Monthly Archives: January 2017

This is history, folks, happening right before our eyes

Halls of History

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Is the United States in the midst of a coup?

Britannica defines a coup as “the sudden, violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group,” differing from a revolution in that it happens quickly and doesn’t depend on large numbers of people. Instead, it requires only “a change in power from the top that merely results in the abrupt replacement of leading government personnel.”

One might question whether or not what’s going on is violent. Certainly it’s violent in a way to those who are fearful of President 45—blacks, single women, Muslims and other non-Christians, battered and abused women and children, the hungry, the poor, the sick, the elderly, non-heterosexuals…………..

A presidential election, especially one where there is a change in parties, and where the party of the new administration is the same as the party which controls Congress, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, certain provides a good time for a coup that probably wouldn’t be recognized by a great super majority of anyone in the world except for dictators and kings of other countries, and possibly their citizens.

The United States had a constitutional crisis in 1973-74 with President Richard Nixon, the most recent, perhaps only, attempt in the United States to create a dictatorship or kingship. Jonathan Aitken says in “Nixon: A Life” that of he and his brothers—Harold, Donald, Arthur, and Edward—four of them were named after kings who had ruled in historical or legendary England. It’s well known that President 45 likes kings and dictators.

I was a mere child of 19 in 1974. The crisis resolved itself because of the unique type of republican democracy that is the United States. With its three separate but equal branches of government, its reliance on the rule of law, the fact that Democrats had a 56-42-1-1 majority in the Senate and a 241-192-2 majority in Congress, and the fact that the Supreme Court had ruled 8-0 against Nixon in United States v. Nixon, Nixon resigned on August 9, 1974, rather than be impeached.

In a motion to quash the Watergate subpoena earlier in 1974, Nixon’s attorney, James D. St. Clair, stated to Judge John Sirica of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, “The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.” Wow. Nixon did have an ego.

What do you do, though, when the President 45 has an even bigger ego and his Republican party cohorts are in the majority in the Congress and the Senate, and the Supreme Court is at an impasse with a 4-4 split and with President 45 probably nominating a new justice to the Supreme Court as early as tomorrow?

This is history folks, happening right before our eyes. It might not end well for the United States as we have come to know it.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

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Music on Mondays (1-30-17)—Hatred is the only thing that lasts forever

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Twitler has re-ignited my interest in dystopian, apocalyptic, and war movies and music.

I just started listening to my 1993 music collection last night, which includes an album by The Kinks titled Phobia, their last studio album. I have had the album for many years, but seeing the title pop up on my music list caused me to double check because I just didn’t remember the name. I secretly wondered if Big Brother was in my computer and had changed the name of one of my digital files.

Here are some of the songs on the album: Wall of Fire, Phobia, Only a Dream, Over the Edge, Surviving, It’s Alright (Don’t Think About It), The Informer, Hatred (A Duet), Scattered.

Hatred (A Duet) really caught my attention as the singing started:

You keep on accusing me
Of making your life misery
But if that’s not abusing me, what isn’t
You wanna be my friend, well it’s too late

My love for you has turned to hate
And I think that it’s a permanent condition
You say you wanna make the peace
Smile and turn the other cheek

I can’t put myself in such a weak position
Now I’m willing to accept this fate
You and me just can’t cohabitate
We agree to hate and that’s our fast decision

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever

Driven by hate, driven by hate
Driven by hate, driven by hate
On the surface I’m a mild mannered person
That’s until you scratch the animal inside

Then you bring out all my animal aggression
I gotta hatred for you that is never gonna die
Driven to hate, driven to hate
Driven to hate, driven to hate

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together

While races try to integrate, nations try to gravitate
Towards equal rights, regardless of religion
Politicians might decree for the sake of humanity
Love and peace instead of a collision
You and me accept reality, there’s no way that we can agree

The world can’t make us alter this position
At least you and I know where we stand
We can’t be friends, walk hand in hand
My hostility for you defies description

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever

Driven by hate, driven by hate
Driven by hate, driven by hate
Hate’s the only thing we have in common
There’s no escape, we’ll always be this way

So we might as well just learn to live together
‘Cause we’re gonna be this way till our dying day
Driven by hate, driven by hate
Driven by hate, driven by hate

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together

If you keep on putting me down, rub my name into the ground
I’ll drag the dirt all over town about you
And if you spread the filth on me, I’ll only have one remedy
I’ll spill the beans, you’ll see I’ve got a mouth, too

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together

Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that keeps us together

Yeah, hatred, your attitude is downright rude
Your jokes appall me, they’re so crude
Why don’t you just drop dead and don’t recover
I’m the mirror to your mood, you hate me and I hate you
So at least we understand each other

Hatred, hatred is the only thing that lasts
What is it? Hatred, hatred
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever
Hatred, hatred
Is the only thing that lasts forever

The song, written by Ray Davies, is about a sibling love/hate relationship. In this case, though, the sibling love/hate relationship is with fellow Kinks member, guitarist Dave Davies. The two of them were going through a bad time in the early ’90s.

