbestos, serpentine, actinolite, fuchsite, epidote, chlorite, glaucophane, pyrite, magnetite and quartzite.

The Late Miocene to Early Pliocene Capistrano Formation: The marine Capistrano Formation is found in the southern part of the county. It ranges from Late Miocene to Early Pliocene in age and consists of poorly consolidated, fossiliferous, sandy-siltstone and mudstone. Sediment failures have caused extensive landsliding in the San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente areas. Turbidite deposits may be seen in the sea cliffs between Dana Point and San Onofre. Turbidites are deposits of marine sediment formed by undersea mud slides or turbidity currents that dump sediment into graded layers: the larger-sized gravel falls first, followed upward by progressively finder sediment grains. the base of the turbidite is a sharp accumulation of the coarse gravels. The top of a turbidite deposite is often difficult to define because the fine-grained, last to settle sediments, blend with the natural "grain size" of marine sediments. 

Our friend Professor Phil giving a presentation about the 
cliff of San Onofre Breccia. (My photo.)

A short walk off to the right of that picture is the junction of the San Onofre Breccia with the Capistrano Formation, and therein lies a tale. 

Dana Point is quite lovely, and the locals have always had a fascination with building as close as possible to the edge of the cliffs so the inhabitants can admire the view. More or less concurrently, they've always moved to edge out surfers - who used to love Stillwater Bay and its long pier - in favor of hordes of yacht captains who pay massive berthing fees just to have a boat in the water. 

So Dana Point used to look like this: 

That picture is from this site, which has great pictures and anecdotes about DP's surfing history. 

In the twenties, Sidney Woodruff, developer of Hollywood(land), wanted to build Dana Point Inn on the top of the cliffs just to the right of the picture above. He built concrete arches and some of the superstructure directly on the edge of the cliff, and put in a tunnel (through the soft Capistrano Formation) to the bottom of the cliff as an elevator shaft. 

The Depression interfered with his plans, and all that's left of the Inn are the concrete arches, still perched at the edge of the cliff.  (Photo above from this page.)

The tunnel ended up being used for bootleg liquor shipped in from Mexico and smuggled to a speakeasy above. 

Here's Phil talking to his students about Prohibition. (My photo.) You can see how far back the cliffs have retreated by the way the tunnel door is no longer flush with the rock. 

This is what the Capistrano Formation looks like, just to the right of the picture above:
 (My photo.)

And here's a piece of rock from the cliff the builders have left on the ground, presumably so Geology Professors can explain the history of the rock.

(My photo.)

So the 1920s adventure came to naught. However, from the forties on, people were determined to monetarize Dana Cove. In the early 1960s, Dana Point was being prepped for the new harbor, and now looked like this:
(Photo is a crop of a postcard.)

You can see the dirt track is now a road sloping up from center to top left, with grading below, and some shoring up has been done on the fault where the red San Onofre Breccia to the left meets the sand-colored Capistrano Formation, top  right.

In 1971, Dana Point Harbor was built, with space for 2,500 yachts. The pier was shortened, a breakwater was constructed (to the dismay of the surfers) and a great deal of concrete was strewn about to keep the sea away from the cliffs and generally build things. At that time a restaurant was proposed, called The Quiet Cannon, to sit exactly on top of the fault right at the edge of the cliff. According to this paper by Scott Kerwin, it was generally known to be a not-unarguably-good idea even at the time, but the restaurant went ahead. When the inevitable slope failure occurred in 1980 the restaurant (now called Cannons and a really nice place to get Sunday Brunch btw) sued Orange County.  The County accepted responsibility for clean up, and shored the cliff up. There's a detailed explanation in the above paper, and two illustrations, which I've cleaned up a bit to post here. 

The landslip under Cannons. (Photo from Kerwin.)

Remediation: A crib wall at the bottom, and a concrete structure at the top of the cliff, held in place by greater than 100 foot long rock anchors. (Photo from Kerwin.)

^^ If I'm reading that report correctly, San Juan Capistrano is basically made out of pudding with pebbles in it, on a steep tilt, and the land is likely to disappear under me at any moment. 

In the 21st century, Dana Point looks like this:

Although this looks south-east, opposite direction to photos above, you can orient by the the pier, visible nearly half way up and just to the right left of center. 

According to, there is a time capsule beneath the rock work of the harbor due to be opened on August 29th, 2016, 50 years after the surfing at Killer Dana came to an end. Exciting!

Oh, and it was nice talking to Phil as well. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015


Sunset tonight was curved, so for a moment, it looked like we were on a moon of a big, banded, gas giant.

' photo saturn_zpsed734d8d.jpg

Like this one. Jupiter (upside down).

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Courtesy NASA.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Road Worrier update

Alas, the famous twin lampposts of San Juan Capistrano are no more.

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They used to look like this.

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Which I think was a much better effect.

On the other hand, the unbelievable acreage of road that has been produced here is actually quite useful, as instead of going through the center of town at 1 mph, I can zip up the 75 new lanes, turn left a bit and be home in seconds. It was worth the $70 million or whatever.

