The Sheik of Araby

30 November 2011



Ted Snyder composed this music in 1921. Harry B. Smith and Francis Wheeler wrote the words in response to the Rudolph Valentino film The Sheik. This song was a Tin Pan Alley hit and everyone played it. The Sheik of Araby is mentioned in The Great Gatsby. Fats Waller and Fats Domino both performed interesting versions of the tune. So did The Preservation Hall Jazz Band  and Louis Prima. Sidney Bechet recorded it the year I was born and Harry Connick, Jr. did it later. Oscar Peterson also.


Wilhelmina & Sam Andrew, Las Vegas, 1945)


A baby caribou is so swift it can easily outrun its mother when it is only three days old.


German, Dutch and English are sisters. Frisian is a fraternal (sororal?) twin to English. Entire sentences in both languages are identical.


In Bladworth, Saskatchewan, it is illegal to frown at cows.


Jim Wall et une Française in Saint Die, France. This is Alsace home of my mother’s people.


Sandy and Ken Scarborough kindly sent me these beautiful photographs of Packards. Earlier, they sent some great images of Wright Brothers planes.


Elise Piliwale.


“The Wizard Faithless Güero. Killing Güeros. Killing Güeros. Killing Güeros.”

“Güero” means “pale.” It is a slang word for “American,” “paleface.”


We know that Iran has weapons of mass destruction. We have the receipts. By the way, we the American people paid for those weapons. They are ours.

I don’t remember being consulted about selling them to Iran and I know the money didn’t come back here. It went to South America.


Mary Bridget Davies and Sam Andrew, Dornbirn, Austria, 2009.


One of the stupidest sentences I have ever read about language:

“Mothers were originally named Mama or Mommy because they have mammary glands.”

Mothers were called mama because mama is a sound that babies naturally make. Same for Papa or Dada. “Mammary” came from “mama,” not the other way round. The babies didn’t think,”Oh, she has a mammary gland, so I’ll call her “mama” for short. Academics can be so thick sometimes.


Sherida Andrew, my brother Bill’s wife. The Andrew boys love dark haired women, probably because our mother was a brunette.


René Descartes saw a fly walk across a tiled ceiling and, in a flash of insight, he formulated the theory of coordinate geometry.


Tree frogs can climb window panes. What if Descartes had seen that? What kind of geometry would that be? Window panes are transparent, so several dimensions beyond three may be involved. What if the pane were curved as in a bay window or an automobile’s windshield? A tree frog climbing on a curved car window  could involve some very interesting mathematics to say the least.


Descartes made a connection between algebra and geometry sometime in the 1600s. Not until the 1900s would these insights make their way into ordinary textbooks.


Three hundred years. That’s quite a bit of lag time.


What if René Descartes had heard a particularly good solo by, say, Django Reinhardt, and truly had understood its implications? What kind of geometry would he have evolved then, and where are the mathematicians today who will attempt to map such a set of variables? A kind of geometry of sound?


During World War II, because metal was scarce, the Academy Awards were made of wood.


A normal raindrop falls at about seven miles per hour.


Jen Sterling is back from a month in India. See her glow?


Ten percent of frequent flyers say they never check their luggage when flying. I am one of those. It’s hell in the overheads, though.


A violin is made of seventy separate pieces of wood.


Gramophones or phonographs or Victrolas amplified their sound through large horns. To cut down on the noise, people would often stuff a woolen sock in the horn, hence the phrase “put a sock in it.”


Arr, belay there, mates, avast, it be Mary Bridget Davies with the old grog.


Reindeer have scent glands between their hind toes. The glands help them leave scent trails for the herd. Researchers say the odor smells cheesy.


What the researchers ignore is that all body odors of all animals smell cheesy. All of mine do anyway, and to me the skunk odor definitely has cheesy overtones.


In fact, just a whisper of skunk odor is quite pleasurable, and many parfumiers (is this a word?) use the odor of a civet, close relative of the skunk, as a medium or binder for their fragrances.


Lanolin, an essential ingredient of many expensive cosmetics, is, in its native form, a foul cheese smelling, waxy tar-like substance extracted from the fleece of sheep.


Remember Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask?) by Woody Allen? Gene Wilder, a psychiatrist, fell in love with his patient, a sheep, and when she finally cut him off, he would buy bottles of Woolite (which contained lanolin) just so he could remember her? So sad.


One of the first lightbulbs was a thread of sheep’s wool coated with carbon.


There is a young trio of Manouche gypsies, the Gebo-swing, who do a good version of The Sheik of Araby. The bass player is left handed and he has strung the bass appropriately which is very unusual. These are the inheritors of the Django Reinhardt/Stochelo Rosenberg tradition.


My brother Lee on the left. France, 1965.


The giant squid is the largest creaure without a backbone. It weighs up to two and a half tons and grows up to fifty-five feet long. Each eye is a foot or more in diameter.


One of the first portraits I did of Elise Piliwale.


My friend Clark Walker’s image of Marilyn.


Whales, mice, elephants, humans and giraffes all have seven neck vertebrae.


Is that bump you feel on your back between your shoulders… is that bump called the seventh cervical vertebra? Medical people often calll it c7.


This vertebra is an important drawing landmark on the body, especially in profile.


Ben and I in Dubrovnik, Dalmatian coast, 2011.


The shrimp’s heart is in its head.


Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952. He declined. So, who said he wasn’t smart?


