Book Review
Exceptional Ordinary
Jim Grey

I’m guessing that most people buying this book do so because of an interest in old cameras. Or an interest in film photography. Or an interest in photography as art. Those are all reasons that I bought it but none of them is the primary reason. Or even the secondary reason. It might seem a little crude to admit it but my number one reason for buying Exceptional Ordinary was that I know the author. The number two reason was curiosity. Old cameras, film photography, and art were reasons three, four, and five for the purchase but turned into my top reasons for enjoying it.

Knowing the author really needs no explanation as a reason for buying the book. We all buy things from friends and relatives simply because they are friends and relatives. I first met Jim through a mutual interest in historic roads then learned we also had mutual, but not quite identical, interests in cars and photography. That we both blog probably helped; That we’ve both been involved in software development maybe not.

Buying the book out of curiosity might not be so easily understood. In my limited experience, print on demand photo books were either really expensive or really crappy. By going with a “magazine” format and keeping the page count down, Jim had kept his book from being expensive. I wanted to see if it was crappy.

It’s not. The photos are crisp and the colors look right on the semi-gloss pages. I don’t doubt that offset printing with an expert spending some time on color matching could produce something better but it might not be much better and I — and maybe you, too — might not know the difference. Construction and general quality seems good and the book was nicely sealed and packaged when it arrived.

So Blurb, the company doing the printing and order fulfillment, did their part of the job properly. What about Jim’s contribution? There are thirty photos in the book plus an un-cropped (or less-cropped) version of the cover image and a small photo of the author. Each of the thirty main photos is accompanied by a paragraph or two describing the picture and something about its creation. Sometimes the picture gets a page all to itself with text on the opposing page and sometimes picture and text share a page. No page has more than one photo. The lens and film are always identified. More often than not, the text will include what it is that Jim likes about the picture. In other words, why it’s in the book. There seems to be a roughly even mix between color and B & W. Subjects range from buildings to people and from automobile trim to pets. Surroundings range from sunlit outside spaces to dark interiors to midways at night. It’s really quite the sampler and every image is worthy of study. Jim also did his job properly.

I know that part of what Jim wanted to accomplish with this book was to satisfy his own curiosity about publishing one. A more general goal was to show that art can be produced while having fun and that high priced gear isn’t required.

The book’s subtitle is “Everyday Photography with the Pentax ME”. The reason that only lens and film need be identified for each picture is that the Pentax ME is used exclusively. Jim talks about the camera in a short introduction and explains that, while quite capable, the ME is usually overshadowed by the better known Pentax K1000 along with some other popular 35mm SLRs. As a result, the ME can often be found for under $50 which not only gets you a very good camera but includes access to a large selection of extremely good lenses. Jim put this very ordinary equipment to work producing some exceptional images. Goal accomplished.

The book can be previewed and purchased here.

Jim’s blog, which is typically but not exclusively about photography, is here.

Exceptional Ordinary, Jim Grey, Published via Blurb (March 21, 2017), 11 x 8.5 inches, 44 pages, ISBN 978-1366200280

Remembering Timmy

Tim Goshorn has been gone just over a week. He died of cancer last Saturday. During that week, photos and memories from friends, fans, family, and other musicians have filled the internet. The few photos I have don’t begin to compare with the many great ones I’ve seen and my memories don’t go back as far or go nearly as deep as many. But I do have memories. Lots of them. All good. Most with tapping toes and a big grin.

I didn’t really know who Tim Goshorn was before that day in 1994 when I walked into Tommy’s on Main. Prior to that, I thought of the Goshorn Brothers as Larry and Dan who had teamed up in the Sacred Mushroom in the 1960s. I must have seen Tim play at least once before, though. I had attended one Pure Prairie League concert and I’m sure Tim was on stage that night but it didn’t really register. Although I liked Pure Prairie League’s music and very much appreciated the talents of its members, I was not a big PPL fan. I was a Larry Goshorn fan.

