May 31, 2015

The King The Ring And The Bling

Good morning and greetings, NBA Final Fans.   It’s now June, and there are only two teams left standing on the NBA horizon.  One is the Golden State Warriors, who have been the talk of the league all season, as Steph Curry and teammates have been dazzling on the court, compiling a league high 67 wins during the regular season and a playoff mark of 12-3, which nobody, including Draymond Green’s fashion consultant, saw coming.
The Warriors have blown through the playoffs, as they swept the New Orleans Pelicans, took care of the Memphis Grizzlies, and knocked off James Harden and the Houston Rockets in the Western Conference finals.  They had a little scare, when in game four,  Stephen Curry did a cartwheel in the air and landed on his head, but he was cleared by the doctors and came back an hour later and reentered the game.
At the time, with the Warriors leading in the series 3-0, one had to wonder, why in the wide, wide world of sports would they risk playing Curry, who had just been cracked on the noggin and had his brain scrambled.  To quote the great Woody Allen, putting him back in the game was a “Travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham.”
Sunrise Santa Cruz medical consultant, Dr. Michael Schur, agrees, saying it was the worst medical decision he’s seen made in the history of sports injuries.
The Warriors path to the finals was made a little easier, in not having to face the San Antonio Spurs or the LA Clippers.   But Golden State took care of business in Oakland and were crowned the best in the west, and are now heading for the final challenge.  Their opponents will be the Cleveland Cavaliers, led by fastest gun in the east and the face of the NBA, the self-annointed chosen one, King James.
LeBron James is known as the best player in the world of basketball.  At 6’8″ and 250 pounds, this is a cat that the NBA has never seen, combining strength and quickness to make himself unstoppable.  He is the superstar amongst superstars,  a once in a lifetime athletic specimen.
Or as former NBA center Bill Cartwright describes him, “This guy is really unguardable.  He’s too darn big and too darn strong. Put a big guy on him and he goes around them. Put a small guy on him and he beats him up. He’s a nightmare of a match-up.”
He’s come a long way from a difficult childhood in his hometown of Akron, Ohio, where he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated as a junior in high school.  LeBron was drafted straight out of high school into the NBA by his hometown Cavaliers in 2003.  He played seven seasons in the Mistake by the Lake, before becoming a free agent in 2010.
In July 2010, he announced in a live ESPN program special titled “The Decision” that he was taking his talents down to South Beach to team up with Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh and play for the Miami Heat.  He said he came down to win five or six titles with the Heat, which unfortunately for him, never came to fruition, which led some to ridicule in the press about his decision making and not wanting to be “the Man”.
He stayed four years in Miami and won two titles, before deciding it was time to pack up go back home to Cleveland.  Like him or hate him, he is a highly influential and  very prominent figure in the sportsworld today.
After winning the eastern conference final game last Tuesday, LeBron James sat down and spoke to Joe Noga and the Northeast Ohio Media Group about where he is at with himself and his team.
Talk about your emotions and what it’s like to be in this position after your decision to return.”It’s very emotional to be back in this city. When I made my decision to come back here, I knew what I wanted to do. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. It was going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of dedication. It was going to be the toughest task for me to try to get this team back to the Finals.”
“I knew I’d have to step up my leadership. I had to be very patient. Which, I’m not a very patient guy.  For us to be sitting at this point today, being able to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals is special. It’s very special.”
Did you think you could do it this quickly?
“I understood we were young and inexperienced.  Things happen throughout the season and offseason that allowed us to acquire Kevin Love. And as the season started, Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert were acquired. It brought our team to a place where I felt we could compete.”Where does the accomplishment of reaching the Finals five straight times rank?”It’s special to know how far we’ve come as a group.  No matter what happens from here on out, to see what we’ve accomplished, being a first-year team together that’s had different changes throughout the course of the season, and faced so many obstacles throughout the season. Injuries here, transactions there, lineups here. It’s something we can be very proud of to this point.”
How much did Cleveland’s 51-year departure from a championship come to mind?  Do you think about that much, and perhaps being the guy who finally gets that for the city?

“I’m a guy who believes in unfinished business. I understood what these people are going through. The people here, not only in Cleveland, but in Northeast Ohio and all over the world who love and bleed wine and gold. To be at this point tonight, sitting here talking to you guys, is very emotional.”

Could I have foreseen this at the beginning of the season?

“I couldn’t. I couldn’t foresee us being in the finals at the beginning of the season. I just knew we had to get better and just seeing how young we were at that point in time. But I knew I had to lead these guys. And if they just followed my leadership, I knew I could get them to a place that they’ve never been before.”

