Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Yosemite's grip

In 1974 I found a postcard in a shop on 4th Street. Loved the black and white image and pinned it next to my desk wherever I worked. A few years later my brother Peter, his wife Norma, my sister Nancy and I rounded a turn and saw the full moon rising over Half Dome. A tear came to my eye - I hadn't known that the place was Yosemite, the photographer a legend - Ansel Adams. I still have the snapshot - "Over-exposed Moon Over Half Dome".

The Times today has a long, warm profile of a legendary Yosemite climber - Charles Victor Tucker III - called Chongo. He was homeless in paradise for 30 years. His techniques for climbing the monolith - El Capitan - were innovative, his slack-lining legendary, his Complete Book of Big Wall Climbing a classic guide. Chongo sleeps under a trailer truck in Sacramento now and gets his meals from Loaves and Fishes, a Sisters of Mercy soup kitchen.

Chongo remembered as a moment of enlightenment rope-walking the Lost Arrow Spire. "When I walked across that thing, it outmatched any 60 seconds in my life, and I've had some great 60-second increments".

He is a man of grace, who was transported by a mountain, and achieved moments of wonder for which all of us yearn. I hope that Chongo finds comfort and peace again soon.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Southbound 650

I don't know why some cross oceans in boats too small and too fast for comfort.  And I certainly don't know why some, like my son Jesse (in the dark suit) and his mate Andy (the `target' in the Sierra Madre circus) want to ride motorcycles to Tierra Del Fuego.  I would like to round Cape Horn, but settled this weekend for Sands Point.  Jesse and Andy are southbound on Kawsaki KLR 650's.  Jesse left New York September 12.  They have crossed the Sierra mountains in Mexico bound for Patagonia.  Vaya con dios.

Jesse's blog is filled with details and good photographs.  I'll post at landmarks - like the Panama Canal.  Otherwise, you can follow them here at Southbound 650.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I took a million notes during the debate.... James Fallows

"I took a million notes during the debate....
27 Sep 2008 01:08 AM

... but let me boil it down to this:

When the details of this encounter fade, as they soon will, I think the debate as a whole will be seen as of a piece with Kennedy-Nixon in 1960, Reagan-Carter in 1980, and Clinton-Bush in 1992.”
James Fallows
Fallows is watching the US campaign from Beijing for The Atlantic. Thanks to the internet he watched every Democratic Presidential debate this cycle. His first, confident, assessment of the first debate is here.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Southbound - Canaries and Cape Verde

Richard Hudson and crew have stopped at Sao Vicente, Cape Verde Islands, after a placid sail from the Canaries, where they spent two months.
Next stop....?
Issuma's blog will have the answer - here

Crossing the Street

There are many kinds of voyages.

Photos by Susan Sermoneta capture some of them.
For more click here


Frank Hurley's photographs of the doomed voyage of Ernest Shackleton's Endurance are iconic images. Lugged across the ice, stowed in lifeboats, the glass negatives, like the men, survived to tell the tale of adventure gone south.

These images are available from Atlas Gallery, London.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

J.M.W. Turner at the Metropolitan Museum

J.M.W. Turner (1775 - 1851) explored light and water.  Using what Benjamin Mendlowitz's calls complex light, he goes beyond realism to legend.

Here are thre illustrative images from the retrospective at the Met:

The Battle of Trafalgar as Seen from the Mizzen  Starboard Shrouds of the Victory

The Shipwreck

Fishermen at Sea

Friday, September 19, 2008

Supreme Court at Crossroads in Wyeth Phenergan drug liability case

The right to recover for neglect by a pharmacist is an ancient one. It is at great risk in the case of Levine v. Wyeth, to be argued before the Supreme Court on Monday, September 22, 2008.

Adam Liptak lays out the issues in the Times.

My comments appear here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Herreshoff regatta at Oyster Bay

On a misty Saturday morning,  June 28, Dave Seroy and I voyaged on North River 2 from City Island, Bronx to Center Island, Oyster Bay, for a day of racing Herreshoff designs at the Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club.    We couldn't match the 16' LWL  Fish class boats, so I was disappointed that the Buzzards Bay 14 didn't come out.  Probably just as well - we got whipped by a bristol condition gaff rigged wood H  12 1/2 sailed by a guy with a Labrador Retreiver for crew.

The Fish Class boats are heirs of the original wood boats designed 90 years ago for the SCYC by the great one - Nathaniel G. Herreshoff.  Called the Seawanhaka Class each boat was named after a different fish.  That yielded the name Fish Class.  But the SCYC boats still carry SC on their sails.

A special thanks is due to Woody Glenn and SCYC for gracious hospitality.

Photos of North River 2 under sail are Copyright 2008 by Wayne Marciano.  Permission for fair use granted only with credit to photographer and display of copyright notice.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Olin J. Stephens II, Yacht Designer, Dies at 100

VimOlin Stephens designed boats when boats were legends. His Dorade won the 1931 transatlantic race from Ambrose Light to Lizard Point and earned him a ticker-tape parade.

Our family bond with Stephens is Vim - the 12 meter sloop. Built for Vanderbilt in 1939 at Henry Nevins yard on City Island, she was a contender in the 1957 America's Cup revival. Its owner was John Mathews, for whose stevedoring company my grandfather Capt. George Washington Conk (U.S. Army, Ret.) worked on the Brooklyn waterfront. His friend Sven Petersen was charged with maintenance. Bus Mosbacher, later JFK's protocol chief, was the skipper.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The 4th Thomas F. Lambert, Jr. Conference

October 24, 2008
Center for Advanced Legal Studies
Suffolk University Law School
Boston, MA

North River 2

Desgner: L. Francis Herreshoff
Builder: The Boat School, Eastport, ME (1985)
Model: Buzzards Bay 14
Mahogany plank, oak frame
LWL 14'
LOA 17'
Beam 5' 10"
Draft 2' 6"
Ballast 750 lb. lead
Mast: 21'
Sail area: 145 sf

Sunday, September 7, 2008