Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Dave Graham: Giving hope to skinny dudes everywhere

(old YouTube film shot by Wills Young in Bishop)

Several years ago Josh Lowell told me the difference between Chris Sharma and Dave Graham: Chris wanted to do the hardest route in the world; Dave wanted to do every hard route in the world. It seems to be working out well for him.

Saturday, November 22, 2008



It's probably because I'm so close to kids who spend vast amounts of time online, but this story scared the hell out of me.

The longer I teach the more I realize the how powerful and corrosive American mass culture is.

It's not enough to opt out and pull deeper into the underground, but fighting the forces of U$ necro-culture feels sure feels disempowering.


"Hurt wastes your energy
Suffering wastes energy
Your emotions are nothing but politics
So get control...

No more number one
We've got to quit that game
No more attitude
Give it back to the TV set
No more tough-guy stance
I hear your mommy call
No more suicide
It kills everyone
No more petty love
No more petty hate
No more pettiness
No more pain"

(Embrace, "No More Pain", 1985. Image by P.I.T.C.H.)

Walt Shipley

Crazy pure adventure. Mischief. Insane humor. Lust for life. Walt's spirit still inspires.

walt shipley

"If we don't meet again in this world/see you on the next one/don't be late..."
Jimi Hendrix

Rock Monkey Art

whitney cirque
('Whitney Cirque'--Renan Ozturk)

When I was finishing high school the three things that really held my little world together were climbing, hardcore, and graphic design. If I'd had the self-confidence and gotten over my anxieties about being color-blind, I'd have gone to art school and a whole lot of thins would probably have turned out differently.
baltoro valley
('Ode to Cooks'--Renan Ozturk)

Anyhow, I've recently gotten re-excited about print-making and textile design and 2010 may finally yield some interesting new projects--some with my students, some on my own.

shipton spire cirque
(Shipton Spire and Valley--Renan Ozturk)

I really love how these paintings capture both the intensity and subtlety of alpine landscapes. They also give me a chance to live vicariously in places that are familiar (Yosemite, Zion, Joshua Tree) and foreign (Pakistan). For more about Renan's artwork and adventures, visit his site, Rock Monkey Art.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Listen to Nina Simone

Nina Simone

Turning Point: Casey Watson

Casey Watson is probably the one person I know who can honestly say, "straight edge saved my life." Over the past 15 years he's played in innumerable bands, traveled widely, and I think grown into the person he truly wants to be. It was a pleasure to see him recognized outside of the scene he loves. (Text from the San Francisco Chronicle.)

At age 14, James Lee Williams was convicted of robbery, extortion and making terrorist threats, crimes committed when he was high on marijuana and alcohol. He had gone to Juvenile Hall seven times by age 17.

Ryun Repetto started drinking alcohol when he was 12 and soon graduated to marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms and LSD. He hit bottom at 16, when -- loaded and in a rage -- he tried to kill his father by stabbing him and beating him with a club.

Today, Williams and Repetto, both 18, are sober. They talk about attending college and how they are mending relationships with their families. Both finished the San Francisco Marathon in July.

Their lives began to change, they say, when a judge sent them to spend one year at Thunder Road, a one-of-a-kind drug rehabilitation program for teens. Located in Oakland and modeled after the Betty Ford Center, Thunder Road is the only chemical dependency recovery hospital for youth in California.

"I knew something had to change, but I didn't know what it was," Williams said. "Now, I feel like I have my priorities straight."

Repetto said, "I came in here, and I was going to fake it. But if you are willing to listen, and you go to AA meetings, if you really try, it works."

Thunder Road has been designated as the beneficiary of the Alta Bates Summit Foundation's annual celebrity classic tennis tournament, which takes place Saturday at the Berkeley Tennis Club.

The event -- headlined by two-time Grand Slam Finalist Todd Martin and by MaliVai Washington, the first African American man to reach a Grand Slam singles final since Arthur Ashe -- will also feature celebrities such as actor Dick Van Patten, Judge Joseph Wapner and game show host Wink Martindale.

The proceeds have been earmarked to expand Thunder Road's culinary arts program, which provides the kind of vocational training that helped one Thunder Road graduate become a pastry chef at San Francisco's Postrio restaurant.

Sixty percent of the teens at Thunder Road have been sentenced there by the courts for a year of inpatient care funded by taxpayers and private grants, while others have typically been committed by parents for shorter treatment stays.

