Rudy’s Blog

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Shooting Photos a Lot

July 10th, 2015

Waking up early on a summer day.

Perched atop a tree, chirp. What to do today?

Fourth of July we saw a wind instrument concert in Oak Meadow Park in Los Gatos. I love to look at kettle drums, and to hear them.

And my fellow Los Gatos citizens here amid our signals and wires.

I love propeller hats, I didn’t used to know that anyone actually wore them. But this li’l guy does.

Couple of weeks ago I was at a beatnik themed conference at Fort Mason in SF. The event wasn’t real well attended. I walked around for quite awhile taking pictures. I love corroded, peeling old walls.

V. Vale was there with Marian Wallace, we went up and had a nice cheap dinner at the little-known hostel on the hill behind Fort Mason. I said a few words on Vale and Marian’s panel talk

You can listen to Podcast #86 on the Rudy Rucker Podcasts channel.

I lost my glasses that day, which was bad for me, as it took me nine days to get a new pair. Horrible experience.

Dig the cherub with the rat. It’s on a big sculpture in front of the De Young museum in SF, honoring wine, made by the famed illustrator Gustave Dore.

This is my idea of really successful photo. Shot in Cruz. I love abstract visual designs made up of daily objects. You can see the photo better if you look at the 1200 pixel across version. Should the foreground be in focus or the background? Can be a tough call. I went for the foreground this time. Does that work? How about if you look at the 2400 pixel across version

Ever since I started shooting with my wonderful wide-angle lens on my Fujifilm digital X100T camera with 22m f2 lens, I’ve been tilting the camera more and more. I picked that up from looking at a lot of Garry Winogrand photos a lot of times. Winogrand used to deny that his camera was tilted. In some higher sense it was level, and I’m starting to get that.

Another nice random pattern photo, a child’s leg with some pens. I prefer not to put the faces of my family on my blog, but this red leg is very expressive in any case.

Another example of the kind of shot I like. Taken on the hill behind Fort Mason looking down at the parking lot. I don’t like seeing parked cars in my photos, they bore me, so I crop them out whenever I can—often using a “tilted” crop frame if that’s what I need. I like the three trees. The godlike trees calm, and the human-street-line-painted parking area all bossy and honking and busy. And the colors are dull, as it’s misty in late afternoon SF.

You can’t do much better than a photo of a neon roller rink sign. When I was little my Mom would drop me at a roller rink in downtown Louisville for an hour or two, and a lot of kids my age would be there skating. I saw my first electronic game ever there, it was a shooting game, you had a “gun” with a metal node on one end and you were looking through the sights at a turning metal disk with planes on it, and when your node touched the bump on a plane while you pulled the trigger you got a point or a beep or something. Paradise.

This is a fat swollen stump near Stow lake in SF. Bloated with life. Everything is alive.

A painting by one of my grandchildren plus a random houseplant. I truly to wish I could paint like a kid. That was one of Master Picasso’s skills. Sometimes I’ll fake it by starting with a kid-like underdrawing, or even copying something from a kid’s painting.

And we saw some turtles in Stow Lake. I rented an electric paddle boat for $14 extra—worth every penny, as son Rudy said. You don’t paddle at all just glide. At first I thought the turtles were bronze sculptures.

This is how I looked when I was just realizing that I’d lost my glasses last week. I was so bummed that I went out and bought two pairs of new ones. Let joy reign unconfined, as my Pop used to say when he’d get some kind of treat for my brother and I after we’d whined for it for a long time.

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The Grateful Dead in Levi’s Stadium

June 30th, 2015

I went to see the Grateful Dead concert at Levi’s Stadium in San Jose this Sunday, June 8, 2015. I got a ride with a friend Dan Pulcrano, but he wanted to push up to the very front, so most of the time I was alone, getting into my head.

I enjoyed the concert as a scene, although the music didn’t transport me as much as some concerts by others do. For my taste, the Dead don’t rock hard enough. Not funky and bluesy enough. And they’ve never had a really strong vocalist. My idea of a great live band is Rancid, or of course the Rolling Stones, or the Breeders—I saw a Breeders reunion concert in Santa Cruz last year that fully hypnotized me. But there were definitely some fine moments with the Dead. And they closed with a heartbreaking rendition of “Fare Thee Well”

Just being in such a giant crowd was very cool. 70,000 people, okay? Everyone I happened to talk to was really nice to me. This one tier of bleachers, the sun was going down behind it, and all the people in the top row were fringed with gold, melting into light.

A big part of the show is the people there, of course. This guy above had skintight gold lame pants. I spent a lot of the time sitting on a piece of foam I’d brought, next to a speaker tower. The woman in the picture and her boyfriend had come down from Oregon.

The speakers were curved a little bit. Kind of alien and futuristic.

This striped-pants woman is just about perfect in terms of hi-fash deadhead concert goer. Forgoing the tie dye. So California.

