Felix Plate, 2016
ceramic and glaze
4 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches
January 20, 2017 – February 23, 2017January 22nd, 2017
By Paul Krugman
NY Times Published : JAN. 20, 2017
Betsy DeVos, whom Donald Trump has nominated as education secretary, doesn’t know basic education terms, doesn’t know about federal statutes governing special education, but thinks school officials should carry guns to defend against grizzly bears.
Monica Crowley, selected as deputy national security adviser, withdrew after it was revealed that much of her past writing was plagiarized. Many other national security positions remain unfilled, and it’s unclear how much if any of the briefing materials prepared by the outgoing administration have even been read.
Meanwhile Rex Tillerson, selected as secretary of state, casually declared that America would block Chinese access to bases in the South China Sea, apparently unaware that he was in effect threatening to go to war if China called his bluff.
Do you see a pattern here?
It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the incoming administration would be blatantly corrupt. But would it at least be efficient in its corruption?
Many Trump voters certainly thought they were choosing a smart businessman who would get things done. And even those who knew better may have hoped that the president-elect, his ego finally sated, would settle down to running the country — or at least delegate the boring business of governing America to people actually capable of doing the job.
But it’s not happening. Mr. Trump hasn’t pivoted, matured, whatever term you prefer. He’s still the insecure, short-attention-span egomaniac he always was. Worse, he is surrounding himself with people who share many of his flaws — perhaps because they’re the sort of people with whom he is comfortable.
So the typical Trump nominee, in everything from economics to diplomacy to national security, is ethically challenged, ignorant about the area of policy he or she is supposed to manage and deeply incurious. Some, like Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice as national security adviser, are even as addicted as their boss to internet conspiracy theories. This isn’t a team that will compensate for the commander in chief’s weaknesses; on the contrary, it’s a team that will amplify them.
Why does this matter? If you want a model for how the Trump-Putin administration is likely to function (or malfunction), it’s helpful to recall what happened during the Bush-Cheney years.
People tend to forget the extent to which the last Republican administration was also characterized by cronyism, the appointment of unqualified but well-connected people to key positions. It wasn’t as extreme as what we’re seeing now, but it was striking at the time. Remember “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”? And it caused very real damage.
In particular, if you want some notion of what Trump governance is likely to look like, consider the botched occupation of Iraq. People who knew anything about nation-building weren’t wanted; party loyalists — and corporate profiteers — took their place. There’s even a little-known connection: Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, the mercenary outfit that, among other things, helped destabilize Iraq by firing into a crowd of civilians.
Now the conditions that prevailed in Iraq — blind ideology, contempt for expertise, effective absence of any enforcement of ethics rules — have come to America, but in a far more acute form.
And what will happen when we face a crisis? Remember, Katrina was the event that finally revealed the costs of Bush-era cronyism to all.
Crises of some kind are bound to occur on any president’s watch. They appear especially likely given the crew that’s coming in and their allies in Congress: Given the stated priorities of the people about to take charge, we could very well see collapsing health care, a trade war and a military standoff with China just in the next year.
But even if we somehow skirt those dangers, stuff always happens. Maybe there will be a new economic crisis, helped along by the rush to undo financial regulation. Maybe there will be a foreign affairs crisis, say over adventurism in the Baltics by Mr. Trump’s good friend Vladimir. Maybe it will be something we’re not thinking about. Then what?
Real crises need real solutions. They can’t be resolved with a killer tweet, or by having your friends in the F.B.I. or the Kremlin feed the media stories that take your problems off the front page. What the situation demands are knowledgeable, levelheaded people in positions of authority.
But as far as we know, almost no people meeting that description will be in the new administration, except possibly the nominee for defense secretary — whose nickname just happens to be “Mad Dog.”
So there you have it: an administration unprecedented in its corruption, but also completely unprepared to govern. It’s going to be terrific, let me tell you.January 20th, 2017
Opens Saturday January 21, 2017. 3-5 PMJanuary 14th, 2017
By JILL FILIPOVIC
NY Times: JANUARY 13, 2017
The high-achieving elder daughter of President-elect Donald J. Trump is, on the surface, a glowing picture of modern American womanhood: a mother of three young children who built a business that bears her name. A glamorous figure whom it would be easy to picture balancing a baby in one hand and a briefcase in the other, all in her own branded high heels.
