June 28, 2009

Skies And Dolls

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — geoff @ 8:46 pm

Good morning and greetings, rock and roll fans. It’s been a wild week on the news front, with my favorite story coming out of Pyongyang, where fun-loving North Korea is talking about obliterating the good ol’ US of A. Standing smack in their crosshairs is Hawaii, which is being threatened with a nuclear tipped missle, topped off with a side order of short ribs. Think what you want about that little dictator, Kim Jong-il, but this pint-sized maniac, who gets a kick out of starving his people and locking up a couple of our journalists, is now threatening to devastate the Aloha state .

I am heading over to the islands in August for a warm water meditation retreat. Before the threat from this “proud nuclear power,” my biggest concerns were sunburn, overipe pineapples or a wandering school of jellyfish, not radiation poisoning. Over in Oahu, they still remember the horror of Pearl Harbor the same way I continually dream about not being ready tests in school. But I’ve always shared a special kinship with Korea, ever since my basketball coach had us playing a demilitarized zone on defense back in high shcool.

And then there was the tragic passing of the “King of Pop,” Michael Jackson, who died last week at the age of 50. I believe ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel summed it up best when he said, “What’s especially sad is that most people of a certain generation only know Michael Jackson as a crazy guy who had a lot of plastic surgery — whereas the truth is, he was not only an unbelievably talented, groundbreaking performer, he also helped break down the racial prejudice in this country. He was an extremely powerful symbol — a black performer who whites could relate to and then later in life, a white performer who blacks could relate to.” I loved the Jackson Five, especially Reggie, when he played rightfield for the Yankees.

Of course, there are the crazy goings on in Iran, the continuing and escalating violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the wandering governor from South Carolina and the death of Farrah Fawcett. We’ll cover some of those topics in our late night comedy segment but let’s move on to our photo finish.

Today’s colorful theme takes us back to my favorite place to shoot the sunrise on the central coast. We’ll be seeing lots of Lighthouse Point and Its Beach throughout the summer as I blaze my own Appalachian trail through my photo archives. There has been very little color in the June skies due to fog, the marine layer and the breakup of Jon and Kate. So today we are journeying back to 2007, to a time when Phil Spector was still a free man, John Ensign was still faithful to his wife and Bernie Madoff sons still spoke to him.

The first three shots are from a sunrise in early March that came before a huge storm, where the rain was coming down harder than PETA did on President Obama for swatting that fly. This magnificent moment of Disney color came and went very quickly before the skies turned gray and the deluge began, much the way the greedy bankers bought into the bad mortgages and we, the taxpayers, were forced to bail them out. These bailouts still have many people, including yours truly, scratching their heads, much like suffering the heartbreak of psoriasis.

Our second dawn pleaser came a few weeks earlier. As a landscape photograher and part-time hand model, I am most attracted to the vibrant colors in the sky. These two sunrises reflect the kind of the moments I like to capture and the reason I get up before dawn even cracks. So you can look forward to a cyber summer of sunrises and sunsets as we bring the best of the central coast skies to the pages of Sunrise Santa Cruz.

On to the late night experience. Hey, you know what is going on over in Iran with the election? Have you been following that? Oh, it’s crazy. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who makes a great chicken salad,) has declared himself a winner. Had a victory party. And he came out at the victory party and he thanked the 148% of the people who voted for him. This Ahmadinejad guy, during all those protests, keeping a very low profile in Iran. His staff said he was hiking. And President Obama, this guy takes everything seriously. He’s very upset about what’s going on in Iran. As a matter of fact, today he announced that he’s going to stop smoking Camels.” –David Letterman

“Today, President Obama signed a bill that prevents tobacco companies from using misleading labels like ‘low tar’ and ‘light.’ The tobacco companies said from now on they’ll label their low tar cigarettes as ‘less cancerific. A British furniture company was caught trying to slip advertisements into Twitter by linking them to the Iranian election crisis. Isn’t that the lowest? Yeah, probably the most shameless had to be, ‘Tired of all the unrest? Try our Serta Perfect Sleeper. Today the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, who’s the head of the Republican Governors Association, held a press conference to reveal he had an affair with a woman from Argentina. People were shocked because Republicans traditionally don’t do well with Hispanic women.” –Conan O’Brien