Here’s another woman, at night, with the moon in the background. She let me have a little of her popcorn. The moonmaid, I called her to myself. Slender, iconic, cosmic.

One of the first guys I saw, out by the gates, was a wonderfully weathered dude with an antediluvian cap. I liked how he was standing there with the unlit cigarette. Part of his look, not that he cared much about his look. When I see guys like this, I always have an instant connection. We recognize each other.

They did well with the lights. The searchlights seemed very good. I still don’t know why electronic light-show purveyors don’t use continuous-valued cellular automata! The electronic effects tend to be too non-chaotic, too controlled. But they did really get going during the drums.

Another guy I haven’t mentioned yet, I saw him right after I came into the stadium, this guy maybe even older than me, a really weathered old Deadhead in a t-shirt with a fuzzy image of skull, this guy catches my eye like he’s my long lost brother and says “Hi” and gives me a high-five, only it’s a high four as all but the bottom joint of his fourth finger is missing. He was the coolest guy I saw there, like a prophet welcoming me to a last supper but a limp somewhat worn prophet, a guy like a piece of driftwood or sea wrack found on a Santa Cruz beach. Unfortunately I didn’t get his picture.


[Photo from Fort Mason, SF]

Later, during a space jam, they kept showing the image of a hand missing most of the fourth finger—upon the giant digital screens on either side of the state, the hand in red, like a hand in ink that had slapped a piece of paper. An image solarized and made into a red silhouette, on the lower screens on the sides of the stage.

Seeing that hand up there, I started thinking that the old guy with two joints of his ring finger missing—maybe was in some way a mascot or secret force of the band. It felt cosmic and synchronistic that I was seeing that hand up there, they’d displayed it there as a cryptic message to those fortunate ones who’d done high four with the sea wrack dude. As most of you know, I haven’t been drinking or getting high for some years now—but I’m still tripping in my head just the same. Just like anyone else. None of us humans is even remotely “straight” or “normal.” And the Dead shows celebrate that.


[Photo from Fort Mason, SF]

The next day when I was discussing my missing finger revelation with someone, the guy told me that Jerry Garcia had had part of his fourth finger missing, so that was Jerry’s hand on the big display screen. So maybe my greeter was in fact Jerry in resurrected-Jesus format—or, likelier, he’d self-mutilated himself to look that way. Which is entirely within the realm of possibility for a devout deadhead. Like those guys who wear crowns of thorns and drag giant crosses up tiny cobblestone streets.


[Photo from Darwin Ranch, WYO]

Plenty of time to strange thoughts during the long numbers, nothing to do but be there and live through that interval of time, with my mind rising into the empyrean. The occasional planes going directly overhead were good too. Why not tell it like it is and admit that fully 20% of airplanes seen low over our urban centers are alien UFOs?

So here I am at the show, wondering about that cryptic phrase, “Steal your face.” The title of a live album, the informal name for the blue/lightingslash/red/skull logo, and line in their song, “He’s Gone.” When they did that song on Sunday, it felt like they were singing about Jerry. Such strange lyrics:

Rat in a drain ditch, caught on a limb,
you know better but I know him.
Like I told you, what I said,
Steal your face right off your head.
Now he’s gone, now he’s gone…
Like a steam locomotive, rollin’ down the track
He’s gone, gone, nothin’s gonna bring him back…

Some Wikipedia research reveals that “He’s Gone” was really about drummer Mickey Hart’s father, Lenny Hart, who embezzled about $150K from the Dead and dropped out of sight. So “steal your face” is being used fairly literally in the sense of being a thief. And I’d been thinking of it terms of the cosmic cycle of life and death eventually “stealing” my fleshy face off my head and leaving—a grinning skull, as suggested by the album cover image below.

“In the land of the night, the ship of the sun is drawn by the grateful dead.”

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Podcast #86. Beat Con in SF with V. Vale. TURING & BURROUGHS.

June 28th, 2015

June 28, 2015. At “Beatnik Shindig” event at Fort Mason in SF. I said a few words in praise of V. Vale and Marian Wallace. Then talked on TURING & BURROUGHS, and did Q&A. Sound is pretty good. 20 minutes in all.

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Art, Journals, Grandkids, Beat Shindig, Rbt. Williams

June 26th, 2015

I’ve been away from my regular blog posts for awhile.

I had that thing with the art show and the talk at Borderlands. I made a nice video of the “art tour” part of my talk¬—I figured out how to use this free Microsoft Windows tool called “Movie Maker” to cut still photo in with a video I’d made, and I overlaid a good audio tape that I made while I was talking. I filmed the video itself via a camera hanging around my neck so it’s kind of random cinema verité. Check it out.

Then I got into a bloodlust hacking frenzy creating a full-on podcast station for myself, Rudy Rucker Podcasts. Googling for advice, but, when it gets really specific and weird, you don’t always find anyone who is talking to your precise situation. The process morphed into a nightmare of addiction, me compulsively standing in front of my computer from dawn till ten at night a couple of days. But now it’s kind of over. Maybe. For a little while.


