Saturday, April 30, 2011

April 30, 2011 – Madrid

Madrid is calling. I have been to Madrid but I have never been to Madrid.

Back in my college days, when you do things that only 20 year olds do, I flew to Madrid with a cheap air ticket and a eurrail pass. It was to be a month of wandering Europe. The plan was an eventual return to Madrid a few days before it was time to depart. I went from Spain all the way to Sweden and back. A few weeks later, an overnight trip from Austria had me arriving one morning in Barcelona. The plan was to store the luggage for the day and take another overnight train to Madrid. Then have a few days in Madrid and head home. In the trains station I followed the signs to the place to store the backpack. I saw nothing but scaffolding. A gaping hole was where the luggage storage was supposed to be. It was something to do with bombs and separatists. I decided to find a hotel and head to Madrid the next day. One of the wonderful things about travel is getting sidetracked and tossing out the itinerary. Barcelona seduced me. A few days later, at the last possible moment, I took an overnight train to Madrid and headed straight to the airport.

With a few crumbled 100 pesata bills in my pocket not worth exchanging, I spent the last of my money on some goofy postcards at the airport. The silly ones wear lace has been sewn onto images of beautiful señoritas. I’ve always known I’d put them to some use. So here is my Madrid postcard piece. Unfortunately, I still haven’t been back to Madrid except with the vicarious trips taken in Pedro Almodóvar films.

Friday, April 29, 2011

April 29, 2011 – Yellow

The color for the day is yellow. Yellow is a color that plays a lesser role in my palette but I want to make sure each color gets its day in the 2011 Project. This piece was made with some of the random yellow bits in my hoard of collage fodder. And, as I couldn’t help notice, yellow did seem to be the power color of the day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

April 28, 2011 — Petroglyphs

When I travel I make a habit of seeking out art. In California and the desert Southwest some of the best art I find is not in any gallery or museum. There is an abundance of fine art to be found on rocks and cliffs. Much of the work is over 1,000 years old. Sometimes it’s a long hike back into a canyon or a drive down a dirt road. Sometimes the art is right there, very accessible near a road. A favorite spot is along the Fremont River in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. There are times you find the art in a remote setting and yet one of the best spots is in sight of subdivisions on the edge of Albuquerque.

There are plenty more petroglyphs for me to see out there. They are in “museums” where you need plenty of sunscreen. The desert is not Chelsea. You will never encounter a hostile, malnourished, gallery gal in a little black dress. But you might see a rattlesnake. I think I prefer the rattlesnake.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

April 27, 2011 – Ocotillo

I can still remember the first time I saw an Ocotillo. I was visiting Joshua Tree National Park and making my first foray into the lower, southern section of the park. It is where the national park drops from the Mojave into the Sonoran Desert. That trip was during the first spring in the El Niño year after the drought broke back in the 1990’s. It was the sort of desert bloom that usually only happens every 10-15 years. Driving south I left the Joshua Trees behind and suddenly encountered these tall, spindly cacti.

I had never seen anything like this cactus. They are tall, 10-15 feet high with branches stretching out towards the sky. At the tips of the branches were these flaming red flowers. There is no mistaking it, this is the Ocotillo (Fouquieria splendens). The best word to describe Ocotillo is flamboyant. They are the drag queens of desert flora — tall, spiky, flashy and demanding attention.

Ocotillo grow in the desert from Southern California to Texas and south into Mexico. The best place I have found to see them is Anza Borrego State Park south of Palm Springs. In March and April they are in full bloom. Where they bloom the flowers are often the only vibrant color. The effect is that in a few places Ocotillo are so thick the desert appears to have a red haze hanging over it as you look in the distance.

This piece is also featured on a print/poster available from Society6.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

April 26, 2011 – Olmsted

The Father of American Landscape Architecture, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., was born on this day in 1822. Even for Americans and Canadians unfamiliar with him, many of us know his work. Olmsted designed well over one hundred parks, college campuses, capitol grounds, zoos, cemeteries and some early green, streetcar suburbs. He is probably best known for co-designing Central Park, but his other commissions included the grounds of the U.S. Capitol as well as state capitol grounds in Denver and Salt Lake City. Large public parks in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Boston and Montreal. Many subsequent urban parks were heavily influenced by his work including Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Olmsted also was responsible for the campuses of both U.C. Berkeley and Stanford.

