surfing the stardust

Archive for the category “Uncategorized”


This is about Bob Dylan’S 30 minute long “2016 Nobel Lecture in Literature” which was just provided by Bob on June 4.  
– This is NOT his 10 minute acceptance speech which was delivered by a woman in Stockholm at he ceremony.
– This is NOT about the content of Bob’s speech…it is about his delivery.  

But,  before I write about this I want to acknowledge to whom I am sending this.  
They are all people whom I believe (with one exception) have enjoyed with me and, in some cases, loved Bob’s music. 
Humor me please, here are my friends to whom I am sending this with fond memories of our joint experience of Bob Dylan’s work

     – Lawrence (Laddie) Davaney – my first cousin and oldest friend and he who, in summer of 1963, first introduced me to Bob Dylan’s work on a summer’s evening on a porch in their rental house in Los Also Hills
     – Kathy Sheehan – we went together to Dylan’s December 21, 1965 “Highway 61 Revisited” tour- his first electric shows
     – John Farnan – We spent hours studying the lyrics and crafting them into parts of our philosophy and theology papers at Santa Clara
     – Pete Borelli – we sang these songs in our apartment as we began to learn how to play the guitar; later we’d sing these songs as “buskers” in the streets and subways of Germany.
     – Greg Quintana – Bob’s civil rights song were the music that helped us shape our thinking and propel actions in support of the movement 
     – Dan Pisano – with whom I went to my second Dylan Concert – with Maria Muldar..later we got kicked out of Original Joes. This concert does not seem to show up on concert lists
     – Russ Rottiers – with whom I went to the “Gospel Tour” and waited for Bob to “play some folk songs”
     – Adam Welch – Nick and Jen’s cousin who is as close to a Dylan scholar as I know and who, with his Mom, has seen more concerts than me.
     – Jenny and Nick Greeve – two fine children who learned to love Bob despite his rough and crumbling voice
     – Frank & Mary Gill – who set up a fine concert last week where Joan Osborne sand 90 minutes of Bob’s songs
     – John Miner – who has shared that his one goal in his twilight years is “workin’ for a while on a fishin’ boat right outside of Delacroix
     – Rich Bader – with whom I’ve seen several Dylan concerts and his mother Mildred who worked for Dylan for 30+ years as his accountant (a great picture of Mildred and Bob many many years ago attached below)…Mildred was one of Margo’s favorite people and we loved our visits with her in New York.greev

OK – here’s  the link to Bob’s Lecture:  

Here are my thoughts on it: While the lecture content is wonderfully written and ties together much imagery which runs through 50 years of his writing, there is little that a serious fan will find new.  It does show his thoughtfulness in reading and contemplating classic literature.  Most of the lecture is devoted to 3 novels:  Moby Dick, All’s Quiet on the Western Front, The Odyssey.

However, what I found most lovely was how Dylan talks throughout the lecture. How he uses his voice; how he caresses words or spits them out, and varies his vocal instrument continuously.  This is particularly rewarding give to that old saw “Good Songwriter but HORRIBLE singer”.

The arrays of sound mechanisms a person can use produces an individual “print” that is, like fingerprints and eye appearance totally unique to each individual.   These include attributes such as pitch, tone, air sensation, articulation, modulation, timbre, dynamics, intensity, accent, emphasis, length of hold, frequency level, shape of vowels, impact of consonants, their looseness or tightness, vibrato, etc etc.  In addition to the physics based variations there is the note structure of how sentences and phrases are constructed.  Ending on a high note, ending on a low note, how many notes might be used in a single syllable – all these can be varied.

I saw two fine concerts in the last month with Frank, Mary, Russ, Rich, and Abe where different musicians devoted hours to singing Bob Dylan songs:
     – Old Crow Medicine Show’s rendition of the Blonde on Blonde album
     – Joan Osborne’s concert of about 15 Dylan songs at The Aladdin Theatre.

While it was nice to hear these terrific songs, their interpretation in ALL instances was, to my taste, inferior in their quality of singing to the originals.  The words were the same, the bands were top notch, the venues were terrific. But I left longing for the originals and their moving, emotional, rendering which Bob created.  
Bob’s singing of most of these songs adds SO MUCH to the emotional impact of the lyrics, that to hear a whole set by someone who is not able to duplicate or expand on his phrasing merely reinforces the extremely controversial claim that Dylan, in his prime, was a great singer.  A rough, scratchy, raspy tone with annoying timbre’s and a bit too much nasal sound – yes he was;  but never the less GREAT in his ability to communicate the depth and type of feeling that he wants the song to communicate.

Rather than pontificate on what was missing I encourage each of you to listed to Bob’s lecture.  Set aside 30 minutes, put on a good set of earphones, and listen to his voice as it flows over the rich words – it is magnificent.

Here is the link again as kindly provided by our friend Ralph Henkhaus  
and here is Rich Bader’s mom Mildred back in the days that they were a team:

Some good eating places in Kyoto

here’s what we have found in Kyoto.



Since I was a child, Margo and I have been there twice for a total of about 6 weeks.  We rented a house and did breakfast and an occasional lunch there.  There are many coffee shops with fine coffee and pastries.  There are a number of excellent pastry shops too.

Both times we stayed on the east side of the city in an area called Higashiyama (Eastern Mountains)between Shijo Ave (Dori) and Sanjo (Dori) Ave (Sanjo is 3rd Ave), Shijo is 4th Ave.
These Ave’s run east west and there are 3 North-South Streets that one moves up and down on.  We stay in Higashiyama because the mountains run straight North-south and are pretty much a non-stop run of shrines, temples, museums, parks, interspersed with interesting neighborhoods.  Also because the bus system and subway system run along it as do several of the train systems to out of town (especially the little train to Ohara and the amazing Sanzen-Ji) .  At the furthest south end is the rightly famous Inari Temple, dedicated to foxes, in Fushimi and to the north end is my favorite of the Imperial Household grounds, the “Shugakuin Imperial Villa” with hawks flying and farmers working in the rice paddies.



These restaurants are in these general areas. They are all difficult to find due to little english signage. I recommend trying to find them on Google Maps, going to the general area and looking around then finding the resaturant. I ALWAYS get reservations and often will go to the restaurant a day before and book the reservation in person. That way I am sure of its location and feel welcome when I arrive. In most of the restaurants we sit at the counter – this allows us to interact with the staff and admire the work. It is always better to have a few beers or wine also. We try to order “Omikase” which means “what ever the chef feels is specially good” and then we don’t have to struggle with the menu. If one of the party does not like fish we find either a noodle restaurant, a chicken restaurant, a yakatori cafe or a Sukiyaki or ShabuShabu restaurant. The big department stores like Takeshimaya have great food courts and cafes (on each floor) for a nice lunch.

– Our favorite places in Higashiyama are as follows:

The Yagenbori Sueyoshicho restaurant in the beautiful northern Gion geisha district (north of ShijoDori). This is a small chain of family run traditional fine restaurants. booths and counter
here is the chain website.

Another spot in the south Gion area is a fine chicken/yakitori restaurant called Wabiya Korekido. You find it by the lovely circular drawing on the website and its wall

Our favorite place is a restaurant called kitchen Occobe. It is on the south side of Sanjo Dori close to the Higashiyama Subway station. Its owner is Kouji and his sushi chef is Shingo. Their omikasi meal is terrific. Kouji heads the local wine club.京都東山三条-Occobeおっこべー-ワイン洋食-347763642044159/

Next to that is a restaurant called Bamboo which provided us with the finest meal I have ever had in Japan (almost). The owner chef is somewhat tempremental but if he is on you will remember it always. Look in front of it for a small bowl of live freshwater crabs which he frys and you eat whole – terrific.


hope this helps


the garden which gathers green Sanzen-ji


Jenny asked me to do this…!!

In reviewing I find that I have been to almost all of them with Margo whom I met when I was 52 and who did me the honor of taking me for her husband. She is an intrepid traveler and shares my love of new places – without her this list would be much shorter.


Jungfrau from our Hotel Beausite room

A few things needed to make this list…you must be overlooking, or in the middle of, something beautiful. You don’t need to be able to see it from your room, although that is icing on the cake, but you must be able to walk out, stroll no more than a minute or two and be in the middle of a wonderful earthly paradise or wonderland, made by God or man, it doesn’t matter. And, if possible, there you may purchase & start your day with a cup of coffee.  Also, with two exceptions,  it must be a charming building with comfort and atmosphere to spare, those two exceptions have unique and special settings.

My Favorites

Relais Christine, Paris – right in the middle of the left bank tucked away on a quiet small street around a courtyard entrance, this small Inn has comfortable rooms with blissful quiet. IMG_0530.JPG3 minutes walk takes you to (a)the Rue De Buci street market,(b) 3 -5 Michelin starred (either now or in the past) restaurants/bistro, (c) Odeon metro, (d) Pont Neuf. Hard to beat – I’ve tried the Maurice, George V, Raphael and others but this is where I prefer.

Nishimuraya Honkan, Kinosaki – Near the Sea of Japan is a famous spa town; in it is one of the finest traditional Japanese inns you will find. Beware – I refer to the “Honkan” not its modern sister “Hotel”. With 8 official bath houses, temples and walks in the lovely wooded hills you will have a stay to remember.


Nishimuraya Honkan Ryokan

Moana-Surfrider, Waikiki – is its old name, now a Sheraton it has a permanent place in the families heart and is my favorite hotel. It really is the verandah and the Banyan tree but the Waikiki outrigger rides are terrific. The old market has been torn down sad to say – but the memories of making “Meadow foam Madness” movie with Nick and searching for Jen’s b’day cake will never die. We always get a room at the top of the stairs in the old building so we don’t have to ever use an elevator.

Stephanie Inn – The most beautiful beach I know of is Cannon Beach in Oregon. Sitting overlooking one of its claims to fame, Haystack Rock is this small hotel.


View from Stephanie Inn

The Janice Kay suite is where Margo and I stayed the weekend before we left for the turn of the century party in Salzburg and Paris which ultimately led to our marriage. It is also where I did my first drawing in my new journal which accompanied us through many countries. It is luscious.



Beausite, Wengen – wake up to the Monch and Jungfrau or take the cable car 10 minutes to the face of the Eiger. There are no cars in this village and the mountain train can take you to dozens of trams, funiculars, cable cars or lake steamers. Warm swimming pool and massages. This is your ultimate Swiss inn.

Hotel Sacher, Salzburg – We woke up one Christmas morning with snow coming down on the Salzach River and the turrets and steeples white in front. This may have the setting of all town settings; with great chocolate cake and Mozart all around. Try their Christmas market and late Xmas Eve mass. Dinner with Barton’s is icing on the Sacher Torte so to speak.

Asia Comfort

Metropole, Hanoi – Any hotel with a Graham Green bar has got to have historic atmosphere.


Hanoi market

This one cannot be better sited in the middle of the robust action of central Hanoi. Close by are french bakeries, wonderful temples, markets, ice cream parlors, galleries, you name it. The old building rooms are comfortable and Pho is cooked on open fires for breakfast.


Avani Resort, Qui Nhon, Vietnam – In 1966 I ran convoy’s to the Cambodian border from this town.  Now outside it, past the leper colony, is a lovely place on the South China Sea.


South China Sea

Looking for a quiet get away from the crazy life of Saigon or Hanoi, with a look at the real Vietnam, this will do it.




Jaipur Palace, Jaipur – Majestic and enormous old palace now converted to a hotel.

india-2-188Impeccable service (for India), wonderful meals on the lawn or in the massive dining room. A great base camp for shopping and historic outings. Memories of Christmas dinner with Nick, Jenny and Margo.  There are sights galore in this town and in short drives to the countryside.  Best shopping in the world for precious and semiprecious stones.

Lalitha Mahal Palace, Mysore – The Maharaja of Mysore built this palace for his guests including Mountbatten. In 2005 it had a lovely vista of this interesting and exciting town. Close by is a stunning architectural wonder – Tipu Sultan’s Summer Palace (he who handed Cornwallis his final defeat). Suites are enormous, dinners are complete with floor show, monkey’s help deliver breakfast on your verandah,


The verandah at Mysore

and a magician hung out in the lobby for guests sleight of hand enjoyment.




Beautiful Vistas

Pere Bis, Talloires – has only about 25 rooms and is its third generation as a Michelin starred retreat. The lake is beautiful, warm and you can dive from a rowboat for a refreshing swim back to shore. There are towered villages across the blue water and comfortable lunches out on the patio. The lake steamer stops every 90 minutes for a leisurely ride to Annecy for shopping and lunch

El Tovar, Grand Canyon – The most beautiful view in the world is 30 feet from the lawn chairs on the porch. While the rooms, like most WPA hotels in the NP’s, are rustic, the dining room is lovely especially for a nice bit breakfast

Shiv Niwas Palace, Udaipur, India – Possibly the most romantic views in the world are around the lake in the center of this princely state in SE Rajasthan.


breakfast by pool, Shiv Niwas

Many choose to stay at the Lake Palace which is a great choice; we prefer the Shiv Niwas Palace because a) it is the center of the town and b) it looks out on the Lake Palace. We were invited for cocktails with the Maharani which will forever be in the Greeve family lore


Fretheim Hotel, Flam – There are numerous fine hotels on the Norwegian Fjords and this one is the only one I’ve been to but we loved our quiet stay. Ferry trips through the fjords, bike rides, fires in the lobby. good wine and a brewery 3 minutes away, and one of the great rail trips Europe make this a winner. Between Oslo and Bergen – arrive by train and leave by boat – brilliant.

Chateau Lake Louise, Canadian Rockies – two fine stays here – New Years eve with the kids (the top floor is turned into a family casino); more atmosphere than believable, sleigh rides around the lake, which, by the way, has the most beautiful water in the world. Rooms are rustic but fun. Skiing and hiking galore.

Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island – This experience FAR exceeded Margo’s and my expectations. It is a long trip to get here, but if you are looking for a restful and relaxing stay it cannot be beaten. It is the living embodiment of the 1890’s – and it has 3 fine golf courses. NO motorized vehicles allowed on the island – horse carriages only.

Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho – morning mist rising on Payette Lake in the sunlight just cresting the foothills of the Bitterroot Range; WS award dining room; luscious spa; kayaking, water skiing, & golf galore and the best 4th of July show in the west. A stay last September showed remodeled rooms that were not as comfy as the old ones but still fine.

Magic Town Inns

Hotel Cathedrale, Strasbourg – We went here to visit Jen during Thanksgiving 1998; while we were there the city’s famous Christmas market opened. It was a thrill to look out from our window on the magnificent cathedral and in its surrounding square and teeming cobbled streets the booths strung with festive lights and garlands of lights. Make sure you get a room with a view!

Steigenberger Hotel, Dresden – The hotel is just a comfortable business class one but its location is terrific. On Germany’s most beautiful square a room with a view also takes in the steeples and spires of royal places, opera houses and multiple churches. Its crowning glory is ten steps from its outdoor cafe – a view of the magnificently rebuild Frauenkirchen. read my post on Dresden in this blog Mar 4 2015.

Hotel Wentzl,Krakow – I believe this Polish gem has the most charming square outside of Italy and this hotel will give you a window opening right into its midst with flower markets and ancient chapels underneath it. Terrific middle European cuisine, cathedral concerts, open air cafe’s and horse buggies to take you to tour the castle make for a wonderful stay.

Grand Hotel, St Peterburg, Russia – The ten days we spent here were some of the best of our lives.


our living room


For Margo’s 65th birthday we went thru the hassles of getting real visa’s and bedded down here.  This city is really a town because you will almost certainly never stray more than 3 miles from the theaters, churches, parks, and museums that are within a stones throw of this great lady.  Dining is a problem in Russia but there are 5 restaurants in your hotel.  Excellent concierge service makes the problems disappear and the guide & town car appear.  We went to the Hermitage 5 different days, two ballets, and one opera innumerable palaces and museums plus a great boat tour of the canals and rivers.  A 15 hour tour of the countryside was exceptional  Truly worth the time if you are an art and music lover.

Cipriano Inn at Torcello, Venice Lagoon – The original island settlement islet in the Venetian lagoon has been inhabited since the 700’s, still largely given over to small farms if has a comfortable Inn run by the famous Cipriani family. Fine food and wine, luxurious garden dining, under the rust red brick domes and towers of the hote11th Century basilica. Some come here first to get over jet lag hanging in the beautiful garden. Its byzantine era mosaics are some of the best preserved in the world. The rooms can be tiny so reach for the best

Hotel Savoia & Jolanda, Venice – I am troubled by hotels in easy to find yourself paying $800 a night and have a disappointing stay. This hotel will save you 25% and put you on the magnificent Riva if you spring for the “junior suite”. Once the hordes have left you find yourself in the most perfect “view” spot in the city.

Shangri-La, Hangzhou – Hangzhou was the first Chinese city I felt comfortable in and this traditional old western style hotel was a big part of the reason. Situated along the lake with beautiful views of the garden islets, it is a center for walking, casual biking or boating on the lovely archipelago. Two of the finest Chinese restaurants are on the lake, one only a 5 minute walk out on a causeway.

Hotel Raphael, Rome – I suppose you can call Rome a big city but it always feels like a town to me. This 70 room vine covered spot feels more like an inn – casual and in no hurry, crazy room layouts, but always willing to please. It has been a favorite of our family since 1983. It’s payoff is the 3 minute walk to the alley entrance to Piazza Navone – certainly one of the top squares in the world. The is no better place to start and end a day that a coffee or gelato in this glorious space.

“Tropic” Inns

Sun City, Livingston, Zambia – I believe the Queen Victoria Falls are the most spectacular in the world. This sunny hotel is safe & comfortable and a short 5 minute walk from spectacular views. Zebras graze outside your windows, you can walk across the bridge to Zimbabwe or take boat or walking safari’s. Great fun.

Oberoi, Seminyak, Bali – This is one of the best hotels in the world.

Gerry's Picks 025.jpg

Jen and Nick at The Oberoi


It exceeds The Oriental Bangkok by a good margin. You must get a compounded villa and spend hours by the pool.  Nighttime entertainment, terrific food, and convenient sight seeing and golf will keep you busy when not soaking in the India Ocean (good body surfing).  see the reviews in TA for confirmation of this opinion.

Casa Dell’Arte, Borum, Turkey – This is paradise on the Aegean with meals al fresco and one of the most beautiful pools in the world. Gracious hospitality and interesting art all over. And you can rent their 90 ft+ gulet schooner and disappear for a week or two if you have 6 good friends to split the bill.

Ibah (Warwick), Ubud, Bali – The first time we stayed here in 2003 Margo and I dubbed it “our soul hotel”.

Gerry's Picks 036.jpg

view from an Ubud villa

For the upcountry view of Bali, where a few days with a hired car & driver through the temple and garden complexes will immerse you in the real Hindu paradise get a villa here. Deep in a gorge of rice patties and lush forests you cannot help feeling transported. Long walks with cool pool soaks, dinners in the garden, massages, and gamalang music, all help you feel its special charm.

Raffles, Siem Reap – a short tuktuk ride from the Temples of Angor this has a fabulous pool with outdoor massages under the spreading banyan trees. The suites are small but comfortable. You must stop your jungle touring in the middle of the day and rest with a refreshing lunch and a massage by the excellent pool. Short walk through the park to the village center and the boat races down the river. This is one of the top historic sites in the world, but it is exhausting – use the Raffles to help you enjoy it.

Amanjiwo, Borobudur, Java – The only one on the list at which we’ve never stayed but Harrison Ford has many times. It overlooks the jungles, mountains, and in the distance Borobudur – a truly, truly, wonderful temple with a mystical story. We had lunch. No need to describe an Aman luxury resort.

Palau Pacific Resort, Palau – The best swimming beach hotel (no surf) I’ve ever stayed at.img_0396 Basic comfort in a lush paradise of palms and white sand. A magnificent and large coral garden begins 10 steps from the beach and is good for scuba as well as unparalleled snorkeling. Prices have tripled in last 5 years.

Big City Ships (Expensive)

Gotham Hotel (now The Peninsula), Manhattan – Waynette and I stayed in this wonderful 245px-usa-nyc-the_peninsulaold building which is now beautifully restored. It was Thanksgiving Weekend in 1977, 9 months before Jen was born. We had Thanksgiving dinner in the Rainbow Room and saw Liza in The Act. Built in 1905 in a beautiful old style it is the center of 5th Avenue action. Now our suite will cost you $2000 a night over the holiday.

Imperial Palace, Tokyo – refinement galore in the beautiful public rooms of this images-3comfortable and attentive high-rise. Nice little spa, in room massages, helpful english speaking concierges. Right in the Marunouchi/Ginza area close to the palace, kabuki and shopping.The previous version was designed by F.L. Wright

Westin, Kyoto – You would think that in this ancient city you would look for an old hotel with traditional Japanese hospitality – CANNOT for less than $1000 a night. So get comfy in this well placed hotel and rest easy in between prowling thru the heavenly gardens and temples outside your front door.

Oriental, Bangkok – Rated continually as the best hotel in the world seems to me an exaggeration, but it is fine. Its crowning glory is its position on the ChaoPraya River, the city’s boulevard. boats of all type whisk you to the temples, markets, and museums. Then return to a cool swim in the lovely pool and relax on your balcony overlooking the interesting scene.

3 “Dumps” worth your while … Ok “dumps” is too strong a word but if you don’t mind floors that squeak or are linoleum, bathrooms like a Motel 6 , or no phone to call the front desk these will work. You wonder if they’re really clean but in the end they work out just fine. These are all locations you can’t get any other way.

Ola’s Bird Safari, way above the Arctic Circle – it is comfortable and clean enough for most but you are staying here not for the facility but its spectacular location and the terrific wildlife boat tour leaving from your front porch every couple of hours. After all it truly is at the end of the earth. UNBEATABLE! (if the sun is out) read my blog post 9/18/16.

East Lake Resort, Newberry Volcanic Monument, near Bend, Oregon – Deep inside the caldera of the volcano this place has good breakfast, canoes, outboard fishing dinghys, pontoon boats, trout galore, and some marvelous hikes and short drives. Best lake in the Northwest is you can do without waterskiing.

Prince of Wales Waterton Park, Canadian Rockies – It’s a shame this magnificent building, iconic really, has been let to go to seed by the Canadian Government. It is still worth a trip just to see it and its magnificent view. We stayed in 2009 and wrote a scathing review and as of this summer there are scathing reviews from visitors. Worth a trip.

SeaFoam Motel, Nags Head – we went every summer to Nags Head when we lived in Williamsburg. My mom and I would walk in the early morning up this beach to the pier and back collecting sea shells. This motel was there and is no different. Basic but clean.

Other places I like to stay or have stayed once and liked a lot:
I could write a page or more about each of these.. If your stay at one would be like one of my stay’s it will make your list for delicious places to bunk as well.

North America:

-Black Rock Sheraton, Maui
-TuTuTun Lodge, Gold Beach, Oregon
-Hannover Inn, Dartmouth
-Hotel Monaco, Seattle (you get a goldfish friend for your stay)


views from out turret room at The Empress


-Empress Hotel Vancouver







-Dukes, London
-Hotel Miramare, Castiglione della Pescaia
-Hotel Majestic Toscanell, Padua
-Hotel de La Poste, Beaune

-Hotel Manoir Les Minimes, Amboise


-Manoir at Amboise

-Grand Hotel, Zermatt
-Atlantic Park Hotel, Baden Baden
-Hotel Cathedral, Barcelona
-The Manor House, Castle Combe, England
-Montreux Palace, Montreux
-Palazzo Dragoni, Spoleto


-Four Seasons, Chang Mai

Gerry's Picks 190.jpg

Four Seasons, ChangMai

-Dalat Palace Hotel, Dalat, Vietnam
-Intercontinental Hotel, Sydney
-ShangriLa Hotel, Singapore
-Raffles Hotel, Phnom Penh

-Surin Phuket (on the same small bay as the Amanpuri but half the price)

Any decent inn on Gili Trawangen, off Lombok


Nick on Gili Trawangan





The Butcher of Tiananmen Square

Bob Noyce had been the first senior leader of Intel to go to China.  He had gone there in late 1982 and met with Deng Xiaoping.  In about August 1983 Hank O’Hara, then Vice President of Sales for Intel, went to Beijing and met with Premier Zhao. China was anxious to do a deal with us which would get them more microprocessor technology fast. Zhao had chided Hank with an admonishment that went something like this: “Why have you Intel people done nothing with China? We have asked your Chairman to propose a deal for us to work together yet no one has done anything”.

Well Hank came back and talked to Bill Lattin who called me into his trailer. Bill said something like “Look Greeve the Chinese are all in a dither and you and your guys have got to put together some type of technology transfer deal. There’s been lots of talk but no results and you’re going to have to change all that”!
Well to make a long story short, a bunch of people joined me and we pulled together Intel’s first proposal for a business relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Our proposal was we would transfer computer hardware and software technology and training to the computer engineering department of the Aviation Ministry in return for them purchasing tens of millions of dollars of single board computers. In February 1984, four guys, Francis Yu, Chris Lingle, Mike Kemple, and I flew up to Beiing and negotiated the deal and the final watershed agreement with their Import/Export arm CATICunknown was done by the spring.

So as the wheels of that deal started to turn it was time for the ceremony. Of the Intel “office of the president” only Bob Noyce had been to China and so in early 1985 I helped Francis Yu organize a visit for Gordon Moore, then Intel’s President and his wife Betty. It was largely ceremonial with tours of factories, speeches to technology associations and ministry leadership, and a public resigning of the agreement. Of course we ate our way through the trip with one memorable feast after another. There are a number of lake parks just west and north of the Forbidden City which are fun to stroll through – we had a small luncheon banquet in an ancient building for about 30 Intel and PRC leaders there – delicious.

But the high point of the ceremonies was to be a “state meeting” where Gordon was to meet with the very powerful Vice Premier, Li Peng, who for a decade, starting a year or so after our visit, was the Premier of the PRC and head of its National Congree.


Vice Premier Li Peng

I had to do the briefing for Gordon and in my research uncovered the fact that Vice Premier Li was the adopted son of Zhou En Lai. Li’s father, a member of the revolution, had been executed by the Kuomintang. During the “Long March” Zhou had given the six year old Li his blanket to keep him from freezing as they hid out in a cave in mountainous western China. So Li was destined for power in the seemingly, never ending incestuous realms of human politics.

I had to come up with the ceremonial gift that, in Asia, is a required part of any meeting between leaders. Teeing off from the tale of the blanket I went to our Portland based Pendleton woolen mills and purchased a lovely American Indian patterned kingsized blanket. Gordon raised an eyebrow when I told him what he was going to present but I convinced him with the cave story – and anyway, who doesn’t want a Pendleton blanket?


Pendleton Blankets

There is a marvelous building near the Forbidden City which some nickname “The Chinese White House”. It is called Zongnanhai, which refers to the multiple lakes west of the palaces and the “imperial garden” in its midst…it now refers to the compound where the seat of power in China often resides and usually holds its most significant and power laden meetings. That was where our state meeting was to take place. Home of emperors and presidents, its history is palpable as you approach it in a limousine and, after disembarking, begin the walk to its majesty. The entrance to this compound is an enormous two story, carved wood, polychrome gate called “Xinhuamen”. unknown-2Its multiple eves sweep upward as wings. The gate entrance is flanked by large calligraphy signs with patriotic sayings and a couple of soldiers in full dress, and behind them, a massive gold written exhortation “Serve the People”. The theme is red and gold with sky blue accents under the handsome tiled roofs.

