Monday, December 12, 2011

Clever Clogs


In case you were wondering, I am working on an introduction for a project I began working on in 2008. The project has a publisher, but it won't be coming out until 2013. Would that this were some kind of unbelievably long delay for an academic project. Alas, it is not.

Well, as a key term from this priceless dialogue figures prominently in my thoughts for—and, it has to be said, about—this project, I thought I would share it with you, dear Blog. Now, back to it!


Sanford Sanchez

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A love-letter to Blogging

Dear Blogging:

Where have you been all my life? I am afraid that I have neglected you. Well, what with Facespace and other forms of communication ... it seems like the days when I would sit down to write a good long blog that really expressed all of my important feelings are just a little old fashioned.

Well, Blogging, you can call me an old fogey if you want, but I'm going to be going through some difficult challenges in the next couple weeks. And, I just wanted to know that I may indeed be calling upon you for some moral support.

First of all, I am pleased to let you know that I have finally completed the forth and final component of the "group portrait" series. Hopefully, I will get Penelope in the mail tomorrow. I know her recipient will be surprised. Just in time for the holidays!

But, who is that lurking over in the corner? I don't know him! Yea, it is true. He may be a friend of a new kind, I am afraid. Meet Mr. Winter Jacket. Let's hope he is not a Hic Jacet, if you catch me drift.

Love -

Sanford Sanchez

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Story from the Archives

Back when my friend Old Ken Digby was writing his blog, he had an occasional feature. There, he would tell stories based on his findings in archives. Funny places, archives. Filled with strange people and stranger objects from the past. Well, here's a tale that may interest you along those lines and it's one that comes from the National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh.

In the third week of June 1926, a furor broke in London as the third Aga Khan offered Sir John Rutherford £100,000 for a racehorse named Solario. Sir John's answer? No dice! Meanwhile, in the fashionable West End auction house of Agnew and Sons, a picture by Joshua Reynolds of Lady Frances Scott was turning heads. After catching a glimpse of Lady Frances, so one breathy review put it, “I had eyes for little else.” This reviewer simply could not contain himself, likening the sitter to another of Reynolds's smoldering subjects, Kitty Fisher. “She herself," so we learn, "was not completely without venality, since she acquired and spent 12,000 pounds in one particular year. She was said by a contemporary writer to have died ‘a victim of cosmetic.’” How, how!

Now, as hot air rises, all of this frantic excitement was making waves up in Scotland. In fact, James L. Caw of the National Gallery of Scotland was very interested in snatching this much-ballyhooed picture from the London touts and installing it in his museum's collection. But, naturally, he wanted to know more about it. Who could he trust in the cut-throat art market where duplicitous double dealing was the name of the game? Apparently with the picture on loan from Agnew and Sons, Caw penned a letter to his pal James Milner, Director of the National Portrait Gallery in London. Then, he received the following letter, dated June 22nd, 1926:

Dear Mr. Caw:

I enclose a copy of all the entries in Graves & Cronin [that is, A History of the Works of Sir Joshua Reynolds, P.R.A., ed. A. Graves and W.V. Cronin (London, 1899)] concerning Lady Frances Scott.

 Mr. Milner is laid up in bed. He had been sitting up until the early hours of the morning over his work, and travelling a good deal, and he broke down a week ago on his return from a busy tour. His doctor will not allow him to leave his house for another week.

When I saw him last night I told him of your letter and he suggested that, if it is necessary to get other opinions, you might send a photograph of the painting to any one or all of the following (1) the Director of the National Gallery (2) the Editor of the Burlington Magazine (3) himself. He does not know of any better authorities on Reynolds. If the heavy cost of a personal inspection by an ‘expert’ is to be borne, he believes No. 2 would undertake it. He presumes the picture is in Edinburgh.

We have a photograph of the group at Blair Drummond. I enclose a slight and harried tracing to indicate the position of Lady Frances.

Yours sincerely,

C. Kingsley Adams


As you will have guessed by now, the picture posted above is a photograph (made in Scotland) of that tracing (made in London), itself made from a photograph (probably made in Scotland) of a painting then in Scotland, but originally made in London. What was the point of sending this "slight and harried" tracing from London back to Scotland at the behest of the bed-ridden gallery director and self-proclaimed Reynolds expert? Was it supposed to assist in identifying the sitter? Legitimating the provenance of the picture? Simply adding luster of association to a potential purchase? Whatever is the reason, I thought you'd enjoy this story.


Sanford Sanchez

Friday, October 7, 2011

The King's Revenge

Dateline: Cambridge, October 7, 2011. Two police officers walk into a room.

"Ah, the 'dreaming spires.' Not for this poor sod, eh Nigel?"

"That was Oxford, Steve. This is Trinity College, Cambridge. You know, Newton? Francis Bacon? The Wren Library?"

"Right, sorry Nige. So, what we lookin' at 'ere?"

"Well, the best way I can reckon it is this: the bloke is sleeping in his bed and someone comes in and does his head in. And that's how we find him, lying there on the floor. But what I can't figure out is why there's that strange gap on the wall?"

"You're right, Nigel. There certainly is a hook there. It's almost like a picture had been hanging over the bed."

"What's that over there in the corner, Steve? Can you make that out from where you are sitting? Here, move that rubbish out of the way."

"Yeah, that's better. Oh good Lord. It's Henry VIII whose done him in."

"Are you trying to tell me, Nigel, that a Tudor monarch dead for over 450 years, has come back and murdered this poor jackarse -- what's his name? Wasn't something Spanish? Sanchez or something?"

"Steve, I don't know what else to tell you. He seems to have done this Sanchez like he done old Anne Boleyn: decapitation."

"Talk about a black legend!"

"Good one, Nigel!"

[Roll credits]

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Horrible Storms!