Olmsted was far more than a brilliant landscape designer. To this day, his legacy is some of the most important and beautiful natural oasis in cities in the U.S. and Canada. His work in the 19th Century continues to make urban life in the 21st Century far more livable. Olmsted was the urban answer to his 19th Century contemporary John Muir.

Monday, April 25, 2011

April 25, 2011 — Rock and Roll While You Stroll

30 years ago there was no iPod, it was all about the Walkman. The mobile music device that seemed to eat a set of batteries each time you played an entire cassette. One had to travel with a horde of batteries plus all those cassettes. Younger generations have no idea how we “suffered” to bring our music alone.

Today I found this article about how you could “Rock and Roll while you stroll” in a 1963 issue of Popular Mechanics. This device made it possible to walk down the street playing your 45’s. It never seems to have caught on. The price back then was $79.95. That is about $570 in 2011 dollars.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

April 24, 2011 – Butter Lamb

For my entire life there has always been a butter lamb on the Easter table. The butter lamb is a small lamb molded or shaped from butter. The lamb traditionally has a red ribbon around the neck and a red paschal flag in its rump. The eyes are two peppercorns.

The butter lamb is an old Polish tradition that is adhered to in Buffalo (where I was born). Even after my family left Buffalo, we had one sent to us. I used to get one shipped to me here in San Francisco. I now have a mould and have been making my own butter lamb for years. I may very well have the only butter lamb in California.

The only Easter without a butter lamb was the one I spent with cousins in Poland 25 years ago. On Easter morning it was time for ham, kielbasa and the traditional Easter meal. All washed down with plenty of vodka. I asked where the baranek was? Baranek literally means “little lamb” in Polish. Lamb? No, we have ham on Easter was the response. I was trying to explain that I was looking for the butter lamb. My cousin Tadeusz, the oldest member of the family at the table, suddenly realized what I meant. He was surprised that I knew what a butter lamb was. He was even more surprised that people in Buffalo still kept the tradition as no one in Poland did anymore.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

April 23, 2011 – Eggs

Eggs, and for some Easter Eggs, the tradition of decorating eggs goes back centuries in Eastern Europe. It was practiced long before Easter and pre-dates Christianity. The eggs are common throughout Eastern Europe but the true epicenter of egg art is the Ukraine where the eggs are known as pysanka. The traditional patterns are laden with symbolism. Each egg is actually a written prayer. In Ukrainian one says they are “writing” eggs when they make them.
Writing the eggs is a process requiring care and patience. Raw eggs are used. One would never hard-boil and eat these eggs – too much work is involved in decorating them.
It is a reverse process where wax is applied. The first layer of wax is the pattern that will remain white, without dye. The first coat of dye is the lightest color, yellow for example. Then there is another layer of wax to mark the yellow pattern. Repeat the process with red and finally black dye. Then the egg has to be carefully handled to melt away the wax. It’s done over an open flame (usually a candle). At this stage, a small hole can be made to blow the egg and empty the contents. Or the egg can be left to dry (it takes about a year). It always needs a ventilated place due to off gassing.
Beeswax is used. A stylus similar to a fountain pen is repeatedly heated over candle flame and then dipped in wax. The wonderful smell of beeswax fills the room. Great care has to be taken as you apply the wax to the egg. And being eggs, the entire process is fragile. Inevitably, there will be a time when you get almost to the end and accidentally break the egg. It is a lesson each person who writes eggs learns.
The reward is a beautiful, magical object. And the intricate process applying the patterns can pull you into a trance-like state. And if, like me, you have generations of ancestors who wrote these eggs, it is an important tradition that reconnects us to a timeline thousands of years old.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

April 21, 2011 – John Muir

We owe a big thank you to John Muir. He was born on this day in 1838 and during the course of his life he grew to love and appreciate many of the places we take for granted as national parks. For example, if it wasn’t for John Muir, it’s hard to imagine what Yosemite would look like today. Yes, Yosemite Valley would still be a beautiful setting, but would it be packed with resorts, shops and a golf course? In other words, would Yosemite be Sedona?

