Two shots, both hand-held, the first taken at 6:21 p.m. Click on the images to enlarge.
The second shot, taken at 6:42 p.m., leaning against a lamp post.
Two shots, both hand-held, the first taken at 6:21 p.m. Click on the images to enlarge.
The second shot, taken at 6:42 p.m., leaning against a lamp post.
A scene captured in the onset of twilight in downtown Berkeley before dinner with friends.
Today was the first of what will be an even dozen chemotherapy sessions, a toxic battle to contain that aggressive ““high grade metastatic micropapillary urothelial carcinoma” that cost us our bladder, with the prostate thrown in for luck.
We learned something new at the start of the session in the pleasantly appointed chemotherapy floor at Kaiser Oakland, just across Broadway from the old hospital building.
The day began with a bit of a shock. We learned that instead of the three sessions we thought would comprise our treatment, there will be four three-session cycles [with a week interval of no chemo in between each cycle], for a four-month regime.
Each cycle will begine with a session like today’s, beginning with a cup full of steroid [decadron] and anti-nausea  tablets, followed by the installation of the intravenous line, with the first potion pumped through the veins being another anti-nausea agent, followed by a hefty dose of gemcitabine hydrochloride along with a separate bag of IV saline solution, then followed up with two-hour infusion of cisplatin accompanied by another separate bag of saline.
Next Tuesday will be a shorter session with only the gemcitabine hydrochloride, followed by another identical session a week later. Then comes the week off, followed by another double whammy to start the next cycle.
We’re feeling a bit disoriented and a bit weak. No nausea yet, though we suspect it’s coming later this evening.
The Kaiser nurses were excellent, the setting as pleasant as reasonably possible. There are individual TVs. But we were blessed by the presence of a good friend throughout the whole five-hour session, which really helped.
It’s a fascinating business. The chemo was called for by a biopsy following of November radical surgery to remove two organs we’d learned to know and love [God, how we miss the joy of taking a good piss. . .of what our old man called “shaking the dew from my lily.”]
When the chopped the two organs, they also scooped up 20 associated lymph nodes, one of which had been colonized by that nasty, aggressive cancer. Finding it on node meant a fifty/fifty chance it had also spread elsewhere. No radiation because where to target the beams since you’re dealing with probabilities and not specific sites of spread?
So the adventure has begun.
We’ll keep you posted.
Celebrating the evening before, as well as our soon to be temporarily departing hair, and taken by a friend during a beer and pizza session with two good friends at Jupiter on Shattuck Avenue in Berkeley. Tomorrow, Tuesday, we undergo our first chemotherapy session.
Our maternal grandfather, Emanuel [upper row, second from left], is perhaps the best-looking of the brothers, the offspring of two Danish immigrants. Grandfather Larsen stood over six feet, and with his blond hair and blue eyes, he once considered joining British Queen Victoria’s personal guards regiment. With his attitudes towards folks of other races, he would’ve been a good candidate for Hitler’s Liebstandarte, which was also composed of blondes standing six feet and over. One of his more stunning lines: “Swedes are nothin’ but niggers turned inside out.”
The only memory we have of him is of his heavily rouged face inside his coffin, which we glimpsed only briefly as we were lifted up by our father.
Compare the difference with this 1897 portrait today’s causal shots. Getting a family portrait in a photographer’s studio before the turn of the last century was an ordeal, requiring the best clothes and the most formal expression.
We only recall one of the women, by then much withered by age. Aunt Maggie would give us our beloved cat, Mickey Cornhusker [because she lived in Nebraska]. We’re not sure just where she is in the picture. Click on the image to enlarge.
Yet another example of the ubiquitous human impulse for self-commemoration. Kings and plutocrats build monuments, others tag.
Once the camera par excellence of the 35-millimeter film era, a venerable German camera maker makes a digital age rebirth.
First, a video from Deutsche Welle:
For photojournalists of a certain edge, the name Leica evokes a vanished glamour. Among the photographic legends who preferred the German camera were Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Alberto Korda, Ernst Haas, Man Ray, and Alfred Eisenstaedt.
For today’s generation of point-and-shoot users, the Leica is a formidable camera indeed in its modern digital manifestation, requiring the shoot to manually set focus, lens opening [f stop], and shutter speed. And [shudder] there’s no live or through-the-lens view, Leica being a rangefinder camera.
And when you add in the price, a Leica becomes truly formidable indeed.
But for Sarah Lee, a photojournalist for The Guardian, the combination is worth it, as she recently blogged:
The Leica feels different in the hand from other cameras in ways that are not easy to define (I find myself caressing the damn thing). The design is simple, little changed from the first Leica rangefinders of the 1940s – why mess with a good thing? My everyday Japanese DSLR is the camera equivalent of a people carrier: it does what it is supposed to do, but it is not an object of beauty. The Leica feels and looks (even in its digital form) like the equivalent of Inspector Morse’s Mark II Jaguar.