She has it all — including the ear of her future president father and a husband, Jared Kushner, who will serve as a senior adviser in the Trump administration.
But while Ms. Trump has found both professional and personal success by enjoying many of the benefits of feminism, she is far from an avatar of a feminist future. Instead, she’s a kind of post-feminist huckster, selling us traditional femininity and support of male power wrapped up in a feminist bow.
Indeed, in an attempt to smooth out the anti-nepotism concerns of her husband’s appointment, Ms. Trump will no longer run her own brand or serve as an executive with the Trump organization and is moving with her family to Washington — even as her brothers will continue to run the family company. Her plan, she said, is to “take time to settle our three young children into their new home and schools.”
The Trump-Kushners will arrive in Washington as one of the town’s most powerful power couples. While many think Ms. Trump will eventually take on a quasi first lady role — and while having either Ms. Trump or her husband working for Mr. Trump poses serious ethical and legal issues — it is important to note that Mr. Trump chose the male half of the Trump-Kushner pair to serve in the West Wing, presumably with the blessing of his daughter.
The particulars of this arrangement are unusual, but the norms underlying it are not. Even in the cosmopolitan centers where “power couples” exist aplenty, the male partner is often the more powerful one, and finds his success precisely because of his wife’s combination of feminist-facilitated achievement and traditional feminine support.
Unlike in past generations when educated women had a harder time finding partners, today, college-educated women like Ms. Trump are more likely than their working-class counterparts to wed, and also like Ms. Trump, usually delay childbirth until after the wedding. With the fewer financial stressors that come with dual incomes or a single extremely high one these educated couples divorce less often than those with fewer financial resources, despite other findings that both groups have comparable dedication to the marital ideal.
That educated women fare better romantically and occupationally than they used to is in many ways a feminist victory, if only for women at the top of the heap. And Ms. Trump has used the carefully cultivated image of her own career and family to sell both her brand and her father’s political ambitions. Her Instagram feed is full of images with motivational captions about the importance of stay-at-home motherhood or maternal multitasking, often with the hashtag #WomenWhoWork. “I have a few very important roles, but being a mother will always be my favorite,” she posted with a family photo.
This mastery of balancing ambition with likability is no easy task. Women usually have to trade one for the other. Yet tabloids describe Ms. Trump as both a “doting mom” and a “successful businesswoman.” Her father credits her with pushing him toward a paid maternity leave policy.
She’s also a woman who sells this image strategically. The white working-class Americans to whom Ms. Trump’s father directed many of his appeals hew more closely to traditional views of marital obligations and gender norms than those who are college educated, even as most working-class mothers are employed outside the home and are more likely to be raising children on their own.
Ms. Trump’s clear ambition remains unobjectionable in part because she seems to require nothing of men. She affirms her status as a wife and a mother first and a businesswoman second. While she speaks to the challenges of combining work and family, she makes no demands that her husband “lean in” at home — maybe Mr. Kushner does do the dishes, but they aren’t Instagramming it.
Her push for paid parental leave is certainly laudable and especially out of the box for the Republican Party, but the policy she urged her father to propose wasn’t really about parents — it offered maternity leave only, emphasizing that the task of raising children remains the domain of women (even “women who work”). And her soft-focus feminism is put to use covering for her father’s boorishness: Mr. Trump has repeatedly boasted of his refusal to do any child care whatsoever for his five children, but his daughter nevertheless deems him “a feminist.”
For some people — perhaps people who voted for her father — there is a post-feminist salve in the neotraditional marriage model Ms. Trump promotes. It’s a palatable way to mesh old sexist ideas about women as nurturers and helpers with the realities of modern American life. Ms. Trump embodies a feminine ideal, even while she lives a more feminist reality.
For working and middle-class women, though, the space where that ideal rubs up against reality is more likely to produce friction than anything else. Many Americans remain psychologically stuck between some vision of the 1950s white suburban family and the revolutionary, and still unfulfilled, promise of gender equality. While a majority of Americans agree that women should not return to traditional 1950s roles, that calculus changes when women have kids — a majority also believes that mothers should stay home with young children.
This is an especially precarious set of expectations for families who, unlike the Trump-Kushners, live in constrained financial circumstances. For heterosexual couples of all income levels, having children often leads to discord precisely because mothers and fathers tend to slide into more traditional roles — leaving women to tend to the trivial details of adult life, like changing diapers, picking up the dry cleaning or, in Ms. Trump’s case, setting up a new house and getting the kids acclimated to a new school.