Many have followed in Muir’s footsteps and continue his work to preserve some of the world’s most important natural places. There is still plenty to be done. For this particular day, it’s a time to remember his perseverance and dedication. John Muir is the epitome of the good that can happen when one dedicated individual sets his or her mind to making the world a better place for us all.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

April 20, 2011 – The Queen

Tomorrow is the Her Majesty’s birthday. What do you get for an 85 year old woman who, well, has everything? I am not particularly concerned, but I can imagine her family is always challenged. I picture Charles and Camilla schlepping around an Ikea outside of London. Mulling over a new set of plastic containers for her corn flakes. It can’t be easy.

As Her birthday is tomorrow, you might wonder why this piece today. Well, being the Queen, she doesn’t even really celebrate tomorrow. Her official birthday is in June. And while she is born on the cusp, you have to wonder if having an official birthday with a parade is just an Aries thing.

And, at 85, for most of her subjects, as well as the rest of us, she has always been the Queen of England (plus all those other places). Like the Elizabeth centuries ago and Victoria, the British make those queens to last. Happy Birthday Ma’am!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

April 19, 2011 – Ham

It is the season for that most magical of meats. They say ham and bacon are gateway drugs that have gotten more vegetarians to fall off the wagon than all other meats combined.

Monday, April 18, 2011

April 18, 2011 – 1906

In San Francisco 1906 only means one thing. Today is the anniversary of the earthquake struck and subsequent fire that destroyed about 2/3 of the city. 200-300,000 left homeless and over 3,000 perished. Over a century later and the historical facts of the disaster are still open to debate. The exact number of deaths was never even established. Like many natural disasters, this one was worsened by bad decisions and human incompetence. Corruption lead to inadequate and poorly built infrastructure – chiefly the City had no water flowing to fight the fires. Some histories portray Frederick Funston as the military hero who saved the City. Yet, Funston was an outsider and a reactionary who illegally seized power. His obsession was protecting private property and preventing looting. Ordinary San Franciscans were determined to pitch in and fight the fire. Funston ordered his troops to clear the city and thousands of volunteers who wanted to help. We were turned back at the point of bayonets. And the city burned.

I live below Alamo Square in a neighborhood that was just spared the spread of the fire. There is an iconic photo taken of San Franciscans watching their city burn from the square. It is no wonder that park always feels haunted to me.

On this anniversary we can remember and we can prepare for the next big one. It will happen one day. When the earthquake happens, I have no doubt we will all come together and save, repair and rebuild our beloved City. And, like a century ago, I have no doubt people from all over the world will help us in those efforts. But most of all, we must be ready ourselves. The incompetent government responses to disasters like Hurricane Katrina and earthquake and tsunami this year in Japan are reminders – be ready!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April 17, 2011 – The Feud

The feud has been going on for too long. Back on April 17 in 1961 the fight really escalated. Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Bay of Pigs Invasion. Simply put, America needs to end this feud with its neighbor.

Not to defend Fidel Castro, but the U.S. Government has been cozy with countless dictators. And on the ruthless dictator scale, many of “our friends” make Castro look like a cigar smoking, boy scout. The Shah, Papa Doc and Baby Doc Duvalier, Somoza, Saddam, Noriega, Marcos — it takes little effort to come up with a list of dictators the U.S. Government has supported at one time. America’s embargo and fight with Cuba is a cold war relic that has no place in the 21st Century. If we can make nice with Vietnam, I think we can get along with Cuba.

When neighbors feud it usually goes on for so long that it is hard to remember how these things ever got started. After 50 years, it’s time to stop.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

April 16, 2011 – Coffee

I filled my little grinder this morning with organic, French Roast beans. I gazed down at the beans just before I pressed the button and was hit with a little emotion as I said to myself, “I love you coffee.” And I do, I do love you coffee. That delicious little hand made batch of coffee in my special “Silver Pine Pure Lard” coffee mug that I got in Flagstaff. It’s essential to keeping the 2011 Project going.

This is also the first time I have used ground coffee in a piece as I expand my definition of mixed media.

Friday, April 15, 2011

April 15, 2011 – Leonardo da Vinci

In the quest to have more public holidays where everyone gets a day off, today seems an appropriate one. Today is Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday. One of the greatest artists and geniuses of our collective history certainly deserves a holiday. Do we celebrate him as an artist? A mathematician? A scientist? An architect? The list goes on.