Elise Piliwale, charcoal. This is before I knew how to paint, so it has to be some time in the 1990s.


Rocky Racoon lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota.


Sam Houston Andrew, Jr. 1953.


The Wrights flew this plane lying down. This is the actual aircraft. Can you believe how new it looks? My father was born not too long after the brothers flew this plane, and, in his lifetime, was responsible for the radar and electronics in B52s. From the Wright plane to the Boeing 52 is an impressive rate of evolution by any measure, and it happened in one lifetime.


The Wright Brothers’ first plane was called The Bird of Prey.


“I then called at Drury Lane for Mr. Garrick. He was vastly good to me. ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘you will be a very great man. And when you are so, remember the year 1763. I want to contribute my part towards saving you. And pray, will you fix a day when I shall have the pleasure of treating you with tea?’ I fixed next day. ‘Then, Sir,’ said he, ‘the cups shall dance and the saucers skip.’ “

James Boswell 20 January 1763.


Women used to be allowed to live on navy ships. When they gave birth, the event often happened behind a canvas screen near the midship gun. If the paternity was uncertain, the child was entered in the log as “son of a gun,” the origin of this common phrase.


Alexander the Great lived in Macedonia, which not long ago was part of Yugoslavia. He was an epileptic and he was tutored by Aristotle. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Alexander. That’s a kind of family tree of… wisdom?


My father loved these beautiful cars. This Packard might very well live in Edd Hart’s hometown in Ohio.


My brother Bill about 1981.


The best woman I have ever known. Elise Piliwale.


A hamlet is a village without a church, and a town is not a city until it has a cathedral.


Butterflies taste with their hind feet.


Warren, Ohio.


Oh, Puissant Potentate, Please hear my Prayer. Prohibit Pestilence.


It takes eight and a half minutes for light to get from the sun to earth. All totaled, the sunlight that strikes the earth at any given moment weighs as much as an ocean liner.


The billionth digit of pi is nine.


A blind chameleon still changes color to match its environment.


“Satellite” in German is “Trabant.”


From a painting that no longer exists.


I once had a friend who seriously argued this.


I’m surprised there have been that many.

It has been calculated that in the last 3,500 years, there have been only 230 years of peace throughout what we laughingly call the “civilized world.”


In the 1700s in London, you could purchase insurance against going to hell.

That‘s the Protestant, Episcopalian, Presbyterian version. In the Middle Ages, you could buy your way out of Purgatory by obtaining “indulgences,” papal or otherwise. They were for sale… anywhere.


Pilgrims ate popcorn at the first Thanksgiving dinner.


Elise Piliwale sings Gospel.


Dominique et le frimeur in Paris at La Boule Noire.


There has never been a president from the Air Force or Marine Corps, although Ronald Reagan was in the Army Air Corps, and so was my father.


Two of dad’s men working with typical Signal Corps equipment of the time.


Peter Albin, serious.


Teressa in her limousine.


Ben Nieves, always willing to lend a hand.


Oscar Peterson and Art Tatum do their genius versions of this tune. I love how everyone treats the introduction. That is the place for exotic scales and harmonies, since the tune itself is so foursquare and traditional.


People don’t always say “hello” when they answer the phone. When the first regular phone service was established in 1878, people said

”ahoy.”  In Italy they say “pronto,” ready. I say “This is Sam.” In Japan they say “moshi, moshi,” and in China they say “wei, wei.”


One of the reasons that marijuana is illegal today is because cotton growers in the 1930s lobbied against hemp farmers. They saw hemp as competition. Everyone probably knows that both Washington and Jefferson grew hemp on their property, yes? I mean, just for the rope, you understand.


One hundred sixty cars can drive side by side on the Monumental Axis in Brazil, the world’s widest road.


The abbreviation ORD for Chicago’s O’Hare Airport comes from the old name Orchard Field.


James Gurley, the Pontiff.


Someone should tell Rick Perry this:

The slogan on New Hampshire license plates is “Live Free or Die.” These license plates are made by inmates at the state prison in Concord.


Not sure if Rick Perry has been here:

There is an airport in Kolkata (Calcutta) named Dum Dum Airport.


“Vatos.” Mexican slang. “Guys.”




Mrs. Grundy and Lipstick at The New Yorker offices.


My brother Bill’s 1949 Simca 8 in France, the land of Jeanne d’Arc.


There are more statues of Joan of Arc (Jeanne d’Arc) than anyone else in the world. In France alone there are 40,000 of them.


The Babylonian bride’s parents were required to keep the groom supplied with mead, a honey flavored wine, for a month following the wedding. This is the origin of the word “honeymoon.”


Methane gas can often be seen bubbling up from the bottom of ponds. It is produced by the decomposition of dead plants and animals in the mud.


The tip of a bullwhip moves so fast that it breaks the sound barrier. The crack of the whip is actually a tiny sonic boom.


Ben and I on the bridge. Mostar, Bosnia, 2011.


The Netherlands and the United States both have anthems that do not mention their countries’ names.


After the Popeye comic strip started in 1931, spinach consumption went up by 33 % in the United States.


Romans only numbered the daylight hours. They began at six in the morning which was the first hour. So, three in the afternoon was the ninth hour (in Latin “nona”).


There was a monastic order so devout that they declared that they would not eat their first meal until “nona,”” three in the afternoon. They rang a bell to announce that hour.


Monks are humans too, though, and as they became hungrier “nona” came earlier. That bell was heard sooner and sooner until it rang around midday.


