June 26, 2011

You Look Like You Just Saw A Coast

Good morning and greetings, Golden State fans. Just returned from a lovely five-day sojourn down to the land of endless strip malls and freeways called Southern California. If you ever want to remind yourself of how fortunate we are to live in this coastal oasis we call Santa Cruz, just take a ride on the I-5 south, Marvin Gaye your way through the Grapevine and you will realize how lucky we are to be
residing in this cold water paradise on the northern tip of Monterey Bay.

This is not to say, Laguna Beach fans, that there aren’t some lovely spots down in the southern section of our Golden State. My volleyball tournament playing son and I cruised through some exquisite locales, including Escondido, La Jolla, Claremont, Huntington Beach and Santa Barbara in our So Cal college tour. We saw a singing tree at UC San Diego, an incredibly beautiful northeastern-type premier liberal arts college that was Pomona, the greatness that is UCLA and finished off with a UC situated on the beach next to the mountains in Santa Barbara. It was a variety pack of collegiate delights. Southern California has a lot to offer, including Kobe and the Laker Girls, but what it doesn’t have is the uniqueness of Santa Cruz, where the redwoods
meet the sea of liberals.

Now I can understand why my son wants to go away to school and leave behind the memories and sports posters in his bedroom. After all, I grew up in New Jersey, and ended up getting my diploma seven years later from UC Santa Cruz. This unanticipated journey included pit stops at Syracuse University, the University of Colorado in Boulder, Europe, Africa and then my favorite academic destination, Cabrillo College. This was my manifest destiny, although I wouldn’t recommend it for children under 17 unless they were accompanied by a mature adult.

When it comes to beautiful campuses, I don’t think anything is quite as
breathtaking as our constantly growing little city up on the hill, where you stroll through the redwoods to classrooms that overlook Monterey Bay. But in this great nation of ours, there is quite a buffet of colleges to choose from, and Jason, who is heading into his senior year, is about to make some choices about where he wants to pursue his dream of
academia and perhaps college athletics. I don’t want to say I’m envious, but if he gives me the slightest word, I’m going with him. At least for the first week of disorientation.

What started this whole thought of the natural greatness of Santa Cruz was watching the sun rise up along the I-5 in the central valley. I was hurtling south through time and sportstalk radio when this yellow ball of
light popped up over the mountain. That got me to thinking about the mind-blowing sunrises over the Pacific where the sky just literally explodes with color and I can’t wait to come home and download my
goodies before later sharing it with the Sunrise Santa Cruz nation. I’m not saying that these kinds of moments of double reflection don’t happen in other places up and down the coast, but I know this picture is not being painted on the inland canvas of our state no matter who you vote for.

This isn’t really central coast bragging, it’s just having the local pride
and telling it like it is. The following day was the summer solstice and the sun was going to be departing from the evening sky at 8:39 pm. Now that is what I call a true festival of light as compared to the winter time when it’s dark before the evening news. So to honor the longest day of sun and fun, I thought I would feature a sunrise from one of those classic Santa Cruz mornings of glory.

As you can see, the sky and clouds were having a party this particular dawn session at Lighthouse Point. The colors and reflection action upon Its Beach were as outstanding Dirk Nowitzki’s MVP play in the NBA Finals. Photo #5 really captures the magnificence of the moment, as there were more varieties of color in the sky than Republicans throwing
their sombreros into the Presidential race. This is Santa Cruz, my friends, love it or believe it.

On to a little bit of the late night. “Senator John McCain is in a bit of
hot water after he made an unsubstantiated claim that illegal mmigrants
caused the Arizona wildfires. He kind of backtracked today. Now he’s saying it was just the Metamucil talking. John McCain made his claim that illegal immigrants started the Arizona wildfires without doing his research. The last time he did that we got Sarah Palin.” -Jay Leno

“New Republican Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman is fluent in Chinese. In a short period of time the Republicans have come quite a long way. The last Republican president wasn’t even fluent in English. Former governor of Utah, Jon Huntsman, is running for president. He’s one of those guys that can do everything — he speaks Chinese. In a couple of years we’ll all be speaking Chinese, so who cares?” –David Letterman “Most Americans know Jon Huntsman as ‘the candidate most Americans don’t know.’ Gov. Huntsman’s announcement puts him somewhere between Ron Paul and Count Chocula as the favorite to win the GOP nomination.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Anthony Weiner’s still involved with the internet. Today he started
his own site called MyTube. “And I still don’t think Weiner gets it. Did
you hear what he said at the end of his press conference? ‘Anybody want one last look?’” –Jay Leno

So that will do if for June 2010. Let’s hope the Souris river stops rising
in North Dakota and the wildfires stop raging throughout the country.
Enjoy the rest of the June gloom and we’ll catch you on Independence Day. Aloha, mahalo and later, Jimmer Fredette fans.

