Category Archives: Photography

As Is (Anthropocene Eggshell…)

As Is (Anthropocene Eggshell; or The Post-Pod Detritus Blues)

Anthropocene- 1999

Bolinas Visitation: Ellen Sander’s HAWTHORNE (Finishing Line Press)

Bolinas Arrow - 1996

I have only visited Bolinas once, back in the summer of 1996; it was part of a five-day trip north that included a visit to UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. I was preparing for my time as a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute in the Fall, and wanted to take a look at the archives of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and City Lights. There was also an exhibit at the library; a fair-sized room presented, in well-secured glass cases, a representative collection of materials of Beat writers. In all of the placards explaining the Beat movement to the visitors, the only scenes mentioned were in the Bay Area and Greenwich Village. There was not a single citation of Venice West. It was typical of the period to obliterate Venice West from any account of the Beat movement during the mid-century.

When I finished my work at the library, I rode out to Bolinas with Ellen Sander, a poet who had lived there for many years. First known as the one of the first — if not the very first — significant female rock critic, Ellen Sander went on to become the poet laureate of Belfast, Maine a few years ago. Finishing Line Press published her account of her home in Bolias and its place in the artistic community: Hawthorne, A House in Bolinas.

Hawthorne, a House in Bolinas by Ellen Sander

I had first heard of Bolinas in the very early 1970s as a place where poets had taken refuge from the chaos of New York City. As the century wore on, the poetry traffic between Los Angeles and Bolinas was probably among the most unusual circulations in American literary history; the best anthology to contextualize this exchange is the one I worked on with Neeli Cherkovski, Cross-Strokes: Poetry between Los Angeles and San Francisco. No other book brings together poets who have shared the same eco-cultural domains as a matter of positive freedom. In addition to Ellen Sander, I am thinking of Joe Safdie (who moved from Los Angeles to Bolinas, and now has moved back down the coast — to San Diego), as well as Phoebe MacAdams Ozuna and Lewis MacAdams, who both eventually moved from Bolinas to Los Angeles.

Should you want a poet’s take on the Bolinas scene, you should definitely set aside time to read Kevin Opstedal’s article in Big Bridge, “Dreaming As One.”

http://www.bigbridge.org/bolinas.htm.

It is an incredibly substantial and detailed account of a community of the famous (Robert Creeley, Bobbie Louise Hawkins; the Jefferson Airplane) and the obscure (Jack Boyce), all of whom made this backwater a major harbor of imagination’s counterpoints. Each of the eighteen segments has a set of photographs to give the reader some glimmer of the youthfulness of this scene.

There were other circulations north and south, too. About the same time that poets were moving to Bolinas from New York City, Stuart Z. Perkoff moved north and spent two productive years in Northern California. John Thomas, on the other hand, had moved back from San Francisco to Los Angeles in the late 1960s, though he did not then settle back in Venice, but in the Echo Park area, where he became friends with Charles Bukowski and mentored a young poet named Wanda Coleman. There is another anthology yet to be assembled, where the poets of Bolinas, who appeared in a collection entitled On the Mesa, edited by Joel Weishaus (City Lights, 1971) intermingle with those of Cross-Strokes.

Bolinas - Pink Flowers

Bolinas Mural

Call Box Sunset

August 28, 2018

I taught fiction writing at Idyllwild Arts for 20 consecutive summers (1995-2014). One evening, on the way down towards Banning and Beaumont, I pulled to the side of the road and caught the last notch of the day’s switchbacks. I used a disposable camera to take this sequence; the third shot is probably the “best” in that the bolts that attach the sign to the pole (under the “e” and above the hyphen) play off against the red dot of the sun; and of course the call box itself is visible, too. The bottom to top diagonal goes way back as a compositional element, of course, and if it seems old-fashioned, so be it. I take it as a compliment.

Call Box Sunset-1

Call Box Sunset-2

Call Box Sunset-3

Cargo Ship: Auto Body Shop as Port of Departure

At the beginning of last month (the morning after Rod Bradley’s rooftop celebration of the Fourth of July), I took our 20 year old Oldsmobile in for a paint job. The car had become an eye-sore with its peeling paint, and the month before I had swung by a place recommended by Jim and Jose at Herb and Red’s Auto Repair. We had set up an appointment for its refurbishment, and with extra money coming in from teaching a summer course, this long delayed project was finally on the verge of happening. While waiting for the owner, Andy, to check on another job in progress, I wandered around his shop and checked out other cars that were being stored or worked on. An image that seemed like an outtake from the dream journals of Bruce Conner caught my eye, and and asked Andy if I could take a photo of the interior of one of the cars parked inside his shop. Go right ahead, he said.