That first night at Tommy’s, Larry and Tim played alone. That continued for a few more nights then PPL drummer Billy Hinds came in with a snare and some brushes. Before long Billy was sitting behind his full kit and bassist Mike Baney and keyboardist Steve Schmidt had joined what always comes to my mind first when I think of the Goshorn Brothers Band. There were other lineups over the years and every one was impressive but the classic Larry-Tim-Billy-Steve-Mike lineup is the one that impressed me most.

It lasted less than two years but it taught me who Tim Goshorn was. A typical week had the GBB playing three nights at Tommy’s and I was often there for at least one of them. Sometimes more. I got to know Tim as an outstanding guitarist and as at least a casual friend. That GBB version ended in December of 1995 when Mike Baney was shot and killed in the parking lot during a robbery.

There were other reasons involved but that murder was sort of the beginning of the end for Tommy’s. The Goshorn Brothers Band continued with various members for many years and I saw them many times. Watching Larry and Tim trade off leads was one of my biggest pleasures. I also saw the duo a lot. A wonderful period for me was when they played Friday evenings at the Golden Lamb’s Black Horse Tavern in Lebanon. They started at 7:00 which meant an old man like me could have a couple beers and hear some great music and still get home before bedtime. It was there that Tim and I helped each other finish off what we think was the only bottle of Buffalo Trace in an Ohio bar at the time.

After brother Larry eased into retirement in 2012, I often saw Tim with the Tim Goshorn Band and the pretty much identical Friends of Lee. I also saw him with other groups and duos. I enjoyed them all. Tim was always entertaining, always seemed to be having a good time, and always made an effort to say hi.

In October of 2014, I saw Tim perform with the current Pure Prairie League. This time his presence registered very much. This time I was a Tim Goshorn fan. I wish I had a better picture. They’re out there. The last time I saw him play was at DeSha’s on US-22. It’s nearby and, as I have on other occasions, I stopped in for one set on the way to somewhere else. I spoke with Tim at the break and actually stayed for a few more songs. Damn, he was good.


My favorite Tim Goshorn song is Colors. The version from the 1994 True Stories (Live at Tommy’s) can be heard via YouTube here. A 2011 Chuck Land produced video of the brothers performing it can be seen here. All the Lonesome Cowboys might be my second favorite (It’s neck and neck with Sun Shone Lightly.) Tim Goshorn song. It opens a nearly hour long 1995 concert video of the original Tommy’s GBB line up (minus Steve) that can be seen here.

Happy Easter Island

This post first appeared last year. I’ve brought it back, with date appropriate updates, due to its uncommon concentration of useful historic facts.

 
eiflagTwo years ago I noted with surprise that Easter and my birthday have coincided only twice in my lifetime. But it has happened several times outside of my lifetime and that includes 1722 when Dutch sailor Jacob Roggeveen came upon a tiny South Pacific island which the residents may have called Rapa. Whether they did or didn’t mattered not a bit to Roggeveen who decided to call the island Paaseiland. Dutch Paaseiland translates to the English Easter Island. The island is now part of Spanish speaking Chili where it is known as Isla de Pascua. Its modern Polynesian name is Rapa Nui.

hcafeiheadThe opening image is the Isla de Pascua flag. The red figure represents a reimiro, an ornament worn by the native islanders. At left is an image more commonly associated with Easter Island. The island contains nearly 900 statues similar to the one in the picture. I’ve never been to Easter Island and have no pictures of my own although there are plenty to be found around the internet. This photo is one I took of an imitation at the Hill County Arts Foundation near Ingram, Texas.

The true significance of the statues, called moai, is not known but we do know that they once outnumbered inhabitants by roughly 8 to 1. The island is believed to have once held about 15,000 people. A number of factors reduced that to maybe 3,000 by the time Roggeveen came along. Contributing causes were deforestation, erosion, and the extinction of several bird species. The population probably remained around 3,000 until 1862 when Peruvian slavers began a series of raids that resulted in about half of that population being hauled away. The raiders were somehow forced to return many or perhaps most of those they had captured but they brought smallpox to the island when they did. Tuberculosis arrived just a few years later and disease, violent confrontations, and a major evacuation reduced the human population to just 111 by the late 1870s. There are currently 887 moai on the island. In the past there may have been more.

