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  • R.I.P. HUMPH.
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rape of Nanking

Monday, March 30, 2009

2001 - Star Wars etc.

The Mighty Mitchell.

Tues. 26 Nov. 2002 - from an email to Bill Jones.

OK, here's a tale that evolves from an item in one of the Photoshop books that I'm currently reading. I was surprised to discover that Photoshop was initially created for movie special effects by two blokes at George Lucas's special effects shop: Industrial Light and Magic, it's close by here in Marin county. Once it was an operable piece of software it was bought and developed to it's current state by Adobe Corp.

Back in the late 60's I was teaching film and photography part time at Cal. State University, Long Beach and also going to UCLA film school. My interest in the following was because I was independently working to achieve similar results for my Masters thesis film. I used a darkroom in the art dept. and had lots of conversations there with an art student friend Jamie, who was a creative wiz plus he knew computers and electronic wiring circuits insideout. [an extreme rarity at that period]. He often described in detail how processes that were incredibly time consuming could be easily controlled by computers; much of it went over my head but I was always intrigued since it was what I was doing manually.

In 1971 Stanley Kubrick's movie 2001 was released and because, in part, of the psychedelic culture of the time plus the totally original special effects in the film it was an enormous success with the youth [plus me!] Douglas Trumbull got the Academy award for the effects and in the trade magazines he described how he'd developed a device he called a "slit scan projector" that was responsible for the unique effects, I learned everything I could about the design and worked to create something similar for my thesis film project at UCLA. Briefly, the effects were achieved by re-photographing every single frame of effects film through a moving slit-scanner and manipulating several parameters simultaneously, ie: camera travel, camera speed, f stops, light settings, apertures and the switching of cameras, lights and projectors on and off. It was all done manually and individual frames could take forever and remember we need 24 per second for movies. Mechanically it was similar to a huge lathe bed with three components, the projector, the slit-scan and the recording camera all synchronised and capable of moving independently along and across the bed. There's a not very good piece on the process at Wiki, the examples there are not very informative:

My friend Jamie contacted Trumbull and they met whereupon Jamie laid out his ideas for using a computer to controll all of those parameters: the way he described it to me was that you could load the camera and the projector, write the program and plug everything in and switch it on and go home at 5 o'clock. Next morning the entire sequence would be finished and all that was necessary was to unload the exposed film, take it to the lab and prepare for the next evenings "shoot"! The means to achieve his ideas was based on using numerous very precise "stepping motors" - electric motors that were programmable to perform absolutely accurate and minute degrees of rotation that would controll component movements to very precise measurements: solenoid switches and timers that could trigger equipment on and off and a computer program, that he of course would write, which triggered everything. Trumball was sold on the idea and he and Jamie formed a partnership to produce motion picture special effects. This lasted for a couple of years and then they separated each forming independent special effects companies. I'm not totally sure of the chronology of this, but at some point there Jamie enticed his art student friend Wayne to join him, which he did.

Somewhere along about here my situation evolved: I went from teaching to a full time position as the director of Media Development for the university. This led in turn to my involvement in a film production, a co-production with WGBH -TV in Boston to produce a documentary about the development of liquid fueled rockets by the Germans prior to and during WW2: it was titled "Hitler's Secret Weapon" and was produced for the Nova series on Public Television, it was also shown on BBC and West German TV. When I was editing the film I needed some graphic illustrations of cross sections of V2's to show the interaction of the various components. The word was put out and resulted in a student named Joe Johnson joining us and creating not only the needed diagrams, but also an illustrated brochure of the history of the German rocket program, the rocket bug had bitten him also!

At about this point Douglas Trumbull, cashing in on his special FX Oscar, chose to write and direct a science fiction film that dealt with a huge space freighter hauling the eqivalent of Yosemite National Park in several enormous geodesic domes through space to preserve the animal and plant species after the earth became so poluted it could no longer sustain life. The film was "Silent Running." The sets for the interiors of the space freighter was the aircraft carrier "Valley Forge" which was mothballed in nearby Long Beach harbor: the spacecraft was also named the "Valley Forge." Re-enter Wayne Smith who was then involved with the special effects in the film.

I think this part is close to accurate but I'm not positive. Wayne needed all sorts of help so he started calling on his art student friends, the Design dept was rapidly depleted by students choosing high paying jobs making movies rather than sticking around to graduate. At some point thereafter when the Valley Forge sequences were finished, a student, John Dykstra, got into a heated argument with the professor in class and was promptly expelled from the University! The next thing I heard from John was when I went in to use the darkroom one Saturday night. He would sneak back on weekends to see his friends and I bumped into him when I took a break. He told me that he had got a job as the special effects superviser on a B grade science fiction movie. He, plus several former students, were working in a warehouse in the San Fernando valley and were doing some "real interesting stuff" - "I should come and see some of the FX they were creating!" Plus, he knew that I had a 35mm Mitchell movie camera [the industry standard] and could he borrow it? They needed something with that precision for the effects they were creating. So I loaned it to him. The next time I saw it it had been modified extensively: the lens plate now took Nikon lenses and the motors had been discarded for precise stepping motors! Somehow I'd never got around to accepting his invitation to come and see what they were up to and the next time I saw John it was on TV, he was accepting the Oscar for special effects for "Star Wars" - the B grade science fiction movie he was working on! It's not generally known that the core nucleus of Lucas's special effects dept were all art students with no prior knowledge of film of FX.

Star Wars was such a huge success that George Lucas chose to move the entire special effects unit to his Marin county HQ - Industrial Light and Magic and at some point thereafter I mentioned to a friend in the publications dept. at the university that I was visiting friends in Marin County that weekend.The friend was writing a piece for the university magazine on one of our alums who was working at Industrial Light and Magic: Joe Johnson! Could I see him and take some pics for the article? So of course I did and also got the guided tour of ILM and met several old friends there. When I asked Joe what he was up to these days, he told me that he had a screenplay that he was working on, no big deal, nothing much, just a childrens story. He wouldn't elabororate. About a year later I got a phone call at the university, it was Joe. He wanted to know if he could get some of the WW2 rocket footage that I'd used in the documentary plus some of the interview with Werner von Braun, I told him "Sure, he could have anything he wanted" He wasn't very forthcoming about what he needed it for and I didn't push it. The next time I saw his name was on a review of a just-released movie, he had writer/director credit, the film was "The Rocketeers!" a big enough success that Joe now has several more director credits to his name.

