December 12, 2018

Together (No. 18)

Acrylic on birch panel, 48" x 36"

Here's number 18 of my series "Together," where I explore how it is to live in the public square in close proximity to others. I didn't get a chance to show it around much before it sold but I was told it's very east coast, perhaps because west coasters, at least southern Californians, are almost always in cars when outdoors, or if not that in spacious parks.

For me it has Jane Jacobs written all over it.

One of the technical things I'm doing with this series is restricting myself to a limited palette of CMYK. Frank Gehry, the architect, said in an interview I once caught on the radio that the only commission he ever screwed up was one where the client gave him complete freedom to do as he pleased. Not just in art but in public (and in families, communities, and relationships of all sorts) the cards are generally dealt by others, by reality, and the trick is not to flee from or deny the situation - nor accept it wholeheartedly either - but find ways to work within the box in the most gracious ways possible.

In politics, it seems, you know what you're dealing with when the teleprompters break. In comedy, the hecklers make the comedian. Event planners pull it off even in the rain.

It's about being rubber and a dandelion at the same time. Maybe a rubber dandelion.

For this and other of my latest works, mosey on over to

October 30, 2018

Chicago "L"

Mixed media on birch panel, 48" x 36"
I was in Chicago for the first time this summer. It was only a few days but the downtown, and especially the roaring, steely subway, called the "L," really made an impression coming from the sea of highways known as L.A. All the pedestrians out and about in what was obviously the nicest windchill-free weather of the year, amid posters calling for Trump's ruination, had me singing, and thinking art.

I took a bunch of shots, sketched, and even grabbed some bits of this and that I could use for collage, and finally, months later, got around to making this.

It was supposed to flow out in a nice gentle breeze but every time I say that I get mired in all kinds of sweaty, unessential details and the work turns out more tentative and laboured than I want. I think it still has charm, especially when viewed in the flesh, but I've been telling myself for a while I really gotta quit the Rococo, work on my design essence, and pare it down.

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October 11, 2018

And freedom devolved into excess

Mixed media on canvas, 90" x 60"
I was at an art show a few weeks ago and got to watch, over the course of four days, a muralist cover a wall from start to finish. The section he worked on was probably 12' x 40' and while he had everything worked out and his approach was very graphical, it was impressive to watch the way he knocked out the piece.

I managed to sell a little work of my own and as I'm wont to do, I put some of the cash right away into new materials just as soon as I was back home. The first of the supplies was a big piece of canvas and a pile of wood to make stretcher bars of a sort I could disassemble, fold, and transport in my relatively compact Mazda5.

I've been on a bird kick I don't quite understand and here's the work I managed to produce. It's a smothering panoply of cute little symbols of freedom, flapping about in every which direction over my typical urban backdrop. It's reminiscent, I think, of Hitchcock's The Birds, supposedly based on the Greek myth of the Furies, the female deities of vengeance. I like that connection given all the Kavanaugh BS and #MeToo in the news these days.

In real life rather than shrunken down on a screen in front of you, the painting's larger scale pulls you into its world more than you might expect, a bit like a stage set. Actually, it's a little eerie to stand beside, but that's a quality that appeals to me.

Anyway, I liked working this large so much that I'd like to do more, just need to think how not just in a material sense but also a conceptual one, because up-scaling does shift how you think about what to depict and why. On that point, more to come shortly.

Hope it's a great week!

For this and work like it, visit

September 24, 2018


24" x 48", mixed media on birch panel
What to say about this one, except that the image was somehow etched in my head before I even started?

There are these weird half-vintage, half-prepubescent-teen bikes that Californians love.[1] They look good and signal the right message about fashion,[2] but they're clunky, heavy, with long handlebars and gummy tires. You normally find a dude with a beard and the most haute streetwear cutting wide arcs from side to side on one.

Then too there's that yearning to be out in nature while surrounded by concrete and advertising. I don't share the romantic stuff about being at one with the cruel phenomenon we call Mother Nature, but I do think a re-appreciation of wildlife, the source of our food ultimately, and everything else could go a long way to repairing some of the damage we've done to the environment.[3]

The painting was inspired by somewhere I happened to pass through in South-Central, looking for some sort of heart to L.A.


[1] Robert Pogue Harrison, Juvenescence: A Cultural History of Our Age (2014).
[2] Nidesh Lawtoo, The Phantom of the Ego: Modernism and the Mimetic Unconscious (2013).
[3] Robert Pogue Harrison, Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition (2008).

