Wednesday, October 4, 2017

My 15 Minutes?

Evening Primrose: photo by Cliff Hutson
Evening Primrose: photo by Cliff Hutson

"In the future, everyone will be world-famous 
for 15 minutes", Andy Warhol

There is little doubt in my mind that I will ever be world famous. It is also said that “A prophet is not without honor except in his native place and in his own house."  However, two recent publications use images of mine. So, my name might gain the attention of a few people from time to time.

Rainbow Bridge National Monument Brochure

Detail - NPS Brochure: photo by Cliff Hutson
Detail - NPS Brochure: photo by Cliff Hutson

The National Park Service is using my photograph of an Evening Primrose in a brochure for the Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

Gilia capitata: photo by Cliff Hutson
Gilia capitata: photo by Cliff Hutson

Wildflowers of Southern California

Closer to home, my photo (above) of Gilia capitata appears in a guide to facilitate the easy identification of wildflowers - "Wildflowers of Southern California (Adventure Quick Guides)" by George Miller.

Field Guide: photo by Cliff Hutson
Field Guide: photo by Cliff Hutson

I think that this is very flattering as Miller is a professional photographer, and all but a relative few of the images in the book are his own.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Musical Memories

Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson
Birth of the Cool: photo by Cliff Hutson

Some months ago, one of my nieces put forth a challenge on Facebook for her friends to list famous musical acts that they had seen live and in person. I demurred at that time as most of the acts fell in the category of "some that I recognized, some that I had hardly even heard of".

But, I really could not let go of the idea, as over my lifetime I have had some memorable experiences.  and, needing a topic for this week's post have come up with a list that I have divided into three categories.


Bud Shank
Charles Lloyd
Don Ellis
Frank Capp
Gearld Wilson (and his orchestra)
Laninie Kazan
Shelly Manne
Sonny Rollins
Willie Bobo

I was in my late teens and early twenties (and still am to some extent) an aficionado of jazz. Many a happy hour was spent listening to the MJQ, Wes Montgomery, and others - who I never saw in person.

But, I did see some truly great acts at Shelly's Manne Hole and The Baked Potato, among other clubs and other more less famous venues. However, the most moving was when Don Ellis, a family friend of one of my college classmates, did a solo performance in a small church in Westwood when my friend and his wife renewed their wedding vows.


Buffalo Springfield
Country Joe and the Fish
Elton John
Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Grateful Dead
Jefferson Airplane
Jimi Hendrix
New Riders of the Purple Sage
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Turtles

This is presented in a more or less alphabetical order. Although, by chance, the first of these groups that I saw was Buffalo Springfield which gave a free concert at Cal State LA when I was a student. 

I also first saw the Jefferson Airplane for free at an appearance in LA's Griffith Park that was basically just publicized on the underground radio station I listened to at the time. (Perhaps KMET - who can recall.)

Speaking of "I can't recall", I was tempted to add The Doors to this list. But, that is a very hazy memory. However, as someone once said - "If you can remember the sixties, you were not really there.

Oddly, the most disappointing of these performances was by Jimi Hendrix. I say most disappointing as I was a huge fan, and think that I still have everyone of his LPs - including the "Band of Gypsies" stuff which I do not care for, and the controversial UK issue of "Electric Ladyland". But, the night that I saw him at The Fabulous Forum he just did not seem to be even close to his best.


B.B. King
Doc Watson
Joan Baez
John York
k.d. lang and the Reclines
Willie Nelson

Some readers might be surprised by my listing k.d. lang in the Country category. But, I saw her at the world famous Palomino Club when she was touring for the release of  the "Angel with a Lariat" album.  Albeit, she did the first set dressed like Dale Evans and the second in a simple black cocktail dress. Her rendition of "Three Cigarettes in An Ashtray" was unforgettable.

However, the most memorable of these performances was that by Joan Baez - almost fifty years ago, give or take a month or two. That was an afternoon that I shall always treasure.

It just so happens that Willie Nelson, who is listed last is also the last famous act that I saw in person. That was in February 2013 at Pomona College's Bridges Auditorium. And, since I don't get around much anymore, he might be the last.

Anyone else care to share?

Note: The astute reader will notice that this post is headed up by an image of a Miles Davis CD, yet he does does not appear on any list. I never saw him in person, but as this blog os called "Pictures and Words" i felt that I had to include an image and that was the most musical one in my archive.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

A Batch of Books & Another Anniversary

August 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson
August 2017 Reading: photo by Cliff Hutson

Harlem Detectives Series

All of the books that I finished reading this August were from one series by the American author Chester Himes. Interestingly enough, my binge watching the Netflix series "Luke Cage" led to my discovery of the author. I read six of the eight books which feature two black NYPD detectives — Gravedigger Jones and Coffin Ed Johnson.

The stories are very well done, and can be said to rival the works of Raymond Chandler and Walter Mosley, as Luke Cage remarks more than once - this show is very clever in its allusions to culture and literature.

While the depictions of police brutality and blantant racism may be disturbing to many people, I highly these books to fans of the hardboiled detective genre. And, the TV show is not all that bad, either.

