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.

December 14, 2014

62 And Still Don’t Have A Clue

Good morning and greetings, December fans. As you may have known, last week I celebrated my 62nd birthday in the usual fashion, with cake, ice cream, animal balloons and pony rides. It was a fine day, starting out with a stroll along the ocean as the big waves battered the coastline.

At the end of my walk, I passed by a gentlemen wearing a “Life is Good” sweatshirt. I smiled, and knew I had a theme for the day.

So it was off to a tremendous start, as I was then greeted at home with several very clever top ten list birthday cards, which evoked laughter, a key to birthday celebrations. Then it was on to the phones, as I connected with many friends and family throughout this great land of ours. The festivities also included a fabulous Italian lunch and a dinner fit for a king.

All in all, it was day for the ages and I was left with a really warm feeling, like a piece of cinnnamon French toast.

And that was good, because at this point in my life, I like to keep my birthday celebrations low key, as my focus is on having a career by 70. Because you know you’re getting old when the only thing you want for your birthday is not to be reminded of it.

And that’s the downside. Much like Rodney Dangerfield, ” I know I’m getting old. Last week I walked by a cemetery and two guys came running after me with shovels,” I’m not crazy about this aging process. Yeah, I know 62 isn’t 92, but it sure ain’t 32. So it doesn’t thrill me when I hear an opponent on the basketball court say to his teammates while matching up squads, “I got the old guy.”

At that moment, I don’t have to look around and wonder who he’s talking about. But I guess that’s what happens when you’re playing with guys 40 iPads younger. I’m playing with all young bucks, and when I mention I went to Woodstock, they think I’m talking about pizza.

The aging process is catching up with me. I’ve got one toe, two fingers and a computer with arthritis. I’m beginning to like accordion music. Garden care has become a big thing in my life. Now fortunately, I haven’t gotten to the age of comedian George Burns, when he uttered, “When I was a boy, the Dead Sea was only sick.”

Now I have heard unconfirmed reports from a few years back that there are at least 28 deceased classmates from my high school graduating class of 1970. Now despite turning 62, which makes me eligible for lots of insecurity and Social Security, God willing, it looks like the odds of my being around on the planet for a while are pretty good, being that my father is 97 and my mother 88. Unless, of course, they never told me about the adoption.

Now I’m no math major, but what this means is come next February and April, they will be 98 and 89. Holy smokes. When I was living in an outdoor health club called Hermosa Beach in the 90′s, I used to come up to Santa Cruz for the Thanksgiving holiday and when I left to go back to the southland, I would always think, “Will this be the last time I see my father?”

Well, two score and fifty drumsticks later, he is still ticking, although, unfortunately, is a shell of his former self. His dementia has robbed him of most of his short term memory, as his life is lived in a very small circle. But yet he lives on, with the heart of a grazing bison.

So to avoid early dementia, I try to keep my mind sharp as a tack, by doing things like writing this blog, reading non-fiction true crime, ordering egg rolls with every Chinese meal and immersing myself in the world of television. That’s what we call in social media business being well-read and well-viewed.

So I walk three miles each weekday to make sure my heart keeps pumping. This harkens me back to the Ellen DeGeneres line,”You have to stay in shape. My grandmother, she started walking five miles a day when she was 60. She’s 97 today and we don’t know where the hell she is.”

So I don’t know exactly where my life is leading me, as I’ve lived in Santa Cruz for 29 years and could be ready for a change. But as long as my parents are hanging around their ponderosa a mile down the road, the central coast is where I will be. It’s pretty much I don’t know where I’m going, but I know where I’ve been. So stay tuned.

But I do know that wherever I’m at, I’ll be shooting photos, and this week’s selection are quite colorful. The year was 2010, and the place was Natural Bridges State Beach. As you can tell from the first shot, with the way the clouds were situated in this December sky, there was vast potential for some very deep visual activity.

Well, we got that and more, as there was fire in the sky, as the sand and water turned from tangerine to radical orange to ruby red. Just a spectacular night to be on the coast, as the sky was blazing and the sand was a disco inferno.

