San Francisco at its best

It’s Tuesday and I’m still lit up from spending Friday and Saturday at San Francisco’s biggest music party, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, a free festival hosted by the late, great Warren Hellman estate.

All the characters come out of the woodwork for this three day festival.
Watching Asleep at the Wheel at the Banjo Stage from the picnic tables
She was rocking the fringe tunic and flower child look

We love this wonderful free festival in Golden Gate Park. I’m always impressed with how well organized it is, from the stages to the graphics to the mobile app; it’s top notch. Over the years, we’ve developed a drill—arrive early while it’s still uncrowded and comprised almost exclusively of old futs like us. I always feel buoyant then as I anticipate the promise of the day’s events.

Friday’s lineup mostly featured bands that were new to us but I’d prepped by previewing them online. Jake Blount’s group played at the friendliest locale, the Bandwagon: an RV outfitted to serve as a stage. The group was smokin’ hot and I experienced the first of many perfect moments as someone blew bubbles through the audience, shrouded in fog.

Jake Blount’s band at the Bandwagon Stage. He’s from Providence, Rhode Island. Yes, those are matching pastel jumpsuits.

Saturday started with another perfect moment as we arrived; Jerry Harrison’s roadies performed their sound check by playing one of the songs from Remain in Light. They executed the piece extremely well and before I knew it, I was dancing at the foot of that stage.

I further entertained myself by sketching some of the characters and styles at the festival. This guy with the eyebrows…

Other perfect moments

Randomly running into friends

Talking with the dad of Drive-by Truckers’ bassist from Alabama, who was happy to remark that the festival was so “wholesome.” Indeed, babies, toddlers and dogs roamed freely. This year seemed to be devoid of assholes and drunks.

Jim Lauderdale sports a hot blue suit with matching cowboy boots

Traveling light with our backrests to discover new acts; being delighted by Rayne Gellert and Kieran Kane who were great and funny and gob smacked by the appreciation of the audience.

Their music was great and Kieran Kane was very funny

Hearing Elvis Costello clear as a bell from way up the top of the ridge, above the din of concert-going talkers (the many conversations)

Couldn’t see Elvis but could hear him perfectly

A little girl’s unicorn bubble machine showering me in hundreds of small bubbles

And THE highlight dancing madly with those young San Francisco pixies and leprechauns to the electrifying music of Talking Heads and the Remain in Light album, played by Jerry, Adrian Belew and their funky African rhythm band.

We’ll be back again next year. Thank you, Warren Hellman and family for throwing us this kick-ass party each year. You bring so much joy to the City that you loved. XOXOXO

Big Island 2020

The incredibly beautiful, serene Waipio Valley
Waipio Valley coastline. Looks like good surf. Heck, yeah!
Plenty of these big ass tree ferns in Volcano
Chillin’ in Kea’au. It was dark and I could barely see the paper while drawing/painting.
All these guys sunning on the South Side.
Love this flower
Pau hana at the Seafood Tiki Bar. These guys just off from work. Celebrating aloha Friday. Had no supplies on me. Used the back of my Long’s receipt and the busboy’s pen.


NY/NJ (and Milwaukee)

Yep, I went to my high school reunion in Summit, NJ, which was fantastic! I saw people who I knew from nursery school. And some of us have memories from way back then (even though we can’t remember what we had for lunch yesterday).

Didn’t do any drawings from the reunion itself but I have a few from the trip. Here are my doodles and sketches.


Had a wonderful dinner at Judy and Jeff’s house in Maplewood. This was the pre-dinner wine and cheese.


And a business trip to Milwaukee. I’d never been there before and it’s a beautiful city, though it was cold and windy. Lots of cool older buildings with ornate rooftops. This was an old Chamber of Commerce building that I could see from my hotel.






India: on to Manali and the Pavarti Valley

Manali is a starting point to the Indian Himalayas in the state of Himachal Pradesh. We had heard that the best way to get there was to take an overnight bus from Delhi. We investigatedt other options but none of them much reduced the number of hours of travel. So, we flew from Jodhpur to Delhi and situated ourselves on the overnight bus.


The seats on the bus reclined and elevated our legs but there was no bathroom aboard. I dubbed the ride “the Kishkaville Express” because the last half of the trip, on rocky, unpaved mountain roads, bumped and jumped in the early morning. After 13+ hours, we arrived in Manali.

