30 December, 2006

The Last Time

Gerald Ford is dead, and with his death we are once again reminded of the last president to give full access to the White House. David Kennerly was the Ford photographer, something that remains one of the....wait...I'm watching the funeral right now, and Kennerly just passed by the television monitor. Brokaw said, "there goes David Hume Kennerly, still on the job."
When Kennerly decided to be the photographer, his approach, from what I understand, was "Gerald, I need all access." Ford said, "Okay." "Where I go, Kennerly goes."

There has not been a president since then that has allowed this access, and we are all the ones that suffer for it. Ford was genuine, lacked the ego that is so pervasive in modern politics, and wasn't afraid to laugh at himself.
I'm not talking about politics here people, I'm talking about history and the characteristics of a certain president.

As I watch this thing this is near constant motor drive noises blasting away from every angle. On one hand I think, "probably good to have all those angles," but on the other hand I think, "Jesus people, learn to look for the moment." Might as well shoot video with most of these guys.

This reminds me of another story I recently read, a story by Dirck Halstead, another White House hound for over thirty years, who told of his trip to China, back in the day, to cover Nixon. This trip was HUGE, and the pressure on guys like Dirck was intense, as they not only had to shoot, but process, edit, print, and supply images for the pool. One of the photographers with Dirck was this old timer, a photographer from the old school, a guy bred on the idea of shooting sheet film(for you young digital people that means 4x5, not trying to belittle anyone but I have run into plenty of young shooters who don't know what this means.) At the end of the day when this photographer delivered his film, he dropped one roll on the table. One roll. Not only that, he shot a twenty-four exposure roll. And on that roll, he had exposed eight frames total. Eight frames. They used every one.

This photographer was the guy up close and person with Nixon, so he was in the mix all day long, and still only shot eight frames. This is perhaps an extreme example but it should be a lesson for young photographers in the digital age. THINK.

This funeral sure isn't flashy, not like Reagan's, but I think it probably fits Ford a little better. Betty is there. Someone just passed out in the stands. Looks like an older guy.



This just in from a friend in Canada, good article regarding Somalia.


The End

Saddam is dead. I can't imagine a more pathetic or lackluster downfall than what we just witnessed in the past five years. Has it been that long? It has. It seems like yesterday that the Iraqi Information Minister was addresses us infidels, alerting us to the fact our troops were being slaughtered like dogs outside the Royal Palace. I'm not sure what palace he was referering to at that time, but her sure seemed sure of himself. Then, suddenly, he was gone. Did we ever find him? He might possibly be the only bit of humor in this entire quagmire of a situation we convinced ourselves we needed to join. I'm lumping all of "us" into the "us" division because all of "us" elected our current, and past administations. We have nobody to blame but "us."

Found in a "spiderhole," and now hung on live TV. Who could have imagined an end like this? The sons are gone too, gone in the routine gun battle, leaving only the smoking ruins of the numerous shrines as the only physical reminder of this empire now brought to it's demise.

Now what? I haven't a clue.

The Horn

The Horn of Africa is about to erupt. Or, depending on how you look at it, the Horn is already there. Somalia, Ethiopia, long since arch rivals, are having it out the old fashioned way, with good old warfare. Keep watch on Eritrea, Egypt, and anyone else with a potential inventment to join the fray.

29 December, 2006

Movie Review: Miami Vice

After viewing this cover version of the classic, 1980's television series under the same name, I have come to the conclusion I must buy new equipment and begin to make my own films because I am just not going to be happy with anyone else behind the controls. This goes for Michael Mann as well, a talented director of both television and film, but the same person who I must burden with the reality that this film was bad from the opening credits.
Let's flash back to the 1980's. There I was, wasting my time in public, high school, existing on a day-to-day basis of "busy work," and detention. Nights were sometimes good, sometimes bad, but mostly those of a high school age male living in Texas. Then came this show called Miami Vice, which brought me something I didn't have before, a South Florida drug war captured in saturated color, flair and a new style of tv production. Pastel suits, fast cars, rock stars posing as bad guys, and a main character who drank and smoked in prime time.
What more could a kid ask for?
I wanted to be Sonny Crocket, wanted to bust down the doors of Haitian Voo Doo cult leaders and engage in high-speed pursuit of drug trafficers through the wide-open landscape of the Everglades.
Whoever had created this beast, or at least brought it to my attention (Mann), had gone one step further than most television shows, which seemed to have been dumbed down to a remarkable degree. Mann paid hommage to detail, simple things, like how many rounds Sonny had fired in his .45. He also built characters that surrounded the main course. It wasn't just Crocket and Tubbs, but rather it was the supporting cast, each bringing their own flavor to the mix. Location was prime, and no rock was left unturned in the South Florida battleground.
I wore pastel suits. I had a tan. I wanted a pet alligator.
With having said all of this, you can imagine how excited I was when I found out the recreation was taking place with Mann at the helm. After all, Mann had done many other movies, most of which were very good, including the fairly recent Collateral. I didn't see this flick (MV) in the theatre, but instead waited to get a copy to bring home, allowing me to stop, pause and explain the intricate details to my wife who missed the entire ten year history of the television show.
The problems started in the first scene. I literally said to myself, "Oh no, this isn't going to be any good." I tried to block out these thoughts, but I just knew my wife was sitting there saying, "What is going on?"
For some reason, most of this film appeared to have been shot on digital video, causing all cast members to have this embalmed, plastic looking skin tone, which almost made Gong Li look bad, something most people thought impossible until now. The sky, during the night scenes, was noisy and pixalated, and more incredibly, the dubbing was off.
Colin Farrel was miscast, and I like the guy, but masking his Irish accent with an on again, off again, Southernish drawl just wan't working and in fact just came out garlbed, making him nearly impossible to comprehend.
The plot was too complicated, and my wife said, "What, are we watching a music video?"
The violence was good, raw, just like it needs to be. A guy gets run over by a truck leaving a long, red smear on the highway. Another unlucky loser was shot with a .50 sniper rifle, blowing his arm off. This is good people, probably what would happen in these situations, but most of the time precisely what is left out during filming.
Jamie Foxx never really seemed to get going, and was perhaps outdone by a long cast of secondary characters, who suddenly become more interesting than the main duo.
I will say the soundtrack was good. And, oddly enough, something that was never really mentioned in the promotional material. I'll let you in on a little secret, if a movie advertises the soundtrack, THE MOVIE WILL SUCK. If the movie has a former rap star at the lead, and this is the only aspect being advertised, chances are THE MOVIE WILL SUCK.
If the movie has a good story, script, cast, director, etc, then you might have something. No guarantees, as evidenced by this Dade County misfire.
As the hours went by, and it felt like at least two days this thing kept rolling, I began to think of other things. "Did I leave the sprinklers on?" "Are there any cookies left from the holiday dinner?"
I couldn't wait for this thing to end, to finally finish so I could go to sleep and dream of the old Miami Vice.
I've got to give this thing a D- in my nonexistent movie ranking system. If you find youself thinking you want to try it out for yourself, stop, take a deep breath, and instead reach for that copy of Ishtar.

28 December, 2006

Interstate Carpool Lane Given the Okay

Independent sources are reporting that the Federal Government has gone ahead with funding for carpool lanes for all 20,000 miles of U.S. Interstate Highways. Incredible as it sounds, after studying the traffic issues during the holiday weekend, the approval for addition funds was okayed in a special session of congress.
Walt Papkiss at the Interstate Highway Planning Board was quoted as saying, "Well, we basically forgot to plan." "We were all coming to work as usual, but we were mostly just standing around," Papkiss added. "I knew there was something we were supposed to be doing, but we just couldn't remember what it was."
The holiday weekend saw thirty-mile traffic jams, excess wait times and was described by law enforcment as "dismal," and "grim."
So, beginning in early January, crews will begin work on this monumental project. Funding will come from the petroleum industry, tax increases and the sale of cookies.

Movie Review: Talladega Nights

It pains me to say this, but Talladega Nights wasn't funny. Not at all. I am a HUGE Will Farrell fan, but this one didn't make it. Not even close.
Anchorman? One of the best of all time. Should be standard viewing for any film student, government worker, peace keeper, diplomat or anyone in any position of power.

