Sunday, August 30, 2009


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Gratitude, Salt Water, Cormorants and Blogging

Dear Friends;

I was thinking about Gratitude this morning, and how I can train myself to be more grateful. I thought about posting something I am grateful for on some of my SNS sites, like FaceBook. (I am grateful for FaceBook.) The first thing I saw when I opened my computer (Yahoo Mail is my homepage), was an email notification that one of my FaceBook friends, Sue Bates, encouraged me to get on the Gratitude Page on FaceBook. So I did, and wrote a little piece about gratitude and the Ocean.

It’s cloudy and 57 in Pacific Grove, and may rain later; I see by my Mac Dashboard that it’s 77 and stormy in Northampton (at 12:21 EST). It was foggy and cloudy all day yesterday. While standing at the bus terminal in the midst of Edgewater Plaza, a huge shopping center next to the dunes of Seaside, I could see the sun behind the fog, and it was really beautiful. So, of course, I took a photo of it. I was on my way back to Monterey from Borders, where I had a wonderful time looking at SNS books and drinking my blended chocolate chip coffee drink. I had been searching for months for a Barnes & Noble, so that I could browse and find books on SNS that I could not find elsewhere, including the libraries. I haven’t checked the college libraries. Anyway, I did manage to find several interesting books on WordPress, twitter, and blogging. I sat down next to a distractingly beautiful woman, sipped my icy drink, and skimmed through the books, winnowing down which I would buy (and return). I noticed the guy next to me was reading a book on CSS, so we had a great convo about web design, blogging, sns, and all kinds of groovy things. I gave him my (free card, and he said he would be happy to answer any questions I had. Really nice connection.

I have been thinking a great deal about SNS lately (no kidding!), and feel a bit like proselytizing (if you hate SNS – read this paragraph anyway!). I used to think that SNS sites were for losers, people who couldn’t find ‘real’ friends, or people who were just unable to interact with the world, so they frittered away their time ‘friending’ people. Thanks to (award-winning blogger, and dear friend) Keith Carlson, I began blogging, and have become obsessed with file sharing sites. As I have mentioned, I am on many sites, including FaceBook, twitter, delicious, Flickr, StumbleUpon, WordPress, Blogger, MySpace,, Squidoo and others. My Blogger site ( is the most developed site, but I am now updating and expanding my WordPress site (, which is quite beautiful, I must say. Blogger is easier to get started in, but WordPress is more elegant and has more options. I found a template that changes color depending on the color of the photo (or text) of the post; I know this sounds corny, but it works aesthetically. Last week, I went to see Tetro, the amazing new Coppola film, with some new friends I found on

As I said, I used to think that SNS was for Losers and people with too much time on their hands. I now realize (cue swelling symphonic music and Jesus Rays) that sns (I like the little letters better) can be used in all kinds of amazing ways. For example, I find inspiration from reading, and connecting with people who also have a spiritual inclination (sometimes it is a little too NewAgey, but you can get past that). I can follow people I care about, and some interesting strangers on various sites. I have been thinking a great deal about how these sites can be used to promote environmental issues and political (is personal) causes (I’m sure you’re connected to Or just inspire people to find beauty around them. I won’t get into inspirational stories, but there are many. I have found amazing web sites I would otherwise never have stumbled upon without StumbleUpon.

Here are the three books I walked home with:
• twitter Tips, Tricks, and Tweets by Paul McFedries

• The Rough Guide to Blogging

• WordPress 2 (Visual Quickstart Guide) by Maria Langer & some other person

I am going to rec to library that they buy these books. Obviously, I am getting into this stuff in a serious way, which takes a lot of time and energy. I would encourage you to look at some of these books, just to see what potential sites like twitter have; it’s pretty amazing.

