The Albany Bulb

In between the scudding storms of what will probably be the last rains of our Bayarea winter, Nico and I made a dash for the Albany Bulb. This is an extraordinary little oasis of man-made wilderness that juts out into the San Francisco Bay pointing directly at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Albany Bulb - West Bayarea

It is the only place I know where dogs can run free off leash, swim, dig in the sand and explore the bush within easy drive of my home in West Oakland. Its a wonderful spot that is created totally from ‘clean’ construction land fill that harbors an urban forest of invasive trees and shrubs (I know of at least three species of Australian Acacia growing in profusion), a surprising assortment of wildlife (its one of the most important waterbird sanctuaries in the Bay – they must be attracted to its duck-like form!), and a constantly changing display of ‘outsider’ art; all with spectacular views of the city of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge. The great little beach that is in the back of the ‘neck of the duck’ is reputed to be one of the last remnant of the original shore of the East Bay.

Every time I wander there I see something new. Here’s a sample of what Nico and I enjoyed this morning.

Unbeatable view!

Unbeatable fun!

The Bulb's 'bones' revealed ...

... and embellished.

Steel graffiti.

Some portraits are delightfully crafted ....

... others seem almost accidental.

Some works won't survive the next storm (happy troll!) ...

... others have been here for years and are aging elegantly.

Some of the inhabitants are welcoming ...

... others are more private.

With the spring its all coming into flower ...

... almost everywhere you look ...

... both natural and artificial.

There's Green Design ...

... created locally from renewable resources!

There's Architecture.

Of course, there's Graphics.

There's even Philosophy!!

Something for everyone really!

Head East on Highway 80 and turn left at Buchanan St.

You can’t miss it!

And shouldn’t!

Carolina Chocolate Drops on Fresh Air

Carolina Chocolate Drops: Tradition From Jug To Kazoo : NPR

Carolina Chocolate Drops formed after all three members — Rhiannon Giddens, Dom Flemons and Justin Robinson — attended the 2005 Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, N.C. The annual event brings together folk musicians, student musicians and African-American folk-music enthusiasts at Appalachian State University for a weekend of music and classes.

After attending the festival, Giddens, Flemons and Robinson decided to sit in on a weekly jam session with Joe Thompson, an 86-year-old country fiddler well known for his distinctive style.

“First of all, Joe’s bowing is really, really interesting … which is something common among fiddle players, at least around [North Carolina],” Justin Robinson tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross. “Sometimes it’s called the double shuffle … I’ve heard fiddlers call it sewing cloth. It’s sort of this forward-and-back motion that is going forward all at the same time that’s making this really great rhythmic kinda thing that you have to really work very hard to get. And also, Joe plays notes that are not in the Western scale, which is actually kind of great.”

Thompson inspired Giddens, Flemons and Robinson to create Carolina Chocolate Drops, a band which combines traditional string-band elements with several modern twists.

The group’s newest album, Genuine Negro Jig, features a series of traditional instruments, including the banjo, fiddle, kazoo, bones and jug. Its other albums include Dona Got a Rambin’ Mind, Sankofa Strings and Heritage.

Wade Davies – The Wayfinders – 2009 Massey Lectures

CBC Radio | Ideas | Massey Lectures.

The CBC Massey Lectures 2009

The Wayfinders is a profound celebration of the wonder of human genius and spirit as brought into being by culture.

Of the 7,000 languages spoken today, fully half may disappear in our lifetimes. This does not have to happen. The other cultures of the world are not failed attempts to be modern, failed attempts to be us. Each is a unique and profound answer to a fundamental question: What does it mean to be human and alive? When asked that question the peoples of the world respond with 7,000 sources of knowledge and wisdom, history and intuition which collectively comprise humanity’s repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that we’ll face as a species in the coming centuries. Every culture deserves a place at the council of the human experience.

In The Wayfinders anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Wade Davis reveals the significance of what may be lost through a wild and thrilling exploration of what remains with us and very much alive. Travel to Polynesia and celebrate the art of navigation that allowed the Wayfinders to infuse the entire Pacific Ocean with their imagination and genius. In the Amazon await the descendants of a true Lost Civilization, the People of the Anaconda, a complex of cultures inspired by mythological ancestors who even today dictate how humans must live in the forest. In the Andean Cordillera and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta of Colombia discover that the Earth really is alive, pulsing, responsive in a thousand ways to the spiritual readiness of humankind. Dreamtime and the Songlines will lead to the melaleuca forests of Arnhem Land, and an understanding the subtle philosophy of the first humans to walk out of Africa, the Aboriginal peoples of Australia. In Nepal a stone path leads to a door opening to reveal the radiant face of a wisdom hero, a Bodhisattva, Tsetsam Ani, a Buddhist nun who forty-five years ago entered lifelong retreat. The flight of a hornbill, like a cursive script of nature, will let us know that we have arrived at last amongst the nomadic Penan in the upland forests of Borneo.

What ultimately we will discover on this journey will be our mission for the next century. There is a fire burning over the Earth, taking with it plants and animals, ancient skills and visionary wisdom. At risk is a vast archive of knowledge and expertise, a catalogue of the imagination, an oral and written language composed of the memories of countless elders and healers, warriors, farmers, fishermen, midwives, poets, and saints. In short, the artistic, intellectual, and spiritual expression of the full complexity and diversity of the human experience. Quelling this flame, and rediscovering a new appreciation for the diversity of the human spirit as expressed by culture, is among the central challenges of our times.