Saturday, May 30, 2009

Dinner and forgiveness in Kabob (Kanab)

Kanab's Rocking V Café by night

On three of the five nights I spent in Kanab, Utah, I and my companions (my sister Annie and our old friend Kathie) dined in a very good and fun restaurant literally a minute’s walk from my motel room—the Rocking V Café and Rafters Gallery.

Way cool, man. The restaurant, which occupies an old building in a quiet part of town (well, there are no other parts of town), looks great—there’s artwork, most of it local 'n' good, on every wall—and the food is as good as any I’ve eaten. Somehow, the music—mostly vintage rock—is perfect too. We generally ate on the top floor, the gallery, looking out on one of Kanab’s busiest streets (ha ha).

Kathie, who’s been coming out to Kanab (to teach U of Redlands students at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary) for ten years now, knows the owner, Victor (his wife is Vicky, hence the “Rocking V”), and so we always seemed to get the royal treatment, although nobody in the restaurant was doing any complaining.

I noticed an exotic restaurant worker, a beautiful young girl that I took to be French.

“Nope, she’s Russian,” said Victor. In Kanab, young people don’t do this kind of work, he said, and so businesses are forced literally to import workers from Russia and elsewhere around the globe.

OK, I get that. But exotic young Russians in Mormony old Kanab, Utah? It made me smile.

During one of our dinners at the Rocking V, the voluble Victor mentioned a recent New York Times article that said nice things about his place. Today, I decided to look it up.

East of Calf Creek, the landscape becomes even more strange and unearthly. The Creator was having fun out there. Canyons yawn. Arches sprout from nowhere, not to mention spires, buttes, towers and pinnacles. The earth erupts and convulses. There are raw desert lookouts where not one single man-made light distracts from the stars.Tony Perrottet

This must be it: back in April, Tony Perrottet wrote an article for the Times about the untouched natural wonders of southern Utah. It is entitled, "America’s Outback."

He starts with this:

If the name Dry Fork Coyote Gulch doesn’t give fair warning that this is not your average hike, then the haunting drive to the trailhead will remove all doubt. The sandy Hole-in-the-Rock Road is one of the few routes that even attempt to enter the biblical expanse of desert in southern Utah called the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and when I made a pilgrimage there last summer, I didn’t pass a single car, let alone a sign of human habitation.

Turns out, the southern Utah area is a largely ignored but fabulous land of remoteness and jaw-dropping beauty, or so says Perrottet. From what I’ve seen, he’s right.

Perrottet has long been intrigued by one writer’s account of his adventures, in 1872, as a young man in this then-unknown frontier:

Frederick Dellenbaugh, fresh from high school in Buffalo in 1871, heard that John Wesley Powell was looking for men to join his second expedition down the Colorado River. Powell had become a celebrity for conquering the Grand Canyon in 1869; this time, the white-water trip would be combined with the mapping of the Colorado plateau. … Dellenbaugh…became the expedition’s artist.

The adventure lasted nearly 18 months and involved plenty of near-death encounters on the river. But its most striking achievement came in May 1872, when Powell sent his second in command, Almon Thompson — a self-taught surveyor nicknamed the Prof — on a monthlong horseback trek through the unknown deserts of southern Utah. Dellenbaugh went along, and 36 years later, in 1908, he published his classic account of the Thompson expedition, “A Canyon Voyage,” which became an American bestseller.

Our man Perrottet wanted to cover the same ground as Thompson and Dellenbaugh, and so, last summer, off he went:

My journey began in Kanab, a tidy little Mormon outpost of mowed lawns and municipal buildings framed by glowing red bluffs. Powell set up his winter base there, in wood-floored canvas tents not far from a fort. Kanab in 1872 was no Deadwood: “Not a grog-shop, or gambling saloon, or dance-hall was to be seen,” Dellenbaugh wrote. Liquor was in such short supply that one of the photographers actually made cocktails from his photographic alcohol.

Life has loosened up slightly in Kanab today. You can buy alcohol [well, near-beer], from the State Liquor Store, including the Utah brew Polygamy Porter (“Why Have Just One?”). After dark, I found a brand new bistro filled with stray Europeans enjoying quinoa salads and sauvignon blanc.

That’s the Rocking V, I think.