OK, so here’s my pitch: If you don’t have a blog, start a blog. It is unbelievably simple, and takes literally just a few minutes. Blogger is easier, but WordPress is more elegant. You can spend as little or as much time working on it as you want. (Ann – great place to make a family photo album that anyone can see.) If you aren’t on twitter, do so as soon as you finish reading my highly entertaining letter. And find a book on twitter so that you have some idea what the fuss is all about. And FaceBook – if you aren’t on it, get on it, and connect with friends there. It’s not only fun, but potentially very useful. And addictive. Like eating chocolate, you have to know when to stop. It’s a hell of a lot better than watching TV. You don’t have to be a writer to blog; just post photos you like. Here’s the deal: If you friend me, I will friend you. If you link to my site, I will link to your site. I have my Blogger site configured to send an email every time somebody comments on my blog. It’s pretty cool. OK, so I’ll shut up.

Today, my plan is to learn as much as I can about WordPress. I will try to get to the beach, hang out at CafĂ© La Strada, read the NYT, send messages to my sns friends (my Blogger blog now has 28 followers and counting). And get my job-hunting life organized. Friday, I sent some copy to the women’s surf safari place in Carmel (; I may do some writing for them). Yesterday, I spoke on the phone for 1.5 hours to Douglas Ogg (, artist-cum-cartoonist-cum-postmodern artist, who is hiring me to write an intro for his blog. Really interesting guy, and it was great to have a long conversation about art (he’s very smart and funny) and life. I’ve got some other irons in the fire, and will be looking into making supplemental money from blogs. Watch for them.

Well, I’m getting restless to get outside… by the way, yesterday I was sitting on a rock above the baby waves crashing around me, taking photos of the Brandt’s cormorants blanketing Point Sarah, and I espied a rather larger wave heading my way. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind to cover my camera case as the wave hit the rock just below my feet. I was grateful to be soaked with seawater. I walked home, refreshed, salt water dripping from my glasses, and prepared to head into town.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch, Paul

Sunday, August 16, 2009

snapshot • baby blue 1956 Thunderbird, Monterey

snapshot • baby blue 1956 Thunderbird, Monterey

snapshot • baby blue 1956 Thunderbird, Monterey

snapshot • Paul with baby blue 1956 Thunderbird, Monterey

This is my kind of town: T-Birds everywhere; the town is lousy with 'em. The owner of this gem was gracious about letting me photograph her car, and even offered to take a photo with me in it. She said she's been driving it for about twenty years. 

snapshot • Lamborghini VT, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Ferrari, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Ferrari, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Jaguar, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

When I was about 10, this was one of my fantasy cars; it still looks pretty good. It is one of the sleekest, most stylish cars ever built.

snapshot • Jaguar, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Jaguar, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Woodie, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Spyker C8 Spyder, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Spyker C8 Spyder, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Spyker C8 Spyder, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Spyker C8 Spyder, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • young woman, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Veritas, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

I'd never heard of (or seen) a Veritas, so this was a bit of fun. I'm not sure of the cosmological implications of calling a car "Truth," but maybe the manufacturers - or the drivers - know something I don't. It's a pretty cool car, in any case, although the design is a little overwrought for my tastes (and my wallet). Nevertheless, a very cool car. 

snapshot • Mercedes, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

snapshot • Alfa Romeo 8C, Portola Hotel, Monterey, August 15, 2009

Fluid the world flowed under us (Percy MacKay)

Concours Week concludes in Pebble Beach this weekend with the Concours d’Elegance (literally, ‘elegant contest,’ a term coined mid century (20th) for a parade or contest of classic cars) on the famed 18th Fairway of the Pebble Beach Golf Links. With tickets starting at $150, I’ll have to wait ‘til next summer. The $500 packages includes, according to the Carmel Pine Cone, special parking, full breakfast, buffet lunch and “other amenities.” I want to know what the “other amenities” are; if they have anything to do with Scarlett Johansson, hold me a ticket. (The paper didn’t say which celebrities would be there.) Also today, the Automotive Fine Arts Society is being held alongside the Concours.

 I’ve been thinking a lot about cars this week; about our addiction to cars, our fascination with cars, our identification with cars, our manipulation by the auto industry, our fetishization of cars, and on and on. I don’t have anything particularly profound to say about it, but I am finding it fascinating to be around such luxurious and fantastic (in all senses) automobiles. I waver from lusting after these Tin Lizzie Platonic ideals to waxing philosophic. What else can a poor boy do? For now, I’m content to simply gaze in stunned silence, and dream. 

