Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Tradesmen.  Currently reading Shop Class as Soulcraft.  Motorcycles, metal, unyielding material real-life feedback of working with the mind.  The anti-narcissism.  Here a metal craftsman talks about learning from his mistakes.

Monday, October 11, 2010


It might be hard to see him, but he's there.  The urban night owl, hanging in the husk of a tree overlooking Chattanooga.  Feel like one myself this evening.  Seems like cities get more interesting at night - everything happening is highlighted by absent familiar things that aren't.  Suddenly the land is transformed, the city floats into context, focused by its own alien light.  The northshore goes all Marty Stouffer.  That owl swooped down to assert the waning of the year on some helpless rodent.  Tonight I got a load of crannies and nooks on the river's industrial bend.  We're squatting cool in the flood plain of a flowing highway.  Such a two-way imprint, people and place.  There's so much urban exploration to be done - how did I ever forget?  Two wheels get you closer.

Significantly rad:

Fifty two cameras, one button.  Enough to make you sweat and pine for some ridiculous break where several dorks on a scaffold can retweet your shred so well my face feels salty.  So what if it's a wave pool...these guys invented bullet time, and this footage invented awesome.   Here's how they did it.  Rad.

Friday, October 8, 2010


my 82 honda might be hemorrhaging oil, but I can still dream.

Shinya Kimura from director Heinrich Hansen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Dead Man by Jim Jarmusch

Theobroma and garden tobacco, watching like refugees raiding Tenochtitlan while Johnny Depp dies all the way across North America. Maybe one of the best films ever.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Flying with cameras

Chopper test of a dual-gyro Kenyon KS-8 + 5DmkII rig.   Bungee cords.  Actually, it's just shot on a flipcam.  But the 5D was there.

pilot : Michael
old cameraman: Bobby Stone
music: MGMT

Monday, October 4, 2010

Hound Ears

450 climberers can't be wrong.  These rocks are cool.  One day a year, they're packed.  Why not for the rest?  You guessed it - golf course.  Finally, autumn in the Appalachians.

Boone, NC

Thursday, September 30, 2010

tie in

All the gridded hooks can seem so heavy.  Wired-in every which way, a cat's cradle of electric obligation.  With the first rolling cold autumn clouds though, the trees want to fade ecstatic and burn - it's just the way time goes.  Learn to love it.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Capitol Street

Jackson, Mississippi.  Not as down and out as you think.  But just about.  Crannies.  Nooks.  It's not far to the gulf.  Empty sidewalks while the sterility fights the crime - microcosm leaves just enough to love.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Ponciest sport in the world. The grass. The green. The entire edifice. The lameness can be difficult to endure. Not like it needs more ridicule. It's almost ridiculous enough to understand. Almost. Grown men spend millions, perhaps zillions of dollars every minute to make a hill look the way a bunch of Scottish sheep always used to do for free. But far be it from me to comment on which obsessions are constructive.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Time to Pretend

At work. Maybe a little too much MGMT. Just practicing for Moogfest.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


This compulsion to wake up early. Now what do I do? Guess I'll write down my morning groundrules for the whole world to see. I love getting up early for a photograph, or for some hike or maneuver that needs to set up the rest of the day. It's easy to get up when you have something cool to do, but harder if you spend all the other mornings lollygagging in bed until the last possible second of obligation. I guess it's about staying in practice. After living in both modes, here's what I need:

1) To see the sun, or be able to imagine where it is. Low. Way down on the edge of the earth if not still under it, where it's not beating on your brain yet to go get things done.

2) To read a little something that's not the internet or on a screen. Made of paper. And not the news. Nothing is older than the news. No TV.

3) Music.

4) Chemicals. Coffee or water or enough anticipation-induced norepinephrin or peace-induced oxytocin to get ready to crush, or hang loose for a long peaceful front porch AM.

5) To do something, anything, (if there's no project or adventure pressing) that I want before I go off and work, i.e., do something someone else wants.

At the Ruins, the solution to all these were ready at hand. Hills, beach, surf. Choose challenge or relax watching the sheep and clouds. Rough, I know. Building a fire was one of the great cold morning rituals. But what to do in a Montgomery Alabama Hampton Inn stranded behind a Dillard's in a sea of parkinglot?

Still working on that one.

Monday, August 30, 2010


Andy spins a few around Rocky's roundabout. Tire warmers, lights, cops, cameras, speed action - great attitude and support from everybody. This is the first big set shoot I've ever pushed the trigger for, and I realize now more than ever how hard it is to pull off. No chance without the help of my friends, and no hope without the example of my mentors.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Seems like everything is going faster now. Even under a full slow moon.

RR tracks, TN

Thursday, August 26, 2010


The air just turned. Seasons. Dig the breeze, even chill. It's written in the clouds. Long and floating, bulbs of vapor and wisps of coming fall. Underlit by one rising moon, the next one for harvest. Dylan scopes it from the light tower, old Tennessee's Norfolk Southern RR.

Howardsville Crossing, GA line.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Maybe the best thing about summer is a honking dark storm sweeping up and blasting out. Here comes a sheet of rain up the Tennessee, the water pelted, trees swayed and vultures surfed. Gone in 20 minutes. Ain't nobody dope as thee, yo so fresh so clean clean.