The villagers mocked the hungry monks and declared that midday was “nona,” noon. This is the origin of the word.


Peter proposed to Cheyenne on his knees at The Spanish Steps in Rome a month ago. Talk about romantic. Mary Bridget Davies, Ben Nieves and I visted the Spanish Steps last August and the scene was so chaotic that you could do just about anything there, including asking your very beautiful girlfriend to marry you. Congratulations, Peter. Love to you, Cheyenne.


The words “racecar” and “kayak” are palindromes. So is “eve.”

So is “tattarrattat,” a word invented by James Joyce in Ulysses (1921) for a knock on the door. If you roll the R in tattarrattat and say the T the way the Irish do, you will get a sound very close to the sound of a knocking on a door.

Tattarrattat may be the longest palindrome in English.


Harvard uses Yale brand locks on her university buildings. Yale uses Best brand on hers.


I’ve been obsessing about this tune and Up A Lazy River. Hoagy Carmichael’s tune, like him, is rangy and craggy. This one The Sheik of Araby is the opposite, stepwise, much narrower in scope. Everyone played this song. Django Reinhardt, Charlie Christian and let’s not forget Spike Jones. THE BEATLES. The Beatles did this tune. John sang it. I’ve often thought the Beatles were such great songwriters because they really knew everyone else’s work so well. They knew popular music because they performed more songs from more eras than anyone. Just a theory, but it seems reasonable.


I’m going to Cleveland to make a CD. See you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Moe’s, Santa Cruz, and Georges, San Rafael.

27 November 2011




Playing at The Monterey Jazz Festival a little while ago.


Stefanie and I drove down to Santa Cruz. We went by Half Moon Bay and took Highway 1 on into Santa Cruz. What a beautiful trip.


We played at Moe’s, a great little place.


We did two sets, and shook some cobwebs out.



It was great to be playing again.


Stefanie loaned me her Mesa amplifier. It’s that little thing sitting there by Tom Finch. It had such a great sound.


A town called Davenport, population 375. The land here is so beautiful.


Some of the people at Moe’s, including Peggy Pettigrew Stewart.


Last night we played at Georges in San Rafael, California.


Lynn Asher came down to sing Bye, Bye, Baby with us. It was so good to see her.


What a fun gig this was. All of our old friends. Everything worked, what a wonderful night.


With Chloé Price, talented singer, sweet woman.


Albert Ellis and Bernie down the street from Georges.




Peter Albin right before the first set.


Tom Finch in character.


I asked Tal Morris to sit in. I have known him and Tom since they were boys, and they’ve always been talented and interesting people.


I want to apologize right here to all the people in these photographs. I shot them with an iPhone in very low light and a chaotic atmosphere, so the snaps are terrible but I wanted to get some kind of record of who they are and of this special night. Kristin, for example, is very beautiful, but I moved in so close to her trying to get enough light.


Brad Jenkins’ friend Veda.


Brad played well tonight, especially on Shaky Ground.


Peter’s daughter Jennifer and her friend. I promise to hold the camera a little farther away in future.


This couple knows where Minden, Naveda, is, the only people I’ve met so far who do.


Old friend Paul Price who brought Chloé and Kevin to see us.


Shannon Cinnamon McCloud who is much more beautiful than this.


Peggy, Rosie and Shannon. Ditto.


Catalina Hansen and her very intelligent friend.


Enticing Cat.


Kurt Huget played well tonight on Shaky Ground and Down On Me.


Lizzie Getz whom I have known all her life. She brought her friend. I like Lizzie’s hat.


Alan Weiss who used to live with Chet Helms and me in Bernal Heights, San Francisco.


James Pell and his sweet girlfriend.


Lovely woman.


Many people who came to see us were born long after we recorded Piece of My Heart.


My grandfather Albert Mann.


I have been obsessed with this tune lately. I don’t know why.  Also The Sheik of Araby from about the same period.


They don’t make Republicans like this any more. Dwight Eisenhower was a real soldier and not a chicken hawk.


Heading on down the tracks. See you soon.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


A Prayer of Thanksgiving.

24 November 2011


There are so many things to be thankful for today.


Audrey’s special blend of beauty, quality and charm.


The sanctuary of sleep.


People who give themselves in performance.


The grace and mystery of life.




Classic automobile design and license plates from Portugal.


The flavor and variety all over the world.


The whimsical, fey beauty of some women.


Ideograms and how they give us complete meaning in one character.


A good five cent cigar.


Thankful for the beauty that is in abstract design.


So lucky to be alive and to be here.


All the fire that is in life.


And the ability to quench that fire when need be.


Thank you for rhythm and time throughout the universe.


For the birds of the air with their style in flight.


The natural patterns that are everywhere.


When I first lived in France, the franc was worth about twenty cents. That was something to be thankful for. Five to the dollar about 1962.


The woody sound of the Gibson jazz guitars.


Las cubanas, hay algo mas que decir?


Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who said and wrote such wonderful things.


I was thankful in the eighth grade when a priest gave me a beautiful harmonica because I was “the most musical boy in the room.” Not true, actually, but I took the harmonica anyway and played Christmas songs on it for years.


Thankful for hats which I never could wear. My wife Elise Piliwale can wear any hat and make it look beautiful. If the manufacturer of that hat saw Elise in it, s/he would offer her money right away just to go around wearing that hat.


We give thanks today for designs that can be new and beautiful too.