“You guys remember Dick Cheney? Vice President for eight years? Listen to this. He’s written a memoir about his life. Not just a memoir, a thousand pages! It’s a great book. You can actually use it to stand on to reach a better book. This guy doesn’t say anything for eight years, and now he’s got a thousand-page book? Talk about torture. There’s your torture right there. John McCain is being more outspoken about President Obama’s foreign policy and his Iranian strategy. And today, McCain got so loud and so angry, and he was screaming, that they asked him to leave Denny’s.” –David Letterman

That’s news, weather and sports. On the travel front, my two favorite children are leaving today on a fact finding mission to Costa Rica, which is being led by my brother Brad, as part of his Media Services Without Borders group. Which means that another guest blog will be coming down the pike from Aimee. And if we’re really lucky we might squeeze one out of Jason, but it will probably be in Spanish.

So congratulations go out to the Golden State Warriors, who last week lucked out and selected sharpshooting guard Stephon Curry in the NBA draft. This was a coup for the Warriors, who in the past have taken front office incompetence to a new level. I haven’t been this excited about something in Oakland since they opened up Raiderette tryouts to the public. So enjoy the day and we’ll catch you somewhere between the Carribean Queen and the Atlantic. Aloha, mahalo and later, Costco Rica fans.

June 21, 2009

Summer Winners, Some Are Losers

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 8:20 pm

Good morning and greetings, Allman Brothers fans. There are times when I sit down at my computer and I feel like “I’ve been tied to the whipping post. Good Lord, I feel like I’m blogging.” And this is after days of waking up with the “Statesboro Blues.” But, “Lord, I was born a ramblin’ man. Tryin’ to make a livin’ by posting the best material I can.” And to sum up the southern rock experience, we know that “Crossroads seem to come and go but the gypsy flies with sweet Melissa.”

So yesterday was Father’s Day and the first day of Donna summer. I think Seals and Croft summed it up when they said, “Summer breeze, makes me feel fine. Blowin’ thru the jasmine in my mind.” The group America, while riding thru the desert on a horse with no name, put a good take on summer with, “When the days are longer and the nights are stronger than moonshine.” As I frequently tell my Tucson-based fact checker and former back-up singer to the Moody Blues, Nancy Mager, everything can be said in a song. This includes my haftorah, which I sang on my bar mitzvah day like a young Neil Diamond. That’s a whole lot of “Holly holy.”

So let’s move on to today’s photo journey. In our salute to the summer solstice, which is the longest day of the year, we return to 2008, before Bush was exiled to Main Street. The date was January 23, the place Natural Bridges State Beach. Now the previous day was epic along the coast. The highlights included a very, extreme low tide, the rare opportunity to photograph a rainbow thru the arch at Its Beach and a spectacular display of color at dusk that wowed sunset fans lined up along the cliff. It was a day, much like my circumcision or when the U.S. invaded Grenada, that I will never forget.

So this was the following night, and as I headed down to the beach I was still buzzing like John Edwards on health care reform before he was caught with his pants down. I could see from the way the clouds were lining up that this was the kind of night I wanted to make sure I didn’t run out of film, even though I was shooting digital. My batteries were extra charged as in the words of Buddy Miles, “Well, my mind’s been going thru them changes” as the sky was going thru them phases. We started off with a rustic gold, then moved into a smooth blue, outstanding orange before hitting Tahitian tan, wild salmon before finishing off with riviera red. All in all, a stunning display of clouds, reflection and color. I hadn’t seen anything that magnificent since the first time I saw Michelle Obama go sleeveless.

At the same time I was shooting at Natural Bridges, a Davenport-based photographer named Ed Dickie was taking in this same celestial display up at Waddell Creek. His panoramic shots of the north coast sky were dramatic and utterly superb, much like the breakout first season of “Petticoat Junction.” We’re talking Billie Jo, Bobbi Jo, Betty Jo and Uncle Joe, who we know is “moving kind of the slow at the junction, Petticoat Junction.”