Williams Island, TN.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More Stuff

Time to get a place to live. Well, a place to keep my stuff. As genius George Carlin said, "while you go out and get ... more stuff." It's difficult to think about this after containing life in a backpack for so long. I don't want to lose that sense. But to keep crashing much longer, I might burn. No wallpaper please. Just a garage with some hammocky rafters and maybe a wood stove. Plumbing would be good too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Desert Lo-fi

Something irresistible about space. Everybody has heard. Getting out underneath it, the westering that stretches out and opens up, then bears down. You just have to stop and brandish a camera at it occasionally, feebly, as if to fend. Never worked. Sometimes the sky is big enough to smother.

Starring: America.
Music by Calexico
Logistics by Honda

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Flash Flood

A doublecomplete rainbow comes with consequences. Like about a zillion gallons of rain-cut mud pounding off every dry waterfall slot this side of the Henry Mountains. The drainage for this plateau is actually supposed to run the other way. Forget that. Too much water fell on the sandrock. So much dirt in there, you could float a pewter cow. It's chocolate milk, or rust pudding, or chundered sienna. Funny how shy the desert is with water. When the stuff comes down, she doesn't know what to do with it. One hundred fifty feet of Wingate cliff and gravity at better than eight pounds per gallon, slightly lighter than the 18lb/gal barium drilling muds that just plugged that pesky hole out under Louisiana. Difference is, the Nestlé Bunny is going to come boofing off this thing any second. Every parched rock was spouting and the thunder rolled. When it rains, it pours.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Doublecomplete Rainbow

At the risk of sounding relevant (nothing is older than the news - ergo nothing is more boring than the echoing reflecting secondbysecond content of the internet) here's a picture of a rainbow. This is actually a picture of us coming out of Cataract Canyon a few days ago, billowing along before a big storm. Far away from the infectious viral videos, our rainbow was not drug enhanced. "It's so intense!" What does it mean? Moses said it best I do set my bow in the clouds, and let it be for a token to paraphrase Yaweh. A token of what? Nothing could matter less. It happened, thank god, and that ought to be enough.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Williams Island

A crook in the stone wall, that escarpment gate inhaling one beaten river, a dirt pile from a thousand floods. It's good dirt. Like Nile-borne soil falling out of the Tennessee. It's in the middle of town, and almost no one lives there. From the middle of the squash field, the night hums and the rising fog glows. Invisible barges rumble past goats and treehouses, the forest natives, the river people living on. Praise the bridge that never was.

Friday, July 9, 2010


The sun comes up behind the hills in the haze, a fiery ball bent through the air. Later it nuked the water from the leaves and came in heated steam cells with lightning and thunder. At last, a proper storm.

Padgett Ridge TN

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Joy Division says dance to the radio. The Protestants say don't dance. Well we all have to grow from something. Amazing how the oldest things come from the roughest places. Meanwhile, Tennessee is so green I can hardly breathe. Good, the sparkling beetles hovering up from the grass, the blinking green of the undergrowth. But this juniper on its tenacious rootpress cracked into the Navajo dune rock, nourished by the crypto, it's on the other side of the world. The other side of the plains. Somehow the same country, but in a very different universe.

Left bank, Cane creek

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rock Art

"This was alien writing." Kyle pointed us up to Courthouse Wash, where parties unknown tried to scrub away the record of inhabitants here from before memory. They're faint, graffitied, just shining out above the highway. Jackal heads silently leer at our alien craft below. They hadn't planned on cars, but it's not likely that they're surprised. "With exhaust and dust and everything else, these will be gone soon. People think they last forever, but this is a different place." Back in Tennessee, an old friend makes it with concrete. Here the patient rock paintings are tucked into caves for safekeeping, hidden by dark from newer time. It's all there. You just have to look.


Monday, July 5, 2010

Aux Arcs

They're ancient. Humps left over from a few collisions ago, episodes of mountain-crashing old enough to leave remains in the deep flat heart of the continent. Where the Red Fern Grows. The hills the French said were "With Rainbows" before we purchased Louisiana. Fair deal, since they threw in the Ozarks. Magic. Craig says his one-stop is the "entire sum total of town." Enough hollows and junctions to tuck a menagerie of back porches with gas pumps and bakeries. The drive-by berry picking ain't bad either.

Fallsville, Arkansas

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Not tanks. Harvesters make twilight war on the panhandle, western edge of the former seabed. Everything between here and Arkansas was once a giant buffalo and camel ranch. Now the staples come through the pipeline. Welcome to the next 24 hours at 70 per.

Guymon, Oklahoma

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 cursèd 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.