Take a moment, though, and read through the lyrics again—could be talking about political hatred, skin color hatred, religion hatred, country hatred, gender hatred, sexual orientation hatred……….on and on.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Reminds me, something about a big wall

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

My expedition to the boondocks of East San Diego County was via Old Highway 80, which started as a wagon trail in the 1860s; morphed into a narrow, concrete 2-lane “highway” in 1917; expanded into a wider, concrete 2-lane highway in 1930-32; and then began its decline in the ’60s when Interstate 8 was built. Many of the cities along Highway 80 were tourist traps in their heyday. Now the main traffic bypasses them on Interstate 8, and the only people using Highway 80 are locals, and weird people like me out searching for history.

Out in Jacumba Hot Springs, 80 miles east of downtown San Diego, I found the Chinese Castle. Looked like this:

Chinese Castle in Jacumba Hot Springs CA

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The Chinese Castle is located at the top of a street named Snob Hill. It is a private residence and was not accessible. My research indicates that it was built in the 1920s by Frank Battles, a “wealthy eccentric.” Some sources say that construction began in 1914 and was completed in the 1930s. The foundation of the castle sits on solid granite, creating natural granite floors inside, and has an indoor pool hacked out of the granite.

Battles lived in China for many years and brought back a “heroic size Buddha” as well as carved chests, embroided silk screens, oriental rugs, and teak bird statues. The statues were said to have previously resided in a Chinese potentate’s palace. The Buddha and bird statues can be seen in the 1937 movie “The Good Earth,” based on Pearl Buck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1931 novel.

The Castle was owned from 1963 to 1976 by Harry Lee, a British novelist, and his wife, Velma, “an eccentric school teacher with a history of nude photos, multiple marriages, and a penchant for wearing safety whistles in her later years.” They used the home as a vacation home and artist retreat, writing for Harry and painting for Velma.

The Castle is located in what some call the “American Sahara.” It can get excessively hot out there, so the kitchen is separated from the rest of the house, allowing one to cook without adding additional heat to the living area. Interesting.

Jacumba Hot Springs, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray PhotosThere seem to be many ghost stories and legends attached to the Chinese Castle—illegal gambling, murder. One of the most interesting, somewhat relevant to today’s anti-immigrant administration directing the United States government, is that there is a secret tunnel running from a trap door in the kitchen floor to the Mexico border which is just a few hundred feet away, a tunnel used to bring in illicit merchandise and Chinese laborers.

Hmmm. Tunnels. Reminds me, something about a big wall……

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Glad I could add some laughter to Mr. Agent’s day

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I went exploring yesterday in the boondocks of East San Diego County. Wow. There was a lot to see.

The first time I got out of my car, I was attacked by cold, wet stuff. I almost lost my foot.

Snow in the San Diego mountains

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I have reported the incident to the Centers for Disease Control.

Several people and I took a driving tour of Old Highway 80 from El Cajon to Ocotillo, about 72 miles. With switchbacks, missed turns, and sub-explorations, it was about 100 miles. Although I had done the driving tour about a decade ago, I went this time because I have a new interest in the San Diego & Arizona Railroad which pretty much parallels Old Highway 80 for the last 40 miles or so. I was not disappointed.

One of the more interesting places was Plaster City, a city totally owned by USG. I use “city” very loosely here because the “city” is actually just a huge monster gigantic really really big gypsum plant.

Plaster City, California

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Some of you might remember the 1963 movie “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World” with its all-star cast of Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Phil Silvers, and Jonathan Winters. Ethel Merman’s character is heard talking on the telephone to her son, saying that she was “in some place called Plaster City.”

I took the new 2017 Honda Civic, which still has its paper plates, so I got stopped 5 times by Border Patrol. Everyone in my car thought it was funny; I didn’t. The last agent who stopped me looked in the car at my four passengers, some of whom looked of Mexican/Spanish descent and asked me what I was doing. I told him we were photographers taking a “driving tour of Old Highway 80 from El Cajon to Ocotillo.” He saw all the camera equipment and seemed satisfied. He did caution me, though, that “with paper plates and a car full of people you’ll probably get stopped multiple times.” I told him that we already had, that he was #5.

He laughed.

My wise old grandmother always told me to add laughter to my day. Glad I could add some laughter to Mr. Agent’s day.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

I rest my case

Out & About

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I used to have to get approval from my wise old grandmother before throwing away anything other than paper trash. If she caught me throwing away something made out of wood, plastic, glass, etc., she would gently remind me not to throw things away because “There is no away.” She was into recycling and repurposing before it was cool.

Speaking of repurposing….