The Rocking V by day

Perrottet fills out his account of Kanab (dubbed “Kabob” by Annie):

In the heyday of the western movie, Kanab became an unlikely boomtown as Utah’s Little Hollywood, a film location for dozens of famous movies. Photographs of forgotten black-and-white stars in Stetsons line the main street in a Western Walk of Fame, and you can find a whole theme park of cinematic relics like Clint Eastwood’s cabin in “The Outlaw Josey Wales.” (For true nostalgia buffs, the remains of the “Gunsmoke” set are quietly decaying on private land a few miles out of town, visible from the road).

That Kanab was a “Little Hollywood” visited by famous movie stars is amazing, given that, until fifty years ago, there were no major roads to the town. It was seriously remote.

Inside the Rocking V (New York Times)

Turns out Kathie is a big fan of John Wesley Powell, having read extensively of his exploits mapping the Grand Canyon. Even Annie had heard of him. As a one-time employee of the USGS (in the case of my sister, all employment is “one-time”), she was aware that Powell was the “father of the USGS,” a factoid she insisted on repeating at every opportunity.

Well, anyway, the article mentions places to eat and stay in the area:

You may have to search, but a surprising number of decent restaurants are hidden away in southern Utah. In Kanab, the Rocking V Cafe … is a bistro and art gallery where the eclectic menu includes Thai curry and garlic lemon shrimp (around $80 for two, including wine). On weekend nights, you actually need a reservation.

This little mention was enough to keep Victor happy for over a month, so far.


But where to stay? Well, Annie and I didn’t get our acts together until too late, and so we were forced to make reservations at Kabob’s little-known Shithole Motel. (That’s not really its name.) We wanted to stay at the famous Parry Lodge, but it was booked. Perrottet writes:

Since the 1930s, … the place to stay has been Parry Lodge…. It has 89 rooms (rates start at $62), including seven comfortable, retro-chic suites with kitchenettes. Western films that were made in the area are shown in the old barn on summer evenings; I caught Jack Nicholson’s little-known 1965 performance in “Ride in the Whirlwind.”

$62 a night! OK, now that really cheeses me off. I paid $65 a night at the Shithole, just down the street, and it was, um, a shithole.

Cabin used in filming Gunsmoke

Why do I say this? Well, during our stay (Annie and I stayed there; Kathie had her own place a mile away), not once did anyone clean anything or change the linen. At one point, Annie asked the motel lady for another roll of TP, and the lady (upon restoring her teeth to her mouth) demanded a reason. “Well, I need more,” said Annie. "Well, you should be using only two or three squares each time," scolded the lady.

There were no electric outlets on the walls near our beds, and so we were forced to plug our CPAP machines (Annie and I suffer from sleep apnea) into the walls across the room—so we had to sleep backwards. None of the outlets could take a three-pronger, and so Annie couldn’t charge her laptop. The sink was not in the bathroom but in the closet. The AC unit generally didn’t work.

Nevertheless, when we decided to stay an extra night, I insisted that we just stay at the Shithole, since we were by then used to it, and who wants to go to all the trouble of moving? All we had to do was switch rooms. But when we arrived at our new room at the Shithole late on Wednesday night, we found that my bed (in Annie World, the crummier or less convenient bed is always my bed) had been slept in, the shower had been used, the toilet was, um, full, etc. Soon, the little girl at the desk came around and made things right, apologizing profusely and promising to arrange for some kind of discount.

She was amateurish but sweet. We actually sat with her and gave her some career advice. Which college to go to? When to go? How about out-of-state? “Cosmetology is my dream,” she said. "Excellent," I replied. It's good to have a dream and then a plan.

Old Kanab movie set (New York Times)

She left. An hour later, she called, informing us that we were staying “for free” that night. I thanked her. The next morning, I dropped by the office to get the $65 taken off my card, and the old lady with dentures was there. She apologized profusely. She explained that she is forced to hire people from “other countries” to do work, and she flat can’t understand them sometimes. “I just didn’t make things clear to the boys!” she said.

I wasn’t about to give her a hard time. Sure, sure, I said.

Then she grabbed my right hand with her two hands. She looked into my eyes, pulling me toward her. She said, “Do you forgive me?”

I did. That’s when we left Kabob.

"Yes, I forgive you."