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Yellow Lotus, Monterey

There's a new love in my life...

The Force That Through The Green Fuse Drives the Lotus

Who would have thought I'd be rhapsodizing about automobiles? I hardly ever even think about cars. I have a love/hate relationship with those gas-guzzling, exhaust-belching, animal-executing death traps.

I love to drive, and I miss my beloved 1997 deep blue mint Mustang convertible. Driving has always been enjoyable to me, but driving the Mustang was ecstatic. My joy was tempered, however, by the knowledge that every time I stepped on the gas pedal I was bringing about the end of civilization as we know it - which, come to think about it, may not be such a bad thing.

I remember clearly the first time I drove through a boggy area in Western Massachusetts and heard the damp symphony of peepers engulfing me; the first time I drove through the dark canyons of Manhattan, the spectacular buildings towering over me; driving north on 91 when it started to rain, and rain harder, until it was pouring, and, top down, I didn't feel a drop. I could go on and on, but the point is, driving my convertible was one of the great pleasures of my life.

Since we moved to California nine months ago, we have been car-less. On one level, I don't miss having a car at all. Obviously, it is inconvenient, but I have done a lot of walking, and have discovered that I like to walk, especially since I am often walking along Monterey Bay. The bus is pretty good, and I don't have to worry about insurance, parking, parking tickets, and all the other hassles of life with Auto. The best part is that I don't feel guilty every time I step on the gas. I feel like proselytizing for walking, and taking the bus, and riding a bicycle. I see these monstrous vehicles everywhere, and watch in horror as people leave them idling while they talk on the cell phone, or, worst of all, watch the sun set over the Pacific (which, incidentally. looks more spectacular because of the smog). 

Going to the Concours on the Avenue (the annual car show in Carmel-by-the-Sea, part of an entire week of fab car events around the area) on Tuesday, was a revelation. Well, maybe not quite a revelation, but it was interesting to see the various ways in which slouching amidst all those remarkable cars affected me. I got in touch with my inner guy/car self, and traveled back on that gray highway to my childhood, when I cut out pictures of cool cars from Life Magazine and heaped them into a hand-made scrapbook. Standing on the blocked-off street in Carmel, I felt lust in my heart. A white Lotus simply caught me unawares. I walked around it, scrutinizing every curve, examining every door handle and gauge, caressing the brushed silver gas cap with my eyes. I do realize that it is just a fantasy, but what a fantasy! Every inch of the car was perfection. I'm not a gear-head - it's mostly an aesthetic thing with me. Parked on the narrow streets of Carmel were some of the most luscious sculptures I have ever seen. Every once in a while, when a Ferrari or a Lamborghini cried out like a magnificent African animal, a thrill went through me. The exhaust smelled good, like a fine cigar, or a pile of burning leaves on the curb of our home in Birmingham, Alabama, when the aroma evoked a season, a way of life, releasing a flood of memories. Once in a while, I would remember that these smoke-spewing beauties were actually causing global warming, and it would kind of harsh my mellow, but the environmental reality would soon give way once again to the erotic thrill of the shapely Jaguar, the ferocious Ferrari, or the paunchy Porsche.

Maybe some day, we'll figure out how to value the environment enough to produce emissions-free automobiles, and value beauty enough to create gorgeous cars for everyone to drive. In the meantime, I have to get back to the Platonic Lotus fantasy. On my walk home. 

Friday, August 14, 2009

snapshot • Carmel Concours on the Avenue

snapshot • 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa, Carmel Concours on the Avenue

snapshot • new Lotus (details), Carmel Concours on the Avenue

The first beauties we beheld at the 2009 Concours on the Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea were the two Lotuses. I was so mesmerized by these two exquisite automobiles that I almost didn't make it to the rest of the show. I don't often lust after cars, but certain thoughts flashed through my mind. These are true works of art; drivable sculpture. And I wanted them.

snapshot • new Lotus (rear), Carmel Concours on the Avenue