May 31, 2009

Film At 11

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Good morning and greetings, Grand Funk Railroad fans. That’s right, folks, “I’m your captain” and thanks to my paint-by-the-numbers GPS system, “I’m getting closer to my home.” And dammit, “We’re an American Band. I saw Grand Funk guitarist Mark Farner play last summer at the Friday night concerts down at the Beach Boardwalk and he rocked Santa Cruz. I also saw Mr. Eddie Money, “Back in the 70′s when I was here, I was snorting South American countries” and the Gin Blossoms. We are talking tremendous rock and roll shows for the price of free.

For many years I passed on these mini-Woodstocks down at the beach and then one evening checked out Peter Noone and Herman Hermits and I was hooked just like Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter. The sand, waves, barking sea lions, annoying tourists, alcohol, litter and cigarette smoke-it doesn’t get much better than that with rock and roll music blasting out over Monterey Bay. To quote the great Duke Ellington, (not to be confused with North Carolina Ellington,) “Music is my mistress.” And as Pablo Cruise once told me, “Love will find a way.”

For today’s photo fare we are going back, as the Chambers Brothers would say, in “Time.” As I’ve mentioned before, I joined the digital revolution in 2005, and much like when I broke down and ate Chinese food for the first time, a new sweet and sour world opened up for me. I had been shooting with a Canon AE1 for many years and was happy as a clam with the format. Focus, shoot a roll of 24, develop and see what I’ve got. A surprise in every envelope. Sometimes joy, sometimes disappointment, like seeing my SAT scores. But today we are going with some jump shots that worked for me, like an open 18-footer from the left side of the key.

For our first image, I went with one of my many cypress sunrise shots, this one entitled “Sky on Fire.” For years I shot the sunrise in front of the cypress tree along West Cliff before one day I finally dawned on me (no pun intended,) that this damn tree was blocking too much of the sky. I then joined moveon.org and started shooting down at Lighthouse Point.

Which leads me to photo #2, which in honor of Tommy Gavin and the “Rescue Me” boys, I call “Fire Engine Sky.” For a month in my late youth I shot with the slide format, and this red alert is a result of my slide period, which I also refer to as my first year of Algebra 1. I was using some film called Kodak Extra Color and as you can see from the rouge and the purple haze in the sky, they definitely didn’t cheat me on the color front. Not to toot my own Lena horn, but the Communist Party named this shot their 2004 photo of the year.

For our next two vertical entrees we move north (although some might say west) along West Cliff Drive. For some reason this morning I mistimed the sunrise. I woke and saw a beautiful red cumulus ribbon covering the sky. I then scooted down to the cliff and caught the aftermath (or was it afterscience) of the sun rising over the fog bank which I call “Glory Clouds.” Karma, clouds, parsley, sage, rosemary and time were on my side that morning.

We then move up to Swift Street to see a double rainbow doing stand-up in the Pacific. This was the beach that I lived across from during my West Cliff wonder years from 1975-1989. Living on the edge of the continent and photographing rainbows was not easy, with the daily distractions of migrating whales, countless chains of sea birds and endless droves of roller skaters. And definitely not in that order.

For our last two shots we are moving out of town but staying in state. The fifth shot is from New Year’s Day, 2004, back in Palm Desert, when the sky lit up with brilliantly colored, cotton-puffed clouds that just blew my mind. As I’m writing this I’m reminded of another fantastic, blood-red sunset from Palm Desert that I will feature later this summer. Due to technical difficulties, I did not make it out to the desert this year but from what I hear Sherman’s Deli (with two convenient locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert) is still doing major rye bread, corn beef and chocolate rugala business without me.

The final shot was taken in lovely Hermosa Beach sometime in the 1990′s. There weren’t a lot of memorable moments of color in the sky during my decade in the southland but this was one of the nights of photo greatness. Living in the most densely populated city in the U.S., I found myself engulfed in the warm Pacific while the sun was setting from April thru October. Throw in third row season tickets to the Lakers at the Fabulous Forum during the Magic Johnson years, which was a magical and James Worthy experience in itself and sunsets took a back seat to the Laker Girls. Hermosa Beach was like living in a giant outdoor health club, but that’s a sideout story for another blog.