Friday, May 28, 2010


There are only two seasons at the Ruins. One of them hatches seagulls, and the other stacks the beach with stormy foam. The walls are paper thin. It was good to hear every sound the wind makes until your ears freeze. Gutters stacked with sleet, and we rolled away to the next thing. Dark plane windows over cold alps, and suddenly, it's the tropical pacific again.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


When we first came here, there was some line about a well-worn path to the sea in my head. It's there in real life now, and still in my head. Thoreau used his path to Walden Pond to show how boring and trodden old lines of thought can be. He might be right. But this thigh-deep grass has a leg rut worn right into it, slithering to the swale and out. Above the stepping stones down to the waves, flax leaves flap and the sound of the ocean comes out all at once from behind the bushes. That's where you stand. For as long as it takes.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Green Island

A related note of preemptive nostalgia concerns this nubbin of schist off in the bight. It's one of the first things I see from my porch everyday. Or the kitchen window. Or the beach, or the hill. Green Island is usually up to its neck in spray or fog, and always suffused with a perfectly mysterious something-or-other. Very close. Very far.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Brighton Bight by Night

No one knows which old Brighton it’s named for. Likely it was some collection of hovels somewhere in lower Britain, probably long since transmogrified into a pomsy Daytona beach. New Brighton smells like woodsmoke. The odd whiff of coal prickles at dusk when the sea mist and stove haze mix. A painted whale inside the round welded bus stop dims away. Porch lights come on, televisions flicker, the sea rolls on and on. Some kids are bored with being fifteen. And some are tired from a glad sunny day of skateboarding down hills full of blind curves. Like the old man at the post office today; “you know ae, another shit day in paradise.”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Please buy this magazine.

The next time you're somewhere cool that has it. I decline to link to the B. and N. store. You know who you are.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Intimidating to plop down with a wad of gear in front of this rock. It looms. And it does that on every side. Looking up and out of this box cirque, the round edge of the sky is rimmed by cliffs. They don't call it 'Shadowland' for nothing. But the lizards were there, munching crickets. Flightless weka gnawed our apples. Helicopters win again.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Old stuff has to go. It's good when you get to burn it though. From the broken down old house comes hundred-year-old half-rotten native lumber, from the beach, driftwood. A hundred planted pines make charred school papers. From the gliders, balsa. Final flights to combustion. Odd plastic and soggy fleece turn to napalm. Maker's Mark goes down smoother. Fallspring cleaning. Another bittersweet step toward leaving this place.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Glacial Erratics

It's easy to walk among glaciers when it's warm. Head-high boulders dropped from the belly of the monster are commonplace. The whole top half of North America is one giant glacial scar. There's plenty of land up there to bulldoze, but precious little away in the globe's South. One piece of tectonic flotsam was stamped most effectively with U-shaped ice tracks. Huge hardrock wounded valleys. Like slug's trails, shining and not so sinuous. Thank melting for the glory of Fiordland. This year's high summer is long gone now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Merlot Chariot

In 1974 British Leyland Motors made the Triumph TC2000 Estate. All six cylinders, all seventeen feet of her. Then some reckless engineer piped up: “Shall we make that leather couch in the back fold down for more cargo space?” Pure genius.

Wooden dash, eight gears, and a hole in the top that's less a sunroof, more a Universe Roof. It screams 'smoke a cigar at 80 mph in here on the way to the races with Buffy.' Driving this thing is like being that spectacled frog from from The Wind in the Willows. Chick magnet? Yeah, no. But believe me, if this thing could float, I'd be taking it to america.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Glossary of Maori words (which commonly form part of place names): Motu = island. Rata is a red-flowered kind of myrtle. Moturata is a rocky fold marooned at the mouth of the Taieri River. Long spines of drowned land stretch south to hook hills to reefs ramped north under waves. Sand and tide make a shifting bridge to the last hill above water. Now it's there, now it isn't.

Six minutes from home, when the moon and wind are right, you can walk it. The sun went down, rain swung south, and the penguins came to roost. Their feet flapped. They came in clumps and teams from the roiling kelp to the tangle of bush. They can't see very well. At night, little blue flocks walk right past.

On the back side of the island, there's nothing but sea. Dunedin glows like a volcano behind the peninsula in the north. Moturata is full of strange whistles and trills. Dark waves. Clefts and caves and shadows of bushes overhead. The bridge is out of sight behind the hill. Nothing guarantees it will still be there when we come around the other side. It appears for three hours at a time, in a place where time seems strange and numbers stranger.

There is plenty to find and look at. Plenty to hear and imagine as we grope our way over hissing cracks and slippery weed. The lights of shore come into view again. The sea is climbing. The reflection of the sand is drowned, there is water between. We splash through, current tugging at the knees.

The island is a dark smudge in the sky behind us. We gain the van. The cops wonder where we've been. Or maybe they just wonder why.

Monday, April 19, 2010

New Van

Richard is testing out the sound in this wheelèd box I just bought for the price of a third world cow. Quite ringy. The natural frequency of a Ford Bongo turns out to be in the tenor range. Waves get compounded and compressed and ramp up all over each other. In the ocean and in the air, maleströms of sound.

The Ruins, Otago strand. bigger

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Big waves coming in the next few days. No insinuation, just talking about the weather.

Sunrise on the Brighton Bight, NZ

Monday, April 12, 2010


There's this awful adolescent grey area between belief in cosmic judgment and understanding that it would be nice to be remembered as a good neighbor. Graffiti fills that gap perfectly.

Rock and Pillar Range, Otago