Jambalaya: photo by Cliff Hutson
Jambalaya: photo by Cliff Hutson

10th Anniversary

"The general rule [is] that whenever anything artistic is described as a “journey,” you can be pretty certain of going nowhere. "

- Peter Schjeldahl

I began writing this blog ten years ago this week. The first post was on September 4, 2007. It has been an interesting journey, even if the progress is uncertain. This morning I scrolled through a list of all the posts and found that by a large factor, the most viewed post is "Jambalaya with Shrimp, Ham, and Andouille Sausage", from January 2008. Why that is I have no idea. I have, in my mind, written many more informative posts, and may be even a thoughtful one or two. But, I guess my reading public knows what it likes.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Mt. Whitney - 55th Anniversary

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.” 
John Muir, The Mountains of California

Mt. Whitney Summit - 1962 - Cliff and Loncy Hutson, from left
Mt. Whitney Summit - 1962

This past weekend marks the fifty-fifth anniversary of my summiting Mt. Whitney, with Loncy, my oldest brother. It was his idea that we should do this to celebrate my sixteenth birthday.

Neither of us had ever backpacked prior to this. Although, he had done a stint in the army, so he had some experience with bivouacking. Also, we were both in good physical condition - he from his job, and me from my participation on high school sports teams - so we gave no thought to training.The whole trip was put together in a couple of weeks.

We obtained most of our equipment from the Army Navy surplus store at the Sunset Junction (which still seems to be there in some iteration, imagine that). The main purchases were knapsacks, Army canteens - which included a cup which could be used for cooking, and a foldable Stereo stove on which to cook. Loncy also bought a sleeping bag. But, I had my Mom make mine out of a wool blanket based on a design from a  card found in a box of Nabisco shredded wheat. Our food supplies were just things from the local market.

I have read that, nowadays, each year 19,000 people now attempt to climb Mt. Whitney from the east. We saw only about 10 - 12 (most of whom were very surprised to see us) over the duration of our trip. We spent one night at Whitney Portal.The next day we hit the trail and hiked to Mirror Lake and overnighted in the open. The follow morning, we summited and walked down to the base camp by late afternoon.

It was a great way to spend a birthday, and a trip that I shall always remember. 


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Sorted Books

National Book Lovers Day

Each year on August 9,  book lovers celebrate National Book Lovers Day.


This year it coincides with my monthly post about books.

The books I finished reading in July 2017

July 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson
July 2017 Books: photo by Cliff Hutson

I originally planned not to say much about my reading list for July. Because, as my Aunt Dagmar used to say, "If you can't say anything nice, may be you should keep your mouth shut." But, ended up being carried away and got very judgmental.

"Stuff White People Like," by Christian Lander, a Canadian no less, was the best of the bunch. It was clearly written in fun and tied in nicely with June's “How to be Black,” which was where I learned of it. I, of course, while not being white may not be the best judge, but highly recommend it to people of all stripes.

My favorite genera of book over the last few years would be mystery and I completed two in that category. "The Bat," by Jo Nesbo was the the first of his Harry Hole series. I enjoyed it, but found it less compelling than his later stories such as "The Redbreast”,  or  “Nemesis”.  Michael Connelly is most famous his Harry Bosch novels.  His latest, "The Late Show", introduces a new protagonist, detective RenĂ©e Ballard. It is not a bad story, but it left me looking forward to the next one about Bosch.

There is a quote: “Art is what you can get away with”; attributed to both Andy Warhol and Marshall McLuhan, I find that it most particularly applies to "Blind Spot" by Teju Cole. I purchased this book based upon a glowing review, it was not money well spent. The tome is a collection of something like 150 photographs taken by Cole and pieces that he has written to accompany each one, but not necessarily about them. This sounded like a marvelous concept to me and I thought that it might be inspirational.  However, I found that I would be embarrassed to present all but a few of these images as a body of work. I also feel that the prose is far too etherial or artsy for my taste. Now, I am willing to admit that the fault may lie within myself, but I really do not like this book.

It is probably my expectations that led to my disappointment with "A Choice of Weapons" by Gordon Parks. Growing up, Parks was an inspiration to me, mostly through his work in LIFE magazine. It was not that I wanted to emulate what did, but that he showed me that a photographic image could be a powerful tool for communication. I was hoping that his autobiography would provide some insight as to how his vision developed. However, what I learned was that he bought a used camera and six weeks later had his first show. The book also discusses experiencing bigotry and hardship, making bad choices, and getting an occasional break. But, those are things that happen to so many of us that it really does not make for compelling reading. Furthermore, the story ends in the early years of World War II so there is no mention of his contributions as a writer and filmmaker. But, again, perhaps I should not discount a book for being what it intended to be and not what I wanted.

Sorted Books: an Assignment

I subscribe to Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter, and this past week it really paid off for me by bring my attention to conceptual artist Nina Katchadourian and the Art Assignment.

The object of the assignment is to group books so that their titles can be read as sentences, creating whimsical narratives from the text found there. 

So far, I have made two attempts. My first attempt was just looking at the books I read in July, as they were sitting on the table next me, and seeing that these could make a heading and a two item list.

Sorted Books - 01 - 1: photo by Cliff Hutson
Sorted Books - 01 - 1: photo by Cliff Hutson

I put more effort in to the next, spending time looking through my bookshelves. I am very happy with this as it reminds me of a haiku:

Sorted Books - 01 - 2: photo by Cliff Hutson
Sorted Books - 01 - 2: photo by Cliff Hutson

Nina Katchadourian’s final results from her time in Kansas can be found here:

How was your July? Read any good books lately?