Tuesday, November 15, 2016

This Is the New World

Fleeting House has been dormant since 2012 but seems to live well enough on its own in cyber space. In fact, it had a record month recently, a full 3 years after I last posted. I'm confident it has some lasting value as I steered clear of contemporary politics and screeds of the day to concentrate on the aesthetics of the city and the places I visited.
I am now focused intensely on my own artwork and the business of marketing it. Commissions considered.
All related inquiries should be directed to me: Dean Volker, 7thTree@gmail.com
I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fleeting House Status: On Hold

I am putting Fleeting House on a semi-permanent hiatus for a few reasons. Firstly, I feel like I've covered everything I set out to cover, occasionally twice. Secondly, I spend most of my maintenance time here clearing away spam, which is 99% of the response I receive on this site. Thirdly, I love a discreet set of things, a group of things with an end. Fourthly, see the post below that expresses a kind of weariness with the hyper-relentless documentation of every damn thing in sight. I'm taking time to put down the camera and not consider how every event I experience might be summarized in a blog post. The time for widespread blogging is likely over in any case. It's a soupy sea of vapidity out there, mostly just knee-jerk snapshots and milquetoast observations on the absolutely mundane. I certainly don't need to add to that. There's more than enough here over the past three years to chew over, to review, to clean up. It isn't that I'm not inspired, I'm just not inspired much lately by technology or the myths of communication that envelope it. I hope that doesn't sound too cynical. Spending as much time as I do online both day and night is leading to a pervasive feeling of cynicism for me, though, and so I'm stepping away from the keyboard on my off-time to better experience the tactile world, the one that's still right outside my door, the one that feels more impoverished -- culturally, physically, monetarily -- than ever and one I want to fully engage with as we pass tipping points and cross rubicons on the way to a more dangerously Anthropocene world of wild weather and sudden changes. There's too many books to read, artwork to draw, and conversations to be had to spend any more time in this digital bardo than need be. Those of you who know me know how to reach me. Let's step out for a walk, a chat, a beer, a moment together offline.
Thank you for your time.
Dean Volker in Chinatown.

Monday, September 24, 2012

On Not Taking a Picture

I have 11,269 images posted to flickr. Think about that for a moment. Do I really need to take another photograph? Of course events will occur that I think should be documented, but all around me everyone is doing the same thing, not participating but recording. It's a different eye and state of mind.
Yesterday, I went to The Folsom Street Fair without any electronics -- no phone and no camera, which is increasingly the same device -- on purpose. I know if I want Hits on my Blog or attract Attention on FB, the easiest thing to do is post an outrageous public act at a kink fest. But I make a choice in that moment to be outside the event looking in rather than of it and in it. I am disembodied by technology in the hopes that I'll remember it better later if I take a shot of it now. The opposing choice is to be in my body in the crowd with everyone looking out and around, participating in a primary act instead of a secondary one.
When I take time to make art en plein air, I look intensely and for a long period of time, sometimes over days, but certainly over hours. My bodily reaction to what happens and what I see is the art piece itself drawn by my hand through my mind's eye. It is a third act of creation -- not the thing itself and not a machine's record of it but my emotional response to a set of events occurring over time seen through my eye. It is manufactured with elemental but inert (that is, not electronic) tools held in my hand; a marriage of an idea transmitted nervously from my mind and the outlines, colors, mass, and fact of what is before me, what enactment occurs and what frame I impose on it. It is not 'true' in an exact, technological way but is nevertheless 'true to life' as i live it. No one else can create it, although anyone is capable of doing it, of making a picture rather than taking one, if that is what spurs a memory.
I fear increasingly losing other points of view and modes of enactment by choosing always to mediate the world through technology alone. I should take time to make time, to do something rather than relentlessly shooting at things and people at each turn. It's a better way to be in a place I wish to actually experience, be that Folsom Street Fair or a room in my home.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Room Refreshed

It's all about the homefront lately. I've spent serious time rethinking my place so that I might get another half a decade's living out of it. After four years I finally decided to tear this house down and rebuild it, so to speak, give it a kick in the ass.
In the front area, the Sun Room, I needed a bench but not really a full-on couch. It had to be economical in space, design, and budget. This is what I came upon, a Thesi Loveseat by Lime Studio out of Barcelona. The fabric is pool-blue wool and its spartan design is fetching, sturdy and grown up. Add Grandma's shawl, a few throw pillows and it's a centerpiece. The floor lamp is from World Market. It's quite a score at $70, I have to say.
Voila! A refreshed room and a new lease on Jackson Street.
et voila