How did the journey of the season get you here?  How has it steeled you for the finals?
“I don’t know how many chapters we have to this season. From the start of the season to making the transactions to acquire these guys. To us having injuries, to us getting to the postseason. To Kevin Love being out for the season. To Kyrie being out and banged up. We’ve had so many chapters that defined who we are.”
“We haven’t got caught up in feeling sorry for ourselves. it doesn’t matter. As soon as you’re out, next man up. When someone is not 100 percent, as a brother you pick that guy up. That’s what teamwork and trying to accomplish a dream is all about. Being able to sacrifice yourself and what you can do for the better of the team.”
Earlier in his career,LeBron was asked if it bothered him to have people root against him.”Absolutely not. Because at the end of the day, all the people that was rooting on me to fail, they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today.”
“I’m going to continue to live the way I want to live and continue to do the things that I want to do with me and my family and be happy with that. They have to get back to the real world at some point.”
So there you have it.  Lots of story lines.  LeBron chasing his third ring.  The reigning MVP Curry going up against the four time MVP.  The Warriors back in the finals after a 40 year drought.  This matchup should be a doozy.So tune in on Thursday and check out LeBron taking on the Warriors, a dream matchup for the Finals. This is what Warrior fans have been waiting for all year, a chance to hoist that championship banner, proclaiming the title of the NBA’s best .

And if you ask me, I’m picking the Warriors.  The Cavs have to be happy to get  to the finals.  The Warriors are chasing a championship.  Warriors in seven.  Or maybe six.  I like the even numbers.

For today’s photo journey, we are taking a June visit up along the North Coast.  We start with a shot of the cliffs and the beach above Davenport Landing.  Then we drive two miles north to see a couple of photos of the sweeping coastline of Scott Creek.  All the while, pelicans are flying up the coast, and along the way I spotted a red shouldered hawk.
We end the journey a few miles up the road at Waddell Creek, famous for it’s windy conditions and great kite board riding.  This is the place I came to shoot after purchasing my first SLR camera.  The rest is digital history.
No late night humor this week.  We’ll catch you soaring like the Black Falcon and carrying the scoring load in the series clincher against the Rockets.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Harrison Barnes fans.

May 24, 2015

Good Night, David Letterman

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Good morning and greetings, Golden State Warriors fans.  It’s been an exciting week for the Warrior nation, as behind the fabulous play of MVP Steph Curry, the Warriors now have a commanding 3-0 lead over the Houston Rockets in the best of seven western conference finals, with game four on tap for tonight.  Can anyone say “Sweep?”

It has been a long time between championships in Oakland, as we have to go back to 1975 to when the Warriors last claimed the NBA title.  Coincidentally, that was the same year that yours truly moved to the Golden State and planted myself down on West Cliff Drive, until they downloaded me to Hermosa Beach in 1989.

I remember the lazy, hazy days of the 1980′s.  I was living life on the edge of the continent, while spending my working hours on the radio doing ‘Sportstalk’, with my radio partner, the lovely Jerry Hoffman.

Right after we’d finish the show, I would hurry over to Jesse’s SportsPage, a bar with sawdust on the floor in Soquel, to check out a rookie named Michael Jordan.  He was a phenom, as I watched this fantastic rookie from North Carolina tear up the NBA in his rookie year.

Now after one year of a diet of ginger ale and chips, I decided the bar scene wasn’t for me, so I invested in a 12 foot satellite dish, which I had installed in the driveway behind my rented house.  I now had Michael Jordan coming into my home every night, and loved following him on the road trips.  Unfortunately, in his second year, he broke his foot in Oakland and only played 18 games, but I wasn’t dismayed.  The future looked very golden.

Now back in the 80′s, the NBA was tape delaying the playoffs, with games starting at 11:30 PM.  There was a tremendous series going on between the Milwaukee Bucks and Seattle Supersonics, where the first three out of four games went to overtime.  I did not want to miss the fifth game, so I decided to go down to Burdicks Appliance store and get myself a VCR.

I just wanted the basic model so I could record the game and watch it the next day.  Well, I picked up a Magnavox recorder for the price of, if I’m not mistaken, of $1300.  Yes, that is correct, sports fans.  It was state of the art, as I was the first guy on the block with taping capabilities.

Now along with a gigantic satellite came a multitude of programs from all across the sky.  And I soon learned that I could pick up the New York feed of the David Letterman show at 9:30 PM, which my future bride Allison and I enjoyed together. Letterman was an amusing interviewer, skewering some guests along with wacky comedy skits and segments.
So I was taping the Letterman show, and with the addition of another VCR, I started running a master tape of all the best moments, just even one joke or one line of an interview with all the major celebrities, like Cher calling Dave an ass**** or Madonna dropping the F-bombs.  I was also taping Johnny Carson at this time, along with Jay Leno and others.  But it was mostly Letterman, as he was the man.

I continued this practice down in Hermosa Beach, compiling hours and hours of what I thought was the best comedy on TV.  It was fresh and exciting, so inviting to me.