Have you been paying attention to the news of late? Well, let me tell you about something that might be of interest to you. Summer storms! That's right; Vermont, of all places, was struck this summer by Hurricane Irene. (Okay, okay, since you insist on getting technical about it, I grant you that that the system did in fact get downgraded to a "tropical storm").

The key point, though, was that the tides were high, roads were washed out, crops were flooded, and businesses were ruined.

Now, yours truly was out of the country at the time ... let's say "on holiday" (and no, I don't mean jail, if that's what you were thinking). But, when we got home, it was a little disturbing to see that some of the evidence of this storm had made it all the way out to Los Angeles.

Screens ripped off windows!

Mops strewn about willy-nilly as if they were mere match sticks!
So powerful were the gusts of the hurricane-force winds that patio umbrellas were completely uprooted—cast over fences and thrown down on manicured lawns with no more thought than china patterns would receive among carneys at a cock fight.
Old, busted, derelict benches deposited completely randomly in the middle of front yards! Tables completely engorged in ratty, filthy cloths more fetid with mildew than the gnarly hull of the Pequod was coated in barnacles! What a terrible storm!

Strangest of all, though, was the collection of weirdos harvested from the farthest shores of Denmark and dropped here in Echo Parque. Faced with a storm of this magnitude, it seems as though all one can do is take a moment to make a tribute to Mother Nature.

And, so without any further ado ...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Is it me? Is it you?

Since everyone is taking the occasion today to reminisce about things that happened a decade or so ago, why don't you let me lead you down memory lane, Sanchez-style?

Picture it: yours truly is an impoverished graduate student in the early "noughties" who has to travel home to the east coast for a wedding. I can't remember how exactly I got to that wedding, which (in case you are interested) was held at Plimoth Plantation where we were promised a celebratory blunderbuss salute that never materialized, perhaps due to the horizontal bucketing of rain. Crucial, though, to my story is the means of transport I used to return home to a certain midwestern research university. As you can see from the photograph above, I took the train.

Now, let me establish a bit of context here, as an emerging sidebar will soon send my narrative flying. You probably won't remember this, but writers of titles for mindless films and TV shows of the late 1990s (and here we might use the oeuvre of the great Freddie Prinze Jr. as guidance) had been devouring colloquialisms in a kind of death-race to the bottom. Indeed, a frighteningly inevitable degree zero had become perceptible—perceptible, that is, to jackass grad students ever looking for topics with which to divert conversation away from matters like developing, funding or completing dissertations. So, a favorite party game of Señor Sanchez's had become inviting speculations centered around the movie or TV show title I anticipated at any moment: "Sucks to be You!" How long, I would ask, will it take before we have this show? What will be the plot framework of "Sucks to be You!"? Who will be the lead actors? Etc, etc.

Let us now cut back to Herr Sanchez leaving Plimoth Plantation sans blunderbuss and preparing for an overnight train ride back to the midwest. I ask you to imagine the crespuscular light of day breaking over the flat, Indiana plains and that this said, sad Sanchez turns the AM dial of his staticky walkman to hear a song whose chorus he subsequently remembers as "Is it me? / Is it you? / Get a clue!" In an obviously deranged state, our dear Sanchez hears find himself thinking: isn't this cool? I have happened across some kind of underground punk station here in rural Indiana?

This Pump up the Volume-fueled delusion is, however, quickly exploded when the song ends and the DJ welcomes the listener back ... to Radio Disney! There, in a dreadful flash, the plot, lead actor and indeed theme song for "Sucks to be You!" had been disclosed all too clearly to our discomited, deluded Sanchez. Sweet, sweet memories.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

... in which we remember why Sanford Sanchez is not an artist

Many moons ago, yours truly -- Sanford Sanchez -- was an aspiring artist. Art school, beret, black clothing: the whole deal. Without exaggerating the merits of my art, making the work was extremely satisfying. But, how to make a living doing it? This was a bit tricksy. As you know, I moved to New York right after finishing undergrad where I had that ridiculously low-paid internship. Many of my art-school friends were there, but what they were doing as "art" was not exactly up my street. So, although I found myself at a bit of an impasse then and took a different route, I've often tried to find ways to keep on making things if only for my personal amusement.

Now, one such project along these lines is called "Flatpack Friends" in which I make friends, literally, out of cardboard and mail them off to humanoid friends, often at some lonely outpost in the back of beyond. So, driving home the other day, I happened to see a stack of these cardboard boxes. What to do with them, though?
One of my more humble creations of late has been this "scare owl," which would theoretically keep the raccoons and squirrels out of the vegetable patch. Totally ineffective, and also increasingly sad is this owl now that he has been repeatedly "softened" by the sprinkler system. Anyway, seeing the boxes and looking at the owl made me think about feathers. It would be cool, I thought, to make something vaguely to do with feathers.

So, while I had started to fumble around with ink drawings of bird wings—the pictorial model I had in mind being the wings of Caravaggio's Amor Victorious—I quickly reconsidered. I wasn't aiming to produce a beautiful drawing of feathers; what I wanted was a cool cardboard object. Within seconds, I had found an awesome image online of magnified feathers, which I then tweaked, flipped and combined in Photoshop.

Then, around 11 PM (Point #1 toward my title) I ran over to campus where I taped the cardboard box to the wall, hooked the computer to the beamer and traced the design onto the box with a marker. That took about two hours last night. Good fun!
I had a hard time sleeping last night, in part because I was so eager to keep working on this project. (Point #2 toward my title). So, first thing this morning, I took the delineated box out back and started painting in the background in black. All of that looked pretty cool. The palette of black on tan, however, was a little too close to "the day job." And I had been planning to use three colors anyway—well, two colors of pigment plus the tone of the untouched cardboard.
However, once I had watered down this acrylic burnt sienna to the liquidy texture I was looking for, it became this insanely orange hue. Hmm. That was not exactly the palette I had had in mind. And the more I painted in the mid-range, veinous patterning of magnified feather-fibers, the more I had associations with tiger-stripes, psychedelia, etc. Blech.

