October 25, 2009

You Say Octoberfest, We Say October’s Best

Filed under: Uncategorized — geoff @ 9:27 pm

Good morning and greetings, Halloween fans. It’s been just over a week now, that because of my commitment to New York Yankee baseball and the fact that my photo karma was in the shop, that I missed shooting an amazing Saturday night sunset that had walkers, joggers and acrobats along West Cliff Drive stopping in their tracks to stare at the western sky. Because of this miscommunciation between my mind and digital spirit, or in the words of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant, “Communication Breakdown”, I was forced to ask myself, “How can I make this photo slighting up to my loyal, dedicated and a non-paying readers of Sunrise Santa Cruz?”

This was to be a somewhat daunting task, much like my taking the SAT’s, when they wanted to know which answer was most correct. Since there was very little chance of me going back into the time tunnel and capturing that Saturday night special, I knew I would have to hit the archives. Now with sunrises, sunsets and the NBA, the best action takes place after November. October, which brings us the snack size festival of Milky Ways, pure joy and Almond Joys, is a warmup month, when the clouds return and give us a preview of what is to come. You could call it a cumulus appetizer, a preseason taste to get us going before the big guns come in. Something along the lines of Ed Sullivan’s, “We’ve got a really big sheewww (show) for you tonight.”

So, much like Ponce de Leon, Vasco de Nunez Balboa and Rocky Balboa, I dove into the archives to explore Octobers of the past, not to discover Puerto Rico, the Pacific Ocean or the movie sequel, but instead to proclaim some of my favorite shots from the tenth month of our lunar year.

Our first two Octoberfests, or October’s best, are sunrises from Lighthouse Point with the reflection upon the sands of Its Beach. With then move south to Steamer’s Lane as these two pelicans, having just come from breakfast at the wharf, flew into my stream of Canon consciousness. We then head northwest up the cliff to Natural Bridges, where the clouds were throwing a going-away party for these pelicans as they lifted off the rock. They said they didn’t know where they were going but they would know it when they got there. Or to quote Ralph Kramden of the Honeymooners, “We’re going bowling, Norton, but we’re not going bowling.”

We finish up our pictorial circus with double dip from the Bridges. We start off the dessert portion with an sun-drenched orange sherbert before finishing off the night with a red sky and sand experience that brings back memories of the lovely Ann Margaret in “Bye, Bye Birdie.” Or was that “Carnal Knowledge?”

I’m hoping that this variety pack of October highlights will help heal my wounded SLR psyche, as I hate missing anything spectacular! People, who need people, always say to me, “Don’t worry, the sun will set again.” Well, that may be true, but it won’t be like it was that evening. Like fingerprints, the baseball playoffs and my bar mitzvah, every sunset brings its own three-act performance, and this play always closes down after opening night. So yes, there will be more and rest assured, if I’m not inside a gymnasium watching my son play basketball or at an ashram burning incense and peppermints, then yours truly will be out there looking out for your better interests. And you can take that to the hoop, the bank and your local Elks or Rotary club.

On to the late night follies. “It was announced last night that President Obama wants to send $250 checks to over 57 million American seniors. The bad news is that he’s going to send them $10 at a time on their birthday.” –Jimmy Fallon “President Obama today agreed to commit an additional 40,000 troops to help fight Fox News. “President Obama was in New Orleans visiting the victims of Katrina yesterday. And he took questions from the audience. And one person asked him: ‘What do you think about the Big Easy?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I just call it ‘Nobel Peace Prize.’” –Jay Leno

“Yesterday in Louisiana, a judge denied an interracial couple a marriage license because he felt, I quote, their children would later suffer in life from being interracial. Like when they become president or win the Masters or get an Oscar. “And according to USA Today, car sales are now at a 20-year low. Well, sure, it’s hard to steal a car when the owner’s living in it.” –Jay Leno “The Dow Jones on Thursday rose past the 10,000 mark for first time in over a year. ‘Hooray!’ shouted 15 million unemployed Americans watching CNN in their pajamas in the middle of the day.” –Seth Meyers

So that’s our last blast for October, 2009. Coming up on Tuesday is the start of a new NBA season, which means, as of today, the Golden State Warriors are still in the playoff hunt. And congratulations to the Yankees for knocking off the Angels and advancing to the World Series, which with any luck, will be over before I start stuffing my Thanksgiving turkey. So thanks for coming along for the ride and remember to try and not sweat the small stuff. And be grateful for the things you have, like your health, family and friends and TiVo. We’ll catch you at home plate. Aloha, mahalo and later, Andy Pettite fans.

