September 23, 2008

You Can Run But You Can’t Low Tide

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 8:02 pm

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Good morning and greetings, autumn lovers. Our salute to Open Studios 2008 continues today as we journey back to last winter and a January day that remains etch a sketched in my mind. The date was January 22 and the place was Its Beach. As you can see from photo #1, this is was what four out of five oceanographers would refer to as an extreme low tide. On this glorious afternoon I was able to walk around the front of the arch, a situation, much like sleeping beyond 6 am, occurs only two or three times a year.

The first sign that good & plenty things were to come was when a snowy egret flew thru the arch. Unfortunately, I missed this shot as I was explaining to a fellow beachgoer my feelings about how great it would be to someday have a vice president who has as much foreign policy experience as my 14 year-old-son. Sarah Palin is probably a good politician and a Roseanne Barr type inspiration to many women in the U.S. but I think her selection by John McCain is an insult to the voters of the United States. In the words of Woody Allen, from the movie classic “Bananas, “It’s a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”

Johnny McCain stated on Sunday that the difference between him and Barack Obama is that although they both want to bring the troops home from Iraq he wants to win the war first. Unbelievable! This golden oldie who wants to continue the Bush policies should be voted off the island. Here’s my favorite McCain line of the week, courtesy of Conan O’Brien. “Sarah Palin’s been spending the last couple of days being briefed by advisers on what she needs to know to be John McCain’s vice president. That’s true. Yeah. Apparently, the first thing they taught her was CPR.”

Okay, back to the low tide experience. Although I did not get the shot of the snowiest of egrets shooting thru the arch, I did catch her soft landing on the other side which I will show you in the next couple of weeks when we do our photo segment on the birds of Open Studios. The low tide had exposed dozens of sea stars and anenomes on rocks that were normally hidden underwater. It was a menagerie of shapes and colors, something similar to Jesse Jackson’s rainbow coalition. A gentlemen then walked over to me and said, “Do you see that rainbow thru the arch (photo #3.) I looked up from my anenome quest and started shooting away like Ansel Adams on methamphetamine because this was one shot I did not want to miss. It was a great Its Beach moment that I will one day text message my grandchildren about.

While all this was going on the clouds were lining up (photo #4) like Lehman Brother employees waiting for the early bird special. You could sense there was going to be some color in the sky this night and the sunset gods did not disappoint. I shot the last two photos from Its Beach and Lighthouse Point. I call the last shot “Color City” because “Mona Lisa” was already taken. A fantabulous, fantastic night on the cliff and one that I will remember till Denis Leary’s “Rescue Me” crew returns to FX.

So that’s our show for today. Coming up on Friday we’ll feature the sunset from the following day, January 23. This is one, Chinese food lovers, that you won’t want to miss. So enjoy the lowest of tides, enjoy the fall and most importantly, enjoy the new TV season that began this week. In the words of Dick Vitale, “It’s TiVo city, baby.” We’ll catch on a crossing pattern. Aloha, Yankee Stadium fans.

September 18, 2008

Two’s Company, Three’s A Cloud

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Good morning, weather fans. This will be the final blog of summer 2008 which means October, the fall equinox and Derek Jeter and the Yankees not being the playoffs are right around the corner. And yes, once again in this most Halloween of months, I will be opening my heart, my home and my personal stash of photos to the fans, followers and devotees of Open Studios. This is an event when artists around Santa Cruz County open up their studios to the public. I really enjoyed the meeting and bonding with many of you last year so I’m ready for round two. Or as Donald Fegan of Steely Dan once told me, “You go back, Geoff and do it again.”
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So in staying with that theme and since I’m reelin’ in the years, the next three weeks on the blog will be Open Studio City as I will be blasting out photos, themes and poignant comments all related to the two weekends of peace, love and music in October. It will be a westside happening and my only concern is that Rikki doesn’t lose that number.