In my master closet today I have over 200 VHS tapes. They range from sitcoms, comedy movie classics, classic NBA games, musical concerts and numerous hours of edited Saturday Night Live from the Belushi-Ackroyd days.  If I had to go into the comedy bunker, I would be entertained for weeks into months.

But with my previous TiVo taping system and now my Direct TV Genie DVR, there is so much to watch on the DVR that I haven’t had time to journey back to the past.  But last week being Dave’s final shows, I went to the closet and pulled out a random tape marked. “Letterman, 1992-93.”
It started out with Howard Stern talking about making a movie, then Sharon Stone “You have lovely legs,” discussing her doing the voiceovers “Yes, yes, yes,” for her movie, Basic Instinct.”  Then it was Rodney Dangerfield on Carson, “Well, Johnny, I can hold my own with women, which is what they tell me to do.”Then it was on to Letterman making fun of Teri Garr, then Dave going door to door in New Jersey doing polling results and then the Smother Brothers, with Tommy doing a great Johnny Carson impression.

But then came the most provocative segment, with Cybil Shepard in the guest seat.  Dave asked her about her time with the Elvis in Graceland, and here is the classic exchange.

Dave “Did you spend any time with him?  Did you get a sense of what he was about?”  Cybil, “I did get to Graceland for dinner.”  Dave, “What did you have?”  Cybil, “Chicken fried steak.  He had a lot of it.  He had a big appetite.  But there was one thing he wouldn’t eat.  Well,…”  A long pause until Dave gets clued in while Cybil is laughing hysterically.

Dave, “Geez, oh my, who would have guessed.  The king of rock and roll.”  Cybil is rolling with laughter. “I’m trying to figure out what you’re having with the chicken fried steak, and, and, and, and boom, it immediately takes a really ugly turn.”  Cybil, “Well, obviously,  our relationship didn’t last too long.”So there you have it.  The reigning king of late night is moving on, and in the words of Jimi Hendrix, and I’m paraphrasing, “Oh, move over Rover, and let the Jimmy’s take over.”

David Letterman was a spokesman, a voice for my generation.  He was funny, quirky, and very clever, and in the early years he could cut a guest to shreds if they weren’t interesting.  But in the last decade he made a lot of sense about what was happening in the world, bringing on important guests to talk about world issues.
But now he is gone, but the late night rating wars will continue.   I’ll miss him and my favorite guests Martin Short, Chris Elliot, Robin Williams, Jim Carrey and Don Rickles.  Somebody else will anoint the throne.So let me leave you with this quote from the former weatherman from Ball State University, who became a father at 55 and has been a fixture on late night TV since 1982.  In his words,  “I cannot sing, dance or act.  What else would I be but a talk show host?”

Goodbye, David Letterman.  Your country thanks you for your service to the late night comedy nation.
So there weren’t many April showers bringing May flowers, but this week in my garden a solitary bearded iris popped its head out of the ground and made an appearance.  So I thought I would feature some variety of these lovely flowers in this week’s photo segment.   Just like the old song, when Iris eyes are smiling.
On to some late night humor.  “I’ll be honest with you. It’s beginning to look like I’m not going to get “The Tonight Show.” Do you know what I’m going to do when I retire? I hope to become the new face of Scientology.  Earlier today, we got a call from Stephen Hawking. He’s a genius, and after 6,028 shows he ran the numbers and he said it works out to about eight minutes of laughter.” – David Letterman

“In about 34 minutes David Letterman is going to air his last episode. In 1993, I took over his iconic late-night show. I was a complete unknown with no experience performing on TV. I was totally unprepared for that enormous job. I don’t think that could happen today. I don’t think the government would allow it.  I was in way over my head, and with my hair that’s saying something.” – Conan O’Brien

“During a charity boxing match on Friday, Mitt Romney lasted two rounds against Evander Holyfield and raised a million dollars. It was just like Holyfield’s fight with Mike Tyson, except Romney chewed off his other ear talking about his 18 grandchildren.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The government released hundreds of documents seized from Osama bin Laden’s compound. Among the items is a job application for al-Qaida. It’s like a regular job application except it asks questions like, “Where do you see yourself exploding in the next five years?” – Jimmy Kimmel

“Police arrested a man on Long Island yesterday after he stripped naked and threatened Costco customers with a machete. Luckily, Costco customers were able to subdue him with a 50-pack of paper towels. Former “Baywatch” star Pamela Anderson posed naked in the shower for a campaign aimed at saving water in drought-stricken California. And as a bonus, it also reminded people to recycle plastic.” – Seth Meyers

Some birthday wishes go out this week, starting today with my better half, my lovely bride Allison.  I can say at this point in life she’s the happiest she’s ever been, and that takes into account putting up with me.   She gets more beautiful every day, and I’m not saying that just because she lets me hold the TV remote in bed.