On the bus, we met Alaka and Dev, a friendly couple from Delhi, who told us about a local festival that was happening that day, the Manu Festival.



You can tell that Manali was probably a sleepy hamlet twenty years ago. Its beauty and location an all to familiar blessing and curse as it’s become a tourist haven of the north and jumping off point for mountaineering. Most of the visitors are Indian, coming for adventures and ganga, which is smoked pretty freely in the old section, despite being illegal. There are a myriad of outdoor outfitters lining the main road and over a hundred guest houses and hotels. During high season (late May and June) the traffic can be complete gridlock.

We stayed a few days in Manali and then took a car to Tosh in the Pavarti Valley.


I was awestruck by the views from Tosh. The stunning snow capped mountains in the distance and homes tucked into the steep hillsides reminded me of the picturesque villages of Nepal.



Although we had been told that it was “the best place to stay in Tosh” our guest house was a dirty dump. The transformer had gone out and we had no electricity while we stayed there (not the fault of the guest house).

SquatToiletThe latch on our door needed oil. It squeaked loudly whenever we struggled to pulled it over to lock or unlock it, the bedding was soiled and the combination squat/sit toilet seat was loose. I don’t want to talk about the rest of the bathroom.

That said, our balcony had a wonderful view of the mountains and gave us a great vantage point for watching the comings and goings of the village.

From Tosh, we walked along the valley to the Waterfall Café, where the tables sit in the gushing flow.


Further on was Kulka, a tiny mountain “village” consisting of two guest houses, a small store, a babbling brook, grazing horses and a lovely high meadow with an awesome view. We would have loved to stay in Kulka.

The next day, we took a car, which dropped us off near Pulga, another village nearby. The road is still being built there so we backpacked in. On the way, we met some travelers who recommended we stay at the #capitalcafe, a new guest house with bamboo cottages (and electricity)! The place was SWEET as was the young owner, Chetan, who spent time with us and told us his story.  It was a highlight for me to share my greeting cards with Chetan and his crew, who are all Nepalese. His cook recognized one of the places I’d drawn.

We took a hike in the dense forest there, passing a waterfall and a herd of cattle (right there on the path). To our surprise, we happened upon this shrine in the woods. ShrineInTheWoods

We wanted to stay another night there but had already made reservations at an Airbnb which was in Gargi


NYC long weekend to see the Michelangelo Drawings

The incredible show at the MET will only be there until mid February. My sister Tobie encouraged me to go since the drawings will only be shown this one time. We jumped on a plane and had a wonderful long weekend in the Big Apple. It even snowed all day on Saturday and accumulated 7″—what a treat!

Of course, I sketched. Here are the pieces I did.

Found this great bar, the Fat Cat, with live Jazz



Through the window at Tea and Sympathy in the West Village. While waiting for my old friend, Amy.

Artifacts from the wonderful National Museum of the American Indian in the old Custom’s House in lower Manhattan

Please excuse. A doodle to fill my time on the plane.

Family Reunion and Mini-Vacation

For the first time in over 25 years, my mother’s family had a reunion. I love my family and we always have great fun together. I’m very fortunate that so many live within 2-3 hours from San Francisco. But I don’t see the rest of the gang much at all.

So, I was excited that our family was getting together in Monterey, CA, only 3 hours from us. I designed the t-shirt and helped with some other details. Pictured below: My great grandmother, Bertha Soloveichik Tumpson and Albert Joseph Tumpson.

I_survived_the_Reunion_webWe drove down on Friday and ran into traffic in Half Moon Bay and Santa Cruz, of course. It’s still so beautiful on the coast. We were blessed with incredible weather, sunshine and not too much wind.

The incredible Janet Takahashi taught me to sketch when I’m a passenger in the car. This is a great distraction when traffic is heavy. Even if the work is rough, it’s fun!


The reunion was cousins galore! I caught a few:

The answer is, “At the Louvre.”

Following the big event, we got some needed R & R on the Central Coast in lovely Cayucos, north of Morro Bay.


We caught some FUN waves.


And on our second day, visited Morro Bay.


The sign says, “Death from Drowning happens once in a lifetime. Undertow of surf can make return to shore impossible.” The waves were churning and there around 30 surfers were catching rides.

The rock itself is impressive and beautiful. On the other side of the spit, there were two dozen otters lazing in the water. Not shown here are the towering smokestacks of the power plant; an odd imposition on an otherwise picturesque location.