Six of us walked through the gate into the courtyard with Gordon in the lead and turned left approaching the “Hall of Purple Light”, the most important meeting hall. There we took seats in luxurious upholstered chairs with side tables laden with porcelain tea utensils and steaming Longjing dragon well tea. I took in the carved screens and silk paintings around the handsome room as the translated conversation between Gordon and Premier Li covered predictable ground. Then my turn came as I brought the blanket up to Gordon who presented it to Li. Their chatting was amiable, accompanied by occasional hand signs meaning tight collaboration, most of the talk merely confirming our commitments to work closely together. The whole thing lasted only 30 minutes and frankly I don’t recall any specific phrasing that was said. The ceremonial pictures were taken – all with film since it was 1985; mine are in some big box in Downtown Self Storage. As usual in China when its over its over, all shook hands and we left.

Gordon led us to Tsinghua University where he gave a lecture on Moore’s Law. After another meeting or two the Intel party split up. Bill Clemow and I went to Jiao Tong University in Shanghai where I gave a lecture on Open Systems Theory. I recall looking out of the Sheraton windows and seeing block after block of the teeming city streets stacked with large bok choy cabbages sitting outside in the freezing cold. Gordon invited Francis and me to join him and Betty on a trip to Guilin and the Li River but I declined.


Mount Kinabalu, Borneo

I was into high altitude trekking at that point and elected to fly to Kota Kinabalu in Borneo where I climbed Mt Kinabalu which at about 13,500 feet is the tallest mountain in SouthEast Asia. I regret now not going with Gordon and Francis. While I worked closely with Gordon on this and IBM, it would have been special to get to know him more personally. I was invited later to go fishing in Alaska with him but again declined and my good pal John Miner joined him instead. Anyway enough of that.

In 1989, only four years after our meeting with Li Peng, the ten years of loosening the tight reign of the communist totalitarian state began to give way to popular demands for even more freedom. Frustrations with corruption, unequal economic success, and suppression of free criticism resulted in an explosion of protest around the country. Beijing’s Tianaman Square saw tens of thousands and sometimes a million people demonstrating for more freedoms. Riots, protests, and arrests broke out throughout the country. There was no agreement on response in the Politburo Standing Committee of Zhao, Li Peng and 3 others, much less with the “retired” paramount leader Deng, nor the Politburo as a whole. Li Peng was the fiery leader of the “crackdown” set. When Zhao left to take a trip to Korea, Li took charge of the country, coordinated with Deng and began pushing a hardline response.

There was back and forth until in mid-May when hunger strikes which had been underway for weeks prompted response. The party leadership decided this was all a threat to order and their control so ordered a tougher crackdown. Martial law was declared and masses of troops dispatched to Beijing. On June 1 LiPeng issued a formal report to the Politburo calling the protestors terrorists and counterrevolutionaries. This report was the justification for military action. Zhao having been ousted, Li was now the senior member of the Standing Committee and with Deng decided it was time to clear the square with military force. On June 3, outside the


XinHua Gate

Xinhua gate of Zhongnanhai, where we had followed Gordon in for his state meeting, tear gas swept as the army and protesting students clashed. As the day proceeded the order was given by Li Peng to “use any means” and by late evening the army was killing people. The battle continued for the next 3 days as the army gradually exerted control. One estimate is 250,000 military occupied Beijing; there were dozens if not hundreds killed in other cities; the leaders were eventually rounded up and hundreds imprisoned and executed. Amnesty International estimates that from several hundred to one thousand were killed. There is no consensus on the true reach of the crackdown but there is allusion to, country wide, millions being investigated and “tens if not hundreds of thousands” being jailed.

Late in the summer of 1989 I saw Gordon and Betty at a garden party for Ed Gelbach’s 65th birthday.images-1

As I chatted with him I said “Gordon, what did you think about your friend Li Peng and that crackdown in Tiananmen square”.

“Gee”, Gordon said, “and he seemed like such a nice guy”.

POSTSCRIPT:  Oct 18, 2016..speaking of incestuous politics, corrupt dynasty building, and our upcoming election…in flitting around cyberspace today I spied this in the venerable South China Morning Post: “Li Xiaopeng, the governor of coal-rich Shanxi province and the son of former premier Li Peng, is tipped to become the new Communist Party boss of the regulator of top state-owned enterprises, sources in Shanxi and Beijing told the South China Morning Post.”  I was surprised about 30 years ago to realize that progressiveism leads, in some mentally twisted fashion, to powerful national governments which leads in turn to deeply seated nepotism…ugh.

Sunset Ghosts

I have had only one experience that I could possibly call SUPERNATURAL….
I’ve never been sure that it was, but, I had just talked to my old friend Peter and he agrees that it was a strange evening. So I thought I’d recount it.

I do believe that there are probably more than a few sentient beings in this enormous spread of billions of galaxies – many of whom may have powers well beyond ours.  So I open about UFO’s although I’ve never seen any myself.
I’m unsure about parallel universes or dimensions impinging on ours…why bother?
Extrasensory perception? Probably.
Don’t know about time travel but certainly flying in a slight haze in the upper deck of a 747 from Portland to Amsterdam with a valium under the belt could be construed to be some primitive method of teleportation.
I think our next big breakthrough will be figuring out how to get close to the speed of light and expect that to happen in the next thousand years.
Angels? – sure.
Devils? – no need – enough of our own.Unknown-4

…But I do pride myself as being a sort of sceptic of the Sherlock Homes type – there is a natural and causal reason for almost everything that we experience as bizarre, unworldly, or miraculous – it’s just hard to believe it sometimes.

Well that covers pretty much everything for me.

Except for that early spring evening in San Francisco in 1968.

I had recently returned from a combat year in the Vietnam War and was very grounded in reality.  But I was living in San Francisco and as the say “the goddess was loose”.

The City was full of neo-pagan things.  Everyone was talking astrology, incense & crystal shops with pyramids extant filled up Upper Grant, Haight Street, and the old chocolate factory where Pete’s grandfather and grandmother had worked, which was now a mall down by Aquatic Park. Psychedelia, kaleidoscopic, mind-bending experiences seemed to be everywhere…and their cohorts of hallucinatory substances were indeed everywhere.  The interesting thing was that the hallucinogens had taught us that we live in just one way of seeing things yet there are indeed other ways which are just as real and valid.

So when Patti Pere showed up one night talking about white, swirling ghost creatures swimming around her car, as she drove through Golden Gate Park, it was natural to think some drugs might have been involved.  That was not the case.

Patti was one of the most beautiful girls I’d ever met.  Pete had shown up at school one day with her on her arm – I don’t know where they had met but they soon became inseparable.  After we graduated and went our different ways to Vietnam and returned, their romance had seemed to lose its fire.

Yet we all remained friends, living in San Francisco, living a poem, soaking in the cold mist, singing our own songs, hanging out on the wharfs listening to the fog sounds, in the fall and winter of love and then on until Pete and I headed for Europe in August 1968 and Morocco and Firenze and Frankfurt…….. but that was later and now we were and Rod McKuen was writing and the street lights were dim, in that magic place called The City….

It turned out Lou Branson had left Santa Clara University for his spring semester and he and I were renting a house out in the Sunset where the evening fog rolled in most evenings.  Lou was doing his disc jockey gig, I was finishing up my active Army duty at Oakland Army Base.  Pete was working as a child psychologist and living with his Mom but crashing many night with us.




Patti had decided to make some bread off her fantastic looks and was a Playboy Bunny at the San Francisco Playboy Club.  (see this Vanity Fair article on the start of that now past away institution ).  We all thought that was funny-haha because she was one of the nicest and sweet girls you could meet and almost a total opposite of the common misconception of what the bunnies were like.

the Sunset District

The Sunset

Anyway one evening in about April Lou, Pete and I were sitting in our living room out on 47th Avenue near Ortega – as per standard practice in those days we were on the floor since we had no furniture, just mattresses.  We heard someone running and stomping up the front steps and then a loud banging on the door.  We recognized Patti yelling, “Let me in, Let me in”.  All three of us went to the door and Patti rushed in.

We could tell in a flash that she was panicked – her face was contorted and eyes as large as silver dollars – she looked like a woman who had spiders crawling all over her head that’s how frightened she was.  In between deep gasps she said “They are following me, They have been flying around my car ever since I was in Golden Gate Park.  They are singing to me.” …

let me do it this way – here’s what went down:

Patti, Patti, what the hell’s the matter said Greeve
Are you ok? are you ok echoed Pete
– Oh my oh my, she gasped, oh my, oh my
Lou moved out onto the porch and taking her arm brought her into the flat.
Her face was pale, blood drained.  Her eyes wobbled like the surface of a bowl of water on a New York subway car.
If Patti perspired her arm pits must have been dripping.
We boys led her thru the arched hall and into the living room.

Greeve helped her sit down on some pillows..
what’s going on he said?
Patti’s voice jumped up and down as she said
– I was coming through Golden Gate park and these white cloud like things appeared.
WHAT! said Lou
– yes, they were all around the car
were you moving?
– yes dummy, I was driving through on JFK Drive
well what were you doing asked Pete
– You know I met Suzanne, the gal who has the oils and incense shop  off of Stanyon Street and decided to come over here to see you guys.
ok, but what are those things flying around?
-I don’t know, Pete, I don’t know.
what do they look like
-well like I said they’re white, and puffy like cloud people, or cloud children
what are you talking about?
-just what I said and they were singing to me.
Like what were they singing?
-Just melodies like humming, they wanted me to play, and they were calling to me, come out come out
Are you kidding?
…she stands up..
-they were swirling and doing spins and summersaults and calling to me
were they like angels or ghosts?
-sort of but they keep moving

OkOk wait a sit down, sit down
she sits
Start from the beginning where were you..??
-Look after I left work and headed over here I stopped at Suzanne’s…
yeah well, wait a second..did she give you any acid? or mescaline or anything
-No no guys I don’t do that you know, I didn’t even smoke any dope
-No, I was just buying some oils she was telling me about
did she put it on you?
-yes some on my arm

So Patti had come into the living room of our flat and had sat on one of the pillows in the otherwise empty living room. So, to try and make sense of this confusion here’s a recap:
Around 7 pm on that cool spring evening she had left her apartment in the Marina headed over to see Louie and me. She had decided to stop by an “oil shop” which a friend had told her of. The shop was run by a very mystical woman – perhaps a good witch – and she sold a vast array of different oils. Patti had tried some of them. She maintained the witch swore that none had any psychedelics like LSD or THC. Patti did not take any drugs or alcohol so I believed she had probably tried to vet the oils well.
She left the shop near the Panhandle and

Golden Gate Park hovers

Golden Gate Park hovers

proceeded to drive down through Golden Gate Park. Suddenly, as she wound through the massive, dark corridor of cedars and ocean pines, two or more bright balls of shimmering white light appeared, hovering around her moving car.

The lights were moving smoothly around the windows: front and back, side to side. As they appeared and swung around and around they began to sing a wordless, unearthly song. Patti fought to maintain focus on the curving park road.
Then the objects began to call to her in light and charming voices: “Come Out Come Out – Come Out and Play with us”. She was not frightened, she could sense these things, creatures of some type really, meant her no harm. They were friendly and wanted Patti to join them. She said she thought they must be ghosts. As she left the park, and entered the avenues by our flat, the light balls continued to sing and swirl in their strange dance.
As Lou and I listened, and Pete questioned her, we were telling her quietly that “things are ok, you are with us now, we’re by you, don’t worry we’ll take care of you”. Patti maintained that she wasn’t scared, particularly. She didn’t think they meant her harm – it was just so weird, so unexpected, so otherworldly. But she was definitely unsettled, her eyes were almost panicked. They had a vacant look, staring off into another realm.
Abruptly Patti jumped up and ran to the front window. “They’re there” she gasped, “They’re there, can you see them”?. Then she turned swiftly and ran through the dining room to the back kitchen window. “They’re there, can you see them? They are flying around! Outside the apartment. Moving so fast. Can you see them? Can you see them?” She ran back and forth through the 3 openly connected rooms; living room, dining room, kitchen. You could stand anywhere and look from the front window to the back window; she did that, turning from window to window, moving swiftly or running back to front.

Pete and Lou moved to and fro with her touching her arms and her back, slowing her down a bit. Making sure she didn’t crash or trip in her obsessed dance. Looking out the windows with her, seeing nothing ourselves. As our concern mounted I turned on all the lights in the three rooms, made sure the doors were both locked, checked the windows too.
Finally she stopped. They had disappeared for a moment.

Patti sat down, breathing hard, looking all around, trying to calm herself. As she put her hand on her chest she lay back on one of the big pillows. “What is it Lou? What is it?” she said in a light pant. We tried to calm her. In a few minutes she snapped upright with a start – “There they are – they’re back. They’re singing to me again. They are begging me to come outside and join them. They want me to join them.”
I was now getting nervous. I didn’t believe in supernatural apparitions, UFO’s, ghosts, or goblins. But Patti, despite being of the emotional sort, had never been known to see things or hear things. Clearly she was under the spell of some type force. I didn’t know what to do.

Then a thought occurred to me.
In my bedroom I had a hand made, yarn “god’s eye”. Red, blue, and yellow thread wound into a diamond shape around two eight inch long sticks, with some beads embedded here and there. I had gotten it at a street fair in The Haight. It was a Mexican or Southwest Indian artifact I believe. I scurried into my room, retrieved it and brought it out to Patti and Lou.Unknown-2
There was a good sized nail pounded into the upper center wall of the arched opening between the apartment’s living room and dining room. It had been left by some former occupant. I grabbed a chair, climbed up on it and then carefully and firmly hung the god’s eye on the nail in the arch wall. Then climbed down, put the chair back, and went over to the pillows where Lou and Patti sat. As I sat down with them I said:

“Here Patti, I’ve put this god’s eye up there. It will keep any evil spirits away.
“If these ghost are good ghosts then we have no problem, and you can just sit down, relax, and enjoy them.
“You don’t have to go out with them.
“If they are bad or evil the god’s eye will protect us.
“They cannot bother us with this here”.

