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Mark "Tuba" Smith in New Orleans

Mark "Tuba" Smith

This is a companion website for the book Sidewalk Saints: Life Portraits of the New Orleans Street Performer Family: http://www.sidewalksaints.com/bands/51-mark-qtubaq-smith
(Sent me by Rick Gordon)

"I get back to New Orleans, they had agencies was giving away instruments to all the musicians. Everybody getting brand new horns, but me and a brand new horn, oh no. A new horn you gotta nurse it like a baby. The horn gotta grow up with you. I ain’t got time for that shit. I said let me get this here tuba, some forty years old, donated from Wichita, Kansas. Everybody saying, Tuba what’s wrong with you getting that old horn? Let me tell you something, ain’t nothing like a horn that’s ass done been whipped and beat up on. That way before the horn can beat me up, I’m beating up on the horn. It’s gotta have the seasoning, the flavor. Just like frying chicken. You can’t fry no chicken unless that skillet been seasoned. See, with chicken they got something called Tuba’s chicken, you know my momma and daddy done taught me. And that’s the best damn chicken. Now, I could tell you how to make Tuba’s chicken, but you go home and your chicken ain’t gonna taste the same. Why? Cause you ain’t go the same pot. Your pot ain’t been seasoned. See, me and my music done been seasoned. I gotta have me a horn that got the same flavor..."

Tiny house in Belgium

Spotted this morning on http://www.tinyhouseliving.com, where blogmeister Michael Janzen says: "I don’t normally cover urban tiny houses but this one takes a very unusual approach to making the most of a tight space. The house has four rooms, one on each level. Level one is a workspace. Level two is a kitchen/dining room. Level three is a living room and on top is a bedroom and bath."

"The Four Room House, home to Belgian architects Pieter Peelings and Silvia Mertens of SculpIt Architecten, is stacked on four different floors. That's right, one room per tiny floor..."

-Full article at: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/ny/a-four-room-house-in-belgium-079677

Sustainable Tennesee Farmhouse Uses Native Sandstone

Photo: Shane Wattenbarger of Tennessee Stone Harvesting stacks sandstone on the site of Rebecca Selove's sustainable Tennessee farmhouse. Photo Courtesy Rebecca Selove.

"For our sustainable Tennessee home’s exterior, John and I planned to use a combination of Nichiha, a concrete siding made with recycled content, and native stone. Although a LEED rater (not ours) disapprovingly told me that quarries destroy habitat and leave gaping marks on the earth, I knew that most durable materials involve a mine or factory, and stone seemed to involve creating the least amount of toxic material.…"
                                                                   -Rebecca Selove

Check out Natural Home Magazine's informative eco-conscious blog: http://www.naturalhomemagazine.com/blogs/blog.aspx?blogid=3180

-From Lew Lewandowski

Two-tier yurt by Bill Coperthwaite in Oregon

Posted March 9th, 2010  by Kiko Denzer on Chelsea Green's blog at: http://is.gd/aM7ax

"Here's the lovely, two-tier yurt that Bill Coperthwaite helped us build last October. It's on the grounds of the Ancient Arts Center near Alsea, just a long leap over a couple of ridges, into the next drainage south of us (the Alsea River). We'll finish the woven willow and mud walls this May. If you want to come help, we'll be having two workshops, 1st and last weekends in May…"

Giant trimaran Groupama has huge lead in around-the-world race

From Jeff McWhinney today: "After falling behind in the Southern ocean, Groupama is ripping towards Ouessant France finish line (29-30 knot averages) and about to smash around-the-world sailing record by a couple of days (probably 48 1/2 or 49 days total)!"



Movies on Market Street, streetcar monkeys, San Francisco, in the '40s, Al Pacino in Donnie Brasco in the '90s

On Tuesday night, my friend Roger (also a native San Franciscan) gave me an old scrapbook he'd picked up at a garage sale. Someone had cut out articles from 1948-'49 newspapers and made a period scrapbook. It was perfect, and brought back memories of those years, Jeez, SF was even more breathtakingly beautiful and wonderful in the 40s and 50s, when it was still a real port. Ah, well, ain't it true everywhere?

We lived on the last block of Ulloa Street (26 kids on one block), near the "L," "M." and "K" streetcar lines. This rare photo shows one of the old-style streetcars from the '40s. The cowcatcher is being lowered here. When direction of the car was reversed at the end of the line, the cowcatcher would be tied up on the back end via a cable through that round fitting in the center.

Throughout the city us kids would creep up behind a slowly moving car (crouching so the conductor, who was in the back, wouldn't see us), then run up and jump on the cowcatcher.* We rode all over the city. The 2-mile long tunnel from West Portal to Castro - -  whoa! Sparks flying overhead from the electric trolleys, lots of alcoves where someone on foot in the tunnel could jump when trains came by, 30 mph rocking through the darkness. To come out into the dazzling city at Market and Castro.

