Sunday, November 29, 2009

Guess who's getting married. That's right, my youngest (31-year-old) Tim will be getting married. This good lookin' Alaskan Aleut, seen here playing in his dad's band, at his older brother's wedding some years back, will be marrying his fiance, April, next week in Oregon.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Saturday, went to the Steinway building downtown for Tom Lambert's concert. Lena Gonzales was the sole vocalist, but the biggest change was that Alto sax player Bill (somethin') left the state and was replaced by Tony James on guitar. Fantastic! Even though the theme was "Women vocalists in Jazz", Lena took up percussions for Herbie Hancock;s "Cantaloupe Island" and Miles Davis' "Freddie Freeloader". Bridget Sullivan (Tom's other singer) wasn't there. I think she was doing at gig at Mad Myrna's that night. She will be singing "Shadows and the Light" on my next CD. Tony’s gonna be in the Spenard gig on the 22nd, and I’m takin’ my ax, too. Hope to see you all there.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Back to Cordova

Just a couple of brief announcements: October 16th I will be back in Cordova teaching "Leadership" at the fire department there for their Officer's course. Put the beer on ice.... Also, as soon as the "Foreign Xchange" concert is over at the Atwood Concert Hall, Rod Masters and Frank Iarossi (they're playing there, too) and I will get back to work on my new CD. Now I'm starting to worry that it might not be done by Christmas. We'll try....Since the O'Brien's Response Group needed me to re-cert my hazwopper training for my contract with them, I found an online course (resonably priced) that you emergency responders out there might be interested in checking out. I doubt that it is the only one, but it met my needs. It's OSHA compliant and is at Safety Unlimited, Inc.
And if you folks are heading for the Alaska Firefighters and Fire Chiefs conference this year, I'll see you all there (the week of September 21st). Stay safe and keep your wits about you out there. Remember, two California firefighters were just killed.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Because of the massive amount of events in downtown Anchorage for the 4th of July, Eagle River will be conducting it's events on the 3rd. Included in that will be an open-air concert starting at 8:00 pm at the Lion's Park. I will be playing sax with the group which consists of musicians from numerous bands all around the Anchorage area: Eric Baldwin, Sean Braendal, Rachel Finley, Monica Lettner, Bob Parsons, Gary Lamar, Shawn Ruddy, and Lisa Johnstone. Most of us had never played together before and have been reheasing at the Anchorage Academy of Fine Arts theater. We want to thank the fine arts academy for hosting our rehearsals. And, by the way, if you've never been to the Academy's theater in downtown Eagle River (on the Old Glenn Highway), you need to check it out and the upcoming events there.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Russian American Singers

Leonid (Leo) Grinberg is a Russian-American, gritty blues singer that I was honored to accompany on "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know". He was kind enough to allow me to include it on the CD I'm currently recording and hopefully will be released by late summer. I will be playing that number with him in a concert at the Anchorage Performing Arts Center September 12th. But, a couple of weeks ago, we performed that piece at a fundraiser for the Alaska Theater for Youth. Joining us on electric violin was Lena Lukina, a young Russian classical violinist who tore into the blues number with real soul. I know, they look pretty American to me, too.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


I wrote the following piece before someone far more skilled than me (Stacey Drake) assembled the information and placed at this other link. It's a lot more inclusive than my ramblings. Be sure to check it out here. Nevertheless, here is the thing I wrote that most people come to my site to read:

I wrote the following piece in July and it's been read by thousands of people, many of whom wrote and called me to express their gratitude. I wanted to write a complimentary piece without taking cheap shots at any other individual. Anyway, it was suggested that I post it here as well. Here goes:

"The last 45 of my 66 years I've spent in a commercial fishing town in Alaska. I understand Alaska politics but never understood national politics well until this last year. Here's the breaking point: Neither side of the Palin controversy gets it.It's not about persona, style, rhetoric, it's about doing things. Even Palin supporters never mention the things that I'm about to mention here.

"1- Democrats forget when Palin was the Darling of the Democrats, because as soon as Palin took the Governor's office away from a fellow Republican and tough SOB, Frank Murkowski, she tore into the Republican's "Corrupt Bastards Club" (CBC) and sent them packing. Many of them are now residing in State housing and wearing orange jump suits. The Democrats reacted by skipping around the yard, throwing confetti and
singing "la la la la" (well, you know how they are). Name another governor in this country that has ever done anything similar. But while you're thinking, I'll continue. Notes added below since the original publishing of this post.