I like to keep track of the important dates in my most current lifetime. You know, things like my birthday, my bar mitzvah and most importantly, my cutting edge bris. In 2008, two very important dates on the photographic front occurred on January 22 and 23. We’re talking epic day, boys and girls. January 22 was an extreme low tide day down at Its Beach that was followed by a gorgeous sunset. The evening of the 23rd brought us the most beautiful dusk delight of the year that had veteran sky watchers buzzing up and down the coast. It was an amazing night. Or in the words of Terri Hatcher on very mammorable Seinfeld episode, “Oh, and by the way, they’re real and they’re spectacular.”

Earlier in the year I blogged out shots from both these beach bonanza days which including a shot of a rainbow thru the arch at Its Beach, snowy white egrets and incredible sunset colors. But on each of those glory days there were photos that never made it the page so that’s where our story begins.

We start out in late afternoon looking west at Stockton Avenue (photo #1) along lovely West Cliff Drive. As you can see, the sky already had a rich assortment of cloud action. We then head down to Lighthouse Point (photo #2) where the clouds were darker than the ones hanging over Lehman Brothers earlier in the week. We then hit Its Beach (photo #3) for a look at a cloud formation to the south before returning to the Mark Abbot Memorial Lighthouse (photo #4) for some more southern exposure. Or to quote Pamela Anderson’s ex Kid Rock, “Singing Sweet Home Alabama all summer long.”

It was an amazing January sky as yours truly and cliffgoers sensed we were in for something special. As four and a half star sunset was lining up I headed to Steamer Lane (photo #5) to see the pinkness of the clouds to the east. Clouds of every race. creed and color filled the skies along the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Monterey Bay. We end today’s journey on the grass at Lighthouse Field looking west and see the sun battling for face time before dropping into the Pacific.

Next time we’ll take a look at the extreme low tide this day brought us and the amazing sunset that followed. Then we will turn our attention to the following day and a sunset that I will be featuring at this year’s Open Studios. After that it will be arches, sunrises and a cavalcade of westside stars. So enjoy the sky, the last days of summer and we’ll catch you under the goalpost. Aloha, and remember, in case you forget any of this, “Any major dude will tell you my friend.”

September 14, 2008

It’s A Hit Or Swiss Proposition

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — geoff @ 9:02 pm

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Good morning and welcome to the final week of summer 2008. Last week I once again gently awoke to the sound of rain. This time however, after hearing the droplets falling from the sky, I wondered not about the spider webs but instead what the moisture would look like on the flowers in my yard. As you can see from today’s photo lineup, when one adds water to the floral mix it gives the subject and predicate a rather classic wet look.

You veterans readers of this blog know that I like to report on late breaking stories of the day. Important issues like global warming, the senseless war in Iraq and the absurdity of John McCain calling Barack Obama an “elitist” when he himself owns 9 homes in 3 times zones and travels by private jet. Well, here’s an international news story that I believe search warrants my attention.

Strict new laws went into affect across Switzerland on September 1 that have some bankers, watchmakers and chocolate salesmen wondering if legislators have overreacted in efforts to safeguard the animal kingdom. The new legislation spells out in exhaustive detail how all animals are to be treated, whether they be pets, farm animals, domestic partners or destined for scientific experiments. Wild animals are also covered by the law if they reside in zoos, circuses or are related to Siegfried or Roy.

Remember the old royal flush? Well, now our little gold friends are now afforded a much more dignified death as it is now illegal to flush live goldfish, brook trout or poached salmon down the toilet. The law stipulates that they must first be knocked out, breaded, lightly sauteed and killed before being disposed of. Fishermen may no longer use live bait, practice catch-and-release fishing or enjoy their catch without tartar sauce.

On the domestic front, common household pets such as hamsters, parrots and piranhas can no longer be kept by themselves. The same applies for more exotic breeds such as lamas, alpacas and yaks (who are always talking.) Even sheep, goats and wolverines must have at least “a visual contact with their fellows,” according to the new law, if text messaging is not available.

Man’s “best friend,” comes in for special treatment as dog owners will be obliged by law to take special classes on how to raise Fido properly so he is less likely bite, scratch or hump your leg like it’s Tuesday. And Swiss dog-owners wishing to “customize” their pets as a fashion accessory will not be allowed to crop their tails or ears, force them to have surgery to get droopy ears or make them watch any of Eddie Murphy’s “Dr. Doolittle” movies.

