Tim Dundon is California’s self-proclaimed “Guru of Doo Doo,” a visionary compost wizard living in a tropical forest that lies between Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Mountains in the unincorporated community of Altadena. I profiled Dundon — an extremely knowledgeable, endlessly charming and slightly paranoid man — for the December 2007 issue of Arthur Magazine. “The Sodfather” ran with absolutely gorgeous photography by Eden Batki — the above photos are my own.

The original version of the story can be found on the Arthur Magazine website. An earlier draft of the story that includes extra material regarding Dundon’s paranoid fantasies regarding the Illuminati, the Moonies, et al, can be found after the jump.

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Kahili Ginger (Hedychium gardnerianum) is a fragrant flowering plant native to eastern India. It is also ranked in the Global Invasive Species Database as one of the 100 most destructive invasive species on Earth. Its manner of propagation depends in large part on Homo sapiens‘ marked affinity for its deeply alluring scent and vibrant colors — its introduction to the Hawaiian Islands is blamed on the ornamental horticulture industry. Upon entering the glade in which these plants had taken up shop, we became so intoxicated by their sensuous odor that we mistook this most vicious of invaders as being endemic to the island of Kaua’i.

Kahili Ginger is a mortal threat to many endemic species and can choke entire forests — blocking out the life-giving rays out of the sun, slowly suffocating whatever seedlings that have the misfortune of being rooted beneath its slick, wide leaves. It is a particular menace to the native rain forests of the Hawaiian Islands.  But still so easy on the eyes and nose.

This salmon-colored starburst of Lovecraftian horror is Aseroë rubra, a name that translates from Greek to English as something like “red fungus with disgusting juice.” The rotted-meat-scented juice of this Australia-native fungus — also known as a sea anemone stinkhorn — is brown in the specimen pictured above; this seems apt given that it is smeared around the fleshy, gaping orifice that serves as entry point to its hollow stalk.

The juice — let’s go ahead and clarify that it’s actually a spore-laden gel called gleba — is quite viscous, which prevents it from washing away in the frequent rainstorms that break over the Alaka’i Swamp. Its odor — alternately described in terms of shit and dead flesh — attracts flies and other carrion-feeders, who then spread the spores in their own foul little poops: Witness the gleba-gobbling fly on the 2 o’clock tentacle.

A black and white photo of just such a specimen as the one pictured — discovered in a tattered old trail guide —  is what convinced the Into The Green mission to explore the Alaka’i Swamp, a tropical moist forest located just under 4,000 feet in altitude in northwest Kaua’i. The mountain range in the horizon from our earlier set of Kaua’i Photos — click here to read about our first night on the island — separated our Wainiha Valley cottage from these fetid highlands. Part of Kaua’i’s imperviousness when it comes to development is a result of  the fact that no road divides the center of the island, nor circumvents its shoreline. Thus a location just some 18 miles from the Wainiha Valley can only be reached via automobile by traversing 75 miles — nearly the entire circumference of the island. The other alternative being an epic days-long trek through the soggy wilderness.


And finally we have this bushy lichen of what we believe to be the Cladina species. It is frothing up from a decaying tree stump, sparkling with the rain that falls approximately every 20-40 minutes in the Alaka’i Swamp.

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Temples of Time

The National Film Board of Canada was founded in 1939 in part as a way to distribute World War II propaganda throughout the Great White North, but went on to become a bastion for experimental animation, “socially relevant documentaries” and other film projects “which provoke discussion and debate on subjects of interest to Canadian audiences and foreign markets.” In particular the NFB is known for producing some of the dreamiest nature documentaries of modern times — it’s where Boards of Canada got their name and a lot of their soft-focus naturalist vibes. And now the NFB has started posting their library of films online.

A lot of these docs are wordless montages of natural imagery accompanied by droning Eno/Tangerine Dream-style synthesizer soundtracks — our favorite so far is William Canning’s 26-minute short Temples of Time (1971), described by the NFB as follows:

A mountain is a living thing; it has an ecological balance, a process of evolution manifested in slow, subtle ways; but it is also subject to the ravages of human intervention. Filmed in the Canadian Rockies and in Garibaldi Park, this picture brings to the screen magnificent footage of mountain solitudes and the wildlife found there, of natural splendor in all its changing moods. The film carries the implicit warning that all this may pass away if people do not seek to preserve it.

Hook your computer up to your stereo for the full effect of Edward Kalehoff’s warbling synth drone soundtrack. Who needs to figure out the whole new digital TV upgrade chip whatever thing when we’ve got this treasure trove to explore? More to come …

Note: I’ve cross-posted over at the Arthur Magazine blog along with the embedded video.


The photographs in this series were on display at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA from December 7-11, 2008.

Urban outdoor lighting produces enough spectral pollution to turn the city’s night sky into an orange-grey dome, smudging out all but the brightest stars. Of the myriad organisms affected by humanity’s colonization of the darkness by way of electromagnetic radiation, plants are of particular interest. Plant life cycles revolve according to their light environment: Photoreceptors tell them when to extend stems or broaden leaves; when to germinate and when to die.

These images are an examination of photosynthetic organisms as painted with the palette of artificial night lighting. The viewer’s attention is drawn away from the horizon — where the natural light has disappeared — to emphasize the industrial lighting on the organic textures. Tree limbs are framed against the night sky, nebulous clouds of leaves reflecting the glare of sodium vapor security lamps; groundcover is shot from directly above, micro-landscapes rendered in the orange halide tones of residential streetlights.

All of these images were made after civil twilight — when the sun is six degrees below the horizon — using available light with exposures from 20 to 696 seconds.


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Old Growth: Indiana Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest – December 28, 2008

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve (Part 1 of 3)

Alaka’i Swamp, Kaua’i – July 27, 2008

Light Pollution Series One: Artificial Night Lighting and Photosynthetic Organisms

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago – December 21, 2008

Rancho Mesa, Mojave Desert – October 12, 2008

Red Hill & Salton City, Salton Sea – October 6-7, 2008

The Goose Creek Road Farm

My photographs from “Honest Work: Life on a Humboldt Cannabis Farm During Harvest Season” by Dave Reeves, are now available online in the December 2008 issue of Arthur Magazine. Read it online here. Download the complete issue as a PDF here.

High and dry

Headlamp tracers outside the greenhouse

Weed porn 1

The drying shack

More Into The Green:

Kelso Dunes, Mojave National Preserve (Part 1 of 3)

Alaka’i Swamp, Kaua’i – July 27, 2008

Old Growth: Indiana Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest – December 28, 2008

Old Growth: Roan Mountain & Mt. Mitchell – September 14 & 16, 2008

Light Pollution Series One: Artificial Night Lighting and Photosynthetic Organisms

Garfield Park Conservatory, Chicago – December 21, 2008

Rancho Mesa, Mojave Desert – October 12, 2008

Tempe, AZ – November 15-17, 2008

Glendale Narrows, Los Angeles River – October 14, 2008

Glendale Narrows, Los Angeles River – October 3, 2008

Red Hill & Salton City, Salton Sea – October 6-7, 2008

Atwater Village, Los Angeles – September 23, 24 & 29, 2008

Diamonds Redux: Trona Revisited