Monday, December 14, 2015

Live-blogging the Brady Bunch Davy Jones Episode - 44 years too late

So I'm a grown woman, watching this Brady Bunch "Getting Davy Jones" episode from 1971. None of this makes sense. But hear me out: I've never seen this episode. Me, a Brady Bunch freak. I've seen every episode of this show at least three to four times. Perhaps even more. I was a child during its initial run and it's been syndicated ever since, so do the math.

Anyway, I missed this episode when it first debuted and of course it was THE TALK OF THE PLAYGROUND the next day, only I, who had loved (truly loved) Davy Jones since age eight, had no idea what anyone was talking about. Davy Jones + Brady Bunch = Mystical Convergence to my young mind. And I missed it.

Oh well, I thought, I'll just see it when they rerun it over the summer. Summertime was Brady rerun time, back in the 70s. Except I kept missing it. Over and over again. Forever. It would become a mythical episode for me—the one guest-starring my favorite Monkee (next to Mike Nesmith)—did I dream the entire scenario?

Flash forward 44 years later and I finally decided to see this damn episode. For my own piece of mind, so I could move on. Finally.

I put it in my Netflix queue and waited. Won't be long now, I thought. It's going to be me, the Bradys and Davy Jones, my childhood crush. Except Netflix wouldn't send it. A notification appeared on my account: VERY LONG WAIT for this DVD. WHAT?! I thought. VERY LONG WAIT? How about 44 years, Netflix?! How about that?!

I waited some more. Weeks, months went by. It was kind of good in a way because Netflix, feeling bad that I had such a long wait, kept sending me extra DVDs to compensate for my inconvenience. For the last several months I've had four DVDs at a time in my home, when I'm only paying for two. I figured, well, at this point, I'm making out okay, and if I never get to see this episode, at least I'm getting all these free movies out of it. We can't get everything we want. We're not all Marcia Brady, after all.

But then, one day, it arrived. And at long last, here it is. The Davy Jones episode. I live-blogged it, but I'm going to embellish, not because it's a great episode (it's pretty tossed off, I'd say), but because this is my CHILDHOOD I'm talking about here, as experienced through the warped prism of inexpensive television production values, child-actor labor, and a pop star who had experienced enough career weirdness in three years to last a lifetime. RIP, Davy Jones, consummate showman.

Marcia and her Fillmore Junior High entertainment committee (seems like a lot of responsibility for junior-high girls) need to get a guest star for their prom (that is not believable but I'll just go with it).

Jan interrupts to say Davy Jones is here! He's here! He's here! My reaction would have been: WHAT?! ?!?! But Marcia is nonplussed, saying, Jan, don't interrupt, we're having a very important meeting. THAT'S NOT VERY RESPECTFUL, MARCIA. Then she absorbs what's happening and reacts properly, shouting DAVY JONES!? He's HERE, in THE HOUSE? Even for entitled Princess Marcia, that seems like asking too much. And it is. Jan, voice of reason, says, no, he's in a hotel.

Marcia pulls a framed handwritten note from Davy out from under her pillow. That's not weird at all. She hands it over to her way-cooler cohort, Doreen, to prove that he promised her a favor if he's ever in town since she was president of his fan club. Doreen is like, "Yeah, right. It's just a publicity letter, Marcia." Also, Doreen has a great manicure, so I'm apt to side with her on this one.

Carol says Davy Jones is apparently the best thing since pepperoni pizza--good writing, Brady Bunch script team.

Peter and Bobby are not impressed by Davy Jones. Jan and Cindy say they're jealous of Davy Jones and his 2,000 fan clubs. How many fan clubs does Peter Have? Peter says he hasn't counted them in a while and Jan says it shouldn't take him much time to count to zero. Good one, Jan.

Bobby pretends he's Davy Jones by being a complete spaz, yelling, "All he does is bang on a guitar, singing Ooh, baby! Yeah Yeah! Oooh!" Peter says, "Don't break your gee-tar." Which doesn't make any sense. Everyone knows the proper way to make fun of Davy Jones is to bang upon a giant tambourine with aplomb while crooning, THE SHAVING RAZOR'S COLD AND IT STINGS! ... CHEER UP SLEEPY JEAN!

The prom committee girls are now starting to lose their minds, believing in Marcia, spreading the word that Marcia's going to get Davy Jones. Marcia bombs out at his hotel. This is sort of a manual on "How to Stalk Davy Jones." You know what? I think Marcia's going to get Davy Jones. I really do.