"2- Now with the CBC gone, there were fewer Alaskan politicians to protect the huge, giant oil companies here. So, she constructed and enacted a new system of splitting the oil profits called "ACES". Exxon (the biggest corporation in the world) protested and Sarah told them "don't let the door hit you in the stern on your way out." They stayed, and Alaska residents went from being merely wealthy to being filthy rich. Of course the other huge international oil companies meekly fell in line. Again, give me the name of any other governor in the country that has
done anything similar. Here, too.

"3- The other thing she did when she walked into the governor's office is she got the list of State requests for federal funding for projects, known as "pork". She went through the list, took 85% of them and placed them in the "when-hell-freezes-over" stack. She let locals know that if we need something built, we'll pay for it ourselves. Maybe she figured she could use the money she got from selling the previous governor's jet because it was extravagant. Maybe she could use the money she saved by dismissing the governor's cook (remarking that she could cook for her
own family), giving back the State vehicle issued to her, maintaining that she already had a car, and dismissing her State provided security force (never
mentioning-I imagine-that she's packing heat herself). I'm still waiting to hear the names of those other governors. Ditto on the data

"4- Now, even with her much-ridiculed "gosh and golly" mannerism, she also managed to put together a totally new approach to getting a natural gas pipeline built which will be the biggest private construction project in the history of North America. No one else could do it although they tried. If that doesn't impress you, then you're trying too hard to be unimpressed while watching her do things like this while
baking up a batch of brownies with her other hand.

"5- For 30 years, Exxon held a lease to do exploratory drilling at a place called Point Thompson. They made excuses the entire time why they couldn't start drilling. In truth they were holding it like an investment. No governor for 30 years could make them get started. This summer, she told them she was revoking their lease and kicking them out. They protested and threatened court action. She shrugged and reminded them that she knew the way to the court house. Alaska won again. Yep, new Pt Thompson info since this posting appeared.

"6- President Obama wants the nation to be on 25% renewable resources for electricity by 2025. Sarah went to the legislature and submitted her plan for Alaska to be at 50% renewables by 2025. We are already at 25%. I can give you more specifics about things done, as opposed to style and persona . Everybody wants to be cool, sound cool, look cool. But that's just a cover-up. I'm still waiting to hear from liberals the names of other governors who can match what mine has done in two and a half years. I won't be holding my breath.

"By the way, she was content to to return to AK after the national election and go to work, but the haters wouldn't let her. Now these adolescent screechers are obviously not scuba divers. And no one ever told them what happens when you continually jab and pester a barracuda. Without warning, it will spin around and tear your face off. Shoulda known better."

#1- Oops, I shouldn't have used the "CBC" (Corrupt Bastards Club) depiction, which later I was told was a different unrelated event, but instead used "GOB" (Good Ol' Boys). Whatever. Anyway, Sarah's narrative is accurate, mine is funny. But hell, How about this?... When she took office, she prohibited lobbyists from her offices, she arranged that any Alaskan politician caught exchanging a vote for a contribution would forfeit his pension (shudder), and as I mention again below, she posted the State's checkbook ledger on the internet (who received state money and for what). Slice it any way you want, that's effectively fighting corruption.

#2- Another reason we got "filthy rich" was because her approach to State budgeting was exemplary. Check it out:
FY 2009 Operating Budget: $11,200,000,000 ($11.2B)
FY 2010 Operating Budget: $9,700,000,000 )$9.7B)
Net Cut in Operating Budget: $1,500,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Operating Budget: 13.4%

FY 2009 Capital Budget: $2,632,000,000 (after she vetoed $268 million)
FY 2010 Capital Budget: $1,800.000,000
Net Cut in the Capital Budget: $832,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Capital Budget: 31.7%

Overall FY 2009 Budget $13,832,000,000
Overall Proposed FY 2010 Budget: $11,5000,000,000
Net Reduction in Overall Budget: $2,332,000,000
Total Percentage Cut in Overall Budget: 16.8%
That's Huge!!

All that might explain why, before she left, she deposited $5 billion in the bank for a rainy day and also why--during the 2009 recession--only Alaska and one other state grew private-sector jobs in this country.
#3- Also added after original posting "pork"
FFY07- Murkowski's federal requests total: 63 projects @ $349,497,000
FFY10- Governor Palin's federal requests total: 8 projects @ $69,100,000

It's 80% not 85% ... oops. It's strange how no one noticed that under Obama's leadership Standard and Poor downgraded the U.S. rating twice and that at the same time Palin's Alaska was upgraded twice because of her fiscal policies.