The only way I could think to save this—note the missionary fervor (Point #3 toward title!)—was by complicating the excessively simplified figure/ground relationship operative to that point. It just wasn't interesting visually to have these thick, uninterrupted cordons of bare cardboard with black and burnt sienna demurely cowering in their circumscribed quarters.

So, this meant inventing some centralizing light source that would bind the image as a whole (even though composed of the same image mirrored horizontally) and then using the orange as a fictive "shadow" on the underside of these feather fronds. (Curiously enough, this also reminded me of a strange painting I had done back in the day). Because I was spinning the box around on the table on our back porch, it created all kinds of cool drips and so on. But, I was also getting low on paint, the flies were coming out and, back to the title of this post, I was becoming incredibly obsessed and massively frustrated that I just! couldn't! get! it! right! with this project. An admittedly frivolous project, mind you, on a worthless piece of cardboard box that I'll mail to a friend to use as his leaving trunk!

So, an episode like this may serve to remind us why Sanford Sanchez is not who he used to be. Not that there was anything wrong with that young artist at left. But, the lack of sleep; the obsessive, unrelenting fixation on very specific visual problems; the absolute commitment to those problems and the exclusion of most other things ... well, those may be good solutions for other people, but this Sanchez needs to live by a different code. I'll tell you what.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Jay Sanders @ MOCA

This afternoon, Sanchito's art class had a rip-roaring session at the Museum of Contemporary Art with curator Jay Sanders (who sits, appropriately, at the head of the table in the photograph above). What, we wanted to know, is the role of the curator in the contemporary art-world?

Few are presently better suited to answer that question than Jay Sanders. As he explained to the students, Jay came to curating by a slightly oblique path. After writing an undergraduate thesis on Pierre Bourdieu and sociological theories of art, he moved to New York where he worked in commercial galleries, acting as a curator, dealer, and critic. Then, in the fall of 2010, he got a call from Elizabeth Sussman at the Whitney Museum of American Art asking him to co-curate the 2012 Whitney Biennial with her. Since early 2011, Jay has thus been touring the country, visiting galleries and studios to choose from the roughly ten thousand viable artists currently at work in the U.S. (in his estimate) to the sixty or so who will be included in the prestigious Biennial.

How, one student asked, does an aspiring artist go about breaking into the artworld—to catching the attention of influential curators, critics or dealers? Unlike the music business which has changed so radically in recent years due to digital downloading, Jay noted that many of the traditional artworld channels and networks of established authority still remain in place. Prestigious art schools in New York, LA and other  major metropolitan centers continue to attract leading artists as instructors and ambitious students to work with them. Critics and dealers searching for emerging talent still pay keen attention to their degree shows.

Also slowing the torrential flood of change experienced elsewhere, Jay later noted, is the sheer heft of objects. Unlike a downloaded song, artworks still have to be shipped, insured, stored at great cost, and experienced in person. This slowness—this awkwardness and physical substantiality—of visual art in moments of purportedly accelerating time is not only an emerging theme of recent art-historical writing, but a veritable artworld talking point. In our class session at CalArts last week, for example, Norman Klein observed the curious and marked phenomenon of art students born in the digital age who are completely fascinated with outmoded, analogue technologies. Taking this as evidence for his theory that time runs backwards in Los Angeles, Klein claimed that what these student often attempt to do is reconstruct at great manual labor a visual or sonic effect that could be achieved nearly effortlessly with a few, digital keystrokes.

But, as Jay underscored this afternoon, the influx of money into contemporary art in recent decades and the increasing numbers of willing buyers means that traditional structures are becoming unmoored as the scene itself metastasizes. This offered an interesting point of engagement with Bourdieu, key figure in Jay's own earlier work. For, in the 2008 re-issue of Art Worlds, Howard Becker includes a fascinating interview in which he makes a strong distinction between his conception of the artworld as a "world" in contradistiction to Bourdieu's organizing notion of a "field"—as in "the field of cultural production." Field, Becker asserts, is not only a term freighted with associations with the physical sciences, but its zero-sum game is an artifact of France's rigid, highly-stratified, "closed-shop" academic system in which Bourdieu operated. World, by contrast, is a product of American sociology in the post-War boom years in which nebulous constellations of possibility were ever in ferment. With its global-capital flush and increasing blur between artist, curator, dealer, theorist, teacher and collector, contemporary art remains—despite the financial crisis of 2008—very much a world in that sense.

Such blurring of boundaries in ages of affluence was all very much to the point with the show that Jay then guided us through. If you haven't seen it, William Leavitt: Theater Objects is a real trip—a fascinating medition on narrative and its disruption, on props and prompters, on the place and no place that is Los Angeles. Leavitt is a stalwart of the contemporary LA art scene, an "artists' artist" whose work has rarely been shown on the scale of this retrospective. He constructs set-like tableau facades (or what appear to be studies for them), complete with piped in music, fragmentary scripts for scenarios, and lighting effects.

Returning to our over-arching theme here seemed irresistible. If the "artist/curator" phenomenon is now well known in the contemporary artworld, might Leavitt's art be fundamentally about curating in a deeper sense? As presented at MOCA at least, Leavitt undercuts the viewer's habitual impulse to respond to discrete works. What kind of response, after all, are we really supposed to have to a garage-sale-looking painting of a crouching jaguar? Instead, Leavitt asks us to assay relationships between objects, to think through the inferences we fashion from their tantalizingly oblique, frustratingly opaque or simply mundane sequences. One way to interpret all this, I suppose, would be to detect a positive embrace of that beholder characteristically required by "theatrical" art (in Michael Fried's pejorative sense)—and to observe its commensurate deferral of actual art-making in favor a curating of provocative situations in which art might happen. But, is this Leavitt's point? Or is it this instead an argument being run by the curators who have, after all, decided to call the show "William Leavitt: Theater Objects"? And, if artists are now effectively curators, curators effectively artists, how would we ever know? Unfortunately, Jay had to leave at that point!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Hanging out with David Wilson at the Museum of Jurassic Technology

As you'll recall, the venerable Johannes Braümeister and I, Sanschontz, are currently teaching a class together called Artworlds. What, we ask, is the art-world? How does it develop historically? Who or what are its principle players? By what means do they assign value, meaning or art-status to certain objects, spaces or behaviors?