In all the excitement, several Fillmore Junior High girls are inexplicably styled as if they were auditioning for a theater production of "Heidi."

There's already a banner announcing Davy Jones at school, as if everyone was under a mass delusion at this point. The Brady Bunch was sort of a mass delusion of a show, with heartwarming epiphanies. OH MY GOD, MARCIA WALLACE!!!?!?! I didn't know Marcia Wallace was in this episode. She's Marcia's delusional teacher Miss Robbins here, but you may remember her from another classic episode, "Jan Buys an Ugly Wig," in which she shone as "Saleswoman." I'm so glad they hired her for this episode. I love her almost as much as Davy Jones.

Nothing in this episode seems normal because they managed to get Davy Jones in a stunt-casting coup. It's like the Partridge Family episode where Bobby Sherman was hiding out in their garage. I don't remember why he was lurking on their property, but Laurie Partridge was pretty thrilled. The Bradys have the opposite problem—they'd like to lurk in Davy Jones' vicinity but the universe conspires against them.

Here's Greg, trying too hard to compete with the idea of Davy Jones by wearing this overly groovy purple shirt. Everybody's flipping out a little in this episode. I would be too.

Marcia tries writing a telegram to Jones' hotel to NO AVAIL. Mike imparts his parental wisdom: don't promise something you can't deliver. Like Davy Jones at your prom. Of course, this is Marcia, so she'll get her way. She always gets her way.

The prom is a week away. FUCK.

Mike tries to get a golf networking connection going. No dice. I like Marcia's pullover sweater--very flattering. But WHAT is Carol Brady wearing here? Good God.

Man, oh man, Mrs. Brady...

Marcia has a cow over the upcoming loss of all her school-chums after this debacle.

Peter tries calling the hotel under the guise of being an old music buddy of Davy Jones. Jan, Bobby and Cindy pretend to be in his band, singing four different public-domain songs at once, and off-key as well. The hotel operator sees right through that ruse and hangs up on them. That was dumb, kids.

Sam, Alice's boyfriend, who is working class, knows the guy who sells the meat to Davy Jones' hotel. Greg and Marcia dress up as busboys and Marcia uses a deep voice because in the Brady universe, no girl could ever bus anything, ever. And also, maybe they think busboys don't stalk pop stars. But I bet they do. Some of them, anyway.

Marcia, pretending to be a boy, just like in a Shakespearean farce

Davy Jones' manager looks like a perv in a Beatles wig in this sad facsimile of a luxury hotel.

Finally—Davy Jones! He's singing "Girl." It's a promotional tie-in for his first post-Monkees solo album. Those are some big headphones. He's so sincere. This isn't my favorite song. Even when I was a kid it kind of embarrassed me. I've never been into love ballads. He's bobbing like the born showman that he is. I wonder if he missed The Monkees at this point. Probably not. That show was fun to watch but probably a huge cluster-fuck for all involved. Oh now his voice fades out while he's still singing. I hate when shows do that. That's not how it works. You sing multiple choruses and the fade-out is engineered later. The Partridge Family always faded out while they played "live" on stage. That was insulting to our intelligence.

Davy Joooones ....

Anyway, Marcia barges into the studio wearing a mustard-colored acrylic turtle-neck poncho. She's making her case to the perv manager who wants nothing to do with her, tossing her out on her can with an air of genuine disgust. Davy's listening to their exchange in the studio, thinking: that girl's got chutzpah. And she's the president of my fan club... Hmmmm...

Marcia throws in the towel. But DING-DONG—someone's at the door. Who could it be?

Davy Jones is shorter than Florence Henderson. That's so cute. They have similar haircuts too. Ew, Davy Jones is asking Marcia to be his prom date. That's not right. Well, it was the 70s. No one thought that was weird at all.

Do we get to see the prom? The Brady kids are singing "Girl" now. What a nightmare. Mike thinks so too. He yells, "SHUDDAP YOU DOPES!" (my interpretation). Wait, is that the end?

That's IT?! We don't get to see Davy Jones perform? How was the prom? Did he sing "Girl" to all the Heidi girls and Doreen and Marcia Wallace? What the hell?

We would all have to wait until 1995 for The Brady Bunch Movie to finally get our Davy Jones prom scene. Was it worth the wait? I'd say yes. No Doreen though, sadly.

And that's that. A somewhat bitter disappointment. Still, I'm glad I saw it at long last. Cross it off the bucket list. Marcia Wallace was so under-utilized in this.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Eagle Attacks Trump GIFs

Here they are, just in case you need them.

