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Archive for August, 2008

The Federal Building in Santa Ana, California.

The Federal Building in Santa Ana, California.

 

 

 

 

Let me remind everyone that, when entering a Federal Building, you are not allowed(read:prevented) to enter with a camera phone.

 

I had the occasion to go to the Ronald Regan Federal Building at the Civic Center Plaza in Santa Ana this last week, for personal business.  I arrived at 6:50 am and only 10 minutes before the doors opened.  I was first in line but not before I had started out in another line on another side of the building that wasn’t my line.

 

The doors opened promptly at 7am, I entered, and much like the airport, I was asked to put everything in a plastic basket.

“…This is a camera phone, you cannot take this into the building…” the guard said plain and even.

 

There was no joy, mockery or anythng other than “that” federal officiousness in his voice; he had to repeat it three times as I was completely un-able to comprehend the idea.  Normaly, a line “repeat” would mean the sun would set on me starting my car to go home in the Federal Building parking lot; at least that has always been my experience in the past.  No Cell Phone?  Go back to my car?  I heard the harsh, cold metalic slamming of a cell door, not the cool, engergized ring on my Motorola Razor, from the voice of the light blue uniformed judge behind the counter.  I understood now and the artist in me imagined the pain well enough to paint my own “Guernica.”

 

“…you will have to take it back to your car…” he added.

I turned to look at the line and there were only a few people, thankfuly, and as I left to return to my car, i hoped it would stay that way.  I thought to all the other tmes I had waited in lines at your average government office and my stomach started to hurt.  When I returned, there was no line and I went right in and emptied my pockets into the basket.  Passing through the metal detector, I was summoned to take off my boots and my belt and then passed through okay.  I sat down for not more than 5 minutes before they called me to the counter.  There were only 3 people in the waiting room. 

 

I was done with everything and on my way back to the car at 7:21am.  I couldn’t help think how interesting the changes 9/11 has brought to the United States.

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A competitor in the steer wrestling competion at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, on Saturday, does his stuff.

INBETWEEN: A competitor in the steer wrestling competion at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo, on Saturday, does his stuff.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 8th annual Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo kicked off on Saturday, in San Juan Capistrano.  It is billed as having the largest purse of any national 2 day rodeo.

 

The event was very well organized and brings 30 or so of the best rodeo cowboys in the U.S. as welll as any number of loccal or “circuit” contestants.  The stands were full and there was plenty to see and do.  Food booths and all types of western styled things were available: from jewlry, dresses, shirts, leatherwear to ready framed photos.  There are a lot of organizers and donors and they are treated right in their own tent with catered food long with a great side view of the event. 

 

Upwards of $200,000.00 in prize money was up for grabs for the best of the best in several categories.  The rodeo contines on Sunday and should be just as much a good time as the first day.  Plenty of parking is available. 

A young cowboy works the rodeo.

COWPOKE: A young cowboy works the rodeo.

A rodeo competitor in the bronco riding, makes adjustments after a wild ride.

TOUGH: A rodeo competitor in the bronco riding, makes adjustments after a wild ride.

Don't try this at home.

AIRTIME: Don't try this at home.

Rodeo clown, Seth "Shorty" Gorham, takes job seriously.

BULLBAIT: Rodeo clown, Seth "SHorty" Gorham takes his job, of distracting bulls from fallen cowboys, very seriously .

A cowboy at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday afternoon.

OPEN SKY: A cowboy at the Rancho Mission Viejo Rodeo in San Juan Capistrano on Saturday afternoon.

The story in the OC Register:
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A view through the reeds from the estuary at Trestles.

A view through the reeds from the estuary at Trestles.