June 19, 2011

Summer Better Than Others

Good morning and greetings, summer solstice fans. This spring was a walk on the wild side on the weather front, as killer tornadoes, ravaging floods, raging wildfires, record-breaking heat, Anthony’s weiner
and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child all made national headlines. It was a very difficult time that many Americans and particularly Maria Shriver won’t soon forget.

But as Monday is the final day of our annual spring fling, I thought we
would look ahead to summer and all the fun that is Santa Cruz. When the words summer and fun are combined with free admission, all day-ride passes and a lost children’s center, we can only be talking about one place. That would be the only remaining major seaside amusement park on the West Coast, the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

Before there was the Boardwalk, there was just a beautiful,lifeguard-free, white sand beach. Back in 1865, before Safeway, Starbucks
and Panda Express splashed onto the scene, an enterprising gentlemen named John Leibrandt opened a public bathhouse near the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Holy SPF 50 ultra sweatproof sunblock, Batman! Soon other bathhouses followed along with boogie board rental shops as tourists of every race, creed and color began visiting Santa Cruz.

They had heard of the Catalyst and of the healing properties of salt water, so they traveled by planes, trains and automobiles to immerse themselves in this highly-touted “natural medicine.” This was bigger than clam chowder in a bread bowl as soon more stores and businesses opened including Sears, Jamba Juice and Pizza My Heart as tourists flocked to the central coast to take the cold water plunge.

The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was founded in 1904 by local businessman and entrepreneur Fred Swanton, who wanted to create a Coney Island on the west coast. We’re talking Nathan Hot Dogs on a sour dough bun along with an amusement park full of fun, games and a variety of souvenirs to satisfy everyone from Grandma to the annoying friend who’s afraid to go on any ride. All this along an incredibly beautiful mile long stretch of the Pacific Ocean. It was just the way Spanish explorers envisioned this prime piece of oceanfront real estate
when they first sailed into Monterey Bay.

So Fred Swanton erected a domed casino on the beach along the mouth of the San Lorenzo River. Unfortunately, less than two years later, the building, much like LeBron James and the Miami Heat in this year’s NBA Finals, went down in flames, along with a salt water taffy stand. But this Santa Cruz-based visionary would not be deterred, and he soon built a new casino, ballroom, boardwalk, pleasure pier, indoor swimming pool, ashram and meditation center.

The grand opening of the new boardwalk inspired an inaugural ball, with one band being directed by John Philip Sousa and the other by Mr. Eddie Money. There was also a congratulatory email message from President Theodore Roosevelt and a twitter from Sarah Palin, who claimed that she was just on a summer vacation with her family and that this road trip had nothing to do with her trying to sell more books.

The Boardwalk’s top attraction is the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster built in 1924, when Al Davis bought the Oakland Raiders. Giant Dipper creator Arthur Looff once said the ride’s design was intended to evoke a “combination earthquake, balloon ascension and aeroplane drop,” or how Bin Laden might have felt when he realized it was not Domino’s Pizza but Navy Seals knocking down his door.

Now, I don’t want to say that that I’m not a big roller coaster fan,
but if I want to experience the highs and lows, thrills and excitement and gentle terror that is the Giant Dipper, I’ll just watch my stock portfolio play along with the Dow Jones average. And I don’t even
have to be buckled in.

The Giant Dip was built in just 47 days at the cost of $50,000, or what I spend each year on electroshock therapy and Chinese food. The Dipper and the Looff Carousel are both on the United States National Register of Historic Places along with the new “Burger” restaurant on Mission Street. The Boardwalk itself is a California State Historic Landmark. For summer seaside fun with an assortment of rides and attractions that make visitors wish they could afford to live here, the Boardwalk is the place to be.

For today’s photographic faceplate we are serving up six shots of the
Boardwalk that you won’t find in National Geographic or Popular Mechanics. The first photo was taken during a pelican feeding frenzy in the waters of Cowells Beach. We continue with a shot from later that evening followed by more photos from this prime piece of real estate that considers the Wharf, Steamers Lane and Lighthouse Point close and personal friends.