Thank you whoever is responsible for the irrepressible Jerry Lee Lewis, his genius and the fire in his soul.


And for the machines.


Who seem to take on a life of their own.


Thanksgiving for all the hunting horns, their sounds, their whole family of overtones and overtures.


For the forefathers and foremothers who show us the way.


I am giving thanks for all the modes of beauty, all the flowers in the garden.


And, yes, for pasta in its myriad and delicious diversity.


Thank you, all you painters who have gone before and showed the way.


Especially to Rembrandt who persisted through some very rough times and reached a higher plateau toward the end of his life.


To Rossini who wrote all those singable melodies and fit them to stories glorious and giddy.


We in Big Brother and the Holding Company give thanks that we were allowed to go to Russia in 1995 and see that the Russians were still as alive and spirit seeking as they were in novels of Dostoyefsky and Tolstoy.


Very thankful for dizzy distractions in the middle of momentous undertakings.


Today we will be thankful too for the aimless silliness of life.


And we will remember the serious, solemn Schopenhauers among us too.


Freedom, too, is so easy to overlook, and, every moment that we are free is a glorious moment, and we should be mindful of that always.


Thank you whoever invented the shoe, thank you very much. How clever.


We are grateful for order and well proportioned elegance everywhere.


Manmade and inherited.


For that deep toned sound of the Swiss bell, full and truly musical.


For the whistle of the teakettle on the hob.


Oh, and by all means, let’s not forget Tina Fey.


Mostly I am thankful for Elise Piliwale, her warmth, her intelligence, her generosity and kindness every day.


Thank you always for being there.

Sam Andrew.

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Cioppino or Champuru?

20 November 2011



I did an interview with Engrid Whisenant today. She is a PhD candidate in Music Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno. Thirty years ago Peter Hugh Nash of the University of Waterloo wrote “Music Regions and Regional Music,” the first scholarly article on music authored by a professional geographer, and the field has grown since then. Engrid is researching Virginia City, and specifically the Red Dog Saloon, as a nexus for music and other bohemian activity.


Ladies and Gentlemen, Stefanie Keys who will be our fabulous chanteuse this weekend at Moe’s in Santa Cruz and Georges in San Rafael, California.


This is Ochi Shiho-san. She is quite talented and very well known in Japan where she lives. Shiho-san came to record with us in Sausalito, and then, a little later, she sang a couple of songs with us at a very important event in Woodstock, New York. Our usual singer Sophia Ramos had the courage and the bigness of heart to give Shiho-san a lot of space on the Woodstock stage. This is when Sophia proved herself to me as a lionness of kindness and generosity of spirit. You will see a lot of photographs of Shiho-san below.


The first second I saw Shiho-san.


Lynn Asher says she will sing a song with us at Geroge’s, 26 November.

Can’t wait. What song should it be, Lynn? Bye, Bye, Baby?


Any fool can make some rules,

But someone wise will know they’re lies.


We have three hundred different hamburgers here at every fast food joint in the country, and yet we are supposed to get along with only two political parties? Long ago we gave up recording on two track machines.


“Washington Irving.”

Answer to the question “Who was the first president, Max?”


With Superfly (Shiho-san) and Tom Finch.

Ed Earley. He’s played with everyone. James Brown, Albert King, even me. Unfailing good cheer and positive thoughts, he always wants to help and he keeps the ball rolling in the good direction. Ed Earley is a National Treasure. Beyond measure.


Telly Savalas was Jennifer Anniston’s godfather.


In a hotel lobby in São Paulo with Natalie.


You want to try to win a war?

Win an earthquake?

Why? What for?


Other than the Book of Leviticus, you won’t find many jokes in the Bible.


Steve Martin was born on the day that Japan surrendered, WWII.

Examples of cliché over use and brain under use:

People who

call themselves “yours truly.”

speak of themselves in the third person.

say “we” when they mean “I.”

say that something they did is “life affirming.”

say “ongoing,” “early on,” “on the ground” and “as we speak.”


Chloe Lowery and Eliise Piliwale, Hawaii.


Is Sade a sadist?

Beats me.


With Nikita Germaine.


No, i haven’t read the New Testament, but I read the Old Testament, and  I liked it very, very much, he said sheepishly.


“Henry Kissinger may have wished I had presented him as a combination of Charles DeGaulle and Disraeli, but I didn’t… out of respect for DeGaulle and Disraeli. I described him as a cowboy because that is how he described himself. If I were a cowboy I would be offended.”    (Oriana Fallaci)


I wonder who’s Kissinger now?


The first kiss was delivered by god when she breathed life into Adam.


The Romans had three different types of kiss: basium (the kiss on the lips); osculum (a friendly kiss on the cheek) and suavium, the soul kiss.


Those who couldn’t write made their mark with an X. The demonstrative ones would then kiss the X to show love, sincerity, deep feeling. The Romans sealed their contracts with a kiss. XXX.


Polar bears kiss. So do kangaroos. Chimpanzees French-kiss. Sea lions rub mouths. A male mouse licks the mouth of a female mouse. An elephant sometimes brushes his trunk against the female’s lips.


Lord Nelson said “Kiss me, Hardy,” as he was dying in the Battle of Trafalgar. Manly historians, ignorant of historical context, have claimed that what the Admiral really said was “Kismet, Hardy.” Hardy, little dreaming that he would be the ancestor of Stan Laurel’s partner, Oliver Hardy, heard Nelson’s request and kissed him. “Now I am satisfied,” quoth the Admiral and promptly expired.