Women expecting egalitarianism at home often feel hoodwinked by this new subtly sexist arrangement. Women expecting traditionalism find they’re stretched too thin by a belief that they should be the primary parent and an economic reality that demands their employment.
Ms. Trump has written a book called “Women Who Work,” so must presumably think she has advice to offer other women. But trying to emulate the Ivanka model without her financial means is a precarious path. Women who maintain demanding careers and also believe they are chiefly responsible for managing the domestic front are much more stressed out than women whose partners share in both work and family duties, according to social science research. For white working-class families, where women often work out of necessity and who also believe in the importance of divergent responsibilities for men and women, that dissonance sows significant marital conflict.
Least feminist of all: The “women who work” discourse adopted by Ms. Trump frames this all as a woman’s choice, rather than the predictable and deliberate outcome when feminist gains are warped by conservative public policy.January 14th, 2017
Thanks to Dewey NelsonJanuary 14th, 2017
A True Tale, 2016 Thread on canvas 50 x 43 in / 127 x 109.2 cm
Opens January 12, 2017
BORTOLAMI 520 West 20 Street New York, NYJanuary 12th, 2017
January 7 – February 5, 2017January 6th, 2017
Through February 25, 2017January 5th, 2017
Tyrus Wong was one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists of the 20th century, but he passed much of his career unknown to the general public.
SARA JANE BOYERS
By MARGALIT FOX
NY Times: DECEMBER 30, 2016
When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before.
But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades.
Like the film’s title character, the artist, Tyrus Wong, weathered irrevocable separation from his mother — and, in the hope of making a life in America, incarceration, isolation and rigorous interrogation — all when he was still a child.
In the years that followed, he endured poverty, discrimination and chronic lack of recognition, not only for his work at Disney but also for his fine art, before finding acclaim in his 90s.
Mr. Wong died on Friday at 106. A Hollywood studio artist, painter, printmaker, calligrapher, greeting-card illustrator and, in later years, maker of fantastical kites, he was one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists of the 20th century.
But because of the marginalization to which Asian-Americans were long subject, he passed much of his career unknown to the general public.
Artistic recognition, when Mr. Wong did find it, was all the more noteworthy for the fact that among Chinese immigrant men of his generation, professional prospects were largely limited to menial jobs like houseboy and laundryman.
Mr. Wong spent two years painting the illustrations that would inform every aspect of “Bambi.” His influence is unmistakable in the finished film.
WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS
Trained as a painter, Mr. Wong was a leading figure in the Modernist movement that flourished in California between the first and second World Wars. In 1932 and again in 1934, his work was included in group shows at the Art Institute of Chicago that also featured Picasso, Matisse and Paul Klee.
As a staff artist for Hollywood studios from the 1930s to the 1960s, he drew storyboards and made vibrant paintings, as detailed as any architectural illustrations, that helped the director envision each scene before it was shot.
Over the years his work informed the look of animated pictures for Disney and live-action films for Warner Brothers and other studios, among them “The Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949), “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) and “The Wild Bunch” (1969).
But of the dozens of films on which he worked, it was for “Bambi” that Mr. Wong was — belatedly — most renowned.
“He was truly involved with every phase of production,” John Canemaker, an Oscar-winning animator and a historian of animation at New York University, said in an interview for this obituary in March. “He created an art direction that had really never been seen before in animation.”
In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Wong was the subject of “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky,” a major retrospective at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
From the museum’s windows, which overlook San Francisco Bay, he could contemplate Angel Island, where more than nine decades earlier, as a lone 10-year-old, he had sought to gain admission to a country that adamantly did not want him.
Wong Gen Yeo (the name is sometimes Romanized Wong Gaing Yoo) was born on Oct. 25, 1910, in a farming village in Guangdong Province. As a young child, he already exhibited a love of drawing and was encouraged by his father.
In 1920, seeking better economic prospects, Gen Yeo and his father embarked for the United States, leaving his mother and sister behind. Gen Yeo would never see his mother again.
They were obliged to travel under false identities — a state of affairs known among Chinese immigrants as being a “paper son” — in the hope of circumventing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, the act, which drastically curtailed the number of Chinese people allowed to enter the country, was among the earliest United States laws to impose severe restrictions on immigration.