The image has not been photoshopped or altered in any way. I took it with my cell-phone, which is an old “flip-top” model. In other words, a quite rudimentary casual device. I have heard that these telephones are so “old-fashioned” now that they have acquired a retro, hip popularity. In my case, I simply have been too busy to devote time to mastering the intricacies of a more advanced model.

Cargo - Andy's Paint Shop

“Cargo Ship” (c) copyright Bill Mohr, 2018.

A new review of HOLDOUTS (University of Iowa Press, 2011)

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Beyond Baroque is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and there will be a gala fundraising event in early November to help it sustain its programming during the coming decade. As part of this year’s presentations, Quentin Ring asked me several months ago to help him organize a weekly seminar on Los Angeles poetry that would be led by a different poet each week. I led the first gathering on May 8th, and was followed by Will Alexander, Laurel Ann Bogen, Steve Reigns, Lynne Thompson, Amy Uyematsu, David St. John, and Patty Seyburn. One of the poets who attended this seminar, Tom Laichas, just sent me a link to his blog, which features an extended and very thoughtful review of my book on Los Angeles poetry that came out seven years ago. His blog, in general, is well worth a sustained perusal. In particular, there is a photograph of a suitcase in a Kansas field, with a two-story brick schoolhouse in the background, that is as evocative as any Proustian metaphor.

Reading Bill Mohr, <em>Hold Outs: The Los Angeles Poetry Renaissance, 1948-1992</em>

From a rooftop on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. — July 4

July 6, 2018

I worked as a fiction writing teacher at Idyllwild arts for twenty consecutive summers, starting in the mid-1990s. Several of my students went on to become published writers, including Sara Wintz and Julia Glassman. During the first fifteen or so years, during which I built the fiction writing class up from one session per summer to three sessions each summer, the first introduction to the students always took place on the first Sunday after the July 4th weekend. Then, with the shift to an earlier start of school years, the students gathered at the top of the mountain on the first Sunday before the July 4th celebration.

In my professional as well as personal life, Idyllwild is a significant part of the commitments I have made in my life. I cannot look at the July page of the calendar on my kitchen wall without thinking of that cycle of packing to leave and unpacking on my return, which always took more than a single day. The past couple years have brought me a new ritual: Linda and I gather on the third story rooftop of Rod and Tamiko’s home on Martin Luther King Boulevard, and we watch the fireworks jettison their transient glow on a scythe-swath perimeter of Los Angeles County. Other friends, including Olivier Bochettaz, join in. Olivier and Pauline had a child six months ago, and Luna is an exceptionally beautiful baby.

Rod J-4 one

Bochettaz Salute One

Bochettaz Salute Two

Bochettaz Salutre - Three

Rod J-4 two

Rod J-4 three

Rod J-4 four

Sleepover Parking

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

0628181042a

Auto Sleepover

(on Ohio Street, between Sixth and Seventh Streets; two weeks ago)

Water Tower of Babel

Water Tower of Babel — Monday. May 7, 2018

Water Tower of Babel One

Water Tower of Babel Two

Water Tower of Babel - Three

Water Tower of Babel - Four

Ron Ozuna’s Photographs of Bolsa Chica

Monday, February 19, 2018

Bird Photographs and Other Links

Ron Ozuna has been traversing California’s wetlands for several years and taking photographs of birds, and I am delighted to have gotten his permission to share links with his work. The other links in today’s post have been chosen out of variety of my reading and listening to music the past couple weeks. It’s a cold and windy morning here in Long Beach, California, and it is supposed to get much more chilly tonight. I only wish that some rain would arrive.

http://www.mps.mpg.de/planetary-science/planetary-plasma-environment

Stream 74 Sun Ra Albums Free Online: Decades of “Space Jazz” and Other Forms of Intergalactic, Afrofuturistic Musical Creativity

If you want to see more of Ron Ozuna’s avian advocacy, see the following links:

Ron Ozuna at MONO LAKE and elsewhere:

(2016)

2016_05_15_0wens Lake

2016_05_17_Hahamongna Devils Gate Dam:

2016_05_19_Central Park & Library Huntington Beach:

Piute Pond (near Lancaster)

Photograph from 30 years ago

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

POET TRIO - circa mid-1980s

I have no idea of who the people in this photograph might be, other than myself. I have a feeling that I might have been waiting outside some place where I was about to give a reading, circa 1984 or 1985. If you recognize yourself, or somebody else, in this photograph, please write me: William.BillMohr@gmail.com.