July 27, 2014

Sweet Home Santa Cruz

Good morning and greetings, large mammal fans. Well, the town was buzzing last week, as the humpbacks put on a show all around Monterey Bay. As the gulls were screeching, the humpbacks were breaching, along with tens of thousands of sooty shearwaters playing follow the leader on the upper level of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

I feel a certain sort of kinship to the humpbacks as all the activity brought back memories of my entrance to this planet. I was breeching at my birth, as I came into the world butt first.

Yet, I have never been a fan of anchovies, as I’ve never been a fan of this oily, little baitfish, much less swallowed a mouthful of thousands in a single gulp.

But their presence brought the humpbacks to our lovely bay. The whales were first spotted over by Cowells Beach, as Tuesday’s lunch special on the wharf included a choice of soup or caesar salad and 80,000 pound mammals leaping out of the water for dessert. Or you could have substituted gelato.

According to my field scouts, the whales were entertaining the westside crowds at Lighthouse Point, Mitchell’s Cove, Natural Bridges and the CVS on Mission Street. I saw a few gliding by on my morning walks, but I supplemented that by lunge feeding while visiting the Facebook photo pages of Santa Cruz Waves.

Their photos of the humpbacks in breach moments have been fantastic. I haven’t taken any whale watching trips as of late, as I prefer paddle boarding around my bathtub.

So last’s week weather bordered on near perfection, as the days were warm and the coast and my mind were fog free. The air and warm water temperatures brought back memories of my youth, when an all-day trip to the beach was the summer highlight.

Despite the fact that we had to travel over the George Washington Bridge, then get onto the Cross Bronx Expressway, then over the Triboro Bridge before entering onto the Southern State Parkway, then the Meadowbrook Parkway and finally through the Khyber Pass before we finally reached our destination, it was always worth the drive.

I would arise at the crack of the dawn, hitting the bakery when they opened for our fresh sandwiches rolls. We always built up an appetite on a ride, so I made sure we had about eighty sandwiches for my brothers and friends.

We hit the parking lot at Jones Beach at 8am, and then had to wait for the umbrella stand to open so we could then drag it down the sand and park ourselves right at the water’s edge.

We then settled in and it was amazing, sitting oceanfront, while jumping the waves and choosing from a selection of steak, meatloaf, pot roast and vegan cream cheese and jelly sandwiches every fifteen minutes. It was a smorgasboard of delights, with enough fruit, cookies, chips and beverages to feed the Seal Team Six.

But my favorite part of the the day was when everyone left the beach and the sun started to sink in the sky. The golden hour was magnificent, and when we were kids my parents would take us over to another beach park to load up on hamburgers, fries and chocolate milk before setting off on the ride home. I couldn’t wait to get back and play with my sunburn.

So these thoughts leave me with a very good feeling about Santa Cruz, the place I call my home and try to avoid jury duty. I have lived in this cold water paradise for almost thirty years, and I’m still amazed at how beautiful it is.

My wife and I had dined twice in a gazebo last week, which has the fantastic view of the white water break at Natural Bridges Beach. Looking out, the mountains of Monterey were as clear as a bell and the ocean water an exotic blend of aqua blue. Allison peered out over the water and said, “It looks like Hawaii.” There is no greater a compliment.

So I am proud to call this cold water paradise where the redwoods meet the humpbacks my home. As I’ve always said, home is where your house is.

Which leads me to this. I received an email last week from a blog reader, who was hoping I could help getting some info out to others who would like to experience this central coast lifestyle and relocate to Santa Cruz. You can check it out at: http://www.propertyinsantacruz.com/relocating-to-santa-cruz/

Anything for my readers.

So for today’s photo funpack, we are going back to the evening of February 13. I was shooting from Stockton Avenue as a full moon was rising to the east. The clouds on this night were fantastic.

The photos really don’t do justice to the immense size and colors of these masses of frozen water crystals, but you get the picture. The sky was awash with 360 degrees of various shades of pink, as sunset watchers gathered in droves all along West Cliff Drive to take in the action.

Seinfeld’s George Costanza might have described the enormous clouds as having a “pinkish hue.” To me they were real and spectacular.

