Good morning and greetings, NBA All-Star game fans. As a citizen of the world, I like to watch the national news on a nightly basis. I’m a big fan of NBC’s Brian Williams, who hails from the Garden State of New Jersey and is one my favorite guests on Late Night with David Letterman. My favorite guests are comedian Chris Elliot, a former Late Night writer and performer who loves to zing his former boss, and actor Martin Short, who never fails to bring down the house. He loves kidding Dave about his youthful looks. On an appearance from last fall, Marty quipped, “I was watching backstage. I thought, is that one of the Winklevoss twins? They’re usually inseparable.” Especially when they’re counting Mark Zuckerberg’s money.
So two of the hottest news stories of 2013 have been the issue of gun control and Katy Perry’s dress at the Grammys. Here at Sunrise Santa Cruz, I try to turn my attention towards certain kinds of news stories, like flying squirrel epidemics, wild monkeys out of control and great new Valentine’s Day gifts. I tend to stay away from topics like crime, war, disease, poverty, global warming and Republican think tanks, because there is no humor in these subjects, except if you like tea parties.
But the talk of guns is everywhere. Last month, President Obama urged Congress to ban assault weapons, limit magazines to ten bullets and called for background checks for all gun buyers and Secretary of Defense candidates. In his State of the Union address last week, the president again issued the challenge to Congress for gun control while at the same time questioning if Derrick Rose will play for the Chicago Bulls this season and if there should have been a penalty called on that crucial last pass play in the Super Bowl.
Both sides feel strongly about the volatile issue. People on the left say you don’t need an assault rifle to defend yourself or to shoot Bambi, Thumper and friends. People on the right say that it doesn’t matter what Congress does, criminals will always have guns, and if you take them out of the hands of law-abiding citizens, all hell will break loose.
As we have seen, Americans are fascinated with guns. As playwright Irwin Shaw noted,” If football players were armed with guns, there wouldn’t be stadiums large enough to hold the crowds.” And that’s not because of those bullet-proof clad cheerleaders.
So I’m not going to talk about the senseless and ongoing gun violence, as there are no simple answers to this problem that is plaguing our nation and destroying families on a daily basis. But I have some other thoughts.
I don’t own a gun, rifle, pistol or fire hose. I don’t carry around a knife for protection, but I do have a fork and spoon in my car for take out situations and spontaneous picnics. I believe as I child I was fascinated by guns, as I have a picture of myself along with my brother Paul and a future eco-terrorist marching in a Fourth of July parade with a .38 magnum tucked into my waistband. I remember lots of waterguns, particularly the Eliot Ness tommy gun with a laser scope that would have drenched small cells of Al Queda. I did arm myself as a youth, as I purchased a sling shot after hearing the story of David and Goliath. I didn’t cut my hair for a year after hearing the tale of Sampson and Delilah. My friends and I owned a number of pea shooters, until one day when our rabbi confiscated them during a Purim Carnival.
When I was growing up, Chuck Connors starred as “The Rifleman.” When I went to sleep away camp in the summer, I was known as “Rifle Boy,” as I was a crack shot at the rifle range and on the tether ball court. I was disappointed when I discovered that tether ball was not a sanctioned NCAA sport, because as a child I had full ride scholarship written all over me.
I can understand why people like to own guns. I’ve been hot as a pistol on the basketball court but have never been pistol whipped. I like run and gun basketball but off the court, when I see a gun, I run. Face it, I’m an NBA, not NRA fan. Besides, I’m allergic to bullets.
So here’s the crux of the matter. When I leave my house, I’m not packing heat. Sometimes I bring a sandwich, some chips and a drink. Living here in Santa Cruz, I don’t feel the need to carry a gun for protection. I savor every day that I don’t run into someone with one who’d like to rob or harm me. At this point in my life I can’t image shooting anyone or anything except with a camera. And some day I want the sun to see me rise.
I certainly understand why someone would feel safer owning a gun. There are a lot of bad people out there and some of them have radio shows. You can’t live with blinders in today’s world. You never know who’s driving down the street with a loaded gun in their car. That’s why I always tell my children before they head out, remember, nothing good happens after 8 p.m.
So for today’s photo lineup, we are heading to the sky for some midday photo action. We start out some thunderheads filling the skies from above Cowells Beach. We then head up to UC Santa Cruz, where we get a nice view of Pogonip and the brown meadows on campus before going back down to the beach. Here we see a huge mass of liquid droplets and ice crystals above the Municipal Wharf, before finishing up with some surfers hanging ten or eleven at Cowells, where the waves are long and gentle and seem to break forever.
My mother often asks me if I ever studied meteorology. The answer is no, I’m just fascinated by weather and sports. I really don’t know why the weather does what it does, but I love photographing the results. When she questioned me about the pictures I posted today, I told her what Joni Mitchell once whispered to me. “I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now. From up and down, and still somehow. It’s cloud illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.”
On to the late night. “Earlier tonight President Obama gave his State of the Union address. This is a real break with tradition. When the president walked into the chamber, instead of “Hail to the Chief,” they played “Hey, Big Spender.” – Jay Leno “President Obama gave his State of the Union address tonight. The rebuttal will be given by Marco Rubio. Or as he’s known in the Republican Party, “our black guy.” The Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address was given by Senator Marco Rubio. It’s just one more example of rich white guys getting a Hispanic to do a job they don’t want to do.” – Conan O’Brien “Be honest. How many of you never heard of Marco Rubio until last night? How many thought Marco Rubio was a game you played in a pool with the kids?” – Jay Leno
“Tomorrow President Obama gives his annual State of the Union address. If you’re not familiar, the State of the Union is where the president faces Congress and asks them to work together and fix America’s problems and Congress says, “No.” – Jimmy Fallon “Hillary Clinton is finished as secretary of state. They had a going away party for Hillary. She had a couple of drinks and admitted she doesn’t know the difference between Paraguay and Uruguay. Pope Benedict is quitting. He said he just wants to spend more time with his wife and kids.” – David Letterman “The Navy SEAL responsible for killing Osama bin Laden says he’s having trouble finding work. My advice: Charge $10 per high five. He will be a billionaire by the weekend.” – Conan O’Brien
So that’s our show. Birthday wishes go out on Friday to my Marin County brother Paul, who coaches his son’s Joshua’s basketball team. They’ve had a good season and Paul is the front-runner for middle school coach-of-the-year with the smallest starting lineup ever.
We’ll catch you celebrating your 50th birthday and perhaps being the the greatest NBA player of all time. Aloha, mahalo and later, Michael Jordan fans.