Family Rambles

1 May 2011



Elise in her modeling days. Can you tell she’s Hawaiian?


The reign of Tutankhamun was a “return to normalcy.” After the wild, liberalizing years of Akhenaten, the boy king reversed Akhenaten’s reforms. He changed his name from Tutankhaten to Tutankhamun, “Living Image of Amun,” signaling a return to Egypt’s traditional religion.


Ted Ashford, Mike Pendergrass, Dave Getz, Kathi McDonald, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew. Big Brother and the Holding Company, 1970s version.


William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, the Grand Sachem of Tammany Hall, died of pheumonia in the jail that he as a member of the city’s Board of Supervisors, had authorized to be built in 1859. Ludlow Street at Essex Market Place, 12 April 1878.


Alexa Patton, daughter  of my brother Bill’s daughter Gabrielle.


The future always looks rosy in LaLaLand. Of course, no one can remember the past, so no need to worry about that.


The good guys always wear white hats. Peter Albin.


In a cancer cell, the genetic material has for some reason been changed and that cell can grow abnormally, uncontrollably and invasively. Caner cells can form a tumor and cells from that tumor can break off and travel by blood to other parts of the body. This is called metastasis. The thing to find out is why or how that original genetic material has been changed.


Quick sketch.


The Washington Arch in Washington Square, New York City, like The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, was originally a temporary structure of wood and plaster. Everyone liked the Arch so much that money was raised to make the Arch permanent. I played under this Arch with several musicians and two dancers many times.


Kari Borle, my brother Lee’s daughter.


“I woiuld have made a good pope.”  Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994)


Automobile, 1980s.


From the Hebrew for “faint,” chalosh, comes the word chaloshes. A chaloshes meal is disgusting, revolting, nauseating. You know, kind of like how Gefilte Fisch looks.


Diana Andrew, Dan’s daughter, lives in Tennessee.


Even though the District of Columbia is not a state and has only a nonvoting delegate in the House of Representatives, the Twenty-third Amendment, ratified in 1961, gave district residents the right to vote for the president and gave the district electoral votes equivalent to those of the least populous state.


Seriously geeky dudes, but they weren’t geeky enough so they had to form a barbershop quartet. I love four part harmony. Okinawa, Japan.


I will always cherish the first impressions that I had of what’s her name.


Narada Michael Walden and Lynn Asher. I love two part harmony also.


The De Young Museum, San Francisco, is covered with thousands of copper plates, each embossed with designs based on the shadows cast by Golden Gate Park’s canopy of trees. This pattern should become apparent as the copper takes on a green patina in a few years (say, 2015). I’m not sure i quite understand the layout of the new De Young yet. Maybe after twenty more visits?


My sister Lillian’s son Paul Bullis. And the beat goes on.


The sphinx often combines the body of a lion with the head of a human, although ram- and falcon-headed sphinxes (sphinges?) are known. I remember reading a Scientific American article years ago which posited that the sphinx form occurs naturally in the desert where the wind carves the rock, and that the Egyptians merely capitalized on this happy accident when they made the sphinx.


The view from The Hawaiian Village actually looked like this once. 1957.


Sloth, the trait, not the animal, is one very terrible weakness. It engenders many of the other vices that flesh is heir to.


Can you believe how good looking they are? Ben Nieves and Sophia Ramos. Guitar player and singer with Big Brother and the Holding Company.


At the Chambers Street subway station, Chambers and Hudson Streets, New York City, on 22 December, 1984, electrical engineer, Bernhard Goetz, shot four African-American teenagers on an IRT subway train as it pulled into the station. Goetz claimed that they had tried to rob him. One teen was paralyzed and brain damaged. Goetz walked up to him and, although he was already bleeding from a wound, said, “You don’t look too bad, here’s another.” The jury awarded the teen $ 43 million in damages. Bernie Goetz lived in the same building on 14th Street, Manhattan, as Myra Friedman, an old Big Brother and the Holding Company friend, and biographer of Janis Joplin. Myra knew Bernie well. Crime and Race in America. To say there are no easy answers is vastly to understate the situation.


The Woman Problem. I love titles like this.


Mike Wallace: “Why do so many jazz greats seem to die so early?”

Billie Holliday: “I want to bend this note, bend that note, sing this way, sing that way, and get all the feeling, eat all the good foods, and travel all over all in one day, and you can’t do it.”