Watch Trump slide away, his face squished down like a tossed-aside sock puppet, his little claw-like hands dithering across the desk for all of eternity. It is proper. It is right.

eagle attacks trump

eagle attacks trumps hair

Thank you Time Magazine, for releasing this video and thank you bald eagle for trying to annihilate the nasty orange rat man.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Punk No Dead - from the Fanzine Collection in the Stairwell - Swellsville - Winter Edition 1989/90

Hey, I found a copy of Swellsville in my 'zine vault (a moving box full of zines, stored in the stairwell). This old blog Teenage Gluesniffer wrote up a fine piece on Jack Thompson's labor of musical love from Seattle. I think I got slightly involved with this through my friend Richie, who's been writing about music since around the dawn of time and now, besides publishing fine rock history books, lectures and teaches in the Bay Area.

Anyhoo, who's interested in musical thoughts of the 1980s? True, the bands mostly disintegrated but our thoughts and relationships with them never fully faded away. Partially because we were all "coming-of-age" and this was our youthful soundtrack and blah blah blah and so on and so forth, but most importantly because this was truly an underground scene for us and we didn't know that was not going to last. So it's like a dream from the subconscious that if you don't write it down, you'll forget about it in the morning. We were all compulsive writers.

"Punk No Dead" was my thoughts from a three-month stay in Mexico where I was based in Guadalajara, attending school to learn Spanish (which I still need to learn, thanks to my mom's family buying into 1950s' assimilation ideals that encouraged them not to speak the language around their kids, and also I'm a lazy language-learner), but traveled throughout the southern regions of the country as well. My friend Rosanna and I were underground-music chicas who had to forgo underground music for the most part during our stay in Mexico. Until that faithful night in San Cristรณbal de las Casas...

And I included a coloring page, which Thompson was so nice to print full-page for this 1989/90 issue. Thanks, Jack. I hope you're still writing.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy 50th Anniversary of Your Arrest, Arlo Guthrie

Yes, folks, it was 50 years ago on Thanksgiving that Arlo Guthrie was arrested and tried for littering, which then, two years later (spoiler), exempted him from the draft for the Vietnam War. Because humor is the ultimate in human expression (along with love, compassion and understanding), Guthrie's Thanksgiving tale will always have resonance.

And he's still performing it (on occasion), because: never forget.

PBS will be broadcasting Guthrie's Alice's Restaurant 50th-anniversary concert from Pittsfield, including "The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree" on Thanksgiving evening. Because "Massacree" is 18 minutes long, Guthrie rarely performs it live (it's been ten years since the last time). Here's a preview of the show.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Spotlight on: Trump Supporters

What's scarier than Donald Trump and his Hate-mongering Blowhard platform? His followers, of course. Let's hone in on Trump supporters via the magic of screen-shots. I don't usually freeze people in mid-support of a narcissistic lunatic, but I think in this case, it's warranted. What kind of person rallies to support Donald Trump? Let's find out.

Trump just made a doozy of a stump speech. Two hours of rambling nonsense, which I call "The Belt-buckle Rebuttal," for his mock reenactment of fellow candidate Ben Carson's telling of a would-be stabbing of a friend, or a bully, or someone—thwarted by a belt buckle (if you don't know what this refers to, count yourself lucky).

As you can see, the crowd ATE IT UP.

And watta crowd! Who's with Trump? These people:

Guy on the left is studying Trump's Ben Carson stabbing reenactment like it's an episode of CSI.

My son asked me who would want Trump for President. Without thinking, I blurted out, "The mentally ill!" I don't have data to back this up—it's just a guess. My theory is that a sizable amount of narrow-minded paranoiacs can't get enough of Trump. Also, the very stupid. And mixed within this group—bigots. Trump's early surge in the polls was the result of his early-campaign demonization of Mexican immigrants.

But if he's any kind of business man, he very well knows that much of our local economy would wither, collapse and die without cheap labor from Mexico. He's scapegoating and using hate-speech as propaganda to get the bigot votes. He's not going to build a "great wall" with a "very big, very beautiful door," as he's promised. On this, as with so many topics, he's full of shit. But does he truly hate Mexican immigrants? From what I know, coming from a Mexican-American family, I'd say yes. And so do his fans.