On to some late night humor. “NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden is back in the news. He says the military at the NSA often shared nude photos that Americans had emailed to one another. So if your girlfriend won’t send you naked pictures, just tell her, do it for the troops. “You can tell this drought is getting really bad. Today at lunch, my waiter asked if I wanted a glass of water or a future for my children. I took the water.” –Conan O’Brien

“President Kennedy said let’s put a man on the moon, and by God, 10 years later we put a man on the moon. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary. Nowadays a big deal for us is we combined the croissant and the doughnut to get a cronut.” –David Letterman ” According to a new poll, two-thirds of people in Colorado think it should be illegal to smoke marijuana in public, while the other one-third are still laughing at the word ‘poll.’” –Seth Meyers

The summer is flying by. We’ll catch you playing the role of Ray Donovan,a professional “fixer” for the rich and famous in LA, who can make anyone’s problems disappear except those created by his own family. Aloha, mahalo and later, Liev Schreiber fans.

July 20, 2014

Now Batting, The Shortstop, Number 2, Derek Jeter

Good morning and greetings, national pastime fans. Last Tuesday, the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star game was played in Minnesota and broadcast by Fox TV. The wind was blowing out to left, which Fox News later blamed on President Obama.

Many who tuned into this summer classic were there to watch the final chapter of New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter’s all-star game experience. Jeter did not disappoint the baseball nation, as in his first at bat he smacked a double to rightfield and then later scored the game’s first run.

At age 40, Jeter still looks tremendous in those Yankee pinstripes. As a youngster growing up he dreamed of played for the Yankees. Early in his career he spoke from the heart when he said, “God, I hope I wear this jersey forever.”

For baseball fans, the game was a must see TV moment. Derek Jeter exemplifies everything that is good about sports. He is finishing up his 20th and final season with the New York Yankees, whose pitching staff has been ravaged by injuries and as a team are drowning in mediocrity.

But the Yankee captain has had a great run as a Bronx Bomber. As he says, “My office is at Yankee Stadium. Yes, dreams do come true.”

So this was a chance for the five-time World Series champion and baseball’s all-time leader in hits as a shortstop to step up once again and look good on the national stage. And that he did. Early on he made a nice play in the field and singled in his second at bat, before he was replaced and got a well-deserved standing ovation.

Retired Yankee slugger Reggie Jackson, a man with an ego the size of Manhattan, once said of the young Jeter, “In big games, the action slows down for him where it speeds up for others. I’ve told him, ‘I’ll trade my past for your future.’”

As for me, I’ve still have a great future behind me.

Derek Jeter exudes style and class as an athlete. He’s been a winner on and off the field, as his ex-girlfriends would put together a very formidable all-star lineup.

From Mariah Carey to a former Miss Universe to a Sport Ilustrated swimsuit model to actresses Jessica Biel and Minka Kelly and more, the the Yankee captain is the envy of many and is one of the most clutch daters of all-time.

So I’ll leave it up to former Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to put Jeter in perspective. “The name Derek Jeter is made for stardom. He’s got an infectious smile, and he’s so handsome and well-behaved. He’s just a fine young man who does everything right. He’s like Jack Armstrong and Frank Merriwell, guys I grew up rooting for. Some guys come along who just measure up.”

As they chant at Yankee Stadium, ‘Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter, Derek Jeter.” It has a nice ring to it.

Now growing up in New Jersey, baseball was my favorite sport. I started playing organized ball at any early age. During my first official at bat, I was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by a friend of mine.

Luckily I was wearing a batting helmet and I did not experience any effects of a concussion, although after that I had an incredible urge to take piano lessons.

My favorite baseball memory involves my old friend Steve Margolin. We pitched against each other in minor and little league growing up. He was the top dog on our side of town.

This led up to us dueling on the mound in the championship game at the Little League field. With the game on the line and runners in scoring position, I struck him out to end the game with three sidearm fastballs. Just pure smoke.

Stevie boy, the league’s home run champion, just stood stunned at home plate, as my coach and teammates carried me off the field on their shoulders.

It’s a fond memory for me and a nightmare for Steve. He recently told me he’s still shell shocked from whiffing on three straight pitches.

But what really irked him was the the smirk on my face after I threw it by him. What I would give for a picture of that.