September 18, 2018

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita

Mixed media on birch panel, 48" x 36"
Here's one I haven't posted yet but I managed to sell on the weekend at Kaaboo Del Mar.

The couple that bought it were into plants, growing and identifying them by their names, an increasingly rare skill I'd say as we become more physically detached from territory and our knowledge base flattens out. 

The painting is another one for my "Walls" series, where I look at the idea of the human-made and natural worlds colliding at hard lines and birthing new realities.

The highfalutin title is from Dante's first line of the Divine Comedy, completed in 1320: "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura, ché la diritta via era smarrita" - "Midway through life's journey, I found myself in a dark forest, having lost the straightforward path" (my translation). If you know anything about the poem, the dark forest is the worst of all worlds (Hell) and the path from which Dante has deviated represents the old philosophical quest to live, in the midst of challenges, in the best possible way. It's a beautiful setup.

Anyway, I've been working on a novel about life in Florence at the end of the Renaissance and so all this old way of writing and thinking (actually, though, it's as fresh as anything we struggle with today, eerily so) has been swimming around in my head.

Now, where was that path?

September 9, 2018

The Ol' Razoo

Mixed media on canvas, 60" x 45"
Here's another largish one featuring hummingbirds in a state-of-the-art industrial setting.

I've been told that there are a lot less of the buzzing, shimmering streaks of colour than there used to be in Southern California, but I've never seen as many in my life, having grown up in cooler climes.

They show up everywhere a flower can grow: the mountain valley where the sun struggles to penetrate and green grows, coiffed suburban shrubs, and breaches in cement. If they were larger and shit as much, we'd equate them with pigeons.

You're not supposed to anthropomorphize wildlife but I can't help think every time I see a hummingbird (and it's always one, never the confederacy in my painting, silly me) it's mocking me, laughing inside, giving the razoo, as they said in the gilded era. "Oi, you dope down there, sweatin' on the hard concrete, shufflin' from machine to machine. So clunky in the way you move. Go on, get pissed! You think you can catch me?"

(Incidentally, I'm gearing up for Kaaboo Del Mar next week, pushing it in the sauna that is my studio, getting light headed.)

September 3, 2018

Mini #85: Rust Never Sleeps

5" x 5", oil on birch panel

This summer I drove 5,000 miles from L.A. to Toronto and back. One surprise was how radically the landscape changed over the Mississippi River. On the west side is, well, the West - light, package new, and dippity-do - while on the east side it's grime, history, and a bit of the fist.

This train sat idle somewhere on the border between Iowa and Illinois a ways from the soy fields and cows. It was a bit of a sad sight all blanketed in graffiti, snoozing. Trains once "opened up" the west, right behind guns and cowboys, and made Manifest Destiny and at least two superpower nations a reality.

Seems the latest-greatest comes along and we get all wild and modern, like teens hankering for a new pop hit. Then another technological miracle comes along and we move on, leaving the old to pollute the environment, community, home - or at least someone else's. Enough of that pollution and you create something like a junkyard dog that used to chase balls and fetch sticks, but not any longer.

For this painting and others, check out

August 22, 2018

Together (No. 17)

Acrylic on birch panel, 48" x 36"

Another one for the series, numero 17.

I've been dealing with some pretty extreme heat in my un-air-conditioned studio these days. Half of the drops on the painting are sweat.

The scene is Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence, based on a doodle I did three years ago when we lived in Florence and happened to dug up recently in a sketchpad. If you don't know the station in all its modernist-rationalist-brutalist glory, it's where you're sure to find piles of people from every corner of the globe at all hours of the day.

Many Italians told me they disliked the station because shady things happened there and it was full of tourists, but they're whack.

I could never just pass through, even when I had a train to catch. I lingered in awe at the coordinated yet chaotic movement of human and machine, the polished marble floors, the metal lettering in uniquely Italian sans serif, and the gravely voice of the arrivals and departures announcer over the PA, a sure smoker. The place conjured in me the need to buy a newspaper, for some reason. Make sense of the day. Get an espresso. Fare la bella figura.

This and other "Together" paintings can be viewed at

Keep on truckin'!

August 12, 2018


48" x 36", mixed media on birch panel

Here's a piece I finished a few months ago but forgot to post. It's a picture of 7th and Alvarado in L.A., in the Westlake area with Skid Row in the distance, reminding us how unromantic the city can be.