October 18, 2009

Typhoon Goes To The Runner

Good morning and greetings, heavy rainfall fans. The biggest October storm to hit the central coast since 1962 blew into town last Tuesday and pounded Santa Cruz with torrential rains, howling winds and enormous waves. The storm also brought flooding, downed trees, mudslides and umbrella salesmen, along with closed roads, minds and beaches.

The storm came to us courtesy of Typhoon Melor, which orginated in the north Pacific and then slammed into Japan and parts of northern New Jersey. Which brings to mind the Woody Allen line from “Take The Money and Run,” when his wife, played by the lovely Janet Margolin says, “For Christmas, I’m giving you a baby.” Replied Woody, “All I wanted was a tie.”

Along with the remnants of the typhoon came furious rain. According to the National Weather Service, who provides up to the minute forecasts along with helpful baking tips, we had record rainfall as Santa Cruz received 3.16 inches, breaking the record for the day set back in 1899. Parts of the Santa Cruz mountains were deluged with over 10 inches of rain. Considering the average rainfall for Santa Cruz for the month of October is 1.4 inches, this storm was a doozy. I hadn’t felt that kind of moisture since I sweated out my draft lottery number back in the early 70′s.

So being that I like to bring to the table the best of what I see during the week, I knew what my mission was. I also knew I had to photograph this storm. So I put on my Al Roker raincoat, grabbed my camera, choked down the last few bites of a vegan meatball sandwich and headed for the coast.

Now I must apologize for the lack of clarity and some haziness in these photos. When I took these shots the rain was coming down harder than the Republicans on President Obama’s health care package. Before you could say, “Annie Liebowitz,” my lense was covered with moisture. And as all you Ansel Adams fans know, water is really good for a camera, in the same way the disgruntled Stephen Jackson will be a positive influence on the Warriors this season.

The first image is from the cliffs above Natural Bridges State Beach. As you can see from the foam, white water and hot cocoa, the ocean was pumping full throttle and generating tremendous energy that ended up flooding the beach. The next day, where there had once been dry sand, the beach was now a watery playground for seagulls, kelp sculptures and an abandoned Russian submarine.

We then move south along West Cliff Drive to view more of the slamming of the coastline. This is one of my favorite spots to shoot during a storm because of the constant fury of white water being sprayed up onto the sidewalks of West Cliff. To once again quote Woody Allen, this time from “Play It Again, Sam,” “I love the rain. It washes the memories off the sidewalk of life.”

The next two shots are from Bird Rock and Lighthouse Point. The coastline was being battered all day much like Joe Frazier was in the “Thrilla from Manila.” Or in the words of Muhammad Ali, who did the damage to Smokin’ Joe that day, “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” And speaking of butterflies, this storm was tougher on the monarchs nesting at Natural Bridges then the English section was on my son on Saturday’s PSAT exam.

I always look forward to buffets and the day after a storm. Leaves, tree branches and insurance salesmen were scattered everywhere as I headed over to Natural Bridges to take a postgame look. I spotted these cormorants on the rock, huddled closer together than the Olsen twins on “Family Feud.”. And as you can see in the background on this shot, the waves were still pumping to the tune of a lovely shade of brown rust. And as Neil Young has told us, “Rust never sleeps.”

All in all, it was an interesting week, as on Thursday I shot my first sunrise of the season. Then on Saturday night, a gorgeous sunset filled the western sky. Unfortunately, due to my devotion to New York Yankee baseball, I wasn’t aware of what was happening in the sky until it was too late, so I can only blame myself, Yankee starter AJ Burnett and the entire cast of the “Today” show for not capturing this Saturday night special. Rest assured, sports fans, I’m still kicking myself for missing out on this amazingly colorful Kodak moment that would have appeared on these blog pages next week.