Because questions like those could get out of hand pretty quickly, we approach the theoretical problem through the case at hand. That is, we use  modern and contemporary Los Angeles as our laboratory,  teaching nearly three quarters of our course sessions "in the field." The aim is to introduce the students to various LA art-world sites through theoretical/historical readings, on-site study and often, if we are lucky, meetings with key figures. This past Saturday, we had such a serendipitous meeting with none other than David Wilson, founder of the famous Museum of Jurassic Technology.

If you've managed to find your way to this humble blog, I should probably assume that you need an explanation of neither what the Museum with Jurassic Technology (MJT) is nor why it might be interesting to think about in relation to studying the artworld. But, just to be on the safe side ... the MJT looks like a banal storefront from the street. Inside, however, is a dark, strange mash-up of wunderkammer, house of horrors, and movie theater, offered as both ode to and satire of the history of museums.

After fumbling our way through the dark warren of display spaces, our group eventually gathered in the Russian tea room on the second floor where Wilson came to meet us. Asked by one of the students how the MJT began, Wilson went into story-telling mode and delivered a narrative which is admirably set out in Lawrence Weschler's charming book on the MJT, Mr. Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder. Here is the basic story as Weschler quotes it from Wilson:

"Well, the seed material ... came down to us through the collection of curiosities originally gathered by the Thums—that's Owen Thum and his son, Owen Thum the Younger, who were botanists, or I guess really just gardeners in southwestern Nebraska, in South Platte. ... [This was] in the first half of the century—say, the twenties for the father, and on into the fifties with Owen the Younger. But then a man named Gerard Bilius essentially stole the material. It's a complicated story, but Bilius was a man with money, also from Nebraska ... he saw some value in the collection and he befriended Owen the Younger—who, let's face it, was a kind of bumpkin, not very sophisticated—and he got Owen the Younger to write a deed of gift to him, Billius, into his will. Billius was a lawyer. As the years passed, Owen the Younger and his wife, Hester, began to sense Billius's true nature and they tried to retract the deed ... [but] it all ended with her drowned in the backyard pool under highly suspicious circumstances." (Weschler, 30-1)

I quote this story at some length as it true ... but in a strange way. I'm sure you've already picked up on it. That is, the events described—where a father and son who are gardeners (or green "Thums") and who share the same first name establish a collection of rarities only to be swindled by a lawyer, dragged into extensive litigation such that the younger gardener's wife named Hester ends up drowned in the backyard pool—all this happened not in the 1920s - '50s, but three hundred years earlier. The characters involved were famed gardeners John Tradescant, Elder and Younger, Hester Pookes Tradescant and the devious lawyer was none other than Elias Ashmole, founder of Oxford's Ashmolean Museum.

So, as Wilson is telling this story, I began to feel like I was getting some insight into the ways and workings of the MJT itself. What is being said or shown is "true" in a sense—it bears some kind of factual relationship to historical events, cultural beliefs and natural processes. But, the terms of that relation—the ways in which a given statement is true—are highly peculiar. They undermine or defamiliarize the conventions by which we expect to be able to rely upon institutions, authorities and our perceptions to know things such that we are thrown back into negotiation with doubt. Or, as Wilson put it, nominally speaking of the visible illumination of the display area itself but no doubt talking about other matters: "Things seen dimly are often best perceived." Maybe, to take something that has been on my mind of late, the Museum presents truths in the oblique, scrambled ways that dreams do. But, that's probably a topic for another time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Traffic School, the Sanchez Way

Say, do you have to go to traffic school?

Well, you're in luck! I'll let you use my notes. Here they are:

Chapter 1:

By law you must turn on your low beam headlights within 30 minutes after sunset.

If you are using your high beams, you must switch to low beams when an approaching vehicle is within 500 feet of your vehicle. When approaching a vehicle from behind, you must switch to low beams when you reach a distance of 300 feet to the rear of the other vehicle.

The same hours of operation apply to taillights as to headlights: they must be operating between dusk and dawn.

On most vehicles, when the emergency flasher system is turned on all four of the turn signals simultaneously flash on and off. A signal like this is to be used when a vehicle is disabled, when a vehicle is involved in a collision or when a vehicle is parked within 10 feet alongside a highway.

It is illegal to drive without properly functioning lights. If a law officer notices that your lights are not working correctly, you will likely be stopped and given a "fix-it" ticket. If you receive one of these tickets, you are usually given a period of time to repair the problem. If you do not fix the problem and you get stopped again for the same violation, you will be fined. To help stay safe and avoid being pulled over or fined, make sure your lights functioning properly by checking them at least once every 12,000 miles (about once a year for most drivers).

Your vehicle should be capable of stopping at a maximum stopping distance of 25 feet when traveling at a rate of 20 miles per hour .

You should have your brakes checked every 3,000 miles, or when you consistently need to push down harder on your brake pedal to get your vehicle to stop.

You are allowed to install "sunscreen" devices on the side windows as long as they meet California Vehicle Code requirements regarding reflectivity and transmission of light (CVC 26708.2). These devices must be readily removable.

If cracks appear on the windshield, you must repair them immediately. If you are driving with an obstructed or cracked windshield you may receive a citation. Law officers can either arrest you or give you a "fix-it" ticket, whereby you must have the windshield or rear window repaired or changed to meet regulations.

Unnecessary horn uses include: Using your horn to hear the echo while driving through a tunnel; Using your horn to irritate another driver who has cut you off; Using your horn to say, "{explicative} you!"