For my little tribute piece I have chosen to “sample” his painting “Lady with an Ermine.” I’ve never seen the Mona Lisa but this is one I have seen in person when the “Lady” visited us from Poland a few years ago. The painting is now in a museum in Krakow and has been in Poland for over 200 years.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011 – The Iceberg

99 years ago tonight, The Iceberg was minding it’s own business. The Iceberg was peacefully drifting through the North Atlantic then the Titanic struck. It was a horrible and tragic disaster where over 1,500 people lost their lives. The world has seen many disasters and many with a much greater loss of life, yet this one seems to mesmerize us. Even without the blockbuster movie, this is one disaster that our history seems to dwell on. It is expected for any culture to focus more on the tragedies that befall them. Horrible things happen in the world all too often, but there is always a bias in the media when it happens to people “like us.”

I believe with the Titanic there is something more going on. There is something about an “unsinkable” ship, a marvel of technology, so simply being sunk by hitting an iceberg. We are both fixated on such history lessons yet still seem to ignore them. Playing the odds and believing blindly in the latest technology is a pattern that repeats itself. The Gulf of Mexico devastated by oil last year and radiation still spreading in Japan. There are plenty of icebergs out there, and we’d be better off if we slowed down made room for them to float by.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

April 13, 2011 – Crazy Chick

Every time you sit down on BART you can’t think about it. You don’t want to know what lurks in those upholstered seats. It would be best not to read the New York Times article about BART seats and bacteria (I told you not read it). Sometimes when you sit down on BART, you know that a crazy person was there before you. These are the times you find a little comic book left for you on the seat from Chick Publications.

Chick Publications are the car crashes of religious fundamentalism. You can’t help but look. They are truly vile. They are perfect examples of the sort of hate and bigotry that zealots do so well. And as awful as they are, just like McDonalds and Jerry Springer, I secretly like them. They are so gross and yet hilarious. It’s tricky to parody Chick, as they parody themselves. That said, in the 1990’s the San Francisco comedian and performer David Hawkins created a play based on Chick Publications. The play remains one of the all time best underground theatre pieces ever done in the City.

You never know where you’ll find one, so keep your eyes out. The funny thing is I never see Chick Publications left on MUNI. There is no lack of crazies on MUNI, I wonder if the folks at Chick have ceded the turf to Mormon Missionaries.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

April 12, 2011 – Blast Off Yuri!

Fifty years ago today Yuri Gagarin blasted off into outer space in the Vostok I capsule. He was the first human we ever sent up into outer space. Today there is a lot of news coverage and acknowledgment of the achievement. Ironically, growing up in Cold War America, we only learned about Alan Shepard, the first American in space. As I was cutting up the outer space bits of my old childhood atlas, it was hard to find any references to the accomplishments of the Soviet space program. But 50 years later, it looks like Yuri is finally getting some of the recognition he deserved.

Monday, April 11, 2011

April 11, 2011 – Glass Beach

I have spent more than half of my life near beaches. The moment of finding some sort of “treasure” while walking down a beach never gets old. In California we have geology combined with the grinding Pacific surf. It has created some great beaches that are thick with layers of smooth pebbles. I can spend hours picking through the small rocks at Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. You can find polished little bits of serpentine that look like jade beads. And you always find a few bits of beach glass ground smooth by the surf.

If you’re really serious about beach glass, you need to go further north. Glass Beach up in Fort Bragg is amazing. A former garbage dump! It’s hard to imagine a town dumping its garbage into a cove up until the 1960’s. Fortunately, we know better nowadays. The result though is a beach thick with beach glass. It doesn’t take long to have a handful of treasure. And I owe it all to Huell Howser and California’s Gold. Without that show I would have just kept driving up Route One and never stopped.

There are many artists and craftspeople that incorporate beach glass (or sea glass) into their work. I prefer to do something different. Over the years I have done some paintings that are close-ups of magnified beach glass. They are intensive, detail-oriented exercises. Today’s piece is another portrait of one of my favorite places in California.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

April 10, 2011 – 100

Today is the 100th day of the year and the 100th piece in the 2011 Project. This mixed media pieces has exactly 100 pieces included in the collage. Many of them are from left over scraps from the other 99 pieces. 265 to go…..

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9, 2011 – Joshua Tree

I have been visiting Joshua Tree, California and loving Joshua Trees (Yucca brevifolia) for nearly 20 years.