But in 1906, an unforeseen loophole opened in the form of the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Because a huge number of municipal documents, including birth and immigration records, were destroyed, many newly arrived Chinese capitalized on the loss, maintaining that they had been born in San Francisco before the fire.
As United States citizens, they were entitled to bring over their relatives — or, in the case of Gen Yeo and his father, “paper sons” posing as relatives.
Attuned to the deception, United States immigration officials put Chinese arrivals through a formidable inquisition to ensure they were who they claimed to be.
The questions came like gunfire: In which direction does your village face? How many windows are in your house? Where in the house is the rice bin? How wide is your well? How deep? Are there trees in your village? Are there lakes? What shops can you name?
The sponsoring relative was interrogated separately, and the answers had to match. For the new arrival, a major mistake, or a series of smaller ones, could mean deportation.
To stand a chance of passing, aspirants memorized rigorous dossiers known as coaching papers. The ensuing interrogation was hard enough for adults. Ten-year-old Gen Yeo would undergo it alone.
On Dec. 30, 1920, after a month at sea, the Wongs landed at Angel Island Immigration Station. The elder Mr. Wong was traveling as a merchant named Look Get; his son as Look Tai Yow.
“Angel Island is considered to be the Ellis Island of the West Coast,” Lisa See, the author of “On Gold Mountain” (1995), a nonfiction chronicle of her Chinese-American family, said in an interview in 2016. However, she continued: “The goal was really very different than Ellis Island, which was supposed to be so welcoming. Angel Island opened very specifically to keep the Chinese out.”
Because Mr. Wong’s father had previously lived in the United States as Look Get, he was able to clear Immigration quickly. But as a new arrival, Gen Yeo was detained on the island for nearly a month, the only child among the immigrants being held there.
“I was scared half to death; I just cried,” Mr. Wong recalled in “Tyrus,” an award-winning documentary directed by Pamela Tom, which premiered in 2015. “Every day is just miserable — miserable. I hated that place.”
On Jan. 27, 1921, in the presence of an interpreter and a stenographer, young Gen Yeo, posing as Look Tai Yow, was interrogated by three inspectors. His father had already been questioned.
Gen Yeo was well prepared and answered without error. In Sacramento, where he joined his father, a schoolteacher Americanized “Tai Yow” to “Tyrus,” and he was known as Tyrus Wong ever after.
Soon afterward, father and son were separated once more, when the elder Mr. Wong moved to Los Angeles to seek work. For reasons that have been lost to time, he could not take his son. Tyrus lived on his own in a Sacramento boardinghouse while attending elementary school.
Two years later — possibly more — Tyrus traveled to Los Angeles to join his father, who had found work in a gambling den. They lived in a vermin-infested boardinghouse sandwiched between a butcher shop and a brothel. After school, Tyrus worked as a houseboy for two Pasadena families, earning 50 cents a day.
His first art teacher was his father, who trained him nightly in calligraphy by having him dip a brush in water and trace ghostly characters on newspaper: They could not afford ink or drawing paper.
When Tyrus was in junior high, a teacher, noting his drawing talent, arranged a summer scholarship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.
By his own account an indifferent student in public school, Tyrus found his calling at the institute, now the Otis College of Art and Design. When his scholarship ended he declined to return to junior high.
His father scraped together the $90 tuition — a small fortune — to let him stay on as Otis’s youngest student.
He studied there for at least five years, simultaneously working as the school janitor, before graduating in the 1930s. Not long afterward his father died, leaving young Mr. Wong entirely on his own.
From 1936 to 1938, Mr. Wong was an artist for the Works Progress Administration, creating paintings for libraries and other public spaces.
With friends, including the Japanese-American artist Benji Okubo, he founded the Oriental Artists’ Group of Los Angeles, which organized exhibitions of members’ work — an unheard-of level of exposure for Asian artists at the time.
Mr. Wong, newly married and needing steady work, joined Disney in 1938 as an “in-betweener,” creating the thousands of intermediate drawings that bring animated sequences to life.
Asians were then a novelty at Hollywood studios, and Mr. Wong was made keenly aware of the fact, first at Disney and later at Warner Brothers. One co-worker flung a racial epithet at him. Another assumed on sight that he worked in the company cafeteria.