Deceived by cats, raised by wolves, surrounded by cheapskates

Speaking of cats, Paul MacInnes of the reports that

...Scientific American looks again at the history of feline domestication. It has long been held that cats were first tamed in ancient Egypt some 3,600 years ago. Thanks, however, to the discovery of a cat-shaped corpse buried some 9,500 years ago alongside their human associate in a shallow grave in Cyprus, the game has been changed. The new thinking is that wildcats of the type Felis silvestris lybica began to dwell alongside humans as farming developed in the fertile crescent of the Levant. Wildcats were tempted into human settlements by the prospects of scraps and, crucially, a ready supply of Mus musculus domesticus, aka the house mouse, an ancient Jerry to their pre-classical Tom. ¶ In other words, we didn't domesticate cats, they domesticated themselves….

I’m not sure, but I do believe that the Scientific American article also explains that, pre-domestication, cats cleaned their own litter boxes.

The truth slowly emerges.

Now: money. When I was an undergraduate, I was endlessly disgruntled about the portion of student fees devoted to competitive sports, about which I had no interest whatsoever. Of course, in those days, UCI’s teams were, well, shittay. I guess that's changed.

Evidently, increasingly, students are coming around to my former way of thinking. In yesterday’s New York Times, we read that

Since March, students at three California universities — Sacramento State, Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton — have … voted down fee increases to help pay for athletics.

Already facing steep tuition costs, students seem to be growing more reluctant to pay additional fees for everything from athletics to health care to transportation, according to the United States Student Association, which is based in Washington…. (As Costs of Sports Rise, Students Balk at Fees)

Naturally, this development likely reflects the possibly transient fact that money is tight. Or maybe it reflects the possibly transient fact that students are tight. Dunno.

This reminds me of a childhood incident. I was raised in a German family guided by overprotective parents. These parents, being German, did not understand American football. It was, they said, a brutal and stupid sport.

They didn’t put it that way. They would see it played on TV, stare at it, and then declare something like, “Look! Those guys are fat and mean and stupid!” Once a thing received this Bauer family seal of disapproval, acknowledging anything whatsoever in its favor was regarded as betrayal of the family. This led to many an absurdity, including the infamous “Barbra Streisand” rhubarb of 1967. But never mind that.

So, anyway, I was discouraged from having anything to do with football, even in high school. As it turns out, during a PE flag-football game, I was injured via a pile-up upon my person. Off I went to the doctor’s office. “You have a hairline fracture,” said the doctor. He got out the plaster, wrapped on the cast. I loved it.

Later that day, my dad came home from work and saw the cast. He found out what was up.

He was not amused. Why were you playing football? he asked. And why did you (the “you” now included my mother—it is a Bauer family tradition [alas, to the present] to use pronouns with spectacular imprecision) go to the doctor? Hairline? What kind of break is that?!

He mightily disapproved of everything I and we had done.

After a few weeks, it seemed to me that it was time to remove my wonderful cast. We (i.e., my mother and I) didn’t dare go back to the doctor. So, one day, I went out to the garage and cut off the cast with a pair of tin-snips. I hid the pieces in the trash.

Nobody ever mentioned the injury again. Indeed, I once heard my dad declare that none of his kids had ever suffered a broken bone. He pointed at me: "This one has never missed a single day of school in nearly 12 years!" That was true. I shared this distinction with some other kid, a girl.

One day, at school, I was told to go to the principal's office, to meet her.

I arrived, sat down. There she was. We just stared at each other, uncomprehending.

She looked OK, I guess. Not me. I was sick with a cold.

First picture: three cats at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Kanab, Utah. The female kitty at left (Toby) has a condition which makes breathing laborious. The two other cats (Solomon and Tucker) always sleep with her, watch over her. Selfish bastards! The other cats are also at Best Friends. Took these pics three days ago.

A couple of days ago, our pal Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly (Lee-ving out crucial OC civil rights history in the Anaheim walk of stars) reported an incident that many would rather forget:

Legendary Olympian and longtime Orange County resident Sammy Lee was honored two days ago with a spot on the Anaheim Walk of Stars, and it was fascinating to see history in action…. The story in the Orange County Register mentioned his back-to-back gold medals in platform diving during the 1948 and 1952 Olympics, and that he served for years afterward as a coach. But it didn't even hint at Lee's involvement in one of the uglier moments in Orange County history.