The street is narrower and the buildings and figures are sketchier, more gestural than they would be in reality, but more to my aesthetic liking and part, more importantly, of my grand scheme to persuade everyone that density can be good and the North American appetite for space and sprawl is really a form of misanthropy.

Incidentally, Alvarado St. is named after the 19th-century governor of California (when California was still Mexico), Juan Bautista Alvarado. Alvarado led a coup to take Monterey, which was then the capital of both Alta and Baja California, and for a time he declared California an independent country. But Mexico quickly took the territory back, and then of course the gringos took it from Mexico. The rest is history.

You can find this and other paintings like 'er on my website,

¡Que tengas un buen día!

July 26, 2018

Together (No. 16)

Acrylic CMYK on birch panel, 30" x 40"
When I was a young punk and played hockey, the teammates who had the crappiest sticks and oldest skates but still performed at a high level seized my imagination more than those lucky enough to afford the latest, slickest gear. While the one group, it seemed to me, had found ways to work with and around limitations, the other had resorted to a cheap technological compensation.

In art, I sometimes regret how much effort is put into throwing off apparent confines and finding secretive edges up on the competition by using fancy materials or pricey shortcuts. Though it may seem antithetical, artistic freedom and the expansionary impulse aren't the same to me. Take poetry. For most of its history poetry was not about blasting open the form but confining the words to a set metre or rhyming pattern, while making the thoughts zing all the same. Or storytelling. The crucible of characters being shoved together and unable to escape one another is often what builds the tension and makes the story.

In painting, I've participated in dozens of plein air contests (the artistic equivalent to improv in music or comedy, when they're serious) and they've never been about unrestricted freedom. Instead, they're stressful, frustrating, and exhausting, but the time limits, minimal materials, and unideal conditions force you to reach down deeper and hit on ideas that don't come any other way.

These weeks I've been away from my familiar workspace, with the paints, tools, and machines in just the places I wish them to be. I've also, admittedly, had too much change in my environment, filling the headspace I need to work with smoke. Nonetheless, I did complete this one painting, a "Together," the most minimal type of painting I do. The series is all about boundaries and limits, down to the restricted CMYK palette and focus on pedestrianized space.

The finished piece feels, I don't know, symbolic, in more ways than one. In ways I hadn't intended.

July 1, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 11 and 12, Chicago

In penetrating the Windy City, we fight through an hour or so of traffic and arrive at our "urban holiday loft" in the trendy Bucktown neighbourhood.

We park, leave our big backpacks in our room, and head out on foot for 4-5 miles in the dusk.

Ah, right away, metal beams and rivets, bitten by winter, and rusting. Graffiti. Old water towers. Cobwebs of overhead wires. Socialist posters impolitely saying what Trump really is and not a few people who are unafraid to tell us on the street. This is all very un-Californian.

The next day we're up early and at it again, though now we buy day passes for the subway. Along the way we chat with four strangers, none of them patriots or uninteresting, because that's the beauty of public transit and why conservatives revile it, no?

We get off in "the loop," amidst the financial buildings, and our first sight is a Kandinsky mosaic that wraps around four giant walls, with an army of smokers smoking their breakfasts out front of it, not one vaping, either.

We visit the building of the old central library, the turn-of-the-century kind with handcrafted masonry, stained-glassed ceilings, and inscriptions throughout that pay homage to literature—the sort that will never be built again, since today's robber barons are mentally bankrupt, and illiterate.

We take in an entire room dedicated permanently to Keith Haring and his street art in Chicago, as well as a temporary exhibit by Alexis Rockman on the state of the Great Lakes.

"Cascade," oil and alkyd on panel, 72" x 144"
It's my first time seeing Rockman and my immediate thought is, yup, this is the correct way to do nature/Americana/Canadiana today.

From here we head to the mirror-blob sculpture, which doesn't do much for me but prompt me to take a selfie and think I'm wonderful. We then sit to watch the Chicago philharmonic rehearse outdoors in the concert hall built by that overrated starchitect, Frank Gehry.

Lunch in Chinatown, and more unplanned chitchat along the way and in the restaurant, with a young woman who has just moved to Chicago from Nashville, "where there are not so many Chinese but lots of cowboys."

For the rest of the day, we pilgrimage to the current central library, which is as spectacular as the old one, not Gehry, not cold and academic, at all.

We stare at the exposed overhead subway lines for at least an hour, plugging our ears each time a train passes.

Finally, we visit the site of the Haymarket riot, which led to the hanging of several socialists and anarchists because an unknown source detonated a bomb and killed seven policemen, back in 1886.

By the way, it's due to Haymarket and subsequent struggles connected to it that May Day exists (at least outside of North America) and for a while, more than today's privileged few anyhow, had an eight-hour workday.

I gotta say, I'm disgruntled to find simply a sculpture and tiny plaques from unions around the world affixed to it, and the supposed long-term plans for a "Labor Park" in evidence nowhere, but maybe not surprised. The location is banal and difficult to find, too.

Tomorrow, central Michigan for a last night of camping and then Ontario, land of confused voters who for some reason want more America.

June 27, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 9 and 10, Nebraska and Iowa

We see Nebraska and Iowa mostly at 80 m.p.h. on the I-80, so it's a condensed and truncated view at best.

Geographically, the skies are as vast as they say and the fields of corn and cattle pasture a never-ending emerald smear.

It's dangerous to generalize but the people seem humbler, as if they haven't forgotten what community is and the small rituals required to maintain it. I go for a run to shake off the car legs and every single person I pass says hi. No one wears sunglasses and there doesn't seem to be a gym or organic grocer in sight.

Of course, these same friendly folk voted overwhelmingly for Trump, at least outside of Lincoln, Omaha, Des Moines, and the other major cities (though curiously, they aren't as in your face with the flag and make America great garbage as Californians).

Then going on the leaflets in rest stops and every billboard trying to pull you into a local source of pride, they're smitten with Lewis and Clark, the Mormon trail, the California trail, pioneers, and every other force of Manifest Destiny, to the expense, I would say, of other histories.

I did a little research and found that at one rest stop outside of Omaha, on the Big Blue River, a tornado hit the camp of Standing Bear and the Ponca tribe in 1877, killing Standing Bear's daughter. The tribe it turns out was heading for Oklahoma because white settlers had dispossessed them of their land in Nebraska, and along the way a quarter of them died. When they tried to return to their homeland two years later, soldiers from Fort Omaha arrested and imprisoned them on the very spot on the Big Blue where we stopped.

Standing Bear would fight his imprisonment and eventually win. The ruling was the first time in U.S. history "that an Indian was a person within the meaning of the law," explained a plague, at the end of a path behind other plaques honouring American soldiers who fought in Vietnam, the sacrifices made by pioneers to break the land, and something about Purple Hearts, in case your patriotism was beginning to waver.

In Iowa, we stop on the eastern extent of the state, just across the Mississippi from Illinois, in Davenport. It's pouring rain but we make an effort at least to see the Mississippi, which is an inch or two from overflowing its levees. It's the first time we've seen the huge river, as vital as it is to the settlement of North America (just take a look at this map of light pollution, with the Mississippi splitting the two distinct zones). The river makes a big impression.

Downtown Davenport, meanwhile, feels like the rust belt, or the outer fringes of it anyway, a little like Southern Ontario. Rough but homey. We J-walk for the first time not worried that a cop will arrest us. And we stand in centre medians while cars keep going right by, not confused in the least at the sight of pedestrians.

June 26, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 8, Tundra

We leave our campsite on the sunnier west side of Rocky Mountain National Park and drive east along the U.S.'s "highest paved road," directly over the peak of the cordillera, not knowing what to expect, nor having read much about it.

Soon we hit Milner Pass at the Continental Divide, where the water of the Americas splits east and west.

Up there we see elk with "huge racks," a guy with binoculars and fingers that look used to pulling triggers tells us, and longhorn sheep clinging to cliffs, though too far away to really see well.

Above us, in the peaks, is snow, "but I don't think we'll get anywhere near it," I announce.

In the backseat, the kids read a pamphlet and inform us of the various regions—montane, subalpine, alpine—just as we pass from one to the next. Quickly we hit the tree line. "Okay, maybe we will see snow."

We keep ascending. The treeline passes and we definitely see snow. In fact, it starts to snow. We get out and climb a peak to 12,000 feet. Grey clouds swirl. A marmot shuffles by. It's hard to breathe, and we're freezing in shorts. One daughter declares that she hates the tundra, right after she trips on a rock and falls. But the mountain flowers are an inspiration, and the view is exquisitely, superlatively exciting.