The horn should be capable of being heard under normal conditions from 200 feet, but shouldn't be unreasonably loud.

You should test your horn every month to make sure that it is in working order when the driver needs to use it.

You should inspect your tires frequently. Look for blisters on the side-walls of the tread or any glass, nails or metal stuck in the tire. Since they are in different locations on your car, your tires wear down in different ways and at different rates. In order to balance the wear on your tires you should rotate them every 3,000 to 5,000 miles. You should also be aware of how deep the tread is on your tires. The minimum tread depth for most tires is 1/16 to 1/32 of an inch. Never neglect getting new tires when the tread is less than 1/32 of an inch. Penny trick: top of Lincoln's head

nearly two-thirds of the passenger vehicle occupants killed in traffic collisions in 2000 were unrestrained

By law, you must properly wear your seatbelt. You and your passengers must stay buckled up whenever the car is in motion. If you are not wearing your safety belt you will receive a traffic ticket. When you are the driver, it is legally your responsibility to make sure that everyone age 15 and younger is properly buckled up. If they aren't buckled up, you will be cited.

About one in three persons involved in a collision will be either injured or killed

A child passenger restraint system is required for any child who:

    * is under 6 years of age

    * weighs less than 60 pounds .

If your vehicle has an active passenger-side airbag, do not put your child in the front seat if they:

    * are under one year of age,
    * weigh less than 20 pounds, or
    * are secured in a rear-facing child passenger restraint system.

Chapter 2 Notes

If you are traveling under 45 miles per hour, you should signal at least 100 feet before reaching the intersection

As you approach such an intersection, slow down to 15 mph,

As you approach the signal light, choose a "point of no return". If you are traveling at 35 miles per hour, this point should be about 150 to 200 feet from the intersection.

Various calculations on how much stopping distance is needed. Basically, if you are going 20 MPH, you need 40 feet stopping distance; 30 requires about 2 times that (75 feet); 40 requires about 3 times the original number (120); 50 about 4 times original (so 175); etc.

In a survey of 837 drivers with cell phones, it was found that almost half swerved or drifted into another lane, 23% had tailgated, 21% cut someone off and 18% nearly hit another vehicle while using the phone while driving

If you are traveling at 60 miles per hour and you look down for just two seconds to adjust the climate controls, you'll have moved 176 feet blindly

Primary collision factors are the things that the driver was doing that resulted in the collision.

73% of fatal and injury collisions are the result of these five primary collision factors: unsafe speed, right-of-way errors, improper turning, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs and not obeying traffic signals and signs

Look down the road 10 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle. The distance that 10 to 15 seconds represents is relative to how fast you are traveling. If you are driving in a city, 10 to 15 seconds is about a block ahead. If you are on a highway, 10 to 15 seconds is about a quarter of a mile.

If you are approaching a blind intersection, you should slow down to at least 15 miles per hour. Always make sure you have an unobstructed view for at least 100 feet down all intersecting roadways.

The four-second rule is a great way to measure your frontal space cushion. However, increase following distance to 5 or more seconds when you are being tailgated, when your vision is blocked or visibility is poor, when you are driving at high speeds and when adverse roadway or weather conditions exist.

If you know you are going to be hit from the rear and you cannot maneuver to avoid it, you should prepare for impact by releasing your brake and pressing your head and body firmly against the seat and headrest so that they will be fully supported. Upon impact, re-apply the brake fully.

Chapter 3 notes

Always keep your speed below 25 mph in school zones

At blind intersections (intersections where you cannot see for 100 feet in either direction), you must by law drive slower than 15 mph. At uncontrolled intersections, make sure you slow to 15 mph prior to the intersection and proceed only when it is clear.

When you approach within 100 feet of uncontrolled railroad tracks, if you do not have a clear view down the tracks for a distance of 400 feet in each direction, the prima facie speed limit is 15 mph.

the prima facie speed limit in business or residential areas is 25 mph.

speed limit on freeways is 55 mph for: school buses, vehicles pulling anything, vehicles transporting explosives

if you have a line of 5 or more vehicles following you, look for a turnout where you can safely pull over and allow those vehicles to pass. A very slow-moving vehicle may use the shoulder temporarily to let vehicles pass, but no vehicle should ever drive on the shoulder for an extended period of time.

When entering traffic, look for a gap in traffic that will offer at least 8-12 seconds for you to merge and get up to speed.

When executing a right turn, first make sure that your turn area is safe and clear. Then, 200 feet before your turn, begin slowing to 15 mph.

You are permitted to enter the bike lane only if you are going to make a right turn. Entering the bike lane before your turn improves your safety by helping avoid rear-end collisions and encouraging smoother traffic flow. Only enter the bike lane within 200 hundred feet of the intersection.

Before attempting a U-turn, you will need a clearing of at least 200 feet in each direction, and it is always safer to give yourself more room. Check for signs that indicate whether a U-turn is prohibited. If you don't see a "No U Turn" sign, it's usually OK to perform the maneuver. If you see a "No Left Turn" sign, you should assume that U-turn is also illegal.

U-turns are legal across double yellow lines; in a residential district, if no vehicle approaching you is within 200 feet; at an intersection at green light or green arrow; on a divided highway, so long as you don't cross curbs, double lines, media strip, etc.

U-turns illegal in front of a fire station.

"Covering the brake" involves taking your foot off of the accelerator and positioning it over the brake pedal without pressing the pedal.

You can be ticketed for not using signals. Use your signal when you are within 100 feet  of your intended turn or lane change.

Chapter 4:

At highway speeds, vehicles travel approximately 80 feet in 1 second. If you and an oncoming vehicle are traveling toward each other at this speed, then every single second you will be 160 feet closer to colliding.

You can pass on the right only when:
# you are on an open highway with two or more clearly marked lanes of vehicles moving in your direction, or
# if the driver ahead of you is making a left turn.

Do not pass when you are within 100 feet of an intersection or railroad crossing.

