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.