Today is the 296th Easter Sunday that Easter Island has been known by that name. The population has grown considerably and is now around 6000 which must make for a much happier island than when barely a hundred hung on. Of course the actual calendar date of the naming (and my birthday) passed more than a week ago. I hope everyone remembered to wish their friends and family a Happy Easter Island Anniversary.

Trip Peek #54
Trip #10
A Few Indiana Towns

This picture is from my 2003 A Few Indiana Towns day trip. The picture is from Columbus, Indiana, which was the trip’s destination. The town is known for its architecture and painting these vents to look like a pipe organ is the kind of thing that makes the place interesting. Other Indiana towns visited along the way include New Trenton, Cedar Grove, Brookville, Metamora, Oldenburg, and Versailles.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #53
Trip #74
Easter Weekend 2009

This picture is from my Easter Weekend 2009 trip. I found the VW Rabbit in appropriate holiday garb on the second day of the three day outing. The trip was something of a catch-all with some old roads, a stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, and a stop at Pymatuning Reservoir spillway “Where the Ducks Walk on the Fish”. A highlight of the trip, and one reason for its direction, was a Patrick Sweany concert with his father, “Hot Tub” Sweany. accompanying him on washtub bass.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

My Wheels – Chapter 24
1983 Renault Alliance

There was a time when I was truly smitten with this car. Others were too. It was Motor Trend‘s “Car of the Year” and it was included in Car and Driver‘s “10 Best”. Many were the automotive writers who praised the first offering from AMC under Renault ownership. That experts praised the little car certainly influenced my opinion but I recall that I sincerely hought it was physically attractive. Yeah, that’s the kind of smitten I’m talking about.

Much of the praise that the gurus heaped on the car had to do with its economical operation and good value pricing. Recent changes in my job, living arrangements, and family size brought on the need for an efficient people hauler so maybe I just fooled myself into liking the looks to make the super practicality palatable. Whatever the full thought process was, I was quite proud of myself when I bought a shiny new dark gray four-door four-speed.

For many the shine wore off quite quickly. Mechanical problems were fairly common and rust often appeared quicker than it should. In 2009 Car and Driver actually apologized for putting the car in their “10 Best” list twenty-six years earlier. I don’t know that Motor Trend or any of the other publications that had climbed on the Alliance band wagon delivered their own apologies but neither do I know of any that actively defended their 1983 behavior.

My own problems were minor. The coil sometimes arced in wet weather until I upped the insulation by applying an ugly wad of electrical tape and a starter connection vibrated loose — twice!.

I guess I really didn’t have the car long enough to get hit with rust or any more serious mechanical issues. In their apology, Car and Driver point out that one of the first acts of Chrysler after taking over AMC in 1987 was “the mercy-killing of the Alliance”. My personal Alliance had been the target of its own mercy killing two years earlier. For the first time ever I was at the wheel of a car when it was totaled and it wasn’t even slightly my fault.

I was the last in a line of cars stopped at a light in heavy rain when I was rear-ended by a teenager driving with his mother on a learners permit. The Alliance was advertised as having reclining seats although what they really did was lean back as a unit like a rocking chair. When the other car hit, my seat completely “reclined” so that I was momentarily nearly flat on my back. Then my car was pushed into the one in front of me and I sprang upright and cracked a rib against the floor shift. I’m not sure of specifics but I understood the the boy and his mother had minor injuries of about the same severity and that there were no injuries at all in the car in front of me. I was obviously quite lucky that my injuries weren’t worse and I maybe I could even be considered lucky for being spared the pain of watching my Car of the Year rust away.

My Fiftieth: Hawaii

More often than not, I wait until the first day of a trip is past and the journal for that day posted before making an entry here. Not this time. One reason is that most of the first day will be spent flying so there may be little or nothing worth reporting. Even if there are things to post, I may not have the time or energy to do it in a timely manner. The fact that all that flying involves six time zones won’t help. There are certainly enough potential problems with the first day’s journal post to justify doing the blog post a little early but I must admit that the timing just might be affected by my own excitement.