Everyone there has to abide by strict rules -- no romantic relationships, no cursing, no tobacco use -- and to follow rigidly structured schedules. There are daily treatment assignments, Narcotics Anonymous meetings, school, group therapy and family-dynamics meetings, which parents are required to attend.

The hospital often has a long waiting list, something administrator Tom Gerstel said is a reflection of how few drug and alcohol treatment programs are available to youth.

Four out of 5 people in prison have serious drug and alcohol problems, Gerstel said. The Bay Area has roughly 1,400 kids locked up in juvenile halls but just 250 residential beds in group homes with drug and alcohol counseling. Thunder Road's 50 beds are the only ones licensed for both hospital and group home use.

"We shouldn't be incarcerating our way out of this problem," Gerstel said. "But adolescent treatment just hasn't been the focus."
To learn more about benefit, Thunder Road

For more information about Thunder Road, go to thunder-road.org or call (510) 653-5040. For information about the Alta Bates Summit Foundation's Celebrity Classic, go to absfdn.org or call (510) 204-1667.

Mental Health Holiday: Joshua Tree

(Beneath 'Finley's Crack'--Iceberg Boulder, Rattlesnake Canyon, JTNP)

(Tips and toes on 'Rubicon'--Split Rocks area, JTNP)

JT NightTime

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Dancing in the Streets: 11/4/08

Obama's win is making the Mission look like the set of that old Bowie/Jagger video...only in a good way.

Election Night 2008

Embrace your inner hipster--apolitical kafiyah and vaguely ironic mustache and all--and take to the streets!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A shriek turned to stone

('Patagonia Dreams' found on YouTube.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fall Psych

(Yuji Huriyama high on the Nose--pulled from Speedclimb.com)

The last warmth of summer has given way to a chilly fall. The East Bay Bouldering Crew is craking as usual. Hans and Yuji are going for another speed attempt on the Nose today, and blue skies surround SF despite the Blue Angels' best attempts to scare the city with their vulgar display of power and noise.


I've been experimenting with different variations on my hangboard routine (pyramid hangs: 2,4,6,4,2 seconds; 10 minute condensed workouts; L-sit pullups). I'm still a bit of a novice at this kind of training, but I'm keeping with it. The hardest part of training is choosing to begin.

(Old Reinhardt Karl photo from Wolfgang Gullich's book.)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Dawn Patrol

(Using the night to get more day--Bugaboos.)

My good friend Steve is no stranger to F.O.M.O.--Fear Of Missing Out. It's a known killer of men below 65 and when he gets to feeling particularly behind the training curve he'll lament, "while I'm sleeping, they're getting strong." "They" could be the next V12 grommet, the off-the-couch savant who does the Nose-in-a-Day, or the low-key East Siders who treat the Incredible Hulk like a mere crag. Not to be left out or behind, he's heading into the Gorge several days a week--before teaching!--to run laps on 5.11s and 12s that he's got in the bag. Just as folks are dropping into the Central Gorge he's on his way out having logged a respectable afternoon's worth of routes.
(Jon Baum going third-class on Bugaboo Spire.)

Feeling some mighty F.O.M.O. of my own I've started dawn patrolling in the spirit of Alex Lowe. Lowe's infectious energy, drive, work ethic and caffeine consumption are the things of legend. My dawn patrol--hangboarding or doing yoga from 5-6 am; bike commuting to school--is building toward the alpine ideal of going higher, lighter, and faster.
(Room 122 where I like to think I model a way of living as much as I model sentence trees.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Black Dove

Dennis Berendt's Black Dove have single-handedly revived my faith in heavy music. I'm not usually taken with d-beat and the cacophony of denim-n-leather punks in a world without soap channeling Motorhead and Tolkien...but Black Dove is something special. Cloaked beneath the nihilism and aesthetics of doom I can't help but remember that Dennis has a heart of gold and believes deeply in the possibility of change. What he began with Three Studies and continued with The Awakening lives on and that makes my day a little brighter.

Check them out here.