Painting by Robert Williams.

I got a ticket to go see the Grateful Dead concert at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. Last night I dreamed about almost setting up a deal to buy four ounces of pot. Talking to the dealers, debating the price, them giving me a free sample pack to slip into my jeans pocket. I didn’t get around to smoking it. And then I was lost in a museum.

And we had two of our grandchildren here for two nights, the twin girls, almost eight. We took them down to the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz and I went on this ride that I went on when I was their age, 61 years ago, still the same ride, it has the special chaotic quality. Called the Tilt-A-Whirl, although in Cruz the call it Rip Tide. Same sinister clown painted on the Tilt-A-Whirl chairs, amazing. Just about killed me to ride in it.

We rode on this chairlift that coast along above the rides. A statue of a cavewoman and a caveman in two of the chairs, like live cartoons.

Some of the rides are insane torture. On the third day our three-year-old grandson showed up as well, and we had a big cookout in our back yard with Rudy Jr. and his wife.

The girls found about a hundred varicolored gumballs in the town park, along with two transparent miniature plastic baseball bats that the gumballs had been inside of. The bats’ handles pulled off, they were like tapered plastic jars. The size of billy-clubs. And the girls gathered the balls and put them into the clubs and marched back and forth on our porch pretending they were police. And then I hid the clubs, as I worried the girls would spill the dirty gumballs all over the house or the yard. And then eventually Rudy let them dump the gumballs on the street to watch them roll downhill.

Rudy and I were into it, especially Rudy, lying on his back in the street being hyper. A good time. The three-year-old was excited about the bats, and it was a fresh feeling to be seeing them through his eyes, they looked magical, totemic, glinting in the yellow light from our kitchen door. The little boy like an urgent dwarf in a fairytale. I pick up on the mythic, magic feeling of childhood. Everything in rich color, in depth. Profound, incomprehensible, magical.


Dig these reflections of fluorescent lights on the tiles at Xanath ice cream on Valencia Street. The squiggles look like Arabic script.

I like to play with the grandchildren, grubbing with our stash of random old toys. They’re so at ease, so cuddly, sturdy, in the moment. And I’m lying on the floor, playing along, and looking at at the little kids, and I get the dizzy time-tunnel feeling that I’m peering back to 1949, looking at three-year-old Rudy. Me. A smart little boy who doesn’t yet know he’s smart. Unworried. Playing. Back into the land of magic. The peaceable kingdom. I might work some of these feelings into Million Mile Roadtrip.


Robert Williams Painting.

I haven’t really written much about going the Robert Williams art show in Santa Rosa, but oh well. Fun to talk to Williams, even if he is kind of brusque. Has this great hick accent, and is fairly intimidating—I think these feelings of mine are a carryover from studying his cartoons back in the 70s. “Rude Chuckles With A Negative Charge.” I managed to give him a copy of my art book, Better Worlds, and he said he’d look through it, “Lookin’ for stuff to steal.”

In fact he was flipping through my book in the gallery real fast, and he came to my painting “The Sex Sphere,” it’s of a giant ass with boobs on it, with an A-bomb explosion in the background, and this was very much to the Master’s taste. “Now you’re cuttin’ to the chase,” he says.

Purses are a lot like vaginas, you know? I think that might have something to do with why women like to carry big fancy purses around. Like a man carrying a bat or a billy club.


Wild ponytail on the Tornado ride at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk.

Anyway, I have a couple more things to mention. I’m going to appear for fifteen minutes at the tail end of V. Vale and Marian Wallace’s presentation on William Burroughs at a conference called Beatnik Shindig (ow!) at Fort Mason tomorrow at 4. I’ll be talking (briefly) about my novel Turing & Burroughs: A Beatnik SF Novel. I don’t know that Burroughsians are really aware of my book. Why would they be? No matter how tiny a splinter group I join, I’m always the outsider, the one who’s beyond the pale.

Sure, sure, wheenk, wheenk, wheenk. Anyway, I had two tough tasks in writing this novel: (1) To get my head into a place where I could believably describe a gay love affair. (2) Come to terms with the lingering tensions around Burroughs shooting his wife. (She comes back to life and shoots him .)


[Rbt. Williams cowhand lassos empty space. I used this fine, vintage move in Spaceland and in Realware, but never thought to try painting it. The Master at work.]

Also there’s a big feature article about my Journals in this week’s Metro Silicon Valley newspaper. Article by Dan Pulcrano.

Audience at my Journals event at Borderlands, June 13, 2015. Click for a larger version of the photo.

And, finally, here’s a zoomable photo of those loyal fans who showed up at my Borderlands talk. There’s a link for the talk in a previous post.

And here’s my portrait of the Master, yeah. Outta here now…

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