That the destination is Hawaii accounts for some of the excitement but hardly all. I have previously visited forty-nine of the United States as well as the District of Columbia which means that Hawaii will complete the set. That’s a pretty big deal to me and the fact that I’ll be celebrating my seventieth birthday while I’m there is kind of a big deal, too.

In addition to the special occasions it contains, this trip is different from most in the degree of planning involved. Flying is required which means that start and end dates had to be firmly nailed down in advance. Same thing with hotels and rental cars since a full hotel or a sold out rental fleet isn’t something I want to deal with on an island. So, although I’ll be able to exercise spontaneity at meal time, I pretty much already know where I’ll be and when I’ll be there. Tomorrow, March 23, I head off to spend six nights each on Oahu, Maui, and Hawaii (The Big Island).  

The journal for the trip is here. This entry is to let blog subscribers know of the trip and to provide a place for comments.

Trip Peek #55
Trip #96
Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll

This picture is from my 2011 Hail, Hail Rock ‘n’ Roll trip. As you probably suspected, its selection is not at all random. In anticipation of an approaching trip, I had just finished scheduling this blog’s next few posts when I learned of Chuck Berry’s death. I immediately thought of the only time I had seem him and, with the scheduling of posts fresh in my mind, of posting a “Trip Peek” of that 2011 trip. Even as I began to do it, I was unsure about whether or not breaking with the random selection of “Trip Peeks” is proper. I did it once before when I picked a Christmas related “Trip Peek” to appear during a Christmas road trip. If I can break the sequence for a Christian holiday, I can sure as hell do it for Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Berry was doing one show a month in 2011 and I had secured a ticket to the May 25 event. As the date neared, my father, two years Berry’s senior, was hospitalized and it seemed likely that the trip would not occur. But Dad’s condition improved a few days before the show and I went ahead with my plans. The idea was to spend two or maybe three nights on the road with some time on Route 66  in Saint Louis on the way to the show and some time on the National Road as I returned. The first day went pretty much as planned culminating in an extremely satisfying concert in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill. Somewhat to my surprise, Berry was on stage for the entire show and performed almost all of his familiar hits. The featured photo was taken near the end of the concert when Berry invited adoring ladies from the audience to join him on stage.

Dad’s health took a turn for the worse during the night and I headed directly home in the morning. He died one week later.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Trip Peek #52
Trip #43
The National Road at 200

This picture is from my 2006 The National Road at 200 trip. In 1806 Thomas Jefferson signed legislation authorizing the first piece of what became known as the National Road. My personal celebration of the 200th anniversary of that event consisted of driving the Historic National Road Byway from Baltimore to Saint Louis. Preceding that was a two day drive from home to Washington, DC, and the celebration of the USA’s 230th birthday in the nation’s capital. The Historic National Road Byway is something of an expanded version of the National Road as was, in some sense, the National Old Trails Road. When named auto trails were replaced by numbered highways, the NOTR was commemorated with a Madonna of the Trail statue in each of the twelve states it passed through. Maryland’s Madonna was erected in Bethesda on a spur of the NOTR. When I stopped to visit it on the way to DC, I was shocked to find it absent. A water line break had undermined the statue and threatened to topple it. It had been moved for safety and to allow repairs. After continuing on to DC, I learned where the Madonna was stored and drove to see her early on the Fourth of July. The statue and base had been disassembled and the Madonna was standing directly on the ground so that I could get a photo standing next to her. It’s a picture that will forever be one of my favorites.


Trip Peeks are short articles published when my world is too busy or too boring for a current events piece to be completed in time for the Sunday posting. In addition to a photo thumbnail from a completed road trip, each Peek includes a brief description of that photo plus links to the full sized photo and the associated trip journal.