After the game my father took me to Artie’s Luncheonette, where I celebrated with a chocolate milk shake. Some things in life don’t change. The memories just get a little hazier.

So in honor of the all-star game, today I am featuring an all-star sunrise. This was from the morning of February 4 down at Lighthouse Point, and is one of my favorite sunrises of the year.

The colors and the changes in the cloud were spectacular, and the reflection on the sand at Its Beach was amazing. This was a truly magnificent morning along the coast and what world-class sunrises are all about.

On to some late night humor. “Yesterday was the big World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. And if you caught only the last couple of minutes of the game, don’t worry – you saw the whole thing. During yesterday’s World Cup final, a guy ran onto the field with the phrase “natural born prankster” written on his chest — because nothing says good clean fun like spending the night in a Brazilian prison.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Well, it was an amazing weekend in sports. LeBron went back to being a Cavalier, Carmelo went back to being a Knicks, and soccer went back to being a thing you drive your kids to. Brazil’s coach resigned following the country’s historic 7-1 loss in the World Cup last week. He says he wants to spend more time focusing on not being murdered.” –Seth Meyers

“It’s a great day for a man in Brazil. He’s 126 and has been called the world’s oldest person. He says the highlight of his life was playing goalie for Brazil in this year’s World Cup. Yesterday, Iran asked the U.S. for an extension on disabling their nuclear program. When asked how much time they needed, they said, “10, 9, 8…” – Craig Ferguson

“According to a new report, 81 percent of people would cheat on their partner if there were no consequences, while 19 percent of people are pretty sure this is a test.” – Seth Meyers “Authorities at the airport in Los Angeles intercepted an illegal shipment of 67 live giant African snails. It’s being called the world’s slowest perp walk.” – Conan O’Brien

So the summer moves along. We’ll catch a pod of about 15 of you returning to Monterey Bay last week for an anchovy feast at Moss Landing. Aloha, mahalo and later, humpback whale fans.

July 13, 2014

There’s No Place Like Away

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — geoff @ 9:03 am

Good morning and greetings, NBA free agent fans. Well, if you’re an admirer of summer fog, then last week was a superb time to vacation in Santa Cruz, as the mornings were moister than my eyes during the season finale of “Parenthood.”

It seemed odd, while being in the midst of the worst drought in California history, to be walking in the morning rain. I wasn’t singing in the rain, but it was a glorious feeling and I was happy again.

Well, the basketball world was shocked on Friday, when Mr. LeBron James, who happens to be the best player on the planet, announced in a first-person essay on the Sports Illustrated’s website that he was returning to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Holy mistake by the lake. This is the team he had fled from four years ago when he made his decision to team up with the Big Three and take his immense talents to South Beach.

“My relationship with Northeast Ohio is bigger than basketball,” James told Lee Jenkins of SI.com. “I didn’t realize that four years ago. I do now. “I always believed that I’d return to Cleveland and finish my career there. I just didn’t know when. I wasn’t going to leave Miami for anywhere except Cleveland. The more time passed, the more it felt right. This is what makes me happy.”

LeBron ranks as one of the greatest of all-times, a superstar among superstars. It’s not every day that the league’s top talent is there for the taking, as NBA teams were wildly clamoring for his guest services. The consensus was he would return to Miami.

After the season, free agency wasn’t even a thought. But I have two boys and my wife, Savannah, is pregnant with a girl. I started thinking about what it would be like to raise my family in my hometown.”

The player who teamed up with the Big Three in South Beach is returning to Cleveland as a different LeBron. ” Miami, for me, has been almost like college for other kids. These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go … without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”

When we speak of LeBron, we’re talking about a 30-year-old, four-time MVP who’s in the prime of his career. He has the charm and charisma that make him the top dog on the court as he has dominated the league over the last half decade. At 6’8″, 250 pounds, LeBron is built like a freight train, with the quickness of a cheetah and mad skills that have led him to putting up insane numbers for his career.

As he says, “Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve been the best player. I love being a leader, and I love being the best. I just want to get better. It’s not about being cocky or selfish or anything like that. It’s just how I am.”

And ladies and gentlemen, this world wide conglomerate of a small forward was available on the open market, but few thought he would leave the confines of South Florida.

