Archive for June, 2008

July 4th, 2007, looking out over the pier in San Clemente, California towards Dana Point, as the sun begins to go down.



July 4th is our biggest day in San Clemente and it’s only a week away.  I know it’s the biggest day because it’s the only day that the parked cars for the beach actually reach and go past our house.  No other day comes close.  I remember that we would gauge a 4th of July by how soon in the morning the cars would get to the house.  I don’t know what time that happens now, but now I gauge the day by amount of “crap”(as my Dad used to say) is hauled past our house to the beach.


“…After a few moments the only thing that is left behind to remind me of their passing is the summery sweet smell of lavishly applied suntan oil…”


Squeally wheeled strollers, the gritty drag of a plastic raft pulled over the asphalt and the fast gallop of children’s flip-flops, running after the long strides of their parents.  The solid humm of a fully loaded ice chest on rollers plays a low melody alongside Mom calling to her husband and asking if he locked the car, or if he brought the video camera and if it’s charged up or not.  Her pause in the middle of the street does not stop the children from gaining ground, switching oily hands from keeping the hat on their head, the sunglasses on, or the towel wrapped tightly around the neck. 

 view from the pier on July 4th, 2007


Their trot to the beach is held back only by Mom’s caution of getting too far ahead.  Dad, soon catches up, with car keys jingling in his cargo shorts pocket; his hands are full.  He glances back one last time in an effort to memorize the location of the car.  A cell phone goes off signaling something forgotten by friends they will soon meet.  After a few moments the only thing that is left behind to remind me of their passing is the summery sweet smell of lavishly applied suntan oil.


“…Behind big wrap around sunglasses, sideways trucker hats and the same t-shirt, everyone is young again…”

 OC Sheriff Bomb Squad check out the firework preparation on the San Clemente Pier for the firework show.

Mid-morning gives way to lunch and the hurried accelerations of souped up trucks on their way back to the house for lunch, more beer and a ride for a friend.  The three way stop out front blends the blaring tunes of Reggae, country and pop all together.  Friends shout to each other their hellos along with a directional beach code of where they are sitting so they can meet up.  Behind big wrap around sunglasses, sideways trucker hats and the same t-shirt, everyone is young again.  The return to the beach after lunch is slower and lingers into the afternoon.


Around 5 or so there is a renewed frenzy as cars and people make their way back to the house for dinner and reorganization for the evening fireworks off the pier.  The diehards remain; the lineup at Riviera thins a little bit and most just talk over the tips of their boards.  I think we’ll take a little walk down to the beach around this time this year. 



Under the San Clemente Pier.



Usually a sort of neighborhood anarchy has taken hold where some of the lower streets are rebelliously blocked off with trash cans and everyone is in the street talking, laughing or watching the latest feat of skate and bike action the 6 to 9 year olds have been perfecting all day. 

 4th of July spirit on the San Clemente Pier.

Traditionally the fireworks at the pier go off around 9 or so.  Whether the show can be seen from your house or not, it doesn’t compare with the being on the sand among all the neighbors.  Its dark of course and not much can be seen except from the glow coming from the fire pits.  Shadows crisscross, revealing the end of a day at the beach.  Like Bedouin, family and friends sit clustered together, waiting for the show to begin.  You can hear more than you can see and you listen to conversations about what Bob did on his vacation, why Becca didn’t get married…again, or children explaining why they want one video game as opposed to another for their birthday.  It always seems to me, like an invisible witness, I am in America’s living room; all of the living rooms, put together and at the same time.


“…Like Bedouin, family and friends sit clustered together, waiting for the show to begin…”


Patience is about to give out just as the first firework is shot skyward over the water from the pier and a few moments later, its sound reaches you like an expensive, chilled dessert; cold, sharp and surprisingly satisfying. Usually the firework show at Dana Harbor can be seen and it always seems to start before ours and lasts longer.  Its explosions are always more impressive with better color and presentation.  I don’t know where or how we have this experience or knowledge but it gets said every year. 


The show goes on and several times when you think its over it isn’t and when you think it will go on, it’s over.  Everyone sits for a bit and when it’s really over, en masse, the herd moves slowly to the tunnel and up onto the street and home.  I remember one year in the tunnel, someone began with a typical cow moo, long, waning and frustrated; it wasn’t long before the sounds of a stockyard came from everywhere in a chorus of understanding.


