Archive for May, 2009


Its not even June yet, and the gloom is already here.  Its really been here for more than a week but, like every year, we hope it won’t last if we ignore it.  I shot this looking south from the San Luis Rey  I-5 freeway overpass on Friday evening and an hour later it was raining.  I hope the tourists don’t see this or maybe I do.

Meanwhile, ten minutes inland, in San Juan Capistrano, the sun shines bright and no one is in doubt that summer is just 3 weeks away.

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Its been a year since Cuchessi passed and although the initial shock is gone, you still wonder about what happened.  This would be where anyone thinking about how it is that loved ones are taken so young, say whatever it is that means something to them, but to me its just that they are gone.

I have been working on a small narrative about Cuchessi for the last year now and I don’t want to give it away until its done but I want to refer to it in some small way.  How many times we had a week in the shop with some event that had passed the week before and we dissected every possible point of view on what took place.  

Like a Supreme Court Justice, Cuchessi would hear the case with the entrance and testimony of witnesses and those willing to detail their opinion.  Afterwards he would evaluate each fact and filter out the exaggeration and truth for what it meant to our small town.  The theorems and co-theorems would stack up until it was obvious that all the info was in and after it all the final decree would come.

Sometimes it might be a single sentence of fact or a paragraph of Cuchessi truths with some mix of Italian wisdom that only his DNA could deliver.  He would apply  and  cross apply other “cases”, comparing them in some way to the web of small town occurrences that archeologically fell on top of one another and never ended; we had a constant presentation of new facts and information.

Cuchessi was not always right but like most small town characters, he was never confused.  The inevitable news would arrive, providing more details of what might have occurred, and Cuchessi would weigh each morsel; usually, wordlessly, he would glance up from the sales counter to the mechanics bay and smile wisely at the confirmation of his intuition and sometimes commenting with “Too Funny…”,  “…what’d I tell you?” or  simply stating, the predictable nickname of whomever just left that, with his inflection, indicating disbeleif, astonishment or confirmation.

This was mostly done in the late afternoon, with the Sun Post News spread across the glassed case that held the steel, durex plastic and aluminum jewels from which he made his living.  Cuchessi had memorized the sayings of the cycling greats that stared down at all of us from the posters on the walls; he would sagely quote them in a way that would in some way apply to the case at hand.

“…I accept the challenge!!!(French accent/Jaques Anquetil)…When I am in question I…ATTACK!!!(Belgian accent/Mercyx)…Haa!!!…I scoff at you!!!(italian accent/Felice Gimondi)” or “…alo, baby…(Flemish accent/Freddy Maertens)”

I can imagine that anyone in the shop the last few weeks and talking to Sue, Andrew and the mechanics about what the last year has been like and what it all means, that if you really carefully listened hard you might hear John’s voice above it all.

“…Don’ worrr’ ’bout it!!!(San Clemente accent/John Cuchessi)”


I wrote this for the OC Register:










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The San Onofre Hawaiian Surf Club sponsored the Polynesian Festival in San Clemente, held at the Community Center this year.  I shot it for the Sun Post News and it seems as though the daily, the OC Register, is going to feature the story with a host of other events going on county wide, this Memorial Day weekend.

It started at 10 am and these things usually start out slow and a little late but when I got there at ten minutes after, they were already in full swing.  They had everything including a chicken bar-b-que rice combo plate that looked really good.  My favorite was the music and the dancing.

Sometimes the music can start to sound the same but they had a good mix and it was all really entertaining, especially with the dancing.  I didn’t see any of the flashy hula type stuff but more of the hand ballet that goes in time with the tune.  They had all ages performing and with different traditional instruments like halved coconut shells and some sort of shredded bamboo wand that made a great sound.  

I got shots of everything including some great looking old time woodys that were really well restored and the best part was from what I saw, it was a real home grown deal with most people I talked to from South Orange County. 

The Hula group “Halau Hula Lani Ola” did most of the performing but there was also a Missions and Bible Study group that went on first and did traditional Hula to Hawaiianized olde time hyms like “A Closer Walk With Thee”, that was really well done.  They were backed up by a full band and with the dance they did that went with it, was just great.  They chose a great spot just between the library and the community center that accentuated the natural aspect of what the Islands can be like.

At one point I saw a gaggle of young performers waiting to go on and sitting all along, on a wall and it made a great shot with San Clemente’s palm trees in the background.  This would be a great event to not miss next year.

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