So here I am 30 years later and just down the road from ILM, persuing a longtime interest in learning how to use Photoshop to digitally do all those things that I spent hours struggling with in all those all-night darkroom sessions plus those eons spent modifying a lathe bed and endless hours trying to tune a 16 mm film processor and a 16 mm printer! And little did I know then that my Mitchell might have played some small roll in the establishment of the Lucas empire and the subsequent development of my current interest, Photoshop.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Jack Brennan: born Oct 27 1909 - died Dec 19, 1966.

My father died on Dec. 19th. 1966 of a heart attack at age 57. A heart attack at such an early age was attributed by the family doctor to a lifelong weakened heart as a result of the world-wide Spanish influenza epidemic of post WW1. When he died I was on a skiing vacation in Aspen Colorado and didn’t find out until I returned home to LA a couple of weeks later: the mail box was stuffed with telegrams and letters announcing the death and burial and querying why I hadn’t responded.

Over the interveningyears I’ve thought of him many times and wished that he were still here so he could visit and we could share what I enjoy in the US. The last anniversary, the 44th. caused me to reflect on him, his values, his interests, his abilities and to realise again what a unique individual he was. The word genius is tossed about very lightly these days, it no longer has the significance it once had. Webster’s defines it as: “One possessing exceptional intellectual and creative power.” Intellectual is defined as: “One having the capacity for understanding and knowledge with the ability to think abstractly and profoundly.”

My father was a bricklayer, a very hard, lowly paid and unappreciated job in post WW2 Britain. He was a lifelong member of the Building Trades Workers Union and was always the union representative on every job site he worked. On work days he looked like a scarecrow, wrapped against the weather in layers of clothing that were splattered with cement and usually ragged and torn. Even on weekends and holidays he never looked totally comfortable in his clothes, it seemed as though nothing ever fit him properly. Which was surprising since as a young man he was very handsome and very clothes conscious.

Genius I don’t claim, but 'intellectual' most definitely applies; by the standards of that day or this. This raggedy-assed bricklayer was the most well read and most thoughtful man I’ve ever known in my lifetime of university and academic environments! Most of his workmates were satisfied to read the sports page, keep up on the social gossip and to watch the telly. His interests included architecture, astronomy, literature, music and world affairs, all of which he could discuss eloquently and with considerable understanding. I remember, on many occasions as a child, being taken to visit the classic Gothic cathedrals in Britain; Canterbury, Lincoln, Norwich, Ely, Westminster, York Minster et al. He would explain their significant features and how and why they were built; he understood the principles and theory and frequently referred to plans and drawings in Bannister Fletcher’s book “The History of Architecture by the Comparative Method.” My architectural exposure was not limited to Britain: he also exposed me to the wonders of Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, the Taj Mahal, the Pantheon and the Parthenon, the heating and hydraulic systems of the Baths at Caracella and much of ancient Greek and Roman history.
During the night-time air-raids in WW2 we would leave the house and walk to the edge of the city and he would explain the various constellations, theories of cosmology and abstract concepts such as “time”, all the while asö we watched falling bombs and anti-aircraft gunfire and searchlights. Fred Hoyle, the author of “The Origins of the Universe” was a source that he frequently quoted.
Also during these walks he would explain what was happening re. the war: the causes of Germany’s actions; why “Uncle Joe” had signed a pact with Hitler and how the USSR was building a new society. Our house was the place that the local communist party met on what seemed like a weekly basis. There were regular gatherings, more like parties, of a dozen or more comrades, often with refugees from the Spanish civil war and they would sit around all evening talking, mostly political stuff and I would sit quietly on the sidelines taking it all in. His grasp of communism and world affairs was based on a thorough reading and understanding of Marx and Engles, both of whom he frequently quoted, and on continuous argument and discussion with the local party members and friends.
As I write this there is a photograph on the wall in front of me of the dozen or so core members of that group with me as a little lad of about 6 or 7 standing at the front. It was taken on one of our many Sunday afternoon rambles out into the Derbyshire moorland where the destination would always be a country pub. Since kids were not allowed inside I was always left outside with a bag of crisps and a lemonade and someone would pop out periodically to see that I was OK. He was also an ‘active’ member of the group, it wasn’t all beer and talk. I remember being out at midnight with a group, I carrying a bucket of whitewash, while they painted slogans on walls and on the roads at intersections, like “Open the second front now!” complete of course with the hammer and sickle. Other times we marched in demonstrations carrying party banners. And then then was MI6 knocking on the door asking ”Does Jack Brennan live here?
As a communist he had a funny attitude to America: he was very critical of some aspects of the country but he was also very interested, admiring and knowledgable: he had a sort of schizophrenic push/pull attitude and was probably responsible for my later decision to live here. Long before I came I was very familiar with the structural designs of the Golden Gate bridge, the Empire State building, Ford’s facility at Dearborn and Wilshire Blvd. I was also introduced to the works of John Steinbeck, Upton Sinclair, Paul Robeson and Joe Hill. I was also aware of the Scottsboro boys, the KKK and HUAC.
He loved Puccini and Verdi so much that he phonetically learned the lyrics of La Boheme and Madam Butterfly and would often burst into song with his favorite arias or would put our scratchy records on the gramaphone and sing along. I remember also that we had some classic American show tune records, Gershwin mostly. Humphrey Bogart was a favorite actor and I remember he liked “High Sierra” and “Call Northside 777” though going to films was never a high priority in our house.

He was a very basic working class bloke, all of his knowledge and ability was self taught since education in the slums of Sheffield in the early ‘20’s was minimal and ended at age 14; when one was then expected to get a job in a cutlery factory, which he did!