In 1954, Lee—an Army vet, licensed doctor, two-time gold-medal winner and recent recipient of the Sullivan Award as the best amateur athlete in the United States—tried to buy a house in Garden Grove but was refused. Twice. All because he was Asian. Garbage Grove's racism was condemned worldwide for the obvious reasons, and even Ed Sullivan and then-veep Richard Nixon spoke publicly in favor of Lee, who eventually did buy a home…. His struggle to buy a house was an important step in the battle to end housing segregation in Orange County that ultimately culminated in the Mulkey v. Reitman Supreme Court case.

About 8 or 9 years after the unfortunate “Garden Grove” episode, my mother took Annie and me to swim classes at a place, if I recall correctly, near Collins and Tustin in the City of Orange. My memory tells me that it was a “Sammy Lee” facility. I seem to recall seeing his name emblazoned (in cursive) on the outside wall of the building. I’ll see if I can find evidence that my memory is correct.

See also biography and video of Sammy Lee


I found this at OC History Roundup:

Today's photo shows U.S. Olympic divers Sammy Lee and Vicki Manolo Draves at the London Olympic Games in August 1948. Dr. Lee won a gold medal that year, and again in 1952 at Helsinki. But much of Orange County knows him as the man who taught them how to swim. Lee's swim school was a fixture in Anaheim for many years, beginning in the 1950s. Today, he received the 11th star on the Anaheim/OC Walk of Stars, in front of Disneyland....

I also found a reference to one of Lee's schools in Santa Ana.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Palling around with feline beasts at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in south Utah

This kid really liked to play. He especially liked the "chase the mouse" (blob on the end of string) game.
(All pictures taken two days ago at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Kanab, Utah.)

This guy kept climbing on my shoulder. Wadda sweet kid.

This little girl(?) just liked to hang around with me. Followed me. Didn't say much.

Cut kid, eh?

Volunteers come by just to interact with all these brats. That's what I did, anyway.

There's a section for so-called "feral" brats. I think this cutie was one of 'em. With some effort, some "wild" cats can become very affectionate.

One of Annie's special friends.

A "rafter" cat.

Commencement photos, etc.

Check it out! Tracy Daly’s office (district PIO) provides photos (click here): of Saddleback College Commencement and Irvine Valley College Commencement


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Home at last

We left Kanab (or as my sister calls it, "Kabob"), Utah, today at about 2:30. Got home at about 8:15.
All is well.

Some pics from today.

One of my new best friends (Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Kanab, Utah)

From Trabuco Canyon in California, Annie and I headed northeast on I15, toward Las Vegas and beyond. Just past St. George, Utah, we headed east and then south to just above the border of Arizona: the tiny town of Kanab. That's just a stone's throw from the even weirder and tinier Fredonia, Arizona to the south.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Monster in Kanab

Our trip's been good. The Best Friends Sanctuary is very impressive. More about that later this week. 

And I'm getting to like this goofy little town of Kanab, Utah.

Today, after many hours with the wonderful cats at BFS, we went back to town to tour one of Kanab's oldest buildings, a residence constructed in the late 1800s.

Naturally, the guy who built it was a Mormon, but, after two years, the church sent him on some kind of mission abroad. The new resident, natch, was a Mormon, one with six wives. In about 1889, he spent two years in prison for "cohabitation"--i.e., somebody snitched on his polygamous ways. Evidently, after prison, he came back to Kanab and continued building his family, which became enormous, judging by the pictures.

When I got to the house, the door was open, and so I walked in. I couldn't find anybody, but there were the usual cards with historical information on walls and furniture. One sign explained that photographing was prohibited. Drat! 

The place was beautiful. It's just what you'd expect, with high ceilings, wooden floors, wonderful moldings, and such. All of the furniture was "period." 

I examined the many old family photos. My God this was a big family! I especially liked wife #6.

I found the staircase and started climbing. Half way up I saw a figure--what I took to be a mannequin of an old woman. Once I got to the top of the stairs, the mannequin started moving, which was only slightly startling. (It's Kanab.) Turns out she was the gal in charge of showing the house. It soon became clear that she didn't get many customers. Likely I was the first one this week. This month? This year?