On to the late night experience. “It’s a little different over there when they have an election in Iran, because the women, they get to vote. Unlike our ally Saudi Arabia. But in Iran, the women get to vote and it’s great, because they’re already wearing the booth. But what do you expect from this country? It’s run by a wacko, driven by oil companies. It’s Alaska.” –Bill Maher “Politics is very similar over there as here. Ahmadinejad says if he’s elected, he’ll bail out the camel industry.” –Craig Ferguson

“But this guy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, he claims victory and he is very unpopular. And the danger politically of this, he could ruin the political career of his brother, Jeb Ahmadinejad. Here’s the breakdown of the Iranian election: 63 percent of the vote for Ahmadinejad; Moussavi, he’s got 34 percent of the vote; and 3 percent of the vote goes to Ralph Nader.” –David Letterman

Here now are a few choice puns, courtesy of my son Jason, who every night before he goes to sleep thanks God for creating “The Office”. A farmer is milking his cow and as he is milking, a flu comes along and flies into the cow’s ear. A little bit later, the farmer notices the fly in the milk. The farmer says, “Hmph. In one ear, out the udder.”

A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories. After about an hour the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse. “But why?” they asked, as they moved off. “Because,” he said, “I can’t stand these chess nuts boasting in an open foyer.”

And here’s my favorite. A doctor liked to stop at a bar after work and have an almond daiquiri. One day, Dick the bartender ran out of almonds, and used hickory nuts instead. The doctor took a sip and said, “Is this an almond daiquiri. Dick?” And dick said, “No, it’s a hickory daiquiri, Doc.”

That’s our salute to Frankie Valli and one of the four seasons. A word on Father’s Day. My father is 92 and still living the somewhat good life in Santa Cruz. I feel so blessed in being a father, as I have two children who each day make me feel, much like Lou Gherig, that , “I am the luckiest man alive.” So I’ve got a lot to be thankful for. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the day to day stress that I tend to forget these blessings, but seeing these children reminds me to focus on the important things, like having your health, the ability to see, hear and laugh and the upcoming season of “Sons of Anarchy” on FX.

So let me sum up my thoughts by quoting President Barack Obama, who says, “If I could be anything, it would to be a good father. Being a parent isn’t an obligation, it’s a privilege.” Enjoy the long days, the warm nights and the kids playing of beach volleyball. We’ll catch you somewhere below the rim. Aloha, mahalo and later, Peter Vecsey fans.

June 14, 2009

Animal House

Good morning and greetings, Beach Boys fans. That’s right, “God only knows what I’d be without you,” my favorite cyber audience. Now, “east coast girls are hip, I really dig those styles they wear, and the southern girls with they way they blog, they knock me out when I’m down there. The midwest farmer’s daughters really make you feel alright, and the northern girls with the way they kiss, they keep their boyfriends blogging all night.” But rest assured, sports fans, “the west coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tanned, so it’s the “California girls” who are driving this runaway train. And thank you, the dedicated readers of this blog, for all the “Good, good, good, good vibrations.”

Now that I got that important salute to the beach girls of the Golden State out of the way, we can move on to today’s risky business. Or in the words of Rebecca DeMornay, “Are you ready for me, Ralph?” (That was my salute to Tom Cruise.)

So today on NBC we are going to take a walk on the wildlife side. One misty morning in early June, I was driving home along the boundries of Natural Bridges State Park. And who do I see loping down Swanton Boulevard but none other than Mr. Wile E coyote (photo #1). It was like a dog day afternoon, but it was morning as watched him stroll along the wet grass, searching for a snack of perhaps a tasty gopher, a wandering kitty cat or a chocolate-filled croissant. When I took this shot this wild dog was less than ten yards away and didn’t seem the least concerned with me or my back seat companion. My dog had a stunned look on her face, or the same expression that most of the free world exhibited when John McCain selected Sarah Palin as his running mate.