Friday, May 16, 2008


Back in May '76 I noticed a tiny item on the inner pages of the LA Times, Bob Marley and the Wailers were to play a gig at the Roxy in Hollywood on the Saturday followed by a show at Pauley Pavilion at UCLA on the Tuesday. I imediately called the Roxy, "Sorry this is a closed event, not open to the public" was the sorrowful news. Damn!
That afternoon I met my friend Ron and told him my tale of woe, "Hey no problem, you should speak with so and so, she's married to the guy who owns the Roxy, she used to be my room mate, I'll give her a call" About 5 minutes later my phone rang, it was she, calling from Spokane; "Hi, Ron tells me you want to see the Marley concert, how many tickets do you need?" Oh God, I almost fell off the chair, "Could I get two" I tentatively asked, "No problem, I'll have them put your name at the will-call window for all-access, and would you like tickets for Pauley as well? This was too much, "I'd love it you could do it" "No problem she said, "You'll have two on the guest list there with all access". I don't remember what I spluttered at that point, I was probably just babbling inanities.
The big day arrived, I drove to Hollywood and parked right across the street from the Roxy, there was a huge crowd totally blocking the sidewalk and access to the box office. In those days I carried my camera gear everywhere, a bag with at least a couple of Nikons and several lenses etc. When I finally got to the will-call window it was exactly as she'd said it would be, two all access passes, but when I got to the entrance a guy who looked like a professional football player said "No Cameras or recorders period, no exceptions" I showed him my passes, "Did you hear what I said, No Cameras!" Damn, now I had to go back through the crowd to the parking lot and stow my gear and when I returned the crowd was so big that I thought I might never reach that door again, but I finally did and when I entered there was space at a table about 10 ft from the stage. It's a small club and it was packed; I immediately saw why it was a closed event, everybody who was anybody in the music business in LA was there, I saw Lennon, Dylan, CSN, Joni, the entire audience were music personalities!
The lights went down and the band started playing behind closed curtains and this went on for several minutes with the crowd getting more excited and noisy by the minute: Tony G, Bob's local man in LA did the intro's, " Well Rastafari, peace and love in the South, I and I would like to introduce, direct from Trenchtown Jamaica, what we call the Rastaman Vibration, Bob Marley and the Wailing Wailers" and with that the band switched into Trenchtown Rock and it was underway! The crowd went nuts, the Wailers had never played so well. An amazing concert, definitely the best I was ever at and the bonus was being back stage in the dressing room afterwards!
At some point shortly thereafter Junior Marvin gave me a board check cassette of the show, I treasured it and played it constantly, every year on air I did a BMW special and it was always included. I had dozens of board tapes from lots of the live shows but that one was exceptional. And then in 2003, twentyseven years after the event Tuff Gong/Island records released it on CD, actually a double "Bob Marley & the Wailers Live at the Roxy.
The most amazing part of the concert was the encore, the Wailers came back on stage and did a 30 minute set that was unbelievable, they and Bob played Get up, Stand up, No more Trouble and War in a manner never heard before or since, they were transported. It was spectacular, here it is, it's a 24 minute cut, I suggest that you just hit play and turn the volume all the way up.

Thursday, May 15, 2008


This afternoon I was googling Big Bill Broonzy prior to possibly doing a piece about him, many years ago I saw him twice, once in Ipswich with Josh White also on the bill and once in London where he was supported by the Humphrey Lyttleton band, Jimmy Rushing, and I believe the Chris Barber band. It was a benefit for Big Bill who'd been diagnosed with cancer and didn't have any medical insurance, his primary income came from the small farm he ran in Arkansas.
That event was initiated by Humph: a few moments ago I saw on the front page of the Guardian that he'd died. He was a very special influence on my life, he pointed me in a direction that I've appreciated throughout my life, not in a personal way but by his music. Immediately after WW2 I was just entering my teenage years and was living in Barnehurst, Kent; I'd somehow discovered jazz and the only place in England at that time to hear live jazz was a pub just down the road, it was the Red Barn and the George Webb band with Humphrey Lyttleton performed there every week. I was only about 14 so I couldn't go to a pub but I'd stand outside during the warm summer evenings and listen to the music coming through the open windows. I was able to get into the 100 club on Oxford street where he also played regularly so that's where much of the money I earned from my paper route went. That was where in defiance of a government edict against American musicians performing in England he hosted the great New Orleans musician, Sidney Bechet.

Initially I was obsessed with New Orleans jazz and Louis Armstrong was my idol, however over the years Humph's band evolved towards the Kansas City style and the Basie small groups and those have been my main interest in music throughout my life. He wrote quite prolifically and authored several books on his life in jazz and when I left England in 1958 I brought two of them with me, they're in the bookcase in my living room and three of his albums that I also brought with me are in my vinyl collection. By coincidence my stepmother, who was a teacher, had a girl in her class, Jill Richardson, who went on to marry Humph in 1952.

Whenever I've visited the UK over the years I've always tried to listen to his BBC radio program and have even recorded several which I still occasionally enjoy. He will definitely be missed, not just by me but by everyone who enjoys jazz in the UK, he's influenced every aspect of the music and has performed with many of the major musicians both British and American.

Here's three cuts by Humph from the early years:

1. Weary Blues from around 1948.
2. Beale Street Blues with Marie Knight from around 1952.
3. How Long Blues with Jimmy Rushing from the mid 50's.


I was travelling in Guatemala with my friend John in a VW camper back in the late '70's, and as is often the case in such situations we'd met other travellers and someone had recommended the baths at ...., I've stretched my memory and stared at the map but the name won't come. It was a very small mountain village high on the side of a volcano. The towns and villages of Guatemala almost all have a Saints name attached, I'm looking at my map and literally 80%+ are thus. The name doesn't matter.
We were not going anywhere in particular and we suddenly saw the name on our map, it was close so we decided we'd go. If I say road, you'll think of road; Guatemala doesn't have roads in that manner, there are lines on maps but usually they represent trails more suited to donkeys than vehicles. As we neared the village with the baths the 'road' was all uphill since we were on a volcano, Guatemala has many volcanoes. Suddenly we came to a clearing in the trees, there was a large flat area, possibly as large as a football field and within it there was a huge bath, about half the size of a football field, it was dug below ground level and was about 2-3ft deep. It was full of hot steaming water and there were hundreds of Mayan Indian families taking their weekly Saturday bath. Everyone was naked, dozens of kids, parents, grandparents, all scrubbing each other, the place was packed. The reason there was a bath there and the reason it was full of hot water was the volcano, there was a mountain stream that ran downhill alongside the trail that was steaming, they'd diverted it into their communal bath. As far as we could see it was totally free, anyone could come and go as they pleased, there was nothing formal.
We'd been told to continue up the hill to where we'd find a more formal indoor baths, more suited to gringos; we eventually found it right next to the stream alongside the trail. It was a single story stone building about 100 ft long, when we entered there were about a dozen private cubicles along the length, each one had a stone lined 'tub' sunk into the floor that was about 5ft square and 3ft deep. An attendant appeared and we paid him 50c each, he removed a 6" wooden plug from the side of the tub and it instantly filled with hot water; there was no adjusting the temperature but that was OK, it was perfect. We'd brought our supplies, two towels, a half gallon bottle of rum, a bag of limes, several glasses and a large bottle of coca cola. We asked our new friend if he like a drink and of course he would. We sank into the tub each armed with a tall glass and lay there, every 30 minutes or so the attendant would check to see if we needed more water, we always did and we always rewarded him. We spent the rest of that Saturday afternoon in there, I have no memory of what came later.
I have no photographs of that day but there's a good selection from our travels in Guatemala at my Picasa site:


Let me say right off the bat that I think Nina Simone was one of the great artists of the 20th century, I love her music, her singing and her piano playing; I'm saddened that she never recorded a 'Nina plays Piano' album, I'd love to have it. All that said I must admit to some severe reservations re. her DVD "Nina Simone at Montreux, 1976.
A few days ago Ejay initiated a conversation over on the side by posting a link to a youtube Nina performance he'd come upon, it was the 1976 Montreux concert. I'd never seen it nor her in this sort of performance and I was blown away by her intensity and emotional performance. I immediately ordered the DVD, It came today.
Back in the 80's I recall a conversation with a friend in LA, he was the host of 'the' R&B/Soul music program on 'the' top Jazz/R&B radio station in LA. We were chatting in the studio [off-air] . The conversation turned to Nina, I suggested that he should consider an 'in studio interview' with her. " Absolutely not, She's fucking crazy" he said, and then went on to relate several DJ's who'd done just that and what the results were. OK, perhaps he had a point. A few weeks later she did an interview at KRCB's 'Morning becomes Eclectic' show which I have on tape and she did break down in tears on-air and the host did have to go to an extended station break, it was a very awkward interview, she's not an easy subject to talk with, she's very emotional.

So when Ejay turned me on to the Montreux performance I was immediately intrigued and ordered it.
I've just looked at it twice and I think my friend was right, She's nuts! At least she's a very troubled woman, she's angry and confrontational with the audience several times, there's a thing with the mic placement for the first several minutes which really makes no sense, we're at the 13 minute point before that's resolved. She seems to be very stoned. There's so many items of her dialogue that would warrant 'discussion', several points where she's confrontational with audience members, several points where there's throwaway lines that could cause critics to be very negative. The audience bends over backwards to accommodate her, the MC goes out of his way several times to try to keep her onstage but even as early as at the 30 minute point she's walking off, she's done, but she does come back, for a total of five songs, the rest of the time, the introductions and personal comments are endless though I'm sure perfectly valid and justified from her perspective.
Don't get me wrong; I ordered this DVD because I thought that what I saw of Nina's performance was amazing and I was right, there's some wonderful music here but there's also an insight into her insecurities and her paranoia, yes, she's not a perfect person, she makes me think of Van Gogh, Gaugin, Sylvia Plath and Tolstoy. I think my friend in the studio was right, she's a wonderful artist and a marvellous musician but she's troubled and this video is an awkward and revealing means to discover that; I kept wishing that she's just get back to the music, to the piano but she insisted on revealing yet another layer.
Here's Ejay's initial link plus a couple of cuts that show her superlative musicianship, if you want the rest you must go to Amazon or wherever.


Watts, a black community in south central LA, famous for it's riot and it's towers, has a free music festival every year, it's not a big deal, basically it's just for the benefit of the community. It's held outdoors in the summer and there's always at least one headliner, one year it was Taj Mahal, a guy I've seen many times and I've always enjoyed his music.
It's a small event, the stage is only about 18" high and the audience is usually less than a couple of hundred. Taj came on and I was there with my camera, immediately in front of the stage there was an old drunken guy in the first row who started mumbling a request for Taj to play Corina, Corina right from the start and he kept it up throughout the entire performance mumbling his request at the end of every song. He wasn't disruptive, he was too drunk for that, he was just insistent. Taj ignored him and played the set he'd come to play.
When he finished and when the applause died down he set his guitar down and stepped off the stage and walked to the rear where there was a concession selling beer and drinks, he bought two beers and came back to where I was sitting on the edge of the stage, he went over to the old guy who was only about 10 feet from me and stuck one of the beers in his hand and then grabbed him by his lapel, "Alright motherfucker, you want to hear Corina? sit down and shut the fuck up" and with that he deposited him on the edge of the stage right next to me, he then sat down next to him, picked up his guitar and started to sing 'Corina': he gave the old guy not only a beer but an individual performance. From my point of view as a photographer it was unbelievable, I was within about 2 feet of Taj and I had my wide angle 24mm lens on, perfect! As he sang I kept shooting getting great stuff everytime, I think I shot a full roll of 36 on them.
When they were processed I was very pleased with the results, I had lots of very intimate shots of this unique performance. I had an artist friend Tony who was a wonderful painter and when he saw my shots he asked if he could borrow one, he'd like to copy it in a painting which he did and it was marvellous, an oil painting about 15" by 24" which he titled 'The Blues'. The woman in the painting is Randy Crawford who also performed that day.
A couple of years later Taj was in town again and he performed at McCabes Guitar center in Santa Monica, Tony and I went, taking the painting with us. We went backstage after the performance and I asked Taj if he remembered the incident at Watts, he did: Tony presented the painting to him and he was very touched by the gift.
And then many years later after I'd retired and moved to northern California I met a kindred spirit, another record collector, but he put me to shame, he had rooms FULL of music, I only had one, but his obsession had extended to video also. One day when chatting with him on the phone Taj's name came up and he mentioned that he'd shot a video of him many years earlier, I mentioned shooting at the Watts festival and he had the realisation that that was where he'd shot his video. He called me back a little later to tell me that he'd found it and had just watched it and realised that the guy sitting on the stage right next to Taj taking all the photographs was me! Small world, we'd both been at the same event and had become friends years later, he gave me a copy of the video on a DVD.

The second cut below has long been one of my favorite Taj song, it's with the Pointer Sisters from his 1972 album, 'Recycling the blues and other related stuff'- there's a nice picture of him on the cover with Mississippi John Hurt.

Monday, April 7, 2008


This is a first, I think, a verbal post on the Spill. Prompted by all that poetry going on over there I found myself reading a poem, and then reading out loud for the benefit of me and the cat, so I stuck a mic into my iPod and did it again and then loaded it into iTunes, unfortunately it was a wav file so it took a bit of processing through Audacity and Sound Studio to get it into MP3. Please don't judge my poetic ability, the cat was my only audience.
Thanks to TracyK for Timothy Winters.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Press the green triangle for audio and adjust your volume.

Early in 1982 I had the idea of travelling throughout Jamaica in my VW camper, I'd been there several times as a tourist and I'd done something similar years before travelling throughout Guatemala and Mexico for about 3 months; it's the only way to travel, you're self contained, you buy and cook your own food, you always have a place to sleep and best of all you easily get to places that would be otherwise inaccessible: I started planning the trip. Basically 'planning' meant writing to various Jamaican government agencies to ask what I needed to do to import a van to live in for about three months and contacting various shipping companies to enquire about their procedures. Finally I thought I had all the answers and I made specific arrangements re. dates and times etc. I had to have the van on the docks in Miami Beach before noon on the Friday to have it shipped to Kingston on that day's sailing so finally I left LA early on the Monday morning and began my drive across the United States.