Also today, it’s the 66th birthday of my Michigan born Marc Techner, who I might also say he’s the happiest he’s ever been, but that’s because of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are heading for an NBA championship.
And coming up on Thursday, it is my sister-in-law Wendi’s special day.

.  She is healthy and doing wonderfully well.  I don’t know how she will be celebrating, but rest assured, some form of chocolate will be involved.

So we’ll catch you putting up two back-to back fantastic scoring performances, although each resulted in a loss.  Aloha, mahalo and later, James Harden fans.

May 17, 2015

Put Your Funny Where Your Mouth Is

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 Good morning and greetings, NBA playoff fans.  Last week, I discussed the serious implications of the California drought.  My head almost exploded when writing about the severe conditions affecting us here in the Golden State. Or as the French writer Chamfort once said,” The most wasted of all days is that in which we have not laughed.”
So now that the Golden State Warriors are moving on to the Western Conference Finals to face the Houston Rockets, I thought I would go back to a more comfortable place and take a trip down memory lane.  Journey on back to a light and breezy world of my younger years, when life was sweet and innocent and all I had to worry about was what was for dinner and getting my homework done as quickly as possible.
Or in the words of Mark Twain, “The human race has only one effective weapon and that is laughter.”

I got hooked on the tube in my early years growing up in the Garden State of New Jersey.  I remember the days of black and white TV and being entranced by cartoons, including “Crusader Rabbit,” the first animated series produced specifically for television.

Crusader Rabbit’s buddy was Ragland T. Tiger, known as Rags.  Their running joke was a character would ask Rags what the “T” stood, to which he’d reply, “Larry.  My father couldn’t spell.”Then in was on to  “Rocky and his Friends,” starring Bullwinkle, the anthropomorphic moose and Rocky, a flying squirrel, pitted against their man adversaries, the Russian spies Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale. This was early cold war drama.  We were also introduced to Mr. Peabody and Sherman, who traveled through history using a WABAC time machine.
Then we move on to the more sophisticated comedy, starting with the slapstick hilarity of “The Three Stooges, starring Moe, Shemp and Curly Howard, joined by Larry Fine.  Curly was a totally unique character, with a high-pitched voice and quirky vocal expressions.  He loved making sounds like “nyuk, nyuk, nyuk,” “woob, wwob, woob,” and “sointenly,” as well as barking like a dog and using his teeth as a typewriter.He was also known for his outrageous physical comedy, as he was always getting poked in his eye, slapped around or banged on his head.  As his older brother Moe often told him, “Remind me to murder you later.”
My brothers and I could sit for hours and watch episodes of “The Three Stooges,” and this was when we were in our 20′s and 30′s.  I then moved on to expanding my horizon, with the “The Great One,” Jackie Gleason, so named by Orson Welles after and long and alcohol-filled night on the town, and his sidekick Art Carney, starring in “The Honeymooners.”
Ralph was a bus driver and Norton a sanitation engineer, er sewer worker.  There were just 39 episodes of this dimly lit sitcom made about their gritty Brooklyn lives in the 50′s.   Ralph was always trying to strike it rich, but never succeeded.  He never made it on the $64,000 question.
But he thought he was the king of the castle, and had the love of his life in Alice, although as he often threatened, “One of these day, Alice, bang, zoom, right to the moon.  And he wasn’t too fond of his mother-in-law.  “She’s a blabbermouth, Alice, a blabbermouth.”
One of my favorite lines from the show was when Norton asked Ralph if he could smoke.  Ralph replied, “I don’t care if you burn.”
And then there was “The Phil Silvers show,”  starring Phil as Master “Sergeant Earnest G. Bilko,” who was always working on his get rich quick schemes and gamblings promotions in his lonely outpost of Fort Baxter, Kansas.   In real life, Silvers was a compulsive gambler, but he was a true genius as a military man, always sticking it to Colonel Hall, Sgt. Rupert Ritzik and the boys in his platoon.    Larry David has called “The Phil Silvers Show” his favorite television program.
And there were more, as I was entranced with the comedy of “Laurel and Hardy,” “The Bowery Boys,” and “Abbott and Costello, and “The Little Rascals,” just to name a few.  I remember Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, Stymie, Chubby, Darla, and the lovely Mrs. Crabtree. According to film historian Leonard Maltin, the “Our Gang” crowd put boys, girls, whites and blacks together as equals, something that broke new ground.  Who knew?
Then color came into my life, and the comic Woody Allen moved to the center stage.  His early movies including “Take The Money and Run,” ‘Bananas,” and “Play It Again, Sam” were comic gems.  In the words of the Woodman, “Life is full of misery, loneliness and suffering, and it’s all over much too soon.”
There have been numerous sitcoms that have come along and entertained me over the years.  Starting with “Cheers,” “Taxi,” “All in the Family,” “The Wonder Years,” and one season of Leslie Nielson and “Police Squad,” which led into the “Naked Gun movies” and “Airplane,” one of the funniest movies of all time, which produced this line, “Joey, have you ever seen a grown man naked?”