Then, at that exact second, without the slightest warning or provocation, the god’s eye fell from the nail to the floor, slamming into the hard wood, and all the lights in the house went out.

All three of us screamed in the pitch dark like howler monkeys in a Costa Rican rain forest. Louder than a Blue Cheer riff in the Avalon Ballroom. We yelled and yelled again, and grabbed each other, and screamed some more.

Blue Cheer - first heavy metal band

Blue Cheer

The lights remained out for two or three minutes and then as fast as they had gone out, they came back on. We were in shock.

The ghosts, the god’s eye falling and the lights all going out…all at once..with no human provocation.

So that’s my one and only brush with the otherworld.

It doesn’t sound like much but there is no explanation for it. Lou, Patti, I…we all talked it all over, looked at it from umpteen ways and always agreed on the details. Lou is dead. Patti lives down towards Monterey. I believe Pete in Cortona will still corroborate them although his mind is not what it once was – must be the sangiovese.

Later, the next evening, I went over to a sometimes lover who lived across the street and asked here if her lights had gone out. “No” she said, “No, no lights went out. I’m sure because if they had my two girls would have been scared”. Strange.

I have written about synchronicity in this blog before but this was not that – this was something else. What? I don’t know.

Kashmir Customs

Kashmir is one of the beauty spots of the world.

Set in a number of valleys on the southwestern elbow of the Himalayan Mountains it has snow covered peaks sporting rugged glaciers. The valley floors tend to be elevated in the 4000 to 6000 foot range with the peaks of the Greater Himalayan range to its north reaching above 17,000 feet.


The Vale of Kashmir

Its centerpiece is the “Vale of Kashmir” – a luscious valley as rich as anyplace on earth. Nearby my Oregon home is the Hood River Valley, full of apple, pear, plums, ’cots, berry’s, grapes – a magnificent cornucopia of riches – the Vale of Kashmir is probably 5 times its size and just as rich. Emperor Jahangir called it “Paradise on Earth” in the early 1600’s.

Politically it had one of the several post-colonial disaster stories similar to Vietnam and much of the middle-east. India, Pakistan and occasionally China have been fighting over it since The Partition; portions are occupied by high altitude artillery forces and the borders are dangerous – you wouldn’t want to wander near them. It has only been opened to “tourism” for short periods over the last fifty years.

When I was in my mid thirties I was fortunate that it had recently opened and so got to go to Kashmir, starting in Srinagar, its capital, for



several weeks of trekking. We were guided by Hugh Swift, a Himalayan explorer who had written the Sierra Cub trekking guides to all the Himal. (see this fine book on Hugh Swift: The Traveler, An American Odyssey in the Himalayas at Amazon).

We had met in Delhi, flew to Srinagar, and then hiked from Pahalgam up past Mount Kolahoi, (peaking in a pure triangle at 18,000 feet), and its magnificent glacier. Then we intersected the road to Kargil where we hopped on a busted up bus into Ladakh towards its capital town Leh. After a memorable week hiking around that classic country we flew back once more to Srinagar, the Kashmir capital for some sightseeing.

Pahalgam start of trek

Enter Pahalgam, the start of the hike

I remember well several things about that 15 days of high altitude trekking.

We had a troop of horses to carry supplies – herded by Balti or Gujjar tribesmen (the easiest way to tell the tribes apart are the style of cap they wear – Balti men have flat wool pancake like ones. We had spent the afternoon before lunch riding the small ponies around Pahalgam and were excited about setting off. images.jpegSomeone called “ hey check this out” and we all surrounded one of the pack horses that had a 5 foot diameter wicker basket tied on. The basket was full of live chickens, 20 or 30 of them, our sole source of protein for the first week or so. Good for a chuckle.

The night before we had set out from Srinagar I had asked Hugh, who would be my tent mate for the three weeks together, if he knew where I could get some hash. I had spent the afternoon out at the city marketplaceasking around with no luck.


downtown market in Srinagar

We started out on the climb on a dirt path through the luscious fir forest. I had taken the rear guard, which has always been my preferred spot, whether scuba diving or hiking. After 2 miles or so Hugh dropped back to my side. As we walked he said “did you see that guy back there?” He meant a small wooden shopping stand, alone out in the wood, where an oldish man had sat on his elevated floor. “That’s where the good stuff is.” I asked Hugh how he knew. He said these little market stands throughout the mountains always had the fine hand rolled resin; and that as he had walked by him, in Balti dialect, Hugh had asked if he had any. “Ask him for Charas” Hugh said.

"the good stuff"

“the good stuff”

A few afternoons later I recall the sense of strolling along a smooth dirt path above 12,000 feet as the sun warmed us, seeming to float above the valleys in the crystalline air. We only lit up a couple of times – we needed no more than what God had provided.

One evening as the sun passed below the ridges,

we climbed through a rough narrow valley headed north to its end.On the west slopes we encountered a stone hamlet where 3 or 4 children stood watching us from the flat, slate roofs. Two women, cloaked in sooty shawls silently stared. These were the summer grazing lands of the Gujjar and these were some of the first families to ascend this spring. The men were not here – they were higher yet with the sheep. Their huts were made out of rude stones, piled without mortar yet clearly standing for probably centuries.

It was at that point I realized that the Himalayan Mountains

The Kashmir Himalaya

The Kashmir Himalaya

were not a wilderness; that, although we might see no one for several days, no matter where we were were below 17,000 feet, some shepherd or goatherd was never far away; and that it had been this way for thousands and thousands of years. There is no wilderness in the eastern hemisphere – the only remaining wilderness in the world in the time of our fathers, was in North or South America. All the rest has been cultivated and domesticated over thousands of years. If man can live there he will. 41DRjBehJ1L._SX298_BO1,204,203,200_This explained the “gently lyrical communication with wild nature” (J.T.Flexner) of our American “Native School” of painting as beautifully described in his book That Wilder Image:
“Gaze on them, till the tears shall dim thy sight, But keep that earlier, wilder image bright.” (W.C.Bryant).
As we descended in twilight from the ridge towards our camp spot for the night my hiking companion, a gal from New York, splashed through some snowmelt marsh and muddied her boots – she cursed me for leading her into it.

It was the next day that we were told that due to a late spring, the snow pack was too heavy for the horses to go over the normal pass.

Hugh asked me to come with him and the wranglers as they took the horses around a different way. After about an hour of climbing we reach a snow covered ridge about 50 yards long with a narrow path above a large snow field dropping off about 500 feet. We unloaded the horses and began to ferry the loads over the snow to the clear path. It was easy enough and not too dangerous – the snow was firm and cold – but enjoyed working with the Balti’s. After they repacked and started down the trail we saw the rest of the trekkers down below the snow field, Hugh said “let’s walk down the snow” … that lasted about three minutes until our boots slipped and we started a long slide down the spring corn snow coming to a gentle slow stop at the flattening bottom.
The husband of the mud-woman came up. He was pissed that I hadn’t asked them to go with us. I told him Hugh had just asked me. I guess he thought I was trying to show off. If Hugh had wanted the other men along he would have asked; not my decision at all.

Along in there sometime we hiked up to the face of the Kolahoi glacier, the largest in these parts.


Kolahoi Glacier

It is one of the fast retreating glaciers that is meticulously measured in the Himalayan Range. At the time we walked 4 hours up the moraine to the start of its river. It was about 10,000 feet elevation – since then it is estimated to have retreated over 600 meters and is now at about 12,000 feet high. Hugh had been working on writing his new revision to the Sierra Club Guide to Trekking in The Himalaya and as we sat in the hot sun he read to me his new description of the place where “you meet the roaring snout of the glacier as it slides through the mountain like a snake” or something like that.

That night we ate the last chicken. We heard that tomorrow we’d buy a sheep and have lamb. WOW!!! Nothing had ever sounded more delicious. We had been eating chicken for a week. We watched the transaction as we walked in the bright, warm sun the next day. That night we had lamb stew and afterwards sat under the billion stars along with the Balti’s and Gujjar’s singing to each other… we did nursery ditties, old cowboy songs, and Bob Dylan; they sang we know not what. From that day on we had lamb for dinner every evening for another week. When we finally pulled into Leh after a scary but beautiful two day bus drive along the headwaters of the Indus River the owner of the newly opened inn opened his arms to the twelve of us in welcome and made a small speech which he ended with the declaration of a Special Meal in our honor – “roast lamb”. Oy yoi yoi NOT AGAIN!.


Well, just to sum it up a bit we hung out in the Ladakh and the valley of the Indus for 6 or 7 wonderful days. High altitude hiking can be dangerous – an Intel friend, Avtar Saini, had a colleague die in his first day hiking where we had gone; but we were well acclimated. We climbed up into the silent valleys to about 17,000 feet taking pictures of the Bahral sheep and soaring eagles.

Indus Vally

Ladakh, the valley of the Indus River, about 11,000 feet

The whole country is above the tree line except on the narrow banks of the Indus River which begins its 2000 mile run down through Pakistan to the Arabian Sea.  While there we visited the magnificent monasteries and talked with members of this unique and ancient people. It gave us a peek of how majestic Ladakh is.  I have been going through pictures we took in 2005 and have decided to write a dedicated post on this marvelous country…stay tuned.





Well shortly after, we returned to Srinagar, this time taking a plane and retracing 15 days of walking and buses in 90 minutes and here starts the tale I meant to spin about Kashmir and Customs.

There is a unique and wonderful place here in the Kashmir Valley. It is called the “Jewel in the Crown of Kashmir”; it is a large shallow lake which spreads out throughout marshes and woods.

Dal Lake Kashmir

Dal Lake

Dal Lake is its name and it is famous throughout the Indian subcontinent. It is fed by small streams, springs, and the run off of the hills and mountains beyond which provide a rich nutrient basin for dozens of types of water plants including reeds, lotus, water roses, water lily’s, ferns, and poppy’s. The water is slow moving and quiet. Channels cut in narrow wanderings through the small jungled islands and floating gardens lead to boat based market gatherings.  There are magnificent gardens here.

Shalimar Garden Kashmir

Shalimarbuilt in about 1619 AD by the Mughal Emperor Jahangir – they were named Shalimar which in Sanskrit means “abode of love”…yes, the perfume is named after this park.

It is a romantic place.  One stays in large houseboats with the insides lined with carved sandal wood – living in an incense box.

imagesThe lake is covered with small, flat bottom gondola’s gently moving across the green water, carrying them around on their business or just for pleasure. The little two person boats are poled by hand with the poler standing on the small rear deck. MARKET-VENDORS-ON-DAL-LAKE-KASHMIR-1999-1-C31951So you can imagine, you and your partner sit in the cool shade under a paisley awning on soft mattress and cushions while you glide through the rushes and market boats. An evening glide with a willing partner can lead to romance I am sure, as the pole man hums and sings under the stars.

Well, since the houseboats are on the lake, the floating markets come to you. Each morning a stream of gondola’s passes by the outdoor deck of you houseboat, where you sit drinking tea, offering you an array of pleasures for your day.
First comes the fruit boat selling mangos and bananas,
then the flower boat with bundles and arrays,
then the veggie guy,
soon a meat chap with chickens under ice.
Eggs and dairy,
bread and chapatti’s,
supplies and fabrics,
they all come to you in the little dinghies. The houseboy asks what you want for dinner and then gets the herbs and spices from the herb boat.


a piece of raw opium

Of course if you need soap or  tooth paste you merely wait for the drug store boat who has just about anything you might desire in that “segment”, legal or illegal including every addictive drug known to man.  This is how I happened to end up with two hand rolled balls of local black Kashmiri, a stamped piece of government Pakistani, a jawbreaker size piece of opium, and a sweaty encounter with the US Customs Service.


So it happened there was romance from different direction also on this trip.  Waynette, my wife of 6 years, and I had been having some rough spots; learning things about each other that were unexpected, and sometimes pretty troubling.  This 4 week trip was kind of a time to get away from each other and see how we felt.


typical Indian gold and jeweled marriage ensemble

One of the things that seems a bit symbolic today, although not to me at the time, was we had jointly decided to have her wedding ring redesigned.   We had bought a diamond from a fellow named Harvey Dinstman, an important New York manufacturer of Omega watch cases and a well connected man in the worldwide jewelry business but Waynette had never liked the white gold, simple design.  An Indian colleague had introduced us to one of the finest jewelers in Delhi.  As you may know for centuries Indian families kept their wealth in ornate, heavy, large format, and beautifully complex gold jewelry.  They have some of the greatest jewelers in the world and their work can be flawless.  Buying jewelry is a family affair and it was fun to take on the project.  So prior to heading up to Kashmir, I had left the diamond ring to be redesigned into a fluid, art nouveau-ish, yellow gold, single ring with added rubies.

So when we returned from Leh to Delhi, and before we flew out on the long trip home on Pan Am 002 (0r 001), I grabbed a putt putt from the Delhi Oberoi  to the jewelers where the lovely, redesigned ring awaited.  I picked it up, returned to a chinese dinner which made me sick, and in the middle of the night took off to Hong Kong, sated with a barrage of strange culture over the last month.

I have been close to trouble with customs three times in my life – and they all involved cannabis.  The first was bringing back a 20 pack of “mama-san” rolled, filtered numbers of pure Vietnamese herb, which, in my stupor from a last night party in the NCO club at CamRahnBay, I had left on the top of my suitcase right where the customs inspectors at McCord AFB would have seen them if they had asked this Lieutenant to open my suitcase, which they didn’t – RHIP (Rank Has Its Privleges).

The second was the full cavity search in the mid-night crossing of the RioGrande which I wrote about in .

And the return from Kashmir was the last.

As I hung out in the Hong Kong Mandarin stranded by a typhoon ( see ) I carefully packed the hashish and opium.  I bought candles, opened up the windows wide, and dripped fragrant wax all over the plastic and paper wrapped black slugs.  Then put them in carefully unwashed socks, also fragrant; then I pushed them into the toes of my hiking boots and stuffed dirty underwear down in the boots.