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Home in the Gloaming

The eastern side of San Francisco has been blessed lately with warm, inspiring weather,; a wonderful Indian Summer. I'm tempted to go to beach, but instead I have home work. The good kind, but work nevertheless.
Gloaming Home by deanv41
Gloaming Home, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
I've had to tear my place apart to really get it together.
After four years in this apartment, good time's for a change. I don't always properly move in to a place, expecting I'll have to move soon. But now I'm staying well put, so the house needs to look & smell like it ~ lived in, happily.
Until then, everywhere I look there's a chore to do. Task: create refreshed space. Digging through my encampment layer by layer, I throw out more bulk & mass; old clothes, magazines & crap furniture.
Then to resettle the homestead after a deep scrub. New lighting matters. A kitchen hutch and a stylish pool-blue wool & ash wood loveseat are on the way. Time to clear the cobwebs, dust all corners, give blankets some air. Fresh cut flowers in the vase and I'm likely to get another half decade out of this place yet.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Me by Whiskey Thieves

Me & Whiskey Theives by deanv41
Me & Whiskey Theives, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
Truth be told, I haven't been in this bar. I usually would not post a shot of a place I haven't stepped foot into, but I'm making an exception here. It's me, I'm on Geary Street, I'm by the pub, though totally sober. I'll go soon, I swear I will. Truly. I love the name of this place. Why wouldn't I go soon?

Nob Hill Grille Scene

I'm trying to break up my old routines and spend time in fresh neighborhoods rather than sticking so close to home -- Chinatown & North Beach.  The other day, I hiked up Nob Hill to Hyde Street and spent most of the afternoon putzing around the area. Here's a slice of local life, a small crowd outside Nob Hill Grille at Hyde & Pine waiting for brunch. Nothing dramatic, just an easy-going neighborhood moment on a sunny weekend afternoon.
Nob Hill Grille Scene

A Great City is a Kind of Labyrinth...

"A great city is a kind of labyrinth within which at every moment of the day the most hidden wishes of every human being are performed by people who devote their existences to doing this and nothing else."
-- Stephen Spender, 1951.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Set for Demolition

Set for Demolition
This Mid-Century Modern supermarket on Nob Hill is set for demolition. The googie style of architecture isn't well-considered in Northern California. It's perceived as a Southern transplant. I don't necessarily adore it in the Victorian context of this part of town, but the mixed-use dreck that is sure to replace it will do the neighborhood no favors. I call it "Shed Nouveau," a kind of 'deconstructed' architecture where all the bolts show, the hidden things are exposed, and in a quarter century it's corrugated exterior will look as crapped out as anything in the tropics of East Asia. Everyone's a critic, right? Here's one last look at this shopping center at Hyde & California, soon gone.

Over Mercurial Seas

via uncertain links...
a mercurial sea, an uncertain link

Sunday, September 9, 2012

TL Call to Prayer

People often think of The Tenderloin as an ugly place. I want to say to them, "Look up! Look up!"
Tenderloin Call to Prayer

Friday, September 7, 2012

visible and invisible towers

visible and invisible towers by deanv41
visible and invisible towers, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.

How Soon is Now?

How Soon is Now? by deanv41
How Soon is Now?, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
I saw this in a doorway in Hayes Valley today just as I was thinking about the Presidency and upcoming elections. I love the reference to a favorite 80s song by The Smiths, an audacious number in its day, full of hope on a night out. The lyric makes another impression entirely in the cold light of day a quarter of century later, doesn't it?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Freakin' Rainbow

I am back after a brief Summer break.
Today, after work while visiting with folks from Philadelphia having a brew at Vesuvio, I noticed a rosy glow outside and crowds all pointing cameras skyward. When I went outside, I was greeted by this glorious site: a magnificent, full rainbow over San Francisco.
Rainbow Over Columbus Ave.

Friday, August 31, 2012

If You're Going...

"...to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair..."
Scott McKenzie, 1939 - 2012
Scott McKenzie: San Francisco I'm not a Baby Boomer. I was born in the Autumn of Love, October 1967. However, I've always loved this song and long before I lived in San Francisco (and well after its Hippie Heydays) it sounded like a beacon to me. It still does. Scott McKenzie died earlier this month. His song will always be a part of this city's dreaminess.
"Summertime will be a Love-in there..."