26 December, 2006

Bad Trak

Well, I tried. Was thinking of taking the train from Florida back to California. Typed in the departure city, the destination city, came up with $267. Wow, this great I'm thinking. Then, read closer and notice you are reserving just a seat for a four day trip. I'm game for most trips, anywhere, anytime, but four days in a regular seat is hell if you ask me.
So, I click further, adding to my needs, "just a simple sleeper car sir."
Now we are talking over a grand. The money I have, no big deal, but the concept I can't get my head around. Florida to DC, to Chicago, then to Los Angeles and home. Not sure I like that route for one, would rather tuck along the border and stay south. And, last time I tried a trip like this, via train, when I read the REALLY small print, it said, "Oh, one of these legs requires a small stretch on a BUS!"
No thanks. Train travel is for kings, but no offense to Greyhound, bus travel is like serving time.
So, looks like I will once again be relegated to boring, overcrowded, no personality air travel. Flying ain't what it used to be.

25 December, 2006

Who Dat!

The Saints, yet again, dominate in yesterday’s performance against the puny Giant. On the road, in the cold, the Saints send a message to anyone and everyone, “we are ready for anyone, anything, anywhere.” Please remember this statement…the Giants did not take an offensive snap in Saint territory ALL DAY LONG. None, nada, nothing. Tiki who? Shockey? Who?
The puny Bear sweats it out against Detroit, embroiled in yet another quarterback controversy; they need a drive in the fading moments to get the win. Now, if Cowboy loses, New Orleans will have a first round bye. If not, no matter. They are the hottest team in the NFC, and are a near lock for the NFC Super Bowl participant.
Who can touch them? Cowboys? Nope, already toasted them IN DALLAS. Seattle? Please, don’t think so. Really, puny Bear is the only team that has a shot, and their only real hope is for Soldier Field to freeze over. The Saints have the number one offense in the league and with seven real weapons on offense, even the vaunted Bear defense will fold.
Yesterday was a warm up, and the Saint still racked up nearly 240 yards on the ground. Bush and McAllister are both studs, each gaining over the century mark. Horn out? No big deal, Copper in. Oh, and don’t forgot Colston or the burner Hendersen.
You can go ahead and pencil this one in.

Saints vs. Chargers in Super Bowl whatever.

24 December, 2006


Anselm Kiefer show today at the museum. In addition, "Mexico as a Muse," with Modotti and Weston, a pleasant surprise, not to mention the rest of the permanent collection.
Kiefer is dark, German style, with much residue of The Nazi Party plastered as layers on the massive pieces. Mixed media and then some, with my favorite piece being covered in sunflower seeds.
A score of a day to go with the place being virtually empty, perfect for planting yourself on the birch benches and just watching these works.
Environment plays such a significant role in who we are, and with Kiefer, to me, it was a severe influence, harsh in fact. Old buildings, abandoned brick factories that powerfully reflect the grimness of post-war Germany are his haunted places of choice.
Burned books, fire; nature, the universe, relationships and twisted memories are all there in unbending detail. A must see.

As for Modotti and Weston...work I have seen before, but worth seeing over and over again. Mexico drawn out placed and captured, over time (the only way) through the lens of two who had a real relationship with this place. Tiny prints, framed wide, dark but smooth, faces, places, social artifacts long since replaced with the raunch of tourism and trade.
These were true artists, just being, living and making images. Commissions came later, and appeared to have perhaps been the beginning of the end. Weston leaving Mexico for good shortly after the last job was done, and Modotti wandering down the communist path, leading eventually to her banishment from Mexico.

SF MOMA is so overwhelming, in a good way, forcing you to realize you must return again and again to begin to understand the wealth of visual depth. By the way, the yearly membership is the way to go, $75.00 per person, or $95.00 per family.

Oh, and most importantly, the café, is good. Caesar salad, pizza, and yes, the COFFEE!

The Drive

Los Angeles to San Francisco:

Okay, the drive today was one of legend. At least ten times the amount of traffic as normal, which in itself was interesting. At least four near-death accidents, and that was just with me!
The highlight, just briefly, and if you are easily offended please skip this posting.
The thing I found most intriguing was the guy with a pair of fake balls hanging from his back bumper. Yep, it takes a special kind of guy to hang a fake scrotum from his rear bumper, and lucky for all of us this individual was out and about this close to the holidays. Cheers to this redneck!
For all you NoCal folks, it was in Los Angeles I noticed this. Whew! I hear ya. Hey, don’t look at me, I live in Orange County.
Another observation, seeing as I drive a hybrid car, there were A LOT of Prius on the road, and I’m using Prius as the plural here folks. Many, many more than say a year ago. Most of these cars were headed from the Bay Area to Los Angeles. And, for every one Prius, there were about twenty-five ENORMOUS trucks, most ripping along at 80-90mph. An exaggeration? I was doing 75, so if someone blows by me like I’m in reverse, I’m thinking I can safely guess their speed in the 80-90 range. Most of these trucks had one or two people inside, plus lots of empty space.
I just kept thinking, “Man, I would have loved to hop on a train in OC and be able to get off near SF.” I know, I know, you CAN do this, but I’m talking a nice train, a practical train, an affordable train.
I’m thinking of taking the train from Florida to OC in a few weeks, just for kicks, but I have a feeling this trip will take a week and will cost far, far more than air travel.
Oh, quickly, another take from yesterday. The feedlot off of the I5 had razor wire on the fence surrounding it. And, this wire ran and ran and ran, miles past the lot.
Yes, the smell, but why the razor wire? To keep something in or out?
I find this entire drive fascinating, even the long stretches of farmland, steaming with ground fog and dust from tractor wheels. The landscape is beautiful and a perfect example of man’s epic battle with nature.
We should all be punished, however, for the newer, manmade structures being created along the route, the quick-build strip malls, made to last about ten years before they begin to break down. Boring, ugly, cheap and created with no thought as to the environment surrounding it. In fact, made simply to try and keep nature out.
Thinking beyond the norm is a good plan for 2007.

22 December, 2006

Technology = Stupidity New Study Shows

Independent sources are reporting that stupidity is directly related to technology. According to the Slow Thinker Journal, the average IQ has dropped dramatically since the full-scale assault of technology on our society and environment. Archibald Henrod of the Journal reports that humans are now caught in a perpetual cycle of being "somewhere else" when interfacing with electronics, gadgets, gizmos and other new-fangled devices.
This reporter was recently treated to a display of this exact situation while enjoying a live dance performance. Someone seated several rows behind had accidentally left their cell phone on during the performance. Suddenly, the quiet of the room was pierced by what sounded like a Tupac song. Heads turned, fingers pointed and grumbling was the order of the day. But wait, it got better. This dance fan wasn't finished, not by a long shot. This person not only let the phone ring four or five times, but then actually took the call.! Somehow, through blind luck or the kindness of strangers, this person somehow managed to avoid a severe mangling at the hands of other audience members.
It is based on several hundred thousand of these events, occuring daily around us, that prompted the study and these terrifying findings.

21 December, 2006


The world is crazy right now. Drive anywhere and you will know what I mean. Have you been out? If possible, don't go. Just hide and watch.

19 December, 2006


Back to this cruel, cold world. 35 degrees this morning. Yard littering with palm fronds. Strange cats in my backyard.

15 December, 2006

North Shore: Day...Unknown

I’m so tired here. You think you are going to relax, and suddenly become aware of your exhaustion level.
The contest is over. AI dominates again, and not against a pack of lucky losers, but against the best in the game. The likes of Slater and cool-hand-Machado.
This is the first year the contest has ended with time left in our stay. Before, we seemed to have extended periods of downtime, wind, rain, etc. This year, wham, and we are at the final day.
The swell and conditions left much to be desired, especially during the morning hours, when squall-like conditions blanketed the beach. Three to four foot swells, wind, and a “warbled” wave face were standard.
Jake Patterson and Tamayo Perry both had mind blowing late-takeoff wipeouts that had the beach waiting for the water patrol to spring into action. We are talking 15 foot freefalls into the shallow section of Pipeline.
My enormous bag of film waits to be shipped and my digital files are safe on the drives. I didn’t shoot much digital, and what I did shoot was more out of just snapping for no reason more than trying to make memorable images. There are 80 other photographers on the beach, all with digital equipment, all trying for the same pages, so why would I join that game. You shoot Plus-x in a Blad and you suddenly become one in eighty. I like those odds.
Now we sit and have a beer, catch up, get our gear cleaned. I make calls to the magazines, answer picture requests and call portrait clients that want me to shoot for them before I leave the island. I can shoot portraits here virtually anywhere. So nice compared to the concrete block that is Orange County. I know, I know, there are nature “spots” in OC, but you know what I mean. This place is “country” and the light and clouds are far different than home. And, no SMOG!

14 December, 2006

Mug Shot

North Shore Day...Lost Track

North Shore: Day…lost track

Not sure how long this thing can last; this place, with all these people, all these needs and all this development. Hawaii. What was it like, back in the day when The Captain walked ashore in Kauai?
Now, I look around and see so much, with so much more on the way. They say the sea, if we continue at current consumption, will be fished out in less than 50 years. What will happen to this place? Buffet will be an unknown word.
Will everything crumble? Is it crumbling now, even as the bulldozers clear what little undeveloped land is left?
I know this must sound negative, or a total downer, but I have begun to realize you can think about this, ponder this, at face value. Just ask the questions. You don’t have to give up, fold or trudge around as if impending doom is all we have to look forward to.

I’m in a Photoshop class. Sure, I’m not paying attention, but rather doing email and writing this, but I’m still in the classroom. Me in a PS class, if that isn’t a sign things are about to implode I’m not sure what is. This stuff is just not for me. Nothing wrong with it by any means, but I’ve got other things to do with my life. I’m a 90%-10% photographer, which means I do 90% of my work in the field and 10% in the office when I’m done. A lot of “modern” shooters are the opposite. I just want to edit, tweak, convert, save, deliver or post and then archive. No funky layers, borders, retouching, etc. I just don’t care.

The lecturer says, “You guys are imagers aren’t you, you don’t get in and do all this stuff do you?” “We are too buy taking photos,” a photographer responds. “This program is just an unruly beast and we are never going to catch up,” he adds.
I’m not sure he should catch up. He is a good photographer, has been for a long while, and in some ways, this stuff will only move him in the wrong direction. Why get involved in this? Will it make him a better photographer? No. He will donate much of his nonshooting time to post-production when he could be spending it on advertising and marketing, or better yet, out shooting more!

The contest is rumored to be on for tomorrow morning when a 12-15 foot swell unloads on Pipeline. People are getting nervous as we near the end of the waiting period, and the long-term outlook does not promise much in terms of swell. Rabbit says they have 1.5 days left and they need to run all day tomorrow. We will be up early, once again, waiting, checking the site for the call.

No shooting today, just work inside, then beach time, for the first time. Sunny, calm and perfect for doing absolutely nothing.

13 December, 2006

Me in Hawaii

It seems rather odd but my new laptop just arrived. It has a camera built in, and now I will be abusing this feature for a least a week.


Just had a moment I will remember for a long while. Eating at Lei Lei's and up walks surf royalty, Rabbit Kekai, someone for whom the word "legend" is perhaps not enough. We were introduced and spoke about the bio being done on him. Rabbit is an icon, from a time that seemed to create these types. They are few and far between.

10 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Five

North Shore: Day Five

Already five days are gone. At the start of this trip, when people would ask how many days we would be in Hawaii, it seemed that twelve days would be a lifetime. It never is. Time here, although full, goes so quickly.
The strange part is that for most people, and I mean most people around the world, twelve days away from work, from home is a long time, far longer than the average person is “allowed.”
The Koreans get five days of vacation per year.
Day one of the Rip Curl Pipeline Masters is in the books. I walked the perimeter from eight to about one in the afternoon then bailed for a lunch and swim in the lagoon near Turtle Bay.
Sixteen heats, each with four men, droned on and on in average to above average surf. Pipeline is a unique beast, and even on days that are not maxed out reef days, the place is really amazing to watch.
The swell would one minute appear as if it was dying, then suddenly, white water on the horizon would indicate a monster looming on the second reef. Cleanup waves would ROLL through, chasing tourists up the beach and sending the water photographers diving for lobster.
The Hawaiians have such an advantage, wearing the fingerprint of those who have spent days, weeks, months or years in the lineup at Pipe.
One observation: There are WAY MORE people here than ever before. Traffic on the North Shore stretches from near Haleiwa to north of Sunset Beach. The next week will tell just how much things have changed. Today was a Sunday, with the marathon happening in town, as well as the U2 crowd still being around.
If this coming week is as crazy then next year could be like Los Angeles.
It appeared as if most of the favorites had moved on, but there is uncertainty about the contest running tomorrow.

