Brushes With Fame.

25 September 2011





By the 1700s, there was still no way that each item in a set of, say, dinnerware would be consistent in color and quality. One determined man, Josiah Wedgwood, born in 1730 into a family of potters from Staffordshire, England, would soon change that after experimenting with glazes, clay additives and firing techniques. Wedgwood’s perfectly reproducible plates came to the attention of England’s royal court.



Josiah Wedgwood, despite his personal wealth and friendships with European nobility, remained a man of strong democratic views. He publicly supported the American Revolution and was outspoken in his opposition to slavery. An “anti slavery cameo” he produced showed a slave in chains and bore the inscription “Am I not a man and a brother?”



Janet Furman, Tamra Engle, Nusi Decker, Shelley Champine, Glenn Herskowitz, Rob RJ Franco, Dee Myers, Dava Sheridan, Andrew Perrins, Alan Monasch, Tommy Castro and Shannon Cinnamon McCloud’s elbow all came to see me at Aroma Café and while they were there, they talked about the local music vibe.


Reindeer like to eat bananas.


“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”     Richard M. Nixon, 1973.


When a pop fly is hit in an outfielder’s direction, s/he should step back. It’s easier to come forward to catch a ball than back up to it.

For some reason, I see this as akin to the idea that it is better to tune up to the correct pitch than to tune down to it.


Mellila, quid sentis?

Honey, what do you think?


Enrico Caruso sang in the bath, accompanied by a pianist in the next room.


We’ve heard about manbags and mantyhose, but how many of us remember the manhole? Excuse me, the personhole. It’s useful, it’s ubiquitous, and, dammit, it’s about time we paid some attention to this very utilitarian object, always underfoot and seldom given its due.


A serious shortage of ivory prompted a New England manufacturer of ivory billiard balls to offer a $10,000 prize for a suitable substitue. John Wesley Hyatt, won the prize with a product he christened Celluloid, invented by Alexander Parkes who was experimenting with a laboratory chemical, nitrocellulose. He mixed it with camphor and discovered that the compound formed a hard but flexible transparent material. Doctor Parkes was only too glad to sell patent rights for the useless novelty to John Hyatt.

Photo: Don Aters


So, John Wesley Hyatt began making ersatz ivory billiard balls in Newark, New Jersey, but he immediately realized that Celluloid was too versatile a compound for only one application. Hey, it was plastic. It could become anything.


By 1890, Celluloid was a household word in America. Men shot Celluloid billiard balls while wearing high “wipe clean” Celluloid collars, cuffs and shirt fronts.


Women proudly displayed their Celluloid combs, hand mirrors and jewelry. The elderly began to wear the first Celluloid dental plates and children were playing with the world’s first Celluloid toys.


Celluloid was the world’s first plastic. American inventor George Eastman introduced Celluloid photographic film in his Kodak cameras in 1889, and then Thomas Edison conceived of Celluloid strips as just the thing to make motion pictures.


Nomen mihi est Salvator.

My name is Salvador.


Ben Spreng’s wonderful photograph of the living, breathing Manhattan.


Pete Slauson and I did some recording this week, so I decided to photograph Pete’s walls. There is this frame of Phil Lesh staring down at us as we try to stop the tape on time. (Yes, for a while there, we were working with cassettes… so antediluvian.)


Someone threw this vegetation into Pete’s remote truck, and so he just had to try to eat it.


As George Appel (1928) was being strapped into the electric chair, he said to the witnesses, “Well, folks, you’ll soon see a baked Appel.”


Can you believe that we still kill people for killing people? In one hundred years or less, capital punishment will join such other arcane pursuits as pro football in being regarded as incredibly barbaric for their place and time.


Joel Hoekstra’s first band. They did Runaway. Joel is probably the best guitarist I have ever known. Plus, hey, the hair alone is worth it, by Michelle B.


Being a boy requires no experience, but a lot of practice. Noah Murphy.


This is what Germany really looks like. Even the new buildings are half timbered.


Propino tibi salutem !

Cheers !

(I always like to drink to world peace.)


Personal beauty is a greater recommendation than any letter of introduction. (Aristotle)


One should never know too precisely whom one has married. (Nietzsche)


Come ho tentato di spiegare (ma, non deidicherò molto spazio a questo argomento), “MMM-mmm-mmm.”

As I have tried to explain (but, I won’t dedicate a lot of space to this question), “MMM-mmm-mmm.”


When I first met Elise, she and her girlfriend Debbie Bianchi, who now has a new Sedona name that i can’t remember, used to look at flying saucers every night and discourse about their every detail.


The printing of parts and products has the potential to transform manufacturing because it lowers the costs and risks. In a world where economies of scale do not matter any more, mass manufacturing identical items may not be necessary or appropriate, especially as 3D printing allows for customization.


Shannon Cinnamon McCloud at Aroma Café. Summer 2011.


Elise took this photograph of us by the side of a road in Germany.


I once had, and indeed still have, a sort of veneration for this institution. My brother Dan took this photograph.


25 Or 6 To 4 by Chicago refers to the time of day when it was recorded… 25 or 26 to 4 A.M.


Due persone possono avere lo stesso Dna ?

In teoria sì, ma la probabilità è così piccola da far risultare praticamente impossibile il fenomeno.

Can two people have the same DNA ?

In theory, yes, but the probability is so small as to render impossible such a phenomenon.     (Terry Haggerty)


My friend Rick Carroll tells an affecting story about Ku’ulei Nitahara (right, on Okinawa) in his new book Mean High Tide, due out Fall 2012.


The Elise Corner.


It’s hard to know what they’re thinking, isn’t it? They’d be good poker players. Peter Albin and James Gurley.


Way Down Upon the Swami River.


Our little creek becomes a raging torrent in February.


We call it a flight case or a flight bag, but in most other languages the terms for it connote a “wrappiing” or a “slip.”

A guitar in a soft case for flying is called in German die Tasche or die Hülle.

In French, it’s la housse, and,

in Spanish, la envoltura.

Italians call it l’involucro.


If you’re marching in step and marking the times the left foot strikes the ground, a mile will be 1,000 drumbeats. A thousand steps in Latin is “mille passus” and that is the origin of the word “mile.”


Don Aters, Aroma Café, August 2011.


Strange things happen backstage. i remember one night in Bergen, Norway, when… well, I’d better not tell that story. Anyway, Dizzy Gillespie and some of his guys were backstage one night horsing around when one of them fell into Diz’ trumpet, and, oh, mother, twisted it, beyond retwisting it. What to do? Mr. Gillespie had to go on, and in five minutes too. When he tried some of his trademark high notes, he found that he could blow them a little softer because of the new angled piping. That was it. Diz became a convert. All of his future trumpets would be made that way. Still, he watches everyone a little more closely when they’re all backstage. Here’s Dizzy Gillespie acting like a nut with Bird even though his horn is the usual shape. He wrote so many great songs and he was a real musician of high quality.


And Lester Young holding his horn the way they taught him to do in the One O’Clock Band.


College white guy?

Era una frase che non aveva molto senso.

That was a phrase that didn’t make a lot of sense.

(Except to a racist.)


Frankfurt.  I got into a whole religious thing about drawing. I loved that time.


Elise Piliwale and Andra Mitrovich. Deutschland and Norway.


Torsten Maronna. Honorable, decent, hard working, echt Deutsch.


I made this out of clay. One third lifesize.


Velden am Wörthersee, Austria. Elise took this photograph from our hotel room early one morning.


I’m going to give my psychoanalyst one more year, then I’m going to Lourdes.

(Woody Allen)


Ever since he took this photograph, I have been trying to get Jim Marshall to reshoot it with the same people. Elise and I saw a documentary called Great Day In Harlem where they reshot a famous photo of all of the great jazz players who had taken a photograph on the same front stoop years earlier. I thought, hey, this could be the San Francisco version of that shot. Jim always said, “Wow, that’s a good idea. Let’s do it!” This is what everyone said. Now Jim has gone, and a few other people here too. The reshoot will never happen. Too bad. Oh, well.


It’s not a Panzer tank, it’s a German garbage can. (Der Müll.)


A pair of identical American twin boys were separated at birth in 1940 and adopted by different people who didn’t know each other. Each boy was named James, each boy married a woman named Linda, had a son named James Alan and then was divorced. When they eventually met at age thirty-nine, they found that their hobbies, experiences and tastes had always been and were now remarkably similar.


The story of this vacillating Wasillite becomes more and more bizarre as time goes on. Thank you, Phil Demetrion.


It’s not often that you see a name misspelled on a promo photograph… twice.


Elise’s magical photograph of our ancestors in an anthropological museum in Germany.


This was an age when Frank Zappa could appear on the cover of a teen magazine. And… the Fugs !


Speaking of funny names, do you realize that Howdy Doody’s mother and father are known as the Doodys ? And Bo Diddley’s parents are the Diddleys? Quick show of hands… does anyone even know who Howdy Doody and Bo Diddley are ? Bo Diddley is a real artist. He played some things that we are still trying to digest. Look him up.


An American who used the razor selectively was General Ambrose Everett Burnside, commander of the Union Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. His most distinguished features. which launched a trend, were his profuse side whiskers, ears to cheeks, and called “burnsides.” The impulse to change this to “sideburns” was too strong to ignore because it was so logical.


Wash Saloon (Waschsalon), laundromat, in Zwickau, in the east of Germany.


Interesting psychologically, isn’t it? Catalina, Shannon, Lynn and Dava.

Don Aters took this.


Twin Reverb.     (Thorstein Velbinger and Chad Quist)


Boy Scouts of America: 1910, Chicago

Colonel Robert Baden-Powell’s motto was Be Prepared… Baden-Powell. BP. in 1908, he published Scouting For Boys, my bible for many years. Now, another Baden-Powell is a wonderful musician from Brazil.


The First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire (962-1806). As the nuns used to tell us, it wasn’t Holy. It wasn’t Roman. And it wasn’t an Empire.


Elise, tree and water worship, Yosemite.


Good night.

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company