“…It always seems to me, like an invisible witness, I am in America’s living room; all of the living rooms, put together and at the same time…”


After 15 minutes, or the time it takes to walk the 5 blocks back to the house, I am standing on the driveway as what I witnessed in the morning is played in reverse but without the bursting enthusiasm.  Like Napoleon’s army fleeing back to France from Moscow, they pass, dragging their feet and rubbing their eyes.  The smell of ocean, campfire and fireworks is strong in our clothes, noses, throats and thoughts.  Sandy feet and damp clothes capitalize the feeling.


The firework show at the San Clemente Pier.When I was 7 to 10 years old, I’d be up at 5:30 or 6 the next morning and down at the beach to look for the lost flotsam of Independence Day; Firecrackers, sodas, sunglasses and towels.  We would finish with a slow walk up “Beach Hill”, eyes glued to the gutter and asphalt, looking for the bills that came out of pockets with the car keys.  We never found less than $50.00 and I think we hit 100.00 a couple of times. 


It was all gone in a few days, spent on slurpees, army men, necca wafers and lemon drops or candy cigarettes.  Our first purchase was tea at the counter of Landel’s diner up on El Camino Real; we were big spenders and we wanted everyone to know it (50 cents with tip).


For me, it was true independence not to have to rely on a 35 cent per week allowance.

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Carrie Turbow on the 99 switchbacks on the main Mt. Whitney Trail.  The summit of Mt. Whitney is the peak on the right.  The switchbacks gain about 1,300 feet in about 1/2 mile.  Hikers are rewarded at the crest at 13,300 feet,  with views of Inyo National Forest to the east and Sequoia National Park to the west. It wasn’t enough that Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow climbed Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the lower 48 states at 14, 496 ft, a week and a half ago.  What took place as they began at 3am on the trailhead, at 8,362 ft, sparked an idea at about 10,000 feet and matured at about 13,000 feet. 


The plan was a go at the top and as Beresbach explains it, Turbow signed off on the project exactly there at the highest point at 14,496 feet; there sitting on a rock, Turbow,  responded with a simple “yes” to his marriage proposal.


“Well, you know I had thought about it and it was in the back of my mind when we started….at 10,000 feet, I really started thinking about it and at 13,000 feet, I knew it was a good idea…we were sitting on some rocks, actually at the highest point on the summit…I was low key, I said some things first, like what she meant to me and then asked her and she calmly said “yes” …I expected her to cry a little and so when she didn’t, I asked her if she was going too…she said no and then a few moments later she let go a little…”


Outpost Camp is surrounded on three sides by 1,000-foot walls.  It sits in the pine trees at the base at about 10,400 feet. They took their time coming down after spending about half an hour on the summit.  They didn’t get back to the trailhead until 11pm or so.


“We really took our time and stopped along the way…it’s probably why we weren’t very sore…still though, 18 hours on the trails…”


The Whitney climb is 8,362 ft of elevation change in 10.2 miles, from trailhead to summit, for a total of 20.4 miles.  That would be like walking from San Clemente to South Coast Hospital in Laguna and back and half of it uphill.  You have to carry your own food and although they had a fine day for the ascent, you still have to carry the gear for the odd storm that could blow through.  Don’t forget that you have to filter water every little bit of distance as well.  That’s a lot of ingredients for one great day.


It seems to me that it was worth it; two separate people went up and a single unified one came down.

 Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow on the summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,496 feet.

Congratulations to Paul and Carrie.














Check out the story on The Orange County Register here: 







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The telephone pole behind Three Dog BakeryI have, many times, played a game with friends where one of us will call out a location or a business and the challenge is to site the business that was there before or relate some kind of history about it.  For example…the Kragen Auto Parts used to be…?  Well…?  A used car lot, I know because my grandfather Cliff, worked there.  What about the Shoreline Café on Del Mar Avenue with Santa Barbara?…The First Interstate Bank.  What about El Camino Market?…A trick question, it’s always been El Camino Market; I think Abe Lincoln bought milk for his cereal there and I should know, we went to Concordia Elementary together.  Well not really, but you get the idea.


So here’s what I’m getting at…about a month ago, I was talking with a friend on Del Mar, by the Sun Post News office and I leaned against the telephone pole that is there at the alley.  We were talking about this and that when I noticed a somewhat un-official placard attached to the pole at eye level.  I pointed it out and we kept talking.  No big deal and nothing a surf apparel sticker won’t smother in another week or two.


“…I think Abe Lincoln bought milk for his cereal there and I should know, we went to Concordia Elementary together…”



 The telephone pole behind Antoine\'s Cafe.