North Shore: Day Four

It's on. The Pipeline Masters looks to be headed for day one when the little hand strikes eight. Up at 5:30, watching the stars and checking to see what the surf looks like, at least what it looks like from the balcony of the Turtle Bay. Can't tell much at this point.
Last night's U2 concert is in the books, not that I attended, but it seems that at least half of the island did. I'm hoping that this event had something to do with the amount of traffic and congestion we have been enduring as of late.
The entire North Shore seems to have quadrupled in population since last year.
The Digital Railroad programs are also in the books, and the reception was fantastic. Good to see the snappers getting geared up to get streamlined.
Our first surfing snaps yesterday afternoon at Rocky Point. I shoot a few rolls of black and white, then switch to digital and the 600mm just to get a few pics in. Ruined. Somehow the inside of my digi body looks as if it has been filled with lint. The entire viewfinder is awash in dust, dirt, a liquid of somekind as well as what looks like a fingerprint.
I shoot about 100 images, knowing I'm going to be trashing all of them. Sure enough, an edit later in the day and the images are just packed with grit. This is a typical issue with digital, always fighting to keep the insides clean, but most of the time it is not THAT big of a deal. This time, however, it was a BIG DEAL. Funny thing, this body had just been cleaned and checked. Ooops.
So, last night, technician of all technicians, Rolle Nuesco got me back in shape and ready for the day. No spotting, no cleaning up, just tweak and convert. Still, will be shooting 99% film, but in the case I need this digital thingy I will be good to go.

09 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Three

Dateline: North Shore Day Three

In Pursuit of the Monkey’s Lunch.

This place is a trap. Coming from the mainland and the “new pace” of lifers, this place appears on the horizon like a sacred stop. This place will be where I can slow down, relax, really focus, and get to a lot of those little things like peace, quiet time and lethargy.
It never happens. From seven to eleven there is a schedule, things to do, places to go and light to check.
Standing on the balcony at seven. The trades have dropped, the sky promises sun, but by eight the wind has picked up. The swell is smaller, cleaner and several people, the first I have seen since I’ve been here, paddle out next to the hotel.
Several members of the crew leave tomorrow, which means they will come and go without seeing any of the Pipeline contest. The plan is to head out today, midday, just to hit Rocky Point, Backdoor, or anywhere with any kind of swell, just to give them a taste.
Bernie tells me last night that things aren’t looking great weather wise, but perhaps in a day or two we will be surprised.
Last night’s program, Digital Railroad, played well, to a packed house, with two more programs on tap for this afternoon and evening. A special session has been called due to the U2 concert in town tonight. Many folks are ready to brave the world’s worst traffic to head in and see both Bono and Vedder.
Yesterday, coming from Honolulu, the typical 45-minute drive was taking 3.5 hours. Some took longer.
“I was ready to shoot someone,” one driver said. “I’m ready to kill.”
There is only one road in and out, and this was WITHOUT any contest going on. I think I’ll stay on the Northside and just wait for it all to begin. The pool bar is only ten steps away. No need to rush anything.

To really get anything done here I need at least four hours of uninterrupted time alone. The only real way to work as a photographer, writer, or gatherer of any kind is to travel and work alone. You don’t see CIA agents bringing the old family along to the Khyber Pass Hilton. Nope, they go alone. You must remain a stranger. If you know anyone your doomed. If your family tags alone, doomed. If there is a schedule of any kind, doomed. I don’t know how the “real” people do it.
I’ve got baggage, human baggage of all kinds, plus, far too many strings attached back to the mainland. Brother calling at 6am, sister leaving messages, mom calling, clients asking about this or that. I’m contemplating smashing all electronics within the confines of my room, but then I couldn’t’ write this useless crap.