Anyone need a cool Trump-supporter avatar?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

I wrote some stuff - other people worked on stuff too - links

Hi Internet—I've been writing a lot (and rewriting even more). Here's something about writing I never realized before: it gives you a fat ass. I have to go work on that, but first here's a few links of my work and the works of others as well. If you're so inclined:

Bad Movies - Issue 2 (the cult issue) - one of those labors of love. Cass Wall, editor in chief compiles the work that the world throws his way. This issue has my "Meditations for the Modern World" (pg. 44)—a helpful and very short guide to navigating your brain within the confines of our narcissistic reality-TV pop app landscape—newly photo-illustrated by moi. You can read the digital copy free, and/or purchase a very affordable paper publication here. A digital copy for viewing is also available here. Lots of cool essays, humor, comics, coloring pages and a Freudian Film Theory word search puzzle. That's a winning combination.

Here's the Bad Movies Tumblr.

Hey, I have a Tumblr dumping ground too - Dancing Bugs

And for Bright Wall/Dark Room I wrote an essay on Martin Scorsese's Casino, a dark film that I did a little work on, back in the day. I never got to work directly with Marty (maybe someday), but I helped out Matte World Digital while they made some amaze-o 70s-era Las Vegas strip casino shots. The thing is, you have to buy the issue for $1.99 (a steal!), or subscribe to the magazine for a year (twenty dollars—you won't be sorry!), but it's probably worth it, given the width and breadth of content you'll receive. Thoughtful essays, tons of themes, lots of movies. Teaser is here: "Watching Casino, Twenty Years Later." 

Here's the Bright Wall/Dark Room site.

I was just now wondering, whatever happened to Santigold, and I see she released a single yesterday, and record-release news. That's good timing. Wow, her site is A TRIP.

Did you ever get around to purchasing She Mob's latest, Right in the Head ? Still time. I have some footage around here somewhere from our recent Halloween show at a Berkeley preschool. That's one for the ages. They're all one for the ages.

Follow me on twitter. (I read this tech article that said the best way to encourage people to follow you on twitter is to use a directive, so follow me on twitter, dammit. Dammit, you better follow me. On twitter. Do it. The article said this would work.)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Yosemite Valley Curry Village Waterfall Day Hike - Mammoth Lakes Fall Foliage Journey

Sorry for the long title. Going for all the search-engine bells and whistles. Jackson recently had a rogue day off, thanks to school-district machinations. So we took off for three-day Eastern Sierra sojourn and discovered some beautiful waterways, actual weather patterns (as opposed to the constant 80+-degree heatwave for weeks we've been experiencing at home), and the autumn mother-lode: foliage. All within a lucky weekend.

Most good trips result from a balance of three travel aspects: the destination, the company, and your health and well-being. We were constantly reminded of all three throughout the journey, thanks to the extreme landscape and in Yosemite Valley's case, extreme warning signage, but I ramble. Let us begin.

First off, we left the clogged streets of the Bay Area behind for Yosemite Valley's Curry Village. It sounds quaint, and perhaps in a way it is, but it's actually a tent encampment for the vast middle-class. Who else could afford eighty-dollar-a-night tent accommodations and who else would want to? Starting out in 1899 to encourage camping in beautiful Yosemite Valley, Camp Curry now has free WiFi in its lounge (note the millennials rocking on the front porch, eyes glued to their devices), but it's still rather rustic. And crowded, always.

A bear locker for each tent

Keith exalts in the temporary housing that is tent 267

Our gregarious check-in host, Mike, assured us that all our food would be perfectly fine as long as we stored it in our outdoor bear locker. He also told us bears have grown attracted to the scent of many toiletries as well, so those would have to go into the locker, along with any sunblock or other freshly scented products. As a middle-class citizen with too much sunblock rolling around in the back seat of my car, this required a little gathering and storing on our part. Check out our tent/cabin:

We sprang for the heated tent ($20 extra). Note the one chair, good for sitting.

Bedding and towels are included. Bathroom is through the trees, past your neighbors and across the path. Don't forget the bathroom code, or you'll be standing there, waiting for someone to let you in. Here's my cot:

It was hard, but that's no surprise—it's a cot. I've stayed in Curry Village three times but I always forget how noisy it is starting at 6 a.m. when all of humanity seems to be shuffling past the canvas walls, on their way to first-dawn flapjacks.