On to the late night festivities. “Congressman Weiner has entered a
treatment program. Amazingly, it’s the only thing he’s entered during the entire Weinergate scandal.” –Conan O’Brien “Congressman Anthony Weiner has just checked himself into a treatment center for people battling chronic sexual dysfunction. Checked in? He’s already
there, it’s called Congress. Congressman Anthony Weiner has announced that he’s not resigning in the wake of the scandal. One thing we know about Weiner is that he knows how to stand firm.” –Jay Leno

“The Chairman of the Republican Party Ed Cox said that he would use the incriminating pictures from Anthony Weiner to defeat him. So now we have Cox versus Weiner. This just doesn’t stop!” –Jay Leno “Anthony Weiner wants to be mayor of New York City. So we may go from a guy that looks like a jockey to a guy that likes how he looks in
Jockeys.” –David Letterman “After searching online for eight minutes for pictures of a congressman’s penis you have to start questioning yourself. And now we find out Weiner’s wife is pregnant. The only thing that could make this right is if it turns out she got pregnant by Arnold Schwarzenegger.” –Jimmy Kimmel

“Arnold Schwarzenegger’s housekeeper says Maria Shriver became suspicious after noticing similarities between Arnold and her 13-year-old son. For instance, after serving as class president, he left the sixth grade with a $42 billion deficit. The housekeeper said the affair wasn’t all Arnold’s fault because “it takes two.” Then Anthony Weiner said, “Actually, it only takes one.”–Conan O’Brien

“President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner have agreed to play a round of golf together. Imagine the two of them at the end of that golf game? Boehner will be crying over his score and Obama will be giving three explanations as to why his score is actually better than it appears. One of bin Laden’s wives said he was a sex machine. In fact, he was the only man who could find her jihad spot.” –Jay Leno

That’s our last blast for spring 2011. Congratulations go out to my Santa Cruz-based parents, Lee and Daniel Gilbert, who on Saturday celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary. Being their oldest has really been a treat. Or as my father likes to say, “Lee, why didn’t we have a daughter first?”

So get ready for summer and we’ll catch you running the break. Aloha,
mahalo and later, NBA draft fans.

June 12, 2011

Everybody Loves A Weiner

Good morning and greetings, twitter fans. Normally I try to stay away from the sordid world of politics, but after following the twists, turns and new day-to-day revelations of this story, much like the man swirling in the center of the controversy, I couldn’t resist.

New York Congressman Anthony Weiner has gotten himself into quite a pickle. Last week, he was all over the news, after first denying then admitting that he tweeted, texted, sexted and carrier pigeoned photos of one of his favorite organs to women he claimed to have never met in person. We know that organ couldn’t have been his brain because it was obviously not in use.

So we’re talking your basic on-line sexual hanky panky, like, hey I’m a Congresssman, want to see the emancipation of my proclamation. It’s hard to believe that after the recent embarrassing escapades of Schwarzenegger, Edwards, Spitzer, Sanford, Vitter, Craig, Lee, Ensign and others, that the
Weiner-meister didn’t know better than to keep his politics in his pants. I think it is safe to say this will not help him in his effort to get elected mayor of New York as Oscar Meyer Weiner has a better shot at this point.

And then to top it all off, we then find out that his wife, who is an aide to Hillary Clinton, herself an expert witness to knowing what it feels like to be cheated on, is pregnant. I’m not asking the Congressman to resign, just quietly go off to a treatment program, pray for your wife’s forgiveness and close down the damn
Facebook account.

So in honor of this sad and bizarre story of cyber lust, I thought in the interest in truth, injustice and very much the recent political way, we’d take a look at a even bigger weiner, the All-American hot dog.

Hot dogs are known by many names. We’re talking frankfurters, franks, you’re welcome, weiners, weinies, dogs, puppies, schnauzers and my personal favorite, meat byproducts in a warm bun.

Hot dogs and franks are staples of the American diet, but despite their production being regulated by the FDA, NBA and CIA, they sometimes get rapped for being made of, let’s say, not the highest quality ingredients. But when I’m looking for some meat scraps of liver, spleen, kidneys or pancreas on a toasted roll, nothing works better than a good old hot dog.

Now here are a few fun facts about my favorite dogs that aren’t golden retrievers. Every second of every day except Jewish holidays, 450 hot dogs are consumed in the United States. All I can say is “wow” and what is the waiting period before you
can become a vegan. The world’s biggest hot dog, not including Donald Trump, was 1,996 feet long, created by Sara Lee Corporation in honor of the 1996 Olympics. For you health nuts and Stanley Cup fans, a 2,377-foot chicken dog was made in 1985 in Canada, although as a gourmet chef I’m still not sure if chicken and dog should be used in the same sentence.