On to the late night news. “Well, the big story is the Supreme Court. President Obama has found his nominee. She is a Federal appeals judge. Sonia Sotomayor, a Latino woman, how about that? So, you know what that means. Ruth Bader Ginsburg no longer the hot chick on the court. If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the country’s first Hispanic judge. In fact, her first order of business, deporting Lou Dobbs.” –Jay Leno “History was made today when President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first female Hispanic justice to serve in the U.S. Supreme court. Obama said this should help keep the court from leaning too far to the white.” –Jimmy Fallon

“North Korea tested another nuclear bomb. The fear is that North Korea will sell this nuclear weapon to some unstable, volatile world leader, you know, like Dick Cheney.” –Jay Leno “There are some people who are saying that maybe Dick Cheney is setting himself up to actually run for president. You know, it makes sense. Republicans are looking for fresh blood, and Cheney just had some yesterday.” –Bill Maher

“Barack Obama and Dick Cheney have been going at each other all week. This is like big-time wrestling, isn’t it? Man, it’s like charisma versus arrhythmia. I can’t believe Dick Cheney keeps giving speeches. He’s appearing on TV news shows. It’s like he thinks he is still president. A new pentagon report says that 1 in 7 inmates released from Guantanamo Bay has gone back to terrorism. Surprisingly, the other 6 are working in customer service.” –Jay Leno

So I hope you enjoyed today’s blast of colors from the past. And congratulations to the Lakers and the Magic, who will meet in the NBA Finals that begin on Thursday. What this means is no LeBron James, who put on an INCREDIBLE show during the playoffs but who failed to show up for the Game 6 postgame press conference. It guess it all comes down to the words of Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “Defeat is worse than death, you have to live with defeat.”

As you can imagine, there are few more Fuji like images in the archives that we will later revisit. On Friday morning, I took a few shots of a coyote in the misting rain which we’ll see coming down the pike. So enjoy the Kodak colors and we’ll catch at the Staples Center. And welcome to June. Aloha, mahalo and later, George McGinnis fans.

May 24, 2009

I Haven’t Got Time For The Rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:30 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Santana fans. As Carlos once told me, “You’ve got to change your evil ways, baby.” And of course, I did, because I was in search of a white magic woman. More about that later. I saw Carlos and his crew play at the Woodstock Music Festival back in 1969. Those were three days of peace, love and an incredible amount of people dancing around naked. Quite an experience for a 16-year-old, defensive-minded point guard from New Jersey.

So welcome to our 175th post. That’s right, sports fans, the big 175. So what does it all mean? Well, for starters, it means that I’ve posted 1,050 images on this blog site. And not one shot of myself or the June Taylor dancers. So why blog? Why not river dance? What is this obsession with pictures and words? What not spend my time meditating or doing tai bow? The answer, my friend, is not blowing in the wind. That’s just pollen. It’s all about the asteriods of thoughts careening around in my head. Sometimes I just have to let those meteorites loose.

As I’ve seen written on many a Hallmark card, Angela Jolie’s bicep and notices of rate increases from my health insurance company, April showers bring May flowers. April baths bring nothing except rings around the tub. We started off magnificent May with a look at the loveliness of the Robert plant action at the UCSC Aboretum. We are returning there today but under different circumstances. Where the skies were once blue, now there is rain. As I was the only person strolling thru this menagerie of moist colors, for this day, according to Counting Crows, “I am the rain king.”

So as the water flowed down from the heavens, I grabbed my Scooby Doo raincoat and flew into action. As you can see from the photo array, the proteas and friends had no problem holding onto the droplets that fell from the clouds. It’s always exciting to see flowers in the rain and this day was no exception. I, myself am very good at holding onto things, just like these flowers with raindrops. Or to quote the Cowsills, “I love the flower girl. She seemed so sweet and kind, she crept into my mind. Was she a reality or just a dream to me?”