About a week ago I was talking to another friend just below the Starbucks and noticed a similar type placard attached to the telephone pole at the alley below.  We pondered it for a moment before continuing on about the price of gasoline and suggestions on how to get better mileage.  Even the price of a gallon of gas could not pull me away from wondering about these little signs.





 “…Even the price of a gallon of gas could not pull me away from wondering about these little signs…”



The telephone pole at the top of Del Mar.


I went back today after work and walked the alley in between to find two more of the same thing, for a total of four.  They are all about the same size at 8 inches wide and 5 inches tall.  They are all meticulously nailed to the poles and at eye level.  They appear to be a cutout from the old photo emulsion metal plates for printing except that you can read the two that have writing. 


“…We pondered it for a moment before continuing on about the price of gasoline…”




The telephone pole below Starbucks in the alley.If you have ever been thru the drive thru at Pedro’s Taco’s or had the pole position at any stoplight turning left, you have seen the varied and aggressive surf stickers vainly announcing the next Ocean Pacific or O’Neil.  This is different.  It’s art.  It’s pole art.  If I thought about it more I could come up with a great name and get my 15 minutes.  What I really want to know is what it’s all about.


Is it a game, like those poster sized images that are always stuck along some impossible place on the freeway?  Is it a new artist, trying to attack the established method of galleried self promotion?  Is it the middle of some message that will end in someone saying “I do” or worse…”I gotta go…” 




I have no idea but I find myself checking out every telephone pole I come across.




Street Art Links:








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Nicolas Kiesecker is held by his aunt, Nancy Martin, and is intent on catching the streamer of Cirque du Shea WonderWorld performer \

I went for the first time to the Montage Resort and Spa in Laguna Beach about two weeks ago.  Normally, I try to get a story out right after I shoot it but with the crush of covering graduations and the general clamor that is the beginning of summertime in California, I let it go until now.  I think, perhaps, as well, I wanted to think about the event and comment on it with some perspective.  Really there are three elements of what went on that night and each could be a blog entry in and of itself.




“…If you have ever been on a horse or even near one, you will know what I mean; the meaning of life is on your mind every second…”




The J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center, and the reason behind the “Cirque du Shea” gala is an organization that uses resources from donors to improve the lives of people with disabilities by integrating them into horse related programs.  In addition to what you might generally consider to be physical therapy in a clinical environment, the Shea center puts some life into it.  If you have ever been on a horse or even near one, you will know what I mean; the meaning of life is on your mind every second.



 Star Childe




It’s often that I am assigned a shoot and I don’t really know what it’s about.  Usually I get a call about it and generally it’s followed up by an e-mail with all the details.  If you know Orange County then you know that most people barely have enough time to get their socks on in the morning, let alone read an e-mail and get the whole story. 








I got my first opening shots of couples as they entered and noticed that everyone was from Coto de Caza…but we were in Laguna?  Ahhhh, …the horse element of Coto and the equestrian estates.  After Cirque du Shea performers from WonderWorld of Los Angeles, Ringmaster, Lady and Bird, stand with Eric Wolff, Dr. Edward Peltier MD. and Cherri Farah on Saturday evening at the Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach during the Annual J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center Black-Tie Gala and Benefit.registration, guests were invited

to continue on to a grassy area overlooking the ocean.  There was a big bar and silent auction items were laid out on tables.  There was everything from handmade purses to fishing trips to Cabo San Lucas.  The event was black tie and so all the attendees looked sharp and were having a great time with a great view












The Montage Resort and Spa is VERY NICE.  I had never been through it but wondered as the outside does not have the classic façade of other hotels in the area of the same scale and offerings.  The interior is well done and challenges the eye with something new to see in every direction.




The view of the ocean and beach is especialy spectacular and on a nice evening like the day of the event, it shines its brightest.  I can’t say this about too many places I go to but I would like to go back when I am not working so I can see it better.  I think it will be soon.




The best thing about the Montage would have to be the people that work there; pleasant with a capital “P”, helpful with a capital “H” and gracious with a capital “G”.  The service and care for their guests is evident in every move.  A guest, while getting into the elevator, stumbled on the metal lip of the car while going in and dropped his drink glass, shattering it on the floor.  Several Montage employees jumped to clean it up, while almost blaming themselves for the accident to save the guest from embarrassment.  I can only say that if the Montage group thinks that these things go un-noticed, they don’t.  Hard work and attention to detail goes a long way to making a big difference.Derek and Nancy Lewis stand with their son, Michael, the first rider,  on Saturday evening at the Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach during the Annual J.F. Shea Therapeutic Riding Center Black-Tie Gala and Benefit.


