Race track scenesPosted: August 31, 2021 Filed under: Uncategorized 3 Comments
Trained down to Del Mar to see last year’s Kentucky Derby winner* Medina Spirit race against Rock Your World, who beat him at the Santa Anita Derby. Although there were other horses in the field, the story here was the match race between these two. At stake, in addition to the $100,000, was the integrity of Medina Spirit and trainer Bob Baffert, since the horse tested positive for the steroid betamethasone after the Derby.
The great race tracks of southern California were both built during the 1930s, when horse racing as a spectator sport was at peak popularity.
On August 12, 1938, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club hosted a $25,000 winner-take-all match race between Charles S. Howard’s Seabiscuit and the Binglin Stable’s colt, Ligaroti. In an era when horse racing ranked second in popularity with Americans to Major League Baseball, the match race was much written and talked about and was the first nationwide broadcast of a Thoroughbred race by NBC radio. In the race, Seabiscuit was ridden by jockey George Woolf and Ligaroti by Noel Richardson. In front of a record crowd that helped make the fledgling Del Mar race track a success, Seabiscuit won by a nose.
Horse racing as a sport, historical artifact, aesthetic, distraction, subject for a stylized form of writing, and opportunity for pondering how the brain turns a combination of near-randomness and excessive information into narratives has a strong appeal.
Cheers to Mac McBride and his team for letting me into the press room. A true gentleman.
I’ve never had anyone criticize the quality of the writing on Helytimes, though they sometimes disagreed with me or noted a piece of sloppy copyediting. I did once however get a complaint about the quality of my photography. It’s true, I don’t think I have any particular talent for photography, but I do think I have a gift for being in the right place.
After an objection in the race was resolved with no changes to the results, there was a guy down at the rail screaming “YES! YES! YES!” Although he had just received good news, the intensity of his relief suggested he’d probably wagered more than is wise on the outcome of three year old animals running around a track. A visit to the racetrack will invariably turn up both intriguing and appealing characters as well as cautionary tales.
Outcome of the race:
You know who was good at horse racing scenes? Jack Yeats:
Sienese PaintingPosted: August 30, 2021 Filed under: Uncategorized 2 Comments
Saw this in the window of the Carpinteria library’s used bookshop and had to have it. Maybe the best $2 I ever spent?
Had to see that one in color.
Says the Met:
This panel is the sixth in a series of eight that includes Saint Anthony at Mass (Gemäldegalerie, SMPK, Berlin); Saint Anthony Distributing His Wealth and Saint Anthony Blessed by an Old Hermit (both National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.); Saint Anthony Tempted by the Devil in the Guise of a Woman and Saint Anthony Beaten by Devils (both Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven); and Journey and Meeting of Saint Anthony with Saint Paul the Hermit and Funeral of Saint Anthony (both National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).
(That is only a detail, next time in Berlin I will investigate).
Distributing his wealth:
Tempted by a devil in the guise of a woman:
Beaten by devils:
There is some contention in the historical art community over which Sienese masters were directly responsible for which paintings. Scenes from the life of St. Anthony of Egypt have been questioned as Sassetta’s own work, and critics such as Donald Bruce believe that near-equals, such as the Griselda master also deserve attention for their achievements in art of this time period.
I agree. Sassetta did his own St. Anth beaten by Devils:
It was commissioned by the Wool Merchants Guild for the Carmelites in Siena to use in their Feast of Corpus Domini.
The Wool Merchants Guild.
RecallPosted: August 24, 2021 Filed under: Uncategorized Leave a comment
Like Communist China, California is a one party state. The party is the Democratic party. The Democratic party has 60 out of the 79 Assembly seats, 30 out of the 39 Senate seats. Both our senators are in the Democratic party. The last time a Senate seat opened up, with the retirement of Barbara Boxer (D), the Democratic Party more or less met and decided Kamala Harris, the state attorney general and former San Francisco DA, would get that, and Gavin Newsom, the mayor of San Francisco, would get to be governor after Jerry Brown (D), who had been governor off and on, and whose father Pat (D) was also governor, finally retired. This corrupt bargain angered other state Democratic wannabe stars, like former LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, but that’s the breaks.