Then it occurred to me that if I just put the redesigned engagement ring in my pocket I wouldn’t have to declare it and pay the duty, (with all the hassle of proving the diamond and gold had not in fact been purchased).  But of course since Waynette was looking forward to seeing the new ring, Unknown-2 I had to retain the little ring box to repack after landing and present to her.  So I threw the empty box into the suitcase as I took off for Kai Tak airport and the non-stop PanAm flight to San Francisco.

The 747 from Hong Kong landed in SFO at the usual morning hour.  I was a bit nervous with the opium and hash in my jungle boots tip but figured the wax and dirty socks would mask the smell and so was not expecting too much of a chance that I’d end up in the calaboose.  It was 1981 and the first “Drug Czar” appointment under President G.H.W. Bush was still 8 years away so the heat was not red hot.  (By the way twas a mere 12 years after the first Drug Czar appointment that the “War on Drugs” was declared a failure by the “Global Commission on Drug Policy”).  Anyway it was San Francisco, which had always been soft on drugs, and I looked more like a businessman than a drug-mule.

Never the less I was nervous as I walked into the industrial drab, cramped customs “hall” with a beat up Samsonite and a large blue trekking duffle. There were 3 lines and tables as I lined up for the bag inspection.  ( I don’t know when they stopped opening the bags nor why they did so – seems like the customs inspections have all been delegated to our four legged sniff-dog friends).  I was two people back in line when I realized that I was going to be inspected by a woman.  I immediately flashed on the female border guard at the Rio Grand bridge in Laredo and the full body search.

She made me open the Samsonite. After pushing a few clothes around she stopped, saw the small jewelry box, checked the declarations form, reached over, picked up the box and looked at me. “Where’s the ring”? was all she uttered. It took me a second to process but almost immediately I said, “In my pocket” with a small shrug. Time stood still as we looked at each other. Then she raised her arm and pointed to what I knew was the door to a private room, THE private room. “Ok you go over…” as my heart stood still she paused for a second …. the frown on her face deepened as her eyes turned to steel..then she said “Aw, just get out of here, go on”.

WOW!! salvation – she was giving me a pass, on the ring, on the full luggage search, on the customs fee, on punishment for the stupid attempt to avoid a hundred bucks duty, and for most importantly relief from what would have been a massive legal mess, charges potentially for drug smuggling, maybe a felony charge, probably a firing from my job, maybe time in the hoosegow, certainly a big fine. Oh Mama Mia.. It had been close.

So as I walked out of customs and met up with my wife my feelings turned to her.  The trip had started out a a tentative parting, and as we  re-engaged it was clear that our differences were still there but I also knew that there was an exciting world out there with people who I could bond with.  It had been a great month away and I felt the freedom knowing that our marriage was a choice not a sentence and with that we recommited to each other and our family and many more years of raising our wonderful children.

Postscript:  Well what happened to the hash and opium one might wonder?  Well when we first started dating Waynette introduced me to an old friend of her – Joe Pinciaro.  They had worked together at  Paul Masson Winery.

We will sell no wine....

We will sell no wine….

(Many of our first friends together were from the Santa Clara Valley wine business which was California’s premier wine region before the ascension of Napa – Mirassou, Almaden, and later Ridge were populated with old friends of Joe and Waynette).  Joe became a close friend and later our brother-in-law as he married my younger sister Meg and they had our lovely niece Katie Elizabeth.  Joe was working and living in Sacramento, while we had our bought our first house in Santa Clara.  I had gone on a long business trip when one evening Joe turned up to spend the evening at Casa Greeve with Waynette and Jenny.  After dinner and putting Jen to bed they pulled out the Himalayan stash…they lit up the opium.  Joe reported later that “it didn’t seem to do anything while we were hanging at the house but I started driving the 2 hours to Sacramento and when I go to Vallejo it seemed like the whole world changed” … ???  Waynette took the hash and rest of the opium and flushed it down the toilet.  She couldn’t recall why! So I never got to try it.  Kooks, all of us.


Last evening we talked with old friends over dinner about Berlin.  In 2008 Margo and I traveled to Berlin.

It was my first visit, other than for business, and Margo’s second, she having been there in 1970 when The Wall still stood.
The single most impactful thing we did was to visit the Holocaust Memorial which is not to be confused with the Holocaust Museum.

Actually these are not the proper titles for the two places.The Memorial (which is the subject of this post) is actually “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” (Denkmal fur die ermordeten Juden Europas);
the Museum is the “Jewish Museum Berlin” (Judisches Museum Berlin).   The museum was designed by Daniel Libeskind who also designed the new World Trade Center in Manhattan, the War Museum in Dresden (see my post of March 4, 2015 on Dresden), the Denver Art Museum, and the San Francisco Jewish Museum among many pieces.

These are two completely different experiences. The museum is a typical Holocaust museum in a stunning architectural piece.
The Memorial is an interactive experience of the most insightful, troubling, and emotional kind.


sky facing tops of the monoliths

The “Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe” is a large field (5 acres) which spreads out before you populated with thousands of enormous monoliths. The upper, sky-facing surface of the array creates an undulating wave like vision.This was conceived and designed by the architect Peter Eisenman with collaboration of Richard Serra, the noted steel plate artist. It is next to the US Embassy and a block south of the Brandenberg Gate.

Margo and I spent an hour wondering through the grid of 2,700 slabs.

They are polish, smooth concrete. All are the exact same length and width when viewed from the top i.e. looking down on their tops surface or top surface plane. Their height varies and, for the most part, the variation is gradual among contiguous sets of monoliths.

the monoliths

the monoliths

This gives it the wave appearance. The wave is also impacted by the face that the ground surface also undulates so you have a very fluid sense as you walk among them. The aisles are straight but the height rise and fall is disorientating and many of your sight lines are blocked by rising ground. You are in a channel. This gives you a sense of confusion as if you are in a maze. Each slab using the identical rectilinear size, only the height varies.

The top surface plane is about 7’ by 3’ = coffin size. The height above ground varies from 7” to almost 16′. When you are walking through a path of 16′ tall slabs you feel claustrophobic and it is easy to forget what direction you started walking from or where you are headed.Berlin-Holocaust-Memorial-13

After we had spent and hour wandering we both needed to talk about the feelings, images, and thoughts the scene evoked.

The monoliths are easily understood to be about death – tombstones or stelae, even though there are no carved words or designs on them.  Certainly coffins – many are lying on the ground about two to three feet in depth off the waving, curving surface of grey cobbles. Some sink to one foot or inches; some are flat on the surface

The metaphors are almost inexhaustible –
a maze signifying the complexity of trying to navigate the Nazi system and the concentration camp madness to live;
a maze signifying the getting lost of friends and family – “where have they gone”? “where are they”? are they dead? or alive?
a maze where you can wander until death.images-5

Different sizes represent the variety of pain and suffering – most enormous, some smaller – never ending as you never exit

Large stones say “I am alive”, I have survived!
small stones as one shrinks in suffering.
shrinking into nothing, into the earth

No stones occasionally – here and there a tree or shrub takes the place of a stone…rebirth?

Each stone plain, without adornment – in the end there is only life – we are born naked and alone as we so die.

Endless channel stretching out it seems forever. Will this never end?

wave floor w shadows

wave floor w shadows

The channel floor rolls along in wave like surface, and recall the ups and downs of daily life, in turn recalling Frankel’s conclusion that to survive one must embrace the waves, even of the camps.
The rank upon rank of identical and quasi identical stele says “We are one people, of one faith, of one culture”
But there are no two stones alike actually, they lean and vary in depth – signifying they were individuals
Small size for the children large size for the leaders
In the center where the stories are 15 feet tall you are stifled and caught…no signs of life outside the endless blocks

Margo stands at the side and says:  120px-LookingBackOnHistory “as one walked into this you gradually disappeared, never to come out, lost forever.”
The stones with unendurable weight, the weight of oppression and the times.

Underneath all this weight is a room where the names of all the known Jewish Holocaust victims are continuously read out.


the 5 acre memorial

This experience in itself is worth a trip. Our friends agreed the Memorial was the most impactful experience of their visit to Berlin  .

A French Funeral – January 3, 1969

I’d spent the night before in an empty boxcar in the rail yards of Genoa. I had hopped a train from Florence, hiding from the conductor force, moving surruptitiously from car to car, hunkering
down in the toilets.

sleeping quarters

sleeping quarters

After a successful bluff of an angry ticket puncher, claiming in broken spanish that acute stomach “issues” were keeping me on the commode, I had made it from Pisa and slipped off into the dark maze of trains.


Citroen 2CV

It always takes a long time to get from the center of a city to the highways and it was midday before i reached the end of the Ligurian Sea and approached the french border.

Memorably I had been picked up in Citroen 2CV DeuxChevaux …a front wheel drive, air-cooled, 600cc beast whose name 2CV meant 2 Steam Horses, whatever that meant (BTW, looking up tax horsepower on wiki will introduce you to a vast bureaucratic heaven!). The 2CV driver figured himself a mustang wrangler as he whipped the little beastie at breakneck speed around the lorries on the 2 lane road between Savona and Cannes. I still don’t know if he was drunk or just had a death wish. He was a youngish Italian guy whipping a french mini – I thought it a bit odd and prayed for my life. Dropped alive outside the Cote d’Azur, a truck took me on to the outskirts of Aix en Provence by late afternoon.
I walked through the lovely town, its pruned plane trees lining the main street, shading the shop lights coming on in the mid-winter twilight. In 1969 ’twas still barely out of the 19th century.

main street Aix

main street Aix today

With only a little over ten dollars and at least 2 or 3 weeks travel in front of me there was no budget to eat. I was on my way from Rome to Morocco in pursuit of some hashish which I expected to find cheap and plentiful in Marrakech and intended to sell at the Club Voltaire in Frankfurt-a-M. I had left Rome a few days after Christmas, ridden my Suzuki 250cc motorbike to Florence, left it with my younger sister Meg who was going to Gonzaga there, and headed out the day after a two day New Years Eve blowout in the bar of the youth hostel. I had my sleeping bag, canvas pack, Acme boots and a sheepskin lined leather jacket and didn’t expect to need much money for food and none for rooms as I banked on a 4 or 5 day trip which should put me in the medina. This was the day of “Europe on a Dollar a Day”, and that was living large at that, anyway I expected to be moving most of the nights and catnapping under overpasses if it rained. So it was about 7 pm on January 3rd 1969 as I left the Centre Ville and stuck my thumb out.

Ten in the evening had come and gone and I was still standing in that Aix scruffy patch between a ditch and the highway towards Montpellier. No one had even slowed down let alone asked where I was headed. I was getting discouraged – the temperature was dropping, wind starting to blow, my unlined leather gloves were pretty useless. There was barely a strip of shoulder where interested drivers could safely pull over. No stoplights and only dim streetlights. A very poor spot to hitch.images-9

Guys have different approaches to thumbing a ride. In the 60’s no one used “destination signs”. It was a clever idea until bums ruined it with beggar signs; but no one ever had good, clean, “folded shirt” laundry cardboard much less a thick felt-tip … they hadn’t been invented yet. Some just stand there with a listless thumb hanging, others move the arm and thumb in sweeping gestures or jigging for fish motions. Some look the driver in the face, others pay little attention.

John Farnan co-inventory of the GK&thePips Hitchhiking move

John Farnan co-inventory of the GK&thePips Hitchhiking move

Years earlier I was hitching with John Farnan and another fellow, maybe Gibby, from South Lake Tahoe up north to Stateline after a mighty snow storm. The three of us coordinated a “Pips” like dance move. It’s real hard for more than one guy to get a ride – even that creative move failed and we had to split up. I always stayed active and alert – trying to look as legit as possible. I always try to look in the car as it approaches – scoping out the drivers and passengers. Soft eye contact is good. Obviously your chances are 100 times better with a male driver and maybe one passenger. Once hitch hiking home from high school, about 25 miles, a friend and I got picked up by two really, really drunk sailors. Before we got out of Williamsburg we conveniently remembered we had left a wallet back in school and asked them to let us out. Perhaps we recalled the three poor sailors who had died when their car swerved off the road and into the trees by Matoaka Lake. I cannot remember ever getting picked up by a lone woman and I have hitched several thousands of miles, coast to coast as well as up and down the eastern and western seaboards. Once, when hitching with a girl friend thru Andalusia a truck driver stopped and offer to take her but leave me in the dust – we declined. A guitar is always good; a dog will leave you hanging out for days.images-10

Guys also have different approaches when a car slows down & begins to pull over. I think it is imperative to pick up your pack or guitar and start making a move. You want to set the hook – they need to realize some responsibility for getting your hopes up. This is the best way to nullify second thoughts or the complaints of the wifey (“ Andre, what the hell are you doing? I hope you are not going to pick up that guy!”). If you stand and wait for a waving invitation it’s most likely it won’t come and if your jeans are dirty it will scare the ride off.

So the hours ticked by and a deep darkness came down on the surrounding trees. As the winds turned chilly my spirits were sinking. Eight turned into nine turned into ten. Traffic thinned out. I began to wish for my beat up Suzuki. There were no freeways outside of Germany and the traveling mode was probably going to be catching rides from one town to the next. So I was thinking about getting to Arles, then Montpellier, Narbonne, Perpignan, Barcelona, Valencia, Murcia, etc etc until getting to the ferry from Algeciras to Maroc. I had to cover 4 or 5 legs a day, each two or three hours driving, to make it to Marrakech in 4 or 5 days and I was stuck in my first leg in France with the middle of the night approaching..