Back in Cayucos, we assumed the position.


Sad to end our wonderful mini-vacation, I could only muster a weird doodle in the car.


Travel to PA/NJ/NY in December

I can get really bored on a 5 hour plane ride. Especially when we have an extra 1.5 hours to stop to refuel (in beautiful Salt Lake City). Started these pen and inks at the Museum of Natural History in NY and at the Metropolitan. Painted them on the plane. I got a little carried away but it was fun.



It’s actually New Year’s Day. Good day to launch a new web site.

Just for yucks, I’m using an old image from travels in Costa Rica–over ten years ago. Whew! I remember that town Tarcoles. It was pretty scrappy.

Today we are enjoying our leisure in gray, wet San Fran. Haven’t seen much of the sun this week but have enjoyed our staycation, nonetheless.

Perugia and Roma Sept. 2008

I only wrote on the first and last days of this trip. The rest of the time was spent sketching. Here are some snippets, for what they’re worth…

3 Settembre
We didn’t sleep on the long flight to Roma. Had no trouble finding Mom and Dad at the terminal. The waiting there was hard. We had 6 rollie bags between the 4 of us and were bumbling around looking for a good lunch place to hang out in. I bought water and was sort changed by 5 Euros which was par for being fresh of the plane, I guess.

Mitch was chomping at the bit to find the bus stop and rightly so—we thought it was on one end of the terminal but ended up running around asking people where the Sulga bus stopped. Across the street, down the block to a motley bunch of vehicles.
A nice drive through Roma and the countryside—though very hot in the stationi. When we stopped at a little closed gas station, Dad got out to find a WC and we ended up waiting for him… I could just imagine a scenario of the bus taking off and leaving him behind in the boonies—just like that movie “Bread and Tulips.”

Dropped in Perugia and one taxi ride later, we were here at our lovely apartment woohoo!

What a cool town and nice place we’re staying at. Nicola is a nice guy with a hairline like this.

The house is split level—all up and down sepia brown tiled floors throughout and nicely appointed. The first floor, with that archway is really a built out garage. It’s musty and cool and would be nice if it weren’t so smelly. Then up two flights of stairs to the mail room—2 windows, bright, lovely! A comfortable room to hang out in. Another flight up is the kitchen which is certainly bigger than ours in SF, with a small table and all the fixins. There are nice windows throughout with delightful views of the medieval buildings around us. The bathroom with big tub (ours) and the master suite (with a great closet and private bath) are on the next story. Then another short story up is the smaller bedroom which is a bit of a challenge size-wise. The beds are hard thought not bad. One side is a little difficult to get in and out of due to an elevated “side” of the bed. But the view from our little window is lovely at night—tops of the medieval buildings aglow in street lights. Mysterioso.

Lots of activity in the courtyard at night. Some guys playing music (Mitch says they were trying to learn a Pink Floyd song), People talking…

We walked up the narrow vias to Corso Vanucci where all the outside cafes are. Kinda like those at the Zocalo in Oaxaca. On our way up, we passed some small barking dogs and their owner, who walked out of his doorway to quiet them He was quite the sight. Long, white hair and beard, pink stretch pants, big, bare feet. Holding a bunch of grapes away from his body like they were a dead fish.

We had what was probably the worst meal you can get in Italy. Pre-fab canned food for dinner (20 Euros/couple which is around $32) Now we know where NOT to go.

7 Settembre
The days hove flown! This town is so cool! We have been exploring and eating and there’s still more to explore. Sheesh! It’s our last day. We’ve been running around drawing and painting arches all over th city. Mom is really prolific! She’s done many paintings and uses a shorthand that I wish I could do. I’m learning.. It’s been so much fun! Great food. Pasta with chicken liver sauce, incredible homemade tortellini with pumpkin and such,. Wow. And great wine. At Caesarino, the waiter charged us 8 Euro for ½ bottle the first night and 6 Euro for ¾ bottle on the second.

Wonderful arches and incredible views.

I painted this in Roma from our favorite café while drinking rich cappuccino.

Rome kicked our butts. Hot, very touristy, and incredible We had a great time, though. Went on a pizza stroll around the area surrounding the Vatican. My favorite pizza had pepperoncini on it. We found one bakery with the best canoli in the World. I could live on canoli and cappucinos.