The chapel of the La Jolla Methodist Church used to be the La Jolla Hermosa passenger station and power substation for the San Diego Electric Railway.

La Jolla Methodist Church chapel

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

SDERy operated from 1891 to 1949, but the Hermosa station only served from 1924 to 1940.

The Hermosa station was designed by Eugene Hoffman and built in 1924 at a cost of $50,000. Its design is based on the Royal Presidio Chapel of Monterey CA which was built in 1794.

During the early 1940s the station served as arts & crafts school and then fell into disuse until 1954 when the La Jolla Methodist Church bought the building.

Information available at the church called it the San Carlos station, but the church is the only source I have found that calls it anything other than the Hermosa station. I think an ecclesiastical person unfamiliar with the San Diego Electric Railway took a little liberty because the Royal Presidio Chapel’s proper name is the Cathedral of San Carlos Borromeo de Monterey.

There is a photo hanging on the wall of the chapel of the station as it looked in 1927:

La Jolla Hermosa passenger station for the San Diego Electric Railway, 1927

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

The caption beneath the 1927 picture indicates that it is from the San Diego History Center. I checked the San Diego History Center’s web site and the picture is there, cataloged under “La Jolla Hermosa station.” I rest my case.

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Music on Monday (1-23-2017)—Love me do

The Music Chronicles of Russel Ray

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

When Jim and I downsized back in 2007, we had a few billion books. Now we only have a few million. Thus, I don’t buy books anymore. If I want to read something, I go to the library. That gets me out from behind the computer and out into the world, even though the world is somewhat frightening right now and probably will be for the next four years.

All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles ReleaseThe other day I was at my favorite crowded Costco. They often have several huge tables full of books, all of them at discounted prices. I usually ignore them because I’m not going to buy any of them. On this day, though, going straight through the book section was faster to get through the crowd. A big red book caught my attention: “All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release.” Uh-oh. A quick 10-second flip through a few pages and I invited it to come home with me.

The Beatles first single to be released was “Love Me Do.” There actually are two versions of “Love Me Do” out there, a single version and an album version, uncommon then but done all the time in today’s world.

The single version was recorded on September 4, 1962, and the album version was recorded on September 11, 1962. The single version has no tambourine whereas the album version does.

Ringo Starr played drums on September 4, but after listening to the tape of the recording, George Martin decided he didn’t like the drums and wanted to re-record the song. He scheduled the re-recording session for September 11 and hired a session musician, Andy White, to play drums. Ringo thus was delegated to playing tambourine, which had not been in the song to begin with. Many musicians have appeared on Beatles’ records—Billy Preston and Eric Clapton come immediately to mind—but Andy White is the only musician to actually replace one of the Beatles.

The single, released on October 5, 1962, but inadvertently the version featuring Ringo Starr on drums was used. The error was corrected when the album was released, and Andy White is on drums. The only way to distinguish the two songs is to listen for the tambourine!

“Love Me Do” was released on October 5, 1962 in Great Britain and peaked at #17 on the British singles chart on December 27, 1962. The single was released in the United States on April 27, 1964, and peaked at #1 on the American charts on May 30, 1964.

YouTube doesn’t allow Beatles recordings on its site, so I have uploaded mp3 copies to my web site and included links here. If you don’t trust links, hover your mouse cursor over the link and look in the lower left corner (usually) to see the URL of the link, a great way to avoid malware, viruses, and phishing schemes. If you trust the link, click on it. Alternately you can copy the link’s URL and past it into your browser.

Love Me Do
Single version with Ringo Starr on drums and no tambourine

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Love Me Do
Album version with Andy White on drums and Ringo playing tambourine

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat

Alternative facts are the new fake news

I live in my own little world

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

Since Facebook and Twitter are trying to put a stop to fake news, or at least tag it as fake news, the current administration seems to have come up with a way to get around that by calling their fake news alternative facts.

My oh my.

Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to the President, brought up alternative facts on “Meet the Press” this morning, and the world is having a lot of fun with it. Even Urban Dictionary is getting in on the fun. Their definition:

When truth is so unfavorable to a pathological liar that they must invent a whole new category of lies to describe their nakedly intentional acts of deception.

Examples: “Kellyanne Conway told CNN that the President and his Press Secretary presented alternative facts about inauguration photographs that prove conclusively how few people attended the ceremony.” #lies #falsehood #intentional lies #pathological lies

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood and Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.”

If these alternative facts didn’t have the capacity to do so much damage to so many people’s lives, it would actually be funny.

It has encouraged me to write two books concurrently, one about the history of railroads in San Diego County and the other a day-by-day account of this administration alternative facts.

Alternative Facts

Pictures copyright 2012 Russel Ray Photos

I might die of laughter before I die from lack of health insurance under this administration.

This post approved by Zoey the Cool Cat