At this point I should digress for a moment because there's an important element in the story. My VW camper was a rather drab maroon color, for quite some time I'd harboured thoughts of using all that sheet metal as a 'canvas' to make some sort of artistic statement, I should mention that years before I'd worked in the paint industry and had some minimal experience painting vehicles. The way I approached the problem was to photograph side and frontal shots of the van, these I scanned into my Mac and using a tracing program I created an outline of the vehicle; I printed a dozen copies of each and with a set of colored marker pens started doodling. Nothing was working until I created three horizontal stripes, each about 15" running around the the van, one red, one gold and one green, That started to look interesting. Where the the three colors converged at the front of the van I expanded the gold until it spread over front panel. Red Gold and Green were the 'national' colors of Jamaica.
I bought a quart each of red, gold and green and spent three evenings after work in the Engineering dept yard at the university where I worked masking and spraying the basic colors and then in the alley behind my apartment I did all the detail work. I had an album by the English reggae group Aswad that had a rampant heraldic lion on the cover, I photographed it as a slide and then projected the image onto a sheet of 3ft by 4 ft tracing paper, I outlined it with a black marker and then cut out the positive image. What I then had was a very fragile piece of tissue but I sprayed it with adhesive and finally managed to position it on the front of the van centered on that big gold panel. I sprayed that with black epoxy, let it dry and then peeled off the tissue and it looked fantastic! The result was wonderful to behold, a mobile living environment wrapped in the flag of Ethiopia, it opened doors for me that I could never have anticipated and it became my bond with the many wonderful Jamaican and Rasta friends that I made there.
I was ready to go, back to the story.

I remember that about half way across Texas on one of those endless straight highways I came to a stop sign, god only knows why and as I stopped a convertible stopped alongside me in the other lane, the occupants were an old black couple, maybe in their 70's, the old lady motioned me to wind down the window, "Me love your colours" she said, and her saying that in that location absolutely made my day! Prior to that I'd been asking myself "What the hell do you think you're up to, you're a middle aged white Englishman driving to Jamaica across Texas in a van that looks like the flag of Ethiopia? You're insane! I'd really started questioning what I was doing.

With a couple of diversions I made it into Miami Beach on the Thursday afternoon, I parked in a hotel parking lot right at the ocean. That night there was very loud reggae coming from the hotel, it was a regular weekly dance and they played a lot of Bob Marley as I lay there dozing in the van, it was a good omen. The next morning I awoke to a monsoon style deluge, it was raining buckets. I needed to get to the docks by mid morning so I headed there and once I'd parked the van and signed all the papers in the shipping company office I had to walk about a mile back to a point where I could get a bus to the airport, I wasn't just wet, I was saturated, absolutely soaking and struggling along with the baggage that I chose to carry rather than ship. As I stood in line at the airport in the Air Jamaica line I thought I recognised the back view of the bloke in front of me, he turned slightly and it was Junior Marvin, lead guitar with the Wailers, we'd met in LA some time before so we flew down together and it was my luck that he had his car at the airport, he dropped me at a motel right across the street from his house, the van was supposed to arrive on the Monday. It didn't, it arrived a week later missing the radio and lots more.

The business of actually taking delivery of my van at the docks had seemed in all prior conversations to be a simple routine procedure; the reality was a nightmare of beaurocracy, there were previously unmentioned costs and a huge cash bond. I was at an impasse, the harbor master was saying that he couldn't release the van without a $3000+ cash bond and I had nothing close to that and it had never been mentioned before. Apparently no one had ever challenged the system by importing and soon thereafter exporting a vehicle. Finally it was suggested that a call should be placed to the office of Tony Abrahams, the Minister of Tourism, since I had applied to visit Jamaica as a professional working photographer. I spoke with him and explained my dilemma and he finally agreed that he would personally cover the bond on the understanding that I had to absolutely swear that I would ship the van out again
at the end of my visit, which I did. The intervening week is a very interesting story in itself that includes my staying at the house of Basil Keene, who filmicly astute readers will recognise as Preacherman in the film 'The Harder they Come', but that's a whole separate and interesting story in itself.

Once I took possession I left Kingston immediately and headed for the North Coast, where within a few hours I'd found what was to become my home away from home in Jamaica; It was the beach at the west end of Ocho Rios where the fishermen lived, right next to Turtle Towers. I don't know what hand of providence took me to Fishermen's Beach, maybe it was the inscription "Jah Guide" that was lettered on my van door, but to whoever, I give thanks because it was the perfect spot for me to live between my numerous forays into the country and culture of Jamaica. My misgivings about the 'outrageous' appearance of the van were short lived, it became the key item that opened doors and made friends everywhere I went, I recall one specific incident when pulling up to a stop sign in a rural county place and there was a beautiful young woman sitting on a wall off to my left, as I came to a stop she sat there and applauded me, or rather she applauded the colors.

So when I found that beautiful spot at Fishermen's Beach, right next to a freshwater stream, and only fifty feet from a natural spring which bubbled out of the rocks providing both drinking and bathing water, and just a short walk from a thatched hut that sold Red Stripe and patties; I knew I was in heaven. Of course all of the fishermen who lived there were curious about the newcomer, but the colors plus the reggae music that was piped to my van's outside speakers broke the ice, so I rapidly made friends. We often sat around talking and listening to music, I had dozens of reggae cassettes with me, one in particular was repeatedly requested. It was a tape of the 'One Love' concert in Kingston where Bob Marley had brought Michael Manley and Eddie Seaga together on the stage, the second side however was Peter Tosh onstage with a huge spliff berating the two politicians and all the assembled police for harassing rastas over ganga, it was during his 'Legalise it' period and we got requests for that cassette everyday.