I helped a Photographer from the OC Register take some equipment down to Trestles last week for a shoot he is doing.  I’m not going to spoil it, but it’s a pretty clever feature on the bueaty that is so close to us at San Onofre State Beach.
I couldn’t help think about what a toll road would do to this precious spot we have and the fact that everyone has access to it.  Honestly, I am 60/40 opposed to a toll road…but that could be changing…I began to read in the Sun Post News some of the points of view that the city council candidates have in regard to the toll road going through or not…and the adjustments or solutions they have.
I think that before elections in November, we are all going to have to take a deep, hard look at what the exact situation is and what the options are.  A single punched hole in a numbered card that you make within a thin cardboard voting booth seems so simple to do but will have a such a lasting effect.
Before you vote, if its the only thing you do, examine well, exactly how you will vote. I suggest a walk down the path to Trestles; a couple of hours or even an entire day that you spend and how you feel at the end of that time, could mean decades of changes that can’t be un-done. 
I mean that as much for both sides of the issue; the toll road and maybe less traffic and a toll road and perhaps no natural disaster.
I encourage comments…
FiveBlocks.

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Flag Color

Flag Color

 

 

 

I saw democracy at work on Saturday.

 

I began checking the news early on Saturday to see what the attendance and traffic would be for the Obama/McCain Interview event at Saddleback Church.  I imagined that it would be bad so I listened to the radio but the best info came from the reader comments on the warm up article in the OC Register Online edition. 

 

I was assigned by the OC Register to shoot a candidate for San Juan Capistrano city council.  He is a local guy and is affiliated with a group that is against the war in Iraq, among other things (ANSWER Coalition-Act Now to Stop the War & End Racism).  He was to participate in a planned protest in front of the church.  I got my shots of him and essentially completed my assignment.

 

I had asked the staff photographer if he wanted any other shots, as I knew the Register would surely have assigned staff from the daily to cover it.

 

“…Well, keep your eyes open and if you get anything good and different then send it in…it should be pretty tame as all the security will keep a lid on anything out of hand…but you never know…”

 

By 5pm, the protest was a little tired.

By 5pm, the protest was a little tired.

 

 

The candidate I was assigned too, didn’t get there until later on and so I took the time to get whatever peripheral shots I could, just in case I needed them.  My general area was a wide intersection at Portola Parkway and Saddleback Church’s entrance.  It has those cross walks that are so long you almost need a water fountain in the middle to make it from one side to the other. 

 

It seems that the OC Sheriff assigns the different groups, different corners so that there is not a collision of “injustice” and a general all around melee over territory.  I don’t know, but I am going to assume that they must all get together at the Sheriff Department and draw straws to see where they will go.

 

Homemade sign of the times.

Homemade sign of the times.

A little privacy.

A little privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is an entire culture based on a “protest/activist” lifestyle that I had no idea existed.  These people are hardcore and even though they are on opposing sides, they seem to know each other.  Almost like that old cartoon where the sheep dog and the wolf take the bus to work everyday with their lunch boxes and get off at the same bus stop; they fight it out in the sheep pasture and then at 5, they knock off and go home on the same bus.

 

“..g’nite Fred…” the wolf says to the sheep dog as they punch their time cards at the roadside fence post…they get on the bus and the sheep dog responds “…Yeah, see ya’ tomorrow Frank…

 

The Core tools to any respectful activist group would be, a mass of people all wearing the same t-shirt, as large as can be gigantic signs, the all reaching omnipotent PA system and finally a fixer/liaison that works between other groups but especially with law enforcement.  The t-shirts range from just the simple affiliation to a group and printed on a fantasticaly bright color with cliché slogans that go back as far as the American Civil War, to the brash, aggressive and visually lewd pennant phrases of extreme edged politics.  The signs, match to some degree the t-shirts, but expand with more information, logos, websites and affiliations with other groups and cross groups and half groups and international groups…etc…

 

Old school-retro support.

Old school-retro support.

 

 

The PA systems differ only in how loud they are.  Some groups have large speakers set up and others have mobile rigs set up that vary in quality and effectiveness.  They are all loud and when the speaker set up near me fell over and ceased its transmission for a few precious moments, I recognized how precious it actually was.  The audio at the protest ranges from the never-ending chant with a beat to keep everyone with it to the same few sentences of a slogan, repeated over and over to the ongoing commentary by one individual on everything going on in the news all over the world to what is going on just a few feet from where he is.