Here is a man who lives the life he sings about in his song. Tom Finch exemplifies The Age of Aquarius. Truly a good person. He plays guitar too. Quite well.


This is what a pretentious drummer once misquoted to me, both as to source and to actual words:

Reporter: What is jazz?

Louis Armstrong: “Man, if you gotta ask, you’ll never know.”


These islands are to the southeast of Okinawa, Japan. Elise’s father Lui Piliwale  iives on Saipan.


The B vitamin AKA The Enabler:

B1 present in whole grains, nuts, legumes, helps the body release engery from carbohydrates.

B2 whole grains and leafy vegetables helps body release energy from  fats, proteins and carbohydrates.

B3 (niacin) helps release energy from glucose, present in whole grains, fish, dairy products.


Elizabeth Andrew, my brother Stephen’s daughter.


American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West to Columbus Avenue, and West 77th to West 81st Streets, Manhattan.  Radiolariia are here. Apatosaurus lurks.


Cheryl Little Deer. She was a living example of an ancient Chinese curse: May you be born a beautiful woman. I loved her.


A shandeh far di goyim is behavior that is a shame for the gentiles to have to see. Yiddish.


Grace Walton and Anthony Vitale, my sister Paula’s son.


Although the First Amendment protects freedom of speech, the courts have ruled that there are legitimate limits to that freedom. The government may ban libel, restrict obscenity, and punish words that present a “clear and present danger.” The Roberts/Scalia/Clarence Thomas Supreme Court has ruled that corporations have the same freedom of speech that individuals do. Shameful and almost as corrupt as the gift to George W. Bush of the Presidency when he had lost the popular vote, and, very likely, the electoral vote as well.


Two great singers, Mary Bridget Davies and Koko Taylor.


Roos House, 3500 Jackson Street, at Locust Street, San Francisco. Bernard Maybeck designed this house in 1909. Leon Roos was a philanthropist who gave California its first seeing-eye dog. His father helped found Roos Brothers, clothiers. When I first went to university, I wore clothes from Roos/Atkins, as did every single other callow youth of that period.


Cathy who lives to the west of Saipan.


The situation is so strange in the theatre today, that an actor is lucky to be miscast.


Ben Nieves and Sam Andrew demonstrating the passion that has enabled them to win the tractor pull in several states.


The Early Dynastic Period in Egypt dates from 3,000 years BCE, or quite a bit longer than we are now living after Christ. This period following the emergence of Egypt as a unified kingdom evolved social and religious institutions that would endure for more than three thousand years. I love the art of Egypt, but especially Coptic Art, characterized by beautiful portraits done in encaustic in the Hellenistic period in Egypt.


This is how Dr. John plays Tipitina. The magic happens in those sixteenth note triplets.


At 350 Fifth Avenue, New York City, on 12 December 1900, Mark Twain introduced Winston Spencer Churchill to an American audience in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Ballroom. “He is the son of an English father and an American mother… behold the perfect man.” Twain wrote an autograph to Churchill: “To do good is noble; to teach others to do good is nobler, and no trouble.”


James Gurley at The House of Blues, Hollywood. James was kicking out the james that night.


All right then, I’ll say it. Norman Mailer makes me ill. Go ahead, ask me, i want to hear it. Who is Norman Mailer? Mwahhhaaahhhaahha.


Why this girl is as pretty as Sophia Ramos. Could it be because they are related? i love her hands.


“I don’t want realism, I want magic!”  Blanche DuBois. (Tennessee Williams)


Bruce Harrah-Conforth, Sam Andrew and Michel Bastian.


Oliver Rousseau built a beautiful series of houses in the Sunset District, San Francisco, 1930s. Henry Doelger built the largest number of them, but Rousseau built the most elaborate, with façades that suggest chateaux, Tudor half timbers, castles in Spain with balconies, grillwork and tiles. Practical and comfortable with living areas above the garage, light bringing atria, step down living rooms and open beamed ceilings. These are works of art for the Irish/Italian, and now Chinese, firemen, plumbers and other working class people who live in them.


Kacee Clanton and Vie Le in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.


In 1938, the Supreme Court ruled that the government must provide counsel for defendants in federal court trials who cannot pay for counsel.


Las plumas. The feathers.