Getting back to the sitcom, there was the “The Larry Sanders Show,” “,Married With Children,” “Roseanne,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Office,” and the leader of the pack, “Seinfeld.”  And from the lips of George Costanza, “Jerry, just remember, it’s not a lie if you believe it.”

And of course, there were the great comedy movie classics, starting with the Mel Brooks comedy bonanza “Blazing Saddles,” It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World,” “Caddyshack,” “Annie Hall,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and the cult college classic of all-time, “Animal House, starring John Belushi, which gave us, “Greg, honey, is it supposed to be this soft?” and “Do you mind if we dance with your dates?”
Doug Kenney co-wrote the screenplays for “Animal House,” and Caddyshack,” along with co-founding National Lampoon magazine.  But he was an alcohol and drug abuser and sadly, back in 1980, at age 33, he died while in Kauai after falling from a 30-foot cliff at the Hanapepe Lookout.  His friend, Harold Ramis, said at the time, that Kenney “probably fell while he was looking for a place to jump”.
Kenney’s pal Chevy Chase told Rolling Stone magazine that in his hotel room they found jokes, notes for projects and an outline for a new movie.  They also found written on the back of a hotel receipt, a gag line: “These last few days are among the happiest I’ve ever ignored.”

So when we see what is alive in the sitcom world today, ‘Modern Family” comes to mind, along with the “The Goldbergs” on ABC.  There’s Julia Louise Dreyfus on “Veep” and the second season” of “Married” on FX.  Unfortunately, I think we’ve seen of the last of  Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but you can always check out “Inside Amy Schumer.”

Now of course I’m leaving out lots good shows and great movies, but the Marx Brothers, the Zucker Brothers and the Farrelly Brothers have to be mentioned. As the late, great Milton Berle, who dated Marilyn Monroe once said, “Laughter is an instant vacation.”  And it’s cheaper than a week in Hawaii.

So for today’s photo entree, we are returning to the skies over Monterey Bay on the evening of February 22.  There was a large cluster of clouds in the sky and as the sun set into the horizon, the pelicans came flying in from the east, creating a nice backdrop with the crimson sky.
On to some late night humor.  “Hillary Clinton’s younger brother Tony is facing criticism for using the Clintons’ political connections to help his career. So on the down side, she has a sketchy brother named Tony. On the up side, she just locked up every vote in New Jersey.  It turns out Hillary’s brother could damage her campaign. But then Jeb Bush said, “I think we all get a pass on who our brothers are.” – Jimmy Fallon
“It was announced yesterday that Tom Brady will be suspended for the season’s first four games for his alleged role in the deflate-gate scandal. Though the NFL says his punishment could be reduced if he commits a real crime.” – Jimmy Fallon  “The NFL has suspended Tom Brady for four games over deflate-gate. They’re going to punish him by making him stay home in his mansion with his supermodel wife and think about what he did wrong.” – Conan O’Brien
 ”I have nothing against the North Koreans but this Kim Jong Un has got a screw loose. A member of his cabinet, his security minister, nods off, falls sleep. We’ve all done it. Kim Jong Un takes the guy out and has him executed, just for just falling asleep. Oh, and he was also deflating footballs.  New York City has a rat problem. There must be three to four million rats running loose, but finally, Mayor de Blasio has declared war on rats. Here’s what he’s going to do. He’s going to bring in more coyotes.” – David Letterman

“Barbara Walters admitted to stealing an artifact from the White House. She said, “I was young, and I didn’t think President Lincoln would mind.  McDonald’s is starting to introduce kale into their salads. McDonald’s customers heard this and asked, “What’s kale, and what’s a salad?” – Conan O’Brien

So we’ll catch you shut down playing like a true NBA MVP and taking down the Memphis Grizzlies.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Stephen Curry fans.

May 10, 2015

There’s No Drought About That

Good morning and greetings, rainfall fans.  As we know, when dealing with important issues of the day, there are always differing opinions, two sides to every coin.  Someone is right, someone is wrong.  And in these pages, I sometimes poke fun at the conservative point of view, because to paraphrase the late Art Linkletter, “Conservatives say the funniest things.”

But one thing we can agree on these days is that the state of California has been going through a severe drought.  People are now showering in the sinks while folks are watching as their lawns go from green to red.   The state is in a crisis.

And, of course, this does not apply to the people of Beverly Hills, but that’s because they have immunity to floods, hurricanes and price increases of whitefish at Nate ‘n Al’s Deli on North Beverly Drive, where they honor one simple commitment.  To serve the finest deli favorites prepared with the best ingredients, featuring the finest corned beef, brisket, stuffed cabbage and short ribs.

Now a long time reader of this blog, who tends to lead to his right and drive to his left, wanted me to bring up the facts concerning this important issue.  In a story written by Malia Zimmerman for Fox News, the long-running California drought, which began back in 2102, could have been avoided if proper measures had been set in place.Now according to the critics ,the Golden State’s misguided environmental policies allowed much-needed rainwater to flow straight into the Pacific. In an average year, California gets enough snow and rain to put 200 million acres under a foot of water, but environmental opposition to dams over the last several decades has allowed the majority of the freshwater to flow into the ocean.

The current drought has left farmlands scorched and residents under strict water consumption orders.  According to Bonner Cohen, a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research. “This is a man-made disaster.  Southern California is an arid part of the world where droughts are commonplace, and knowing this, you’d think the government of California would have included this mathematical certainty in its disaster preparedness planning, but the government has done nothing, not even store rain, as the population has continued to grow.”

It seems that Mr. Cohen is pointing the fickled finger of fate at the administration of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown, who back in April mandated the state’s residents cut water usage by as much as 35 percent, saying, “As Californians, we have to pull together and save water in every way we can.”  One drop at a time.  Three coins in a fountain.

To hear it from the Republican side, “Droughts are nothing new in California, but right now, 70 percent of California’s rainfall washes out to sea because liberals have prevented the construction of a single new reservoir or a single new water conveyance system over decades, during a period in which California’s population has doubled,” says Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard and a 2016 GOP presidential candidate. “This is the classic case of liberals being willing to sacrifice other people’s lives and livelihoods at the altar of their ideology.”

Let’s forget she laid off 30,000 people at Hewlett-Packard.  Fiorina places the blame for the loss of agriculture on the  manuvering of those dreaded liberal environmentalists, as 400,000 acres of farmland went unplanted last year.

Face it, the farmers are having a tough go of it.  Critics point the fingers at wanting to divert the water to boost fish populations rather than it going to farmers.  Forget about the cashews, save the endangered Delta Smelt.

California produces more than 250 different crops, with $44 billion in sales.  It is the only state to produce 12 key crops such as almonds, artichokes, dates, figs, raisins, kiwi, olives, persimmons, pistachios, prunes, walnuts and a host of great TV shows,like “Secrets and Lies” on ABC.

But my big concern is, what will be the fate of our friend, the avocado?   I ran across an interesting story written by Adam Sternbergh in the April 20, 2105 issue of New York Magazine, titled “Guacanomics, Have You Eaten Your Last Avocado.”  In it, he discusses our lust for this precious fruit, and it’s future on this planet.

Charley Wolk is 78 years old and an avocado farmer, living a half-hour drive north of San Diego in Fallbrook, CA.   Fallbrook is unofficially known as “the Avocado Capital of the World,” and Charley serves as the chairman of the California Avocado Commission, while writing a blog called Growing Avocados, on which he’s billed as “California’s foremost avocado expert.”

Charley says the global demand for avocados has never been higher. People are going crazy for this creamy, fat filled fruit. But there’s only thing that’s troubling Charley and the avocado farmers.  You guessed it.  WATER.  What to do about the drought?

This ongoing dry spell has lasted three years and will extend to a fourth.  California farmers pay dearly for the delivery of water, and it is getting very, very expensive.   “The avocado’s native environment is tropical, and we’re growing them in a desert,” Charley says. It takes 72 gallons of water to grow a pound of avocados, compared to, for instance, nine gallons to grow a pound of tomatoes. “The issue with water used to be cost. Now it’s availability.”

Now this is slightly off track, but here’s a scary scenario from Jan Eliassson, Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, on the world wide scarcity of clean water. “We have a dramatically dangerous situation right now, a new dimension which is creeping into the water equation.  The fact that you have a finite situation, there’s competition about these resources.  There is a risk that water scarcity could be a threat to peace and security.”

“History if full of stories where you fight about resources.  Fighting about water is fighting about our survival.  If we don’t deal with the problem of responsibility in this stage, the problem will grow into a disastrous situation.  I think it’s time for us to wake up.”

Now back to the story.  Technically, the avocado is a berry. But it’s not like any other berry, because it’s not sweet to eat off the tree. The name avocado comes from the Aztec word ahuacatl, which means “testicle,” so named because avocados typically grow in pairs and hang heavy on the tree.

The avocado didn’t land in California until the 1850s, when a tree was imported from Nicaragua by a private citizen as a botanical curiosity.  I’m guessing she was a female admirer.

According to my sources, 44 percent of California is classified as being in “exceptional drought.”  California has missed out on a full year’s worth of precipitation over each of the last three years. Last year was also the warmest year in the state’s recorded history.   When Charley started farming avocados four decades ago, water cost about $72 per acre-foot of water.  Now in some areas it costs about $1,500 per acre-foot.  Holy guacamole.