Monday, August 27, 2012

Inner Sunset Farmers Market

Sunset District Farmer's Market
Yesterday, I poked around a Farmers Market on 9th Avenue in the Inner Sunset District. The Afghan Bolani booth was a pleasant discovery, makers of a kind of pastry/quesadilla/stuffed bread-- pumpkin, lentil, spinach -- served with a mouth watering selection of dips and pepper jellies. As for the Market overall, I wouldn't say the prices were much of a bargain, but still I believe in Farmers Markets. Aesthetically, they enliven a cityscape with flowers, beautifully stacked produce, and handsome shoppers. More important, they are public sites that help tie a neighborhood's residents not only together with each other but with the region that surrounds the city. San Francisco's hinterlands are especially bounteous and for that we are blessed.

root vegetable
Rooting for Vegetables
Sunflower Power
Sunflower Power
the butter of the letttuce
The butter of the lettuce

Beers on Haight Street

After a lovely walk yesterday around the Botanical Garden and lunch with a friend of mine in The Sunset District I stopped by Trax on Haight Street for a beer. Here's the watercolor sketch I did to pass the time. From Trax on Haight Street

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Moon Set for Neil Armstrong

Moon Set by deanv41
Moon Set, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
Neil Armstrong, the first man on the Moon, died today. He was 82.
Apollo 11 landed on the Lunar surface the evening of July 20th, 1969. Armstrong famously took mankind's first step on the Moon in the early morning hours of July 21st, the apex of the Space Age. I was not yet two years old but I recall the thrill of NASA voyages and the limitless possibilities of Outer Space during my childhood.
We don't really go to the Moon anymore, although Mars is being robotically explored at the moment. We used to fly at supersonic speeds via the Concorde during the Space Age, but that too has ended. Maybe it's now the time to consider Inner Space, the depths of our Oceans, the health of this blue and watery planet Astronauts once gazed back upon in holy wonder.
The video above is crew footage set to Brian Eno's homage to the space mission called Apollo 11: Atmospheres & Soundtracks released near the end of the Space Age in 1983. The songs featured in this section are "Drift," "Silver Morning," and "Deep Blue Day." It captures that transcendent moment when mankind breached the bounds of Earth, opened a door, and with one man's giant step changed the way we looked at the Sky, the Moon, back at ourselves, and forward into the newly possible.
Neil Armstrong 1930 - 2012

Friday, August 24, 2012

Capo's: Coming Soon

There's yet another new restaurant incarnated in a spot on Vallejo Street in North Beach between Columbus and Stockton set to open very soon. It's called Capo's. I love the brick and wood Art Deco interior. It's in a difficult storefront space. I'd hate to call anything 'doomed.' Looking forward to trying the food. Here's wishing them the best.
Capo's in North Beach

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

i'm riding on an incline

i'm riding on an incline by deanv41
i'm riding on an incline, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
The vertiginous slopes of Russian Hill are lined with a mix of classic San Francisco Victorian mansions, expensive apartments, French Chateau piles, and Mid-Century Modern high rises. These views were snapped along a rampart at Taylor between Vallejo and Green Street. I'm standing on a stone outcrop in a favorite pocket park dedicated to Ina Coolbrith.
high above trees
The farthest residential high rise is a famous Eichler building with a few famous occupants. The whole neighborhood is fairly lux but is only six blocks or so from my place, a decidedly un-lux 'hood down the hill.

Monday, August 20, 2012


KRSNA gets around. Spotted this around Mid Market. I call it "Arc/Krsna/Weld".
Krsna Forge

Sunday, August 19, 2012

ACT UP! Queer Anarchy

ACT UP! Queer Anarchy by deanv41
ACT UP! Queer Anarchy, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
I remember living in Missoula, Montana, in the late 1980s when an old boyfriend of mine, Victor, came back from NYC -- 1987 or 1988 was it? -- talking about Queer Nation and AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power. At the time I was shocked and little offended. Today, I'm in awe of the power of ACT UP! and its affiliated wave of activist groups that shaped the current healthcare options for people with HIV/AIDS and saved so many lives. Here's to Queer Anarchy! 

A New Wave of AIDS Rage

Window Casting

Window Casting by deanv41
Window Casting, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
Overheard on the bus, a conversation between a French man and an American woman. The man was leaving her and going back to France.
Woman: [exasperated]
"Isn't there anything you LIKE about San Francisco?!"
Man: [thoughtful pause, thick accent]
"Mmm. Yes. The Light."