The only time you can pass a school bus with red warning lights flashing is if the bus is on the opposite side of a divided highway.

You must be able to see a sufficient distance ahead in order to pass safely and properly. At highway speeds you will need approximately 1600 feet, or roughly 1/3 of a mile, to safely complete a pass. To complete your pass within a reasonable amount of time, before making your move you should be traveling about 10 miles per hour faster than the vehicle you intend to pass.

Remember, the speed limit in most business districts is 25 miles per hour. Go with the flow of traffic, but, of course, do not exceed the speed limit.  If you are traveling on a one-way alley the speed limit is usually 15 mph.

Looking at least one city block or 10-15 seconds ahead will give you time to see or anticipate lane blockages, identify your detour, and safely complete your detour around the blockage.

Do not enter the center lane any earlier than 200 feet before your turn.

chapter 5

You must use your signal while you are traveling the last 100 feet of the onramp.

The following vehicles can use the diamond lanes at any time:

    * Vehicles carrying a minimum of 2 or 3 people, including the driver.
    * Low-emission vehicles that display a special decal issued by the DMV (the passenger restriction does not apply).
    * Motorcyclists.

Once you enter the deceleration lane, look for posted exit speeds. You must stay within this speed limit while on the exit ramp.

Remember, even if you are traveling below the posted speed limit, you can be ticketed for speeding when your speeds are unsafe for the current conditions.

Never sweep across multiple lanes at once. A maneuver like this is dangerous and illegal. Instead, change one lane, then check to make sure the next lane is clear, change lanes again, and so on.

If you are looking down the freeway about 5 to 10 seconds, you may see some trouble ahead.

Only use the shoulder if you are in an emergency situation. Once you are on the shoulder, illuminate your hazards to warn other drivers that you are there.

If you have flares or other warning devices , use these as well by placing them on the shoulder at a distance of 300 feet behind your vehicle.

When you have been driving at high speeds for a long time, you mentally adjust to these speeds and may start to feel like you are traveling rather slowly. This effect is called velocitation, and it can cause you to drive too fast without realizing your excessive speed. There are two simple things you can do to prevent velocitation.

   1. Check Your Speedometer — Make it a habit, especially after you exit the freeway. One trick is to check your speedometer every time you see a speed limit sign.
   2. Allow Time to Readjust to Slower Speeds — When you exit the freeway you will probably enter a roadway with a lower speed limit. If you feel like you are dragging along, remind yourself that you are experiencing velocitation. Stay within the posted speed limit and have patience while your body adjusts.

chapter 6

If you do encounter livestock on the highway, you must stop and wait until the animals move out of the way or until it is safe to go around.

If an animal is in the road, safely stop and wait until it moves to safety before you continue. Only pass  the animal after it is out of the way. Drive slowly around it and make sure that it does not move into your path as you are passing.

Yes, it is legal to tap your horn or flash your lights at an animal to urge it to move out of harm's way.

If your brakes have failed while you are going down a hill, immediately shift to a lower gear to lower your speed. Pump the brake pedal fast and hard to build up brake fluid. If this doesn't work, start applying the parking brake, but be prepared to release it if the car begins to skid. Sound your horn and flash your lights to warn other drivers. slow your vehicle as much as possible and then steer into bushes or something soft alongside the road. When you no longer need to change direction, turn off the engine.

Always make sure your vehicle's air conditioner is turned off before starting up large hills. Running your air conditioning system increases your engine's operating temperature and can lead to overheating.

If the temperature remains high, pull over into the emergency lane, safely stop and turn off your engine, and then wait for your vehicle's temperature to reduce before continuing on.

A vapor lock is an obstruction to the flow of fuel to a gasoline engine, caused by the formation of bubbles in the gasoline as a result of overheating. Vapor lock can cause your engine to shut down or not be able to start. In this situation, you should simply let the engine cool so the vapors can return to their liquid state, thus allowing your engine to once again operate correctly.

Switch from high beams to low beams when:

    * you approach within 500 feet of an oncoming vehicle, and
    * you approach within 300 feet behind another vehicle

Use your low-beam lights in fog. Never use your high-beam lights because they will reflect off the fog, blinding you and other drivers.

No vehicle can have more than two fog lamps and they cannot be substituted for headlights. If you install fog lamps on your vehicle, they must be mounted on the front of your vehicle, between 12 and 30 inches off the ground, and should be aimed so that they illuminate the ground up to 25 feet ahead of your vehicle.

If you think a driver approaching from the rear cannot see you, tap your brake pedal to warn them that you are there. If you have found a vehicle ahead of you, try to pace them, but remain a safe distance behind.

After you stall, the first thing you want to try and do is get off the roadway. Move to the shoulder so that you are out of the way of vehicles approaching from the rear. Use your hazard lights so that other drivers will know you are experiencing difficulties. If your vehicle comes to a complete stop before you reach the shoulder, there is a chance that another vehicle will hit you. When stuck stalled in the roadway, stay in your vehicle, illuminate your lights, make sure your seat belt and shoulder harness are secure and prepare for a possible collision from the rear.

California 's Central Valley is frequently host to very thick fog, commonly known as "Tule Fog" because of its prevalence in marshy areas populated by tule reeds or cattails.

If you are driving through deep water, reduce your speed and shift to a lower gear.

Hydroplaning: The condition where a vehicle's tires are riding on a thin layer of water and have lost contact with the road, resulting in loss of control.

If you do hydroplane, you must remember these two things:

    * take your foot off the gas! This will reduce your speed and allow you to regain control
    * do not use your brakes! When hydroplaning, your brakes will send your vehicle skidding out of control. Allow your vehicle to slow gradually.

When you feel the rear of your vehicle sliding to the right, steer to the right (turn the steering wheel clockwise). When you feel the rear of your vehicle sliding to the left, steer to the left (turn the steering wheel counterclockwise).

If you find that your accelerator is stuck, you should use your hand or foot to pull up on the accelerator. When you do this, however, do not take your eyes off the road. If this doesn't fix the problem, then put the vehicle into the neutral position. This will keep the engine running but will prevent further acceleration.

If your tire blows out while you are driving, grip your steering wheel firmly. The car will pull toward the blown tire. Remain calm and steer the other way to keep control.

Chapter 7

If you are 21 or older and have a BAC of 0.08% or more, you will be cited for driving under the influence. However, an officer can still arrest a person if that person's ability to drive has been impaired by alcohol making them a danger on the road, even if the person's BAC level is below the legal limit.

It is illegal to drive a commercial vehicle with a BAC of 0.04% or more.

Studies show that alcohol was involved in over 50% of fatal collisions. Of these, most of the drivers at fault had more than the legal limit of alcohol in their bloodstream.

An average of one person is injured every 2 minutes by drunk driving. When your BAC exceeds .04%, you are five times more likely to be involved in a collision. Over .08% makes you twenty five times more likely.

It is estimated that on a Friday night, after 11pm, one in four drivers on the road has been drinking or has used drugs.

By driving in California you consent to a field sobriety test.  That means that if a police officer suspects that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you will have to take a breath, blood or possibly a urine test. You do not have an option. If you refuse an officer's request to administer the tests, your privilege to drive will automatically be suspended or revoked for one year or more, depending on whether or not you have previously been convicted for driving under the influence.

If the officer suspects you have taken drugs, you are required to take the blood test or urine test. You do not have the right to have an attorney present before you state whether or not you will submit to a test or decide which tests you will take.

If you are 21 or older and are convicted of driving under the influence for the first time, the judge may sentence you to 48 hours to six months in jail. You will have to pay from $390 to $1,000 in fines for your first conviction. In addition, you will lose your license for six months or the DMV will restrict your driving privilege. You will be required to complete a licensed DUI program, file a certificate of insurance and pay restriction and reissue fees. If the vehicle you were driving when you received your DUI is registered in your name, the court may take your vehicle away for up to six months. You will have to pay all vehicle storage fees.

If you are convicted of a second DUI within seven years, the court must punish you with time in jail (up to one year), a fine up to $1,000, and will take your vehicle for up to twelve months. You will lose your license for two years. After completion of 12 months of the suspension period, you may obtain a restricted license if you enroll in a DUI program, have an ignition interlocked device (IID) installed on your vehicle, file a certificate of insurance with the DMV, and pay the restriction and reissue fees. The ignition interlocked device (IID) is a breath-analyzing device that is connected to your vehicle. You must pass a breath test every time to start your vehicle.

If you are convicted of a third DUI within seven years, you will lose your driver license for up to three years, pay a fine up to $1,000, have your vehicle impounded for up to twelve months, and spend from three months to one year in jail. After completion of 18 months of the revocation period, you may apply for a restricted driver license if you complete a DUI program, install an IID on your vehicle, file a certificate of insurance with the DMV, and pay the restriction and reissue fees.

Misdemeanor if driving under the influence without injury, felony if injury results.

ou as a driver should always yield to pedestrians, even if they are illegally crossing and you have the right-of-way. Also, do not block crosswalks.

Head injury is a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes, and an unhelmeted motorcyclist is 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury when involved in a crash

If you are a bicyclist, you have to stop at stop signs, all traffic control devices and obey all traffic regulations.

In California, all bicyclists under the age of 18 are required by law to wear a helmet while riding. People under 18 are also required to wear helmets while riding scooters, skateboards and in-line skates

It is against the law to block fire/ambulance vehicles or to follow any of these vehicles too closely while their lights are flashing.

If you are involved in a collision, the law requires you to stop immediately. If you do not stop, you can be charged with hit and run. Hit and run is a misdemeanor with a penalty of up to six months in jail and up to $1000 in fines. You must take the time to stop even if you think the collision is minor.

Never move an injured person unless there is a fire, extreme potential of a fire or if that person would die if not moved.

You are required to report a collision to the DMV within 10 days of collision if:

    * more than $750 in damage was done to anyone's property,
    * anyone was injured (no matter how slightly), or
    * anyone was killed.

The minimum amount your insurance must cover per collision is:

    * $15,000 for a single death or injury.
    * $30,000 for death or injury to more than one person.
    * $5,000 for property damage.

Chapter 8

Regulation signs are Red, Black, or Red on White.

Warning signs are Yellow.

Information signs are Blue or Brown.

Guidance signs are Green.

Road Construction or Maintenance signs are Orange .

If you proceed on a yellow light, you must be completely out of the intersection before the red light appears.

If you are in an intersection when your signal light turns red, you will slow all traffic, block other lanes from proceeding, put yourself in a dangerous situation, and even be eligible for a ticket.

You may cross double yellow lines only if:

    * You are turning left into or out of a private road or driveway.
    * The right half of the road is closed or blocked.
    * You are in the carpool lanes.

Curb markings:

White) You can only stop long enough to pick up or drop off passengers or mail. You might find white curbs at airports and schools.

Green) You can only park for a limited time in these zones. The amount of time you are allowed to park here will be posted on a sign next to the curb or painted on it.

Yellow) You can only stop at a yellow curb long enough to load or unload passengers or freight. Drivers of noncommercial vehicles are usually required to stay with their vehicle when parked in a yellow curb zone.

Red) You cannot stop, stand or park beside a red curb at any time. Buses may stop at red zones specifically marked for buses. Red zones are usually beside fire hydrants or lanes designated for emergency vehicles.

Blue) To park in a blue zone or at a blue curb, you must have a clearly displayed Disabled Person parking placard, window sign or license plate on your vehicle. Blue curbs usually mark parking spaces very close to building entrances or ramps. If you have limited mobility, talk with your doctor about getting authorized to use these areas.