Anyway, on to the late night news of the day. “In a surprise decision, President Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize Friday. In other premature awards this week: high school football player Billy Reynolds has been named this year’s Heisman Trophy winner; fifth grader Amber Collins has been named Miss America; and nine-year-old Dylan Holt has been named People’s ‘Sexiest Man Alive.’” –Seth Meyers “The Nobel Prize for lack of chemistry went to John McCain and Sarah Palin.”–David Letterman “Hey, did you see what happened today? President Obama won another Nobel prize today, this time in medicine, for pretending to give up smoking.” –Jay Leno “Last night, the White House hosted a tribute to Latin music. President Obama wiggled his hips a little on the dance floor at which point a committee in Sweden immediately awarded him a Latin Grammy.” –Conan O’Brien

“This weekend, President Obama plans to appoint his Administration’s first openly gay ambassador, David Huebner. Huebner will serve as the U.S. ambassador to Barbra Streisand.” –Conan O’Brien “Yesterday morning, Pope Benedict named five new saints to the Catholic Church, though some are questioning whether Obama really deserved it.” –Jimmy Fallon “And tonight, Obama hosted a basketball game at the White House for several members of Congress. He didn’t even want to play, he just wanted to see Congress pass something.” –Jimmy Fallon

“Colorado will become the first state ever to lower its minimum wage by 3 cents an hour, from $7.28 to $7.25. As a compromise, Colorado workers will be allowed to leave work 9 seconds earlier.” –Jimmy Fallon “Scientists are very excited about the possibility of ice on the moon. Not as excited as personal injury attorneys, but almost as excited.” –Jay Leno “Sarah Palin’s memoir will be out next month. Revelations in the memoir. “They say that during her debate with Joe Biden — the vice presidential debate — she got confused and at one point actually said, ‘I’m ready to solve the puzzle, Pat.’” –David Letterman

So that’s it for another week from the western front. Glad to have you new readers along for the ride. Enjoy the fall days as the clouds have returned to the Monterey Bay skies which can only means the NBA regular season is rapidly approaching. We’ll catch you in dead center field. Aloha, mahalo and later, Alex Rodriquez fans.

October 11, 2009

Natural Bridges Falling Down, Falling Down, Falling Down

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: — geoff @ 8:40 pm

Good morning and greetings, October lovers. As my homework-loving, young companion Jason commented to me the other day, “This is such a great time of year.” At first, I thought he was pontificating on the imminent release of Sarah Palin’s new coloring book, the return of the monarch butterflies and his upcoming PSAT exam, but then I quickly realized he was referring to the sacred world of televised sports. As I’ve said before, the tangerine doesn’t fall far from the avocado tree and the older he gets the more I realize that Jason is truly like a son to me.

What my pre-med child was referring to was the harmonic convergence of the baseball playoffs, the NFL regular season, college football and the NBA preseason. Unlike myself, who grew up and matured into a fine young man in the Garden State of New Jersey, Jason is being raised like a wolf on the west coast. As a youngster, after watching me dispassionately root for the New York teams like the Yankees, Giants and Knicks, he one day inquired who the local teams were. I ran down a Bay Area list of teams and since that day, he’s been a die-hard A’s, Raiders and Warrrior’s fan. Since then, he has experienced the thrill of victory, but lately it has been the agony of defeat.

Now, I realize that many of you don’t really care about sports, but for the sake of world peace and AP world history, let’s take a quick northern California look at my favorite son’s squads. The Oakland A’s season was over before it started and they lost their last 8 games of the year to finish on a high note. The Raiders are a dreadful 25-76 over their last 100 games, 1-4 on the current season and led by a strong-armed quarterback who at best, has just been simply awful. If not for the sideline splendor of the Raiderettes, they would be unwatchable.

As for the Golden State Warriors, their 2009-2010 campaign hasn’t begun yet, but already there are key injuries, discord, disharmony and distrust, which sounds a lot like my last New Years Eve party. As I summed up the situation in Peter Vecsey’s column in the New York Post last week, “The Warriors have a great future behind them.” This also describes the state of my own hoops game despite the fact that I can still knock down the wide open three-pointer for straight on.

Let’s fast forward to the photo department. Today we are taking in the view from the sand, looking east at what’s left of the arches at Natural Bridges State Beach. Where there were once three bridges there is now one arch, and because of waves, wind and the Bush administration’s denial of global warming, this too shall collapse. Then all we’ll have are a few photos, a wind swept beach and the memories of another great season of Vincent Chase, Ari Gold and the boys on “Entourage.”

