May 29, 2011

Things Aren’t Always What They Museum

Good morning and greetings, Steamer Lane fans. Last Friday, the Santa Cruz Surfing Club Preservation Society along with the Parks and Recreation Department and a dozen sea gulls invited the community to rendezvous over at Lighthouse Point to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the first museum on the west coast solely dedicated to surfing and kelp beds.

Now I am very familiar with this location, as Lighthouse Point is my prime-time, number one, numero uno shooting spot when it comes to photographing world-class sunrises over Monterey Bay. I love using the lighthouse as a photographic point of reference, as it falls somewhere between the spectacular setting of Half Dome in Yosemite and the inner city quaintness of the old Yankee Stadium.

But today we are not referring to the outside of the lighthouse, but instead what lies within, which could be compared to my gruff exterior which belies a heart of gold. I wanted to know the inside word on how this sacred spot was deemed surf museum worthy.

I knew there was only one man who could answer these questions, and with any luck he wouldn’t block my call when I dialed him up. He is Howard “Boots” McGhee, who is a consider to be a friend, mentor and someone who I wouldn’t contact unless I had severe writer’s block.

Boots, who hails from the Seacliff side of the tracks, is a long-time surfer, much accomplished photographer and a mover and a shaker in this area, or at least that’s what he told me to write. He is also one of the gentlemen who is responsible for this Surfing Museum’s existence, so I went right to the source to find out how this history was made along West Cliff Drive.

Boots told me that back in 1985, before he and I started doing in the tow-in thing with Laird Hamilton, he was part of a small group that decided to turn this brick structure into the first surfing museum on the mainland. What a concept, a museum inside a lighthouse. It was like serving up a creamy bowl of Santa Cruz surfing history inside a sourdough bread bowl.

In the words of this man who’s a former body double for Bruce Willis, “it’s an interpretive museum. It’s a place where you learn things on the inside and then you step outside and you’re on top of the arena where it’s happening.”

How true, as once you exit this visual encyclopedia of Santa Cruz surfing lore, you’ve got Steamer Lane on one side and Its Beach on the other. This is not what surrounds the Museum of Natural History in New York, as when you exit onto 79th Street at Central Park West, very few dinosaurs are roaming the streets, unless you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Larry King.

Here’s one more thought. You might want to go check out the Surfing Museum sooner than later. Because of the sea caves and the erosion going on underneath this structure, this building will not be here forever. Boots gives the museum another ten years before it will have to be rebuilt across the street. Then again, years ago, he got smacked in the head with a longboard, and since then every time I see him he asks if I want to join him for lunch with Duke Kahanamoku.

So today I am featuring six shots of the lighthouse under different lighting conditions. I had dozens of shots to choose from, but these six give you a pretty good idea of what goes on in the sky at this incredible spot at the headlands of Monterey Bay. Santa Cruz, where the sky meets the sea.

Before we head into the late night, I wanted to make mention of the violent tornado that devastated the lives of the good folks of Joplin, Missouri. Turns out this last killer twister was something unique and not so special. Video evidence shows that it appears to be a rare “multivortex” tornado, which contain two or more small and intense subvortices that orbit the center of the larger tornado. That is why this twister was the deadliest tornado since the 1940′s and left the city of Joplin looking like it had been hit by a bomb.

To the late night we go. “The pastor who incorrectly predicted the Rapture said it was a very tough weekend. To make it worse, his friends keep calling him saying, “Hey, it’s not the end of the world!” –Conan O’Brien “The man that is predicting judgment day predicted the end of the world in 1994. He also predicted that Ashton Kutcher would never return to television.” –Craig Ferguson

“The preacher who predicted the apocalypse last weekend now predicts that the world will end in October. It’s the first time that someone’s end-of-the-world prediction was followed by ‘Have a great summer.’” –Conan O’Brien “Harold Camping, who predicted the end of the world, says the new date for the apocalypse is October 21. If it rains, it will be October 22.” –David Letterman “The Rapture-predicting preacher, Harold Camping, is really scaling back his predictions. He now predicts the end of the month will be May 31.” –Jay Leno

“President Obama visited the Irish village where his great-great-great-grandfather was born. Of course, that was always disputed by his great-great-great-grandfather’s archrival, Donny McTrump.” –Jimmy Fallon “That’s right, Obama was in Ireland. He thought about buying a four-leaf clover for good luck, and then he looked at the field of Republican candidates and decided it wasn’t necessary.” –Jimmy Fallon “Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels emailed his supporters over the weekend to tell them he’s not running for president. In response, his supporters were like, ‘Dad, we live in the same house. Couldn’t you just tell us in person?” –Jimmy Fallon

“New video has surfaced of Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1991 saying the housekeeper does a ‘great job.’ One clue might have been that he then added, ‘And she’s also a great housekeeper.’” –Conan O’Brien “There are rumors Arnold Schwarzenegger may have had a second child with another woman. I can’t believe Arnold would cheat on his mistress like that. “Turns out that Maria Shriver could end up with 100,000,000 dollars from her divorce from Arnold. She deserves it. She was a devoted wife and mother to at least 40 percent of his children.” –Jimmy Fallon

“A new Facebook app is coming out that will remind users exactly what they were doing a year ago from that day. Nine times out of 10, the answer will be ‘wasting your time on Facebook.’” –Conan O’Brien “Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, announced that he’s running for president. And this is cool — if his campaign isn’t over in 30 minutes or less, you get your pizza for free. “Subway sandwich shops are testing out several upscale restaurants called Subway Cafes. They feature wood paneling, lounge seating, and other things to distract you from the tuna fish being served with an ice-cream scoop.”–Jimmy Fallon

So that’s my Memorial Day weekend rant. I apologize for the fact that there were no NBA playoff games over the weekend, but that’s what happens when young teams Chicago and Oklahoma City implode down the stretch and ruin it for everyone. So enjoy the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you in June. Aloha, mahalo and later, LeBron James fans.


  1. A great start on the holiday along with a cup of java. Our best thoughts to all who have sacrafice for our best ideals.

    Comment by Babs — May 30, 2011 @ 7:31 am

  2. Thanks and any time you have writer’s block, give me a call. I’ll pass you the ball so you can juke and joke even better than you already do. You may even get your old job back

    Comment by boots — May 30, 2011 @ 8:22 am

  3. Are there any LeBron fans?

    Comment by D.Wade — May 30, 2011 @ 10:44 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

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