On to some late night humor. “New research has found that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans ultimately return to eating meat. It turns out the way animals are treated is nothing compared to how people treat vegetarians. Last week my wife and I welcomed our second child, Frances Cole Fallon. Now I live with three females. Or as Obama put it, “Who’s laughing now, funny man?” – Jimmy Fallon

“Scientists say they’re getting closer to developing a pill to replace exercising. Americans heard this and said that it better come in cool ranch flavor. This week Apple stores are holding free computer programming classes for children. Or as that’s called in China, a job fair. A woman on a Southwest Airlines flight gave birth to a baby. As soon as he was born, the baby said, “I had more leg room in the womb.” – Conan O’Brien

“After the game in a gesture of friendship, LeBron James put his arm around Princess Kate. You’re not supposed to do that. You can’t touch royalty, as I continually remind my staff. A company has developed a grease burn protection so you can fry a skillet full of bacon naked. I did that once. I’m so embarrassed. I thought it would be fun to cook bacon naked. And then Denny’s fired me right on the spot.” – David Letterman.

“A flight headed from San Francisco to Phoenix had to make an emergency landing in L.A. today after a passenger gave birth midflight. The parents called the birth a miracle while the airline called it a second carry-on. The woman gave birth in the middle of a flight. I’m happy to report that the mother and child are doing fine, while the guy who was sitting next to her is not.” – Seth Meyers

“Today Prince William went to Washington, D.C., and he met with President Obama. He said, “It feels weird being in the White House because I’m not an American.” And then Prince William said, “Yeah, me too.” The meeting with Prince William took place at the White House because Prince William wanted to see where the president spent his days, but the golf course was covered in snow.” – Craig Ferguson

So birthday wishes go out today to my old basketball buddy, Jim Berry, who’s relocated from south county to Colorado, but not for those preventive glaucoma reasons you might think. If you catch my drift.

So I hope you’re enjoying the Golden State Warriors’ 16 game winning streak. We’ll catch you coming back from a hand injury and picking up right where you left off, as the most explosive guard in the NBA. Aloha, mahalo and later, Russell Westbrook fans.

May 31, 2009

Film At 11


Good morning and greetings, Grand Funk Railroad fans. That’s right, folks, “I’m your captain” and thanks to my paint-by-the-numbers GPS system, “I’m getting closer to my home.” And dammit, “We’re an American Band. I saw Grand Funk guitarist Mark Farner play last summer at the Friday night concerts down at the Beach Boardwalk and he rocked Santa Cruz. I also saw Mr. Eddie Money, “Back in the 70′s when I was here, I was snorting South American countries” and the Gin Blossoms. We are talking tremendous rock and roll shows for the price of free.

For many years I passed on these mini-Woodstocks down at the beach and then one evening checked out Peter Noone and Herman Hermits and I was hooked just like Mrs. Brown and her lovely daughter. The sand, waves, barking sea lions, annoying tourists, alcohol, litter and cigarette smoke-it doesn’t get much better than that with rock and roll music blasting out over Monterey Bay. To quote the great Duke Ellington, (not to be confused with North Carolina Ellington,) “Music is my mistress.” And as Pablo Cruise once told me, “Love will find a way.”

For today’s photo fare we are going back, as the Chambers Brothers would say, in “Time.” As I’ve mentioned before, I joined the digital revolution in 2005, and much like when I broke down and ate Chinese food for the first time, a new sweet and sour world opened up for me. I had been shooting with a Canon AE1 for many years and was happy as a clam with the format. Focus, shoot a roll of 24, develop and see what I’ve got. A surprise in every envelope. Sometimes joy, sometimes disappointment, like seeing my SAT scores. But today we are going with some jump shots that worked for me, like an open 18-footer from the left side of the key.

For our first image, I went with one of my many cypress sunrise shots, this one entitled “Sky on Fire.” For years I shot the sunrise in front of the cypress tree along West Cliff before one day I finally dawned on me (no pun intended,) that this damn tree was blocking too much of the sky. I then joined and started shooting down at Lighthouse Point.