Which leads me to this. Today is an historic day as my wife Allison is hitting the big 50. It is also a big day for me because I’ve never slept with a 50 year-old-woman. It has been a somewhat difficult year for Allison on the health front but she is coming through it and feeling stronger every day. So I want to wish her a happy birthday and tell her that the NBA playoffs should be over in a few weeks. It’s not easy finding someone you want to spend the rest of your life with so I’m one of the lucky ones. As she once said to me, “You love basketball more than you love me.” I replied, “That may be true, but I love you more than football and baseball.”

On to the late night action. “Well, here is a shocking statistic. This is shocking. One in four Americans admit to texting while driving. The other three are illegal immigrants who are texting while driving.” And according to a Rasmussen poll, when asked if English should be America’s official language, 85 percent of the people said, ‘Si. Well, last week, the FDA scolded General Mills for claiming that Cheerios lowers your cholesterol by 10%. Well, they’re not stopping there. Today, under pressure, Captain Crunch admitted he lied about his military record.” –Jay Leno

“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s good news for the environment. They’re cleaning up the Hudson River. It had gotten so bad that the salmon actually had to swim upstream every year for their hepatitis shots.” –David Letterman “In a reversal of his position, President Obama this week said he now opposes the release of photographs showing terror suspects being abused in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meaning we’ll just have to wait for Dick Cheney’s Christmas card.” –Amy Poehler “At the White House the other night, President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted a night of poetry and music featuring musicians, authors and poets, to which President Bush said, ‘Now, that’s torture.’” –Jay Leno

So that’s it for our holiday blog. If possible, spend a moment today thinking what this holiday means, and I’m not referring to what to marinate for the barbecue. For you NBA fans, the first five games of the conference finals have been, as Jack Nicholson might say, “As good as it gets.” Or “You can’t handle the truth.” We’ve had intensely fought, epic, down to the wire contests with amazingly dramatic finishes, which reminds me of both my wedding night and my first year of rabbinical school.

So birthday wishes today also go out to our friend Jo Ann Martin and my longtime Motown pal Marc Techner. And get ready for June as we’re going to be blasting out the colors like LeBron and Kobe launching game-winners from beyond the three point stripe. So have a great holiday weekend and we’ll catch you at the Pepsi Center. Aloha, mahalo and later, Kevin Johnson fans.

May 17, 2009

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Sky, Sky Again

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:14 pm

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Good morning and happy trails, Quicksilver Messenger Service fans. During San Francisco’s psychedelic days of the 60′s, John Cipollina and Quicksilver boys were jamming away at the Fillmore West with “Who Do You Love?” But today we are talking sky, like Hannah Montana in big sky country. And Norman Greenbaum, that one hit wonder and “Spirit in the Sky.” And less we forget the great lefthander, Jimi “Scuse me while I kiss the sky” Hendrix. And finally the Beatles, who gave us, “Lucy and Ricky in the sky with diamonds.”

If we go back to the 1950′s, before there was history, you might recall a TV show that featured a very dramatic beginning, “From out of the clear blue of the western sky comes…Sky King. I loved Penny and the Songbird. Then it was on to “Look!” Up in the sky. It’s a bird… It’s a plane.. No, it’s today’s super collection of our favorite 2008-2009 magical morning moments from Sunrise Santa Cruz.

That’s right, boys and squirrels, for today’s photo appetizers, I have selected a six pack of my favorite sunrises from the winter collection. Actually, the last shot is from the spring but who’s a counting crow? Six Lighthouse Point/Steamer Lane experiences that were exhilarating, inspiring and delightful, or the same sensation I feel when I wake up and get dial tone.

Now for any of you who know me, or have downloaded my psychological profile, I’m not big on change. I’ve always been a photo purist. Every year I have a sign up at my Open Studios, “No Photoshopping” along with “Tips are Welcome.” This fixation means never altering or boosting any of the colors of the images that my Canon has digitally inhaled.