#4- With the pipeline bidding process, we (the public) watched the entire thing on TV -- including the opening and reading of the bids.

#5- Re POINT THOMPSON added after original posting (from Tommy Report Petroleum News 8/09) "...Cashman also notes that it's unlikely that Exxon/Mobil would have started drilling in Point Thomson had Governor Palin not taken a tough stand with producers... Even under ACES, Exxon/Mobil and its partners should be able to recoup more than 45% of their $1.3 billion cost of developing their phase 1 Point Thomson project , it is doubtful the Point Thomson partners would have made the decision to move forward with the high pressure gas cycling project under ACES if they weren't in danger of losing their leases tot he State of Alaska."

(Feb '10) Well, they started drilling (the first drilling there since 1983. February 9th They hit a pocket containing 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. That's a shit-load of gas ... now equaling 25% of all the gas in the North Slope. Palin sure has a knack for making the right decisions, huh?

I forgot to mention in this original posting the a couple of years ago, Palin also posted the State's checkbook and ledger on line, displaying any check over a thousand bucks, who and what it was for.

Because of ACES, in her first 12 months in office, State revenues doubled!
Added 3/22/13 from A Whitney Pitcher article, since passage of ACES to today the following has occurred: “Oil tax returns filed with Alaska has increased 383% since ACES was passed….and annual capital expenditures have nearly doubled since FY2007 … 13% if Conoco Phillips development occurred in Alaska but Alaska contributed 34% if their income. .. oil and gas jobs increased more than 15% between 2007 and 2012." 

Almost as an aside, Palin had an unprecedented nearly approval rating in Alaska which at one time spiked to 93%. Then, literally overnight (somewhere around August 30th, 2008) we were informed that she had been totally inept the entire time. Wow, how'd that get by us?

Since my Palin statement went viral and in addition was printed in her book Going Rogue, my blog site(s) received more attention than when it was used just to keep friends informed of my activities. Even my 30-minute appearance on a radio show originating in Missouri prompted questions about Alaska. So, even though I don’t intend to write political statements there are some things that I will address here (resulting from my preparation for the radio talk-show) that do relate to Sarah Palin:

To bring it into perspective for residents of Missouri, I explained that ANWR is about 33,000 square miles, or half the size of Missouri. The plot being eyed for drilling (about 3 square miles) is similar to the size of the Springfield, Missouri airport. I was asked how the caribou might react to drilling activity. I quoted from Palin’s book that the population of caribou near the transalaska pipeline increase from 5,000 in the 1970’s to 32,000 by 2002. I surmised that after eyeing the drilling rig from a distance and noting that whatever it is, it doesn’t eat caribou, the animal as likely as not would go sit on the edge of the platform and pick it’s teeth. These animals go where the food is. They’re not stupid. To stop moose from tearing up the crab apple tree in my front yard, I have to leap – screaming – off my porch, banging on a cooking pot with a spoon. The moose stays there, but the neighbors threaten to move. In Cordova, after the airport runway was lengthened which accommodated boeing 727’s and 707’s, the local moose refused to be intimidated by roaring jets, snow plows, and sanders. They continued to cross where they always had until one of them was struck by a landing 727. The moose was vaporized, the planes front landing gear collapsed and it slid to a stop on it’s nose. So they put up a fence. I was driving by one day and saw two angry bull moose charging into the fence trying, unsuccessfully, to tear down the obstruction to their tradition paths. They just are not frightened by things that they don’t perceive as a threat. Period.
Sarah got it wrong in her description of a “Death Panel” as a committee of bureaucrats indifferently resisting the pleas of those least among us. Here is how it would really work: You have a serious ailment and need a special treatment, but a lot of other people do too. Your doctor helps you fill out a computerized application for treatment. Each “dimension” in there (your age, gender, prognosis, income (maybe later)… your political affiliation…(probably much later… etc) would be given a numerical “weight”. Your application is submitted online. The computer program evaluates (scores) your application and places you on the list. Sometime later, your doctor calls you in his office to read the print-out he just received. You see you have been placed #8 in category “S”. With shaking hands, you flip the paper over and look for category “S” and find that “S” stands for “Sayonara “. You see, a real “panel” is way too personal and they don’t want to have to explain their decision to someone standing in dread and panic. The REAL panel is the group that designed the computer program with its dimension “weights”. That way, the people you contact to protest your ranking can feign torturous sympathy while they assert that there’s nothing they can do …they defer to “the system”. There’s no way you can grab a system by the throat to make it listen. You’ve dealt with organizations who rely solely on computers to answer you; you know I’m right about this.
The mainstream media tries to pretend they don’t know what the “Bridge to Nowhere” really is about. Commentators said in mocked surprise that Alaska wanted to spend a ton of money building a bridge to an island where only 50 people lived. I asked on the Missouri radio, “how many people actually live at your airport?” Then I said, “Suppose you couldn’t drive out of your town because all the roads were destroyed. Suppose you could only fly in and out, like residents of Ketchikan. But then, a huge mote was dug around your airport and filled up with water, I imaging you’d like a bridge there”. But what happed is that after Sarah took office and started looking at bridge designs, especially bridges that would span heavily navigated waters, the cost estimates continued to climb. Finally, she said it was just too expensive and another way would have to be developed to transport passengers into and out of Ketchikan. Bridge to "nowhere” my ass.
What happens when a pack of animals eats itself out of house and home (decimates the population of its normal prey) lay down and slowly starve in the snow, or go off to when they might find more food? And that location may very well be that clump of trees right behind your house, where they crouch and wait… like in my town. December 20, 2007, three Eagle River women took their dogs out for an evening walk. They were attacked by a pack of wolves. One dog was killed and one was hospitalized. April 27, 2009, Two joggers here with 3 dogs were followed, then attacked by wolves. One of the dogs was killed. September 10, 2009, a hunter in the interior was attacked by a wolf. He had to be hospitalized. In 2002 a 6 year-old was attacked in Icy Bay, and last winter, here in Eagle River a teenager on a bicycle was accosted by a wolf and saved himself by jumping off of his bike and taking refuge in a nearby car. The wolf “mauled” the bike’s tires and seat. Yep, that’s what happens after they kill all their normal prey, they eat Fido (maybe Fido’s owner).
Added later: May 2010, a 30-year-old blond, pony-tailed special ed teacher from Philadelphia accepted a teaching position in Chignik Alaska. She enjoyed the outdoors and jogged regularly. She was jogging one morning and apparantly was listening to her ipod and never heard the wolf pack bearing down on her from behind. She was mauled to death and partially eaten. One cannot be flippant when telling this tragic story.SARAH PALIN IS A QUITTER
True story. Everybody uses the phrase “Do the Math”. Okay. You have a job that pays $175,000 every 12 months. But it costs you – personally – half a million dollars every 8 months to keep that job. Do the math. Besides, she couldn't get any work done except deal with the law suits by the screechers.
Let’s be apolitical and view things like a person who has been acutely aware of employer/employee relationships most of his adult life… like me. I have personally liked all of our governors (my employees), but was very pleased to see Sarah, as soon as I hired her to run my “organization”, she: 1- Cut my expenditures for the first time. Not the rate of growth, but and actual cut. I can’t remember that happening before. 2- Increase my profit share with the contractors… my split of the profits from my product. 3- Expanded my product line (natural gas). 4- Reminded our contractors who the boss was (Thompson Point). Yep, my new senior employee did all that a little more that half-way through my contract with her. Is that an employer’s endorsement for re-hire? You betcha.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Check out this short video re Palin. A masterpiece

Palin emails released

Check out these emails I read from C4P. As an aside, the "journalists" who petitioned for the release of the emails, and posted them on the internet--asking America to search through them for scandal-- became oddly quiet about them after discovering the emails show Palin in a very positive light. You might expect some form of apology from them. Nope. That would require integrity on their part. That told me all I needed to know about Liberals. 

Why was Palin's favorability in the 80's in Alaska? It actually spiked to 93% in (I believe) Aug, 2008

Here's one of the reasons. This is not subjective nor can it be spun even by the expert spinners.
Last summer there were 5 potential presidential candidates that had records as governors. They were Palin, Pawlenty, Huntsman, Romney, and Perry. Here's how they ranked in dealing with their state financial liabilities:
Governor Perry -- Total liabilites increase 60.6%
Governor Romney -- Total liabilities increase 44.3%
Governor Pawlenty -- Total liabilities increase 66%
Governor Huntsman -- Total liabilities increase 21%
Governor Palin -- Total liabilities decrease 34.6%
So did the tables below:

Radio interview on Sarah Palin Radio out of Washington D.C.