“…The best thing about the Montage would have to be the people that work there; pleasant with a capital “P”…”






I was not long at the reception when I noticed the entertainment would be “target rich” for me, as a photographer.  WonderWorld of Los Angeles, a group of athletic performers of all types, provided an ongoing “street” type display throughout the evening.  No sooner did a fantasized stilted woman in old school New Orleans Showgirl red feathers and corset appear and disappear than an acrobat was trussed up over the bar, slowly un-raveling herself back to earth in a swirl of fabric that matched the sky.



Other performers included an Orange crepe suited “sun-man”, a plumed raven called out jungle bird sounds and posed with guests for photos; they were led by a “ringmaster” that appeared as if from the pages of a Dr Seuss book.




Guests were led to the ballroom where they ate dinner and were presented with more characters from WonderWorld.  In between feats by contortionists and dramatically adorned gymnasts, the master of ceremonies addressed the crowd with the achievements of the Shea Group: some individual families that had benefited directly spoke a few words in how the lives of sons and daughters had been the past year with support from the Shea Group Riding Center.


“…led by a “ringmaster” that appeared as if from the pages of a Dr Seuss book…”


I continued to shoot through the live auction, which is always fun, as the auctioneer calls out the numbers and faces bidders one against the other.  The purpose of the event was to celebrate work by the Shea Group on behalf of the disabled and raise monies for the next year. 



There were 10 or 12 items for the live auction.  Atendees responded with over the top generosity; I won’t go into the amounts, but it was a lot.  It was impressive to see as will the MC call out for donations just for the sake of giving and several did just that with amounts that would be superior to the value of most of our cars.




The gala wrapped up and as I walked out to my van to go home, I passed in front of the Montage on the sidewalk; it was wet from the sprinklers and I saw I was not alone.  There ahead of me was a cat, sitting patiently for prey as only cats can do.  I got a little closer and he sped through the hedge and with authority moved furthur onto the grounds of The Montage.


I unlocked my van, warmed it up and left, thinking, that the evening had a little something for everyone.









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A San Clemente High School graduate stands for recognition during commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2008, on Wednesday, June 18, 2008. 




If I remember right, “All Hail San Clemente”, is the anthem of San Clemente High School; all my brothers and sisters will have sung it at one time or another.  The only part I remember is the first part and how the cheerleaders sang it, arm in arm, swaying back and forth, with hands raised high in some kind of peace sign, beginning with the index finger.  It has a tune that I would know if I heard it but strangely, like the pledge of allegiance, I couldn’t sing it alone with a knife to my throat.



 “…The only part I remember is the first part and how the cheerleaders sang it, arm in arm, swaying back and forth, with hands raised high in some kind of peace sign…”




 I shot the graduation for San Clemente High School today for the Orange County Register and the Sun Post News, and on the same field that I graduated on in 1982.  I was expecting more of an odd feeling of Déjà vu but it didn’t come.  At the moment I write this I am waiting for my photos to download so I can process them and get them to the photo desk at the paper and they can get them on the website. 






A San Clemente High School faculty member announces the next graduate for the class of 2008.


“…If it wasn’t for President Nixon and some wayward and awed Rose Bowl stragglers, we would be as alone as any other small Podunk American small town…”




San Clemente is a town. A place and a people that won’t hit you like a great song on the radio after a great day at work or on the way home in the car from the beach; it isn’t like some kind of nationally shared movie moment of  teary emotion, sight and sound.  We don’t make cars or appliances in San Clemente and it’s not a farming community where there is that corn on the cob and  four H ribbon of a solid “I am America” feeling, either.  It is something that plays itself alone to each person that was born here and is often the case, those that were not born here but live her feel it the strongest.  If it wasn’t for President Nixon and some wayward and awed Rose Bowl stragglers, we would be as alone as any other small Podunk American small town.



 A San Clemente High School, Class of 2008, graduate proudly recieves his diploma on Wednesday, June 18, 2008.

How do you explain it?  The only thing I can say is that it has to be a combination of many things, all put together, in one package that changes, ever so slightly, from one person to another.  I think that this is what it must be for every town and community at this time of year as they release their youth to the streams that will eventually lead to that really big ocean that is the world. 