Why does San Francisco hold such a disproportionate weight vs Los Angeles in our state’s politics? I’m not sure, maybe because the fundraisers up there are particularly influential, or because every LA politician gets caught in some kind of scandal, or maybe because who would want to leave Los Angeles to go to Sacramento? It’s not exactly an upgrade.
We did have Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), who won in a recall election. He was a Republican, but with an admirable pragmatism he established a working relationship with the Democratic leaders in the legislatures and governed more or less as a centrist. Some Hayes or Matt Stoller types may quibble with that interpretation of recent California history, but that’s how it felt.
When a case like Schwarzenegger emerges, a popular independentish candidate not developed in a party machine, it can create some of the more effective governance in the country. Jesse Ventura in Minnesota another example, the electorate more or less content with the outcomes which reflect something like the average opinions rather than any cobbled together set of party priorities. Although I guess Trump would also be an example of this, and I don’t think anyone can claim his presidency was especially effective, nor did it bring about widespread contentment. The leading insurgent candidate this time seems to be Larry Elder, is a Republican-aligned radio host. I had not heard of him until the election, so I do not think he is quite famous enough to prevail, but we’ll see.
Gavin Newsom, our current governor, is a pretty boy wine seller and restauranteur from the San Francisco area who hung around with the Getty boys and apparently pleased the rich people of San Francisco enough that they made him mayor. Now he is the governor. During the tough statewide shutdown triggered by the pandemic, a shutdown that caused many businesses to suffer and many to die, Gavin Newsom could not resist going to a dinner at French Laundry, which is one of the most expensive and indulgent restaurants in the world. The dinner at French Laundry was also, it turned out, the birthday party of a lobbyist. His behavior is so preposterous and embarrassing Gavin Newsom is lucky he isn’t getting tarred and feathered and run out of California on a rail.
But, instead of tar and feather and a rail, we are having a recall election.
I just voted in the recall. I voted NO, not because I like Gavin Newsom, but because the alternatives are horrible, and because I think recalls are a huge waste of time and money. If Newsom just barely survives, escaping by the skin of his teeth, that would be a pleasing outcome for me.
No one can really gin up much passion for Gavin Newsom at the moment without sounding ridiculous. The arguments on behalf of the anti recall campaign are so deflating as to be comical.
Catastrophic? There are multiple fires bigger than cities burning in our state, and in our biggest cities there are many enormous tent encampments of unhoused people. How much worse can it get?
How many elections are going to be existential? All of them, from now on? That is too stressful!
One of our senators here in California, Diane Feinstein, is 88 years old (you read that right). An age where she shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car let alone be a senator. It’s not openly discussed, but it is closedly discussed, that she is demented and can’t remember who is who, let alone details about complex legislation. So, an argument for Newsom has emerged that’s like, “you must keep our terrible governor so that he can appoint the replacement for our demented senator!”
For me, this argument is not merely uninspiring, it’s so depressing a concept that you have to laugh that here’s what we’ve come to. If that’s why the election is important, then it’s difficult to believe that your participation is important. This is in California, a state that’s gifted at producing world class talent! How did we end up with this?
It’s important not to just be a cynic here. I have spoken with people who have encountered Gavin Newsom and came to like him, the gist being that it seemed like he was listening to them. The job of governing California is not easy, under the conditions of the pandemic choices had to be made that would make people very unhappy. If you don’t like your options in public life, you have no one to blame but yourself. Let’s give some credit to the man in the arena, even if he appears to be a shiny faced self-dealing psychopath.
The ballot is kind of weird. You vote yes or no on whether Newsom should be recalled, and then you also can vote on one of 46 candidates to replace Newsom if he is recalled.
The recall ballot will ask two questions: 1) do you want to recall Governor Newsom? and 2) If the governor is recalled, who do you want to replace him
The candidates include actress / Corvette driver Angelyne and trans woman/ vehicular manslaughterer Caitlyn Jenner.