Give a Damn

I love a well-curated jukebox. It shows that the bar owner gives a damn. This excellent one rocks Last Call on 18th Street in The Castro.
Give a Damn

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Russian Hill with Love

I spent the afternoon on Russian Hill at Ina Coolbrith Park, a landscaped stairway rising up Vallejo Street. The view of the Bay from here is famously wonderful. This is an oil pastel on black paper I did to commemorate it.
From Russian Hill with Love

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Outside Lands 2012

Here's just a few highlights of a long, wonderful three day weekend spent in Golden Gate Park with some of the most talented artists and a crowd of bazillions.
Santigold felt the love on Sunday, playing a brilliant set with two dancers, inviting folks on stage to dance and seemingly stunned by the adoration of the enormous crowd there to see her. She reminds me of a re-incarnate Donna Summer singing beloved dance music.
Santigold plays Outside Lands

We LOVE Santigold

Caftan Chicks
Over the course of five years running and a full three days of weather to contend with, Outside Lands has developed its own subculture as any real Festival should. These caftan ladies were a wonderful fashion shock at the Amadou & Mariam show, which had everyone dancing their asses off.

A&M from Mali, West Africa, had a terrific blend of Ethiopiques 60s African garage grooves and a rolling contemporary mix. They happened to play the westernmost Twin Peaks stage in Hellman Hollow, that had brief moments of sun. Very brief. Such is San Francisco's multitude of micro-climates. Even a single day of a festival can have various simultaneous weather. Whatever the temperature, Amadou & Mariam were hot, hot, hot. Amadou & Miriam @ Outside Lands
As I left that show, I was drawn uncontrollably to the dance rap of the Colombian firecracker, Bomba Estereo. Not only was the singer infectious, but her band, especially the guitarist & keyboard guy (the one in the red shirt below) who rocked the keys like a South American Ira Kaplan, kept everyone delighted and dancing.
Bomba Estereo @ Outside Lands
The non-stop music was leavened by relaxed moments for wine, beer, and a great array of food. Here's the Wineland tent representing a wealth of regional plonk.

A favorite local eatery called 4505 Meats was there, so I got not only my fill of their Best Burgers Ever but a really good fried chicken sandwich. They make everything from scratch, including the buns. If you see their both or truck out there, get in line people!

Fried Chicken Sandwich & a Beer @ OLF

The theme for me this year was less classic rock and indie than dance and rave. On Friday, I was thrilled to see the South African group Die Antwoord put on a wildly fun show that not only engaged the mind, but also the funny bone, the crotch, and the ass. One of the top three shows for me at this year's Festival.

Die Antwoord!
I skipped most of Stevie Wonder, who seemed preachy and working out his recent divorce & legal dramas as much as entertaining the crowd, for Skrillex. I was skeptical, and musically still am, but his 15-year old boy's wet dream of a light & laser show via Star Wars and clubland could not have been more dazzling.
Enter Skrillex
Apologies from Skrillex, I'm sure, to the epileptics in the audience.
Skrillex Lasers
For my money (and ears) though, Sigur Ros owned the sonic night with their Saurday fog-draped show; all-encompassing Earth-sized chords, angelic vocal impressions, and cool Icelandic style. They competed on that evening with Metallica whose fireworks to our west seemed man-made and trying-too-hard when up against the supernatural, brilliant, glowing permafrost of Sigur Ros. I adore this band.
Sigur Ros @ Outside Lands
I could go on and on, and will post other memories of Outside Lands as they bubble up over the next weeks, but I'll leave you with this mural by Nate Van Dyke created during the Festival that encapsulates perfectly how I feel about this energizing musical event in Golden Gate Park. Outside Lands has had a beautiful evolution over these past five years. I'll be there next year with ears wide open.