LeBron had led the Heat to four Final appearances and two straight championships over the past four seasons. But in an attempt for a threepeat, the team looked old and were blown out in this year’s Finals by the San Antonio Spurs.

LeBron didn’t want to wither on the vine in South Beach. He was all about winning championships, but I guess he got a little homesick. And he had his doubts about whether team President Pat Riley would be able to put together another title bound team.

“I went to Miami because of D-Wade and Chris Bosh. I believed we could do something magical if we came together. And that’s exactly what we did! The hardest thing to leave is what I built with those guys. Nothing will ever change what we accomplished. We are brothers for life.”

So Lebron kissed and made up with Cav’s owner Dan Gilbert, who called James a “coward” when he left. It seems that LeBron is all about forgiveness. “I’ve met with Dan, face-to-face, man-to-man. We’ve talked it out. Everybody makes mistakes. I’ve made mistakes as well. Who am I to hold a grudge?”

So for LeBron at this point in his career, it’s not all about the money. It’s about the rings and where he will ultimately rank in the NBA hierarchy. Celtic center Bill Russell has eleven, Michael Jordan has six and Kobe Bryant has five. Those are the legends he’s chasing. When you’re in a stratosphere like LeBron, this is the way greatness is measured. The ring’s the thing.

But for a guy chasing titles, this move back home alters the landscape. As for next season, “I’m not promising a championship. I know how hard that is to deliver. I want to win next year, but I’m realistic. I’m going into a situation with a young team and a new coach. I will be the old head. But I get a thrill out of bringing a group together and helping them reach a place they didn’t know they could go. ”

Cav’s new first-year coach David Blatt was asked if he was excited to be coaching the four-time MVP. His response, “That would be understatement of the millennium.”

LeBron James is not just a basketball player, but a global icon, and knows the power that comes along with it. As he said a few years ago, “In the next 15 or 20 years, I hope I’ll be the richest man in the world. That’s one of my goals. I want to be a billionaire. I want to get to a position where generation on generation don’t have to worry about nothing. I don’t want family members from my kids to my son’s kids to never have to worry. And I can’t do that now just playing basketball.”

So for the player who guaranteed “Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven,” championships in Miami, it came down to this. “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. It’s where I ran. It’s where I cried. It’s where I bled. It holds a special place in my heart. People there have seen me grow up. I sometimes feel like I’m their son. Their passion can be overwhelming. But it drives me. I want to give them hope when I can. I want to inspire them when I can.”

So Cav’s fans must be feeling like they’ve died and gone to heaven, as the Ohio’s favorite son is taking his talents back to Cleveland. Few saw this coming. It’s one of the great stories in sports on a few different levels.

In the words of the King, “I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m coming home.”

I think it’s a wise decision.

For today’s photo circus we are heading over to Steamer Lane on the morning of February 3. When I arrived at this sacred spot of surfing, the sunlight was shooting up through the array of red clouds. The waves were coming through in big sets, and the sky turned from candy apple red to exotic orange. And then the sun rose and shone across the water, and all was good.

On to some late night humor. “There was a huge blowout at the World Cup yesterday when Germany beat Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals. It got so bad that the refs told Brazil, “You know what? Go ahead and use your hands.” – Jimmy Fallon “Happy birthday to Ed Lowe, the man who invented Kitty Litter. Here’s what I admire about Ed Lowe. Here was a guy who was thinking inside the box.” – David Letterman

“Today is National Sugar Cookie Day. The entire month of July is National Cream Month. You’re welcome, diabetes. Cheesesteak is the dish Philadelphia is known for. I don’t know what dish we’re known for here in L.A. It may be kale salad that you can eat and then throw up later because you have an audition.” – Craig Ferguson

“Justin Bieber will be charged with one count of misdemeanor vandalism for throwing eggs at his neighbor’s home in January. Or as he calls that, “street cred.” People who wanted to go on the new Harry Potter ride at Universal had to wait in line for more than seven hours this week. That’s right, seven hours of waiting just for a couple minutes of action. Or as that’s also called, “watching soccer.” – Jimmy Fallon

So another post is in the books. We’ll catch you being the happiest people in America. Aloha, mahalo and later, Cleveland Cavalier fans.

