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Arcosanti/Cold Weather/Finishing New Book

I've been in the obsession zone lately, finishing 3 years of (off-and-on) putting together my book Builders of the Pacific Coast. The last 10 per cent is the hardest. I've been working on the intro for a week now. I have a ton of things to post on the blog, I'll mention them here rapid-fire and then get back to the book.
Recent adventures, thoughts, stuff, without further ado: I finally went to Paolo Soleri's Arcosanti in Arizona, shot pix some of which I'll post, and found problems with the artist/genius concept of an "organic" city. Parts of it are OK, the people living there are very nice, but there are flaws. The older I get the less I think of leaders. Details later. Took my pal Sherm to good-vibes Ashkenaz nightclub in Berkeley last night to see the Royal Society Jazz Orchestra, music of the '20s and '30s. Sherm somehow manages to flirt from his wheelchair. Great dancing, young and old.
It's been co-ho-ho-hold. 30 degrees last night. Cold winds blowing in from the ocean. Last week it was 80 degrees on Sunday. Weird! I went to the beach and swam across the channel to Stinson beach. The tide was coming in from the ocean which has been cooled by weeks of wind and Lordy was it cold. We need more rain. I decided not to train for the Dipsea Race this year, just too much other stuff to do. My maniac mountain warrior running friends have all embarked on the heavy painful 2-months-to-go training runs. I miss Mexico. It's been too many years since I've lain on my back on the beach studying the stars, too long since I've been in warm water. Next year I'm going to Baja for 6 weeks Jan-Feb to hang out with my friend Chilon, sleep on the beaches and in the desert arroyos, surf AND put together a book tentatively called DEEP IN THE HEART OF BAJA. I haven't been running, paddling or surfing much at all lately, keeping nose to finishing this book, which reveals itself to me progressively day by day. At this point I'm shuffling pages, putting them in order, coordinating corrections from the builders, trying out all kinds of large-size graphics for the front matter (first 9 pages of the book), poring over the pages for the third round of corrections and changes. Got a new skateboard with a drop-down deck (Landyachtz in British Columbia, the same territory as my book). I love to skate even though I'm in the 3% percentile of skill (100 being the highest). It's not like cycling, which has all kinds of skill levels. Skaters are one and all talented and graceful athletes. I work around the house on weekends, fixing stuff, building the compost piles, watering plants, fiddling with the chickens, getting firewood, doing a myriad of homesteading chores. We're talking to 5 different printers for this new book. We want to print it in the USA, but it looks like it will cost us $12,000 extra to do so (on recycled paper) as opposed to non-recycled in China. A dilemma. Stay tuned. Back to the book.
Web stuff:
Stumbleupon, I found out about this on CoolTools (kk.org)
Kelby Online Training, a great way to learn Photoshop. Light Room, InDesign, Illustrator, etc. The web at its best
The whalehunt, 3000 photos of present-day Eskimo whale hunt. Stunning web design
Music Du Jour:
-Twang Ditty, Young SF country band channeling Merle and Patsy Kline
-The Three Pickers, CD of concert in North Carolina of Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Ricky Skaggs

Once this book is off to the printers I'll get back to posting stuff more often.

A Celebration of Michael Kahn's Life and Art

"I pulled into Nazareth…" I got into Prescott (Arizona) around six last night. It was March 30, the day my cousin Michael Kahn was born 72 years ago, and I was coming from a celebration of Mike's life and art at his creekside sculptural compound of buildings near Cottonwood, Arizona. Mike left this world on December 22, 2007 (the winter solstice), a victim of Pick's Disease, a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer's. His wife Leda organized an outdoor gathering, and about 125 friends of Mike's and Leda's showed up to talk about and remember the life of this gentle man who touched many people's lives with his art and presence.

Mike several years ago


There were 10 pages of Mike's buildings in my book Home Work: Hand-made Shelter. The NY Times did a large article on Mike's buildings (called "Eliphante,") on January 31st, titled A Handmade Home

I've been socked in for months now, finishing my book on builders of the Pacific Coast, so it's been great to get out on the road again. 80 degrees in Phoenix, all riiight! after a cold Northern Calif. winter, felt good, like Baja, and then rolling northward in a rented Nissan Sentra, through saguaro-studded desert, then into the higher elevations north on I-17, with an elegance in the landscape, different shades of red earth, hillsides of blooming yellow flowers, and then a cut by the side of the road that was a delicate light purple. I did a double-take.

As I got close to Mike's, a Credence song came on KCLD, the "Good old rock & roll" station in Flagstaff. Things were feeling good. I turned up the volume. The party the next day was great. Good vibes, good people, good food. In between talking to a bunch of Mike's friends and family, I shot pictures, and the images describe his work better than words. Here are just a few of many.


Inside "Eliphante"



Door to "Pipe Dreams," the building containing Mike's latest paintings


When I get out on the road, I'm overwhelmed with people and places and things I run across. I can only get a fraction of them on to my blog. I figure I need two clones to do everything I want to do. More and more I've come to employ randomness in my travels. Finding places to stay by instinct, whatever is available at the end of the day wherever I am, and asking locals where to eat or hear music. On this trip I allowed an extra couple of days to mosey around, so I left Eliphante around 4 in the bright desert sun and headed for Prescott. I ended up checking into a 106-year old 79-room hotel in downtown Prescott, with a morning sun-facing 3rd story room looking down on a park, with wi-fi, HBO, and free full breakfast in its bistro. It wasn't until an hour after I arrived that I realized I'd checked in to the Hotel St. Michael. On Mike's birthday. Cosmic. I should add that Mike and I were close when growing up. I was a year older, and both he and I (and our dads, who were brothers) all looked alike. One guy at the gathering said he looked at me across the yard and burst into tears, I looked so much like Mike.

It's a sunny morning in Prescott, which turns out to be a great town. Good food abounds, lots of music, there are "fixer-upper" dumps for under $200K, air is clear, sun bright, it's a relief to get out of money-choked California.