Hot dogs or frankfurters are said to have originated in Frankfurt,
Germany around 1484, right before the discovery of hamburgers, french fries and milk shakes. In 1904, the hot dog was introduced to America at the St. Louis World’s Fair, along with mustard, relish and Zout Stain Remover. And for you die hard romantics, Bruce Willis proposed to Demi Moore at Pink’s Hot Dog stand in Hollywood.

Americans now eat, inhale or exhume more than 16 billion hot dogs each year, including about 150 million hot dogs on July 4th. Personally, I’m a Hebrew National all beef-frank kind of guy, made with 100% pure kosher beef. As was written either in the Torah or
Bon Appetit, these dogs provide premium taste and high quality every time. Whether at a backyard picnic, bar mitzvah party
or bris ceremony, this is the frank you can depend on.

Back in 1957, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce officially designated July as National Hot Dog Month, so remember next month to grill up and do your part. And when you’re chowing down on that frank, which typically takes about six bites to eat, remember to thank Anthony Weiner and his contribution to this post and the American way of life that we relish.

So because of the reception this Friday honoring yours truly at
Assemblymember Monning’s office, I thought we would photographically go back to my roots and feature a daybreak experience that shows why I got into this cutthroat business.

This was a sunrise at Lighthouse Point that was just off the charts in terms of spectacular beauty. And it was also very unusual in that although it was low tide, because of a giant swell the day before, there was a huge pool of water encompassing Its Beach.

Because of this golden pond, I was able to grab the incredible colors in the sky and the reflection of the lighthouse in the water (photo # 3.) We finish off with the the sun greeting the day at
Steamers Lane. For a dedicated and unmedicated sunrise photographer like myself, mornings don’t get much better than this.

On to the late night. “It’s official. It turns out it was
Weiner’s weiner. At a press conference this afternoon, Congressman Anthony Weiner admitted that he tweeted out that
photo of his crotch. During the press conference, Congressman Weiner was choked up and got a lump in this throat – not as big as the lump in his underwear, but still, very emotional! It’s been a crazy few days. First, Anthony Weiner admitted tweeting that
photo of his crotch and John Edwards was indicted for covering up an affair. Or as Arnold Schwarzenegger put it, ‘Thank you God! This is the best week ever!’” –Jimmy Fallon

“The Anthony Weiner scandal shows that despite the wars and the economy, we’re all really still in 9th grade. Of course, Weiner is now desperately trying to make things better with his
wife. You can tell he’s sorry. Like today he sent her a picture of his penis with a little sad face on it.” –Jay Leno “I mean, call me old fashioned. But I long for simpler times and common
sense values. I want to leave our grandchildren an America where Congressmen bang their secretaries. Sorry if there’s no app for that.” –Stephen Colbert

“Despite the scandal, Weiner will not resign, saying he hasn’t done anything illegal and this is not the most embarrassing photo of him that has ever surfaced. That would be his senior portrait from high school. Weiner’s high school portrait was taken at one of the rare moments when he wasn’t being stuffed into the garbage can.” –Jimmy Kimmel “It turns out that one of the women Congressman Anthony Weiner was communicating with was a porn star. When asked how it was possible to get involved with someone in such a sleazy business, the porn star said, ‘I don’t know.’” –Conan O’Brien

“Sarah Palin’s cross country road trip is not a political event, she says, but just a summer vacation with her family, just like the ones you have. Except my summer vacations generally don’t have a title…Despite the news this week that our cell phones are giving us cancer, users are NOT giving up. They’re like, okay, my cell phone could give me cancer, but actually interacting with people in person is what leads to Chlamydia.” –NPR’s “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!”

“That’s right, Michelle Obama is taking Sasha and Malia to South Africa and Botswana and Sarah Palin was like, ‘Wow, they’re going to all the places Paul Revere went.’” –Jimmy Fallon “Donald Trump and Sarah Palin met and had pizza together in New York City last week. There was one embarrassing moment — when the waitress asked Donald if he wanted extra topping and he said, ‘No, my hair is fine.’” –Jay Leno

So that’s our look at Capitol Hill. As we close out this spring of wild weather, massive wildfires continue to rage in Arizona while record-breaking temperatures scorched the east coast last week. So be grateful for the cool weather on the central coast. We’ll catch you on a backdoor cut. Aloha, mahalo and later, J.J. Barea fans.