On my second day there, late in the afternoon, I was standing by the open sliding door of my van talking with a group of two or three fishermen who were curious to know who I was, what I did and why had I come to Jamaica. Years before (as a birthday present) I had treated myself to a handsome folding knife with a rosewood handle and a leather case, I'd carried it everywhere I'd ever travelled and it was a very treasured possession, it lay on the counter just inside the van as we stood there talking. From the corner of my eye I saw a hand reach in, pick it up, open it and and handle it admiringly. The hand belonged to a newcomer to the group, someone I didn't recognise. The conversation shifted momentarily to the knife, everyone admiring it and commenting and then the discussion returned to our previous subject; and just about then I realised that the knife and the newcomer were nowhere to be seen, I felt like a fool, it had disappeared from right under my nose in an instant. One of the fishermen suddenly took off running; he was a small, lithe, very black man, who's only dress was a very tattered pair of shorts, he quickly disappeared through the trees towards the highway, "Don't you worry mon, Blacka will get your knife back for you, you don't need to worry," said one of the fisherman whose name was Reggae. About two hours later Blacka returned, running to where we were waiting "I caught him," he said excitedly "But the policeman took him to the station, he's there now and you must come and claim your knife"

Together we walked into Ocho Rios to the police station, where I was introduced to a very gruff senior officer who's hat and shoulders were covered in gold braid. I explained the whole story to him as he sat across a desk from me seemingly doubting every word I said. When I'd finished he just stared at me as I sat there expecting him to hand over the knife. "Well that's not quite how I understand it at all" he said, "in fact I've been led to believe that you're a big time ganja dealer and you're here to organize a large shipment of herb and that you're up there making arrangements with those fishermen to transport it for you!" Well that took me totally off guard, I sure hadn't expected that response. My knife thief was a quick thinker with a creative imagination. I pulled out my wallet and dropped my business card identifying me as the Director of Media at a major American university on his desk. I also reached for my passport case where I had a letter from a senior Jamaican government official responding to my initial inquiry about importing my van, plus I mentioned that he could call Tony Abrahams, the Minister of Tourism, who had assisted me at the docks a week earlier. He grudgingly seemed to finally accept my story, he reached into a drawer, withdrew my knife and held it under the light. "Is this your knife? he asked When I told him that it was he handed it over, he told me to be careful and the meeting was obviously over.

As Blacka and I walked back to Fishermen's Beach together I told him about my plans to travel throughout the island, I told him that what I wanted to do was to follow my instincts, to go to those places on the map with interesting names and to have new adventures everyday, to meet Jamaican country people and learn about their culture and most of all I wanted to photograph every aspect of Jamaican life. I told him that there was plenty of room for two people and if he wanted to join me that he would be very welcome. Well he jumped at the opportunity and another lifelong friendship was born. The next day we set off together on the first of many trips throughout the island. We settled into a comfortable routine, Blacka had worked as a chef in a hotel so he was happy to handle the cooking, I did the driving and a typical day would begin after coffee with a search for a fisherman to buy dinner, then to locate a market for vegetables, thence to the ice factory which every community has to re-load the ice chest and finally to the local beer retailer to get a case of Red Stripe. Blacka was invaluable in knowing how to locate these places in every community we visited. As we travelled he would sometimes out of the blue say "Stop here mon, give me a dollar" and he'd jump out and walk to a total stranger and return within minutes with a bag of ganga; he had an eye for such things.

I didn't see our "knife friend" for several weeks, but when we did meet again he was intent on robbing me again, this time at the crack of dawn. I awoke to the sounds of shouting and feet running on gravel, he had been seen looking into the van through a side window, I was saved again by the combined efforts of the fishermen who chased him with the intent of shaving his head. He was a fake rasta with locks which they thought brought disgrace to rasta and many weeks later towards the end of my visit Blacka came running to the beach one day, he'd seen the thief nearby and wanted to show him to me. We quickly walked to where he was and as we approached he took off, Blacka had told me his name so I called out to him and for an instant he turned and I had my Nikon ready, I grabbed one clear shot of him, I don't know the circumstances but by then he'd lost his locks. The plan was to make a handbill and plaster the community with 'Beware of thief' posters but I think we let that one die.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I met George Schaeffer or Schaffer in August 1976 in Panajachel Guatemala. He was a very odd character, he told me that he'd been a successful psychiatrist, I believe in Vienna but had given it all up to apprentice himself to a blind beggar in Guatemala; we didn't get into any details, I don't know how long that lasted but when I met him I was never sure who I was talking to, there always seemed to be more than one person and he never answered a question directly. If he was from Vienna he didn't speak with an accent, in fact his voice was totally without accent, it was impossible to detect whether he was Austrian, English or American from his voice.

We were walking down what almost seemed like an English country lane except it was about 100° and everything was covered in tropical flowers. I was with my friend Jennifer, a psychiatric nurse from Guyana who was living in Southern California: we had taken a vacation together, travelling by bus and train through Mexico and Guatemala. Panajachel is due west of the capital, Guatemala City and about 20 miles from the Pan American Highway which is how we'd arrived there the day before on a bus from Oaxaca Mexico. It's a beautiful area on the north shore of Lake Atitlan which is about 25 miles in diameter and is surrounded by active volcanoes.

As we walked down the country lane I saw ahead a sign on a post which said 'gallery', it pointed to an unusual large house that stood back from the road. It was unusual in that it looked architecturally designed rather than the typical concrete block or adobe structures. We entered and there was a well dressed young man seated at a desk, he welcomed us and gave a short description of the current works on display.

I was immediately intrigued by the art on the walls, it was all by the same person, it was signed by a woman and was very stylised; almost everything there contained very Mayan looking faces but they were often three dimensional. The artist had built up areas of the canvases prior to painting so that a nose for example would stand away from the face and this concept was carried throughout, it was present in most pieces but not just with the faces. Another feature was that there were pieces of Guatemalan Indian fabric embedded into the paint, the figure could have a real fabric huipile rather than a painted one. The paintings were extremely complex, there were dozens of details filling every canvas but what caught my attention throughout was that many had another common concept, they were symmetrical: left and right, up and down, black and white, positive and negative etc. We spent a good hour or more looking at everything in detail but throughout I'd noticed through the windows that there was a large garden and at the far end there were several more buildings; all of the buildings were painted in the same manner as the artwork on the walls.

I commented on this to the young man and asked if we might go back there and look at those buildings also, 'Of course' he said and he led the way to the outside path. We walked across the garden and suddenly noticed that there was a stream running through it, a small one about 6ft wide but there was a plank bridge so we crossed over. As we neared the first building I noticed that the concepts in the paintings were now life size, all the walls were covered with murals that were similar to the paintings, plus there were several sculptural structures that were also painted. Everything was a continuation of the art in the gallery, everything was painted.

Out of nowhere a silent figure appeared, he was a middle aged white man in peasant's clothes, he asked if we liked the art. I had so many questions, who was the artist? What was the significance of the symmetry? How long had all this taken/ and many more, he didn't answer any question directly, it was as though he was deaf or didn't understand the language, so that after many minutes of conversation I was none the wiser; he answered everything with obscure parables, he spoke of the 'Generals' implying those in power in Guatemala but went on to refer to General Electric, General Mills, General Motors etc. After listening and trying to ask questions I finally gave up, I wasn't going to get any answers, I still didn't know who the artist was except that he kept speaking of her and himself simultaneously. He gave us a guided tour explaining everything: besides the house there was a two story guest cottage and a Noh theater that he built to put on Noh plays for the Indians, everything was similarly decorated. We were about ready to give up on it and leave when he asked " Would you like to return this evening, we could talk some more, I could explain more and perhaps we could smoke some...., I never got what he was suggesting that we could smoke but given the times I was open to try anything. If I'd only known! So many questions were unanswered, so many fragments of conversation were unfinished and there was so much that was intriguing and interesting that we left it at that and promised that we would return that evening at about 8pm.