I love Natural Bridges. I also love Lloyd, Jeff and Beau Bridges. It’s my favorite place to shoot the winter sunset. I am always delighted to see the pelicans, gulls and cormorants roosting on the rocks. Seeing this beautiful eroding landmark each morning, which has beared witness to millions of changing skies, crashing waves and fogged-chilled tourists, puts me in a proper state of mind to start the day. Thus, on Career Day, when I’m asked by schoolchildren about what lies ahead in life, I always answer, “I’ll cross that natural bridge when I come to it.”

On to the late night magic. “I will be honest with you, folks. Right now, I would give anything to be hiking on the Appalachian Trail. I got into the car this morning and the navigation lady wasn’t speaking to me. Things are still pretty bad. There’s a possibility I’ll be the first talk-show host impeached.” –David Letterman

“President Obama celebrated his 17th wedding anniversary. Isn’t that nice? The President celebrated by going out for a romantic candlelit dinner with just his wife and Oprah.” –Conan O’Brien. “The Obamas celebrated their 17th wedding anniversary this past week. The paper said this is the first wedding anniversary Obama is celebrating in the White House. Sadly, it’s also the first thing the Obamas have to celebrate since they’ve been in the White House. Today, at the White House, President Obama met with a group of doctors from every state in the union to press his case for health care reform. It was the biggest gatherings of doctors, I guess, since Dick Cheney had his last staff meeting.” –Jay Leno

“Governor Schwarzenegger said if he comes back to California, there should be no special treatment for Roman Polanski. I think that’s what he said. It was that or ‘I’m going to Japan to ski.’ I don’t know what he said. According to a new study out of the University of Michigan, during this bad economy, people’s health is actually better than it was before. Isn’t that amazing? When times are bad economically, people stay in better health, to which former President Bush said, ‘You’re welcome!’ Well, President Obama announced a plan to spend $5 billion on science and cutting-edge medical research. Experts say this $5 billion project of President Obama’s could lead to the development of dozens of life-saving medical treatments that your insurance company could one day turn you down for.” –Jay Leno

That’s news, weather and sports. Congratulations go out to President Barack Obama for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. When Sarah Palin was asked if he deserved this accolade, she replied, “I don’t care what kind of car he drives.” Thanks, Bill Maher. And thanks to all of you out there for tuning in this week. So enjoy the upcoming American League Championship series as the Yankees and Angels battle it out to see who’s going to the World Series. We’ll catch you in the bullpen. Aloha, mahalo and later, Alex Rodriquez fans.

October 4, 2009

I’m My Own Worst Anenome

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 8:35 pm

Good morning and greetings, Open Studio fans. That’s right, once again it’s that time of year when I plunge into my Trini Lopez rountine (“If I had a hammer, I’d hammer in the morning”) and put 500 new nail holes in our beautifully painted living room walls. I then transform what is normally a place of dining, relaxation and important satellite TV viewing into a gallery of landscape and nature wonderment. It’s right up Lou Reed’s alley as he urged us to “Take a walk on the wild side.” Well, this is as close as I’m getting as we’re going for a stroll on the westside.

So having just finished my first weekend of this year’s Open Studio experience, I thought I might answer some frequently asked questions I hear at this event. For example. “Why do you spell you first name with a ‘G’, what’s it like being a hand model and “Are you really on a sabbatical from Harvard?” Wait a minute, those aren’t questions from Open Studios, those were asked last week at the break the fast meal on Yom Kippur.

Visitors to my studio/married bachelor pad often pose the question, “How long have you been doing this?” Usually, they are referring to my taking pictures although it once involved my cleverly arranging a plate of chocolate chip cookies into the shape of a unicorn. Back before there was history, I received a camera as a Bar Mitzvah gift, but I believe the only use I got out of that was trying to put together a modeling portfolio for my next door neighbor, the lovely Marie Zucconi. Looking back on that, it would have been helpful if I had had film in the camera during those shoots.

I first visited Santa Cruz in 1974 and became a mayoral candidate in 1975. I immediately moved onto West Cliff Drive and starting snapping away and also taking pictures. I brought with me a Canon AE-1, and I used to walk that long half block down to Stockton Avenue to shoot the sunset. I’d also shoot birds, cloud formations and family interventions, so when I go back to the photo album archives I realize I’ve been capturing images of the westside for close to 25 years, give or take a few pelicans.