Every Saturday I'd go to the movies. I loved the movies. There was no TV. Market Street was, among other things, an arcade of film palaces, the Fox, the Warfield, the Paramount… I'd walk the 6 or so blocks, looking at marquees; sometimes I'd go to two movies. Actually, come to think of it, when I was maybe 10, my grandmother used to take me for what she called "a toot:" taking in two movies on Market Street. (Different eras, different "toots.")

These days I don't watch too many movies. But once in a while I get stunned. Donnie Brasco (1997), with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp is a great film. It snuck up on me; halfway through I realized that the dialogue was brilliant, the chemistry between Al and Johnny perfect. I think it's Pacino's finest role. And Johnny can actually act, as opposed to the weird roles he's been playing in shitty movies lately). The dialogue is on the level of "The Wire" or "Deadwood," by which I mean tight, funny, finely-crafted dialogue. Check out http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119008/quotes for dialogue from the film.

Music du jour: "Are you lonely for me baby?" by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. And a beautiful version of "Something is wrong with my baby;"stands right up there alongside Sam and Dave's version. Both songs on CD King and Queen, 11 duets of Otis and Carla (including "Tramp").

*Fred Van Dyke, who grew up closer to the beach, says that sometimes if a conductor spotted you, he'd roll open the rear window and slap your hands so you'd fall off (not at high speeds).

Silo Architecture: Earl's Montesilo House on the River in Utah

"Located in Woodland, Utah, next to the Provo River, Earl's Montesilo House was built with a south orientation to capture solar heat gain during the winter. During the summer, the second floor balcony acts as a sort of overhand to shade the interior. The 1800 sq. ft.  home comprises two linked, corrugated silos…"
-Article by Preston Koerner, photo by Scott Zimmerman

Why proofreading is no longer necessary

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can. I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! …

-From Lew this morning. (Lew mines the webosphere daily.)

Stairs Are Tiring, Get A Slide


Architecture of IRAN during Islamic times

There must be over 100 photos here, many of them stunning.

"Although much of Iran's architecture during the Islamic period has been destroyed over the years, even those of the legendary cities of Nishapur, Ghaz, Ghazni and Tabriz, due to earthquakes or barbarian invading armies, there is still a number of very impressive buildings to show. Iranian architecture has traditionally always been admired and influential throughout history, and Iranian architects have always been highly sought after - resulting in even the Taj Mahal in India -- being designed and constructed by Iranian architects."


Tiny house near Seattle for 160K

I'm running across great stuff as I work on our Tiny Houses book. Check out this 510 sq. ft. house in Washington. Up Hwy 405 a ways from Bellevue. Striking distance of Seattle!
18834 142nd Ct NE, Woodinville, WA 98072
"Move in ready — this cozy free standing cottage offers new carpets, paint, updated kitchen with maple cabinets and new tile backsplash. Patio & garden space is partially fenced for privacy. Excellent location close to freeway access, shops, movie theater…excellent use of space with lots of windows making the home open and bright. Great condo alternative. Stop renting & enjoy the benefits of home ownership!"
-found on the excellent: http://thistinyhouse.com/

150-Yr.-old house Seneca Falls, NY, $169,00

SENECA FALLS, N.Y. A five-bedroom two-and-a-half-bath Gothic revival from the mid-19th century PRICE: $169,000
SIZE: 3,160 square feet
"The house was built between 1864 and 1866 for a businessman, and the current owner uses its first floor as an art gallery. There are many original details throughout, including hardwood and parquet floors, and a carved wood staircase; the rest is in period style. the chimneys have been taken down, putting the four fireplaces out of commission."

Posted NY Times 3/09/10: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/10/greathomesanddestinations/10gh-what-1.html?scp=8&sq=/greathomesanddestinations&st=cse
CONTACT: Mel Russo, Senecayuga Properties (315) 246-3997; senecayugaproperties.com

Windswept tree

On road from 4 Corners down to Muir Woods. The cleft you see in the background is part of the Dipsea Race trail.

Does the wind blow up this canyon or what?

Quail on fence last week

We watch birds every morning from the breakfast nook. Better than TV. There's a 3" by 5" hole in the bottom of the gate that the quail file through to get to the bird seed that Lesley puts out. There's generally a male (ones with head feathers) sentry that keeps watch from a high point. Here a bunch of them had hopped up onto the gate in a semi-alert (being wary, but not fleeing). When they all take off in a full alert, it sounds like a helicopter.

Piled-high stuff on 3-wheeled bike in Nairobi

Photo by Kyohei Sakaguchi: http://www.0yenhouse.com/en/Nairobi_Works/

More San Francisco grafitti

The regenerative power of the earth…

Old baseball in nearby field on rainy day.