During the night things were pretty quiet but a nearby controlled burn (a mile-long burn leading into the park—a true vision of controlled hell) made the air-quality smokey and there was much snuffling and coughing in neighboring tents. A young racoon sauntered by our cabin multiple times like a nosy neighbor, oblivious of our superior role in the food chain. A group of hard-alcohol drinkers sat in a quadrant among tents full of elementary-school-aged sleeping campers. These whiskey-drinkers spoke so quietly among themselves they were virtually nonexistent except as a marker for the shared bathrooms. I tip my hat to these thoughtful well-doused campers. I wish my loud-mouth suburban neighbors with their wine-swilling bouncy-house parties behind our house were half as polite.

What about atmosphere? Yosemite has it and then some, but late at night, when it's dark, you'll have to make do with the reading material in your tent, lit by a dim hanging ceiling bulb. In my haste to unpack, I noticed this large sign, hanging next to our towels and I thought—oh, a treatise on deer mice and bears. But on closer inspection, we learned of the dreaded hantavirus, carried by mouse droppings, urine and saliva, and potentially deadly. Oh, and fascinating facts (the large print), such as deer mice eat nuts and seeds.

Fascinating - sleep well!

Yosemite has a long history of deadly occurrences within its granite formations. The deer mice who nested in cabins, causing an outbreak that claimed three in 2012, were found in the walls of a section within the camp that has since been torn down. Our cabins were the more traditional canvas variety with less area for mice to hang out in. Still, as I type this, I'm suffering from one of the worst colds I've ever had. So wish me luck. And, as the sign helpfully states:

And if you want to read up on bears, the cabins provide you with that information as well.

I'll condense, for time's sake:

Evicted from a tent city—that's gotta sting

Most importantly, remember:

The following morning, forewarned to avoid mice and bears, we headed over to the massive Curry Village Pavilion for flapjacks. I thought the Curry Village parking lot was SPECTACULAR and I think you'll agree.

After much food, we ran into Mike again, whereupon he told us we absolutely had to do the Mist Trail hike to Vernon Falls. He had already mentioned the trail when we checked in, but somehow, seeing him on his way to breakfast in his civilian clothes gave it more weight. Also, he told us it was something everyone had to do during their lifetime. 

We hopped a shuttle (ten-minute wait-time means you never have to drive) and within minutes were in deep nature, surrounded by people.

If you like people, you'll love Yosemite

On the way to the trail head, you cross a creek. A very dry creek due to California's historic drought. Hopefully we'll get some rain soon.

The Mist trail is paved. People brought kids in strollers, but those strollers were abandoned halfway up because it gets steep. Urged on by the promise of mist and falls, we all trudged forth. Jackson taking photos along the way.

If you get tired, pull up a boulder and set a spell. The public restrooms (nice to have on a hike) had signage (naturally) warning hikers not to "bonk" on the trail by drinking plenty of water. We did and avoided bonking.

Finally after a hundred stairs cut from granite—Vernal Falls.

As popular as Everest

I know what you're thinking: that's it?! Yes, it's October and it hasn't rained properly in three years, so that's it. It's pretty rad in the spring after normal rainfall. And although the trail is called Mist, there was none. No complaints though—it's a fine day hike, and if you're feeling frisky you can continue on to Nevada Falls. We didn't.

Here you can clearly see the dark area where the falls widen after snow melt. And it's so misty that hikers are encouraged to wear rain gear or they'll be doused.

I can't imagine tromping down all those granite steps (they're high and uneven) in a heavy mist. Be careful up there!. This hike is the deadliest in Yosemite, mainly because people ignore signs, go off trail, wade in the water, or climb slippery rocks and get swept away. I've seen a lot of stupidly dangerous behavior around waterfalls. I'm not sure what it's all about. Someone died here from washing his hands in the river. He slipped, fell in and got swept away by the current. The worst and most terrifying are the people who go over the falls, because that's completely avoidable and there are so many witnesses, including children. Don't tempt the waters—they are powerful beyond all reckoning!

There's signage throughout Yosemite warning you not to wade in the water, warning you not to leave your picnic food for a moment or a bear will take it, warning you about the plague (carried by rodents), warning you not to litter, warning you to be sure and throw your pizza cardboards in the proper recycling container. We appreciated the directives and we did survive Yosemite, but it felt a little oppressive. It was time to move on.

Along Route 120 Tioga Pass Road toward Mammoth Lakes, in search of fall foliage.

First we hit beautiful June Lake Loop to see what was going on with the leaves, but it was late in the day and the spotty yellow Aspens weren't bursting with color yet.

Silver Lake was just getting some color.