The film with the most kisses is the 1926 Don Juan in which John Barrymore performed 191 kisses with different women.


The first genuine French kiss in a Hollywood film was between Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty in the 1961 Splendor In The Grass.


Eskimos rub noses. Polynesians like rubbing noses, but also enjoy the mitakuku, which involves biting hairs from eyebrows. Chinese touch each other’s cheeks and then sniff. Pacific Islanders inhale each other’s breath. In Gambia a man holds the back of a lover’s hand against his nose.


Kissing a frog doesn’t necessarily get you a prince, but it might get rid of your cold sore, thanks to a chemical secreted from frog skins.


The first kiss in an Indian film didn’t take place until 1978’s Love Sublime, when Shashi Kapoor and Zeenat Aman embraced. An Indian minister described the kissing scenes as “an insult” and called for a mass protest.


Every musician, however modest, keeps a montrous ego chained like a wild beast in the isolation chamber of his soul.


Ben Stiller was taught how to swim by the Pips. Not Gladys Knight, but the Pips.


When you reach a certain age, you get better and better at recognizing a mistake you make again and again.


Sakai, such a wonderful singer.


Turn off the TV, don’t read the news. Why listen to yesterday’s blues?


This is Mari Mack. She sang with us once in Woodacre, California. She and I have been trying to plan a duo gig for sometime now, and I hope it happens soon. i am trying to get her to come down and sing a song with us at Georges in San Rafael this Saturday.


Singers aren’t exactly people. They’re a whole lot of people trying to be one person.


Opera in English is like the NFL in italian.


No sane man will dance.     Cicero (106-43  B.C.)


If you don’t take good care of your body, where are you going to live?



Wilhelmina Mann Andrew, 1939.


Note to Pizza Man: Thou shalt not admit adultery.


I never really trust a man until I know I have his pecker in my pocket.

(Lyndon Baines Johnson)


James Gandolfini and Samuel L. Jacson play the trumpet.


What to do in case of emergency:

1.     Grab your coat,

2.     Get your hat,

3.     Leave your worries on the doorstep.

4.     Just direct your feet,

5.     To the sunny side of the street.


Elise Piliwale, San Geronimo, California.


Everything weighs one percent less at the equator.


Alfred Hitchcock refused to learn to drive for fear of being stopped by a policeman.


William Shatner has a Doberman pinscher named Kirk.


The most impossible item to flush is a Ping-Pong ball.



How many roads must a man travel down before he admits he is lost?


Help! I’m a prisoner of nature and nurture.


Elise’s spiritual photograph of a lonely chair.


Because of the rotation of the earth, an object can be thrown farther if it is thrown west.


Tasmania has the cleanest air in the inhabited world.


Months that begin on a Sunday will always have a Friday the 13th.


The saltwater crocodile kills 2,000 people a year because it is fast in and out of the water. It can outrun a galloping horse and kills in seconds.


Predigital observation:

Fear is that little darkroom of the soul where negatives are developed.


Diane Lotny, Kate Pierson and Elise Piliwale.


Kirsten Dunst turned down Mena Suvari’s role in American Beauty.


“Everything that can be invented has been invented.”

Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.


“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?”

Harry Warner of Warner Brothers, 1927.


“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”

Western Union internal memo, 1876.


Elise Piliwale and Stephanie Valenti.


Tabo Koichi-san and Ochi Shiho-san.


Prince William is a bungee jumper.


With Narada Michael Walden and Mario Cipollina.


Judy Garland tried hypnosis for her stage fright but found that Irish whiskey worked better.


Elise Piliwale and Donnie Baldwin.


Banjo players a little better known for some other activity:

Steve Martin, George Segal, EwanMcGregor.


Susan Zelinsky was going to sing Down On Me and Hold Me with us this Saturday at George’s in San Rafael. She called today with an obvious case of laryngitis, so we are going to miss her this time.


“There is no sweeter sound than the crumbling of one’s fellow man.”

Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

And doesn’t “Groucho” seem rather too innocent a name for such a man?


Formula for success: Rise early, Work hard, Win the lottery.


The trouble with first thing in the morning is that it comes too early in the day.


With Buddha, bassist beyond bad.


If you have a job without difficulties, frustrations, annoyances, and a boss who is stupider than you, then you don’t have a job.


On Hallowe’en, some people broke into my house and replaced everything with identical copies. When I pointed this out to my wife, she said, “Do I know you?”

Gravity can be slow, heavy, awkward and ponderous, but it’s the law.


Capital punishment is our society’s recognition of the sanctity of human life.

(Orrin Hatch, Utah)


So, I am just left with this one existential question…


Was it a cioppino or a champuru?

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company


Occupy San Francisco.

13 November 2011



I’ve occupied Aroma Café for years now. It’s a wonderful place.

Photo: Shelley Champine.


Today we’re going to occupy San Francisco.


My wife Elise Piliwale is a nurse and she volunteered to Occupy San Francisco, or, actually, the front steps of the Wells Fargo Bank at California and Montgomery, so of course I had to go out of curiosity and, I suppose, empathy.


Elise spends many hours of the week at Saint Francis Hospital, 900 Hyde Street, San Francisco. This is one of the Catholic Health Care West hospitals.


She parks across the street at this garage and then she goes to the tenth floor in the hospital, where she is an oncology nurse.


