Monthly Archives: December 2011



One great pleasure of life is a late-afternoon walk on a clear New England late December day. The highest branches of the bare trees glow orange-gold in the last half-hour of sun, and the sky turns an infinitely deep icicle-sharp shade of blue. Northern Cardinals flit about the lower branches, redder than red against the brown leaves and grey bark. The air rolls down your throat as refreshing as ice water. Walking in solitude becomes a choice of beauty.
And I recorded none of this.
I chose to leave my camera phone and digital camera at home.
After taking tens of thousands of pictures and digital film recordings, I have learned the virtues of leaving some experiences unrecorded or left to the imagination. Sometimes life is best if it is only described. Sometimes life is best lived if it is lived unrecorded.

The Happiest Woman at SFO on Christmas Eve


She sat with her husband & newborn, awaiting their Delta flight. The parents took turns holding the baby and bottle feeding. And when people happened to look at her (and a lot of people wanted to look at her) she turned toward them with her biggest smile and made sure they got a good look at her face.
This was the most horribly disfigured face I have ever seen in person.
The two-inch flaking white blotch on her forehead sat next to a two-inch bright-red blister. Peeling skin and scabs covered her nose. More peeling skin, scabs, blisters, bruises and blotches covered her left cheek. Add a few more of the above to her chin.
And she was happy.
My hypothesis: whatever happened to her, the doctors thought she wasn’t going to survive. Yet here she was with her husband and her child, probably going to visit family. Think about it: the rest of her life is one big Christmas present. How could she not be the happiest woman in SFO on Christmas Eve?
I hope all of you have just as joyous a holiday as hers.

Maggie the Theater Dog on Her Throne (The Dark Room, 3/25/2006)


Maggie is a rescued French Bulldog who took over The Dark Room theater in San Francisco’s Mission District as soon as she moved in and became the resident mascot and service dog. She’s quite a character, in more than one sense of the word; every once in a while, she’ll escape from the kitchen in back and trot onstage during a show, forcing the cast to improvise around her. This red chair sits in the theater lobby and serves as her throne when humans don’t occupy it, and sometimes when they do.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette – The Painter on the Roof, 11/27/2007


Photo Dated 11/27/2007

This is the time of year when San Francisco enjoys glorious sunrises, and during the month of November 2007, a gentleman across the street took advantage of them. I had never seen him before, and I have never seen him since.

Alive & Living the Live Life @ The Fillmore, 12/16/2011


Good Evening:

Cumbia Tokeson ( is a very good genre-bending sweat-inducing dance band that plays high-energy live shows showcasing their blend of Colombian cumbia, reggae, punk, 70’s guitar, funk and whatever musical spice that happens to be within arm’s reach. Although a relatively new band, they’re good enough that they received an invitation to be the opening act at one of the Fillmore’s biggest annual shows on Friday night, the 16th. They knew that this was a huge opportunity, and they responded. Every opening act dreams of blowing the headliners off the stage, or at least winning over a crowd that has never heard of them. From my vantage point in the back corner, Cumbia Tokeson easily won over the crowd, and I cursed the back injury I suffered the night before in a fall in my living room. The crowd liked C. T. so much that it seemed the headliners would need some time to win back the crowd. And the headliners did need some time.

Ozomatli must have needed, oh, I don’t know, at least twenty seconds.

There is precious little out there quite like an Ozomatli show. Ozo is a Los Angeles band that takes every kind of music you’ll hear if you drive down the East LA streets on a warm Friday night with your iPhone off and the window down, and then blends all those sounds into one non-stop dance party. They have performed a December show at the Fillmore for many years, and to this day the band members approach each Fillmore show as if an oracle had told them, “You will never play another song after tonight, and whether you go to Heaven or to the other place depends entirely on this performance.” Some performers whom I shall not name play live shows with a “Since you have obediently shelled out $150 per ticket, I shall graciously condescend to permit you to adore my prerecorded voice for 90 minutes” attitude that can drive me up the wall in maybe two seconds. Ozo is a “We are here to make you happy for the next 2 1/2 hours for less than 40 bucks!!” group that will sometimes let their hardcore fans vote on the playlist for upcoming shows at their website.

A band that’s been playing for 16+ years that still plays as if their lives and souls were at stake, loves their fans, and concludes every show by walking through the crowd still playing their instruments. Nice. They were generous enough to invite Cumbia Tokeson back onstage for one song, and it was pretty obvious that C. T. were long-time fans; one member of Cumbia walked clear across the stage just to shake hands with Raul Pacheco. Very nice. I am already looking forward to next year’s December show.

Vonn Scott Bair

PS–Incidentally, if you want to win a bar bet, Ozomatli was one of the day signs in the Aztec calendar, a monkey who was in charge of music and dance, among other things.