Litvak/Galitzianer: The center of the Litvak world was Vilna (Lithuania), the Jerusalem of the north, a world of study, logic, intellect. Galitzianers lived in Galicia, Austrian Poland, center of prayer and emotions. To Litvaks, Galitzianers were irrational and uneducated. To Galitzianers, Litvaks were dry and cold fish. So it goes. We all need someone to look down on.


Joel Hoekstra is tall, so Tim Robbins must be REALLY tall.


Those California cuisine restaurants where the food is a work of art on the plate? How many hands created this, how many fingers?


Kari Borle lives in Brainerd, Minnesota.


The Flatiron Building, Fifth Avenue, Broadway and East 23rd Street, Manhattan, is an antique now. She was built 1901-1903, and was called The Fuller Building. There is a flatiron building in every city that i know of, even San Rafael, California. Big Brother and the Holding Company used to live near the Flatiron Building at The Chelsea Hotel between 7th and 8th Avenues on 23rd.


Very fine guitar player, Chad Quist.


Some antibiotics work by restricting the growth of bacterial cell walls. The bacteria’s increasing mass can no longer be kept intact by its cell wall, and its contents spill out of the cell. Human cells are unharmed since they do not have cell walls. Antibiotics are made from natural substances that micro-organisms produce to hinder other orgnaisms’ growth. Penicillin, for example is derived from a fungal mold.


A dream is a wish that your heart makes.


“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” Frederick Douglass.


I did this one very quickly and without thinking.


Momzer is Hebrew for an illegitimate child, but it is used in Yiddish for a mean-spirited individual, bitter, vengeful, hurtful, negative, a farbissener. Frau Farbissener in Austin Powers would really be a farbisseneh which is the female version. Gey in drerd, Momzer.


Joan Getz, chanteuse stylistique.


Clark Walker and Stanley Mouse, Petaluma, California, 2009.


The only way to remove a Supreme Court justice is by impeachment in the House and conviction in the Senate.


“Which is more musical; a truck passing by a factory or a truck passing by a music school?”      John Cage 1912-1992


My father and I out by the oil derricks.


The Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill, San Francisco, restored by julia Morgan after the 1906 earthquake. Silver baron James G. Fair’s daughter Tessie replaced his mansion with a hotel. You have to see the Tonga Room in this hotel to believe it. Total kitsch, psychedelic Pacificana. Big Brother and the Holding Company were in the lobby of this hotel for the film Petulia starring Julie Christie and George C. Scott, actually a very good film.


She haunts me from across the street while I am painting.


Irving Berlin died at his longtime East Side home, 17 Beekman Place, 22 September 1989. He was 101 and he was the Howard Hughes of show business. Irving Berlin played everything in F#. He had a piano specially made so he could play in that key but could choose how it would sound in the other keys.


During Akhenaten’s reign in the fourteenth century BCE, the Aten became the one deity officially worshipped in Egypt. Akhenaten ordered that references to other deities be deleted from Egyptian monuments.


Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando and Bill Graham. You notice Bill is doing the talking. That’s a shock.


I’ve only met two perfect people in my life and I didn’t like either one of them.


The preternaturally lovely Dana Anderson, Jim Nichols, a prince among men, and i am sorry I forget this person’s name. She’s cute, though.


The five basic tastes are bitter, sweet, salty, sour and imari, a Japanese word for the taste associated with monosodium glutamate.


Dandy Barrett was the star of our high school class on Okinawa, Japan. She was talented in many directions, and I always wondered what happened to her.


We all know how to get to Carnegie Hall. It’s at 156 West 57th Street in Manhattan and it was built in 1889-1990. I like 57th Street. I used to go to The Art Students’ League, across the street and farther west, to draw from live models. Big Brother and the Holding Company rehearsed at The Steinway Building, also across the street in 1968.


This is a good man and a great photographer, David Peters, San Rafael, California.


“Avoid running at all times.”   Satchel Paige  1906-1982


My friend Ayris Hatton sculpted this at the same time and from the same model as I did when I made the work called Donatella. Ayris’ version is more true to life, and i like the color of clay that she used.


One sure way to invite inspiration into your life. Work regularly at what you are doing, even a little bit a day is good. This makes a good, nourishing environment for inspiration to come and stay.


In the Netherlands with real Netherlanders. This was a good band. 2003.