 

Everybody has a say.

Everybody has a say.

 

 

I think an interesting study would be to attach a GPS tracking unit to the different fixer/liaisons from each group at a protest like this and then check it on a computer afterwards to follow their beehive type movements from the day; from above it would be seen like some kind of obscene alien etch-a-sketch. They are not really the generals running the show necessarily but wade through the trenches from one breech to another, patching up leaks and re-enforcing their group’s position and rights against the rights of other groups and law enforcement.  Deals on deals and promises are made and adjusted at a constant and frenetic pace.  They do not stop and their push is relentless like a Tijuana street vendor.

 

And now…the cops…I was curious to see what it would be with the Secret Service mixed in.  I shot the now infamous “Moon the Amtrak” break-up by the OC Sheriff about a month ago and I witnessed last Saturday the same calm, generous but firm Sheriff’s department respond to what could have been a big mess.  I shot on my own last week when Vice President Cheney came to San Clemente for a fundraiser and saw again an attitude on the part of the OC Sheriff’s department of very straight forward and yet reasonable direction for the demonstrators involved. 

 

In the name of Lady Liberty.

In the name of Lady Liberty.

In the name of Obama.

In the name of Obama.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The demonstration at Saddleback Church was definitely “operating” on a higher plain because the groups were very well organized and had experienced leadership; all the main issues in America today were well represented and the attendees were very aggressive in getting their point across.  What would happen?

 

I think the OC Sheriff’s department learned a hard and valuable lesson from the OP Pro/Huntington Beach mishap from 20 years ago; calm, determined and direct response on a personal level seems to be the order of the day and it’s very effective.  I think that the leadership in the Sheriffs department has always been capable to affect this type of response and has acted this way in general but there seems to a more determined effort that it is carried out this way every time; I don’t have direct knowledge that it’s the new Sheriff, but I think the theme is unmistakably her mark.

 

In the name of Jesus.

In the name of Jesus.

Politics is a vicious circle sometimes.

Politics is a vicious circle sometimes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the task at hand…the protest warmed up as the time edged closer to when we all supposed that Obama and McCain would arrive.  Initially, there seems to be some kind of agreement or convention that each group will contain themselves to their assigned corners and not overtly or en masse encroach any other group’s territory.  Similar believing groups, yet smaller and with no prior authorization, will band themselves to whatever corner best represents them; the main group from that corner will absorb them and in general they are welcome but it seems, the un-spoken rule, is to not usurp the main frontline of the corner and take away prime signage from the lead group.

 

Its common that little pow-wows emerge behind the main show on the corners as information is exchanged about events past, present and future; little alliances of support are made and discussed and positions are evaluated along with taking photos of each other.  It’s a little flat water of calmness just steps away from the storm and then it happens…one group masses on the far corner and, with a green light, sets off in the crosswalk to the opposite shore; they all have the face of George Washington and his troops at the crossing of the Delaware River.  The Paul Reveres on the barricaded corner shout the alarm.

 

“…Here They Come!!!…They’re Coming!!!!…STOP THEM!!!!…Go Back To Your Own Corner!!!!…#!$^#$@^$#….&#$()&#….”

 

Collision of issues and thought.

Collision of issues and thought.

 

 

 

 

 

The edge of the curb becomes Normandy on this day in the hot sun and on this little corner in front of The Saddleback Church.  No one dies and no one is hurt, other than maybe a twisted wrist or a bruised arm.  The deputies are there in the mix and shout over the clash of the crowd to stay on the sidewalk; the bright t-shirts mix and mesh together and somehow blow out to one side and behind the covered wagons of the original group on the corner.  The push and shove slips down the street as each side proclaims their rights under the Constitution and their point of view.  A few from each side are locked in the middle and held there by the crowd; fingers point, teeth are bared and lips snarl their point, inches away from their opponent.