I first heard about a little feature called the Fill Light, not to be confused with Phil Lesh, in a class at Cabrillo. It was presented to me by my professor who also informed the class that you can never take a good picture on automatic focus. So either I’m extremely lucky or a savant. Anyway, I was reintroduced to it when my brother Brad forced it upon me on a visit about a month ago.

Well, this fill light is another term for MAGIC. And for once, I’m not talking Johnson. If I’ve ever had a problem with my photography, it’s that, not being that master of technique, many times my pictures are a tad darker than I wish. Well, thanks to the wonder of my parents having a third child (Brad,) I am now able to go back into the archives and add light where there was once darkness. Like the recent transition in the White House. And while we’re on the subject, will someone please tell Dick Cheney to shut his negative, war mongering, second guessing trap.

So maybe you’re wondering, why am I discussing Dr. Fill? Has the pressure of not watching in the NBA playoffs in high definition finally gotten to me? Well, what it means, sports fans, is that I am now in possession of hundreds of pictures that have never been seen by the viewing public because they were too dark. Now there is light and the colors and images are flowing like the river Jordan. I’m talking dozens of blogs worth of clouds and colors and candy and ice cream that have never been properly displayed. It’s going to be wild and you, my cyber friends, are going to have a front row seat.

So let’s move on to some late night comedy. “The price of a postage stamp went up to 44 cents this week. Isn’t that unbelievable? They said they had to raise the price because fewer and fewer people are using the mail these days. That’s government thinking, isn’t it? ‘Hey, nobody’s buying our product. Let’s raise the price.’” –Jay Leno “Anybody ever mail anything any more? Well, the price of a stamp is going up to 44 cents. Pretty soon, it will actually be cheaper and easier to just put a little glue on a dollar bill and stick it to an envelope.” –David Letterman “The Post Office announced that the price of a stamp is going up to 44 cents. This is getting out of control. Yeah. If there were just some other way to send written messages that were free and a million times faster. If you guys think of something, e-mail me.” –Jimmy Fallon

Dick Cheney was on the news this week, and he said that it would be a mistake for the Republicans to moderate their policies. He said they should remain true to their core principles: gay bashing, war profiteering and torture.” –Bill Maher “The NYU graduation speaker is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And she told the grads, ‘Work hard. Save your money. And one day you might be able to afford to attend a Yankees game.’” –David Letterman “A 12-year-old boy has officially filed to run for president of Iran. They’re calling it the craziest thing to happen in Iran since a woman drove a car.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Governor Schwarzenegger says he is trying to get marijuana legalized here in the California. He wants to legalize it. Yeah. Yeah. I believe his campaign slogan is ‘Change We Can Breathe In.’” “Saudi Arabia held its first beauty pageant over the weekend. And already they’re embroiled in their own scandal. Seems topless photos of the newly crowned Miss Saudi Arabia surfaced today. You could see her entire forehead.” “Oh, the FDA now scolding General Mills for claiming that Cheerios can lower your cholesterol by 10%. They say that would be considered an unauthorized health claim. The FDA also said there is no evidence that Lucky Charms are magically delicious.” –Jay Leno

That’s today’s show. Congratulations to Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Laker defense for finally showing up on Sunday and knocking off the Houston Rockets to advance to the western conference finals. And my heart goes out to Bill Simmons, Tommy Heinsohn and all those Boston Celtic fans who saw their team go down to defeat yesterday at the hands of the Orlando Magic. That means, NBA fans, that it’s once again LeBron James time as his Cavaliers head to the eastern conference finals. At 24 years old, this 6’9″, 260 pound monster in sneakers is as good as anyone you’ll ever see on a basketball court. With the exception of the Miami Heat dancers.

So enjoy the skies, try to savor each day and we’ll catch you at the free throw line extended. I don’t know about you, but time and Newsweek seem to be flying by. Aloha, mahalo and later, Bob Cousy fans.