June 5, 2011

I Don’t Know Weather I’m Coming Or Going

Good morning and greetings, June gloom fans. The human mind, much like Rafael Nadal at the French Open, works in amazing ways. For example, every time I drink some Kern’s Nectar Guava juice, the thought of Hawaii blows through my cranium like a late afternoon trade wind. Just one taste and I’m back on the sand at Sunset Beach. It’s an amazingly easy way to go tropical when every sip is like a bite of fresh fruit.

What’s also amazing was the weather last week in Santa Cruz. On the final day of May, the weather was cold and rainy, or what San Franciscans refer to as “summer.” If I didn’t own a calendar, I would have thought it was mid-winter or just another holiday weekend.

Meanwhile, in other parts of our great United States, cities were experiencing slightly warmer temps. Phoenix hit the century mark at 100, Richmond, Virginia clocked in at 98 Memphis was a cozy 96 degrees. On this day, Santa Cruz was a tad cooler as the thermometer hit 58. On the eve of what many scientists, historians and lifeguards refer to as the beginning of summer, neither chivalry or shivering was dead.

I should also mention that downtown Baghdad hit a high of 114, but thank goodness we’ve gotten all our troops out of there and Afghanistan, so our brave men and women are no longer in harm’s way. Or as we like to say on the westside, “Mission Street Accomplished.”

Then came Saturday’s spring storm which brought driving rain, high winds and thunder clouds you don’t normally see this time of year. This while many around the nation sweltered under July-like temperatures with the bonus of high humidity. But then again, who doesn’t love winter weather in June.

I didn’t catch the forecast for Tripoli, but it’s reassuring to know that after 11 weeks of NATO bombing, Moammar Khadaffy has vowed to never give in, even after missiles knocked out his Direct TV satellite dish, which means that his catching the first episode of the new season “Men of a Certain Age” was in grave doubt.

But you would not have known this if you had tuned into NBC national news, as there was no time for a mention of Libya, Syria or Capitola. Brian Williams and his gang only have 22 minutes to cover the day’s events. So one might be left to wonder, what’s the update with Japan and that whole little nuclear reactor meltdown situation? Although it’s no longer a hot item, I’ve got to believe that many viewers might be wondering about this curious incident that had Chernobyl watchers sitting up straight in their seats.

Returning to the news, the aftermath of the destruction from the Joplin, Missouri tornado was moved back in the lineup, as the lead story on this chilly final day of May was the report of the dangers of cell phone use. A World Health Organization panel concluded that cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic”, and put these playful little devices in the same category as the pesticide
DDT, engine exhaust or any program broadcast by Fox News. This does not mean they are cancer causing, just that it is possible.

Now that is very reassuring to know, being that every child in America owns a cell phone and we certainly would not want to leave any child behind. Personally, I’m not a big cell phone user. I’m much more of a walkie-talkie fan, especially when I can’t get good reception on my ham radio. But I believe the cell phone companies when they say that these devices aren’t dangerous. After all, isn’t that what the tobacco companies assured us years ago?

I can’t say that watching the world news is a positive experience, as it often leaves me shaking my head. When my dog does that, I know it’s a sign of an ear infection, but for me it’s my way of saying, “what is going on in this world? But then I realize, I can always turn the TV off, grab my camera and head out into the sunset.

And that brings us to today’s photo experience. I wanted to start off the new month with some fabulous color from a fall sunset from a few years back. The place was Natural Bridges and the swell was pumping as surfers were out in force. The sky turned from orange sherbert to a lovely cherry jubilee, giving off a reflection in the sand and in the Pacific that was well worth texting home about. Or as I like to say, just another good night at the office.

Here’s a little late night. “Sarah Palin may run for President. Doesn’t that thought make you nostalgic for last week when you only thought the world was going to end? This weekend Sarah Palin begins a nationwide bus tour, which I think is a good way for her to learn the names of all the states. I think Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin would be the perfect ticket. She can’t answer basic questions, and he has two answers for every question.” –Jay Leno

“Sarah Palin met with Donald Trump in New York yesterday. Then Sarah Palin left by helicopter and shot that thing off Trump’s head. Today in New York City, Sarah Palin had a meeting with Donald Trump. Now, experts say if those two joined forces on a Presidential ticket it would be the greatest gift ever given to comedy.” –Craig Ferguson “Sarah Palin had dinner with Donald Trump in New York. The first thing she did when she walked into the restaurant was shoot the rodent off his head.” –Jimmy Kimmel

So that’s our first blast for the month of June. Rumor has it we’re not done with the rain here on the central coast. So enjoy another week of the NBA Finals and we’ll catch you at the scorer’s table. Aloha, mahalo and later, Dirk Nowitzki fans.

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