The Truth Squad Palm Card the California Democratic Party makes available tells you to vote NO, but then doesn’t tell you which of the other candidates to vote for. There’s been some online discussion of what to do about that, with some fanatics arguing you shouldn’t bother voting for a possible replacement candidate, because it might be confusing (to your own mind?)
In the last recall election, the Democrats had a backstop candidate, Cruz Bustamante, and the possibility of replacing Gray Davis with that guy apparently lured some Democratically inclined voters to vote for the recall. Thus, the Democratic Party doesn’t even want you considering the possibility Newsom would be recalled.
Since it is very possible Newsom will be recalled, and since some of the possible replacements are terrible, I felt I should vote for one of the replacement candidates. After sparse research, I chose Brandon Ross. Here is an interview with him where he says nothing I really object to:
Q: Why should Gov. Gavin Newsom be recalled?
A: I don’t necessarily think Gov. Newsome should be recalled. He was elected by a more than 3-2 margin over his challenger in the last election and he hasn’t done enough wrong to warrant being recalled. He has made some mistakes, but this is essentially a Republican effort to overturn the results of the last election because the party did not like the outcome.
His life story is interesting:
Dr. Ross attended the University of California, Davis, and graduated summa cum laude with a degree in Genetics. He would go on to medical school and become a doctor while simultaneously attaining his Masters in Public Health and his Masters in Business Administration.
Following graduation, he established a thriving cosmetic surgery center; everything seemed as though it was falling into place.
But after a serious back injury, Ross grew dependent on narcotics to manage his pain. The need for relief would soon devolve into opiate addiction, which led him to some of the darkest moments in his life.
As a result of his addiction, he lost a successful marriage, his family, and a thriving career.
But that wasn’t the end of the story. In 2014, Dr. Ross entered a recovery program that helped him turn his life around.
After getting clean, Dr. Ross graduated from law school and rebuilt his medical practice better than it was before. He also regained custody of his children, rebuilt his family, and is leading a fulfilling life. He now runs a charity that offers free cosmetic surgery to children dealing with trauma and radiation treatments for brain tumors.
I think the chance of Newsom being recalled and Dr. Brandon Ross being elected is close to 0%.
People telling me how to vote on one thing after another and how important it all is has gotten to be grating. I won’t be doing that here, I am merely telling my own ballot journey.
Good luck to everyone involved!
Wildfire newsPosted: August 10, 2021 Filed under: Uncategorized 1 Comment
I don’t want to be all fire content all the time, the Helytimes reader comes here looking for a little uplift, but since my drive through far northern California I’ve been absorbed by the great burning that’s begun. The scale of the fires and the fires to come are massive.
As I write this the Dixie fire is something like 760 square miles, bigger in size by far than any city in California. The Dixie fire is almost as big as Orange County. That doesn’t mean it’s all roaring flames, but a smoldering area bigger than Los Angeles is quite wild to ponder.
Good first sentence for a novel there. Mike Nimz, quoted by Joe Mozingo in this LA Times piece on refugees from the Camp fire, the one that destroyed the town of Paradise in 2018.
That’s a tough situation right there. Supposedly the population of Chico, CA grew by something like 20,000 in the wake of the Camp fire.
(I kind of dug the town of Chico. College town, good bookstore. Downtown has some life to it, or did on the particular July Tuesday morning I cruised in. Sierra Nevada is not my go-to beer but respect. I have a suspicion people sometimes lump Chico in with Chino, a less appealing town).
I drove through Paradise on my travels. There was what looked like a brand new, prefab Best Western set up, and some trailers and construction activity on the cleared foundations. A few stray signs over missing buildings.
Now this is looking on the bright side:
And although the thick layer of smoke hovering over the fire is expected to dissipate Monday, McKeague said clearer skies actually expose the fire to more dangerous heat from the sun, which could lead to increased fire activity.
“It was actually helpful,” he said of the thick smoke. “It sort of held a cap that blocked some of the sunlight.”
That from: “As Dixie fire nears half a million acres, containment is still weeks away” by Hayley Smith in LATimes (no relation to American Dad!’s Hayley Smith).