Good morning and greetings, Richard Engel fans. Well, here we are in the middle of February and the skies remain sunny and clear and the temperature warmer than the reception I receive at the deli counter every Sunday morning at Safeway, the destination I travel when seeking the ingredients for life along with chicken salad.
I am always amazed by the diversity of weather throughout the United States. Last week, I was strolling through the artichoke and brussel sprout fields in 70 degree weather along the North Coast, while parts of the west, midwest and east coast were shivering under temperatures that seem unimaginable. Like 40 below in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Personally, I’m not all that crazy about being in a place where the temperatures begin with a minus, as my skin needs to remain as soft and tender as a lightly grilled veal chop.
We live in a hemisphere that experiences floods, white tornadoes, hurricanes, himacaines, cyclones, ferris wheels, water spouts, itsy bitsy spiders and hail stones the size of matzoh balls. So while here on the left coast we’re enjoying summer weather, back in Tennessee they’re getting snow every day, more in this past year than the last five years combined. God bless Santa Cruz. I always say, if you don’t like the weather channel, wait ten minutes.
This is not to rub it into those of you who are not wearing shorts or a bathing suit at this moment. It’s just that after thirty-seven years of living on the cental coast of the Golden State, I don’t take the thermometer gods for granted. As torrents of snow blanket a good part of my favorite continent, I prefer to be percolating on the warmer edge, with more of a strawberry fields feeling. And I’m talking forever. You know what they say, “grazing in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it?”
Here’s a news story that caught my attention a few weeks ago. Jack LaLanne, the fitness guru who inspired Americans to add a “La” before their last name, as well as slim down, eat well and pump iron before diet and exercise became a national obsession, died at age 96 on January 24.
Now much like myself, with the exceptions of weekends, holidays, certain weekdays and always every other Tuesday, LaLanne exercised every day of his life till the end. This from a guy who always said “I can’t afford to die. It would wreck my image.” Or as Ansel Adams once told me, “there is nothing worse than a fuzzy image of a sharp concept.”
LaLanne proclaimed that “the only way you can hurt your body is not to use it,” as compared to my mantra, “if you don’t go snowboarding down a mountain you’ll never slam into a tree.” His daily routine usually consisted of two hours of weightlifting and an hour in the pool. For me, it’s a trip to the ashram, hit the dry cleaners, lunch and a much-needed nap.
Now as the way I spend most of my waking day, LaLanne filled his life with exercise, promoting the value of raw fruit and vegetables, opening Fitness Studios and taping as many late night talk shows as possible. He was a kindred spirit as we both advocated the benefits of brown rice, whole wheat and a vegetarian diet that includes meat, poultry and popcorn shrimp.
But this is what really captured my flag. At age 43, he performed more than 1,000 pushups in 23 minutes on the TV show “You Asked For It.” I, on the other hand, was once asked to perform a chinup on “Don’t Even Bother Asking For It” but was unable to due to an intervention by my doctors.
At age 60, he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco while handcuffed, shackled and towing a boat. The amazing thing is, when he waded onto the shore, the crowd shouted, “go back, Jack, do it again.” Now that’s a tough crowd, even for Steely Dan fans.
So ten years later, he performed a similar feat in Long Beach Harbor while towing the Queen Mary. I can relate to this as I almost got married in the chapel of the Queen Mary while being shackled to the ship’s caterer. I had wanted to get married in Maui but my mother-in-law said “over my dead body,” so I thought Long Beach would do the tropical trick. Believe me, it wasn’t easy finding a rabbi who would perform a blessing over the kalua pig at the reception.
For today’s photo parade we are returning to the fall with a variety of six previously unseen moments from skies off of West Cliff Drive. We’re going sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunrise, sunrise, sunset right into “if I were a rich man, ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum.” We end our fiddling on the aloof with a twilight experience shot from the cliffs above Stockton Avenue, which brings closure to the happenings from that autumn evening but not for my love of anything Barbara Streisand.
Here comes the late night. “President Obama had lunch with Republican leaders at the White House today and had to do without salt, pepper and butter. Not for dietary reasons. The Republicans refused to pass anything.” –Jay Leno “Michelle Obama says her husband, President Obama, has quit smoking. Fox News reported this as “Obama Destroying the Tobacco Industry.”–Craig Ferguson “Michelle Obama says she has gotten President Obama to stop smoking. Now, maybe she can get John Boehner to stop sobbing.” –David Letterman
“During his interview with President Obama last night, Bill O’Reilly asked him to explain how he deals with so many people hating him. In response, Obama said, ‘You first.’” –Jimmy Fallon “An Egyptian Google executive has become a hero to Egyptian protestors for a Facebook page he created. Still no luck selling his futon on Craigslist, though.”–Conan O’Brien “President Obama invited John McCain to the White House to give his opinion on Egypt, specifically what it’s like to be a mummy.” –Bill Maher
“All of the Arab potentates and their fat cat entourages are on the run. Tunisia’s president is leaving, Mubarak is not going to run for re-election, the guy in Yemen is going to leave. This is great news — not necessarily for the Middle East, but for real estate agents in Beverly Hills.”–Bill Maher “Egyptian President Mubarak said President Obama doesn’t understand Egyptian culture. Man, get off your high camel.” –Jimmy Fallon “It turns out that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is worth $70 billion. He made the money by switching to Geico.”–David Letterman
Late Show Top Five Hosni Mubarek Plans–5. Gonna look for a place in the Poconos. 4. Check classifieds for openings under “Ruthless Dictators.” 3. Wander around the Sahara Desert with a metal detector. 2. Heard “The Office” needs a new boss to replace Steve Carell. 1. Launching pop career under the name “Hustein Mubieber.”–David Letterman
“There’s a gorilla in England who has learned to walk upright. Normally, they walk on their knuckles, which is why they don’t wear jewelry.”–Jimmy Kimmel “Researchers say we may be just a few years away from a pill that would help people live to be 100 years old. Then Hugh Hefner’s fiancée said, “No!” “Chevrolet is coming out with a new feature on their cars that will let drivers update their Facebook status in the car. I was getting so bored talking on the phone and texting while driving.”–Jay Leno
So that’s another chapter of the week that wasn’t. There was an interesting turn of events that played out last week in Eygpt, or in the words of the late, great Curly Howard of the Three Stooges, from the 1939 classic “We Want Our Mummy, hey, I’ve got an uncle in Cairo. He’s a chiropractor.” Nyuck, nyuck, nycuk.” Replied his older brother Moe, “hey, remind me to murder you later.” So enjoy the freedoms life affords us and we’ll catch you at the three-point line. Aloha, mahalo and later, Ray Allen fans.