May 10, 2009

Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Flight

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Good morning and greetings, Jefferson Airplane fans. As you may know, here on the central coast, the air is certifiably filled with all kinds of bird life. Just take a stroll along West Cliff Drive and you can view pelicans, cormorants, exotic pigeons and gulls just wanting to have fun. Stop by at Natural Bridges and you see snowy egrets, great egrets, great blue herons and maybe Gil Scott Heron. Which brings to mind the aviary thoughts of David Crosby and The Byrds, “There is a season, tern, tern, tern. And a time for every purpose, under heaven, during the NBA playoffs.”

Our first set from the flight deck takes place over on the east side at Twin Lakes beach. It was back in December and as I drove by, I thought I was in a Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella as these gulls were learning about life, flight and the pursuit of happiness. I’m always fascinated by birds in motion, as earlier in the week I stopped my car to watch a snowy egret cruising the skies. When I asked Petula Clark where that bird might be heading she replied, “Downtown.”

I believe in this situation I would have been better off talking to the gangster of love himself, Mr. Steve Miller. After all, this space cowboy knows birds. As he once said, “I want to fly like a sea gull, to the sea. Fly like a sea gull, let me spirit carry me and Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to the NBA Finals.”

We then venture photo wise back to Natural Bridges to check out a great egret in flight. This large, long-legged Dwyane Wading bird has a wingspan of almost five feet and a vertical leap of 48 inches, which makes it tough to defend in the low post. They are truly magnificent in flight, much like Dr. J or Michael Jordan taking off at the free throw line and throwing it down like my son Jason on an 8 foot hoop.

We then see a group of happy pelicans discussing politics and LeBron James selection as league MVP, as their compradres land and take off from the remaining arch. That brings us to our final photo of a hummingbird receiving its nectar fix from the pride of madera flowers. I took five shots in a five second sequence and in only one photo did the maroon thrush appear. I’m not sure what to make of it but either way, I won’t thrush to judgement.

Now here are a few fascinating facts about our flittering friends, the hummingbirds. These little fellas have the most rapid wing beat, 80 per second in normal flight, 200 beats/second in courtship flight and 400 beats per second on the night of the actual honeymoon.

Hummingbirds have hearts that are proportionally larger than any other animal on earth, accounting for 2-4% of their actual total body weight, not including socks and shoes. Their hearts beat at an average of 500 times per minute at rest, 1,200 times in stressful situations and 1,500 when being audited by the IRS or driving on an LA freeway.

These little hummers may consume 50-100% of their body weight in food per day and 200% of their weight in water per day. That’s why you often hear female hummingbirds ask, “Do I look bloated to you?” And lastly, four of five dentists recommend sugarless nectar for those hummingbirds that do chew gum.

Now on to the late night action. “Well, here’s the latest. The White House says, as of now, the swine flu not contained. It could continue to get worse. And they were just talking about Joe Biden.” “Cheney, he overreacted, too. Today, he waterboarded a pig. There’s no reason for that. No reason.” “President Obama spoke on the phone this weekend for 20 minutes with Mexican President Calderon on how to cooperate on fighting this swine flu thing. Afterwards, he said the people of America and Mexico have found common ground. I believe it’s called Los Angeles.” –Jay Leno

“They say that swine flu is not as potent as they originally thought. You know, like the Yankee pitching staff.” “Supreme Court Justice David Souter is stepping down. Now this guy has been called a reclusive loner who is against marriage. It’s like I have a twin.” –David Letterman “A vacancy on the Supreme Court. This is something we haven’t seen in awhile. Let’s just hope the president is better at picking a justice than the justices were at picking a president.” –Jay Leno

“Barack Obama and Joe Biden made a surprise trip outside the White House yesterday for burgers. Yeah! Obama ordered a cheeseburger and Biden asked for whatever comes with the toy.” –Jimmy Fallon “Hey! Some happy news. As you may have heard, the White House has a brand-new puppy. I believe his name is Arlen Specter.” “And a Georgia man is recovering in Pittsburgh after becoming the first U.S. recipient of a double hand transplant. Got two hands transplanted from another guy. He used them for the first time today to grab his heart when he saw the bill.” –Jay Leno

So that’s our show for today. Earlier this week I hit the Arboretum again at UCSC and captured some great moments of May moistness which we’ll peruse later this month. I’ve got to mention the sports highlight of the week, which took place on Wednesday, when my daughter Aimee got both the win and the save in her softball game against a very tough New Brighton/Cabrillo Crushers squad. In the final inning, with the score 10-9 and the bases loaded, she stuck out their biggest hitter to end the game and the place just exploded. Well, maybe not exploded…perhaps a sitting ovation. The win and the save-stats the way it is and was.