I think it was March 8, 2010 when I was interview by LaDonna Curzon for Sarah Palin radio

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Reminisin' 'bout life on da wadder

Visit from an old shipmate

Back in the era shortly before this photo of me as a kelp-diver was taken, I was hanging out with shipmates in Cordova, Alaska. One was Bob Westover. I hadn't seen him but once since the late '60's. He and his wife came up visiting and we all got together. A lot of his memories of those days were a complete blank to me. I used to get drunk a lot and chase the ghost of Dylan Thomas. But we both remembered the night that could have landed us in a military prison. We had a hard-drinking warrent officer sitting behind 3 of us lowly seamen in a bar (Westover, me and Jim Beckwith). Mister Schultz took a disliking to Westover and kept trying to pick a fight with him. We tried to ignore him but he wouldn't leave. He intended to wait for us to walk out at closing time and jump Westover. The bar closed, Schultz walked out, and as soon we were walking out, he tried to reach passed me and grab Westover. I grabbed this big, bear of a man who started spinning me around in the alley. Beckwith ran up and with one punch, placed Schultz on his back. Then Westover ran up (in his motorcycle boots) and started kicking him. Then we left.

Assulting an officer can result in "hard time" in a federal pen. If that wasn't bad enough, we figured that since it was war-time (Viet Nam), they could shoot us. But, what-the-hell, there was no where we could run off to, in the middle of Alaska, so we just went back to the ship to await certain incarceration.

They next morning, he was no where around until about noon. Then he walked back aboard ship with his arm in a sling. He'd just returned from the hospital where they tended to his broken collar bone (thanks to Westover's boots). He never said a word to anyone about the event.

I noticed yesterday, the sixty-something Westover now wears crepe-soled footwear. Ahhhh, maturity.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Begich and Boggs Missing Plane

Last night (2/10/09) I saw on the History Channel, "Alaska's Bermuda Triangle" full coverage of the '72 disappearance of Congressman Nick Begich and Speaker of the House Hale Boggs on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. I remember the sonic booms of the U.S. spy plane as it searched and photographed a good portion of Alaska. No trace was ever found. It must have been a year or so later that Alaska State Trooper Ron Cole called me over to his office in Cordova to ask me if my diving partner Don Endicott and I could dive on a spot near Hinchinbrook Island. He told me that a local pilot spotted what looked like a fuel slick coming up out of the water about a mile off the beach of Hinchinbrook Island. It's a place called Johnstone Point and is the site of an unmanned white alice navigation facility. Ron showed me that if a straight line were drawn from Anchorage to the Juneau via the normal flight path, it would cross right over Johnstone Point. The slick coming out of the water fell right on that line he drew. He said since no trace was ever found of the plane, perhaps it went into the water. Then, he assume, after a period of time, perhaps some seal in the fuel system finally eroded and the fuel came out. The chart showed the depth was about 600 feet, so I told him "no", we couldn't do it. I don't know if he had any other ideas about what to do, but I hadn't heard anything more about. In those days, most fathometers and sonars were not scanners as far as I know. Anyway, a few months ago, I ran in to Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich (Nick's son) and told him the story. Sooooo, if any of you out there in cyberland, knows where Ron Cole is now, could you let me know or have him contact at I'd just like to know if there was any follow-up on that situation....Thanks. 
UPDATE: Ron Cole died January 2010. He was a good man. One time he flew to Anchorage on his own time and own expense and retrieved an old senile man who was in danger and brought him back to Cordova. He did that at my request. In turn, I would scuba dive to recover murder weapons for him or submerged bodies at no charge. Those were the days when people did things like that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Talked with Bridgett Sullivan

I was at a party at Rod Masters house News Year Day. Tons of other musicians were there; some I knew, some I didn't. Some of them had spent time in the orchestra pit of the Anchorage Performing Arts Center (PAC) playing for Evita and Jesus Christ Superstar and such. Bridgett Sullivan was there (Rod sees her every day because she played Evita and is in the next production as well) and we talked about Henry Mancini's "Dreamsville". I have the CD where she sings Lionel Hampton's "Midnight Sun", and I suggested she listen to Sarah Vaughan's arrangement (which I can give her). After I got home, I thought about the song "Early Autumn" which is true poetry with a haunting melody. Even though I wanted mostly up-tempo pieces on my CD, I'd like to have those two ballads on there as well in addition to my original "Copious Moping".
Also, at the party was another guy with a recording studio who said he will try to work up the percussions I want for some of my tunes. Musician's union president Joe D'Entrone was there and it turns out he has a taste for the same kind of poetry I do. He didn't remember me or that I gigged with him once downtown at a store opening a couple of years ago.