On another note, I went on foot to McDonalds to take this picture and had to go past some 16 year old douchebucket who mocked the way I walked as I went past. This makes him literally the third person of American origin I've met who has acted like a total shitweasel. Since I've met tens of thousands, I can confidently say Americans are generally saints compared with English people. That makes American world policing and domestic policing so hard to understand - everyone's so nice in person but collectively they're somewhere between "kill it with fire" and "nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure" when it comes to security.*

*Not that Brits are any less punitive, but at least you know that's how we are as soon as you meet more than three of us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Get It On, T. Rex (video)

Excellent T. Rex Bang a Gong (Get It On) performance.

The sound has suffered a little from  multiple generations, but perhaps you could sync your pristine vinyl with the excellent video.
The exact provenance of the video isn't known, according to the Youtube uploader.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Pheasant plucking's done

RIP Lance Percival.

I recently watched as much sixties British satirical comedy as I could find, including some TW3 (That Was The Week That Was) and John Lancelot Blades Percival was one of the greats.

His schtick was to ask for a phrase, place or event from the audience and then make it into an instant calypso.  I saw him live once, and he asked the audience for an occupation. A man shouted out "pheasant plucker" and without missing a beat, literally, Lance sang:

I am a pheasant plucker
I'm a pheasant plucker's son
And I won't stop pheasant plucking
Till the pheasant plucking's done

Which I can't even type out without making the obvious error. It probably wasn't original even then, but in (I'm guessing) 1965 it's a pretty brave thing to attempt in front of a live audience.  I'm having difficulty fitting it to a calypso beat, but I was about seven when I heard it - there may be more syllables in there that I've forgotten.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Get out me car!

This is the funniest thing ever. I don't know why; I can't explain it. Maybe it's that she has the same accent as me. Maybe it's because she says, "Nooo!" in the same accent and tone of voice I pretend my geckos have when I ask them questions. ("Would you like a beer?" "Nooo, coz I'm a gecko.")

Whatever, it has me in stitches. Unfortunately I couldn't find the original vine, so this only plays once. You have to hit replay at least four or five times to get the right effect.

It's remarkable how inventive people are at making art when given new tools. Only 140 characters allowed on Twitter? In a couple of months people were writing novels and haiku on it. And Vine, which gives you only five seconds of video gives rise to this - two perfectly ordinary people coming up with a play of transcendent multiple meanings in a natural rhythm, in one tiny snippet.

"I'm in ma Mum's car. Broom! Broom!"*
"Get out me car!"

I'm not kidding, it's like a little slice of the Odyssey there.

*I would have spelled those engine revs as "Brum! Brum!" like I did as a kid, but the internet has spoken.

Monday, December 08, 2014

San Juan Capistrano - the Road Worrier

My town is undergoing a major upheaval for reasons I haven't quite fathomed yet - it's demolishing the freeway access (to the I5) and the bridge over the freeway, in order to build about 67 more lanes of freeway access and about twice as much bridge.

 photo 20141206_140745_zps6c9c73e0.jpg
A crow is watching from the world famous Twin Streetlights 
of McDonalds.

The redevelopment has ripped out the buildings and trees that were center of the town - luckily the major business in the area, a motel and restaurant, fled years ago - and replaced it with acres and acres of asphalt, as far as the eye can see. It's not finished yet - we're currently in the era of major road closures and the consequent traffic issues - but we walked through the area yesterday to see how it was going. I don't have my own pictures as you can't really get a good idea of what's going on from ground level, so here are OCTA's own pictures from this site.

 photo Current-Ortega-Interchange_zps142e2dfe.png
Old interchanges

 photo Ortega-After_zpsf20d3ae7.png
Proposed (rendering)

The dead area of asphalt that makes up the traffic interchange is just huge on the west (bottom of each picture) side, and it looks like the one on the east (top) is going to be just as large. There's also now a weird clawhammer-shaped thingy to the right of the west interchange. That is a gigantic plain of asphalt surrounding a Del Taco. The fast-food joint now has the highest elevation in the district as well as about 94 lanes of traffic heading straight for it. It's quite amazing up close. (In the top photo, you can see another fast food restaurant used to be at the top of the hill near the road - this was closed down and demolished to make way.)

The building that you can see next to the clawhammer of the Del Taco is a McDonald's. They've been planning to modernize it for years, the city finally granted them permission to do so, and it's just being rebuilt right now. According to the workers, it's McDonald's job to do the flood abatement from being downhill - they said they're putting in a giant storage tank for runoff water. McDonalds also had to make room for a "loop", which is apparently city-speak for if you get lost in the drive-in and have to go back around, you have to be given room to do it on McDonalds' property, to discourage lost and angry people driving on to Del Obispo Street and back into the Micky D's.

 photo 20141206_140920_zpsa51ed069.jpg

OCTA's plan and Micky D's plan don't seem to quite line up, so we get this lovely pair of twin streetlights. Perhaps they'll become a tourist attraction?