July 6, 2014

Don’t Swett The Small Stuff

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — geoff @ 9:12 am

Good morning and greetings, workout fans. Four score and ten pounds ago, my doctor, in an effort to lower my cholesterol and keep me from turning into the Goodyear Blimp, told me I needed to exercise more. She didn’t mean just ramping up my gentle morning strolls along West Cliff. She wanted me to sweat, with blood and tears to come later.

Well, I took her advice under consideration, and then for the next ten months, not a drop of extra sweat, with the exception of my Saturday basketball outings, left my pores. I lived like a canteen.

Now these days I do a little running, with the emphasis on little, on my morning jaunts. But I’m still not working up a healthy sweat, except on my people’s Sabbath, when I hit the courts to try and conjure up a remnant of past greatness.

The reason I bring up this subject of perspiration, and this is a huge stretch, is because of a story I ran across this week written by IIyce Glink for Yahoo News.

People in America like to own things. Whether it’s a new car, boat, 80″ flatscreen TV or a Dean’s List certificate, we value our possessions. I always wanted a little piece of land and ended up with part ownership of a house in Poipu Beach, Kauai. Or as Roman philosopher Seneca put it, “What difference does it make how much you have? What you do not have amounts to much more.”

Well, hold on to your credit reports, as there is a unique real estate opportunity available. For the small price of just $399,000, you can own the tiny, and I’m talking miniscule, town of Swett, South Dakota. Population: 2, with Lance Benson and his wife, being the only two residents in this thriving mini metropolis.
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Swett, pronounced sweat, is about 70 miles outside the Badlands National Park. The park is a work of natural art, featuring fantastic views of beautiful, rock-like formations formed by winds and glacial erosion from 35 million years ago, or around the birth of John McCain’s early ancestors.

So the deal for this little piece of Dakota heaven includes 6.5 acres of prairie land, a garage-turned-tire-shop, a home, three trailers but no Starbucks. However, it does include the pride of Swett, the Swett Tavern. It’s a local watering hole that’s been a gathering place for decades. Where the elite meet to eat.

There’s not much crime, as no one has so much ever drowned in Swett. The town’s owners have changed a handful of times. A grocery store came and went, along with a 1932 post office, but no 24 Hour Fitness. The population peaked at around 40 people in the 1940′s, but those folks fled to the big cities. Now all their houses are gone, as images of a ghost town emerge.

But it’s the tavern that makes the town. In an interview with the Rapid City Journal, the newspaper from Swett’s nearest city, which is almost three hours away by car and six by buffalo, area resident Gerry Runnels said, “The tavern is the place is pretty much where the highway ends and the Wild West begins.” This is the land where Indian Chief’s Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull and Running Tab were laid to rest.

The tavern clientele includes local cowboys, pheasant hunters, wheat growers and relatives of Tom Brokaw. It had a reputation of being a rough-and-tumble kind of place, but now you can come in and have a meal with your family, rather than defend your family. I recommend the broken leg of lamb.

A friend of Gerry Runnels visiting from Seattle commented that Swett looked liked “a good place to be killed.” Runnels replied, “You could be killed anywhere. At least here it will be exciting.” A visitor from Oklahoma once remarked that “you need a Bowie knife to get in this place and a chainsaw to get out.” And remember to call ahead for reservations.

The owner of Swett, Lance Benson, is selling the town to focus on his burgeoning snake oil concession business. You can own the town but you can’t elect yourself mayor, because Swett is unincorporated, and you need at least 100 people or 30 registered voters to register as a municipality.

But there is one loophole: You can incorporate with just one person by forming a municipality for historical and educational purposes. So there are ways of getting around it. So don’t sweat the small stuff.

While we’re in this neck of the woods, I’m giving a thumbs up for the dark comedy crime drama “Fargo” on FX. It’s very quirky. As the producers put it. “This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”

For today’s photo entree we are returning to the morning skies above Lighthouse Point. The day was January 28, and the sky performed a colorful morning dance while going through some changes of light and texture. It was a nice beginning.

I’m just about done with the January highlights, but February was an exotic month in the skies. I still have over dozen sunrises and sunsets sitting out on the runway, so the hits will keep on coming.

No late night humor this week. We’ll catch you making unbelievable saves in World Cup play as goalkeeper for the USA soccer team. Aloha, mahalo and later, Tim Howard fans.


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