Then there was the affront of the in-betweener’s job itself: Painstaking, repetitive and for Mr. Wong quickly soul-numbing, it is the assembly-line work of animation — “a terrible use of his talents as a landscape artist and a painter,” Mr. Canemaker said.
A reprieve came in the late 1930s, when Mr. Wong learned that Disney was adapting “Bambi, a Life in the Woods,” the 1923 novel by the Austrian writer Felix Salten about a fawn whose mother is killed by a hunter.
In trying to animate the book, Disney had reached an impasse. The studio had enjoyed great success in 1937 with its animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a baroque production in which every detail of the backgrounds — every petal on every flower, every leaf on every tree — was meticulously represented.
In an attempt to use a similar style for “Bambi,” it found that the ornate backgrounds camouflaged the deer and other forest creatures on which the narrative centered.
Mr. Wong spied his chance.
“I said, ‘Gee, this is all outdoor scenery,’” he recalled in a video interview years afterward, adding: “I said, ‘Gee, I’m a landscape painter!’”
Invoking the exquisite landscape paintings of the Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1279), he rendered in watercolors and pastels a series of nature scenes that were moody, lyrical and atmospheric — at once lush and spare — with backgrounds subtly suggested by a stroke or two of the brush.
“Walt Disney went crazy over them,” said Mr. Canemaker, who wrote about Mr. Wong in his book “Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists” (1996). “He said, ‘I love this indefinite quality, the mysterious quality of the forest.’”
Mr. Wong was unofficially promoted to the rank of inspirational sketch artist.
“But he was more than that,” Mr. Canemaker explained. “He was the designer; he was the person they went to when they had questions about the color, about how to lay something out. He even influenced the music and the special effects: Just by the look of the drawings, he inspired people.”
Mr. Wong spent two years painting the illustrations that would inform every aspect of “Bambi.” Throughout the finished film — lent a brooding quality by its stark landscapes; misty, desaturated palette; and figures often seen in silhouette — his influence is unmistakable.
But in 1941, in the wake of a bitter employees’ strike that year, Disney fired Mr. Wong. Though he had chosen not to strike — he felt the studio had been good to him, Mr. Canemaker said — he was let go amid the lingering climate of post-strike resentments.
On “Bambi,” Mr. Wong’s name appears, quite far down in the credits, as a mere “background” artist.
Mr. Wong joined Warner Brothers in 1942, working there — and lent out on occasion to other studios — until his retirement in 1968.
The indignities he endured were not confined to the studios. Trying to buy a house, he and his wife, the former Ruth Kim, were told that each property they inquired about had just been sold. “Then in a month you’d go back there and the sign was still there,” Mr. Wong recalled in “Tyrus.”
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Mr. Wong, like many Chinese-Americans, took to wearing a lapel button proclaiming his heritage, lest an angry American beat him up on the street.
The war permanently dispersed the fledgling Oriental Artists’ Group. Mr. Wong’s friend Mr. Okubo was sent, with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans, to an internment camp.
“If World War II hadn’t happened when it did, I think these artists, even the Chinese-American artists, would have more of a name than they do today,” Ms. See said. “And that’s because this little movement that had just barely started was split apart by the war.”
Mr. Wong, who became a United States citizen in 1946, also designed Christmas cards for Hallmark and painted elegant Asian-inflected designs on dinnerware, now sought after by collectors.
A longtime resident of Sunland, Calif., he became, in retirement, a renowned kitemaker, designing, building and hand coloring astonishing, airworthy creations — butterflies, swallows, whole flocks of owls, centipedes more than 100 feet long — that streaked the Southern California sky like paint on blue canvas.
During the last 15 years of Ruth Wong’s life, when she was ill with dementia, Mr. Wong forsook his work to care for her. After her death in 1995, he slowly began making art again.
In 2001, in formal recognition of his influence on “Bambi,” Mr. Wong was named a Disney Legend. The honor — whose previous recipients include Fred MacMurray, Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello — is bestowed by the Walt Disney Company for outstanding contributions.
In 2003, a retrospective of his work, curated in part by Ms. See, was the inaugural exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. Disney’s own retrospective, “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky,” traveled in 2015 to the Museum of Chinese in America, in Lower Manhattan.
Mr. Wong’s death, at his home in Sunland, was confirmed by the filmmaker Ms. Tom. His survivors include three daughters, Kay Fong, Tai-Ling Wong and Kim Wong; and two grandchildren.
