The Armory’s Jay Belloli, on view now


Jay Belloli, the longtime gallery director at Pasadena’s Armory for the Arts — two decades there, and before that, at Baxter Art Gallery at Caltech — was feted by a crowd of some 800 people Saturday night at the Armory as he steps down from his post. Surrounded by art — much of it postcard art, sent in by artists in his honor. And by friends — he is truly beloved by the Southern California community of artists and collectors. What a testament to that the size of the crowd was. Much fun was had.


So I’m eating my strip-mall Korean restaurant sushi lunch today, alone, finally catching up on the New York Times Book Review’s annual Summer Reading issue from early June, when a relative’s name catches my eye.

Amarillo rancher Bill O’Brien is a first cousin, once removed — my Panhandle-native mother’s first cousin — and both a famous cattleman, like his family namesake, my great-grandfather Will O’Brien, and famously outspoken. He was a leader in the effort to get nuclear bomb maker (now dismantler) Pantex out of the Panhandle, and has long been in arguments with food writers who say that it’s not healthy to eat corn-fed beef.

But Bill, on his LIT and other ranches, practices a combo, as I understand it — his cattle are grass-fed and free-range roamers at first, and then are corn-fed in feed lots.

But here’s the quote, in a review by James Oliver Cury of “Steak: One Man’s Search for the World’s Tastiest Piece of Beef” by Mark Schatsker: “After Schatzker meets Bill O’Brien, who keeps 50,000 cows in Texas and champions the use of corn-based feed, he spends the rest of ‘Steak’ railing against such a diet.”

Well, with a caveat, apparently: “Bad grass,” Schatzker writes, “equals bad steaks.”

I’ve dropped a note to Bill, who, if he has an iPhone on horseback while he’s gettin’ the dogies along, will give his side …

Caught and not released


Saturday through Monday was my annual three-day trout fest, fly fishing with brothers Pete and Mike Moffat, formerly of Altadena, in the waters surrounding Mammoth Lakes.

When we are out with our guide Harry Blackburn, the best in the Eastern Sierra, it’s all catch and release. And when you’re with Harry, it’s a lot of catch — the guy is known as the fish whisperer. He also, famously among the other guides in the Sierra, can see trout where no one else can — and proves it by telling you right where to toss your fly, producing a hot strike. We fished with Harry on Sunday on the East Walker near Bridgeport, and slayed ’em — and put ’em back.

But Saturday we kept some browns caught in our secret spot, and brought them back to the condo with us, and ate them. This was before that and after Mike had finished cleaning them in the sink.

Solar-powered street people

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I was walking down Bancroft Avenue, at Telegraph, across the street from the UC Berkeley campus the other morning when I saw this solar-powered grocery cart apparently owned by one of the city’s many homeless people. Astounded at the ingenuity, I stopped to take a shot, when the owner, sporting this Golden Bears sweatshirt, came out of the corner eatery and demanded a dollar from me for the right to take the picture. I had to laugh.

Actually, I’ve become more of a soft touch for panhandlers in my old age. As a student there, I certainly couldn’t afford to give the Telegraph moochers a dime. But now when beggars are polite, I give. Not to this joker, though. Demanding doesn’t work. I continued down the block, and he yelled after me: “You … you … honky!” As both of us were white, an African-American woman buying flowers two doors down got a good laugh out of it. I told her why he was yelling and she said, “Oh, that’s the guy with the solar-powered cart.” So I guess he’s famous in B-town.