Saint Francis Hospital has a widely varying set of guests. Some of Elise’s people are from here.


And others, mainly plastic surgery candidates, are from here, Nob Hill, but all have in common that they are very demanding people. Not shy at all about what they want.


On Thursday 3 November, Elise and I drove to where Market Street meets the Ferry Building and I dropped her off to go and join her fellow protestors at Justin Herman Plaza. I went to park the car, walk down Market Street, and join her. I’m related to Vitales, so of course this hotel caught my eye.


On that walk to meet Elise at the Federal Reserve Bank,101 Market, I thought about a lot of old friends, like Jay Blakesberg and Karen Lyberger.


And other old friends too, some of them inanimate but still dear.

This is the Hobart Building, designed by Willis Polk. I used to play guitar on the top floors of this place when I was 18.


Another old friend, the Mechanics Monument, Market and Battery. Douglas Tilden made this sculpture, commissioned by James Mervyn Donahue in honor of his father Peter Donahue, who created the city’s first iron foundry. Oh, if this iron could speak.


Douglas Tilden, sculptor of this monument, had scarlet fever when he was four. So did I, but I got off easier. Tilden was rendered a deaf mute by the disease. He made many beautiful sculptures all over the City, lovely work, energetic, well done.


When this Mechanics Monument was installed, all of the narrow minded people of the day decided that the mechanics needed trousers. Ahhh, Republicans. They are so interesting, aren’t they? More corrupt than anyone else, yet always demanding a puritanical double standard in public life. Saner forces soon prevailed and the monument exists today as Tilden made it.


I remember this building from walking by her when I was 20, and she is a real survivor. One of her walls was built when the 1906 earthquake happened, and it survived the shake. Then, the engineers dynamited that wall to try to create a fire barrier to save the Palace Hotel. Uh, uh, she wasn’t going. The wall withstood the explosives. So, they built the rest of the Monadnock around that wall and here she is today, watching Occupy San Francisco. She will probably survive that too.


I walked past the Matson Building at 245 Market Street. Clad in glazed tan terra cotta with green accents, she is a beauty. There are a lot of nautical images that relate to the Matson Steamship lines, seashells, fish, anchors and steamships. Ionic capitals outlined by ropes. This is another old lady from San Francisco.


I finally reach the trysting place with Elise, and everyone is here… everyone but Elise.


“Where are the nurses?” I asked someone at The Federal Reserve Bank. “Oh, they marched up California Street,” she said. “I think they’re at Wells Fargo.”


I crossed Market and started walking west up the California Street hill.


It seems as if every block in San Francisco tells me something about my life in this City. One of my attorneys once had an office on California. i used to come and ask him if I could just look at my money for a second. He usually let me.


I pass Leidesdorff Alley and think of William Leidesdorff (1810-1848) San Francisco’s most prominent early Black citizen. He built a warehouse here at California and Leidesdorff, which was once, hard to believe now, the waterfront. William Leidesdorff was flamboyant, alive, he was only 38. He crowded a lot into that short life. Imagine all the sounds and sights that he experienced in that early San Francisco in this very alley.


William Leidesdorff served as U.S. Vice Consul during the Mexican rule of San Francisco, and also as city treasurer, councilman and member of the school committee. He is buried at Mission Dolores.


I walked half a block farther west up California Street and there was a crowd of nurses and Elise’s bright shining face in the center of them.


I walk around the crowd to find her and there is Bob King old friend from Aroma Café there with her. Hey, it’s a party.


Elise and Bob and a lot of other people are yelling things like this.


There are speakers at this rally, some quite good, all interesting.


Everyone says, “What do they want, what do they want?” Well, here are a few things they want… some trivial, some essential, some silly, some long, long overdue.


This is Jon Mill who organized the protest, Saint Francis Hospital division.


The weather cooperated. In fact, very soon after this was over, the heavens opened and poured down a gentle rain to remind us that god had blessed our cause… or something like that anyway.

Lots of nurses.



Elise and Bob returning to the starting place, 101 Market Street.


If people are pushed much further, they are going to start voting with their money.


There’s the Ferry Building 1896-1898. When I was six, I walked down Market Street, this street, with my parents and I remember this building from then.


Back at the starting point, Elise sees some old friends and colleagues.


There are many curious similarities to the Tea Party movement, both grass roots, both leaderless, but the adherents of each don’t resemble each other at all, in education, dress, anything.


After the party was over, we drove to the Embarcadero and waved goodbye to the Bay Bridge, who is having her 75th birthday this week.


Around the top of San Francisco to get on The Golden Gate Bridge.


Through the rainbow and into Marin County.


There’s Sausalito. Yes, we’re on our way home.


We leave Highway 101 at San Rafael, and get on Third Street which will change into Sir Francis Drake and take us the ten miles to our house.


After we pass Fairfax, we get into San Geronimo Valley and see Flanders Farm off to the right.


Now we’re home.


That was an interesting day.


I’ll see you next week.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company



6 November 2011

You set your clocks back an hour, right?

The sun is shining down today,

What a lovely time to play.

A painting flows with life and change,

Good thing too, ‘cause this one’s strange.

The atria are the upper chambers of the heart. They receive blood from the body and lungs, and fill the ventricles (the lower chambers of the heart).