There is the park. Joshua Tree National Park is one of my favorite places on the planet. For me it is centering, it is healing and inspiring. My head clears during every visit and I am always re-charged. I leave ready to make more art and full of new ideas. The national park is the obvious place to see the trees, but they turn up all over the Mojave when the conditions are right in an altitude between 1,300 and 5,900 feet. Further north, the Mojave National Preserve has ‘forests’ of Joshua Trees.

There is the town. When I tell people I go to the desert either two questions seem to come up. They assume I go to Burning Man. That’s not my scene. I go to the desert for quiet. They also assume Palm Springs. But that too is a place that just isn’t for me. I prefer the funkier, less fancy desert towns up in the High Desert. Towns like Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. The Country Kitchen in “downtown” Joshua Tree is a perennial favorite hang out.

And finally, there are the trees themselves — When you are in tune with nature, there can be certain places, plants and animals that you personally connect with. No two people are alike. For me, personally, the Joshua Tree is a very special tree. Technically speaking it is a plant, but that is a mere technicality. They are not the tallest and most majestic of trees, but Joshua Trees can still be hundreds of years old and possess a certain elegance. Each tree has its own personality. And yes, don’t tell the others, I have favorites.

Today’s piece is “framed” with some leaves from the Josephine Baker Joshua Tree. She stood for many years welcoming folks to the Rancho de la Luna in the town of Joshua Tree. The tree was so named due to its pose like the great dancer herself. Sadly, that particular tree was not meant to last for centuries. She went down in a windstorm over 10 years ago. The tree’s next stage was to become a source of life and habitat for many desert creatures that depend on fallen trees. And also, to end up in a little bit of art…

Friday, April 8, 2011

April 8, 2011 – The Pill

The pill has been part of American life for over 50 years and it seems rather astonishing that the U.S. Government may be shut down today over the pill. After all this time, it seems the pill should be no ore controversial than the gyrations of Elvis’s hips or the length of Beatles’ hair. Yet, in 2011, fanatics in the Republican Party are essentially willing to let the federal government shut down over funding to Planned Parenthood. Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s speech on the House floor this morning summed it up.

So with a fusion of maps of Tehran and Washington D.C. today’s piece is dedicated to the pill and the reproductive rights of women all over the world.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

April 7, 2011 – Fan

I am a real fan of foreign packaging. When I travel to foreign countries I always head to the supermarket. I can spend hours doing anthropological research just looking at all the “exotic” products and packaging. So much time that I suspect the staff monitoring the CCTV at Marks & Spencer thought I was a shoplifter. In the absence of foreign travel, I live in San Francisco. I have the Mission, Japantown, Chinatown and the Richmond.

One of my rules is, if it is a dollar or less, and you like it, buy it. Last week in the Richmond I came across Fan Medicated Soap. The retro looking packaging and the price of 59¢ had me. The smell is, to be subjective, medicated. It’s pretty awful. And in the spirit of authenticity for the 2011 Project, I used Fan Medicated Soap in the shower this morning. The smell doesn’t linger on the skin. Well, I think the soap removed a layer or two of skin. It’s pretty harsh. But the packaging inspired me for today’s piece.

The bar of soap is actually a rather attractive color. I was thinking that if I wanted to be a new age grifter, I could buy a load of Fan Medicated Soap at 59¢ each. Soak them to remove the embossed logo and then repackage the bars and sell them for $8 each at craft shows. “Homemade” soap indeed. But, in a way, I was too late. A quick search online and I learned the soap is seen as having some spiritual powers. Now, I am not questioning the spiritual powers of the soap and the beliefs of others. But I kept searching and found the bars priced at $5 and even £4.99. You may not live in San Francisco, but shop around because the soap should only cost 59¢.

Now, what do with the bar itself? Do I toss it or save it? It might be the perfect thing for washing my hands after a trip on MUNI.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April 6, 2011 – We see a nest

There are hoarders and then there are artists who collect things along the way because they know “they’ll use it some day.” In my big box of collage fodder I found this tattered, small, school book titled More sounds to say a product of “The Ladybird Key Words Reading Scheme.” I do like the use of the word scheme here. A price sticker on the book indicates I paid 5p. I haven’t been to the U.K. in 10 years. Even I am a little surprised that I would have schlepped this back in my luggage. But some of the illustrations are pretty cool (stay tuned for more).

