Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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The Eve of Day One

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Photo Credit: David July — The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., 01 November 2008 Andy Dufresne taught us the value of hope and that it "is a good thing, maybe the best of things." This concept fit the Barack Obama campaign well, echoed by those who voted for him. When you think about it though, very election is about hope. In casting a vote for a candidate, you hope they make the right choices and justify your support. Frequently they will not meet your expectations or worse will embarrass you by acting inappropriately. You make an informed choice and hope. After the often misguided, discriminatory and embarrassing actions of leaders past, I hope the concept of change is not lost on President Obama when the weight of the nation's menagerie of issues grows heavier. I hope he is able to make more headway internationally with a foreign policy that promotes peace and security without advocating imperialism. I hope he can establish a bridge between the right and left, whose goals can be met with compromise and an open-minded acceptance of the other side. Critics may claim that a lack of experience will inhibit President Obama's ability to be an effectual leader, but I think a fresh perspective not clouded by the cynicism and duplicity of Washington is exactly what we need. While the outgoing administration used the causes of freedom and democracy to justify many of its actions, I hope the new White House will do more to practice than preach, realizing that it is easier to get others to cooperate with your initiatives like anti-terrorism, disarmament and regional stability when you do not employ the same tactics you proclaim to abhor. Like many others, I have eagerly awaited this day since long before Barack Obama blew the doors off the good ole' boys club and started his remarkable journey to the top. There were times it seemed it very distant, such as after the 2004 election and when the USA PATRIOT and 2006 Military Commissions Acts were signed into law. Now that it is here, I am excited to see what happens on day one and beyond, to see which hopes are realized. I slightly regret my decision not to go to the inauguration, but factors like work and money made it impractical (not to mention the bone-chilling weather and enormous crowds). Instead, I will take an extended lunch and watch the ceremony at home via the internet. I will be there in spirit with Erik and Lauren however, with whom I originally planned to attend. They will start their trek to the from Alexandria around 0530 and make an effort to find a decent spot along the parade route.
Photo Credit: David July

The Remote Experience

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Photo Credit: Josiah Mackenzie — San Francisco From Twin Peaks, San Francisco, California, 10 March 2008 I spent several hours on the telephone this afternoon with my friend Marc who is currently in California on business. When not working near Sacramento, he has been spending time in San Francisco where his friend Danny moved a few years ago. Knowing my affinity for the city, he has been calling me from various locations to let me know how cool something is or to get directions and hours of operation. Today's call was to let me know he was finally embarking on a journey to Twin Peaks, to see the view of the city I recommended and to take pictures of Sutro Tower and the vista for me. As I joined in, Marc and Danny were heading south on Castro Street between 14th Street and 15th Street, where Marc expressed his surprise and displeasure that numbered streets while consecutive are not necessarily exclusive, as in this case where Henry Street comes in-between. Acting as navigator, I launched Google Maps Street View and could see (basically) what they were seeing. Marc kept me apprised as to their progress naming off intersecting roads as they went. After heading down into the Castro looking for a photo shop that has apparently closed, they backtracked and headed west on 17th Street. Marc reminds me of the stairway I saw on the map while planning this little trek last week and asks how to get there. To my knowledge, there was nothing special about it, a typical San Franciscan residential stairway connecting Ord Street to Levant Street, but Marc and I were both amused at the name Vulcan Stairway. As they ascended the stairs, Marc and Danny encountered someone who lives there. The nice woman said she is the oldest resident on the Vulcan Stairway, living there for some twenty-six years now. Following Levant to Lower Terrance, down Saturn Street and finally to Temple Street, the duo is back on track, continuing on 17th toward Clayton Street where Twin Peaks Boulevard begins. As they begin the final ascent, I assure Marc and Danny the trip will be worth it and that little previews of the outlook to come will pepper the route. Passing Raccoon Drive and Burnett Avenue, stopping to take pictures as they go, they decide to take a page from my past and detour. Instead of following the winding path of Twin Peaks Boulevard to the summit, it is possible to climb up to the observation point on Christmas Tree Point Road if you are careful. They made it without incident and agreed that it was worth it, albeit questioning why they did not simply take the car. I am told the sun made things more difficult for some Sutro Tower shots, but Marc did get some good ones from Twin Peaks, as well as of the rest of the city. I am looking forward to his return to Tallahassee so we can chat and look at the pictures. Having been a part of this experience remotely, the images will round things out nicely. I will update this article with the photos as soon as I have them and no doubt include a few new Sutro Tower pictures on its site. Photo Credit: Marc Malonzo IV and Danny Patterson — Marc Malonzo IV and David July (on telephone) on Twin Peaks pose in front of Sutro Tower, Christmas Tree Point Road, San Francisco, California, 17 January 2009In a final virtual moment, Marc had Danny take this picture of us at Sutro Tower together—I was saying "hello" over the telephone at the time. Better still, I will have the chance to relive this journey in person when I take my own trip to the bay area this year. Having been one decade since my last vacation to San Francisco following my graduation from high school, I decided recently it was about time. The tentative schedule has me depart Tallahassee in the early morning on Thursday, 21 May 2009, connecting through Memphis—intentional after my positive layover there on "The Day Trip" to Las Vegas—and arriving at San Francisco International after 1100 PDT. I will head back after noon on Wednesday, 27 May 2009, change planes again in Memphis and get back home just before 2200 EDT. To save money, I will be using my frequent flyer miles with Northwest Airlines to book my seats. I will have to pay only $187 to make up for the 5,246 WorldPerks miles I lack toward the needed 25,000. And thanks to the generosity of my friend Ernie, I will be staying at his Mission District apartment to save on a hotel room. With those two essentials taken care of, I can focus on saving for my time there. I am not going to get too excited yet as I have been here before, making and cancelling plans a few times over the years. There should be nothing to stop me from going this time though and as soon as I book my flights in the next week or two, I will know it is for real.
Photo Credit: Josiah Mackenzie Original Photo Credit: Marc Malonzo IV and Danny Patterson