The top floor was way spooky, man. These Mormons never got around to finishing the top floor, and so the walls were thin slats of dark wood. The old mannequin-lady, who was pretty nice, explained about the condition and about all of the odd junk strewn around the rooms. At one point, she mentioned that "these kids" had come around in "'07" to make "that movie."
"They made a movie here?"

"Yes, they did, dear. There were only two stars. A girl and a boy."

"Do you remember the name of the movie?"

"No, dear, but I think it was from a book called 'Monster in the Attic.'"

Well, that was pretty cool. I was already aware that over 100 movies and TV shows have been filmed in and around Kanab. At one point, also today, during an amazing sudden rainstorm, we came across a wonderful old shack up against one of those amazing red cliffs that surround the town. It was constructed for episodes of "Gunsmoke" in 1965. Very cool.

Well, gotta go. 

The Grand Canyon, two days ago

Goin' to the Courthouse...

Almost a year ago, Rebel Girl and the little guy spent the day outside the Laguna Hills Civic Center, handing out roses and congratulations to the first same sex couples married in Orange County. It was a glorious sun-drenched Southern California day. You can read all about it here.

Today, at 10 AM, the State Supreme Court will publish its Proposition 8 ruling which will affect the validity of those marriages - and the future of marriage equality in California.

Regardless of the outcome, supporters of marriage equality will gather at the Old Orange County Courthouse at 6 PM today for a peaceful rally and march.

The courthouse is located at 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd. (between N Broadway & Sycamore) in Santa Ana.

For more information, click here.

For the record, Red Emma and Rebel Girl tied the knot at that old courthouse, just the two of them, sans friends and family, one Friday in November, years and years ago. It was very romantic. She cried.

Rebel Girl hopes that some of you will come out this evening and march with your colleagues, friends, neighbors, students and family members.

Our family will be there.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

A full quiver

As I write, I am in shitty motel in Kanab, Utah, a tiny town just north of the Arizona border. Not far is my ultimate destination: Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, a haven for displaced, homeless or unwanted domestic animals.

Kanab seems very nice, but it’s seriously Mormon. It was founded by Mormon pioneer Levi Stewart (1812-1878), a guy with no sense of humor whatsoever. To give you a sense of the town and its politics, consider this: in 2006, the town’s mayor and city council passed the following resolution:
"We envision a local culture that upholds the marriage of a man to a woman, and a woman to a man, as ordained of God... We see our homes as open to a full quiver of children, the source of family continuity and social growth. We envision young women growing into wives, homemakers, and mothers; and we see young men growing into husbands, home-builders, and fathers.”

Oh well, no town’s perfect.

Nearby is tiny Colorado City (Arizona), a notorious haven for polygamists. Drove through there last night. 

You remember Colorado City:
In January 2004, the local religious leader, Warren Jeffs, expelled a group of twenty men, including the mayor, and gave their wives and children to other men. Jeffs stated he was acting on the orders of God, while the men expelled claimed they were penalized for disagreeing with Jeffs. (Wikipedia)

Funny how the Lord speak with so many different people and says so many different things. For some reason, He never tells me squat. Hey, I'm all ears!

Well, I'm here about the geology (photographic opportunities) and the animals, not the Fundamentalist Mormons. But I may stay for the Mormons.

The Best Friends Sanctuary is famous for two reasons, I suppose: first, the BF Network had an official role in post-Hurricane Katrina animal rescue. Second, BFS became the refuge of 22 of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs.

Oh yeah, and then there's the TV show Dogtown. It's set in the Sanctuary.

Things are slow around here. The pace of driving is glacial. A friend warned that, in some of these towns, cops just love to give speeding tickets, and the speed limits are very low, so people really do drive very slowly. It was weird driving through these town last night. It was only 9 or 10 and things were pretty well shut down. Even the parked cars seemed very parked, as if they'd been sitting still for years.

Last night, we were headed to a friend’s house, and so we called ahead just before arriving. Should we bring beer?

Can’t get beer in this town, she said. Luckily, you can drink it, if you’re careful, and so she had driven off somewhere earlier yesterday for a six-pack.

Today, we may head down to the Grand Canyon. We might start volunteer work at the Sanctuary. Dunno.

One more thing. Among the little towns we passed through last night to get here is Fredonia, another Mormon settlement. I talked to someone there.


"Yeah, Fredonia. It's about freedom."


"Technically, what with the 'ia' ending, the name refers to freedom for women."


8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary