…as I was driving along yesterday I got this itchy feeling. All of a sudden I found myself with a heightened awareness, a “bad guys are out there” kinda thing. *Way* beyond what would be considered “safe” driving. ”Wow, I thought, I feel like I’m back in ‘Nam!” There,in that place, when integrating with local natives, it was simply impossible to identify the enemy…those who want to relieve you of your life (much like the situation GI’s of the last couple of decades have had to deal with). Even a little kid can pull the pin and toss a grenade…or pull out a pistol and blaze away. So you learn, very quickly if you want to increase the odds of getting home again, to keep your head on a swivel and be conscious of what’s going on around you, with emphasis on threat(s) to your well-being doncha know. At the time of this epiphany, I was listening to a radio news report about the latest lunatic randomly shooting people, this time here in Orange County, CA. I was thinking, “I’m lucky to have some experience in this area, maybe if I was that guy headed to work who the perp took to the side of the road and executed, maybe I’d have done something different…maybe just stomp on the gas as soon as I knew he was after me…maybe take his gun away and shoot *him!*…maybe I’d have *known* what he was up to!” Ah, conjecture, we all do it, lay these scenarios out and let our brains go, and become the ideal person in whatever emergency (most of the time in hindsight, eh?). I’ve just read the newspaper account of the incident…one of the victims, the one I’m referring to who was led to the side of the road and shot three times, was a ‘Nam vet, an infantry officer no less. Sheesh! He had a CIB (Combat Infantryman’s Badge)! Now, I don’t know what he actually did over there, but I *do* know he had his head on a swivel, a helluva lot. But I’m bettin’ the edge got kinda dull over the years and he didn’t react proactively to what was going down. Well, gun debate notwithstanding, things like this cause me to ponder carrying my .40 Springfield in the cab with me. I mean, I’ve been in *many* combat situations where I could’ve shit through a screen door without hitting the wire ($5 to Joe Wambaugh) and this kind of event seems to be a common occurrence nowadays in our wonderful US of A, not just in gangland territories, but virtually everywhere. Hmmmmm. So, am I gonna carry my piece? Probably not, *yet,* so rest easier pilgrims…but my head is definitely in a war footing…and my end-of-the-leg-type foot’s ready to stomp on the gas!
Well, it’s been awhile! Maybe this is the start of more consistent blogisms…yeah, right (insert smiley). Lots of notable subjects, together with lots of photographs to process, adds-up to no time to create content! So, onward. One of my favorite things in Orange County has to be the balloon at the Great (as in little to show for huge expense) Park. Every year they dress the thing up as a Jack’O'Lantern and it’s a helluva sight at night, especially when you’re running off the freeway. Well, the opportunity hit, and my buddy Bill Borges and I set sail from north-county to shoot the orange orb at night…bad luck (what else!) strikes right away; they weren’t flying it because of high winds (of course, when *we* got there it was dead calm…go figger). Nonetheless, opportunities emerged…
Ain’t that grand! Smile!
Peek-a-BOO…and the official “check-out the Star Effects”…
…and *then* (this is like “…wait! There’s more!) something even cooler than a huge balloon with teeth shows up, a wonderous Carousel! A new item since my last visit…ah, money well spent…
…I was having a conversation today with an old friend and somehow my appreciation for craftsmanship came up. Now, you have to imagine working in a carousel factory; there would be a number of templates of creatures for patrons to ride upon, of which individual carvers would be expert at certain templates (I would imagine because the objective is to make money, eh?). Much like the rosette-cutter working on a cathedral project in Ken Follett’s “Pillars of the Earth,” these folks would be doing repetitive tasks requiring great skill…what a cool gig! Check ‘em out…
…there’re more of course!
…and *this* guy pawed my poor brain…
…which is not very good at resisting mirror effects (‘cept when I gotta look at the land of loose skin, doncha know…)
…wow, it’s SO easy to get distracted, I almost forgot the original intent within the journey…some combinations, perhaps?
…I suppose, in the end, I can’t complain that they weren’t flying der balloon, not at all…and I’m sure bet to go up one of these days. Maybe in October, eh?
…so if you’re not “drum corps” you may, or, more likely will not, truly understand what you’re about to hear, but it may just titillate you anyhow! The year was 1963 and the crowd I was hangin’ out with were all into this mysterious, runic, knight-templar kinda thing called Drum and Bugle Corps. In those days the hub of the activity was on the east coast…and most of the time we SoCal kids were absolutely starved for any kind of information on the eastern state of the art, so to speak. We survived on a couple of tabloids, records bought from an obscure record company catering to us geeks, and the occasional TV performance. One of those yearly appearances was the Macy’s Parade held in New York City on Thanksgiving Day annually, and it was always a showcase for a few of these ikons of our passion. So, in ’63 one of our moms set up a tape recorder to save this event for us younglings, put a mircophone in front of each speaker from the TV, and proceeded to archive one of the true legends of the Drum and Bugle Corps activity; the New York Skyliners. The sound is bad, as you might imagine considering the taping method involved, but when you hear this, you will undoubtedly get the “gist” of why we, meaning all drum corps people old and young, gave up our hearts and souls to its altar as soon as we got a taste…and this, folks, ain’t a “taste”…it’s Newman winning the egg-eating contest in “Hud”…oh, and once the music stops stay with it to get the reaction of the positively *stunned* commentators…priceless…
OK, so a while back I found out about the LACMA (LA County Museum of Art) effort to move a 340 ton boulder a hundred-odd miles from Jarupa (read: Riverside) to its final destination in LA to be the star of a “levitating” art piece. All transport done at night, no freeway travel, with a retinue including Edison guys to move wires, various city and
county workers to handle traffic lights (both moving them and sequencing) cable company dudes and, of course, the multitude of personnel necessary to drive and steer the monster created to do the deed. Upon seeing the route, I was happy that I would have a chance to see the thing (yes, things like this are a perversion for me…) and maybe click the
shutter a few times. I scouted the streets during the day and arrived at a reasonable plan and a few places to fire my weapon…first-up in plan grande was the Carmenita overpass at I-5 just up the road from my lodgings in Buena park…
After that bit of excitement (you never can tell, gravity sux, eh?!) I headed to my next linkup with the boulder, and, naturally, got sidetracked…what the heck, that thing’s moving slowly, I’ve got some time, heh. What caught my eye was the Santa Fe Springs drive-in theater, complete with most of the old signage…it’s the last vestige of times when we went to try to feel-up the gurlz (which *may* have happened, most likely not, tho!) or maybe indulge our manly imaginations with a bottle of cheap wine as company (Red Mountain, baby!) or maybe, just maybe, HAH, watch a movie!
…and then, another “find” of sorts:
…and *then* remembering something I missed at the overpass:
…yes, someone lives there! So sad, but a part of our social tapestry. Well, my wristwatch was talkin’ (read: Yelling!) at me so I hotfooted-it to the next venue, which was the Carmenita overpass at the 91 (Riverside) freeway, only to find my plan in ruins ‘cuz that creepin’ slow parade had beat me there! Well, not to be daunted, I got a few images of the great insect scaling the north slope, such as it is…
Sigh, so after this crushing disappointment, I went straight to my last planned
stop, the corner of La Palma and Moody in the city of La Palma…this time I sat down, set up with a wide angle lens, and
waited (missing my cable release I had evidently dropped somewhere…oh no, Mister Bill!)…THIS was an event, just getting
that thing around the corner was a process to behold (BTW, the people *doing* it were consumate pros and it came off
And from here, doncha know, it rides off into the sunrise! Me too!
…that’s all, folks!
…treatments…I’m gonna be doing alot of this kind of stuff…Knott’s is close!
…tonight, by benefit of being an “air” person (i.e., no cable but I cheat and have Netflix and Google TV…hehe) Twilight Zone was on stage. The episode was from the first season, starring Gig Young and titled Walking Distance. Wow. Great writing and equally great film photography (the diagonal composition in the carousel scene(s) is phenomenal). Much to appreciate, moreso after I found the site listing all the episodes in order, year by year; nicely done!
…New Year’s Eve celebrations have become somewhat of a non-event for yours truly. However, once in awhile I get inspired. Fullerton, CA is right around the corner for me and for the last few years the city has put on a New Year’s “party” where they close down the middle of town, provide entertainment, space for vendors and a pretty dang humane way to bring in the new year. So, in deciding to partake, camera in hand, I had a great time. Bravo Fullerton! Parking across the street from my olde avoid-the-draft-at-all-costs alma mater, Fullerton College (nee; Fullerton JC) where I managed to acquire enough units to get me a couple or three AA’s and *almost* avoid becoming a card-carrying hired gun, I headed down Chapman Avenue to Harbor Blvd (if you’re not a local, this is a *big* artery-quality route running north/south from the Whittier hills to the ocean at Costa Mesa). The Fullerton Fox Theater used to be a magnet for us high school hooligans, it was relatively easy to sneak-in at the balcony level where we would diligently try to pick-up the gurlz…but, yanno, more often than not, we’d be stuck at home plate with the umpire’s thumb up in the air (and ours up our asses, doncha know). Yer out! Now the old Fox is the object of a recovery project. Everything I’ve read about it speaks of attempting to retain the flavor of the original ediface. I dunno, though…when you take a jack hammer to architectural details like pediments…well, we’ll see I suppose.
After standing in the middle of Harbor and taking a shot facing south, I started wandering up the street…of course a Starbux acted the Siren first where, while waiting in the ubiquitous line, I struck-up a conversation with a student videographer…I believe John is his name…
…and eventually got a text message from my pal Miles Mahan, who was there with his teenage daughter and two of her friends. Upon meeting-up with Miles and the girls, the contrast between me being a single and thank-gawd-childless man, and him trying to make sense out of his daddy-chaperone- fish-out-of-water condition…well, I’m a happppppyyyy camper! The group providing the great sounds, The 44′s, was rhythm and blues on the hoof. Miles informed me that Kid Ramos, the lead guitar, is number one on his list and I couldn’t refute his assessment…they were sick for sure.
After parting-ways with Miles and his luggage (although, in all fairness, *they* no doubt considered it the other way around!) I made my way back to the main drag and checked-out the fare and wares…lots of neat stuff happening; the Kareoke attraction was notable, along with Gyros and palm readers who hit the mark (you can tell that from the expression on the young lady’s face…heh).
The 508 Building on Wilshire stood out; as students at Cal State Fullerton a batch of unique artist-types had rented one of the units on the 5th floor…we spent many a time interval up there. It was the 70′s…it was heavily sedated…it was art.
So, in the end I meandered out the way I entered, fog was rolling in and I wanted to get home before the shooting started…but one last opportunity presented itself and I pretty much stalked a guy with a well-lit tophat walking slowly east on Chapman. He was wonderful.
…so, here we were, the Velvet Knights, newly crowned California American Legion State Champions, in Portland, Oregon for the national contest. We thought we were pretty good…in fact, though, we pretty much sucked compared to the national powers. One of which was the Chicago Royal Airs. These guys were Godzilla in 1965, winning all the national titles (American Legion, VFW and CYO)…and *you* get to hear their preliminary performance, courtesy of my geek dad Cliff, who lugged a heavy-duty Sony portable reel-to-reel into the stands at the venue; found power who-knows-where; taped the microphones in a great location, and proceded to record the entire contest. For you oldsters, this will be some GREAT stuff right out of the box. If you don’t happen to have an “ear” for G-bugles, give it a minute and you’ll develop one…understand the true inferiority of these instruments (Even 3 years after the invention and legalization of the contra bass, RA still didn’t carry them. They didn’t need to. Check out the 6 or so dudes on the bottom with bass baritones,
once your ears adjust, you will become a believer…for sure.) and the fact that most of these players learned by rote…of course, they learned from one of the greats in our activity, Truman Crawford, who wrote and taught this fabulous book. We, the audience, and my dad (…heh, check out the “…Jesus!” comment near the ending of the opener, “Ballyhoo March”…that’s him!) were absolutely *fried* by these guys. Oh, one factoid, the length of the program is shortened because of Legion preliminary rules. Most corps simply cut out their concert number (where, in ancient times, the group would cease marching and play a tune…it was strategic in that less movement meant less ticks, er, points deducted for marching errors…) But that’s another story…a really good one, too! Enjoy!
This place should be where the Most Interesting Man In The World hangs out…the real deal crafting of some of the best brass instruments in the world; at Kanstul Musical Instruments in Anaheim, California. Here’re some incidental shots, and three of the people who make things run smoothly at the plant: My old drum corps buddy Duwayne Yee, craftsman of the highest order, Laura who makes sure objects depart and arrive in good order, and Charles Hargatt who is the hood-ornament,contact, and resident smile…he’ll sell you a horn or a new lead pipe or a Buick…
…now some various views of, well, process! Someday I’ll actually get around to really telling the story…for now, though, enjoy what must suffice as ambiance.
…the horns get buffed and plated and laquered to end the manufacturing part of the continuum…but not before “finaling” which is where the slides are greased and valves honed and made to work with the special sweetness of professional TLC…those are the hands of Ventura. Oh, that two-belled thing is a mutant created for Herb Alpert…
…haven’t been a bloggin’ in awhile, pretty busybusy with this ‘n’ that…had a great time in Rochester, NY over labor day
what a wonderful drum corps experience! I also got to wander about town a bit, enjoying some of the very distinctive architecture
After returning from the east, total immersion into the high school community ensued…I worked with 4 bands, mostly in the capacity of marching instructor…
…so this one was early in the evening…
This guy is the kind! He sings (loudly) and generally has a great time…no telling where his cooler is, or even if he needs one!
So, I have one more adventure to recount, a day-trip to the Salton Sea which needs its own story…!