The atrium in a Roman house was the central space around which the other rooms were organized. “Ater” is one of the Latin words for “black,” and the atrium originally was where the hearth was located, so the ceiling over the fire would be blackened with smoke since there was a hole to let the smoke out as in a teepee. (There is an old English word “atrabilious” which means black bile.) Later, the atrium became a clear, open space, often with a pool and the ceiling still open to the sky.

The Vindolanda tablets named after the Roman Fort Vindolanda in Britain are the oldest surviving handwritten documents and the first letters written in ink during the Roman period. A scribe wrote the main body of this letter and then Claudia Severa added in her own hand a brief personal message to her friend Sulpicia Lepidina.

“Claudia Severa to her Lepidina greetings. On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival.” (Then Claudia writes this in her own hand) “Give my greetings to your Cerialis. My Aelius and my little son send him their greetings.”

This is the oldest document we have in a woman’s handwriting.

Romana est.

Bris is the Yiddish for the Hebrew brit milah, meaning covenant of the circumcision, and represents the Jewish covenant with God. If the baby boy is the first child in the family, there is a redemption of the first born, or pidyon ha-ben, commonly pronounced pidna ben in Yiddish. The child must be redeemed from a Kohen (member of the priestly tribe) with five silver coins.

(Dale Burkhardt’s drawing of Bill Graham and Janis Joplin.)

Euphemisms are curious. White meat and dark meat for breast and thigh now sound more politically and socially incorrect than the terms they were meant to soften.

Big Brother and the Holding Company played some of our first gigs at The Matrix in Cow Hollow, San Francisco. Marty Balin and his father Joe Buchwald opened the place August 1965. The Matrix was on Fillmore Street at Pixley Alley near Lombard. Before we played, I used to love to walk in this area and see the beautiful, individual, sometimes eccentric buildings that abound here. The Matrix itself was a renovated pizza shop, so nothing special, but we liked playing there and so did a lot of other people.

Bareilles Farm House, 2940 Octavia Street, 1870, one of the last dairy farm houses standing in Cow Hollow, San Francisco.

Cow Hollow was named for the dairy farms and gardens that populated the area in the 1800s. Fishermen lived here too, since the northern shore of San Francisco was much closer than it is now. When settlers first visited Spring Valley, as it was known in the mid-1800s, the area around what is now Union Street was predominantly sand hills and grassy meadows with a large lagoon fed by freshwater springs. Cow Hollow is very roughly between The Marina District on the north and Pacific Heights to the south, and Russian Hill and The Presidio, east and west.

Illa potio maxima esta me visa. (Latin)

That is the largest drink I have ever seen. (John Till)

The custom of a host drinking to a friend’s health originated with the Greeks (6th century BC) to assure guests that the wine had not been poisoned. The Roman custom of droppiing a burnt piece of toast into a cup of wine is the origin of the verbal usage. Charcoal can reduce a liquid’s acidity, and a blackened piece of bread added to an inferior, slightly vinegary wine can render it more mellow and palatable. Our word “toast” comes from the Latin tostus, meaning parched or roasted.

Here’s a toast with a moral:

“Oh, to be seventy again.”

(Oliver Wendell Holmes, sitting across from a pretty woman when he was 85.)

Japanese/Chinese kanji for “heart.” Notice that this is a drawing of the heart. This character by itself is pronounced “kokoro” or, in combination with other words, “SHIN.”

Shinzo no kodo. (Japanese)

The beating of the heart.

Here’s a man after my own heart:

“Why, that’s a hundred miles away. That’s a long way to go just to eat.”

(William Faulkner explaining why he declined President Kennedy’s invitation to dine with forty-nine Nobel laureates.)

“Some good pictures come out of Hollywood. God knows how, but they do.” (Faulkner)

No one is a fool all the time, but everyone is a fool sometime.

A stela is a slab or tablet, usually stone, engraved with an inscription and/or a decorative relief. Egyptians made stelae to celebrate historical events, to declare the examption of certain groups from taxation or mandatory labor, and, most commonly, to commemorate the dead.

And then there’s Stela Mandel.

The Coxhead House, 2421 Green Street, San Francisco, designed by Ernest Coxhead, built 1891. This was the architect’s own house.

Architects at this time were piling English motifs on top of Spanish, with some Colonial and Egyptian ideas thrown in, Coxhead was ahead of his time, influenced by the Arts and Crafts architecture in England, where he was born and trained. There are other Coxheads to be found throughout Pacific Heights and down the Peninsula.

You mean it’s not that way already?

“I’d like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry.” Joseph Heller (1923-1999)

Still, to this day, when I get on an elevator in Austria or Germany, I see this sign on the doorpost: Thyssen Krupp.

Krupp made this.

The businessmen survive. They always do. They give nothing. They get everything.

That’s the way it is. That’s they way it will always be. They rule the earth.

The Metropolitan Opera House opened, with a performance of Charles Gounod’s Faust at Broadway and 39th Street, New York City, 22 October 1883.

William H. Vanderbilt, smarting from snubs by society (Beekmans, Bayards, Schuylers) at the Academy of Music on 14th Street, built an opera house as grand as any in Vienna, and created a veritable palace in what is today the Garment District. The “Met” was moved in 1966 to its present location at Lincoln Center.

Yiddish: Fun vanen shtamstu? Where are you from?

Invasion of the Body Snatchers. When you say, “I’m going to sleep now,” do you ever think of this film? Now I am going to become unconscious, and will have no command over anything I know and understand until the earth rolls into the sun again.

The 1950s version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers was filmed in Mill Valley, California.