And today, on this spring day, we see a nest. We can say nest. It starts with n .

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April 5, 2011 – Giant Green Anemone

It sounds so menacing, like something out of 1950’s B-Movie. Coincidentally it’s Roger Corman’s birthday the genius behind some of the cheesiest horror movies ever made.

But it’s not so “giant” – these anemones are just a few inches across. I saw quite a few examples of Anthopleura xanthogrammica yesterday in the tide pools in Moss Beach at the Fitzgerald Marine Preserve. This was my first time at this spot. I love the Bay Area and I love, after 20 years, there are still new places for me to discover. This is a hidden little gem of beach where a layer of exposed, ancient lava flows have created tide pools full of anemones, fiddler crabs, snails and all sorts of fun to look at crawling things.

Monday, April 4, 2011

April 4, 2011 – Old Road

I like painting roads. It’s not that surprising considering my passion for road trips. I have painted Route 1 many times. Today I visited Wilder Ranch State Park on the coast near Santa Cruz. It’s just off of Route 1. It was a picture perfect spring day. The historic ranch is located on the Coast Road. The Coast Road (painted here) is the old road that dips down and veers off of Route 1. This was the main road before the days of the state highway.

I have a fascination with this type of old road. They often are no more than bends and curves that parallel the main road. The old roads are vestiges of the original road left behind after the state came through and straightened the highway to accommodate faster traffic. I grew up on Cape Cod, where the oldest main road (now Route 6A) is mainly intact, as windy as it was about 380 years ago. But many of the newer state roads on Cape Cod also have these branches like the Coast Road near Santa Cruz. These side roads function as time capsules of main roads from another era. So slow down, and take that turn, see where it goes….

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April 3, 2011 – Sagebrush

The West smells good. In particular the arid parts from the deserts to the Great Basin, from Arizona to all the way up to Eastern Washington. The secret is the sage. When the air heats up and those oil molecules make their way into the air, it’s heavenly. And after it rains in the desert, the smell is like nothing else. Of course you can burn sage. It’s pleasant and for some a way to purification. I was using a hairdryer to finish off today’s piece, the dried leaves heated up and the smell filled the room. The world is still waiting for internet odorama.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April 2, 2011 – Palette Geology

I use a stackable plastic tray for my acrylic paint palette. When I am finished painting, I stack another tray on top to prevent the left over paint from drying out. The palette was really getting full with layers of older, dried paint. Yesterday was warm and dry, so I didn’t cover the palette. I decided to let all the paint dry up. This morning, I started peeling the paint away. The underside of the layers was shiny and smooth. The dried paint had a marble-like pattern. Okay, a very psychedelic marble. I just could not let that go to waste.
The result is what happened after I cut the pieces into strips. Applying them to the canvas created what looks like the cross section of geology of a very colorful place. 

I’ve used dried out paint like this in the past. I even saved it for future projects. It came in handy the time I added them to a Halloween mask.

Friday, April 1, 2011

April 1, 2011 – That Distinct Sound

I was enjoying a walk on this excessively pleasant day in San Francisco. Then I heard it. It’s a unique species. It’s easy to recognize. It’s sound like no other vehicle can make. You can always tell an old Volkswagen (pre-1980) by the sound of the engine. I fortunately live in a part of the world where the ravages of rust are not so severe. Many an old bug and van has survived to a ripe old age in California. I also am fortunate to live in a city where I can live easily without owning a car. But if I did...

I really am not into cars very much and have little interest in car culture. But certain, groovy old cars are an exception. Old VWs are near the top of the list. Being a non-car owner with good friends, I often borrow cars and sometimes I rent. Some of my friends even have pretty fancy cars. I hate to tell them, but all that power and easy handling is boring. A BMW or Mercedes is as dull as Honda as far as I am concerned. I like my cars, small, zippy and punky. Give me a bug any day. When you’re going 80 in bug, you can really feel you’re going 80. When you’re going 90, you know you’re alive. When you are in the passenger seat of a bug with three more crammed in the back, and the driver is going over 100 on the Autobahn, you should be a little scared (just a little).

And, unlike those soulless hybrids, you’ll never be run over by a bug. You can hear them coming down the street.