I asked an Israeli once if people in his country spoke much Yiddish. He practically spat. “Yiddish is a dead language,” he snarled. I understood his contempt because Yiddish is, after all, a dialect of German. The Yiddish word Mentsh is the same as German Mensch. Both mean “human being” and both can have further, more complex meanings. “Yeder mentsh hat zein eigeneh pekl,” a Yiddish saying is perfectly understandable to a German speaker. “Each person has his own pack.”


Jan Sullivan and Elise Piliwale.


When I was about twenty, I returned from Europe, and I was sitting on a bench one day in Santa Monica. There were two women on the other side and they were speaking a very strange German. I understood it, but couldn’t place the dialect. Yes, it was Yiddish. It took me years to realize that.


Murphy’s Law, Photo Division. Have you noticed yet that in a group of people on Facebook, every single person will be identified except for the one who is by far the best looking? (Jeff Beck just put out a wonderful CD with Joss Stone, interesting sounds.)


All congressional districts should be the same size, but for many years state legislatures gave more representation to large, sparsely populated rural districts than to smaller, heavily populated urban districts. In 1962, the Supreme Court ruled that all legislative districts must be equal in population.


Peter Albin and Karen Lyberger.


“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”   Hannah Arendt  1906-1975


Jennifer Espinoza is getting cuter all the time and her bass playing, always good, is becoming ever more proficient. If she keeps this up, she’s going to make a big noise. I am going to ask her to sing a gig with us in June.


The Haas-Lilienthal House, 2007 Franklin Street, San Francisco. William Haas made his money in the grocery business and built this house. His daughter Alice married Samuel Lilienthal and shared the house with William’s widow after 1916. The house was saved from the 1906 firestorm when firefighters blasted a firebreak along Van Ness Avenue.


With the Minnesota Andrews. Edie, Jason, Kirsten Amundson, and Lee.


This is about Clinton Hart Merriam (1855-1942) who was a naturalist:

His field work in the West gradually concentrated on the great state of California not only because it offered many interesting problems but because more than anywhere else his passionate love for forests and mountains was gratified. He explored every nook and corner of it and finally built himself a home in the depths of the redwoods of Marin County near the village of Lagunitas. This house now belongs to one of the Haas family.

Big Brother and the Holding Company are sitting on the porch of this home here.


Steve, Zia, Elise. Beautiful people.


From LIFE magazine 1939. All over the world in the 1930s and 40s there was the cult of the Strong Man. People felt some kind of need for a strong leader. This was the only time we elected a President to three terms. Fascism appealed to a lot of people. This was a close call. These are Americans here. We have to watch out right now, right here in this country because partisanship is becoming more extreme every day. This Fascism is a right wing disease, but, remember, Joseph Stalin came from the left. We need to keep our feelings calm and keep our faith in each other.


Elliot Landy and his wife. Elliot took some very sweet photographs of a lot of well known people. Iconic photographs.


On 6 December 1965 at 213 Park Avenue South, bstween 17th and 18th Streets, Manhattan, Mickey Ruskin became owner of Max’s Kansas City, a restaurant (specialities: steak, lobster, dried chick peas) and music venue that would be the center of underground New york culture for the next sixteen years.


Adriana, really good artist, in Santa Barbara. She’s a sweetheart.


I was a regular at Max’s Kansas City for almost the entire time that it existed. The rest of Big Brother and the Holding Company had gone home to the West Coast, but I waved the freak flag in the 1970s with David Cohen, Larry Poons, Larry Rivers, David Bowie, Deborah Harry, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, Divine, Iggy Pop, Sargent Shriver, Sid Vicious, Cary Grant, Television, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, the New York Dolls, Tim Buckley, Patti Smith, and a cast of thousands, many of whom were far more interesting than anyone listed here, especially me.


Randal Myler and I watching tech rehearsals for Love, Janis.


Part of the Pacific Exposition in 1915. You can see The Palace of Fine Arts here on the left. It is the only building remaining out of all these. Hard to believe that THe Palace of Fine Arts was originally made out of papier maché. Later the building was remade with more durable materials.


David Rokeach, a fine drummer and a fine human being. Love, Janis rehearsals, San Francisco.


Trying to get a good look at my mother in Salt Lake City.


Happy Trails To You Till We Meet Again.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company




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