But one cannot help but wonder (or in the words of Robert Plant, “And it makes me wonder”) if the animals would really welcome all the provisions Swiss lawmakers have generously bestowed upon them. Pigs, for example, are often said to be happiest when rolling around in the mud — but now they have the legal right to a shower to freshen up. They also want pigs to have the rights to attend day spas and receive facials and massages just like any other European politician. The country’s leading animal rights group, STS, say the new laws doesn’t go far enough and want animals to have free speech, the right to vote and most importantly, bear arms.

That’s the news from the European desk. On the weather front Hurricane Ike has wreaked havoc on the Galveston and Houston area of Texas and done a complete number on the island of Haiti. People are really suffering. So enjoy the flowers, be glad you have power and are not walking around in mud and we’ll catch you on the far sideline. Aloha, New York Giants fans.

September 9, 2008

Pelicans In Need Are A Frenzy Indeed

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 7:49 pm

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Good morning and greetings, sports fans. Right off the start I want to welcome a whole bunch on new folks to this photo blog. I whined and dined with many of you this weekend at my booth at the Capitola Art & Wine Festival. It was a pleasure telling you my life story along with my hopes and dreams for a new America and I hope to continue my verbal diary of photo adventures at my Open Studios coming up in October. Just like NBA action, it’s going to be FANTASTIC!

So as I stood at my booth thinking about important issues like the declining dollar, the ongoing mortgage crisis and what’s happening with Jack Bauer, I overheard lots of comments from people walking by my booth. Things like, “Wow, look at the wave” or “That’s a lot of pelicans” or “Hey, is that Brad Pitt?” Anyway, I heard through the grapevine about pelican feeding frenzies that had gone on in the month of August. Somehow due to my trip to the North Shore, an all-day TiVo seminar and a CIA class reunion I didn’t get to photograph any. That’s right, not one pelican swooping in for an anchovie appetizer. So I thought, why not showcase a westside frenzy that had Larry Bird fans buzzing along West Cliff Drive.

The first shot is from along Woodrow Avenue. As you can see, lots of pelicans on the radar screen. I then moved down to Bird Rock to bring in the crashing of the waves (shots 2 & 3) before moving down the my favorite arch in life (shots 4 & 5) at Its Beach. The one thing the my Canon Digital Rebel doesn’t capture is the screaming of the gulls during these frenzied moments, which is very similar to the sounds I make while watching a New York Giant’s game. This gathering of hundreds of pelicans lasted all day as I took my final shot at sunset before I headed home to finish my crocheting of a blanket for Condy Rice .

But here’s one of the beautiful things about photography. It’s all about capturing the moment. The next morning I came back at dawn to shoot the sunrise and their wasn’t a single pelican in sight. Just a few gulls and boys body surfing at Cowells Beach. It’s the old, “You snooze, you lose.” Or was that “a watched clock never boils?’

So what do we know about these exotic, pre-historic looking creatures? There are seven species of pelicans in the world, non of whom speak or like the French. Pelicans can be found on all continents except Antarctica and the late Orson Welles. Pelicans have an elongated bill, a short Hillary and a distinctive massive pouch. They use the pouch in order to catch fish, feed their young, cool themselves and as a fall fashion statement. And much like my psyche and nature, the pelican’s bill is very sensitive.

Pelicans have been around for over 40 million years, which would put them on the earth slightly longer than John McCain. Their average lifespan is 15 years, which is 105 years in golden retriever time. The Brown Pelican seen in these shots lives only in coastal areas of the United States and the northern coasts of South America. So if you see a pelican anywhere inland, stop and help because he is definitely lost in America.

By the 1970’s the Democrats and pelicans had almost disappeared from California, Texas and Louisiana. The reason was Ronald Reagan and the pesticides that had worked their way into the water and then into the fish that the pelicans would eat. These birds being at the top of the food chain stored and concentrated the poison in their bodies. The result of this made the pelican’s egg shells fatally thin, therefore with no hatchlings, no new pelicans. Fortunately, we got rid of most of the pesticides except for two that are still in the White House.