All of a sudden a big wide body Citroen sedan began to slow in front of me. I was stunned to dimly make out a fully loaded car. Not only did the car have at least 4 people in it but it looked like they were all women. WHAT THE HECK??? I naturally assumed they were pulling over for some reason other than me so, contrary to my normal sprint to the car door, I slowed down to a walk. The shotgun door opened and a mature woman in a dress suit stepped out and waved me to come forward. Hmmmm….as I covered the 30 feet to the waiting gal I could see sure enough that the car was full of women but then I realized there was a man driving. Well that was a positive move for my chances. The back door opened as well and another women climbed out. They both seemed to be in their mid thirties, medium tall, well dressed.

One asked me where I was going.
I replied to Spain.
The gal from the front said “Ok, if you’d like, get in the back”.
I handed her my pack as I climbed into the back seat.

Maman's Big Citroen Sedan

Maman’s Big Citroen Sedan

I looked at the driver as I moved towards the middle and he uttered a greeting.
Then as I settled I greeted the other passenger, sitting at the left rear door. … “Well what to my wondering eyes should appear?”

On my left sat a senior woman of at least fifty-five or sixty years. She was dressed rather severely in a black outfit. Here hair was conservatively cut and she had a pleasant face as she looked frankly at me and gave me a small smile. The doors closed and we pulled out off the shoulder and into the french night. As the car picked up speed we began a round of introductions. The 40 something man behind the wheel turned out to be the husband of the first woman who rode shotgun. On my right in the back was her sister. On my left was their mother. I was mystified – what was a sober, middle aged family of obviously conventional, bourgeois women doing picking up a young, somewhat tattered, long haired bohemian in the middle of a dark and windy night out in the empty fields of Provence?

a short detour….. I always get a bit pissed off when people complain about how rude the French are. Sure, they usually are talking about some Parisian waiter who done ‘em wrong, but they seem duty bound to generalize. Invariably they spent only a few days in some big city. On that first trip to Europe in 1968-1969 I spent 15 months in nine countries and only this one night in France.

most beautiful restaurant in Paris??

most beautiful restaurant in Paris??

But I have since then, altogether, spent probably at least 120 days over some 30 trips in France and the only rudeness that comes easily to mind was a late night argument with a Paris cab driver outside Lucas Carton over who was going to sit in the front seat of his taxi – me or his dog!

I lost that argument and had to find another way back to the hotel. One just has to make a fair effort at speaking their language. Even just a couple of “bon jours” and “comment ca va’s” IF delivered with a bit of music and a roughly approximate pass at a reasonable accent will start you off on the right foot. I don’t speak french well even after six years study – that was 7th through 12th grade. If Madame Ringold hadn’t scared me off and forced me to switch to German in college I would be able now to get fluent after a few weeks. But on that winter’s night in the luxurious back seat of the hydropneumatic, self leveling suspended, big, old, four door sedan I had only been out of french class 6 years and could cobble together a conversation pretty well. So here’s what happened.

The mother began to talk to me in mixed French-English. They were from Perpignan. A small city at the foot of the Pyrenees and only 20 miles from Spain. They were on their way home from somewhere near Nice after burying Henri (fictitious name), her husband and the girls father. She told me she’d said to her family just a short time before “ You know, I’d like to do something special for Henri, something different, spontaneous, and unexpected; something kind” No sooner had she’d said that than she saw me with my thumb out on the side of the road. So at a point when my morale was approaching its nadir here came this streaking, good luck wagon. Not only was it a ride , it was a full nights drive essentially all the way across southern France.


always a winner

We settled back into the warm corduroy of the sumptuous back seat. Snuggling between the two fair smelling ladies I felt like a teddy bear. So we began the leisurely chat of travelers. Where were we from, where are we going. What we thought of this place or that. What were our favorite foods. Which of course led to maman suggesting to the front seat daughter that she break out some food and drink. We drove on through the winter night with baguettes carved up into sandwiches with jambon and brie cheese and glasses of fresh wine. Fresh fruits and dried ones. Delicious cookies or perhaps cakes. I was in heaven. The chatting continued. How was I to survived? Was I alone in Europe? What siblings I had. What our home towns were like. What she planned to do now as a widow. What my parents did. Which jobs their families had. What our plans for the future were.

As the evening passed on the daughters quieted down, the son-in-law concentrated on the road. As we moved through the flat plains of Lanquedoc the clear night sky showed lots of stars and our rambling turned to that master of the night and Antoine Saint-Exupery and “Le Petit Prince”. Unknown-9We agreed that it was a wonderful book and one of our favorites and talked about our favorite parts – the hat, the rose, the snake, the astroids. It reminded me of home and Margo Peter and Margo Mullen and Cheryl Lirette, all friends from Mme Ringold’s french class at Walsingham. With those bittersweet thoughts I too dozed off.

I awoke as our driver pulled to the gravel shoulder. “Here we are in Perpignan” he announced. It was about 4 am – we’d been traveling about 6 hours. They asked if I would like to come home with them for some breakfast. I declined politely since I still had all of Spain, the Straits of Gibraltar, and most of Morocco to go. With hugs and handshakes they let me go. I walked a bit until I found a field. I walked in it a few hundred feet, unrolled my old army issue down sleeping bag and promptly fell into a deep sleep. As the Med sun climbed into morning and warmed my bag and me I sat up to see a field of green speckled here and there with some flower. It was good to be moving south. I got up, packet the bag away, walked to the road and put my thumb out as the first car sped by.

So I had spent less than a day in France out of 15 months – 5 or 6 hours with a french family, and as I mentioned I would not return to France for a decade. But when I hear people crabbing about French rudeness I always recall that lovely evening and have never forgot their generosity, kindness, and a bit of courage too. My sweet wife Margo had a similar experience while hitch hiking around Ireland, being picked up and squired through the country side by a fellow named Patrick Keane – you never forget those offerings. So 2 nights later I had hit the Costa del Sol and was on the ferry to Africa. And a day after that later we killed a guy which you can read about in my post dated Dec 8, 2011 called “Marrakech Express”

Poles … dedicated to Russ

WHAT??  It started to snow as we dropped off of the Grand Canyon’s South Rim at 6000 feet headed down to the Cameron trading post. I began thinking about the AR that my old buddy Russ had given me for our 3 week trip through Arizona and New Mexico. It might have been as we drove down the Umpqua River a couple of weeks before headed to Bandon for some golf. It was just like that old coyote to impose his will on my trip by giving me an AR. More likely it had happened when we had been down in his art studio with Mike Barton looking at his work. Russ specializes in Californian Impressionist fruit paintings in the style of the 17th Century Dutch guys like Franz Hal and Rembrandt although I don’t recall if I’d ever seen pears by old van Rijn. We had started deeply into the red wine and the conversation was spreading out across the canvases and carving tools. “Hey Greeve”, he said, “since you’re going into the high desert in the four corners area can you find out why the artists there are always having poles sticking out of their buildings”?

Just like a Maii” coyote spirit to turn the order of my trip into chaos by tagging me with an assignment!



I guess this is what he meant: (tech note – you can click on each picture and it will open; go back to return to body)

In any case, one had to accept the challenge, particularly when thrown down by the Big Fellah.    In retrospect it may not have been a serious challenge – it might have just been a feeble attempt to divert Mike’s attention since we were only about 10 steps from the wine cellar and Mike is a notorious “cellar raider”. In any case I had no choice but to deal with it. So Margo and I were going to be in the neighborhood of the Anazasi and pretty much staying “on the res” for 16 nights and as we made our preliminary approaches I started to look for poles.

This is an example of the type of subject of a typical “Southwestern Painting” might have and how the poles often look in real life.


modern pueblo style


I kind of knew this had something to do with the Indians in that region. My assignment was to figure out where it came from and why it is such an iconic symbol.

… so on to the investigation:


THE ROUTE:  Phoenix has some neat stuff – much of it of course is in Scottsdale. But the Diamondback’s stadium, with mist’rs overhead and a hot tub in the bleachers, keeps it cool; and the desert garden is really fine (although not yet in the class of Huntington Gardens). Possibly the coolest destination in town, if Spring training is not going on and the Lady Sun Devils therefore are keeping their short shorts on campus, is the Heard Museum of the Native People of the Southwest

So we spent an afternoon there before heading up to the neighborhood of the Havasupai tribe.
– Our first lesson was that this architectural style is called “pueblo” and most of the SW tribes don’t use it;
– The second lesson was that “Anazasi” is no longer the accepted term for this ancient people -and that the proper thing to call them is “HISATSINOM” – OUR ANCIENT PEOPLE (that in itself is an interesting tale). But I will keep calling them Anazasi.
– The third lesson was in the diversity of the various tribes of the Indians of the Southwest. There had been a beaucoup movement there for millennium, even before the Spanish arrived or the US government. So it was important to parse the current land holdings by nation and tribe if you set out looking for “pueblos”.


Indian Reservation locations

This is a rough cut of WHO is WHERE —->

Our route was going to head across the middle of the high desert called the Colorado Plateau.– We started near Flagstaff Az. at the Anazasi Wupatki Ruins, north to the South Rim and the Havasupai and Yavapai territory, then continued north on highway US89 that separates the Navajo Res on the west from the Hopi Res on the right.


our route

– We turned east in Tuba City to cross the Hopi Res and stayed a few days at the Hopi Cultural Center then continued until the Hopi Res turned into the Navajo Res. again. (The Navajo’s totally surround the Hopi’s and this is a result of long and bitter wrangling with the US Fed’s.  Almost all the land was Anazasi, which Navajo’s did not descend from, and are the ancestral lands of the 20 pueblo tribes (including Hopi & Zuni)).

– We zig-zag’d through the Navajos  until we reached Chinle, Az. and the Canyon de Chelly IMG_0218and stayed on the Navajo Nation owned National Monument at a lovely inn (Sacred Canyon) – this is pretty much the middle of the Colorado Plateau region of Arizona and New Mexico.

– Then we continued zigzagging east to New Mexico and a town (Bloomfield) up the road from Chaco Canyon which is also in the Navajo Res

– After two days there we stopped by my friend Greg’s family seat (Blanco), then crossed into the Jacarillo Apache Res and the Sierra Naciamento and San Pedro ranges of the Rockies, into the Rio Grande rift, and down that big river and through the beginnings of the 18 Pueblo Tribal reservations to lovely Santa Fe.

– We finally ended up the 16 days 75% encirclement by driving west from the Rio Grande 40 miles to the Acoma pueblo and its wonderful classical village way up on the mesa.

In Phoenix’s Heard Museum and then a few days later with Micah Loma’omvaya at the Hopi Mesa’s and Larry Blake at Chaco Canyon, we learned a brief overview of who is who as follows:

Anazasi cliff dwelling - CdChelly

2 level Cliff Dwelling, CdChelly

Anasazi/Hisatsinom: the ancient ancestors of many of the peoples today who live along and between the Pecos, Rio Grande, San Juan, and Colorado Rivers (also roughly the “Colorado Plateau”).  They built a powerful nation, eventually centered in Chaco Canyon but spreading in a 60 to hundred mile radius, with an innovative economic model that made them the leaders in all the Southwest.  Their early traces go back almost to 200AD,  beginning to flower in about 850 AD, and hitting a peak in about 1100-1200 which would be unsurpassed for centuries. The dwellings were abandoned by about 1290AD.

Back wall Bonito

4 story back wall, Bonito

Their magnificent stonework masonry architecture (2 examples here) is as sophisticated as any in Europe and the Mid East given that the Native Americans never developed an arch and have been limited to lintel technology. but, pay attention here Russ…THEY USED POLES!! 🙂

The Pueblos: Once a mystery, now accepted as solved, the Pueblos tribes are certainly the descendants of the Anasazi. In the twelfth century they began to leave Chaco, Mesa Verde, Aztec, and Salmon Ruin Great Pueblos after a killer 47 year drought and headed for the more reliable waters of the Rio Grand. There are 18 Pueblo tribes within a days walk of the Rio Grande and two outliers, the Zuni and the Hopi. We spent a day at the Acoma Pueblo which is a stunning location and has about the best preserved traditional “pueblo style” buildings still in use today; I understand Taos Pueblo is fine as well.  Additionally There are lots of poles in such a living museum.

1st Mesa - Hopi

1st Mesa, Walpi Village

Hopi’s: These folks have a proud national culture reinforced by their remoteness. To be Hopi means to believe in and practice their religion and subscribe to their culture.Some say that they are the purest remaining culture of all the Native North Americans. Their center is around the “Three Mesas” where we spent two nights and had a fine tour by Micah.


The above people all used the “pole” type “pueblo” architecture that Russ was asking about. But we were traveling through other reservations so we were able to find out how other tribal people took different shelter from the storms

Navajo: more properly called the Dine these people speak an Athabaskan language . That is the same linguistic family as many of the Indians of Alaska, British Columbia, Yukon, etc and even some of our Oregon tribes along the Umqua, Rogue and Clatskanie Rivers. This supports the claim of the Hopi and IMG_1304Pueblo that they (the Navajo) are “new coming land grabbers”! These people use the same poles but not in the way of the Pueble/Hopi.   Navajo families build “Hogans” laying the logs in a progressively smaller polygonal form, one on top of each other at a 45 degree angle until a cone is made which is the roof structure. This is covered with bark and mud to cover the logs and seal the roof. As they became big sheepherders their now famous blanket weaving made these Hogans comfortable places in winter.

1967 Mar_005

me as a vet – Vietnam ’67


MAY 17

Apaches: we spent a May day driving through the Jacarillo Apache’s beautiful reservation high along the continental divide in a blinding snow . We drove around their lovely school facility at headquarters in Dulce, gassed up and they gave me free coffee because I was a Vet. They have pictures of their Vets in uniform proudly hanging around the ceiling of their fine 7-11 store. I wanted to ask if I could hang mine there.

Their traditional shelter, being originally nomadic people, was the Teepee or the wickiup which is a rough oval shaped shelter made of branches, brush, yuca string, and grass.

Havasupai, Yavapai, and Hualapai: border the western edge of the Colorado Plateau and lived in rough shelters made of branches – lean to’s in summer and closed shelters covered with animal skins, grasses and mud in winter. When you visit the Grand Canyon you are standing in their traditional homeland.