Which leads me to photo #2, which in honor of Tommy Gavin and the “Rescue Me” boys, I call “Fire Engine Sky.” For a month in my late youth I shot with the slide format, and this red alert is a result of my slide period, which I also refer to as my first year of Algebra 1. I was using some film called Kodak Extra Color and as you can see from the rouge and the purple haze in the sky, they definitely didn’t cheat me on the color front. Not to toot my own Lena horn, but the Communist Party named this shot their 2004 photo of the year.

For our next two vertical entrees we move north (although some might say west) along West Cliff Drive. For some reason this morning I mistimed the sunrise. I woke and saw a beautiful red cumulus ribbon covering the sky. I then scooted down to the cliff and caught the aftermath (or was it afterscience) of the sun rising over the fog bank which I call “Glory Clouds.” Karma, clouds, parsley, sage, rosemary and time were on my side that morning.

We then move up to Swift Street to see a double rainbow doing stand-up in the Pacific. This was the beach that I lived across from during my West Cliff wonder years from 1975-1989. Living on the edge of the continent and photographing rainbows was not easy, with the daily distractions of migrating whales, countless chains of sea birds and endless droves of roller skaters. And definitely not in that order.

For our last two shots we are moving out of town but staying in state. The fifth shot is from New Year’s Day, 2004, back in Palm Desert, when the sky lit up with brilliantly colored, cotton-puffed clouds that just blew my mind. As I’m writing this I’m reminded of another fantastic, blood-red sunset from Palm Desert that I will feature later this summer. Due to technical difficulties, I did not make it out to the desert this year but from what I hear Sherman’s Deli (with two convenient locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert) is still doing major rye bread, corn beef and chocolate rugala business without me.

The final shot was taken in lovely Hermosa Beach sometime in the 1990′s. There weren’t a lot of memorable moments of color in the sky during my decade in the southland but this was one of the nights of photo greatness. Living in the most densely populated city in the U.S., I found myself engulfed in the warm Pacific while the sun was setting from April thru October. Throw in third row season tickets to the Lakers at the Fabulous Forum during the Magic Johnson years, which was a magical and James Worthy experience in itself and sunsets took a back seat to the Laker Girls. Hermosa Beach was like living in a giant outdoor health club, but that’s a sideout story for another blog.

On to the late night news. “Well, the big story is the Supreme Court. President Obama has found his nominee. She is a Federal appeals judge. Sonia Sotomayor, a Latino woman, how about that? So, you know what that means. Ruth Bader Ginsburg no longer the hot chick on the court. If confirmed, Sotomayor would be the country’s first Hispanic judge. In fact, her first order of business, deporting Lou Dobbs.” –Jay Leno “History was made today when President Obama nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor as the first female Hispanic justice to serve in the U.S. Supreme court. Obama said this should help keep the court from leaning too far to the white.” –Jimmy Fallon

“North Korea tested another nuclear bomb. The fear is that North Korea will sell this nuclear weapon to some unstable, volatile world leader, you know, like Dick Cheney.” –Jay Leno “There are some people who are saying that maybe Dick Cheney is setting himself up to actually run for president. You know, it makes sense. Republicans are looking for fresh blood, and Cheney just had some yesterday.” –Bill Maher

“Barack Obama and Dick Cheney have been going at each other all week. This is like big-time wrestling, isn’t it? Man, it’s like charisma versus arrhythmia. I can’t believe Dick Cheney keeps giving speeches. He’s appearing on TV news shows. It’s like he thinks he is still president. A new pentagon report says that 1 in 7 inmates released from Guantanamo Bay has gone back to terrorism. Surprisingly, the other 6 are working in customer service.” –Jay Leno

So I hope you enjoyed today’s blast of colors from the past. And congratulations to the Lakers and the Magic, who will meet in the NBA Finals that begin on Thursday. What this means is no LeBron James, who put on an INCREDIBLE show during the playoffs but who failed to show up for the Game 6 postgame press conference. It guess it all comes down to the words of Mahatma Gandhi who once said, “Defeat is worse than death, you have to live with defeat.”

As you can imagine, there are few more Fuji like images in the archives that we will later revisit. On Friday morning, I took a few shots of a coyote in the misting rain which we’ll see coming down the pike. So enjoy the Kodak colors and we’ll catch at the Staples Center. And welcome to June. Aloha, mahalo and later, George McGinnis fans.

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