Good morning and greetings, Monterey Bay fans. In my quest to expose my larger-than-life story to the cyberworld, each weekday morning, to paraphrase Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground, I like to “Take a walk on the west side.” For me, this coastal experience takes me to my favorite street (besides Jason on “Friday Night Lights”) in the western hemisphere. That would be West Cliff Drive, where the cutting edge of the continent bonds with the blue Pacific. Along with man’s best friend and my consigliore Summer, we mink stroll the cliff, never knowing who or what we will encounter. It could be a whales, dolphins, prison pen pals, porpoises, pelicans, otters or insurance agents, and not necessarily in that order.
For this hybrid of a blog, I always like to start off the new month with something exotic and was all ready to showcase an incredibly gorgeous sunrise from a few winters back. But then news came to me, or in the words of Marvin Gay, “I heard it through the grapevine” that a whale had washed up along the cliff. Well, faster than you could say “Jacque Cousteau” I sprang into action faster than Shamu downing a bucket of popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster. But as darkness was approaching and not wanting to break my 8pm backcourt ordered curfew, I decided to venture back on Friday morning.
As you can see from photo #1, I was not alone in my holy quest to see this fallen giant of the sea. As it turns out, a year-old female California gray whale had been found dead, floating alongside the wharf on Wednesday. It was towed a mile out to sea, but then drifted back in and landed just north of my favorite arch at Its Beach. Rather than burying it in the sand or Fed Exing it up to Ano Nuevo to become an appetizer for the great whites, the city decided to use a tow truck to haul it up onto West Cliff, put on on a flatbed truck and bring it to the city dump. Or as Joni Mitchell would say, “They paved paradise, put up a parking lot.”
You can see in photo #2 a couple of wetsuited boys getting ready for some action. When this 25-foot long, 8,260 pound juvenile was brought up from the beach, it was just surreal. It was as if one of marine life artist Wyland’s painting had come to life, as this decomposing beauty was dangling in the air while knocking the iceplants off the cliff. This was a very unusual disposal method for a whale and certainly nothing that has been seen before here in Santa Cruz. The whaling wall of West Cliff had come to life. And as a special bonus, this yearling had a certain scent to it and I’m not talking Old Spice-more like old Sock.
So much like sleeping past 7am, helping my son with his math homework and my journey down the birth canal, experiencing this whale’s tale was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was sad that all this attention was being paid to a deceased mammal but many people gathered on the cliff had never seen a live whale, so they were happy just to get a peek at one of these beautiful creatures that roam the sea and food shop in our Monterey Bay.
Much like Fernando Valenzuela, this youngster was born in the warm Baja California waters and was heading north to the nutrient-rich waters off of Alaska when she encountered some kind of problem that led to her ending up dead on Its Beach. According to Saturday’s Santa Cruz Sentinel, Joe Rodgers, a longtime Santa Cruz boat captain and marine surveyor, said he spotted a whale that size this week several times, going back and forth across the bay, seemingly looking for its mother. Gray whales, which can grow to 50 feet in length, travel an incredible 12,500 miles in their annual migration. For me, I drive to the bank, stop at Longs and the dry cleaners and I’m ready for a nap.
Well, enough of my blubbering and onto some late night humor. “Today at the White House, President Obama met with the CEOs of all the major U.S. banks. A lot of these big bonus guys. The CEOs looked around the White House and said, ‘You live in this dump? You know what’s interesting? Today, a reporter in Crawford, Texas, asked former President George Bush how he felt about General Motors and Bush said, ‘You know, since I left office, I don’t really follow the Iraq war anymore.” And “see, I feel confident that it’ll go well, because President Obama is very good with these economic leaders. He is a very good speaker, of course, and a good speech writer. See, the problem with President Bush was when he went to the summit, any time anyone said G20, he’d go, ‘Bingo!’” –Jay Leno
“Earlier today, President Obama filled three of the remaining top jobs at the Treasury Department. Their job will be to collect taxes from all the other cabinet members that haven’t paid them yet.” Actually, this is highly unusual for the government to take the kind of action they did with General Motors. I mean, the closest the previous administration came to getting involved in the car industry was Bush using jumper cables to jump-start Dick Cheney’s heart.” –Jay Leno And “President Obama visited Buckingham Palace and he met with the Queen of England, and here’s what they did. They briefly shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. I mean, it was just like my honeymoon.” –David Letterman
“Now here’s a story. A guy in Brazil goes spear fishing, and he accidentally gets shot in his own head with the spear. Well, they operate on the guy. He’s unconscious. They pull the spear out and he’s going to be fine. And you know the first thing he said when he came to was, ‘Well, that’s the last time I go spear fishing with Dick Cheney.’” –David Letterman “Looking back at his presidential run this week, John McCain said that he got a lot of votes because of Sarah Palin. And weirdly enough, that’s the same thing President Obama said.” –Jimmy Fallon And finally, “MTV, Music Television, is putting actual music videos back on their network. If it works, Fox News said they’ll start doing actual news again.” –Craig Ferguson
I’d like to say that all’s whale that ends whale, but by bringing this magnificent creature that graces our seas to the city dump for its burial just doesn’t seem completely right. Anyway, we’ve got a pair of birthday wishes going out for Tuesday as my snowboarding-crazed brother Brad turns the big 50 and my outside hitting, volleyball playing, sprinter of a son Jason turns 15. Brad, who I have known since he was a small child, is the President and CEO of the nationally renowned People Productions Media Services based in Boulder, Colorado. Through the years he has been like a sports brother to me. Or as Lilly von Schtupp in “Blazing Saddles” once said of my youngest sibling, “What a nice guy.”
As for Jason, if I loved him any more or was any prouder of him, my heart would burst. But even more importantly, he still hasn’t beaten me one-on-one in basketball yet, although I haven’t given him the opportunity in a while. But now that Bernie Madoff is incarcerated and my Vietnam war injuries have magically healed, I’m running out of excuses.
So enjoy the spring break, baseball’s opening day and tonight’s NCAA championship game. Four Tar Heel seniors put their future NBA careers on hold and returned to North Carolina this season in their quest for the title. They’re hungry, talented and in the words of James Taylor “In my mind I’m going with Carolina.” Only Michigan State stands in their way. We’ll catch you on the backdoor alley-oop. Aloha, mahalo and later, Magic Johnson and Yankee fans.