Still/Hear 2

"The words and the pictures and the voice are held like weapons/hate as an object, as a product and it sells so quickly/all just to prove we can be just as numb as our enemy/and if you really care then why do you use these tactics?" ("Numb", Campaign, 1992)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Fiend still inspires


R.I.P. Alex.
(Conrad Anker photo)

Bill Ayers: A Call to Teach

I'd like a president to know "radicals" like Ayers.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Still/Hear 1


As cheesy and cliche as some of these records seem now, each of these seven inches--an anachronism if there ever was one--defined the landscape of hardcore punk for me and my closest friends in the early 90s. They're part of me, and through them I found my voice and a way to define and describe my values outside of the confines of white suburban California.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Writing With Light

Joshua Peach is a good friend whose photographs keep evolving--aesthetically and emotionally. Like a lot of friends, I wish he wasn't so far away, but these photos keep him at least a little bit closer.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Art as Protest

"[Merz] is an idea about how the artist takes the deconstructed world--the world that has been emptied of all meaning by commercialization--and makes something of the rubble."
Bill T. Jones in
Plazm 14, 1996

my lai

This 1970 image from the Art Workers Coalition begs the 2008 question, What would we see now?


During the first intifada, images of Palestinian children throwing rocks at Israeli tanks struck me like nothing else I'd ever seen. The indecency of the bullets fired upon those kids and the US funding for those tanks drove home the gross inequity of militarism and state power.


ACT UP's early campaigns--mass 'die-in' demonstrations, bloody handprints on the headquarters of big pharma--were both visually arresting and inspiring.


Robbie Conal's "Contra Cocaine" posters appeared all over greater LA the summer of the Ollie North hearings and seemed like one a logical extension of the agit-prop collages of Winston Smith and Gee Vaucher.

Tiananmen Tanks

Finally, the photo China doesn't want you to see. With the start of this year's Olympics in Beijing, I can think of no greater way to celebrate the spirit of resistance than to reproduce this image.

(All images culled from the net.)

Amplifier Worship ))) Boris: 8/2/08


Kiss Alive is a lackluster offering from the masters of unadulterated Id, but it does have one of the greatest covers in all of rock and roll.


Boris bears almost no resemblance to the Motor City madmen. They drift seamlessly between glacial-paced drone and ear-splitting psychadelia, Stooges-inspired garage stomps and dirges that seem to split time in the grand tradition of Funkadelic's 'Maggot Brain'...all at a volume that begins at 11.


Perhaps more than anything else, Boris exercise--or exorcise--the power of that cover. Eardrums be damned.





Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pattern. Texture. Color.

wood pattern 2

wood pattern 3

wood pattern 1


lotus flower, kuai


[Top to bottom: three trees in Tuolumne, chard with ginger, turmeric, and coriander, lotus flower in Kuai, Sierra shooting star]

Earth: 6/20/08

Dylan Carson and Earth makes the music that Ozzy's children should play. He has climbed inside the cone of an amp is looking out at the rest of us from within. Not so much within a note, but a tone. It's more than the sound of a hesher buried to his neck in molasses, trying to play the opening riff of 'Fairies Wear Boots'. He's reaching for something further out there; further than Sunn; further than darkness at the edge of town.
dylan earth

earth 2

earth 3

earth 4

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Buttermilk/Tuolumne Video Teaser

Sierra Segment Trailer from Neil Gill on Vimeo.

This is from a film by Dave Gill. That should be out in November 2008. From the look of the Bachar-Yerian footage, it'll be fantastic. Check out Dave's site at: http://steepmedia.blogspot.com/
Likewise, the fine still images for the film are at Neil Gill's blog:


For the last 25 years I really haven't been able to breathe through my nose. Severe allergies, nose-revolt around smoke, and a deviated septum have pretty much made my nose useless. This month I dropped $10 on the Kaiser co-pay and had it carved up. (At that cost I might as well tear my ACL!) Anyhow, so far so good...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Take the gates of Heaven by storm

"They're talking about the round and round/but tell me who's got the real anti parent culture sound?" (N.O.U., 1992)

"Ulysses, ulysses, beloved of the youth."

"The Nation of Ulysses must prevail!"

[Justine Demetrick images from Dear Jesus. B/W image by Shawn Scallen. Video from YouTube. ]

Ridges, aretes, and traverses

Minarets 7 am
South Notch to The Gap, Minarets


Tyrolean cast-off, Sun Ribbon Arete, Temple Crag, Palisades

Bugaboos classic, West Ridge of Pigeon Spire, Purcell Range

Thunderbolt to North Palisade Traverse, Palisades

Matthes Crest, Tuolumne Meadows