So the avocado farmers in California are searching for new, more efficient ways to grow avocados, and looking to develop new, heartier, more drought-resistant strains of avocado to grow. So it all comes back to the drought, and the policy and politics involving the state of California.   The critics have pointed the fingers of blame.  Time has been wasted.  Now it’s time for action.  I just hope it’s not too late.

Moving from agriculture to photos, I thought I’d take a break from the landscapes and feature some animal, bird  and marine life I have photographed in the past months of May.

We start out with the an elegant pelican cruising the skies over Monterey Bay, and then onto a great blue heron in the tide pools off West Cliff Drive.  Then we head up the coast to Four Mile Beach, where three harbor seals are keeping a watchful eye on me.  Then we run across a bobcat I found making sand castles up at Four Mile, before returning to town to check out this baby elephant seal and this fully grown sea lion.

We then look in on my sleeping daughter, a monkey and Summer, our golden retriever who celebrated her 10th birthday on Saturday.  And for the grand finale, we check in on Aimee’s pet rabbits, Marvin and Scarlett, who will chew through anything she can get her teeth on.

On to some late night humor.  “Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar from the show “19 Kids and Counting” say they are supporting Mike Huckabee for president because he has “common sense.” If there’s anyone who knows about common sense, it’s a family with 19 kids.” – Jimmy Fallon  “A woman held hostage by her boyfriend in Florida managed to escape this week after she convinced him to let her order a pizza using Pizza Hut’s app and wrote “911 hostage help” in the comment section. But really aren’t all Pizza Hut orders a cry for help?” – Seth Meyers

“Remember “deflate-gate”? After the Patriots beat the Colts, 11 of the 12 footballs were found to be deflated. I hope deflate-gate is a good lesson for kids. If you cheat and don’t play fair you will be the MVP of the Super Bowl and marry one of the most beautiful women on earth. Remember that.” – Jimmy Kimmel   “Happy Cinco de Mayo. Today is the day Americans celebrate Mexicans beating the French in the Battle of Puebla by getting blind drunk, listening to mariachi music, and then vomiting in a cab. Or as we call it in Britain — Tuesday.” – James Corden

“Welcome to the program. My name is Dave Letterman, and tonight I’m giving my two-week notice.  Don’t worry about me. I plan to continue to be in show business. I have already been booked to be in a production of “The Sunshine Boys” with Jay Leno.” – David Letterman

“You know what’s going to be big this summer is the new “Indiana Jones” movie. Now Indiana Jones is a little older. In this film he goes in search of a tomb for himself.  Now instead of outrunning a giant boulder, Indiana Jones has to pass an enormous kidney stone.” – David Letterman

“Happy Cinco de Mayo. In honor of Cinco de Mayo, mayor Bill de Blasio is filling all New York City potholes with guacamole.  Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby.  The thing about the Kentucky Derby is that it’s usually won by the horse from Kenya.” – David Letterman

 So we’ll catch you lighting it up for 16 third quarter points and riding your team to a game three victory over the Rockets.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Austin Rivers fans.

May 3, 2015

We Are Only Young Once

Good morning and greetings, May Day fans.  The magnificent month of April is now just dust in the wind, but it went out with a wonderous bang.  On a scale on one to ten, last week was a pretty good one by NBA standards, with the San Antonio Spurs and the L.A. Clippers playoff series turning out to the a, legendary must see TV event.   For pro hoops fans, this was true, unscripted NBA drama, setting the stage to see if the new kids on the block could dethrone the aging champions.

With Kobe Bryant and the Lakers being a non factor in the basketball world, the once dreadful Clips team have become the milk toast of Hollywood.  The Clippers Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have been as dominating on the court as in their ridiculous TV commercials.  The red carpet had been rolled out for the Clippers to make some noise in the playoffs.  But was it to be their time?
They had narrowly beaten our beloved Warriors in last year’s opening round, but lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in round two.  But ballsy new owner Steve Ballmer blew up the town by plunking down a record $2 billion to purchase the franchise last year from disgraced owner Donald Sterling, so things were looking up.  It was now their time, their town.  Own the playoffs.
But a funny thing happened on the last day of the season, as the seedings went haywire and the Clipper’s opponent in the opening round were the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.  This was a true heavyweight matchup, as both teams were more than worthy of moving on to the next round.  Would this once laughingstock of a franchise unload all their previous baggage and make some history?
Well, Saturday night there was a changing of the guard, as Chris Paul, playing with a painful hamstring injury, refused to lose and put the team on his back as they prevailed over the Spurs in game seven, 111-109.  It was a legendary contest for the ages, as the up and coming Clips kept on coming back and hitting big shots to take down last year’s NBA champions.
Paul hit a spectacular shot with one second left that provided the winning margin, leaving the Spurs and their fans stunned.  It was a shame one team had to lose.  The Clippers now move on to the western conference semi finals, where they face the bearded James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
This is setting up a Western Conference showdown with the Golden State Warriors, who swept the young New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round by a 4-0 margin to move on, where they will take on the depleted Memphis Grizzlies.  The young Warriors crushed the Grizzlies in their two previous meetings, and as former coach Mark Jackson would say, “This team is on a mission from God.”  The Warriors easily handled Memphis in the opening game on Sunday in Oakland, with game two coming up on Tuesday.