After a while this prarie wolf tired of me watching him like a mental patient, so he took off on a run and ducked under the fence back into the park. I then drove home, made myself a vegan cheeseburger with some organic sweet potato fries and started work on my memoir, “Every Day is Saturday.”

The next shot takes me back a couple of years to the sands of Four Mile Beach, where I caught this elusive juvenile bobcat (photo #2) less than 100 yards from the water. It is very unusual to see one of these creatures in the sand, no less putting on sunblock-it happens about as often as a Republican politician says something positive about Michelle’s Obama’s hubby. Ten minutes after I took this shot, I thought this wild cat was going to attack me. And as many of you out there know, multiple puncture wounds can really put a crimp on the day.

A couple of days after I shot the coyote beautiful, I was Pablo cruising down Western Drive when I saw doe (a deer, a female deer) and her two fawns trying to cross the street. It was fascinating to see the mother make sure her two children looked both ways before they crossed and then waited to make sure that they were safe before she went. This was then followed by ray, a drop of golden sun. They were photographed on the hillside by me, a name, I call myself.

Moving along, a couple of years back, my daughter and I were returning from a fact finding mission at Its Beach when we came across this Vietnamese potbellied pig (photo #4) and her lovely owner. She was just taking her prize dwarf breed of a domestic swine on an outing, and afterwards were going out for some Chinese food. I believe she told me that they slept in the same bed, which she said wasn’t a problem because she didn’t snore. Sometimes a playmate would come over and they’d all sleep together. You guessed it, the old pigs in a blanket.

Back in late May, I had just finished running Summer, my golden retriever, when we came across a turtle (photo #5) in a field by Antonelli’s pond. I figured it had crawled over and was lost so I brought it home to show my daughter and to later have it race the rabbit that lives next door. Aimee quickly built a shelter for it in our backyard, fed it some chips, salsa and guacamole, as we figured we’d see it in the morning.

Well, for the next two days, no Yertle, not turtle. I figured it had James burrowed somewhere and it was history. Later that morning, I received a phone call from my frantic wife, who informed me that there was an animal in the house that was tearing and shredding the furniture and using the spam filter on my computer. Summer was upstairs barking and shaking and wishing she was a German sheperd. I rushed home and raced inside expecting to perhaps find a raccoon enjoying a Trader Joe’s four cheese pizza. But not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

I then looked out the back at the sliding glass door to see the turtle standing outside wanting in. At this moment the realization came over me that perhaps this was not a wild mutant ninja turtle, but someone’s recently emancipated pet. I then brought him down to the local pet shop and discovered that he was a red eared slider, who much like myself is semi-aquatic and can only eat in the water. It was a good move not releasing it into Antonelli’s Pond as it is much more voracious than native turtles and would have wiped out the fish population faster than you could say, “Entourage.” So we dropped it into the big tank at the pet shop and it immediately dove underwater and starting synchronized swimming with a box turtle from the Bronx. Last I heard it was sold to the Sultan of Brunei and has its own chef and waxer.

For our final photo we return to West Cliff Drive. Last year I photographed these cormorants building their nests along the edge of the cliff. We followed them as they laid their eggs and then gave birth do some of wildest-looking chicks I’ve seen since my freshman year at Syracuse University. We’ll have a blog on this later in the summer when they give birth. It’s a fascinating process to watch and I saw my first egg the other day. If you want to check it out, it’s on the cliff right before the entrance to Natural Bridges. Tell them Geoff sent you and that Eli’s coming.

One more note. This past Friday, on my morning walk with one of my newest friends of Swedish descent, we spotted a beautiful little creature popping its head out of the hole in the park at Natural Bridges. It had a white ring around its face and incredibly beautiful golden tan fur. It was not scared of us or man’s best friend who was with us and was very curious to check us out. Of course, much to my dismay, I was not carrying my camera because this would have been a perfect addition to this blog as it was less than 100 yards from where I photographed the coyote. It would have been the perfect Glenn closure.