Even if there appears to be no train in sight, drivers may not begin to cross the tracks until the red lights have stopped flashing. It is illegal to drive around (or through) a lowered crossing gate. You should always stop at least 15 feet from the tracks when the gates are down, the red warning lights are flashing, a flagman warns you a train is coming or you see or hear a train approaching.

One Point - You will get one point for most regular traffic convictions (speeding, incomplete stops, lane violations, etc...).

Two Points - Two-point violations are more serious and include reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, evading a police officer, driving with a suspended or revoked license, or driving on the wrong side of a divided highway.

A violation committed while operating a commercial vehicle will yield 1.5 times the normal point value.

California imposes serious legal consequences on drivers who commit acts of Road Rage. If you are convicted for assault on a highway, your license will be suspended for six months starting from the time you are convicted or get out of jail. You also will be ordered to take a court-approved anger management course and pay heavy fines. If you injure or kill anyone with your actions you can receive a prison sentence that spans the rest of your life. All in all, Road Rage just isn't worth it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Allen Ginsberg

So, Sanford Sanchez is not normally a big Allen Ginsberg fan, but this video of his "Father Death Blues" is pretty great. I love the way he turns the phrase "father death" around from a particular, biographical fact into a proper name, then spilling that title outward to a range of identities and conceptions of mortality. Okay! That's it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"La Familia!"

Do you have a family? Well, Sanford Sanchez does. Some of what they do is pretty cool (and more about that in a minute).

But, wait! What's that I see over there?

What is that pile of garbage under that old brown tarp? What could it be? Maybe some firewood? That would make sense, if you think about it. Firewood is something that you might want to keep dry. But, you'd also want to keep it outside. Things like mice and spiders might live in the firewood and so they wouldn't be so appropriate to have in the house.
Now that I am getting a little closer, though, I'm a little concerned. Say, is that a dead body buried under that ratty old brown tarp?
My heavens! I find some sort of office supply material here. Surely, that must just accidentally be placed outdoors temporarily on its way to the dump, right? But, why then would it be all wrapped up in plastic and covered with a tarp (even though it has been buried under several feet of snow all winter)? Why are there all these banking documents included in this mess? No. No! It can't be! And yet, yes, it is. It is the special, patented outdoor filing system.
Now, let me come at you from a different direction. Take a toilet paper roll and secure tin foil to one end with rubber bands. Poke a pinhole right in the center of the tin foil skin.

Then, attach wax paper at the other end ...
...find yourself a darkened room with a single, powerful light source.
And marvel as an inverted image of your light source is then projected optically in your home-made pinhole camera!
Below is the diagram made by my great aunt explaining this cool phenomenon. Family ...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Inaugural Post: Same as it ever was

Hello friend and welcome to my new blog! You may know me from an earlier effort called Nicebird when I was Old Ken. Now, I can finally come clean and introduce myself: I am Sanford Sanchez! Here are my stories!

My story for you today begins with this filthy jacket I bought (for five cents) at a thrift store in Claremont, NH. I'll be honest and tell you that my eagle eye was caught by the handsome white stitching—although I know enough about this world to look on jean shirts with some caution.

What really interested me, though, was the notarized document I found sticking out of the front right pocket. Can you read it? Probably not.
Subpoena to Mr. Grambling (verso)
Well, it's a subpoena to one Thomas Grambling to testify in court in Bangor, Maine. Mr. Grambling was to appear in court at 8:30 on the morning of January 24, 1980 in the Penobscot County courthouse, testifying in the case of the State of Maine v. John F. Howes.

In the left front pocket, I found the handwritten document below. It appears to be a combination of a baking list and a draft for a resume. A cursive hand writing in blue ink in the upper register exhorts the making of "fudge, baked goods."

Below, a different hand (note the idiosyncratic x-like rendering of the terminal letter s above, versus the much more conventional style at the base of the page) has jotted some dates of where and when he (presumably) worked: Fellows Gear Shaper in Springfield, Vermont from 1957-1977; Ingersoll Rand in the mid-50s after getting out of the Air Force. 

List/Resume verso
On the verso of this sheet is a list of (what might be) references. So, maybe it's the late 1970s, Thomas Grambling is (perhaps) in his mid-fifties. He's a working man—he's been employed as a draftsman, a carpenter and a radar operator. The long decline of the New England machine tool industry would have been nearing an apex at that moment, in the wake of the fuel crises of the 1970s. But, wouldn't his beginning and leaving dates of April 22, 1957 and April 22, 1977 indicate a departure by volition? And, what was Grambling's testimony in Bangor, Maine all about?

Well, let's leave all those mysteries to one side for a moment, as I have something I have been wanting to share with you for years now. It is this:

Beautiful, isn't it? I purchased this stunning mustard yellow leather jacket at a thrift store in Oakland, California in maybe about 2003. It is there that I first came to realize what amazing things could be found in the pockets of thrift store items. You think it can't top a subpoena? Well, check this out. 

In the inner left breast pocket, I found a packet of three documents. The first of these is a shopping list on monogrammed stationery, which reads as follows:

1 lb. Black eye Peas.
Corn Bread Mix
egg with coupons

So far as I can tell, the final items are: "authorizer
super salaphine." 

I would be delighted if someone could correct me on that.

Here, the number twenty becomes important. For, at 9:11 in the morning on January 24, 2000—so, exactly twenty years after Mr. Grambling was to testify in the County Courthouse in Bangor, Maine after having worked exactly twenty years at Fellows—Mr. Mize made a payment of $14.74 at the Safeway on the corner of College Ave and 63rd Street in Oakland. His purchases included strawberry milk, bananas, garlic, kidney beans, butterscotch pudding, eggs, a small avocado, and a "pudding snack."

Mr. Mize's Safeway receipt
Mr. Mize was hardly done there. Approximately five hours later, he was at a Walgreens purchasing two key items: Preparation H and Phillips' Milk of Magnesia. The morale of my story: check your pockets (and other peoples' too)!