Fifty percent of the amount of laundry detergent recommended by the manufacturer is plenty. This rule also applies to toothpaste and many other products as well. Especially toothpaste.

Ma ora la coscienza la tormentava.

(But now her conscience tormented her.)

In the early 1800s France and Britain were at war and had no hesitation in boarding American vessels and impressing seamen into service. Given this and other violations of the rights of neutrals during the Napoleonic Wars, the American congress passed the Embargo of 1807 which forbade all exports. Needless to say, manufacturers in New England were not happy with this and they opposed the Embargo Act, taking the clever name O Grab Me, which is embargo spelled backwards. Eventually even supporters of the embargo began to use the term.

Ansel Adams was a concert pianist before he was a photographer.

“Either through figures or through landscapes I wish to express, not sentimental melancholy, but serious sorrow. In short, I want to reach so far that people will say of my work: He feels deeply, he feels tenderly – notwithstanding my so-called roughness, perhaps even because of it.”

Vincent van Gogh in a letter to his brother Theo.

If you laid all the lawyers end to end at the Equator, it might be a good idea just to leave them there.

Zigzag to outrun a crocodile.

If a state constitution does not permit its citizens to obtain divorces, that state must nonetheless recognize divorces granted in other states. Article IV, Section I posits that each state must respect and honor the state laws and court orders of the other states, even when its own laws would not have permitted it. This is called the “full faith and credit” provision of the Constitution.

Lincoln was succeeded by his vice president, Andrew Johnson, who was born in 1808. Kennedy was succeeded by his vice president, Lyndon Johnson, who was born in 1908.

The Bible is the most shoplifted book in the United States.

Will making love cure a headache?

In general, sex alleviates pain. But there is always the orgasm migraine.

Having a headache is an excuse for avoiding sexual relations, even though they can stop the headache. Sometimes, we’re really just not in the mood to get frisky with a partner and you may want to watch men wanking instead. But if men wanking gets you going, then that could clear your migraine too! Any orgasm will do the trick. Sex, in fact, raises the level of serotonin and dopamine, neurotransmitters that give a sensation of well being. It then kind of makes more sense as to why those that have more sex tend to be a little happier, then think about those that could feature on or somewhere alike, by logic they’d be extremely happy and healthy!

There exists, though, a kind of headache that breaks out during the sexual act. Physicians call this the orgasm migraine and it afflicts 1.1 % of the population. It can present itself at the beginning of the act and intensify until the culmination, or the migraine can suddenly explode after the orgasm. This migraine is three times more frequent in men than in women, but the causes aren’t clear. It could be the internal pressure in the skull (which we see in physical activity of any kind) and the altered respiration during the sex act.

A blue whale’s tongue weighs more than an elephant.

“Wen you’re a married man, Samivel, you’ll understand a great many things as you don’t understand now; but vether it’s worth while goin’ through so much to learn so little, as the charity-boy said ven he got to the end of the alphabet, is a matter o’ taste.” Mr. Weller, The Pickwick Papers, Dickens.

Champuru is an Okinawan word that means “harmonious mixture,” and it describes well the mélange of religions, including Shintoism, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Christianity, animism and ancestor worship that have all played a part in Okinawan history. The red letters say “Champuru market,” or “chanpuru ichiba,” if you prefer.

Champuru can be translated as a “mix.” Thus, champuru foods are a mixture of various ingredients that are thrown together in a frying pan or wok and fried. A specific champuru is usually named for its main ingredient, although there are many other elements. The most common champuru found in restaurants on Okinawa is goya (bittermelon) champuru, good in summer months.

Champuru has become a name. This photographer Champuru captured this image in Harajuku, Japan.

When Barry Gordy heard Tracks of My Tears, he declared it a masterpiece. Smokey Robinson sang the song in performance and audiences would actually break into tears. The Who’s 1966 hit “Substitute” began when Pete Townshend heard the line “Although she may be cute/She’s just a substitute,” and became obsessed with that one word.

Adult humans have 206 bones. I have drawn every single one of them… many times.

The Chrysler Building, 405 Lexington Avenue at West 42nd, Manhattan. Designed by William Van Allen, 1928-1930.

Commissioned by Walter P. Chrysler, the Chrysler building held the title of the World’s Tallest Building prior to the 1931 completion of the Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building tower is replete with automotive imagery and symbolism as shown in this photograph by Margaret Bourke White.

Because of its iconic and beautiful design, the height of the building never really mattered.

One of the engineers at Olympic Studios in London built a miniature rotating eight-inch speaker that went in circles like a Leslie. Jimi Hendrix played the tune Little Wing through this speaker and got a beautiful floating, watery effect.

The Japanese/Chinese write the character for “eat” by drawing a big bowl of rice and then a sign over it to tell how it is pronounced:

The Chinese can simply write

and it will mean “eat.”

The Japanese have a highly inflected language, quite similar to Latin, actually, and so they must add native elements to the basic character, the basic word root,

depending on how it is used in a sentence. This is the way the infinitive “to eat” is written.

In Japanese, this character

is pronounced taberu or kuu when it is by itself. In combination with other characters, however, it is pronounced SHOKU or JIKI.

I like this one. Gesshoku

means “lunar eclipse” because the moon is “eaten” by the earth’s shadow.



TAKU (table)

means “dining table.”

Note to vegetarians:

Colonel Saunders made his fortune by fowl means.

OK, I’ll say goodbye now.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company