“…I had a good time but I didn’t break through any journalistic barriers or force fields like some kind of Captain Kirk…”


We might ask, if like salmon, they will return instinctively to where they were born.  I don’t know and I don’t think it matters.  They are free but then, when they taste again the

waters of their youth, they will know they are home and where they began; it will be up to them whether they stay or not.


I shot all the standard shots today and as I took them, I knew I had them.  The group shot, the solo pensive shot…the buddies shot and the girlfriend shot…the head and shoulders, above the rest shot, the hug shot, the confident, the nervous and the “…OMG…What am I gonna do now, shot…”.   I could have left a lot sooner than I did.  I wanted to get the whole story, from start to finish.  I had a good time but I didn’t break through any journalistic barriers or force fields like some kind of Captain Kirk.  “Standard/Standard” as they say.  “Standard/Standard”…at least within the city limits of this town;  it is what it is.  Maybe you have to be from here to know exactly what that means but, I don’t think so.  “All Hail San Clemente…” oh yeah, I just remembered the next line:


“…We Pledge Our Loyalty…”



San Clemente High School, Class of 2008.






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Major Bill Smith USMC/RET., of San Clemente and a vetran of Iwo Jima and Guam, lends words of support and experience for Marine Corp recruits at the Denny\'s on Avenida Pico in San Clemente at their last civilian meal before entering boot camp on Monday evening.  Steven Villegas, 19, of Whittier(left, foreground) looks on. Every Monday at noontime the United States Marine Corp calls the Denny’s in San Clemente and asks to speak with Guillermo Santos.  Santos will answer simply and wait to hear the number; the number of plates to set for the weekly busload of Marine recruits on their way to the San Diego Marine Recruit Training Center that will be eating their last civilian meal for 13 weeks.


…Most of the time its 20 or 30 guys…sometimes its just 12 or 15…and in the summer it can be as many as 45…”

 Former Navy Radioman and Pearl Harbor survivor, Pete Limon, of San Juan Capistrano, shares his experiences during WW2 while waiting to address Marine Recruits at the Denny\'s on Avenida Pico for their last civilian meal on Monday evening.

Every week the recruits file in and every week Major Bill Smith USMC/Ret. is there ahead of time, in the same booth, with his friend, Pete Limon, Navy radioman and Pearl Harbor survivor.  They sit in the back, on the way to the bathrooms, passing the time talking about the old days and their investments. 


They don’t talk too much about the recruits during this time; they were recruits themselves once and their feelings are too intimate and common between the two men; anything to say has been said as they watch together, their own newer shadows stepping off a rented Marine Corp bus in the parking lot beside them.





 Tall, short, shaggy and trim, these young men, the new believers, disembark from the bus that will shortly deliver them to a tight jawed, stubborn, un-bending drill instructor.  This day there are 23 volunteers that file in for a choice of steak and shrimp, hamburger and fries, salad bar or pasta with marinara sauce.  They will taste for the last time Coca-Cola and eat without hurry and without a screaming Marine Corp Sergeant counting off the minutes they are allowed to consume their meal. 


Brad Napier, 18 of Lompoc and Johnny Carillo, 19, of Mission Viejo are Marine Corp recruits lining up for their last civilian meal at the Denny\'s on Avenida Pico in San Clemente on Monday evening.Heads bowed and with little to say, they lean into their plates, the first light of the reality that will be their lives for the next 4 years has begun to stretch across a landscape of food made by someone other than their mothers. Smith makes his way to them between the breakfast counter and the tall, thin wood grain laminate privacy partition.



A dress saber is exchanged for an aluminum walker, its creaks and squeals compete with silverware, plates, pans and spatulas in the kitchen.  The other diners sit a little stiffer and a little quieter as they watch Major Smith pass by; a Marine Major, retired, thin, grey and  wobbly but determined, still calls their attention and respect.  


Smith enters the cluster of booths, along with Limon, at the end of the restaurant and begins to speak.  Limon pulls a few photos and documents from an old folder and motions for them to be handed around among the recruits.  At first, most are more concerned about what is on their plates and talking to each other but then, slowly begin to pay attention and listen.  Smith’s words convey support and care for the brotherhood they will soon share when they are Marines in 3 months.  


Smith’s words are simple and to the point; he does not share anything about his time in Iwo Jima, Guam and Korea so many years ago.  The recruits that want to understand show it in their eyes and nodding heads.  The rest will know what it means at the end of 13 weeks.

 Guillermo Santos, of Denny\'s, prepares to seat Ramiro Alvarez, 21, of Downey, a Marine Corp recruit, for his last civilian meal at the Denny\'s on Avenida Pico in San Clemente on Monday evening.

Limon finishes “their routine” as he calls it with a few words of his own and as everyone in one shot could not hear them, they move to the other side of the booths to repeat it.  The recruits where I sit are a little quieter and more thoughtful; they have been handed another clue and see a little further into the unknown world they have joined. 



I move from one to another for their names, hometowns and ages for my photo captions.  Strangely familiar, they respond in similar voices of those “Victory at Sea” documentaries I watched as a kid.  Their names come, different and unknown, but their towns sound strong and close.  Lompoc, Santa Clarita, Whittier, Lakewood, Slymar.  These are California towns and cities and I am suddenly more involved than if they had said Pokipsie, Grosse Point, Saint George or Galvaston. 


     “Can I get your name?” I ask.

Sure,  it’s {Johnny Carrillo}” he says and spells it so I get it right with the two r’s in his last name.

“Mission Viejo” he responds after I ask him where he is from and then states his age as 19.

I ask him if he went to Mission Viejo High School and what year he graduated.

“I went to Capo Valley” he says and adds “I graduated last year”

“Why did you join the Marine Corp?” I asked.

He began to respond with something he thought better of and stopped, looking up at me from his finished plate of Steak and shrimp.  The shy, gangly grin he shared earlier with his new friends at the table turned instantly to the sure, solid and serious words of a soon to be Marine.

“For the experience, sir.”





















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Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow on the summit of Mt. Whitney at 14,496 feet.


Paul Bersebach and Carrie Turbow didn’t get enough last year and so this year they are going back.  If you happen to be up at 2am on Sunday morning for a glass of water or to check out why the dog is barking, take a moment to think of Bersebach and Turbow as they hit the trailhead on the way to a one day summit ascent of Mount Whitney; the highest point in the lower United States at 14, 496 feet. 


 Look skyward after a slow leisurely lunch around 2pm and you can imagine them at the summit.  At 8pm, after dinner and a post bar-b-que walk around the block, you can be assured that they will be just about back to where they started 18 hours before.  Their latitude and altitude in the California Sierras will allow them a few more seconds of sunset; for both of them, it’s worth it and everything they will have hoped for…again.


Bersebach and Turbow signed their names into the logbook at the top of Mount Whitney.

 About this time last year they had made the climb for the first time.  The 2007 effort had been a three day long tour of sorts but this year, it will be a sprint.  Bersebach, a staff photographer at the Orange County Register, is incorporating this climb, like last years, into a journal for the newspaper, to chronicle his efforts along with Turbow, his girlfriend. 



The two have only been hiking for three years and originally began after thinking back to common and shared moments on the trails with their fathers.  Upon signing the National Forestry logbook at the top Whitney last year, they each dedicated the climb to their respective dad’s.  I am wondering if, in order to solidify their thoughts, memories and love for dad, they haven’t organized the climb for father’s day this year.


“Carrie and I really have each thought back to the times we spent with our fathers, hiking and just spending time together…our focus has been to get back to that somehow with our climb on Whitney…”


View looking west from Trail Crest on the Mt. Whitney Trail at 13,360 feet.  Below is Guitar Lake.





Bersebach explains the immense satisfaction and relief of attaining the summit last year and it’s clear that it is the backbone to the plan for this year as well.  The mechanics of preparing equipment and practice climbs, each one more difficult and demanding than the one before, have meant more than a few trips to REI and a recent practice climb in the San Gorgonio Mountains. 



A big component of this year’s climb will be that they will be traveling a lot lighter and so will be “pumping” or filtering water as they go.  There is one thing that Bersebach will change from what he did last year.


“…last year we took a lot of energy goos and energy bars and this year we are going to concentrate on more things that are actually food…”


I asked him if he thought if he would learn or discover anything new this year on the climb and in that true straight forward common sense way that Midwesterners seem to be born with he said,


“…Nothing new…but the satisfaction in the completion of a goal….and …sore legs…” 


Actually, it sounds more Bersebachian than Midwestern.




























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Ruben Gracia with \


 Ruben Gracia, of Yorba Linda, had no doubt about what to call his 1956 Chevy 210 coup when he began to restore it 3 ½ years ago.  Gracia is a Sergeant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff and remembers what happened back in the day when the police came through the neighborhood.


“Yeah…the cops would cruise down the street and we’d shout  “…la hura…la hura…” and so that’s why I put it on the license plate…”


“La Hura” is Gracia’s first effort to restore a car and although he never thought about giving up, there were plenty of times when he wondered what would come next.  He explains a tale of what many restorers can share about the past history of their car.