It was getting dark, so we gave up on foliage and continued on to the Quality Inn in Mammoth Lakes, where breakfast is free and plentiful and the jacuzzi is HUGE, perfect for after hiking straight up a mountain.

Rain showers were reported for the next day, but it turned into heavy rain, so we drove four miles north of town (after buying lots of comfortable pants at the Bass outlet—Mammoth Lakes is a good destination for skiing and pants-shopping), to check out the Lake Mary Loop, full of lakes, easy to navigate.

Mammoth was overrun with fishermen and women, camping in tents in 40-degree weather, floating around in little inflatables with their waders dangling in the glacial mountain water, holding their reels and just sitting, waiting. I admire their tenacity. Also, the storm wasn't properly predicted, so people were forcing the issue during a downpour, for the love of fish. And more power to them.

Here's Lake George. It was coooold, which was refreshing coming from the seemingly endless heat wave of the Bay Area.

There's all these great little hikes around the lakes but Jackson had a sore throat and it began raining hard, so we just drove and parked, discovering as we went.

Here's stark Horseshoe Lake.

Posted signs explained that a 1989 earthquake opened up some volcanic fissures in the area, which now emit enough CO2 to kill nearby trees from the roots up. Hikers are advised not to lie down on the ground, rest in a tree well, or allow children or pets who are low to the ground to run about too long in this area, lest dizziness and unconsciousness occur. Not wishing to tempt fate, we obeyed the sign.

Dead trees

Keith suggested we check out Convict Lake. We'd passed it by, going down 395 to Bishop many times, but never took the mysterious turn-off. This extra-wide rainbow on the highway was a good omen:

Our quest for foliage spurred us on and we were not disappointed.

Wow—Convict Lake

Never again will we ignore Convict Lake. Besides hosting a fine resort with rental kayaks, the lake is stocked with trout and a three-mile trail around its glacial perimeter. It's 138 feet deep, which is impressive. And foliage abounds.

More than satisfied, we headed back to the Inn, unaware of the forces of nature at work during the night. The next morning:

Snow! Yes, snow—we had remembered hearing something about snow in the mountains many years before and here it was, surprising and beautiful, holding out a promise of a watery winter. And something else surprising: when we headed back to the June Lake Loop on our way home, we found it completely changed from two days before.

It was so colorful—the aspens and willows in full yellow mode. We hopped out of the car along the loop again and again, trying to capture the colors in the grayish light. Jackson was so patient with us. It's not always easy having nerd parents.

Keith, a child of Western Massachusetts, was finally in his element.

Satiated with leafy goodness, we made our way home without incident (the best way) over the 108 Sonora Pass, where we drove by the U.S. Marine Corps' Mountain Warfare Training Center and their massive vehicles, training for deployment to Afghanistan. Those guys are young, really young. We waved to each other as we drove by. I felt sad about everything.

We stopped at the Strawberry Inn along the Stanislaus River for lunch and headed home to visit with my family. In three days we had experienced rain, snow, foliage, the U.S. Marines, Billy on the Street on Direct TV, lingering cold viruses, no bears eating our food and no bonking. Great trip.

The Strawberry Inn's back yard

A word about Ansel Adams. For me, it's impossible to visit Yosemite Valley and not think about Adams' photographic legacy. The question is: how did he do it?

Yosemite Valley is a deep, deep canyon, subject to dark shadows against monolithic gray granite formations and bright skies. It's a photographic challenge to say the least. Adams used a large-format camera, which gave him a big negative to work with, hence more detail, especially for gray-rock detail. But his success ultimately depended on his skills in the dark room with the obsessive use of dodging and burning during exposure times. Using an arm, his hand, or a stencil—some kind of handy blocking or revealing devices, Adams could control how much light would reach each area of a photo. It probably took a lot of attempts before a satisfying print emerged. Later in his career, he had a series of assistants to work on prints, but the guy was a master of composition and printing.

During our entire journey, I was surrounded by guys (always guys) with tripods and big lenses, doing their thing. I just have a tiny Canon PowerShot, so I'm not even attempting for the grand landscape. If I can get a bit of our journey visually, I'm good with that. I've worked in dark rooms and I wonder how Adams would feel about my modern-day dodging and burning. Scrubbing away digitally with my Photoshop tools takes moments, rather than hours. He'd probably be intrigued and annoyed. There's an artistry to both forms of photography, but something about touching the paper, the smell of the developing chemicals, the battle with the negative in the enlarger—it's somehow more epic. I think that obsessive degree of perfection comes through in all his work.