Saturday, October 15, 2005

I just bought the soundtrack to "No Direction Home" Martin Scorsese's new documentary about Bob Dylan. Anne and I watched the documentary on PBS and found it funny, insightful and amazing. The unfolding of Bob Dylan's life from a small town in Minneapolis to the voice of post WWII youth is incredible. Dylan says early in the film, "I wasn’t born where I was supposed to be so I've been trying to find my way back home." It is an amazing story of transformation and Scorsese does a masterful job curating great archival footage into a portrait of Dylan’s early years.

Bob Dylan's own comments are brief and in keeping with his cynical approach to the media throughout his career. Lucky for us, a close friend of Dylan seems to have convinced him that he needs to start talking because his life and music are too important for him to remain silent. Sharing his feelings comes hard to Dylan. This leads to some of the humorous moments in the film… whether it is being difficult with the press or, more recently, when he starts to own up to being cryptic.

It seems as though throughout his life, his only consistent effort to promote his ever-changing mystique was to not promote it and not answer questions about it. In some of Dylan's interviews he acts like an adolescent interacting with his parents… saying as little as possible, making faces, not even agreeing with them when they happen to agree. The closest he comes is a slight smirk as if to say, "I know you’ve got a point, I know I’m being difficult but I’m still not going to meet you half way." Somehow, over time, this becomes an appropriate response to the many fans and media that confront him about the deeper meaning of his lyrics. He consistently responds that they are just songs and he a simple "song and dance man".

Early in the documentary, Dylan indicates that although he was enrolled at the University of Minnesota, he didn’t attend classes. Instead, he spent his time going to clubs and studying every piece of folk music he could get his hands on. Dylan even subtly admits to stealing a bunch of records from a casual friend. Bob Dylan became a student of music and got his bachelors, masters and PHD from the school of Woody Guthrie and many others. He studied the masters, copied them, thanked them, and then moved on to become "Dylan" a singer and songwriter like no other. It is an amazing story of both the poet and cultural icon. The soundtrack and DVD are worth a close listen.

Friday, October 14, 2005

I was reading the newspaper this morning. As I turned to the last page of the section and started reading a story about the war in Iraq, this is what I saw. The image is the result of the Macy's underwear ad on the back "bleeding" through to the image of the Iraqi boy on the front. While it is unplanned, it doesn't seem completely random. It seems representative of the mix of commercial and media images we see everyday in the US. Its all a competition for our attention and I think too often, the commercial world wins. Posted by Picasa

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dining Alfresco

Californians love to dine outside. It makes total sense in Southern CA but it can be a bit of a stretch here in San Francisco. This is a shot of the new Cafe @ the Beach Chalet at Ocean Beach. Its a bit like a small-scale version of the Bryant Park Cafe behind the Public Library in NYC. The interior is casual but well designed and the cafe opens up onto the yard behand the chalet. Service was very slow but had it been warm, we wouldn't have minded. But we had biked there in shorts and as the sun ducked behind the building, it started to feel more like the Ski Chalet.

Like many other SF restaurants, they roll out the portable heaters as the sun goes down which softens the chill slightly. The cold was total deja-vu since we had dined outside just the night before at the wedding of a good friend in Napa. The location and table settings were absolutely beautiful but as the sun went down, the chill came. As the night wore on, the men got more dressy and the women donned shawls if the had them. A few who were more prepared walked around in evening dresses with serious winter coats over the top. I guess it is one of our time-honored traditions... like watching 4th of July Fireworks through the fog. Beautiful in their own way (just make sure you're properly dressed).

Monday, October 03, 2005

A view of Tomales Bay from a cottage in Inverness, CA. Point Reyes has become one of our favorite places in California. It is a unique place in so many ways. In the photo above the far shore is protected Marin County ranch land. Tomales Bay is a pristine waterway restricted mostly to day sailors and kayaks. Most of Point Reyes itself was designated a National Seashore Park in the 1960's. The area offers great hiking, kayaking, camping and an easy escape from the city. We are always surprised at how uncrowded it is given that it is just over an hour from San Francisco. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tomales Point on Pt. Reyes

This is the very Northern tip of Point Reyes. Its at the end of the McClures Ranch to Tomales Point trail... a beautiful five mile hike. Since the entire hike was shrouded in fog, it wasn't until we descended the final bluff that we saw that we were surrounded on three sides by pounding surf... the Pacific Ocean on one side and Tomales Bay on the other. The waves where the two bodies of water meet are big and loud. It was an amazing sight given how tranquil it was on the hike out.

We passed a small herd of tule elk along the way. Since they were pratically standing on the trail, we were hesitant to pass them. We decided to sit and watch them for awhile. After about 10 minutes, a noisy group of hikers came along and scared the elk away. We thought it was ironic that the noisy hikers turned out to be from the Sierra Club. But we were also happy that the elk had moved far enough away for us to continue the hike. The whole hike was serene in the fog but I'm guessing the views are awesome on a sunny day so we'll have to do it again.