So the other highlight of last week was spending some quality time in the emergency room at Dominican Hospital.  Last Monday, at approximately 10:20 am, my 89-year-old mother decided to take a swan dive onto her linoleum kitchen floor.  When my father’s caregiver discovered her, she was down for the count, a very scary situation.

I immediately got a call and hurried down there, following behind the ambulance the mile or so to my parent’s abode.  The Fire Department’s paramedic were already on the scene and checking her vitals. My mother was still on the floor when I arrived and out of it, having no idea what had happened.By some miracle, there was no blood, no bruising, no broken bones.  She did say that her neck hurt, so they put her in a soft collar, placed her in a sheet and carried her outside to the gurney, where she was loaded into the ambulance.   Still having no idea of where she was or who was playing that night, and it was off the the ER at Dominican.
Well, it seemed that it was welcome wagon Monday, as at 11 am, five ambulances arrived at one time.  Inside the waiting room, the place filling up like Grand Central Station.  Scattered about were pregnant women, crying babies, wrenched knees, dog bite victims, criminals in handcuffs, heroin addicts and TV agents, a virtual potpourri of open wounds and injuries.
Since my mother had to be wheeled in, she got a room at the end of the corridor, which unfortunately for me, was away from the control center, the heartbeat of the ER, where all the action is.  Things in here move slowly, so you have a lot of time to hurry up and wait.  The doctor arrived and found her being dehydrated, so they hooked to her up to a saline drip, ordered some tests and told her to relax.
In the meantime, I was in the midst of the worst cold I had in years, a real doozy.  And I had to attend to needs of my 98-year-old father at home, who knew nothing of the situation.  Fortunately, he still doesn’t.
My mother stayed at Dominican for two nights, which I was hoping would be like a vacation from my father, but she had little to eat and not much sleep.  After two nights and a new prescription for an infection, we checked her out and headed back home.  I knew the stress from my lack of sleep and good looks would catch up with me somehow, and I was hit with the mother lode.
But my mother and father survived the ordeal, and my sister-in-law Wendi came down from Marin last Wednesday to help out. My mother got awfully lucky, because she was a concussion or broken hip waiting to happen.  As for me, I have my own issues to deal with, but I’m just happy to be done with this latest crisis.  On to the second round, Warrior fans.

For today’s photo series, we are heading down to Its Beach on the morning of March 13th. I started off shooting the reflection from the clouds down on the sand, and the headed over to Steamer Lane.  The sky was full of beautiful red clouds which changed to orange as it got closer to sunrise.  Then sun the arose and cast a wonderful light across the water.  For my final shot, I got the sun trying to disappear into the clouds.  All in a day’s work.

On to some late night humor.  “Floyd Mayweather said he will make around $200 million for his fight on Saturday against Manny Pacquiao. Meanwhile, the horse that wins the Kentucky Derby will get an extra carrot.  Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen attended a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton in New York City this week. Hillary told them, “Good luck with the reboot of your ’90s show.” And they said, “Thanks. Good luck with yours.” – Jimmy Fallon

“Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to announce tomorrow that he is running for president, making him Hillary Clinton’s only Democratic challenger so far. Or as Hillary put it, “Oooo, appetizers!”According to a survey from the Physical Activity Council, Americans are the least active they’ve been since 2007.   To which Netflix said, “You’re welcome.” – JImmy Fallon

“In Oregon, a number of brewers are competing to turn sewer water into beer. The brewer said, “Hey, if Bud Light can do it, we can do it.”  In Baltimore, the Orioles and the Chicago White Sox played a game today in a completely empty stadium. It was the first major sporting event to be played in an empty stadium, unless you count every professional soccer game in America.” – Conan O’Brien

“Nicki Minaj made a 13-year-old boy’s dream come true when she performed at his bar mitzvah over the weekend.  Imagine being the kid at that school who’s having the next bar mitzvah. How do you compete with that? His friends will say, “What, you’re having a magician? He’d better reach into his hat and pull out Beyoncé.” – James Corden  “There’s a new dating app that pairs attractive females with generous males who will fly them to foreign countries for first dates. If you’d like to know more, tune in to next week’s “Dateline.” -Seth Meyers

So we’ll catch you playing in pain, while hitting impossible shots and willing your team to victory to advance on in the playoffs.  Aloha, mahalo and later, Chris Paul fans.


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