The 30 Century Man

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Photo Credit: David July — Looking down the platform of the McPherson Square Metro Station, Washington, D.C., 01 November 2008 If you click around YouTube long enough, you are bound to come across homemade music videos usually in the form of movie and television clips edited to a related (or not) song. I seldom watch videos of this nature, but on a day in early July 2008, I happened to be looking for something in particular.
UPDATE: Check out The 30 Century Man Returns for the 2010 re-release.
Having always enjoyed the animated television program Futurama, I was excited to learn of the four direct-to-DVD movies resurrecting the once-cancelled series. When I finally saw the first of these new productions, Bender's Big Score, I was very impressed with it overall. I thought the story, the careful attention to the series continuity and the presence of the original cast all made for a fantastic return from the television grave. As you might expect knowing me, the music made an impression as well. The score by series composer Christopher Tyng really helped bridge the television elements to the larger film as did the cool extended remix of the Futurama theme. The soundtrack is rounded out by a few amusing character performed musical numbers by Ken Keeler and a song called "30 Century Man" performed by The Jigsaw Seen. Written by Scott Walker and originally released on his 1969 album Scott 3, the "30 Century Man" cover by The Jigsaw Seen—from their 2002 Songs Mama Used To Sing—is heard during a pivotal point in the movie and is particularly moving and appropriate. Interested in hearing the song in its entirety, I went to YouTube and began my search. The video I found by Araka5i was of the type I mentioned before, featuring clips from a few films and set to the Scott Walker cut of the song. I found the original version quite different from the cover and although I enjoyed it, I still wanted to hear The Jigsaw Seen performance. It turned out I was not alone as one commenter, taylorthebarbarian, wrote of his desire to hear the cover on YouTube. In reply to this comment, the band wrote, "feel free to post a video of our version." You have to love a band that realizes the potential the internet has to introduce music to new and diverse listeners worldwide. Why not let fans promote you for free, right? I practically surprised myself having the thought, but before long I decided to take this invitation and produce a video myself. After purchasing the song from and encoding the movie into an editable format, I fired up Sony Vegas 7 and got to work. It took me about twenty-four hours from start to finish, but if I may say so myself, for a first attempt I think the final product turned out well.
UPDATE: This video is no longer available. Check out The 30 Century Man Returns for the 2010 re-release.
30 Century Man - Video by David July, Song by The Jigsaw Seen/Scott Walker - Futurama © Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation Given the scene in which the song appears in the movie, I thought it would be appropriate to follow the character of Lars and his relationship with Leela. Even as of this writing, six months later, I still receive positive comments and e-mail. The best one, of course, was from The Jigsaw Seen's co-founder Jonathan Lea who said the video looked "fantastic." They even placed a link to it on their website's news page on 07 July 2008. It was a fun experience making this video and I gained a better appreciation for film and television editors. I would not expect many future releases of this sort, but you never know what may inspire me one day.
Photo Credit: David July
Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation