Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Father's Day--Starving Musician Son

Some of you know that my son, Willis, is a musician (starving) in Los Angeles. Although he's not scored the big success yet, I'm quite proud of his accomplishments: Masters from USC, a great CD, and many interesting gigs (just not yet enough of them). As a dutiful son, he called me last weekend wishing me a Happy Father's Day. So I though I'd pass on some pics of him from a recent performance. While I'm back from my trip to France, Willis was in Paris in May, backing up the famous European pop diva, Jeanne Mas.

First, the gig promotion at the Olympia Theater in Paris...


And leading backstage for the musicians...


A rehearsal...



And the band, Willis on the far left...


And the gear, big Marshall stacks for the guitar god...




Some shots from the performances...



With the Diva...



A successful concert...


Of course Willis has a life of his own, and it's hard to keep up with him. I have to sneak a look at his MySpace page now and then to catch up. I also update his website on occasion with more pics, movies, and tunes. All in all, he makes me a proud father.

Oh, one more pic from the Paris gigs... Really a great shot from the audience...

Monday, June 22, 2009

Lost Clowboy Desert Pt. II

Well, the rains keep coming... Very wet June for Utah. I thought the cactus blooming was on the wane, but the added moisture has inspired the cactus for another round of beauty. A couple shots, with California poppies providing added visual thrills.



And here's a shot of the parking strip with a large datura plant exploding over the sidewalk.


I don't know how long this will go on, it's supposed to dry up this week, but I'm sure enjoying my desert while it lasts.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

New House

Well, I understand the rumors are flying. And, they are true. I'm moving. More importantly, I'm moving in with Lacey. She is moving from California back to Utah and has just closed on a house up on 13th Ave., above the 11th Ave. park. So my friend Rod took some pics of the new pad... It's really quite the place, tons of room, more than any two old farts should consider at this age (assisted living is probably more appropriate), but it more than met our space requirements, was in great shape, and was quite the deal. Nice having some capital to purchase in this down market.

It was the grandchild that did it. Eliza, now one year old, was the big draw to bring Lacey back to Utah.

So, now some pics... First, the view...


Lots of rain in Utah this June. We are turning into Portland. Now, the entrance with stairwell and dining room, also the kitchen...




And more dining room...


There's also a big family room with fireplace off the kitchen, and a living room in the front of the house which I want to see done as a large office/library. There is some opposition to that idea however. My point is that no one uses living rooms anymore, but offices are very important these days. That's where the time is spent, so should get the good view. I suspect we will have a living room... Unfortunately, we did not get good pics of the family room or living room, so those areas will have to remain a mystery until you visit.

But there is a great laundry room, with a big closet and lots of cabinets...


And lots of bathrooms, great for we prostate challenged... I get my own, upstairs, where the toilet seat will always be up... The sink fixture somehow says it all (a little fruity, but definitely manly).


It's hard to capture the rooms themselves. But here is a shot of the master bedroom looking towards the master bath (where the toilet seat will always be down).


The house was built in 1975, I suspect before master bedrooms got very large. So this one is still small by today's building standards. But, somehow, I think we will manage. Now, the master bathroom and jetted tub. Hopefully the scene of much hanky panky...


And the cool shower...


Three bedrooms upstairs. One will be an office (if my brilliant ideas for converting the living room are overruled), and one fitted out for the grandchild's visits. Note the cool light fixture (somehow, I think it will be replaced... damned classicists anyway).


Now for the real thrill. For a long time, I've wanted a studio for my various audio interests (CD production and recording). I may have found the near ideal space. Some pics of the "man cave" (doghouse).




Again, pics hardly do the space justice. There's also another two bedrooms downstairs. One will be my workroom for electronic repair. The other will be a guest bedroom. There's a nice bathroom downstairs as well.


There's also a large two car garage under the upstairs bedrooms, with a large storage room (wine cellar!). And a very large industrials room...


A lot of work has gone into this house to keep it updated. There are some problems, but minor. Of course, it's not just the way I'd like it, but it's close. Now a couple shots of the back yard...



Yep, that's a hot tub. Oh, boy! And above it is a horseshoe setup! And enough room for competition croquet! Lacey's looking for a classic croquet set, I'm looking for one with titanium hoops and carbon fiber mallets. Let the conflicts begin!

Now comes the hard part, actually getting decades of accumulation up to the new place. Could take years! Lacey is keeping her home in Orange County, since she will still work down there quite a bit. I'm hoping to keep my place for a couple years (rent it out), at least until the market comes back (if ever). We will see how things go.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lost Clowboy Desert


Over the past few years, I've ripped out my front lawn replacing it with boulder terracing, desert gravel ground cover, cactus and other drought tolerant foliage. My former renter also did a section in flowers, primarily California poppies. Lots of June rain this year has caused the whole "desert" to go crazy.


The cactus are blooming, several colors of blooms. The poppies have taken over, somewhat worrisome, but beautiful. And the yucca is getting ready...


The parking strip was planted last, so is still developing. But the sage plants are looking good. There's also a datura plant that really goes nuts. Huge by July. And beautiful blossoms at night, hiding during the day.



I don't know how other people in the neighborhood feel, but I love it. Utah is a desert, so I feel urban landscaping should reflect that.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Back Home


A last shot of Lyon... Early Weds. morning (5:00am!) I caught a cab at Gare St. Paul for the Lyon-St. Exupery airport and the flight to Paris and then back to the good ol' US. The cab driver had more electronics going on in his cab (mostly GPS related, I suspect) than I'd ever seen before. I'm not sure I'm thrilled with electronic driving, I mean, a cab driver should know where the airport is, right? But by whatever means, he got me there before the counters had even opened. They have some new machines, you stick your passport in a slot (scary, will it ever come back out?), and after a couple screen prompts, out comes your boarding pass... in my case, one pass had both flights on it.

More croissants on the flight to Paris, after a brief breakfast at the Lyon airport (a petit kaffe is an expresso, if fact I think all kaffe in France is an expresso, thought I'd embarassed myself, but everyone was having the same thing). Some wandering around DeGaulle airport, it's immense, event if you are in the same terminal. But my superior intelligence guided my way through about 10 security checks (they know my nefarious past!) and all the duty free shops to the proper gate. After a hour or so, and more security checks, I was on the plane. While the biz class food was pretty decent on the flight over to France, somehow it sort of sucked on the way back. I wonder why? Worse, since I've returned, now I have to suffer through my own cooking! My palatte has been expanded by eating such great food in Lyon. Nothing is going to compare.

Here's some odd pics just for fun. First, a broadcast tower, high on the hill, covering the city.


One contrast with European and American citys is age. Euro cities are just so much older, and have maintained their history and tradition very well (no demolish and rebuild, only restore). But that means that modern conveniences, such as communications systems, are hard to wire in and around old buildings. TV antennas and cables are strung all over. Here's one bad example of exposed wiring:



And everything is smaller and crammed together unlike, in particular, SLC. Old streets mean narrow streets. Old buildings mean tidy apartments, and all modern industrials are scaled down. Here's our apartment water heater, installed above the kitchen sink. Looks like not much capacity, but all I know is it easily handled consecutive showers. Pretty efficient.


I think I mentioned that I enjoy the everyday style/design of living in France. Much cooler stuff than in the US. Here's a wall heater, a light switch (with dimmer), and a knife set with the sink fixture:







Maybe things are older in Lyon, but that doesn't mean that technology is lagging. Almost every restaurant we dined at used these cool, wireless I presume, handheld credit card terminals. Instant receipts! Much better than the myrid and inconvenient check out systems found in the States. I've longed for the old "ka-chunk" manual credit card machines, but no more... I hope this wireless system gets adopted in the US real soon now...



OK, bored with these everyday examples? Check out this building design. This is terminal 1 at the Lyon airport:


So that's about it. OK, one more memory...


My thanks to the Marquesa Yvonne La Cey for her knowledge, generosity, and travel agent abilities, all of which made this an incredible experience for me. I hope we can return for an even more lengthy stay in a couple years.

I've returned to an exploding Lost Clowboy Desert, lots of June rain is doing wonders for the garden. I'll continue this blog with pics from the garden, and some shots from the big move (yes, we are moving into a house up on 13th Ave.). Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gallo-Roman Expedition

So I hiked off the the Musee de Gallo-Romains up on the hill above Old Lyon. Up the stairs, up the street, up another street, around a corner and up yet another street and I'm finally at the top of the hill. Great view of the city, now where's the museum. Ah, a sign, OK, but first let's get a glimpse of the old Roman ampitheater... I hear music... holy shit (Mon Deiu, Sweet Mother of Mary)! the ampitheater has turned into a major performance area!


So before the museum tour, I settle down for some good French jazz-pop. Must be a sound check for tonight's performance (I found out later that performances take place here all summer long, jazz, pop, classical... Herbie Hancock and Lang Lang are on the same bill later in the month!). I actually got a little video of a beat poem in French with music accompaniment.




Well, as I found, the ruins have been preserved nicely above the ampitheaters (there are actually two, a large and a small, both of which were originally full-on colliseums way back in Roman days). Here's an overall view of the ampitheaters:



And a couple closeups of genuine Roman ruins...



The ruins area is quite extensive, and you can hike pretty much all over the area. Really lots of fun, but the really cool stuff is in the museum, except you can't see the museum! It's built into the side of the hill overlooking the ampitheaters, almost completely covered with earth and folliage, with just a couple turret-like windows poking out. It really is a magnificent museum, all modern structural concrete, a great example of architectural siting, structure as form-follows-function, and appropriate materials for the purpose. Once inside, you are led under concrete beams deeper and deeper into the facility, like wandering down into your own archelogical expedition!

The exhibits are extensive and thorough, most in English as well as French. No pics allowed, however, so here is the museum web site: Musee Gallo-Romains. The best were the mosaics, especially the one with Baccus on the black panther! Also it helped my self esteem to know I'm better endowed than Jupiter and Mercury, the great Roman gods!!!

After leaving the museum, you can actually get on the roof for some views of the city and the shots above of the ampitheaters. And a shot of the museum itself for an example of its siting.




That's it for awhile. A last French meal tonight and an early morning cab ride to the airport tomorrow. Hours and hours of air time to get back to the good old US. I suspect I'll have some wrap up after I get home. Stay tuned!