I thought it was a ferret, and my fjord-loving, morning companion later emailed me to let me know that it was a black-footed ferret, which I found rather odd since none are located in California. Later that afternoon I went over to the Visitor’s Center at Natural Bridges and poured out my heart and soul to the ranger, who told me to get some therapy and that this beautiful beast of burden was a southwest long-tailed weasel. Right before I spotted him, I could swear I heard a little sound. That’s right, (and you may see this one coming,) pop goes the weasel.

On to the late night comedy experience. “Boy, this is a weird story. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is at LaGuardia and she breaks her ankle. This happened, like, two days ago. And in a 5-to-4 ruling, the current justices have voted to send her a get well card. In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is in a tight race. This guy is everywhere trying to drum up support. On Sunday, he was on the Iranian talk show, ‘Eliminate the Press.’” –David Letterman “Speaking of Republican icons, Nancy Reagan this week was in the capital to unveil a statue of her late husband, Ronald Reagan, and she had lunch at the White House with Michelle Obama. I’m not sure she really knows who Michelle Obama is, cause she told her to really dust, not just move things around.” –Bill Maher

“Earlier today, President Obama spoke at a town hall meeting in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Yeah. Yeah, half of the Wisconsin crowd had never seen an African-American, and the other half had never seen a skinny person.” –Conan O’Brien “President Obama is proposing a new national healthcare plan that’s both inexpensive and accessible. He’s calling it Have Your Surgery In Mexico.” –Jimmy Fallon “President Obama gave a big historic speech yesterday in Egypt. President Obama impressed listeners by beginning his speech with the traditional Islamic greeting, “Salaam Aleikum.” Yea, it’s very cool. Yea it was especially impressive because a year ago, President Bush opened with ‘Shalom Amigos.’” –Conan O’Brien

“I am Stephen Colbert, and I am reporting for duty. Folks, right off the top, I want to thank the USO for bringing me and my show to our brave men and women in uniform in Baghdad, Iraq. Thank you so much. I have to say, this place is great. I’ve always loved the beach, but I hate the ocean, so this is perfect! You know, folks, a lesser man would try to pander to you. But I’m not going to do that. Besides, you would never fall for it, because you are the sharpest, coolest, sexiest fighting force in the history of mankind. You know, it’s my first trip to Iraq. I don’t know why I haven’t made it here before, but it’s hard to explain to the people back home just how hot it is here. Let me put it this way: When Saddam Hussein got to hell, I’m guessing he asked for a blanket.” –Stephen Colbert

That’s my salute to the animal planet. Congratulations go out to the Orlando Magic, whose blunders and missed free throws in a critical game 4 allowed Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers to capture their 15th NBA title last night. Which means, with the exception of the upcoming NBA draft, we basketball fans have nothing to look forward to, except Karl Rove perhaps being indicted. It all comes down to what my wife always whispers in my ear before we go to sleep, “Basketball is life, the rest is just details.” We’ll catch in the lockeroom. Aloha, mahalo and later, Laker fans.

June 7, 2009

Can’t Be Afraid Of The June Light

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 10:01 pm


Good morning and greetings, Elvin Bishop fans. That’s right, “I fooled around and fell in love” with my Canon Digital Rebel and as a result, we’ve created, celebrated and consummated the Sunrise Santa Cruz experience. So you may be thinking, why Elvin Bishop, why not Leo “You make me feel like dancing” Sayer or Don McLean, “Bye, bye Miss American Pie,” cake and ice cream? Well, the answer is that there is no LeAnn rhyme or reason, or in the words Jesse Colin Young, “I live on a ridgetop and lord knows, I like it just fine. Where’s it’s windy and foggy and I’m thinking about the blog most all of the time.”

So for today’s photo fun box we return to last Tuesday, which according to my Lindsay Lohan lunar calendar was June 2. The afternoon sky was full of all kinds of exotic clouds, leading me to believe that we might be in for some sunset hijinks. But as evening rolled in I found myself over on the eastside, attending a psychology class on Earthquake Awareness entitled, “Stop the blaming, it’s not your fault.”