The images have a rich, warm tone and a sharpness that more dedicated Leica blogs (and there are a lot of them) could describe better. I’m not sure how much is to do with the glass and how much the technology, but I can see and feel the difference. I’ve even started taking my images to be printed again – something I haven’t done for a long while.
So the purchase of my newly beloved Leica may have ruptured my bank account. Christmas may have been put on hold. But so what? It’s reconnected me with why I became a photographer in the first place. Worth it? Yes.
A grab shot, taken by old friend Don Douglas with a vintage Nikon, inside a reconstructed Native America pit house in Mendocino County. The available light was streaming in through a hole in the roof. We still have [and wear] both the Stetson and the Pendleton shirt. We can’t say as much about hair or teeth.
Barack Obama seems intent on reversing the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, refusing to take the stands that endeared FDR to the American people [can you imagine Barry O saying to the forces of what he called organized money “I welcome their hatred”?].
One of FDR’s legacies, the great public art explosion of the New Deal, is coming under intense fire as the government — pushed by California Senator Diane Feinstein and to the profit of her developer spouse Richard Blum — sells off many of America’s post offices, including the Berkeley central post office in the city center.
Just by coincidence [snicker] the listing agent for the post office properties is Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis [CBRE] — owned by none other than Richard Blum.
And they say Greece is corrupt!
But, heck, that’s the way the game is played in Washington.
It’s not the first time Blum has benefitted from federal legislation to sell off properties.
On 21 April 2009, Washington Times reporter Chuck Neubauer wrote this:
On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.
Mrs. Feinstein’s intervention on behalf of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was unusual: the California Democrat isn’t a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs with jurisdiction over FDIC; and the agency is supposed to operate from money it raises from bank-paid insurance payments – not direct federal dollars.
Documents reviewed by The Washington Times show Mrs. Feinstein first offered Oct. 30 to help the FDIC secure money for its effort to stem the rise of home foreclosures. Her letter was sent just days before the agency determined that CB Richard Ellis Group (CBRE) – the commercial real estate firm that her husband Richard Blum heads as board chairman – had won the competitive bidding for a contract to sell foreclosed properties that FDIC had inherited from failed banks.
Blum is, in other words, the embodiment of FDR’s “organized money.”
Somehow, it reminds us of this.
Blum’s axe and a Berkeley legacy
The main Berkeley facility is both a notable piece of architecture [listed on the National Register of Historic Places (PDF)] and the repository of two notable New Deal artworks created under the Treasury Department’s Treasury Relief Art Project [TRAP], a remarkable historical mural by Suzanne Scheuer surrounding the door to the postmaster’s office and a bas relief plaque on the eastern side of the building’s loggia by David Slivka, the subject of today’s post.
It’s on the list of Blum’s plums, ripe for the plucking, along with that wonderful art, paid for by the public.
First the sculpture:
And here is a closeup of the upper package:
And the lower package, the artist’s signature:
Here’s some background on Slivka from the website of New York gallery Vincent Vallarino Fine Art:
A passion for art came at a young age for the Chicago-born David Slivka, son of Russian immigrants. At the age of thirteen he was awarded a scholarship to attend classes at the Art Institute of Chicago. Slivka’s family moved around the country for the next three years until finally settling in San Francisco where he won a scholarship to The California School of Fine Arts and spent the next one and a half years studying under the guidance of Ralph Stackpole.
Stackpole recommended Slivka for a commission on the Public Works of Art Project (a precursor to the Works Progress Administration). In 1937, Slivka completed a bas-relief of postal workers on the Berkeley Post Office, commissioned by the Treasury Department. Like many artists during the time, Slivka’s career was placed on hold as the US entered World War II. In 1941, Slivka became a Ship Fitter on Naval vessels before joining the Merchant Marine in 1942.
After the War, Slivka moved to Manhattan where he studied painting under Stanley William Hayter. It was through Hayter that Slivka was introduced to other contemporary artists like Joan Miro, Jacques Lipchitz, and Romar Bearden. An early member of The Artists’ Club, Slivka also began to exhibit with many artists from the New York School like Jackson Pollack, Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, and Franz Kline.
During this time Slivka also changed his artistic style from the figural, evident from his earlier PWA commissions, to the abstract. The artist began to work in carved marble but eventually turned to lost-wax bronze casting. In 1951, after the death of his friend, the Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, Slivka was asked to make a death mask Continue reading
Went to dine last night with friends at the wonderful Beach Chalet Brewery & Restaurant on Ocean Beach, and this was the view from our table.
Yep, there’s a grandkid on the way, elder daughter Jacqueline informed us today. Here we celebrate the moment during a visit to Moe’s Books on Telegraph Avenue.
Courtesy of younger daughter Samantha, a picture of a traditional Brenneman family Christmas tree ornament:
During a day centered around a visit to our surgeon, we toted our trusty Nikon in hopes of capturing some random images.