 

Oh, Yeah?

Oh, Yeah?

 

Dust, weeds, signs and cameras now compete as the deputies wade into the middle and separate the wrestling match.

 

“…Calm Down…Lower Your Voice!!!…You Need To Step Back… YOU Are Too Excited, STEP BACK!!!…” the deputies wash down the angry fire and the crowd separates, only to regroup and blow out in another direction.

 

Taking a little walk.

Taking a little walk.

 

 

 

Almost like some kind of ballet, the crowd moves and bounces along, erupting again as sides clash and broadside each other with pronouncements and threats.  The deputies continue to inject themselves and stay with it until the fury is stamped out.  The groups are warned and deputies cajole the crowd to going back to their assigned corners.  Sergeants, lieutenants and captains march with the group from the outside, fine-tuning the broiling crowd to a simmer.  It’s calmer now, but not for long, another group begins its invasion, or maybe the same group or it’s the re-enforcements; it becomes to difficult to say; it doesn’t really matter and essentially it’s the same thing, over and over.

 

Emotion.

Emotion.

 

 

I saw a deputy on a bike get pushed off and if he hadn’t been quick, he would have been going home in an ambulance.  I couldn’t see the exact circumstances of what happened, but no sooner was he off the bike than he was after the person that pushed him.  No one was arrested.  The bicycle deputy and those that responded to his aid showed remarkable restraint.  Through out the day I saw deputies confronted and taunted and they continued with their mission, which was to keep the demonstration safe and without mishap.

 

A little Momento.

A little Momento.

 

 

Two men were taken into custody at one point and after negotiations with the “fixers” were let go.  They sat in separate squad cars and this seemed to cause the demonstrators to pause and reflect and things calmed down.  The crowd shouted for their release and they eventually were, although it appeared that they were cited b efore they were relaesed.  The men returned to cheers from the crowd and after about ten minutes I saw the deputies involved, fuse themselves into the crowd, to search for the men that had been taken into custody.  One on One, the deputy approached them and talked with them in an effort to “mend the fence”.  I couldn’t hear the conversation but the intent was obvious and seemed well received.

 

The "Fixer".

The "Fixer".

Asistant Sheriff Anderson getting it done.

Asistant Sheriff Anderson getting it done.

 

 

The day never came close to the tipping point, although heated at times.  To me it was simply democracy taking place and everyone played their part; it’s not always a calm path and I don’t think it’s meant to be.  I really like the fact that there were a lot of Sheriff higher ups present, including Assistant Sheriff Anderson.  He was right on the corner in the middle of it; relaxed and obviously very confident in himself and his men.  He had a rapport with the crowd and it did a job of calming everyone down.  I tried to get some shots of him interacting but the deputies on foot and horseback closed in to a degree where not even photographers could get in easily.

 

The "Fixer-Summit" on site.

The "Fixer-Summit" on site.

In the end I liked seeing democracy in action.  The Sheriffs department kept it safe and ensured the rights of everyone.  The camaraderie among the aligned groups was interesting to see.  It seems to me that many times people believe that democracy should be bound in a big leather book and stay in a shadowy courtroom and not be treated to the harsh light of day, but I disagree.  It seems to me that rather than bookish, pink and tender, democracy is rough, muscled and a little tired and dirty form being in the street all day; at least it should be that way if it’s doing its job for the greatest majority of its citizens. 

 

Democracy was definetly getting its job done on Saturday.

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I have been assigned by the OC Register to shoot at the Obama/McCain event at Saddleback Church on Saturday.  My position will be Portola Parkway and Saddleback Parkway and I am to get shots of the protesters that assemble there and especialy a local candidate for city council in San Juan Capistrano.  They don’t really expect a big clash but you never know…look for the photos on Sunday.

 

FiveBlocks.

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The Cheney motorcade arrives.

The Cheney motorcade arrives.

