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Loney's Show Notes


By Glenn Loney, August 13, 2009.
About Glenn Loney

Glenn Loney
Caricature of Glenn Loney by Sam Norkin.

"San Francisco, Open Your GoldenGates!,"or: "I lost my Balance in San Francisco!"


A Regretful-Report on the Perils of Photographing The Golden-Gate-Bridge From a Cliff on Land’s-End, When One Is Over Eighty-Years-Old, But Still Feels Seventeen Inside…

My beloved Aunt Elva Busher achieved her 100th Birthday at home in San Francisco, on Golden Gate Heights, on 13 July 2009, one day shy of Bastille-Day.

As she was almost like a Mother to me & certainly a Best-Friend, this was not an Anniversary I could miss, especially as all the Busher-Relatives would be on hand, like the old Family-Reunions we used to have many years ago.

The Cousins seem to be doing very well: Cousin Gerry Adcock even seemed a bit miffed that I wasn’t surprised that she looks so Terrific at 85, even with a Knee & a Hip she was not born with…

It has been a kind of Mission/Obsession with Cousin John Busher to see his Mother celebrate her Centenary in the bosom of her Family. This she did at San Francisco’s Irish Cultural Center—great food & quasi-Celtic-Ambiance—even though the Bushers immigrated from England in the 19th Century.

Yours-Truly is the only [Half] Irish-American among the Busher-Hewes Clan.

We toasted Aunt Elva on Sunday, 12 July, a day before her actual Natal-Day.

The following Sunday, the Relatives drove up to Stockton, to help Cousin Fred Busher celebrate his 75th Birthday.

But I was unable to join them, as I was in Intensive-Care at San Francisco General-Hospital.

As I am now In-Progress in finally writing the two books about My Mother that I have refrained from beginning for some Fifty-Years—when almost everyone is Dead, who will Sue?—I had planned to spend two-weeks photographing Childhood-Scenes in Grass Valley, Nevada City, Tahoe, Virginia City, Loney Meadows in the High Sierras, as well as locales in Steinbeck-Country, for an Interactive On-Line John Steinbeck Photo-book.

One of the two books about my very Remarkable but Complex-Mother will feature our Willowbrook Summer Vacation-Camp—created to fill three Chicken-Houses, whose 3,000 chickens had suddenly died of Coccidiosis—as well as to help us Survive the Great-Depression of the 1930s.

This is titled: Mother in Summer: A Month in the Country.

The other, dealing with Adoption & Foster-Children—is called Mother in Winter: Nurture vs. Nature.

But my planned Photo-Safari was not to be: I spent two weeks flat on my back at San Francisco General, with a shattered Collar-Bone—the Ill-Tempered Clavical?—as well as a Subdural Hematoma!

For over fifty-years—under the brand-name of INFOTOGRAPHY™—I have been making Archival-Images of notable Architecture & Design, Historic Sites, Cemeteries, & Monuments, as well as other Man-Made Artifacts that could be destroyed in the Next World War.

This has been inspired by my Post-World-War-II arrival in Frankfurt-am-Main—to teach for the University of Maryland Overseas—where I was confronted with Devastated Bomb-Sites, Ruins of Medieval Masterpieces, & stunning new Post-Modernist High-Rises.

I decided then & there to record all of this, fearing it would be erased in Fifty-Years. As things now stand, we seem to have deferred this Destruction by a decade or two, preferring instead to make depredations in Asia & the Middle-East.

Along the way, I thought I should also be not just a Photo-Archivist, but also, possibly, an Art-Photographer, consciously seeking the Unforgettable-Image.

Of course, it helps to have really good cameras, with Excellent-Lenses. I have Leicas, Nikkons, Canons, & Olympuses, but also some Trick-Lenses. Notably one with twenty-facets which works wonders with the Gothic-Spires when one is on top of the Cathedral of Milan, among other targets.

Renting a Hertz-Auto the morning after our Birthday-Bash, I drove out Geary to Lincoln Park & the California Palace of the Legion of Honor—a copy of the Original in Paris.

After photographing Anna Huntington’s Joan of Arc statue & her El Cid—another can be seen on Upper-Broadway at Audubon-Terrace!—I once again lensed the George Segal Holocaust-Memorial & worked my way down Lincoln-Drive, until I reached the 1906 concrete Gun-Emplacements at Land’s-End.

The Big-Guns are Long-Gone, but the Cement-Bastions recall the days when Theodore Roosevelt sent the Great White Fleet around the World, with the Motto: Walk Softly, but Carry a Big-Stick!

Descending a narrow trail along the cliff, one can get a remarkable view of the Seaward-Side of the Golden-Gate-Bridge. I had photographed this scene before, but not with the Twenty-Facet Lens.

The path then leads under the San Francisco side of the Bridge-Approach & Toll-Plaza: Good Girders & other Engineering-Artifacts. Then the road widens to bring Tourists & Hikers up to the Plaza-Level & onto the Pedestrian Bridge-Walkway, where one is constantly in danger of Maniacal-Bicyclists, bound for Marin-County.

My Photographic-Mission-Accomplished, I retraced my steps back to the Gun-Emplacement. Although there are some Guard-Rails elsewhere, there are none on the steep cement stairs leading down from the trail.

Slung over my left-shoulder—but with the weight on my right—my Camera-Bag had three heavy cameras & a huge metal Zoom-Lens in it.

One third of the way down, I felt myself listing downward. I grabbed for the cement wall, but there was no rail, not even some vines to clutch.