And finally, congratulations go out to my brother Paul and his lovely wife Wendi, who hosted their daughter Samantha’s Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, amongst the redwood trees up in Marin County. It was a quite the experience, kind of like the wailing wall meets the Jonas Brothers. All I can say is mazel tov and what about those Houston Rockets? So enjoy the birds, don’t forget to smell the flowers and we’ll catch you in the paint. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dominique Wilkens fans.

May 3, 2009

What A Day For A May Dream

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 8:55 pm

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Good morning and greetings, Gin Blossom lovers. I always like to jump start the new month with some spectacular color, usually from the skies above our central coast. But instead, today we are drawing our May cornucopia of oranges, reds and deep purples from Father Earth, who is not to be confused with Father Time, Father Flanagan or Father Knows Best. As trombone player Jimmy Pankow of Chicago Transit Authority wrote, “Color my world with hope of loving you.” But more importantly, sorry about that game seven loss to the Celtics, Bulls fans.

So what is it, my fascination with color? What’s the deal or no deal, what’s so special about this Jesse Jackson rainbow coalition of rhythm and blues, collard greens and mellow yellows? I remember growing up in the early 60′s during the days of JFK and Camelot, watching “The Honeymooners” and “Sargeant Bilko” on black and white TV, and thinking, yeah, this is great. Then color TV strolled into my life and I thought, this is even greater. And then I got my braces off and I thought, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Free at last. Thank God Almightly, my teeth are free at last.”

But I think the seminal moment for the color infusion harmonically incurred at a friend’s house. My old New Jersey pal, Steve Margolin, had a live-in maid named Minnie. In her room was a black and white TV, on which someone had cleverly placed a striped color screen and voila, before you could say, “This is Walter Cronkite,” she had herself a color TV. This was truly a Kodak moment. The setup, in the words of Guiness Beer, was “Brilliant!” Or to paraphrase the words Mr. Phil “In The Air Tonight” Collins, “I saw true colors.”

I’ve never had any real interest in shooting with black and white film. I’ve always felt that since life, at least for us lucky ones, is lived in color, why go ebony and ivory? Although according to Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, “They do live together in perfect harmony.” Ansel Adams was never one of my boyhood idols. I was more of a Mickey Mantle, Seymour Hersh and Raquel Welch fan. I think I may have been ahead of my time as my credo has always been, if you shoot in the black and white, the terrorists win.

So here’s a collection of floral finery that I spotted as I made my rounds along the westside of Santa Cruz. I took a good shot of a hummingbird feeding on those purple cones (pride of madeiras) that will be coming down the pike. Unfortunately, none of today’s beauties are from my front yard, although I’ve got more variety of weeds than a San Francisco cannibas dispensary. Neil Young says rust never sleeps. Well, weeds keep the rust company at night.

No late night humor this week as I didn’t see much that tickled my fancy. “You know who really needs to worry about the swine flu? Kevin Bacon.” So we’ll go with a joke from my English literature loving son, Jason. Police are investigating an accident in which two trucks loaded with Roget’s Thesaurus collided as they left a London publishing house. Witnesses were stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, shocked, stupefied…

So enjoy the color and the tower of flower power that Misty May brings to the table. And of course, the second round of the NBA playoffs that hopefully draws us closer to the LeBron /Kobe slugfest of basketball greatness. And try not to sweat the small stuff, they’ll be time for that later. Seize the day and the rebound. We’ll catch you on the screen and roll. Aloha, mahalo and later, Rick Barry fans.


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