 

 

 

 

 

Orange County Democrats lead a group of approximately 36 protesters, armed with handmade placards and peace signs, on Wednesday afternoon, to the entrance of  a gated community  in South San Clemente.  Their intent was to show Vice President Cheney, who would pass thru the area to attend a campaign fundraiser on behalf of US Rep. Ken Calvert(R-Corona),  their ideas on everything from offshore drilling, the 241 Toll Road, social security and the war in Iraq.

 

 

 

 

 

Signs, signs...everywhere, there are signs..."

Signs, signs...everywhere, there are signs...

 

Cheney would visit Camp Pendleton Marine Corp Base in San Diego County and then move north for the fundraiser to be held at the former Nixon/Cotton estate.  His arrival was set for sometime between 4pm and 5:30pm and the group began to assemble at the Trestle’s surf beach parking lot around 3pm.  The bunch was sprinkled with a mix of dedicated liberals and just plain folks that didn’t want the toll road or offshore drilling. 
 
They walked the ¼ mile to the gate of  “Cyprus Shores”  from the Trestle’s parking lot, moving over the Cristianitos Road overpass, accompanied by the intermittent honks from the freeway traffic below.
 

THey crossed the bridge when they came to it.

THey crossed the bridge when they came to it.

This retiree believes in plain talk.

This retiree believes in plain talk.

 

 

Armed with smiles and a good attitude of participation, they waited, exchanging stories and taking photos of each other.  The group was as diverse in age as they were in appearance and purpose.  They happily spoke with the several media outlets that recorded the event and moved around, trying their best to have a good show for the cars, skaters and cyclists that passed by.

 

 

 

 
Cheney arrived at approximately 5pm in a motorcade of 10 vehicles and surrounded by 20 or so motorcycles from the CHP.  He waved brightly through the lightly smoked glass of his black armored SUV.  Security personnel had come through the crowd just before his arrival to align the protesters and the gathered crowd in one area.  The OC Sheriffs were firm, diligent and polite with the group and everyone responded promptly to the requests of the deputies.  I was freelancing the shoot with about 6 or 7 other press people and we were allowed to get our “long” shots from across the street.
 

Nothing gets in the way of surfing in San Clemente.

Nothing gets in the way of surfing in San Clemente.

Traffic was held back for about ten minutes before the arrival of the motorcade and things were back to normal in as many seconds as it took Cheney to pass by.  The protesters came to the edge of the curb and held high their signs and cheered out their well practiced slogans as he passed.  He passed through the gate and down the long narrow road to the guard gate, followed by 2 SUV’s filled with Secret Service and 4 or 5 other support vehicles.

 

There goes number two.

There goes number two.

Some one was asking around and to no one in particular if it was known when he would be leaving.  The woman asked this several times until finally someone answered.

 
“Probably, when they’re done eating…”
 

 
 

 

 

 

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An enthusiastic 2008 San Clemente Fiesta goer is launched above the crowd during a set by local band "The Shys".

FLYING HIGH:An enthusiastic 2008 San Clemente Fiesta goer is launched above the crowd during a set by local band "The Shys".

 

 

The 2008 San Clemente Fiesta Kicked off again this year with a promise of fun for everyone in town.  I went down around 4:30 and noticed a lot less people this year and the flavor of the event was much more in tune with the beach community that San Clemente has always been. 

 

In other years there seemed to be a carnival/circus like atmosphere that was more about beeing seen and having to much to drink.  There was definitely beer to be had but that hard edged party feel was just plainly not as evident as in other years. 

 

I am sure its always a big mess to clean up the next day, just the same.

 

FiveBlocks.

 

Having a good time at the San Clemente Fiesta on Avenida Del Mar.

Having a good time at the San Clemente Fiesta on Avenida Del Mar.

The Shys

The Shys

More Shys.

More Shys.

Even More Shys.

Even More Shys.

Shy Drummer.

Shy Drummer.

 

View from the top of Del Mar over the 2008 San Clemente Fiesta.

View from the top of Del Mar over the 2008 San Clemente Fiesta.

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