If I had had my wits about me, I should have immediately sat down. Or leaned-back onto the stairs I had just negotiated.

But no, there I was, standing-upright on the stairs, desperately grabbing for Supports that were not there.

As the Weight of the combined Cameras & Lenses pulled me sideways, toward the bottom of the stairs, my One-Thought was: "Please, God! Don’t let my cameras get broken!"

This is rather like the late Radio-Comedian Jack Benny, when confronted by an armed-thief who demanded: "Your Money or Your Life!"

In keeping with his comic-character of Miserliness, Benny swiftly replied: "Take my Life! Don’t take my Money!"

As I plummeted down to the bottom of the stairs, I thought: "This is IT! My Life will now pass rapidly before me as a Video-in-Reverse. Then I’ll scoot through a Narrow-Tunnel—the Womb, also in Reverse?—to be met by Buddha & Jesus, all in White, plus all my deceased but smiling Relatives…"

Nothing like this occurred: It apparently was Not My Time. Instead, all was Black.

Until I came-to, lying on the front-seats of my Rental-Car.

A Hiker had found me collapsed & somehow walked me back to the car—of which I have No-Memory—having found my keys with the auto’s License-Number in my pocket.

He had then called 911 on his Cell-Phone. An Ambulance-Team from the San Francisco Fire-Department swiftly arrived & rushed me to Emergency at San Francisco General-Hospital, administered by the University of California at San Francisco’s Medical-School.

I was in Acute-Pain, but the shock of the fall kept me from sensing its Magnitude.

X-Rays & MRI’s were rapidly made.

Although I had Not Fractured My Skull, there was severe internal bleeding: a Subdural-Hematoma, I was told…

Worse, at least in terms of the Pain, my Cameras had fallen down on top of my Chest, shattering my Collar-Bone in several places.

The fragments were not pinned, so this is healing like a Lump of Bone.

There was also severe Trauma to my Ribs, my Right-Shoulder, & my Right-Arm. The Lower-Right-Foreleg was densely swollen from a bruise on the outside.

Periodically, two teams of Physicians checked-up on me: I think they were Neuro-Surgeons & Trauma-Specialists.

One helpful Night-Nurse whispered to me: "If the bleeding in your Brain doesn’t stop, You are in Big-Trouble!"

Nonetheless, the very next morning—after an agonizing, sleepless night—I was discharged from San Francisco General-Hospital, still bleeding internally, with broken collar-bone fragments grating on each other: Nothing was Stabilized

My Cousin John Busher came to pick me up, although I could scarcely move. He deposited me on a simple couch-like bed on the ground-floor of 1922 Funston, as he had to Care-Give his elderly & virtually immobile Mother upstairs.

Suddenly, I needed desperately to Pee, but there was no Urinal at hand. Nor was there any kind of support for me to pull myself up to stand.

My feet couldn’t reach the floor, so I keeled-over sideways, again to my Right, but this time, without the Cameras

I fell down into the narrow cleft between the Bed & a Night-Stand, breaking some Marble-Tiles in the process.

The Shattered-Clavicle was again disrupted; a new Puffy Bruise was added to my right lower-leg. But this time, my right-elbow was also damaged.

Worst of all, I hit my Left-Cheek on the Night-Stand, opening a big bloody gash—sealed with some kind of Magic-Glue, rather than Stitches.

I nearly passed-out.

Cousin John called 911, but this time a Commercial-Ambulance responded. For the downhill-trip to San Francisco General—which seemed like only half-an-hour or so, the bill has come back for some $1,500!

A host of individual special-services is listed, among them Oxygen of which I have no memory of using—not even that TV Channel.

[President Obama! Yes, we really do need a new & improved Health Care Program for Everyone!

[American Voters cannot check into Walter Reade Hospital, where Our Congress enjoys endless Socialized-Medicine!]

So, before the morning was over, I had had my second Disastrous-Fall in just Two-Days!

But why did the Docs send me home, when I wasn’t even Stabilised from the First-Fall?

Some Medic muttered, just before I was released: "It’s not about the beds," by which I understood that was exactly what was At-Issue, as Emergency was constantly admitting new Worst-Cases

One of the Doctors did say: "You won’t get better lying in bed. You need to get up & begin moving-around!"

Unfortunately, I was still Traumatized, Disoriented, Dizzy, Broken, & Bleeding-Internally

This Physical & Mental State was not improved by the Nurses’ desperate Search for Veins in my Left-Arm, for draining-off what seemed Quarts of Blood, at regular intervals. [I thought they had discontinued Bleeding of Patients in the 19th Century?]

Worse still was the periodic arrival of the Glucometer, testing levels of Blood-Sugar.

My Readings used to hover around a Normal 92 to 96.

Unfortunately, both at SF General & back here in New York, at Lenox-Hill Hospital, they can jump from 96 or 120 in a matter of a few hours to 260, 320, & 410off the Charts!

To control Blood-Sugar over time, I have been taking Metformin. But the pharmaceutical-company‘s Warnings for this drug say it is Dangerous for anyone Eighty or Over. That includes me…

My GP, who prescribes Metformin—as did both the Hospitals—assures me it’s OK: "Eighty is the New Seventy," he says.

Both here in NYC at Lenox-Hill & in SF, Medics & Nurses observed: "Those are not the legs of an 80-year-old!"

So maybe there’s hope for Healing, if not for clambering on Cliffs at Land’s-End, to make some Fabulous Trick-Photos?

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