08 December, 2006

North Shore: Day Two

Last night's welcome reception was grand. Ninety snappers converged and consumed.
Good to see a lot of old faces, some of which I had not seen in years. Blown out surf today has cancelled the contest, but things are looking somewhat in line for tomorrow. Bernie will be the one who lets me know for sure. It would be good to get a day in, get one under our belts. Shoot a few rolls, just to get in the groove.
A walk along the coast past the pillbox, around the bend and back into the banyan trees. A place I visit every time I am here. "You shoot the same place over and over?" Julie asks. "Yep, I like going back to the same places." "Do the photos all look the same?" she asks. "It depends on how I shoot them, what I'm using."

Choppers buzzing outside as the sun sets. The crowd huddles around the bar ordering Mai Tai's and Coladas.

North Shore: Day One

Dateline Kahuku: Day One

The Answer is Blowing in the Wind
Flight 3127 from San Francisco.
Honolulu International airport. The automatic doors open and the rush of humidity envelopes me. I’m back, again, headed for the North Shore.

Every year there are slight differences here. The shrimp truck near the Turtle Bay is gone, but a new one has appeared just south of Pipeline. You can’t get a towel at the pool at the Turtle Bay without a “towel card,” and development has started in earnest north of Sunset Beach.
“No Concrete” signs and “Save Rural Oahu,” bumper stickers dot the landscape as the outside world fights with locals over the future of this land.
It has been eight-years straight that I had made this pilgrimage to Oahu, to the North Shore and Banzai Pipeline surfing contest, the final contest of the year for the surfing professional.
The first few years were lazy years, somewhat static. The Turtle Bay had yet to be remodeled, had exposed rebar on the patios, colonial-style furniture and was rundown in all the right ways. The new Turtle Bay is much fancier, but lacks that old Hawaiian-charm, and is now filled with a younger, hipper clientele that has changed the overall feel.
In those first years there were no TV shows being filmed on the North Shore, not that I can remember, as we were post Magnum PI, but pre Lost, North Shore, etc.
These early days were intimate, and lacked that feeling of nervousness that accompanies development and “happening” events. As photographers we stood on the balcony of Brian Bielman’s house at Pipeline and shot the contest while sitting on his patio chairs. I was with Kodak, handing out the latest slide film and doing what I could to share my knowledge of film and photography.
Digital imaging and technology had yet to take over the industry, and the focus was more on pictures and not pixels. The old school snappers like Brewer, Divine and Hornbaker were still walking the sand, shooting the contest and attending the parties.
As a newbie, a spectator, everything was shiny, fantastic and evolving. I didn’t know it, but I was witnessing a change of grand proportion, a shifting of wind, talent and scale. I miss those days.

Today, returning for the eighth year, the feeling is very different. These places, this industry, have taken quantum leaps forward, ahead, backwards or whatever direction your eyes allow you to see. I haven’t seen Grambeau or Brewer in years, but a new breed has arrived, refreshed in my memory by last night’s chance meeting with Dustin Humphreys, a standout snapper of the new generation. (His new book is sitting in front of me, and it looks fantastic.)
The crowds, the traffic and the prize money are far beyond what those first years ever promised, and so is the media exposure and global knowledge of the surf industry.
Everything is bigger, faster and contains more, more of everything. The patio at Lei Lei’s is packed and you need a reservation. Pearl Jam and U2 are staying at the hotel. The purse for the contest is $280,000. There is talk that the remaining, natural spaces on the hotel property are all under possible development. As I sit here, helicopters buzz over the treetops outside my window.
But, with having said all this, on my morning run I head along the beach, past the golf course, and out on the furthest outcropping of rock. Beyond is just the sea. The stretch, the place hasn’t changed one bit. Nature always holds the upper hand.
The faces at the airport are the same, as are those at Foodland, and here at the Turtle Bay. “Hey, welcome back, “ we here from person after person, friends made over nearly ten years of being here.
A photographer I haven’t seen in year comes up last night and shakes my hand. “Welcome home,” he said.

05 December, 2006

That Time Again

North Shore 2006.


Newport, 2006

The copyright notice really makes this picture.

Handsome Devil

Man, don't know who this guy is, but he is a clearly a heck of a guy. Snap courtesy Napper.

02 December, 2006

End of an Empire

Mighty Trojan crumbles.


Me through a $1 camera with taped lens. The Casino, Culver City.