When his daughters were small, Mr. Wong encouraged them to make art, as his father had encouraged him. Yet he would not let them have coloring books.
The reason was simple: He did not want his children constrained, he said, by lines laid down by others.
Correction: December 31, 2016
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Guangzhou as the birthplace of Tyrus Wong. He was born in Guangdong Province, but it’s not known exactly where.
Brian Eno Credit Steve Forrest for The New York Times
By RANDY KENNEDY
NY Times Published: JAN. 2, 2017
The composer and ambient-music pioneer Brian Eno once wrote that he considers it possible “our grandchildren will look at us in wonder and say: ‘You mean you used to listen to exactly the same thing over and over again?’”
With his newest album, “Reflection,” released Sunday, his seventh album in the past seven years, Mr. Eno is making his boldest attempt yet to create what he has described as a third category of music, generative, to join the two we know now — live and recorded. Using algorithms and increasingly powerful portable technology, generative music, he argues, will allow listeners to hear music that creates itself anew all day, or night, long, changing according to time, mood, weather or other variables.
The traditional album version of “Reflection” is a 54-minute single track that, much like the ambient music Mr. Eno has been making since the late 1970s, uses looping meditative passages that change with slow variations. But an app-based version of the project, available on iTunes, creates what Mr. Eno calls “an endless and endlessly changing version of the piece of music,” playing from the algorithms he fine-tuned while listening over weeks to the music the system created. “It’s a lot like gardening,” Mr. Eno wrote of the process in promotional materials for the project, which he accomplished with the help of Peter Chilvers, a longtime collaborator. “You plant the seeds and then you keep tending to them until you get a garden you like.”
Mr. Eno, as a futurist, has often accompanied his music with political pronouncements. And with the release of the new album, he posted his thoughts about the end of 2016 on Facebook, in a widely shared post. In it, he theorized that the tumultuous political developments of the past year might not mark the beginning of a period of decline, but the end of one that he believes has been underway for 40 years, marked by concentration of wealth and the growth of an ideology that has “sneered at social generosity and championed a sort of righteous selfishness.”
“Last year people started waking up to this,” Mr. Eno wrote, adding: “I think we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realized it’s time to jump out of the saucepan. This is the start of something big. It will involve engagement: not just tweets and likes and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action, too.”January 3rd, 2017
By his count, Seuk Doo Kim or ‘Sam,’ a 78-year-old mountaineer has climbed Mt. Baldy nearly 750 times and aims to log 1,000 summits by next year.
Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times
By Ben Poston
Los Angeles Times Published: December 22, 2016
On Mt. Baldy’s rocky trails all the regulars know “Sam,” a sturdy hiker of 78 years.
By his count, Seuk Doo Kim has climbed the mountain nearly 750 times and aims to log 1,000 summits by next year.
“If you go to Baldy tomorrow, you will run into him,” said his son, David Kim. “You will never see another man who loves hiking or who is as obsessed with hiking as him.”
On a recent Sunday morning, he ascended the domed peak for the 100th day in a row.
“I’m feeling God’s embrace — this is better than church,” Sam said on the way up. “My shortcut is the holy spirit.”
But it’s faith in his own legs and lungs that lets him veer off the main trail and scramble up routes that leave others gasping for air.
Hiking days begin with Kim driving about an hour and a half from his home in Culver City.
He parks his BMW at Manker Flats, throws on a 20-pound backpack full of snacks and three liters of water, and heads out, his presence as unsurprising as that of a scrub jay or a scurrying lizard.
“What time did you start?” he’ll ask weary hikers along the granite scree. “How old are you?”
Happy for a distraction from blisters and sore feet, most stop to talk.
Climbing Mt. Baldy 1,000 times
By his count, Seuk Doo Kim has climbed the mountain nearly 750 times and aims to log 1,000 summits by next year.
Sam doesn’t take “no” for an answer when he hands them jelly beans, a bag of Doritos or a Clif Bar. He’s even more persistent about getting selfies with the people he encounters, posing for hundreds over the years.
“It got to the point where I said no more pictures,” said Ellen Coleman, 63, of Riverside, as she descended the ski hut trail. “He calls me Superwoman, but he’s significantly older than me so I call him Superman. He’s incredible.”
Sam has made the journey more than 240 times this year alone, and he has the time-stamped photos to prove it.