Utes: we never got into their lands but you hear about them a lot. They pretty much occupied the northern border of the traditional Anazasi homelands (mainly Southern Utah) and had a life style much like the Navaho. Semi nomadic, hunter gatherers, with a reputation for raiding parties.

So these were the tribal lands we traversed and stayed in for more than 2 weeks.

OUR EDUCATION: Before addressing Russ’ question I want to mention the four people who gave us in depth, daylong tours. All had good discussions around many examples of the Pueblo architecture as well as the evolution of the Anazasi cultures. In chronological order.


recent Hopi building, > 200yrs, note poles

Hopi Mesas. We started here with Micah Loma’omvaya (Bear Clan). He has an MA in Anthropology from U of A Tucson and is a senior member of the Tribal Counsel focusing on the tribes Natural Resources (including Cultural resources). He is a Priest of one of the Hopi’s 4 Sacred Societies and lives at Shongopavi (Spring of Long Grass) village on Second Mesa.


Percy at the ranch he grew up in, Canyon del Muerto, CdC

Canyon de Chelly. We had a wonderfully beautiful day driving through the river at the base of this most lovely canyon with Percy Waters-Edge Clan. Percy was born at the mouth of the canyon and grew up at his family farm deep in the Canyon del Muerto branch, surrounded by large cliff dwellings. He is as he says a “Half-breed” being half western European, a quarter Zuni and a quarter Navajo. He was a font of stories and information, and expert on the many pictographs, and was kind enough to sing us navajo songs as we drove through the morning and evening.

Chaco Canyon. This was a 6 hour on site intro class in Anazasi Architecture by a master – Larry Blake, Executive Director for Archeology for the Salmon Ruin Museum which includes one of the most recently discovered Great House Pueblos about 40 miles north of Chaco and 15 miles south of Aztec. (Clan U of Miami Redhawks).Casa Bonito

Larry has authored several books on the architecture and has been working there for 40 years. He is a working archeologist with his team doing much reconstruction and stabilization of the pueblos and great houses.


Acoma Pueblo

Acoma. We spent an afternoon at this well preserved and living Pueblo and museum, home of the famous white and black pottery. With a very good tour by Maria Garcia we saw how the Acoma people are evolving the architecture while staying true to the cultural heritage. Of the Indian museums we saw this was the best outside of the Heard. With a great collection of pottery including Maria’s grandmothers’ and aunts’.


1st Mesa, Walpi Village, tours Mon-Fri

Hubble Trading Post 1897

Pueblo style trading post on Navajo Res

All of these locations featured the Pueblo architecture (even when on Navajo land like CdChelly and Chaco.

All of these people are available for tours if you decide to go there. If you want to get in touch look at links below or send me an email.


OK…a question:

Why did the Anazasi and Pueblo develop the pueblo type architecture while the Navajo, Indian and Ute did not?     The answer is a farming culture versus the nomadic hunter gatherer life style.

They say the Anazasi began to build their pueblo’s around 500AD and the terrain and climate was much like today with a bit more rain. The sandy top and more clay like bottom soil allowed them to be “dry land” farmers of corn. In all the pueblo people, corn of all colors is present in their pictographs, weavings, pottery decorations and their folklore tales. Blue, red, purple, white, yellow, black are all treated as an almost sacred totem. Well of course, it is their primary staple food. They grown it today as in yesteryear using a greasewood stick to drive a hole through the sandy top soil – maybe 5-8 inches and into the clay like subsoil which holds the moisture for weeks and months. The Anazasi were proficient in farming and in developing more productive hybrids. Corn originally was one small 1” ear, with only one ear per stalk, and only 4 kernels per ear. SO there was lots of room for improvement and the Anazasi focused on that and built a mercantile empire around it and one other key technology.

When on a day long trip into Canyon de Chelly  we gazed at the magnificent Antelope cliff house, Percy our open jeep driver said in response to the question “How did they move all those those rocks there”? … “They didn’t. They built where the rocks had caved in”.  Throughout the Colorado Plateau there are massive cliffs made of 85 to 200 million year old sandstone. And much of it is exposed canyon walls carved by water run off of creeks, washes and rivers. Of course where there is this moisture the native americans could grow corn and “voila”, build cliff houses.


build in place from the Talus (gg sketch)


The nature of these great talus deposits is that it can be pretty easily shaped using a “score and crack” technique. The result is they could have a very solid, sturdy, non movable living structure, impervious to storms and pretty well insulated if they could figure out how how to build it. Which they did, and, they perfected it to the point that native americans from all over came to learn this second technology.

The key to the Anazasi success: other Native American tribe traders would come from literally hundreds of miles away to bring turquoise, feathers, skins, timber, silver, foodstuffs etc to trade for lessons in corn raising and building technologies.

OK, enough already with the background.


typical pueblo construction (Hopi)

A typical cliff house, great house, or pueblo in the MeseVerde, Canyon de Chelly, Chaco, or Pueblo regions will have the following architecture:

– a pounded dirt floor

– walls built of masonry using the “face and fill” also called “core and veneer” method

– a roof made of wood and mud

…. potentially some insulation

This technology is nothing to sneer at! Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon is a large, “apartment building” which covers three acres (125,000 square feet). There are about 600 actual rooms, and another 150-200 walled spaces (passage ways, small storage areas) which are largely contiguous and surround two large outdoor piazza’s. The rooms are stacked up to four stories, are spacious, cool in summer warm in winter. Estimates are that there were around 800 people living here at its peak. There are public spaces called kiva’s which could be 75 feet in diameter and support roofs of 90 tons. They had motel like rooms for visiting traders and small kiva’s where they could practice their own religious ceremonies. You would not be too uncomfortable here except for running water and smoke from the fires.  Tis is what it probably looked like in 1150AD:


And much of the work is and was wonderfully artistic:

Diagonal passages

Pueblo Bonito detail – diagonal passageway

refined & elegant

Pueblo Bonito detail with Norwegian








I am going to cover two parts of the architecture:  The Walls and The Roofs (poles!)

Larry Blake gave us most of this information (which I hope I have right) at Chaco Canyon while spending about 6 hours walking through 5 major building ruin sites ( Una Vide, Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Bonito, and Casa Rinconada).

enormous walls at Chaco (Bonito) 3 stories w Latilla

THE WALLS: The walls are widest on the ground level and get more narrow as they go up. Given three to four stories of living rooms, which tend to be 10 to 15 feet high, walls of 60 feet tall are not uncommon. Therefore widths at ground level are up to three feet wide or more.

There is no foundation in the modern sense – the ground level is merely started on solid rock or historically packed dirt.
The core or fill from our observations can be just about any mix of large or small stones and dirt. Just throw in it and pack it.

The veneer is where the magic happens. It is made from shaped rocks of the local sandstone. and varies in color but tends in Chaco to tend from light beige towards reddish brown. The size of the rocks used is one of the main variables in classifying the wall veneer style. The load bearing veneer rocks can be ROUGHLY large (~ 6”x6”x1’ rectangular blocks for example) or ROUGHLY smaller (~ 1”x5”x6” flat stones for example). The mortar tended to be nothing more than a mud from the local dirt mixed with water. Small chinking stones can be used and when finished present a beautiful pattern.


Veneer types

The archeologists have classified the veneer, with some minor disagreements, into 5 or 6 types.

The simplest wall styles are either the large stone blocks set in semi-regular courses (Type 6) or uncovered crude smaller flat stones of variable size – sometimes with a thick coping of mud plaster (Type 1). You should go to Chaco and have the archeologist show you. Here is one approach:

type 1 wall

Una Vida wall remnant

Here is a primitive example of the older type 1 (uncoursed, crude masonry variable stone size).  You can see it is not that sophisticated but took a lot of effort:



Remembering that these walls were made with only stone tools, here are  four beautiful examples of what evolved over the centuries.  One can only gaze in awe at the refinement and beauty.

Type 3:  Banded at Hungo Pavi, Chaco. “large stones set in an even band separating small stones small stones set in bands.  Occasional chinking between large stones”.type 3 banded

Type 3: chinking at Casa Rinconada kiva

type 2 detail

Type 4: “regular and semi regular masonry with stone on stone contact; may have chinking” ( back wall of Hungo Pavi)type 4

Type 5: “all smaller stones horizontal courses lots of chinking” (Pueblo Bonito)type 5This puts it all together.  Margo and me in the vestibule at Casa Rinconada showing Type 3, with and without chinking and Type 2. Doorway seems small but the floor has filled over the ages.


vestibule at Casa Rinconada


In all our meandering through the villages of the Hopi and Pueblo we saw no veneer as refined as this. Most of what we saw was Type 6.

The walls were generally covered with a mud plaster. Some students believe the outside walls of the great houses were then painted in bright, strong colors and would present a “glorious sight” to the far flung tribes that would come to trade with the Anazasi. This was all part of their mercantile strategy.

By the way, in some cases the walls can be somewhat insulated inside either with rushes, ( brought as trade goods) or twigs and bark strip covered with plaster.

THE POLES: So the tops of the walls is where the poles that support the roof are used and this is the typical placement that prompted Russ’ question – roof support beams. The same poles are also used to build a floor system for upper stories.


Anazasi & pueblo roof structure

Here is a simple drawing of the construction of the roof of an Anazasi (or today’s Pueblo) building.

Note there are two sizes of poles.

1. The primary beams are called “viga” and vary from 6” to 15” diameter
2. the cross beams that go on top are called “latilla” and typically are 3” to 5”


roof viga 2nd Mesa, Hopi

For a roof the “viga” sit on the flat top of the wall. It might be somewhat notched with a stone tool or perhaps the wall has a slight indentation for stability.

If the structure is for a floor/ceiling the poles will be put into sockets carved into the walls.


floor/ceiling viga and latilla, Bonito





The viga and latilla tend to be the trunks and bigger branches of either Ponderosa Pine or Pinyon Pine.

The smaller thin branches, twigs, and bark are then laid on the latilla in a sturdy mass and finally covered with dirt and mud plaster.

The Anazasi used over 300,000 trees in building Chaco. The were brought from the Chuska Mountain Range about 50 miles west. Without metal axes it must have been quite a workout. Margo and I drove through that range with The Eagles “Take it Easy” cranked up on the Toyota rental – Winslow Arizona was about 60 miles south.

Here are some pictures of the oldest intact original roof of this construction in the world. It is 800-900 years old at Pueblo Bonito. You can clearly see the structure.

IMG_1612 IMG_1610









So what’s my answer to Russ’s question: “Why do the southwest artistsIMG_1604 always having poles sticking out of their buildings”?

It might be “it makes a pretty picture”

But,  I guess the “Pueblo” architecture is iconic of the southwest not only because it is pleasing to the eye.

If you live or travel in the lands where the Anazasi have lived you can’t help but develop a thirst to see more and learn more about their thousands of year old history, and how it has led to the culture of the pueblo dwellers today. You also have to go into the canyons and deserts at dawn and twilight and bask in the explosion of form and color and marvel at man’s adaptiveness and creativeness.

And you start to like the local Native Americans’ creative art as well – the pottery and baskets, weavings and jewelry, beadwork and carvings, the dancing and the costumes.

And you hear the stories and see the petroglyphs.

And you go and sit before Pueblo Bonito, or Chetro Ketl, or White House or Acoma mesa and touch their veneer or climb through their doors and passages and marvel at what they did and how lucky you are to actually see it.

And then you spend a few days hanging around Santa Fe and realize the architecture of this city has been crafted in homage to Hisatsinom – Our Ancient People. And you decide you want to sit by the animal fountain at the Santa Fe Catherdal of St Francis or on a rock on the floor of Canyon de Chelly and draw or paint their most lasting contribution and their most clever technology and there you have it:

Pinyon pine poles holding up roofs and ceilings on top of “veneer and core” stone and mud plaster walls arguably represent the pinnacle of man’s achievement (the Chaco complex) in the United States  since the beginning of time until the the late 17th Century.

so Russ – get out there and paint some canyons and mesas and pueblosIMG_1383


some links:,,,

DRESDEN – 1747 TO 2014


On February 13th and 14th, 1945, The US and English air forces joined together to bomb one of the most beautiful and historic cities in the world into smithereens. Our forces ran multiple sorties with over 700 heavy bombers and dropped some 1,800+ tons of bombs. The bombs were both high explosive as well as incendiary. This is the bombing of the city center itself – not the industrial area outside the city. The records are not totally agreed upon but most estimate we killed 25,000 people – the vast majority of which were non-combatant men, women, and children; we wounded and injured another 75,000; and destroyed 90% of the buildings. Probably the emotional bulls-eye of this hail of TNT was the beautiful Baroque center of the old city, the “NeuerMarkt” Square. This was twelve weeks before Germany gave its Unconditional Surrender to the allies.


In the summer of 2014, while lying in bed in the Hotel de Saxe, on the main plaza of Dresden, I realized that there is a wonderful triangle with 3 of the most beautiful squares of Northern Europe that one might do. That is an elongated triangle based on 3 wonderful old cities:

1.  Prague     2.  Krakow     3.  Dresden

Prague is a short 87 miles from Dresden, Krakow a longer 4 hour drive of 277 miles from Prague. Krakow 300 miles from Dresden. Both Prague and Dresden are on the upper reaches of the Elbe River (known as the Vltava/Moldau in Prague) while Krakow is on the Vistula…both of these rivers form in the western reaches of the Carpathian Mountains which forms a low veil between them. A tour of these three city centers would show the most wonderful combinations of Baroque and Gothic, architectures in palaces, churches, castles, museums, and opera houses.  The 3 squares have a lot in common (all based on one or more magnificent churches) but most especially are place to languish with ice cream, pastries, cappuccinos, beer, or wine.  They are surrounded by fine museums and narrow colorful streets and ancillary smaller squares. Anyone who enjoys the good life should try it – you’ll like it!