Thus, I was not home to receive a phone call from my Aptos-based field scout, Jerry Hoffman, who at the time was during his Tiger Woods impersonation at the DeLaveaga golf course. Quoting my former Sportstalk radio partner, “There’s an incredibly bright rainbow extending arch to arch over Aptos” who then went on to say that he hadn’t seen anything that impressive “since we were judges at the Miss Miller Light Swimsuit contest down at the Boardwalk in the late 70′s.” That was as close as I was ever going to get to the Supreme Court and to this day I still wonder if we made the right decision in the historic Roe vs bikini.

So I missed the rainbow but was determined not to miss the sunset. But I found myself in Scotts Valley as the sun was dropping and the clouds were changing in texture. So I raced home like Paul Newman on a triple mocha latte to catch this cloud convention. As I approached the sound barrier along Mission Street, I was thinking that I was probably missing another photo opportunity. This had been pretty much par for the course (Pebble Beach) since back in October when the Warriors fell out of the playoff race. Back then it seemed like I had a great future behind me.

But this night, lady luck, instant karma and Diet Sprite were on my side as I drove up to a little park near my home. I long jumped out of my car just as the sun was dropping thru the clouds (photo #1) before setting over the mountains behind UCSC. The sky then turned some interesting colors-we had orange creamsicle, purplish pink and a little cherry garcia. It was the most colorful sunset I had seen in months which left me with the feeling of hope, crosby and gleason.

And then came the highlight of this June juncture-lighting, thunder and mosquitos the size of Buicks. I failed to capture the lightning but I did corral the thunder. Much like my introduction to electroshock therapy, after three good rounds of bolts it was over, and then giants raindrops fell for 30 seconds as the curtains and drapes came down on the evening. I heard from my buddy Bruce Meyers up in Contra Costa County that on Wednesday during his son’s championship little league game, a rainbow was glowing out in center field. I believe this is what John and the lovely Michelle Phillips were referring to when they wrote, “California Dreamin, on such a winter’s, er, spring day.”

On to the late night comedy experience. “Talk about a guy who won’t go away. How about Osama bin Laden? I mean, come on. And there’s another one of those aggravating tapes that he sends out from time to time and they put them on the Al Jazeera network. People say, ‘Well, how do we know this is a current tape?’ Well I’ll tell you how you can tell that this is a current tape. At the end of the tape, he wishes Jay luck on the new 10 p.m. show.
And in the new tape, it’s a long, crazy man, lunatic rant condemning President Obama. Oh no, wait a minute, that’s Cheney. That was Cheney doing that. How about that Dick Cheney? He’s really quite busy here lately. He’s talking. He says now that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11. Well, no harm done. And to get that information, Cheney admits that he had to waterboard himself.” –David Letterman

“Did everyone see Brian Williams’ special with President Obama? Yeah? Anyway, in the special, President Obama showed Brian Williams what tricks his new puppy, Bo, could do. Isn’t that cool? Yeah, in fact, Bo has already learned to sit up and beg for federal bailout money.” –Conan O’Brien “Rush Limbaugh said today he might change his mind about something. I’m like, what?! He said he might support President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Wow! Sounds like someone got a new prescription.” –Craig Ferguson

“A new poll shows that Americans have a more negative view of Muslim countries now than back in 2002. That’s because the media never reports any of the good bombings. As part of their restructuring plan, General Motors is selling off an entire division to a Chinese company. The new division will be called General Tso’s Motors. Today in New Hampshire, the state Senate approved a bill that would help legalize same-sex marriage. Yeah. Their new state motto is ‘Live Free or Bi.’” –Jimmy Fallon

So that’s it for today’s regularly scheduled program. Tune in again next week as we’ll circle the animal planet and take walk on the wildlife side. Until then, enjoy the last two weeks of spring as Donna summer is rapidly approaching. And remember, every day (except Thursday) is sacred. We’ll catch you down in low post. Aloha, mahola and later, Connie Hawkins fans.

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