Climbing Mt. Baldy is not a remarkable feat. It’s a nearly 4,000-foot climb up a well-maintained trail that many hikers use to train for more difficult peaks. And others claim to have hiked it more times than Sam. But this septuagenarian’s resiliency impresses those many years his junior.
“That’s my idol right there,” said Thavee Nantarojaporn, 49, of South Pasadena, who was trail running on a sunny morning. “Anybody who can do it 100 days in a row is awesome.”
In 1981, Sam and his family moved from South Korea to Southern California, where he worked as a manager at the Bank of Seoul. He later bought and operated a convenience store. At one point he did not take a day off for nine years, his son said.
Sam’s enthusiasm for the 10,064-foot mountain — the highest point in the San Gabriel range and Los Angeles County — has inspired dozens of hikers to share stories on blogs and social media.
Kevin Ngo, 28, of Long Beach was camping atop Baldy the week of Thanksgiving and awoke to find Sam outside his tent in the middle of the night.
“I could not believe my eyes when I opened up my tent and saw him standing out there,” Ngo said.
They exchanged food and talked awhile before Sam descended back into the darkness. “I still find myself asking if that all really happened,” Ngo said.
Nithin Siddharth met Sam earlier this year on the trail. He posted a photo on Facebook that shows Sam with his friends at the summit of Mt. Baldy, holding the South Korean flag.
The caption reads: “Here’s to Kim and the power of the human spirit. For me he is literally the spirit of that mountain.”
Sam is vocal about his desire for peaceful reunification of South and North Korea — the impetus for those summit shots with other hikers holding a South Korean flag and a map of the Korean peninsula.
But it’s more than politics that pushes his thin frame up the same trail to the top of the same mountain day after day, through high wind, rain and snow.
“My mother can’t understand why he goes to the same mountain every single day. She says, ‘Who cares if you hike this 1,000 times?’ But it means a lot to him,” David Kim said. “It’s a spiritual journey for him. He feels invigorated and finds peace of mind when he is up in the mountains.”
At the end of his daily trek, Sam usually stops by a cabin at Manker Flats where his friend Richard Tufts lives. Their routine: Tufts boils water and serves green tea while Sam brings gifts such as mangoes, trail mix or beef jerky for Tufts’ dog.
A former ultra-marathoner who has hiked or run to the top of Mt. Baldy more than 1,000 times by his estimate, Tufts, 73, said his friend’s determination is astounding.
“If I was 78 like him, I wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing. I admire him. It seems to me like it’s an addiction for him — it’s better than drugs,” Tufts said.
On the day of his 100th consecutive ascent, Sam brought his two grandsons along for the trip. The youngest, Jonathan, 11, quietly trudged up the path while his grandfather jawed with dozens of hikers in broken English. The boy seems to have caught the hiking bug.
“Thank you Grandpa for taking me to Mt. Baldy to hike,” he wrote on a hiking blog. “I hope I can keep hiking with you for a long time.”December 22nd, 2016
Nov 12, 2016 – Jan 7, 2017December 20th, 2016
by Paul Krugman
NY Times Published: DEC. 16, 2016
On Wednesday an editorial in The Times described Donald Trump as a “useful idiot” serving Russian interests. That may not be exactly right. After all, useful idiots are supposed to be unaware of how they’re being used, but Mr. Trump probably knows very well how much he owes to Vladimir Putin. Remember, he once openly appealed to the Russians to hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Still, the general picture of a president-elect who owes his position in part to intervention by a foreign power, and shows every sign of being prepared to use U.S. policy to reward that power, is accurate.
But let’s be honest: Mr. Trump is by no means the only useful idiot in this story. As recent reporting by The Times makes clear, bad guys couldn’t have hacked the U.S. election without a lot of help, both from U.S. politicians and from the news media.
Let me explain what I mean by saying that bad guys hacked the election. I’m not talking about some kind of wild conspiracy theory. I’m talking about the obvious effect of two factors on voting: the steady drumbeat of Russia-contrived leaks about Democrats, and only Democrats, and the dramatic, totally unjustified last-minute intervention by the F.B.I., which appears to have become a highly partisan institution, with distinct alt-right sympathies.
Does anyone really doubt that these factors moved swing-state ballots by at least 1 percent? If they did, they made the difference in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania — and therefore handed Mr. Trump the election, even though he received almost three million fewer total votes. Yes, the election was hacked.