Yes, there are a lot of fast food restaurants on Del Obispo. There's also a Carl's Junior and a Marie Callenders.  One - Arby's I think - disappeared above Del Taco, there was another one - I think a Jack in the Box - that was off to the right of the pictures above. There was a Burger King as well. The Taco Bell is still there, one of those all-you-can-stuff-down-your-neck places that I liked, Sizzler's, disappeared years ago and is now an auto parts store, and on the other side of the freeway, my fave rave Denny's was wiped out. RIP Denny's :(

We locals used to call it Cholesterol Alley, but now it's more Asphalt Parkway.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Had Me A Real Good Time - The Faces (Ian McLagan and Bobby Keys)

Goodbye Bobby Keys and Ian McLagan, gone within 24 hours of each other.

Thanks for all the music I guess, but so sad you had to leave it behind.

Children of the Revolution - T. Rex

Here's a lovely T. Rex video of Children of the Revolution in 1973.

The uploader, Dylan White, doesn't have information on how or when it was made, but he uses the occasion to say we should check out the DVD The Final Word, which I certainly shall. I had not heard of it before now. Love the greens in this video - Marc's green blouse, Bill Legend's green fronted whatever-you-call-that, and of course Mickey Finn's green hat. Mickey has also mixed his seventies' green and orange in the correct proportions, whereas Marc's orange trousers are a bit much.  I used to think that these great colors were from using natural dyes like what people did back in the day, but thinking about it, 1972 was probably a hotbed of the most artificial dyes ever, so these were probably made from organophosphate and mustard gas. Still, lovely colors.

The uploader isn't keen on Marc's makeup, but I have to say he appears to have invented contouring. Look at those imitation Toby Tyler-era cheekbones!

While we're here, here's Get It On (Bang A Gong). Look at his little girls' shoes! And my mum made me a jacket exactly like that one except it was in pollen yellow, not pink. And Tony Visconti, if the adults of the time had realized what that guitar sound did to little girls, you would have been arrested. :p

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

White Bicycles by Joe Boyd (book, 2006) review

After jumping out of John Lennon's car, I walked down to Abbey Road studios on my way to record The Pretty Things and who should pass by but Margaret Trudeau, the wife of the Canadian Prime Minister.  She offered me a lift in her private plane as she was flying off to see Mick and Keith. Who should be on the back of the plane but The Byrds who said they were between managers. I said that was lucky, I was between bands to manage, so I managed the Byrds starting that Saturday. One day a month later I was offered the job as the head of Biggo-Vastola Records and I said to the Byrds, I said, I have to take this lads. They were all sad about it as they'd just recorded Eight Miles High and thought it would be a hit. It went platinum five minutes after I left in Ringo Starr's biplane piloted by Hilly Kristal but that's the breaks. We had only just landed when Bob Dylan and Albert Grossman came round and asked if they could join Fairport Convention. "Sorry, I had to stop producing Fairport records three minutes ago," I said and they were all dejected. Luckily Nick Drake and John Martyn were outside, waving through the window for me to go for a drink with them, so I did...

That's not actually an excerpt from Joe Boyd's White Bicycles, but it's pretty damn close.

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I bought the book because it was subtitled 'making music in the 1960's' and all I knew of Joe Boyd was that he'd managed the UFO club in Swinging London. Alas, suckered again, because like Rob Young's Electric Eden it's actually about the Great Folk Scare. It's another chance to read about what Pete Seeger said or didn't say to Albert Grossman about Bob Dylan's electric set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival where all of that happened. (For the record, Joe Boyd does not agree with the chopping-the-cable-with-the-axe story.) It's a lot shorter, though, and Joe Boyd really did know absolutely everybody who was everybody, from Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee to Pete Townshend and literally everybody in between. There is more about the Incredible String Band and Danny Thompson, than about Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols, though, but there must be no one else in the world who has worked with so many people - from Dudu Pukwana to Reverend Gary Davis - nor anyone who was in the thick of it for so long. It's fascinating stuff.

He's not Boswell, so I found there was quite a lot of starting an incredible anecdote about someone - Hendrix, or Devon Wilson - and then going into the next anecdote. After a while you realize the first anecdote isn't going to peak. Maybe he'll get back to it, but maybe he won't. The only one I remember actually coming to a punchline was the story about the Incredible String Band, who get left behind talking to a waiter in California, and later get picked up again having learned something from the waiter Our Gracious Host was not happy they had learned.

I needed to know some deeper things about the Summer of Love for my NaNoWriMo novel, and I wanted to check a few opinions about folk music for it, which this book amply supplied. It mentions Mick Farren, who mentioned Joe Boyd a couple of times, a couple of times. They're not very complimentary, but Swinging London was a complicated time. Boyd dates the Sixties as stretching from the Summer of 1956, peaking on 1st July 1967 and ending in October of 1973. And I'd agree with him, before and after reading the book.


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