But I really started to get serious (or was it Roebuck?) a few years ago when we moved the family from lovely Hermosa Beach back to the central coast. I took some pictures while in the southland, but it was mostly of roller skaters, spineless television agents and bumper-to bumper traffic on the 405. On my return to this cold water paradise, I started hitting the cliff at sunrise, thus transforming myself from a mild mannered reporter for a great Metropolitan newspaper to the non-Emmy winning creator of Sunrise Santa Cruz. And when friends and art critics starting asking me, “Do you sell these?” I knew it was time to go from a young boy with dreams of greatness to a man who is now asked the question at Open Studios, “Is there a bathroom here I could use?”

So that brings us up to date. As you may be able to tell from my photos, I am totally self-taught, and what was once a hobby is now a profession which could feed a small African nation for about a half an hour. Or as the Doobie Brothers album title reads, “What were once habits are now vices.” There are photographers who travel all over the world to capture the beauty and magnificence of this incredible planet. My journey is conducted on a slightly smaller scale as I travel from Lightouse Point to Natural Bridges with occasional trips to the wharf, Boardwalk and the north coast. Capturing the moments on this two and a half mile stretch along the edge of the continent is what my photographic journey is all about and I’m glad you are all along for the ride.

On today’s photo menu we are featuring some friends and sea anenomes. I shot these one afternoon in a small cove by the arch at Its Beach that is only emotionally available at low tide. Sea anemones are polyps that looks like plants but, much like NRA cardholders, are really voracious meat eating animals. In order for them to dine they must wait for their food to swim by and when the prey touches one of their tentacles, it mechanically triggers a cell explosion that fires a harpoon-like structure which attaches to the organism that triggered it and injects a dose of poison in the flesh of the prey. Ironically, this is very similar to the much of grand jury testimony heard in the David Letterman debacle. This gives the anemone its characteristic sticky feeling while at the same time paralyzes the prey which is then moved by the tentacles to the mouth for that day’s entree, which is served medium rare with a tangy white wine sauce.

You can see an example of the this in photos 5 & 6. I was walking thru the remaining arch on an extreme low tide evening at Natural Bridges when I spotted this unfortunate crab being slowly devoured by the anemone. Sadly, it was literally being eaten alive but I did not intervene because I wanted to allow nature to take its natural course and I was making linguine and clams that night. Rest assured, I have not had a bite of crab rangoon since.

On to some late night action. “Here’s a story. And it’s about time. Director Roman Polanski, they finally get this guy. They arrest him in Switzerland. And I was thinking well, you know, great, I’m glad they got Polanski but what about bin Laden? And then they had the madman hour yesterday afternoon. And it was Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and he gave a speech to the U.N. He said he hated the US, said he hated Israel, and he hated that dumb pedestrian mall on Broadway. But Ahmadinejad did say if Iran is given access to uranium, he promises not to make weapons. And I said, ‘Well, that’s good enough for me.’” –David Letterman “Sarah Palin gave a speech to a conference of investors in Hong Kong yesterday morning. Then she spent the afternoon shooting pandas from a helicopter.” –Jay Leno

“President Obama made a big speech. He welcomed the members of the U.N. General Assembly to New York, and he said, ‘I’d like to encourage you to do some shopping while you’re here.’ I think it worked because China immediately bought eight banks, two car companies, and the state of Wyoming. While he’s in New York for the U.N. conference, Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi is traveling with an entourage of 50 attractive female bodyguards. The guards are there in case Qaddafii gets attacked or in case he wants to make a music video from 1985. This week, Chrysler announced it’s replacing its owners’ manuals with a DVD. In a related story, most Americans have replaced their Chrysler with a Toyota.” –Conan O’Brien

“Settle down. If you came here tonight for sex with a talk show host, you’ve got the wrong studio.” –Jay Leno “I was shocked that Letterman has been having affairs. I had no idea he was even running for office. I’ve never had sex with members of my staff — the guests, yes, of course, but not the staff. Hey, next to Roman Polanski and Mackenzie Phillips’ dad, I think Dave looks pretty good.” –Bill Maher “There’s a new book out called ‘Why Women Have Sex’ that says there are 237 reasons why women have sex. And folks, Letterman knows the top 10.” -Jimmy Fallon

As usual, I like to keep my audience in tune with the important topics of the day. Sorry, Dave. So enjoy these cool fall days and get ready for baseball playoffs. We’ve got that New York Yankee fever. We’ll catch you at deep short. Aloha, mahalo and later, Derek Jeter fans.

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