By the way, people who respond to this observation by talking about mistakes in Clinton campaign strategy are missing the point, and continuing their useful idiocy. All campaigns make mistakes. Since when do these mistakes excuse subversion of an election by a foreign power and a rogue domestic law enforcement agency?
So why did the subversion work?
It’s important to realize that the postelection C.I.A. declaration that Russia had intervened on behalf of the Trump campaign was a confirmation, not a revelation (although we’ve now learned that Mr. Putin was personally involved in the effort).
The pro-Putin tilt of Mr. Trump and his advisers was obvious months before the election — I wrote about it in July. By midsummer the close relationship between WikiLeaks and Russian intelligence was also obvious, as was the site’s growing alignment with white nationalists.
Did Republican politicians, so big on flag waving and impugning their rivals’ patriotism, reject this foreign aid to their cause? No, they didn’t. In fact, as far as I can tell, no major Republican figure was even willing to criticize Mr. Trump when he directly asked Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. It has long been obvious — except, apparently, to the news media — that the modern G.O.P. is a radical institution that is ready to violate democratic norms in the pursuit of power. Why should the norm of not accepting foreign assistance be any different?
The bigger surprise was the behavior of the news media, and I don’t mean fake news; I mean big, prestigious organizations. Leaked emails, which everyone knew were probably the product of Russian hacking, were breathlessly reported as shocking revelations, even when they mostly revealed nothing more than the fact that Democrats are people.
Meanwhile, the news media dutifully played up the Clinton server story, which never involved any evidence of wrongdoing, but merged in the public mind into the perception of a vast “email” scandal when there was nothing there.
And then there was the Comey letter. The F.B.I. literally found nothing at all. But the letter dominated front pages and TV coverage, and that coverage — by news organizations that surely knew that they were being used as political weapons — was almost certainly decisive on Election Day.
So as I said, there were a lot of useful idiots this year, and they made the election hack a success.
Now what? If we’re going to have any hope of redemption, people will have to stop letting themselves be used the way they were in 2016. And the first step is to admit the awful reality of what just happened.
That means not trying to change the subject to campaign strategy, which is a legitimate topic but has no bearing on the question of electoral subversion. It means not making excuses for news coverage that empowered that subversion.
And it means not acting as if this was a normal election whose result gives the winner any kind of a mandate, or indeed any legitimacy beyond the bare legal requirements. It might be more comfortable to pretend that things are O.K., that American democracy isn’t on the edge. But that would be taking useful idiocy to the next level.December 16th, 2016
The Life and Work of Mabel McKay
The Autry’s first-ever solo show dedicated to a Native American woman’s life and work. Mabel McKay (1907–1993), a Long Valley Cache Creek Pomo woman from Northern California, represents a fascinating modern figure who maintained traditional ways. McKay is celebrated not only as a master basketweaver, but also for her many roles as traditional healer, advocate for her community and the environment, and teacher who shared her knowledge of Pomo traditions worldwide.
Widely considered to be one of the greatest California basketweavers of all time, McKay’s masterworks are highlights of the exhibition. A homey tableau reproduces McKay’s work environment, and other personal items in the exhibition include her deerskin dress, doctoring suitcase, and the lunch box she carried to her job at a cannery. The exhibition also reveals the “Life of a Basket,” introducing the many stages of cultivation, harvesting, and processing necessary to prepare materials, as well as a variety of weaving techniques used in Pomo basketry. Punctuating this section is a dramatic wall of over 50 Pomo baskets, including examples incorporating feathers, shells, and beads. Across from the wall, a selection of some of the world’s tiniest baskets—several the size of a kernel of corn—are displayed and reproduced on a video screen for up-close observation.
As explored through more than 200 cultural materials and original multimedia storytelling, McKay credited her weaving talent to her relationship with the Spirit, and she shared her healing practice with both Native and non-Native patients. She also lectured widely on Pomo traditions, and the exhibition features examples of Pomo material culture, as well artworks from fellow California Indian artists Harry Fonseca, Frank LaPena, and Dugan Aguilar. The exhibition marks McKay’s political activism with installations on the American Indian Movement occupation of Alcatraz and protests against the Warm Springs Dam on Lake Sonoma, which flooded grasslands used for basket-making.December 9th, 2016