Steph Davis: Crazy Beautiful Thing



While driving with my daughter cross-country, we came upon the river country of Moab UT. Now, this place is beyond beautiful. Towering walls of red sandstone frame the meandering Colorado River. Around each bend of the road was another Crazy Beautiful Thing. Naturally, the conversation turned to BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth) jumping from fixed objects with a parachute. Well, Steph Davis is the queen of BASE and I want my daughter to see this soulful video of her climbing then jumping the Tombstone in Moab. How do you reach a teenager these days? Through tagging into their Facebook feed of course!

I Traveled Across The Country For This?

The Muffs at The Casbah
The Muffs at The Casbah

I just got back from driving both ways cross-country with my kids and it’s time to post. Both the western leg with my daughter and the eastern return with my son were packed with memories and views for a lifetime. Both kids will remember with awe the might of the Rockies and the sublime loveliness of the red desert plateau monuments. Especially memorable were the desert waters. Saphira learned to swim all over again beneath the towering Moab walls of the lower Colorado. Caleb found his Feng-Shui deep in a sun-speckled swimming hole within massive boulders. All quite wondrous indeed.

My trip was quite parental, laden with  budget concerns and the need to gobble up the miles in huge chunks to meet deadlines for assuredly grown-up endeavors. Still, it was hella fun. My kids are a riot to travel with. They grew up on the road and know what it’s all about. My experience was somewhat new. My last rig had in-dash GPS, so preloading destinations is old hat. What made it new was that the planning was done on my phone as I lay in my sleeping bag, then saved as a soup of calendar events, map coordinates, and kosher restaurant data. The app then picked the route and was followed religiously with absolute certainty.

We also have deep respect for the playlist. For the first time, I hit the road with my tunes and GPS in one device, my ancient iPhone 4. Right off, we discovered USB connectivity with in-dash display and steering wheel controls. Slick. Old school cruise control on the other side turned it into a 5,702 mile big-boy video game of variable intensity evoked by construction sites, gnarly weather, super-remote blackness and lots of big trucks. Lily Allen Sheezus got lots of play. Tristan Prettyman’s new Cedar + Gold was a downer, but fun to talk smack about. New Old Story from Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash was more of the same excellent road tunes and the easiest music I’ve ever bought online. Patti Smith Banga. Blanche Little Amber Bottles. The Libertines Legs 11. Lou Reed Take No Prisoners. Kate Nash Girl Talk took a few listens to absorb the howling, but became unanimous crowd favorite.

So what does all this have to do with the Muffs? Don’t forget that the nexus for this whole adventure was my hometown, good ol’ San Diego. Of my many roots there, one that runs uber-deep is punk rock and The Casbah. Hanging there with my best pal and all of hers, watching a band I love and generally enjoying the rich soil I grew from and the creature of contradictions that I have become was my best moment.

The Best Indoor Climbing Holds

The Lobster from Voodoo Climbing
The Lobster from Voodoo Climbing

Voodoo grips were the first I ever clutched, and it was long before I had a wall of my own. Frank used to bondo the things all over my San Diego neighborhood. There was the storm drain tunnel traverse (too hard for me!) and the bridge underside (nice!) at SDSU. I can imagine he played a part in the towering outside gym on Woodson’s south mountain. I got my first bucket of seconds at the Santee workshop in trade for a website that never went live and have been ordering ever since. It’s been more than a month since I ordered the Lobster but I’m not fretting. They’re probably off climbing in Africa or something.

Silicon Valley is SERIOUS Business!

You don't understand. We need $1m NOW to make payroll.
You don’t understand. We need $1m NOW to make payroll.
Sometimes a show comes along that is so outrageously spot-on funny that you just love it from the get go. To pull this off, you have to get all the inside jokes that will soar over the heads of commoners. If the tech niche catches on, maybe this ridiculously wonderful satire will see a second season.

Fear of Life

I think Ward coined the phrase...
I think Ward coined the phrase…

Falling into the internet business back in 1993 was simply an extension of my 80’s punk rock roots. The D.I.Y. aesthetic of the day, popularized by Malcolm McClaren, Vivienne Westwood and the like, required kids to make their own clothes and records. No retailer or manufacturer existed that tailored to their needs. Same thing when the CDrom design firm I worked at built one of the first commercial websites. It was up to us to figure out how to use code. My zine captured that moment in a time capsule, published late at night on my work’s copy machine.

RIP canceranswers.com

Truly the end of an era...
Truly the end of an era…

There was a time that a big part of my earnings came from this site. I built it in 1993 in partnership with an oncologist and an assistant. They delivered paper, and soon got discouraged. After they left I programed v2 and went to electronic delivery and PayPal. Over the years I experimented with shopping carts, blogs, ad servers, RSS and newsfeeds to build a solid and steady income. The Panda update to Google killed it and I watched income plummet lower each month. Finally, I sold out to someone with even worse luck than me.