“It was a rust bucket…originally it was in Arizona and the guy that had it couldn’t finish it and so I got it…most of it in boxes…just say it was a complete frame off

restoration…anyone in cars will know what that means…”




Gracia estimates that he has put about 1500 miles on the car in the last 2 years since it has been done.  Its his second year for the car show in San Clemente.  Gracia doesn’t belong to any car clubs but has shown it at various sheriff car shows and says that inner city youth have shown a special interest in the car.



“I have been offered 75,000 cash for the car but after all the work, I am just not interested in selling it…not with all the work…


“La Hura” has a 396 big block, gets 6 or 7 miles per gallon, and is a certified 13 second car; it will hit 60 mph in 13 seconds on a ¼ mile.  Gracia hasn’t pushed the car but estimates it’s top speed at 120 mph. 














Gracia admits the red and white two tone is not original but says the colors really clicked.  I pressed him on the ethic of keeping the car original.  He sighed, acknowledging my words but dismissing the idea and responded confidently.


“…red and white…it just seemed the way to go…”


I do not see how anyone on the road will miss “La Hura”.







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San Clemente celebrated the 2008 13th Annual Classic Carshow on Sunday from 10am until 3pm.  Avenida Del Mar was closed off and about 5000 people meandered through, eating hotdogs, walking with dogs and kids, and just having fun amonst 300 classic car entries.  It’s no doubt why the carshow gets bigger and better each year; its pure fun and this time of year the day is made for it. 


 When I drove downtown to walk it I noticed that cars were parking down as far as the Ralpha-beta, which in terms for San Clemente, is a high water mark.  They have been doing handicap curb and corner improvements on El Camino Real for the last week and it was a little confusing where to park but a sharp eye for a spot and a little leg work and we were there.


This is a calm group compared to what we’ll see when they block off Del Mar in July for the Fiesta Block Party.  It would seem the crowd was heavy on the male side of things, talking lift kits, paint and polish quality or DMV requirements, but there was really plenty of everyone.  I just really covered the top part of Del Mar and further down I could see more booths and they had a band or two by the sound of it. 


“There were a couple of off road entries in front of the old Whirl-i-Gig (now Hobie’s) that were slyly popping beers and pouring them into cups.”



I wasn’t working for the paper on this one and so took a little more time to look around and just sit and watch people go by.  A Mercedes car club (see photo) had the premier spot in front of the San Clemente Hotel with about 10 cars or so and they had some nice stuff.  A Wert daughter was there with a pink corvair I think and she was giving away lolli-pops and Mardi-Gras beads and letting people take photos sitting on the top of the back seat like they do for parades.  There were a couple of off road entries in front of the old Whirl-i-Gig (now Hobie’s) that were slyly popping beers and pouring them into cups.  They would pop the trunk on one of the cars where they had a cooler, pour the beer with the trunk hunkered down over their hands and appear again with a “soda”. 


“New found friends comment and counter-comment on other friends while significant other stares through the crowd, un-hearing one amazing feat after another.”



What I always like the best are those long lost friends that meet up by accident and then stand and talk for an hour while significant other and children orbit back now and again to see what the status is.  New found friends comment and counter-comment on other friends while significant other stares through the crowd, un-hearing one amazing feat after another.  Children shift from one foot to the other, poke each other and stare at the new friend, calculating the right time to hit the parent up for cash in the distraction of it all.  Hands are shook vigourously, hugs are traded with phones and e-mails written on business cards, napkins or slurpee cups, before each are on their way and a hardy “What are we doin’ now?” is declared to a near comatose family.  Groans abound as they move into the crowd and disappear.



I am thinking now that the carshow isn’t popular just for the cars.









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Ruaridh (Rory) Stewart (shown at left photographing a car at the recent LA Car show), 37, of Laguna Niguel, knows the business of what makes photos work.  He describes a photo of a Vietcong guerrilla captured by US troops photographed by Philip Jones Griffiths, a Welsh photojournalist from the 60’s and 70’s.


“Griffiths set the standard for what makes a news photo…how he shot events, no one had done before, his approach…everything…students of photography should begin with his books and photos, he started it all really…”



Griffiths published Vietnam INC, and the book had major influence on American perceptions of the war and became a classic of photojournalism with astounding and compelling images.  All qualities that Zuma Press, a full service photo agency based in Dana Point and where Stewart works as News Director, look for when they license photos for magazines like Time, Newsweek and National Geographic. 