On the way down the western side, it storms, with wind so strong it feels like our car will pull a Dorothy. The temperature drops to 6 Celsius according to our car thermometer, which I bang, like  Fonzie, convinced it's broken.

We're supposed to camp in Lake Ogallala, Nebraska, but decide instead to book a night in a motel. Oh, it's glorious, and we spend the rest of the day reminiscing on why.

Some of the things you take for granted when you're camping:
  • Walls that insulate you from rain, cold, noise (especially hillbilly rock and the air brakes of big rigs), and pesky animals
  • Breakfast you can make in under an hour without throwing out your back
  • A shower
  • Warm water and a sink in which to wash dishes
  • A toilet that isn't a five minute walk away up a hill and over a rocky path, without trip lines from tents that cause your kids to fall and cry
  • Lights that turn on with the flick of a switch, so you don't stub your toes looking for a flashlight
  • A fridge not just to cool your food but store it, rather than have to string it up a tree because of scavengers with fangs
  • A mirror that isn't a dented piece of metal affixed to the wall, even if looking at yourself while camping may not be the best decision
  • A proper soft, dew-free, debris-free bed, with no insects in it
  • Kids that don't look feral
  • Not seeing white families with deluxe RVs and a Walmart of goods try to recreate the suburban homes they've just left behind for a few days
Tomorrow, Omaha!

June 24, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 7, Rocky Mountain

We stay put today. It's hovering around the freezing point when we wake up, but Rocky Mountain National Park north of Denver, one of the oldest national parks in the U.S. is too sublime to leave right away.

We spend the day hiking up East Inlet Falls to Lone Pine Lake, or at least close to the lake before we fizzle out, some 9 miles and 2000 feet of elevation climb.

We see lots of scat, fly fishers in meadows, trees chewed by mountain pine beetle, and Texans.
Sunburnt and destroyed at the end, we find a library in nearby Grand Lake with amazing chairs to snooze in.

In the evening, we attend a ranger talk on bears and the ranger gets the kids to hold up a grizzly pelt with a huge head and long fangs for the audience. Bears, if you didn’t know it, are wily suckers. They have elephant memories and noses that can smell five miles away, maybe that sandwich you’re eating right now. But if you string a scary Halloween figure that shakes or glows on your dumpster, they get scared and run away.

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 6, Colorado

Fandango doesn't make it. The desert proves too hot for a freshwater crayfish.

Before leaving Moab, we bury him under a mulberry tree, all teary eyed, glum. The orange crustacean has been with us for almost two years. We talk about how we'll miss his Popeye eyes, the way he scratched at the side of his Tupperware box when he was hungry and could see we were eating at the table, and how he came out of his favourite plastic bowl when we put classical music on or played the violin.

For the rest of the day, we drive, drive. It's our longest stretch so far, 325 miles.

Initially, Colorado doesn't look too different from Utah, till you hit the Rockies and start to ascend. The surroundings change from desert to alpine in a matter of an hour.

On Interstate 70, we cross through Glenwood Canyon, a feat of highway engineering that rivals, for us, Autostrada 10, which hugs the Mediterranean through Liguria past Genoa. Both snake through narrow tunnels on improbable ribbons of road, like roller coasters, passing incredible scenery. 

By the time we reach Stillwater Campground on Lake Granby, close to where the Colorado River starts, the temperature has dropped to 7-8 degrees Celsius. Mountain chickadees come chirping around. Chipmunks. And it starts to feel more like being in Toronto in late autumn, only we're surrounded by mountains.

June 23, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 5, Moab

We arrive in Moab, Utah on the outskirts of Arches National Park in the late afternoon and it's too sweltering to do much but stay put. Our campsite is noisy and dusty, on the edge of a highway, and mounting the tents in the open sun just about does us in. Fortunately, there's a dining area with AC and even showers in the bathroom, the first we've seen since Vegas. Finally, no more smell of moldy cheese stuck in an armpit, eh, kids?

The campsite owner is friendly and tells us about a local secret, a nearby stream, Millcreek, which comes down from the mountains and ends at a small waterfall in a "cowboy's swimming pool." We head there to get wet, rather than venture into the national park to see choice spots like Fiery Furnace.

The way into the falls runs partly along a path but also through the stream itself. We strip down, leave our shoes on, and wade through the rocks and rushing water, through another twisted riparian-desert zone.

