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.


  1. Wow, that’s quite the history lesson although if you started shooting photos in ’74 that would mean you’ve been shooting for almost 35 years (I know, you’re an artist, not a mathematician). Don’t remember the Marie Zuconni shoots – but not sure if I was officially your brother then. For that matter, I didn’t know you that were ever a hand model, attended Harvard or knew the exact mechanics of how an anenome captures it’s prey. Yes, there’s a lot about you I don’t know but that’s what keeps me reading these blogs (that, and lines like “Is there a bathroom here I could use”). Thanks again for the always entertaining first email of the week.

    Comment by Phil Hughes — October 5, 2009 @ 7:45 am

  2. Thank you for the unforgettable images.
    Your photos are full with light that warms my heart.
    The pictures talk -talk loudly and radiates the love.
    That’s wisdom worthy sharing.
    Thank you for the refreshment – you awake the dreams

    Comment by Tomas — October 6, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Follow Sunrise Santa Cruz on Twitter
Sunrise Santa Cruz in the news!