We take electric lights for granted, there were none in that town, there was no electricity, the only light we saw as we walked that evening were either dim candles or paraffin lamps in houses along the road; there was no moon so it was literally pitch black. And the blackness intensified as we turned at the 'gallery' sign, we could vaguely see the house but had no idea where the path leading to the back was but we finally found it and headed towards the rear of the garden. I re-discovered the stream when I stepped into it but that was OK, it was only about a foot or so deep. We arrived at the door of the building and knocked, it seemed like an eternity before it opened but when it did there was our host, he welcomed us in but he was in the middle of a deep but very quiet and private conversation with another man, he asked us to wait in the kitchen. There was a bench running along one wall, there were two tiny candles, the type used in churches, I think they're called votive candles; they flickered and provided absolutely minimal light. On the wall opposite ran a full length shelf at about 6ft height and along the entire length were life sized gruesome masks, dozens of them, they were barely perceptible in the dim flickering light but you were very conscious of their presence, it was a very eerie place.

After a while we heard the man in the next room taking his leave and George appeared in the doorway, he sat down and said "Perhaps you'll join me, I enjoy smoking this mixture, it's what the Mayan's have smoked for hundreds of years, it clears the mind and allows insights into other realms", he handed me a lit pipe and I took a deep hit and passed it to Jennifer. It was nothing like the Mexican weed that we were used to in California, I can't describe it more than to say that it hit instantly and was very strong and it almost immediately started images swirling in my mind, the sort of thing that one usually associates with LSD or Psylocybin mushrooms. A couple more hits were taken and then he said "We should go to the music room, it will be more comfortable there", whereupon he led us down a corridor and opened a door for us. That room was also lit with only two tiny candles though it was quite large, they were placed on the floor in front of a triptych screen that was painted with a variety of intriguing but very gruesome images. We sat cross legged on the floor, the door was immediately to my left, I could hear George shuffling around behind me moving things. My psychedelic visual light show continued as I looked back and saw in the very dim light George moving what appeared to be a good sized piece of a tree stump with what looked like cymbals fastened to it. At that moment George came towards me and closed the door and as he did I was absolutely positive that I saw him turn the key in the lock and drop the key in his pocket! Regardless of everything going on around us the only thing that I could deal with was that; why had he locked the door? I obsessed over it, I could think of nothing else even as this white devil faced gruesome image on the screen before kept drawing my eyes constantly, I tried to look away but it was always there drawing me back and I couldn't not think about the key and my personal light show wasn't helping.

Press the green triangle for audio and adjust your volume level.

George had returned to the tree stump and I saw him begin a very quiet rhythmic pattern on the cymbals, he appeared to have what sounded like a long horsehair brush that he was swishing across the various toned cymbals and a soft xylophone mallet. He began a very quiet almost inaudible chant that started to rise and fall with the swishing cymbals, chant is the wrong word, it was more like a sermon, but delivered very low key and quietly and punctuated with long periods of the swishing and rhythmic drumming.He developed a hypnotic pattern of sound that rose and fell and changed tempo and after what seemed like at least an hour I started anticipating a break in the proceedings where we might 'make our escape', but 'twas not to be, he went on and on and all the time the key was the only thing I could think of. There was another element in this performance that was very disconcerting, I knew where he was standing, I could turn and see him and hear him but throughout the performance suddenly there was another sound from a different part of the room, it was a single very clear 'ping' on a cymbal, and then minutes later another from a totally different place, and on and on.

It wasn't 'til the next day that I discovered the source of these sounds, he'd fastened containers of water at the ceiling with a wick hanging over the side which acted to syphon a single drop every several minutes that fell onto a cymbal directly below, it was purely random. In that dark room the effect was very unsettling since it suddenly seemed as though we were not alone and it compounded the unease that the key was causing. Finally as he reached a slow quiet section that came to an almost stop, I stood up and said "George, that was wonderful, really inspiring, but we should be going". I could see that he was disappointed but he came over to us and thanked us for coming etc and walked to the door and opened it, I watched him very closely but didn't see him use the key, in that light it was difficult and his body blocked the view. As we made our departure he suggested that we might like to return the next day so I asked if I could photograph the house and the art, he was more than delighted so we said we'd return in the afternoon.

I knew that it would be impossible in daylight to create the effect of those images in candlelight but I wanted to at least document them. He gave us a free hand to photograph anything and everything and though he never said it nor anything close I knew that he was very proud of everything there and he wanted others to share it. The first place I went to was the music room, I wanted to see the tree stump and that's exactly what it was but he'd made deep sawcuts into it in several places and wedged in various sized cymbals. And then I looked at the door, THERE WAS NO KEYHOLE IN IT! My mind had played halucinagenic tricks on me. I went methodically through the house and gardens and photographed everything and when we were ready to leave he handed me two cassettes which contained the sounds of the prior evening and asked if I would do him a favor. Would I have a second set of photographs made and deliver them to Krishnamurti, who lived in Ojai California, close to where we lived, I said I would and I did so.

Something as insignificant as the cassettes were also part of the image; the cases were decorated totally, inside and out in the same manner as the paintings plus they have appliqués of fabric and printed images from the paintings applied to the surfaces, each one has a piece of an Indian belt approx 15" long that terminates with threads that have beads, coins and bells! The cassettes themselves are similarly decorated. I can't imagine how long it took to create these, it must have been hours. It would have been pointless to ask George any questions about Krishnamurti but I had a vague idea of who he was but now I discover that there's a large piece about him at Wiki, not so with George Schaeffer, I've searched everywhere fully expecting to find a link but without avail. As we left him he told me that there was a book that was published in Europe the dealt exclusively with the art; when I returned to the University where I worked I had the library run a national search and sure enough, it did exist, they requested an inter-library loan and I had it a week later. It didn't help, all of the work was credited to the woman who's name was in the gallery and who's name unfortunately, 30 years after the fact continues to escape me. My search continues.