Dresden was the last square for Margo and me to get to, having gone to Krakow and Prague in 2008 in a long train trip from Berlin to Sorrento. I was blown away by Krakow, somewhat due to an ignorant lack of expectations. I think Prague pretty much met my expectations, although there is a surprising lack of cafe variety. Plus it was chilly anyway. The Black Tyn Church certainly is the most dramatic building on any of the squares. Certainly Prague could argue that it is the most beautiful of the three, although I don’t know that I’d agree – anyway – who’s ranking?

By the way, as implied, any comments regarding beauty and squares have to be qualified as “outside Italy” since Italy certainly has the most lovely squares in the world starting with Sienna and Piazza Navona…but then again it may be the gelato and prosecco getting to me. Of course Salamanca could give them all a run for their money.

Anyway, I had been yearning to go to Dresden for the last decade after reading several articles about how the citizens of the bombed out treasure had done a magnificent job in rebuilding the square with a very close visual replication of the ancient one. This was completed in 2004 with the completion of the absolutely beautiful FrauenKirche. That is the main subject for this essay. But, by the way, I was also interested, as I would read articles from time to time about Dresden, that it has the questionable distinction of being the center for the German right wing political movement which butts pretty close to the neo-Nazi’s. I wondered if this would be visible.

I should say before going any further that the main square, while the centerpiece, is surrounded by a magnificent array of delights. They include several other lovely churches starting with the baroque Cathedral next to the beautiful Semper Opera House, a unique park plaza that is surrounded on 3 sides by the lovely Zwinger Palace in Neoclassical and Rococo styles – said palace housing three museums. There is the old Kings of Saxony home at Dresden Castle with several magnificent museums of treasure and craft. And there are lovely old streets connecting these replete with cafes and restaurants. This is a great intro site: . This is the best site for most of the museums: It is an atmospheric and comfortable city center to soak in, dine around, and admire beautiful art. But the NeuerMarkt square is the jewel in the crown.


In 1721 in Venice a boy named Bernardo Bellotto was born to the sister of the famous cityscape painter of Venice, Canaletto. This fellow, studying under his uncle, became himself a fabulous painter of cityscapes throughout Europe. The style is called “veduta” and connotes a large scale, highly detailed vista scene. To capitalize on the “Canal” family reputation Bellotto himself began to call himself “Canaletto” in Northern Europe. From 1745 until he died in 1780 he lived and painted venduta throughout Germany and Poland. (These included 14 venduta of Rome which were painted in Poland from etchings). In 1747 Bellotto did a series of paintings of Dresden for the “Elector of Saxony”. This fellow was also The King of Poland and the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Prussia, Kiev, and ten other dukedoms, while going by an assortment of different names. In Dresden he is known as Friedrich August II. I will call him the King of Saxony, Frederick Augustus II.

At that time, the height of “The Enlightenment” ,  Johann Sebastian Bach was 62 years old and living 53 miles away in Leipzig, Goethe was two, George Washington fifteen, Ben Franklin forty-one. The French and Indian wars were going as was the War of the Spanish Succession which had all of Europe fighting each other. Isaac Newton had been dead twenty years. Mozart would not be born for nine more years. If you walk through the formal elegance of the Zwinger garden amidst the imposing Baroque palaces and terraces you will go to the Old Masters Picture Gallery (Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister) where you will find Raphael’s “Sistine Madonna” and Vermeer’s “Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window”. Go to the top floor and find the wonderful Dresden verduta of Bellotto. Here you will see this ( CLICK ON IT AND HOPEFULLY IT WILL BLOW-UP):

Canaletto_-_View_of_the_Neumarkt_in_Dresden_from_the_Jüdenhofe_-_Google_Art_Project This is the “New Market Plaza” (NeuerMarktplatz) of Dresden in 1747 as seen by Bellotto.

It is a wonderful vista, full of life with dogs, children, painted carriages, horses, water wells, drummers drumming, soldiers atattention, etc. etc., etc. A genre masterpiece in soft yellow, brown, gold and white under a gentle blue grey and pinkish purple sky. Soaked in architectural versatility, it exudes happiness, comfort, fun, intelligence, and capability. It was painted in the late middle of the Enlightenment and you can imagine Kant and Hume and Voltaire walking in such a square and stopping to talk in the coffee houses and restaurants – perhaps they did. You can almost hear the Saint John Passion coming from the Frauenkirche. The painting evokes a sense of a high point in the development of Western Civilization.

On February 12, 1945 we, the Allies, bombed this and the surrounding blocks into a state of virtually complete destruction – arguably with no strategic purpose.


The following analysis is not meant to place some type of blame on Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and our Allied leaders. To me the meaning of the reconstruction of Dresden is all about the indomitable spirit of man. Margo and I wandered in front of each plane of buildings, stopping for coffee or ice cream. We sat on benches and sketched a half dozen steeples you will see in the surround. We circumnavigated the church and went to a lovely concert one day and again one evening. Our hotel windows looked out from the niche of buildings on the right of the Bellotto painting – behind the dusty brown building with the Flemish gable and arched entry – where the light bathes a woman in a red dress behind her two children. We were supremely happy that the people of Dresden had gone to what must have been a tremendously trying and sad process to decide and then rebuild their treasure. The amazing and unique thing that you may do here, like no other place, is to trace the square from its initial flowering of completeness (in 1747), through its maturity (in mid-20th century), then its destruction in February 1945, and now its reconstruction in largely the original state (as of 2008) – a period of over 250 years. I will try and do that here ( the numbers correspond to the annotated picture sets – “zoom in” to read the captions better; occasionally you can click on the slides # 3,4,7,8,10,11 and they will “blowup” – I haven’t the foggiest why the others don’t – technology!! ):

1.  Here is the basic view of NeuerMarktSquarewhich we will refer to as described above.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.32.08 AM2. Here are some of the basic landmarks on the square 250 years ago.  Many of them existed on the square at the time ofScreen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.37.50 AM the painting.  Particularly notice the Frauenkirch, the Johanneum (now a transportation museum – then the riding academy and stables), the angled front of what I will call the “Stadt-Berlin” Hotel, and Landhaus Strasse ( a major entry way coming from the Saxony State Paliament building [Landhaus] off the canvas). They are all still there today.Also notice the wide 3 story building called the “headquarters of the “Old Town Guard” and the fact that there are no fountains or statues in the square.

3. Now here is an overhead B&W photo of the square from sometime between 1930 and 1945. Probably 1943. As you can see the “Old Town Guard” building has been removed. This view shows a large domed building behind the Frauenkirche which is the Kunstakadamie Art School built in 1894 (Gerhard Richter is an alumnus).

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.39.48 AM

Also you can discern in the center of the square a couple of smudges that actually are two monument statues (Luther and Frederick) and a fountain.

You may also see an important street called Munzgasse which runs from the square to a tunnel under the riverside, elevated terrace, to the Elbe River bank itself.

4. Here is a shot comparing the 1747 look by Bellotto with a different angle from an arial photo from 1930-45.   Please pay particular attention to what is called the Peace Fountain – probably built and added in the mid-1890’s. It is just in front of the twin “Imperial” staircase leading up to the Johanneum entrance.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.40.11 AM

Also look closely at the riverbank area between the Frauenkirch and the Kunstakademie. Perhaps you will discern a streetfront connoted by a light colored building front running perpendicular to the river – marking a line between the river terrace and the Frauen Kirch – this is  Munzgasse street







5 & 6. So you might ponder over the disappearance of the rather handsome building in the center of Bellotto’s painting of the “Old Town Guards” headquarters (5).

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.40.33 AMDuring a siege of the city in the Seven Years War (1754-1763) the building was badly damaged and hence demolished in order to open up the views of the beautiful FrauenKirche (6). Incidentally this second Bellotto painting is also in the Zwinger and is made from about the view that you have from the sidewalk cafe in front of the Hotel de Saxe (Seigenberger). A statue of “King Frederik Augustus II was added in late 19th century in front of the Hotel de Saxe.Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 7.40.51 AM










7. Another monument, added sometime in the late 19th Century, was a fountain now called “ Peace Fountain” I was not able to find out much about this other than it features the “figure of Irene, who trod the war-god Mars under her foot. Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.37.45 AM  This lovely goddess of peace, whose single act was to make war on her arch-enemy, now stands in …in front of the Johanneum and she – or her pedestal – now celebrates the triumph of the victors of 1683; while the fountain springs to-day in praise of the martial Johann Georg III. Thus frothy is the play of history” Mary Endell, Dresden History, 1908. The statue of “Irene” faces towards the FrauenKirche and center of the square with a spear and banner held up by her left arm. This view is important in evaluating the bombing devastation.




8. Now hopefully we have set the stage and you are oriented to the beautiful “music box” square and are able to get an overview glimpse of the terrible destruction which the Allies brought on Feb 12 & 13, 1945.

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.38.09 AMThe basic view after the bombing is an arial shot from the southwest over the Landhaustrasse, through the remaining pillars of the Frauenkirche, and along Munzgasse to the tunnel under the terrace to the river.








We now will show 3 slides of devastation from the street level – all are able to be oriented by the 3 monuments, to wit, the Luther statue, the Frederick statue, and the Peace Fountain.


9. Centered around the Peace Fountain and its goddess Irene,

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.38.28 AMthis compares an east view and a west view after Feb 13 to an eastward view today after the reconstruction.









10. This compares 2 views of the Martin Luther Monument Statue (postcard from ~ 1903 and arial from 1943) to two photo’s of the stature:   one knocked off its pedestal and the other having been reset sometime after the close of the war..

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.39.00 AM

11. Here are several views of our old friend Landhausstrasse,

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.39.20 AMwhich debouches into the square next to our very comfortable Hotel de Saxe, as well as the two statues of Luther and King Frederick Augustus II.








12.     The final slide compares the 250+ year difference from Bernardo Bellotto’s veduta to what you would see today.     Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.39.46 AM  Considering the travails of the citizens of Dresden, WW1, Weimar, Nazi-ism, WW2, the February bombing, then Soviet occupation, then 40 years behind the iron curtain in the DDR, I believe the comeback is inspirational.


There is no doubt that the Dresden is an incredibly enjoyable city, full of art and architecture.  The old nickname for Bruhl’s Terrace, the Terrace park along the banks of the Elbe, was “The Balcony of Europe”, and all came to admire it and the cities treasures.  The reconstruction has restored an elegant yet approachable ambiance which will grow in fame and popularity.  The array of music available in the churches and Opera houses compliments the visual bonanza. But still the fundamental question remains: Were the allies, on the verge of obtaining an unconditional surrender, justified in leveling the ancient and beautiful domestic heart of the “Jewel Box” city, killing 25,000 civilians and injuring 75,000 (or more) in two days?  “The inhabited city center was almost wiped out, while larger residential, industrial and military sites on the outskirts were relatively unscathed” (wiki)

Perhaps as important as soaking in the magnificent treasures of architectural and art is coming to grips with that fundamental question which many, many people, scholars, historians, and politicians have been trying to answer, and debating, many passionately, since the February days in 1945 when the bombs hailed down and the city was destroyed.

It is beyond my capablity to argue persuasively one side or the other of this question.

– On the one hand fighting continued for another 3 months (the Battle of the Bulge had ended only 2 weeks prior) and thousands of allied fighters were killed. Perhaps the destruction of the city center helped end it a few days sooner.

– On the other there was no one in the Allies’ leadership that, at that time, believed that the war was not essentially won. And there is lots of evidence in The Blitz that the “unhousing” of masses of civilians did not break British morale.

– Yet  “The United States Strategic Bombing Survey concluded that the bombing was not stiffening (German) morale but seriously depressing it; fatalism, apathy, defeatism were apparent in bombed areas. The Luftwaffe was blamed for not warding off the attacks and confidence in the Nazi regime fell by 14 percent. Some 75 percent of Germans believed the war was lost in the spring of 1944, owing to the intensity of the bombing” (Ian Kershaw)

– by this time, per Kershaw above, the vast majority of the populace believed the war was lost.

I believe, but could not defend, the idea that it was done as a last message to the Germans to never do it again. Yet by this time, according to the National Archives of the UK, there were 25 major German cities that had more than 50% of their centers destroyed – seems like they would have definitely gotten that message before Dresden. (

…Margo and I wondered how the citizens would depict this tragedy. After being in the city less than an hour, after a short drive from Bach’s home in Leipzig, (itself worth a few days stay), we immediately started our 4 days in Dresden with a visit to lovely City Museum located on Landhausstrasse a mere 2 minutes from Bellotto’s scene of the Old Town Guard Barracks.

They have a very nice display of the Elbe area, the initial villages, and development of the city, all dating back to 400AD.  It starts on the lowest floor and goes up.  It is not until the very last that the display, the only display, on the bombing sits inside a black curtained plywood structure in the center of a room.  Its walls, while 10 feet tall do not extend up to the ceiling; it is about 20 feet by 10 feet and consists of only one thing.  It is a large flat panel that shows a several minute long loop of clear B&W still pictures of bombed out ruins of cities. Initially on each picture there is no name identifying the image.  At first I assumed this was just another “display of horror”. Then after a delay of 10-15 seconds the name of the city appears on each slide.  The pictures are all pictures of London, Rotterdam, Warsaw, Coventry, Birmingham, York, and other allied cities. Cities that were bombed by the Nazi’s.  The only German city shown are two pictures of Dresden. This moving display conveyed at least responsibility, if not remorse.  It seemed to say “here is what we did to these other cities so we own responsibility for what they did to us”.  I am sure there can be other interpretations but that’s what I felt.

So back to Canaletto – Bellotto’s 26 verduta paintings of Warsaw were also used to reconstruct it after its WW2 devastation. It would be fun to try and track Poland’s loyalty to the 17 & 18th Century aesthetic. In fact you can do that because Warsaw has set up weather proof displays throughout the city with reproductions of the Bellotto verduta in situ of the current state…! Here is a website of another Canaletto fan: and here is a painting of Warsaw done by Canaletto in about the same time:



Post Navigation