This image conveys the tragedy that is war, there are multiple elements to his images that cause the viewer to really pause and look…”


Stewart, born in Perthshire, Scotland in 1971 is tall, lean and serious, but not without a certain kindness in his gaze.  He pauses between points and reflects, seemingly editing his words one last time, just before telling you what he thinks.  It’s his thoughts on photography and how he got started that you realize his greatest trait must be his innate compassion.


“I was always taking photos when I was young and while traveling in India over the summer in 1993, I was doing travel photos, I knew it was what I wanted to do, something just clicked …I traveled all over Asia and it was the people…taking pictures of the people….you just have to go for it and make it work and that’s what I did…”


Stewart’s work at Zuma Press as News Director is what you might think at first to be the standard faire of deadlines, fact checking and the eenie, meenie, miny, mo of where to send which photo to which publication.  Consider that Stewart deals with over 700 contract photographers from all over the world and in every possible situation at any one time and delivers to hundreds of magazines worldwide; there is no doubt that many of the photos you see in your favorite magazines, he sees first.


It wasn’t too long ago that Stewart was looking through the lens and seeing it all first hand.  In 2000 he was selected as Photographer of the Year by the Hong Kong Press for a photo that depicts children praying at an assembly after their Principal has just shared that the Chinese takeover in Hong Kong would no longer allow English to be taught.  Stewart had the opportunity to work for several newspapers and magazines in Asia and traveled extensively on assignments that included sports, politics and earthquakes. 



“In 1999 I was assigned to cover the aftermath of the earthquake in Taiwan where over 2000 people died…the devastation was impressive….to see people in those conditions was humbling…”


Stewart had the unique nuts and bolts experience of literally working through the change from film to digital.  Assigned to cover the fall of  President Suharto of Indonesia in the spring of 1998, he was given a digital camera to take with him along with his equipment for film; that first digital camera cost more than $10,000 dollars and had less than 2 megapixels; soccer moms would scoff at anything less than 6 megapixels today.


“We would shoot maybe 5 rolls a day of the rioting and protests and then return to the hotel room to process the film in the bathroom and use the hotel hair dryer to dry the negatives….eventually I ran out of chemical and so I started using the digital camera…the image quality was terrible but it was that immediate result and even more I appreciated the speed”


Stewart explains that after returning to the hotel and developing the film it still took hours to edit the photos down to two or three that would get sent out to the paper.  He details the methodic orgy of using the bathroom as a darkroom, developing in the bathtub, drying the negatives on the shower rod with the hair dryer, scanning the negatives into the computer, getting a dependable international phone line, usually splicing the lines himself and then spending 3 hours to download 3 images.  The confusion, chaos and imminent collapse of President Suharto’s regime made for excellent and emotionally charged photos but wasn’t the safest spot to be.


“ I was shooting from behind a crowd, towards the government troops…I was getting the rioters throwing rocks when the soldiers began to shoot into the crowd…it all broke loose at that point…there was a wave of people…everyone was scattering, except for me…at one point I looked out over the top of my camera….in front of me just 10 feet away was a soldier…he was franticly trying to pull out his pistol from its holster but he had forgotten the little leather strap that held it in…he kept trying to get it out and then he was working on the strap…it just wouldn’t come…I just stood there watching until a hand from behind pulled me out…an Indonesian photographer I think…I don’t know what would have happened…”


Stewart is in the office now mostly and likes it better that way because now he can pick the assignments he wants to do and at the end of the day he goes home to Laguna Niguel, his wife, Sylvia and his little girl, Ailee, 18 months.


Stewart has had an ongoing assignment at US military installations photographing, the  Army as they train and prepare for duty in Iraq.  It keeps him close to home, it’s safer and it’s an easier commute but it’s not the only thing that’s easy.




 “When we first got the digital stuff…the image quality was not that good and the batteries were huge and we had to carry extra batteries where ever we went…now the cameras are just phenomenal…the point and shoot cameras that we have today take better pictures than what I had in Indonesia…”


Stewart feels that with the quality of digital cameras today, there is no reason why a reasonably skilled photographer couldn’t take a shot where you would be unable to tell if it were color film or not; digital only keeps getting better every day.


“There are some great digital cameras out there right now but, you know, I still have all my film cameras…”


Stewart knows what he’s doing; he’ll make it work out.


Ruaridh Stewart:



Philip Jones Griffiths:









 Zuma Reportage:






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