First, as we stepped out of our shower, we noticed an unusual play of light on the pebbled glass of our bathroom window. We’ve seen the leaves before, but never the odd yellow lights, which remain an enigma.
Following our doctor’s appointment, we headed to Telegraph Avenue to satisfy our Mexican craving at Mario’s La Fiesta, discovering to our dismay that the oldest restaurant in the neighborhood has changed hands and is now called Remy’s [a mystery we haven't had time to probe].
Walking along Telegraph, we spotted this unusual bit of street art, painted on the corner of a vacant storefront.
We ended our excursion with a visit to Moe’s Books, one of the avenue’s two remaining major bookstores [the other is Shakespeare & Co., a sister too the venerable Paris shop], where we spotted this delightful bust of the late and legendary store founder, Moe Moskowitz.
As we walked across Broadway in Oakland to our first post-surgical doctor’s appointment at Kaiser, we beheld a strange sight: An elderly Hell’s Angel in a wheelchair, headed for his own appointment, with some help from a friend.
But this morning he was just another geezer much like esnl, confronting his own mortality, albeit with some bravado of his own.
Who did the deed in Oakland last week after lunch after a fateful doctor’s office visit and obviously not after a trip to the barber. . .
First, the phenomenon that grabbed our eye and then our Nikon’s digital gaze [click on the image to enlarge]:
And after the jump, the phenomenon in context. . . Continue reading
For no particular reason, here’s a few samples from our eccentric and eclectic collection of pictures, assembled al fresco over the course of the years.
We’ll begin with scenics.
And click on the images to enlarge,
Our dad’s mother was an artistic polymath, skilled at paintings, photography, and pastels, as in this landscape, circa 1895. [As with all the following shots, the shot was captured in less than optimal conditions.] Apologies for the reflection onthe left.
Our mother’s best friend from college spent the summer of 1923 in Europe, and brought back several pictures, including this delightful and unsigned oil on canvas cityscape. The use of color is haunting.
Oil on Masonite, a three dollar purchase from a Beverly Hills thrift shop in 1977.
Oil on Masonite, purchased for $35 from a sidewalk sale in Hollywood, 1981.
Egg tempera on gesso, Anthony Willoughby. An old friend and brilliant artist reinvented the tempera techniques used by Renaissance masters, in particular their method of producing gesso sotile, Note also the gilding, giving the work a true three dimensional character. Though it’s hard to see here, every hair on the saint’s head is visible.
Another tempera on gesso, this one a portrait of a friend of the artist who has devoted his life to living off the land in the manner of 19th Century mountain men, hunting his game with a black powder rifle.
Every thread in the homespun shirt is rendered, as is every hair in the fur cap.
A few very small items accumulated over the years, evoking memories of people, places, and moments.
Given to our dad by his dad as part of circus play set, the favorite toy of his childhood. Made of cast pot metal, its paint wearing thin in place, and one red eye now devoid of color, but cherished all the same.
Two inches high, a ceramic homage to feline frustration from the late 1880s, and a treasure of our father’s mother.
Crafted in the 1880′s and resplendently armored in cobalt blue and gold, a treasure from our dad’s father’s childhood and presumably inspired by Civil War ironclads, this three-inch long ceramic features Broadway Street in Abilene, Kansas, out birthplace. Turn it upside down and your’re greeted with the declaration “Made in Germany.”
A gift from George Hedgepeth, who was in his 80s when I met him in Forth Collins, Colorado, in the latter part of the 1950s, a man who met his mail order bride for the first time when he picked her up at the trains station in his buckboard and drove her to the church where they were wed.
We found this near the remains of a long vanished farm in which archaeologists call a midden, but us plain folks call a trash heap. Made of glass and less than two inches high, the vial once contained yellow dye, which was sold along with margarine in the days when the dairy lobby had enough clout to make it that way. Seems folks were more likely to buy butter when the competitor looked just like lard until you spruced it up.
Before the days of digital were the days of film, a time when images were both costlier and far more complex to produce. This metal can, three-and-a-half inches on a side, once when tubes of the chemical developer needed to print the images from film onto photographic paper and was used by our dad’s mother, an avid photographer who had her own darkroom.
This 35 mm film canister is unusual in two respects. First, it’s half the diameter of the usual Kodak 35-mm film canister, and second, it belonged to a member of the crew that turned San Francisco on during the summer of love, the LSD chemists of Augustus Owsley Stanley III. On the back side a hand-scrawled label, now barely legible, reads “Nepali finger hash.” Twas empty when we got it.
A creation in chalk spotted on the wall of a ventilation shaft for the downtown Berkeley BART [rail transit] system on Shattuck Avenue in the heart of downtown Berkeley:
And a detail. . .
Spotted on a mid-morning stroll. . .
A gloriously iridescent fly. . .
A bee, legs laden with pollen. . .
And a bee, fallen prey to another critter. . .