Herding the Wheel Horses South

When a guy with a couple dozen fifty-year old tractors connects with a guy who twice drove from Cincinnati to Los Angeles to get to Kentucky, anyone expecting completely sensible behavior is likely to be disappointed. The guy with an aversion to direct routes is me. The guy with the vintage tractors is Terry Wolfe who first appeared in this blog back in 2014. As mentioned then, Terry collects Wheel Horse tractors. The tractors appear in the Old, Strong, and Fast and A Pretty Fair Week blog posts. Terry exhibits regularly at shows in Portland, IN, Greenville, OH, Arendtsville, PA, and elsewhere. A big show in Florida has long been on his radar but that was a little too far away for regular travel companions including his wife. He suggested it, the dates fit my calendar, and on the morning of February 19 we headed south with a herd of seven Horses in tow.

Although I thought about it, I decided long before departure that I would not attempt a daily journal on this trip. I did Tweet a few photos and comments and hinted at the possibility of a summary blog post. I was far from certain that would happen but here it is: an eight day trip in a single blog post.

We spent Sunday night in a motel south of Atlanta. On Monday we reached my Uncle Eldon’s place near Lake Alfred, FL, and stayed there overnight. Stops here appeared in trip journals in 2012 (Bunkin’ with Unk) and 2014 (Christmas Escape 2014). That’s Terry and Uncle Eldon tossing bread to fish and birds in the last picture.

Our destination was about thirty miles further south at Flywheelers Park where the Florida Flywheelers Antique Engine Club holds several events each year. We drove the final leg on Tuesday and hit the right gate on the second try. The afternoon was spent unloading the tractors and erecting the canopy which was a welcome shelter from both sun and rain over the next few days.

I knew that a high school friend spent a good chunk of each winter in the general area and sent a text during the ride down to see if she was nearby. Tammy and husband Vic weren’t just nearby, they already had their trailer set up in Flywheelers Park and would be part of the show’s flea market. They found us as we were unloading and extended an invitation to dinner which was a pretty cool way to step into an unfamiliar show. Then, a couple of days later, they took us along on a grocery shopping trip to Avon Park. The dinner, the chauffeuring, and the general advice were much appreciated.

The show opened on Wednesday and so did the clouds. In fact the rain was quite heavy at times but the sandy Florida soil dried rather quickly between downpours. We managed to do some sightseeing during the rain-free periods. Terry had selected two of the Wheel Horses for on site transportation and we toured the grounds in style.

Literally hundreds of normal looking golf carts were pressed into service as shopping and sight-seeing vehicles but many of the people carriers were truly part of the show. I saw the single-axle machine occupied and in motion on several occasions but never when I was able to get a picture.

There are quite a few permanent buildings in the park. Many, particularly those in an area called The Village, are made to look like businesses of yesteryear. The show itself is huge with an extremely wide range of vendors and exhibitors. Despite Oliver being the featured brand this year, the largest array of a particular tractor I saw was this field of John Deeres.

Anyone who has seen some of my TripAdvisor reviews may have noticed that I often mention convenience, cleanliness, and comfort in rating my accommodations. With the tractors outside, our bunks in the trailer were certainly convenient and, with some fairly thick air-mattresses, reasonably comfortable. Cleanliness not so much. Breakfast each day was bacon and eggs prepared over a Coleman with other meals usually coming from a grill. The pictured meal is Friday night’s steak dinner. While at first glance, the flashlight illumination might give the appearance of a romantic candle-light dinner, what really happened was that we fired up the generator and turned on a drop light so that two old farts could see to eat.

We cheated just a little on the tear down and were essentially ready to roll when official closing time arrived on Saturday. We made it across the Georgia line for the night and home at the end of a long Sunday. As you can see, there was an unplanned stop on the way but I helped speed things along by staying out of Terry’s way. The reason for the vibration that he had occasionally felt was no longer a mystery. So, yeah, this trip was notably different from most in my recent past but, except for the tractor herding bits, it wasn’t something totally new to me. I’ve done a fair number of destination oriented road trips and will undoubtedly do some more. There was even a period when I did a decent amount of tent camping and another with frequent van camping. My most recent tent camping was a couple of night in Rocky Mountain NP back in 2011. What we did last week was quite similar to my van camping. I enjoyed the differences between this and my typical trip and I don’t at all rule out doing it again. On the other hand, I make no promises or predictions.