To celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Water Forum, I’ve created this painting. I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a creature in this river, as I’ve spent far more time on its banks than in the water.
In November 2011, I wrote an essay about the River for the Sacramento Bee. I’m including it here, because it’s about what’s under the surface, how a river works. My guide and friend is an expert paddler, Tom Biglione, who is always eager to share what he knows about rivers.
What Lies Beneath
“The World According to Garp,” the definitive novel of the 1970s, refers to the undertoad, a metaphor for what lies beneath the surface of things. The Lower American River, though controlled by humans since 1956, reveals a profound dichotomy between the beauty of its surface and hidden forces below. This is most evident from the river itself, not its banks. Beautiful, complicated, powerful and deadly, like the undertoad, understanding its forces isn’t comforting. …
I’ve just solved two mysteries that have been roiling in my head for many years. Jack London launched an uncharacteristic revenge against Judge George Samuels in 1910. Question 1: why? Question 2: Having sworn to get Samuels thrown out of office, was London successful?
After the debate of September 29, 2020 (was it really just 5 days ago?) I started a drawing on my tablet. Trying to visually understand the toxicity of the president, I made a draft. The software captures every mark made, and then, with the touch of a button, converts to a time lapse. By Friday, the nature of current events had taken an even darker turn, with the announcement that this president had negligently disregarded all safety measures, and was now in the hospital. The cloud got larger, with farther reaching consequences than 90 minutes of screaming. I can only hope that he didn’t infect Biden, or anyone else in the audience who was trying to do the right thing, but only those who weren’t.