Carved into the cliff sides, we spot petroglyphs, probably of the Anasazi people.

We arrive at the waterfall and there aren't any cowboys but there are dudes drinking beer and cliff-diving into the water. The water is filled with boulders and only five feet deep at most, in only one small spot near the base of the waterfall. A young woman in a see-through bikini laughs hysterically and dogs jump in and out, barking like car alarms.

I hear bones cracking in my head. A search and rescue arriving.

But in the meantime, it's almost 7 p.m. and 40 degrees. We jump in, yippee!

June 21, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 4, Capitol Reef

This is the vista that hits us upon entering Bryce Canyon National Park. The columns of weathered rock are called hoodoos and apparently the local Paiute view them as "Legend People" who were turned to stone and fixed in place, like the ancient Pompeiians, for behaving badly.

By the way, have I said the geography of southern Utah is like nothing of this planet? That it's spellbinding, druggy? I think I'm getting mystical out here.

Tired from hiking, we spend half the day travelling to yet another national park, Capitol Reef. We settle in a campground in the town of Fruita, settled by Mormons along a small river and filled with fruit trees and mule deer. The deer are everywhere.

We pitch our tents under a cottonwood tree, eat, and leave to explore.

The place is bipolar: along the river it's green and bouncing with life, but a few steps away and the desert reemerges, its dust rust and salted, even sprinkled with uranium which the Department of Energy had its sights on at one point.

Before bed, a climb into the mountains and talk in an amphitheatre by the guy who processes the images from the Hubble Space Telescope and just happens to be the photographer in residence for the park at the moment.

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 3, Bryce Canyon

No campsites in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, so we camp 17 miles away in a forest accessible by a bad dirt road. City cars like ours are not made for bad dirt roads.

We're now 7,500 feet up and it feels alpine. We explore a nearby lake and catch a frog, see investment bankers leeches, spot trout along the shoreline, watch a muskrat swim, and spot a group of wild turkeys. Unattended cows also roam about and moo across the lake at us.

Earlier, we hit on a good idea: ice, at gas stations, but it takes us three stops before we find beer. Oh yeah, this is Mormon country.

Overnight the temperature drops from the mid-30s to 7. We get up frozen at 5:30 with the birds and mooing cows and put on all of our clothes in big layered blobs.

Have I mentioned that we brought Fandango, our pet crayfish? I pop the lid on his container. He's been out all night under a tree and is now, unusually for him, upside down. I poke him and he waves in slow motion with his tail.

An  hour later, we’re back in the car and headed for Bryce Canyon, first in line when the gate opens.

June 20, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 2, Zion

The best part about Vegas is leaving. We made neither gains nor losses, because who can stand sitting in front of a pinball machine on speed and steroids anyway.

Desert, lots of it, and grey and monotonous through Nevada and the northwest corner of Arizona. Then Utah and it's all thick slabs of cheese and chocolate with a sprinkling of green in the valleys.

In Zion National Park, Utah, it's so hot setting up camp, especially pumping up the new blasted inflatable mattresses, I get dizzy.

The deer aren't too smart - they come right up to you.

We explore The Narrows, a deep crevice cut through the mountains with a river in it. Nothing like wading in cool water to freshen the whole body.

At night, a ranger talk on astronomy. We see Jupiter and its moons through a telescope. Conclusions: we're minuscule as a species, not even a single granule in the whole world of sand and dirt and dust combined. But we don't know it because we’re polluting the sky with artificial light, making it harder and harder to see even the biggest, most obvious stars. Did you know, artificial light so corrodes melatonin and warps the circadian rhythm that it's carcinogenic? Goddammit, even that!

June 18, 2018

L.A. to Toronto Roadtrip Notes: Day 1, Vegas

The hardest part about a trip like this is getting out the door. Then it's fine.

The California interior along the 15 is bleak. Dry as a bone. Dust storms. Abandonment.

In degree, Vegas is worse than we expect. A sewer of advertising. A relentless dopamine rush. Labyrinths of slots and blackjack pits. People pay for this?

We cool off in the pool of our "resort hotel," Circus Circus, "because life is a circus - let's play!"

On the strip afterwards, a drunken reveler surrounded by Chippendales and more walkers than we've seen anywhere outside of New York in the U.S., shouts, "Get the damn kids away. No kids here."

We find two quarters. I spend mine on a slot and lose. My daughter gives hers to a homeless guy.

Onward ho today to Utah.