Sunday, May 01, 2016

Better late than never

Every decade or so I Google my old singing partner, John Ellsworth, the artist formerly known as John Acuff. Who knows what prompts me? Our duo broke up in the summer of 1960 when John wearied of couch surfing across Hollywood and West LA, fell in love with Becky something or other and retreated back to Arizona. It felt like the end of a friendship though I think we limped along musically a little while longer. Still the intensity and heady moments of our youthful half steps reverberate and the connection continues however frayed.

This is literally the only image I have of John and me singing. I honestly have no idea who the the guy on the right is. This a scan of a scan from the 1960 ASU yearbook .

Losing, as I saw it, our chance at stardom made me resentful, a sentiment that persisted for a while, if “a while” can describe 56 years of what might have beens. The big time was a long shot but I know “I coulda been a contender.”

After our conscious uncoupling we lost touch except for crossing paths as solo acts around Phoenix. The last that I remember was at the bandshell at Encanto Park where we each performed and felt the awkwardness of superficial pleasantries. John may remember it differently

I floated in and out of the folk music world into 1964, most notably opening for John Denver at the Lumber Mill in Scottsdale, Hoyt Axton at some bottle club in Salt Lake City and auditioning at The Abbey in Aspen when Buffy Sainte Marie was headlining. I didn’t get the gig and began to get the message. It ain’t happening.

When the Beatles landed in the spring of 1964 it was sayonara baby. I hung it up for good. 

For the longest time I tried to find a copy of our record, Once Upon a Time, and hoped that John might have it. Just as he and I would start a web conversation it would end the moment I asked if he had the record and if we would make me a copy. A lot of baggage comes with that little 45. In advanced middle age I’m more sympathetic than I once was about it. So, forget the vinyl, buddy. It’s not that important.

From our infrequent interchanges over the years I knew that John and Becky moved to her home state of Illinois, that he had divorced and remarried somewhere along the line and that he had become a lawyer near Chicago. That’s about it. Then came this week’s revelation. When I did the aforementioned search up popped John Ellsworth and, in pictures associated with that name, the lanky dude with whom I harmonized so sweetly appeared, still 6’4” or so he says and with all his hair. I didn’t expect that for some reason. But hey, I’ve got all of mine, too.

When I clicked on the pic a link to the author named John Ellsworth appeared and I discovered that my old singing partner has become a prolific crime novelist with 500,000 copies sold so far and a new volume published daily. Well, not quite. I tend to inflate.

This doesn’t completely surprise me. John was the wordsmith of the twosome.

His tale is aspirational. Becoming a best-selling author at our age boggles what's left of my mind and knocking out a new one every 40 days blows me away. And to think I’ve been talking about one simple book for a year and a half.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Intricacy and Luminance



Point Lobos at the top of California’s Big Sur and just below Carmel Valley is the stuff of photographic legend. On a handful of visits over more years than I care to disclose I have been skunked but for these kelp that are jewel-like in their intricacy and luminance.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Reach for the Red Bull

Not Amos Abeyta
In late February the sheep are shorn. It’s a communal effort where friends and neighbors gather to help out. For friends of young Amos Abeyta, the great grandson and namesake of the Amos Abeyta who started the whole shebang back in the twenties, there’s actual work to be done, work fueled by copious quantities of Red Bull, Bud Lite and eclairs.  For older volunteers there’s a lot more kibitzing than work.

The sheep come in the front door all insulated and round and exit the side door ten pounds lighter. That’s the weight of a typical fleece. Last year all survived the trauma of losing their wool but dozens were lost to the cold. This year one didn't make it, the apparent victim of a heart attack. It was a back to earth moment that underscored the uncertainty of life wrested from the land.







Sunday, April 10, 2016


In the waning moments of World War Two, I was in my first year of kindergarten in Salinas, CA. That’s a turn of phrase I’m pretty sure you’ve never heard.  But rather than a case of sluggardly scholarship it was just that my single mom was a second grade teacher at Roosevelt Elementary and they let me attend kindergarten as a four year-old. Those two rigorous years no doubt account for my stellar college career and numerous advanced degrees.


These photographs of downtown Salinas depict a withering city little changed from 70 years ago. They include the scene of my first movie at the Fox Theater, my first fresh strawberry pie from a café in nearby Alisal and is the place I learned how to hang a sweater from some high school kid in the neighborhood, the way I do it to this day. Some lessons really stick.





More importantly it was the place I had my first homemade flour tortilla rolled around melting butter, though I’m guessing it actually was margarine, wartime rationing considered.


Sunday, April 03, 2016

The Cat with a Hat




My friend Lenny Foster, the estimable photographer and debonair man about town, had a birthday yesterday. These portraits from a couple of years back celebrate Lenny’s fifty some odd years on planet earth sharing his abundant talents and gentle spirit with everyone he meets.

The first two are the Lenny in our mind's eye. The other is a more severe and challenging version of his handsome self.

Feliz cumpleaños, Amigo

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nothing but shadows


I'm under water with images to process and prints to print. So today I'll rely on that old standby, the ever so lovely and evocative shadow. No flowery prose. No telling of stories. Just these nuggets.







Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Eye of the Photographer: Four Guys Two Galleries

This doesn't happen very often. Meaning it's exceedingly rare that I post images from a same-day photo shoot. Today is that rare bird.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse by David Mapes


This is the first of hourly reminders of the above referenced exhibition. It will run from May 28 through July 4 at both Wilder Nightingale Fine Art and DAFA, David Anthony Fine Art, in beautiful downtown Taos. Part of the proceeds will benefit our beloved TCA, the Taos Community Auditorium. Details to follow as the opening draws near. Mark it in your calendar please.

This morning we photographers namely Bill Davis, Cris Pulos, Terry Thompson and Steve Immel held a photoshoot to get worthy images for our press material. Here are but a few.

Bill Davis by Steve Immel

Cris Pulos by Steve Immel

Terry Thompson by Steve Immel

Steve Immel by Terry Thompson

And from a couple of years back this studio shot of the Greek fisherman himself.

Cris Pulos by Steve Immel