Pelicans do not use their beaks to spear their food but they use it as a net or rim to scoop up their meal. Upon surfacing, the pouch is tilted forward and drained like an open jumper. Pelicans have special air sacks under their flesh on the front of the body to cushion them from the constant pounding against the water surface which can also be used as a flotation device in case of any emergency. When a pelicans land in the water they put their feet forward and skid across the water like brakes. Yet, unlike Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan and Scott Baio, they cannot walk on water.

If you spend any time at the edge of the continent then you are bound to see these fabulous birds. Pelicans tend to fly together in lines of long V formations. Their flaps are not at same moment, but in sequence, starting with the leader. Each bird will flap when he reaches the same spot where the lead bird began to flap. I saw hundred of pelicans today flying thru the morning mist and break dancing on the rocks at Natural Bridges. I’m always captivated by their presence as the fly by and wonder, where are they going, how was the leader chosen and most importantly. how in the hell is John McCain leading Barack Obama in some of the polls?

Finally, I’m still dazed and confused over the selection of Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate. So here’s the best joke I’ve heard this week once again courtesy of Jay Leno. ” Republicans think she’s a pretty good running mate for McCain. They feel she can bring in women voters, she’s got a good conservative voting record, and she doesn’t mind eating dinner at 4:30.” On a different subject, my thoughts and prayers go out to all you Raider fans (especially my son Jason) who had to endure Monday night’s debacle against the Broncos. There goes the undefeated season. So enjoy the pelicans, enjoy the last couple weeks of summer and we’ll catch you in the right corner of the end zone. Aloha, Tom Brady fans.

September 4, 2008

I Knew She’d Be Trouble The First Time I Spider

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — geoff @ 7:45 pm

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Good morning and greetings, U.S Open fans. Summers are usually a dry time here on the central coast as wildfires tend to rage because the earth and brush get so parched. That’s why it was a pleasant surprise a few weeks ago when one morning I awoke to hear rain falling from the sky. Although I’m a big B.J Thomas (“Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head”) fan, I had not anticipated the precipitation but when I realized it was raining my first thought was (and I’m sure it was the same for most of you,) what are those spider webs in front of my parent’s house going to look like with a little moisture adding to the mix. Today’s photo array are the results.

So what do we really know about spiders? Well, they are invertebrates, which means, like our current administration, they don’t have backbones. And contrary to most beliefs, spiders are not insects. Insects have three body parts and six legs. Spiders have eight legs, two thighs, a couple of wings, two body parts and are served with your choice of cole slaw or seasoned curly fries.

Spiders have silk spinning glands called spinnerets at the tip of their abdomen by which they can spin a webs. These are not to be confused with the Spinners, who had two top ten hits with “The Rubberband Man” and “Games People Play.”

Not all spiders spin webs. There are more than 30,000 species of spiders. Most spiders have either six or eight eyes, which starts to get expensive when it comes to reading and sunglasses. Most spiders have fangs, through which venom is ejected, much like the Republicans displayed toward the Democrats at their convention.

Fear of spiders is called Arachnophobia. Fear of the current administration is called completely natural. Both are among the most common fears among humans. Spiders have an exoskeleton, meaning that their skeleton is on the outside, which comes in handy during Halloween trick or treating time.

Most spiders are very nearsighted. To make up for this, they get rides with friends and use the hair on their body to feel their way around and to sense when other animals or paparazzi are near. Spider webs get dirty and torn, so lots of spiders make a new one every day. They don’t waste the old one but instead roll it up into a ball and eat it, usually with a garden salad and side of penne pasta.

Baby spiders are called spiderlings and their henchman and called underlings. There are only two kinds of spiders that are poisonous to humans, the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. There is one that us extremely dangerous to males, the White Divorcee, who can be very vicious when provoked and usually for good reason. Fortunately for our eight legged friends, there are no kinds of humans that are poisonous to spiders.

