Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sleeping Ute

Legend says that the mountain will wake up, and a giant stone indian will give the land back to its rightful people. Galloping across the plateau toward him, sleeping in his shadow surrounded by canyons full of ruins, hearing the swooping silence and whirring stars - I say good for him if he does. Feels rightful to me.

Hovenweep, America

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sandrock Factory

Every rock lover knows the names. Cocconino, Wingate, Cedar Mesa, colossal Navajo - just a few. The river man, the uranium canyoneer, the roadbuilder, even the curs├Ęd RV tourist can't help but hear insinuations about the history of sandstone. We're always told, and the evidence shows, that these sweeping curved carved beds of tilted cemented grains were once part of giant sand ergs stuck to the side of the continent, petrified now in the middle of ours. In the slabs, we see the bottoms of huge dunes, the damp footprints of dinosaurs and the occasional lens of seabourne shell-hashed lime. But How? What possible mechanism could get such an enormous goggling volume of sand to stretch across hundreds of miles and stay there? The Navajo is 5000 feet thick. What does making that even look like? (!)

Don't point me to the Sahara. Sure, great sand dunes, but I need to see preservation. There's nothing more convincing to a uniformitarian than a dramatic Modern Analog. George Steinmetz and his paraglider provide that with his story in July's National Geographic Magazine. For the first time, we can really see the depositional raw material of the most dramatic and recognizable stone freakshows in the American West, right at the moment of creation. Thanks.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Fiery Furnace

After hours, the shadows are all raised for constant shade. The day's sun screaming down on the rocks leaked out against us squirming in cracks full of sand. Lines of walls templed to towered arches, alleys hide among branching boulevards of the planet's fractured living crust. Gardens of biscuitroot, poison ivy, mormon tea, and sacred datura darkly buzz and flutter with wakeful sphingid moths. Cat eyes flash. Hidden waterholes alive with writhing beasts, bats whirring against starred cracks, and we wander agog, maze wracked under the bright moon. What did we really see? Ask Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Corona Arch

Moon is up, and we are up for a night hike. Entrada sandstone by moonlight in Bootlegger canyon - Kyle Kaiser for scale. The Jurassic is the best.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Bedrock and Paradox

Underground, the salt moves. The rocks above bend and twist, crack and split, fin and arch. I'm away on the curves to the sandy west and Canyonlands tonight. Remembering all the times before, can't wait.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

.38 Special

Defending America's freedoms with a knucklebuster. Time to find a poker game?

Grand Junction, Colorado.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Boulevard

On the way to someplace very different. Tonight, the Edison, tomorrow, gun racks and pickup trucks. Motorcycles. Do we dare shed a tear for L.A.? These men are not on the way to a Sigma Nu Sunday afternoon keg. They are in West Hollywood. Searsucker brings a whole new galaxy of connotations in an alternate universe. And away, always, again.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Cartoon strip

The endless list of funny faces out there begs reproduction in ink or paint or mud, anything humans can wield to make an imitation. Lascaux cave paintings and John James Audubon prints are the result of identical practices, this is a time-independent sensibility. The evolution of the art is the evolution of its subject – reproduction acts on many levels

Friday, June 4, 2010

Yucca filifera

Not a Truffula tree. Not even a J-Tree. "Possibly the largest known specimen of the species." It lives in the truest part of the wildly incongruous Huntington Gardens - a place ringed with enough library, gallery, chariot riding, sculpture mounting, and general transplanted imperialist neoclassic philandering space to make the proletariat gape from one end of a coupon day to the other. There's a Gutenberg Bible and a cactus garden. It's hard to launch into an ethical disquisition on propping up the rest of the fussy thirsty old world plantings in the North American desert when they let you in for free.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Saying Agave this close to Baja is like saying Oak in Sherwood. This stuff makes saw palmetto look like lamb's ears. Comes in a zillion kinds, probably from Mars. Each leaf is a smorgasbord of water that ends in a fang. It's edged with canines and painted with ice. Brushed mackerel? Silver surfer? Doomed glacier? I can just see some clevelandite spraying a douchey dropped honda hatchback this color. And I'd still dig it.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Yes, I know I'm a gaper for taking a picture of the sign, but I didn't even have to leave the house to do it. The letter D lines up from further away . When you get closer, it makes more sense. There's another sign in this neighborhood next to a friendly faucet by the trail complete with dog bowl: 'close it tight when you're done.' Sure, there's razor wire on the freeway signs. I don't want to give anybody an aneurism, but for the first 48 hours here, and from this aerie in Beechwood Canyon -
I kind of like L.A.