Over the past many years I've thought about this incident and about George specifically many times but I haven't been able to figure out what he was about and what it was that drove him. He had obviously devoted his life totally at that period to everything that I've described, the gallery, the house, all the paintings and sculpture: his entire lifestyle seemed to be to one end but I still can't explain what that was. The images were extremely significant, they all related to Mayan history in one manner or another but also included fragments of Hindu and other Indian religions. As I've stated many had themes of positive and negative in many forms, plus there were lots of images that can only be described as grotesque. Had he gone to such enormous trouble and expense on the off chance that a couple of tourists like us would wander in off the street, and if so for what purpose? He didn't communicate with us in the slightest even though I was genuinely very interested and tried throughout to conduct a conversation and to understand what it was all about.

This painting is in many ways typical; regarding the bilateral symmetry start in the lower left corner, there's the recurring wheel and above are two Buddha like figures with halos, one white, one black. Look immediately to the right and in the center there's a nose and a pair of lips with two circular images representing eyes, above the eyes is a representation of wavy hair but in the center there's another Buddha figure with another halo, this time he's in a mouth with pointed teeth. Above the mouth is another nose but this one is divided down the center, half black, half white and on either side there's a series of contrasting faces, white against black and black against white, above the nose two more eyes with another mouth with teeth above them and another Buddha figure surrounded by what could be flames. Below the eyes on either side are what look like intestines, two on each side symmetrical in shape and color; the two top ones have the letters d g d g d g d g running along their length and immediately outside those elements are two serpents, red on the right and green on the left each with a contrasting colored head protruding from the mouth. Below the serpent's mouths are two scenes which are physically symmetrical but are totally different, on the right is a tranquil residential scene whilst on the left, a crowded cityscape. What any of this signifies I have no idea but I'm impressed with the effort and the creative imagination and what amazes me above all else is the volume of work, this painting is only one of hundreds.

This is an example of the other style that was prevelent, all the faces, the mountains and the corn are all three dimensional, all of the pieces of fabric are typical Guatemalan Indian textiles. This has none of the Hindu elements nor any of the grotesque images, these faces are traditional Mayan. The difference between this and the foregoing is obvious, perhaps there were two artists.


I wrote all of the foregoing very quickly and on impulse, what amazes me were all the details that flooded back and how I could remember it all so very clearly, in contrast I tried to remember other details of that trip including where we stayed and ate and any other activities in Panajachel but I could remember none. When I'd finished it, ie, reached the end of the above paragraph, I felt that it needed more, it needed something to resolve the story. I Googled 'George Schaeffer' and got a 'not found' message, I couldn't quite believe that he'd disappeared without a trace, that there existed no mention of him anywhere, I tried again this time deleting the 'e' in his name, no difference. And all the while I tried to remember the woman's name that was on the paintings but that wouldn't come either and neither would the title of the book that he'd mentioned. I was stuck! It looked like that's how the story would end but I kept trying, I spent hours doing internet searches and sending emails to current artists living in Panajachel requesting help from anyone who knew him or knew of him, again without success. And then one day I was using the phone book to look up 'Sullivan' and as I flipped the pages an ad caught my eye, it was in a large bold font and the name was 'Schafer' and at that instant I asked myself "Could that be how he spelled it?". I googled it and got an instant response, numerous mentions! One stood out, Wikipedia, it had a full page biography that included much of what I knew but also lots of details that I didn't and it tied up lots of loose ends.

During all of this more fragments came to me, one was his telling me the story of how he'd been held by the nazis and each day asked the question "Do you want to die now or later?" and in the Wiki piece it states "As a young man during World War II, Shafer was part of the Danish resistance and later a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp. He was sentenced to death but the sentence was not carried out." The bio also reveals that he worked in Germany post WW2 as a journalist and in this capacity "his job allowed him to meet or correspond with such notables as Carl Jung, Albert Einstein, Albert Hoffman and Lama Anagarika Govinda. He not only interviewed Dr. Carl Jung but was Jung's personal psychiatrist for a period of time. The phrase, "So fast the light so slow the matter follows behind" was written in a letter to his life-long friend Albert Einstein and, according to Schafer, was reflected in Einstein's writings on relativity."
It goes on to relate his initial exposure to psychedelic drugs whilst working with Dr Albert Hoffman, the Swiss chemist who synthesized LSD "While working with Dr. Hoffman and experimenting with synthetic mescaline, Schafer recalled a traumatic event in his early life and this recollection eventually led to his various philosophical writings, in particular to his book "Im Reiche des Mescal", and to the visionary art he was known for in his later years."
"Im Reiche des Mescal" is an adult fairy tale based on Central American Indian folklore it was translated into English as "In the Kingdom of Mescal": I've just found and bought a copy. It's the story of the kind of journey described by Aldous Huxley in The Doors of Perception, which is where I got my title for this piece, it's about how the man who goes through the door in the wall never comes back the same. It's the story of a boy who longs to get behind the appearance of things. A magic drink given to him by a medicine man sends him on a wonderful journey to a place where "the tongue forms no more words," into the depths of himself and to the heights of sheer wonder at the brilliance of the absolute.
It all sounds familiar.
During the post war period in Germany he met and married a German woman of Guatemalan descent who went by the adopted name of Nan Cuz (sometimes misspelled as "Cruz"), who was working as an assistant photographer at Die Welt. They moved to
Guatemala in 1973. They created an art center in Panajachel and Schafer further developed his distinctive artistic style. He always claimed that the paintings in "Im Reiche des Mescal" were by his own hand but signed "Nan Cuz" in an effort to enhance their "ethnic" authenticity, which explains my confusion and suggestion that there were possibly two artists; I never met nor heard of Nan Cuz from him.
He separated from Nan Cuz in 1978 and they divorced. Nan Cuz continued to paint and is well respected today. In 1979 he met Sherry Munson of the Munson Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico who he called "Mani". They were married in 1979 and in 1989 Georg, Mani and their 3 children moved to America settling in Chatham, Massachusetts, where she had family. Eighteen months after settling in their new home he suffered his first heart attack; he suffered a second and final heart attack, January 11, 1991 just 2 weeks after the birth of a son he named after Lama Govinda.

Georg Shäfer, Anglicized as "Georg Schafer" and "Georg Schaefer" a.k.a. Oma Ziegenfuss, Oma Ling Pa and (occasionally) Georg Shepherd, was born in Leinfelde, Germany on March 25th. 1926. He died on Jan. 11th. 1991 in Chatham, Mass. USA.

Nan Cuz
Aliases: Nan Cuz-Schäfer, sometimes known as Nan Cruz.
Professions: Painter; Illustrator; Photographer
Editor's note: Nan Cuz is an internationally famous Guatemalan artist and she has an interesting artist's house in Panajachel.

The following are all the illustrations from the book "In the Kingdom of Mescal"