That’s it for the first week of September. No blog coming up on Monday but we’ll return Wednesday with some midweek magic. One thought on Governor Sarah Palin. I am still stunned by the pick so let me leave you with my favorite line I heard about this Republican babe courtesy of Jay Leno. “Palin and McCain are a good pair. She’s pro life and he’s clinging to life.” On that cheery note, have a fabulous sports weekend, enjoy the webcasting and I hope to see a few of you locals in Capitola. Aloha, New York Giant fans.

September 2, 2008

All We Are Is August In The Wind

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 7:59 pm

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Good morning and welcome to our first photo blog of the new month. Sweet September blesses us with our highest average temperature here in Santa Cruz and if the first two days of the month are any indication of what lies ahead then Indian Summer will be rocking. Much like the Gin Blossoms did at the Boardwalk a couple of Friday nights ago.

Something that makes a rare appearance here on the central coast in the summer months are colorful sunrises and sunsets. Too much fog, not enough clouds and too many reality shows on the networks. But the evening of August 5th on West Cliff Drive was a welcomed exception. The sky turned various exotic shades of color as literally hundreds of pelicans cruised by in V formations (photo #2) into the different layers of red, orange and yellow magic. It was an outstanding evening that also included Dorothy and a rainbow making an appearance that added to the magnificence of the moment. It was the only sunset I shot this entire summer and it was simply an outrageous night to own the gift of sight.

The Bejiing Olympics ended a couple of weeks ago and now my Chinese conciousness is restricted to some spring rolls, beef chow fun and sweet and sour chicken. It was a tremendous two weeks of international competition that was loved by all Tibetans. As we know, swimmer Michael Phelps won 8 gold medals, which would have tied him for 9th in the gold medal count, ahead of France, Netherlands, Spain, Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Vermont. But as to leave no Sharon Stone unturned, here are a few facts about the Olympic medal count that you may have missed between the appetizers and the main course.

Human-rights loving China won the most gold medals at the Beijing Games with 51, which includes the 14-year-old gymnast in the underaged floor competition. They become the first country to crack the mu shu 50-gold mark since the Soviet Union in 1988. The most golds ever won in a single Olympics is 83 by the United States in 1984. It’s the first time since 1936 that a country other than the United States, the Soviet Union or Yemen has led the medal count.

Per capita, China won one gold medal for every 25 million people in the country. The United States’ per capita rate was one gold for every 8.5 million. The tiny island nation of Jamaica, which won a staggering six golds in Beijing, had a per capita rate of one gold for every 450,000 Rastafarians. Had China won at that rate, the country would have earned 2,889 golds, which they would then have shipped to Wal-Mart for the blue light special.

African countries won a total of 40 medals, the highest total in history for the continent. Unfortunately, it did not eliminate hunger, famine or ethnic genocide on the dark continent.
Six countries won their first ever Olympic medals: Afghanistan, Bahrain, Mauritius, Sudan, Tajikistan, Togo and Subway . One question, where the hell is Mauritius and Tajikistan, and how did I get an ‘A’ in geography?

India has 17% of the world’s population. They won 0.31% of Olympic medals, most of which were for being completely useless over the phone to American callers. Iceland was the least populous country to win an Olympic medal, which they later froze. Pakistan, the world’s sixth-largest nation, was the most populous country not to win an Olympic medal and the only country to oust their President during the Olympic games. And finally, Sweden had the best medal tally (4 silver, 1 bronze) without winning a gold, proving that blondes can still have fun without winning gold.

So that’s our Olympic recap. Join us again on Friday when we’ll look at what a little rain in August can do for the photo experience. And pro football fans rejoice as the NFL season begins tomorrow night when the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants host the Washington Redskins. As a longtime Giant’s fan, I am still in shock and awe over last year’s final game victory over the previously undefeated New England Patriots. Not that I’m a tad skeptical of the Giant’s chances of repeating this year but put it this way-I’m not wearing an Eli Manning jersey as I write this. So enjoy the western sky, the return of the NFL and we’ll catch you downfield. Later, Tom Brady fans.


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