Beautiful Evolution

Sunday, August 12, 2012

a few folks in the park

Outside Lands
 I'm just set to head out for the third and final day of Outside Lands Festival in Golden Gate Park. I'll post highlights after it wraps. Suffice to say, it's an overwhelming event attended by upwards of 65,000 people each day over the course of the 3-day weekend. It sold out entirely this year on the back of a stellar line-up ranging from classic rock to techno. Eclecticism is a defining feature of the five year old fest. Over the long weekend it develops its own culture of fans, food, costume, art, comedy, and of course music. Despite the serious numbers, I've been able to get right up to see most bands I've wanted to catch close-up. The sound systems do a great job of projecting enough that a person can hang back and still hear really well, even in this breezy, foggy environment.
a few folks in the park
Some hotly-tipped bands can be a challenge to see as with any festival of this scale. The scene above of the throngs of the curious to see Alabama Shakes in Lindley Meadow at the Sutro Stage proved too much for me. Luckily, there's always plenty of overlapping alternatives.
The Michael Kiwanuka Band
Instead, I enjoyed an intimate show with the wonderful Soul Man from England, Michael Kiwanuka, who was very warmly welcomed on the Panhandle Stage.
So, with a belly full of coffee and slightly-spent anticipation, I'm heading West to Outside Lands once again. I'm looking forward to Regina Spektor and Santigold, but especially tonight's headliner, Mr. Stevie Wonder. Yes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Our Town

Our Town by deanv41
Our Town, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
Every once in a while I like to sneak up to roof and have a long look around.
This is the view northeastward past Chinatown and the North Beach parish of Saint Francis of Assisi -- San Francisco's oldest -- up Telegraph Hill to its pinnacle, Coit Tower. This single perspective shows both the coziness and grandeur of our town.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Wild Boy, 1932

Wild Boy 1932 by deanv41
Wild Boy 1932, a photo by deanv41 on Flickr.
I'm reading Voluptuous Panic: The Erotic World of Weimar Berlin, a book first published in 2000 that I've wanted to buy ever since. The new edition is updated since 2006. It's a huge treasure-trove of lost history, illuminating the Berlin of Cabaret in a very vivid and graphic way.
The author, Mel Gordon, began his research when he was working with Nina Hagen on her Weimar Cabaret review in 1994. Surprised by the dearth of visual imagery of such a fabled time, Gordon ended up amassing so much pornographic ephemera that he decided to publish a definitive book on the subject. It thoroughly destroys the arguement that the sexual revolution for Gays & Lesbians began with Stonewall, pointing to Berlin and Paris as the true birth places of the movement for sexual liberation. Berliners shocked even their French counterparts with ever-more ribald performances and outrageous social and sexual transgressions.
Here's a photograph of one of the Wild Boys, a group of polymorphously perverse queens that defied all social convention. Weimar Berlin evolved in a dismal economic period after the moral collapse of WWI, existing in the tenuous interlude between that calamity and the next one that rose with the Third Reich. Gordon's wonderful book helps put Berlin back at the very center of Gay history, political resistance, and avant-garde development.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Night Hospital

The Old wing of the Chinese Hospital across the street from my place is getting prepped for demolition. My view, and the neighborhood, will be diminished by the loss. It will be replaced by a larger facility, one that is up to code, but I'll miss the kitsch Chinoise and its solid presence.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New York Changes

I enjoy applying google maps & street views to vintage scenes to see what has changed.
Here's an example taken from Flickr, a scan of a 1978 photograph of 11th Street at The West Side Highway (West Street) in the West Village by M. Joedicke.
In 1978, New York City was at an economic nadir, but a cultural apex. The City was broke, dangerous, unappealing, and cheap. At the same time, dozens of cultural strands bubbled up, over, and onto each other: Punk on The Bowery, Disco Midtown, Latin Rock & Salsa in Spanish Harlem, Hip-Hop being born in The Bronx. The mix was more intense than it ever was and ever would be again.
11th Street & The West Side Hwy NYC 1978

Below is the same intersection lifted from google street view in 2012.
This corner of the West Village has gentrified completely in the three decades since the shot above. The gaudily-colored building set with porticos is Julian Schnabel's fantasia, Palazzo Chupi -- part Venice, part Gotham. All out of reach, if you must ask. The empty lot is long gone, replaced by an anonymous residential tower occupied by the well-to-do, celebrities, and select Made-It artists like Schnabel.
11th Street & The West Side Hwy NYC 2012
Manhattan real estate is now the most sought-after square footage in America. The rise from the bottom in the late 70s and early 80s was well underway by the time of the terrorist attacks in 2001. Since then the economic dynamo has barely stopped working overtime, generating an astounding wealth for New York's financial elite. For all such Booms there must come a Shock. The sound of money is quite different than the sound of music. Money will always make the World go 'round, but that hard beat creates unstoppable waves, waves in which we all sink or swim.
Bricks remain, another delivery truck arrives, a lot gets filled. New York changes. That much is the same.