Posts Tagged ‘california’

California, California, Here We Come (Back?)

It’s been a rough couple of years in California. But as photographer-couple Ryan and Sheri Killackey found, the Golden State still looks pretty Good.

A Day in California from Ryan Killackey on Vimeo.

Sup Brah?

Zoltan Torkos of S an ta Cr uz, California recently completed a feat sure to make boarders of all varieties green with envy and make Torkos some green.

That’s because Volcom, purveyor of stones, was offering $10,000 to whomever could pull off a kick-flip. A kick-flip, that is… on a surfboard.

Desert Snow Day

I live in Santa Clarita, CA – a valley comprised of several communities nestled in a high desert of Southern California. We’re known for hot dry summers and relatively mild winters. Snow in Santa Clarita is something that occurs about once every ten years (if popular accounts are to be believed). Outlying areas in Frasier Park and up through the Grapevine will get snow more frequently but in the basin of our high desert, snow remains an unusual event.

When it does snow, we usually only get small flurries and the flakes barely accumulate before they melt away or turn to slush in warmer rains. Yesterday though, from Valencia to Castaic, Stevenson Ranch to Newhall, all across the valley- the snow came, kept coming and in white mounds piled up in unexpected abundance.

Those in colder areas will scoff at the 1-2″ of snow we received. For us though, it’s a bona fide blizzard. And, humble readers, when the chance to have a snowball fight (read “snowball battle”) or go sledding down your street only comes around every few decades, you gotta relish it.

California Son

2010 will be remembered for all sorts of goodness. The year we took a step towards equality. The year we began commercial space flight in earnest. The year porpoises prevented us from losing Dick Van Dyke.

Regrettably, things have been less great in The Golden State. Arnold’s on his way out with unemployment rates close to the worst in the nation, deficits at historic highs, and more cuts to education inevitable.

Though things are beyong tough, there have been glimmers of hope in California. Dr. Dre is back, the sate is leading by example on cap and trade, and Dennis Ferguson just cut the treasury a check for $10,000.

Back in 1964, Mr. Furguson was laid off from Douglas Aircraft in Southern California. In dire straits, the engineer applied for unemployment and eventually received about $1,100. The money allowed him to go back to school and study computer programming. He went on to a successful second career and eventually retired in South Carolina. When he got wind of California’s budgetary woes he decided to pay back his unemployment with interest, telling state officials “Anyone who is helped out when they are down ought to give something back, especially now that California has budget problems.”

Furguson’s efforts did not fall on deaf ears. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer showed his appreciation in a statement: “I hope that as we work together to meet our budget challenges, we keep in mind his act of generosity and the spirit it embodies.” Since the $10,000 was not addressed to any specific recipient, the money will go toward the general public schools fund where it will undoubtedly serve to reaffirm the spirit of the season.

Double Down: All Of The (Christmas) Lights

For a state with a sizable energy crisis on its hands, California is a veritable hotbed of Christmas light excess. Residents, industry, and even state parks team up to ensure that every last house, tree, tunnel, and boat is bedecked in Yuletide.

The tradition isn’t exclusive. In fact, it sometimes seems divorced of the Christian connotation, pagan even. It may have more to do with sharing something bright and beautiful with your fellow man. In Awesometown, this tradition has manifested itself in the form of a full on radio show spectacular on one unassuming block. A Disney Imagineer has been treating passersby to quite a seasonal show. All they have to do is tune into a shortwave transmission on their car radios and they get to bear witness to stuff like this:

Or, in the spirit of Guitar Hero, this:

It’s hard to find a flaw with such ingenious effort. It may be tempting to roll down your window and yell, “Unsustainable!!!” but nobody likes a Scrooge. One thing that is objectionable, is the total lack of Slayer, but if that’s your thing, a Southland neighbor has you covered:

High Marks for Arnold

Ground Control to Major Tom: We’ve reached critical mass.

Californians recently rolled up some love for Proposition 19, a November ballot measure that would — for all intents and purposes — legalize marijuana. For the first time, over 50 percent of state residents are expressing high favor for the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. In conjunction with this turn of events, the good governor has gone and decriminalized marijuana.


On this fine Friday, the first day of October, it has been decided that it is no longer a misdemeanor crime to smoke or have an ounce of herb in the Golden State. You can still be fined a benjamin for possession, but the infraction carries about as much weight as a parking ticket.

A note to all our buds: The legislation doesn’t take effect until January 1, 2011, so don’t break out the bongs just yet. For those who don’t indulge, you have to admit that this is a step forward. Last year alone, there were 50,000 misdemeanor cases of possession clogging up California’s courts. It’s doubtful that the penalties paid from those cases canceled out the costs of the legion police officers, court clerks, judges, and bureaucrats whose time was wasted processing dreck. With decriminalization comes more time to focus on the real criminals. Let’s hope more lame duck governors follow suit.

Tom Smallwood, Recession Hero

In late 2009, the average price of a house in Detroit was $15,000. Their erstwhile football stadium, built for some $56 million in 1975, was sold to some enterprising Canuck for a paltry 500K. With all the blight, distress, and abandonment, good things are still permeating their way through the dreck. There was a recent article in The Economist that illustrated the unique brand of dystopian renaissance in progress in Detroit these days. Random folk in some of the most affected communities have taken to making ghost towns their easels and deserted houses and cars their canvases. There’s also the admittedly rare case of the laid off auto-worker going from the unemployment lines to the pro-bowling lanes.

Tom Smallwood is every laid off, unemployed, part-time schlepp’s hero. You hear about these dudes from time to time, but not nearly often enough — the Ohioan ace who built himself an igloo entertainment center in his backyard to pass the time in fucked-over America comes to mind. Smallwood’s even better. This dude is boss.

Before becoming a part of the shit show fallout at Motor City Chevy, Smallwood was working the assembly line for $16 an hour. He was a weekend warrior at the local bowling lanes and had always held the dream of going pro. He’d even dabbled in the dream for a hot minute, kinda like the way your cousin’s buddy dabbled in rock stardom by opening up for Fall Out Boy in ’03. Smallwood was still small-fry enough to scare the shorts off his wife when he told her that if he didn’t find a new job within six months, he was going to start bowling full time. He didn’t. And he did. Then, in an obvious upset, he won the PBA Championship, taking home the $50,000 purse — close to double his annual salary at Chevrolet.

Smallwood’s story is the type that causes people to throw around lots of “you can do anything you want to if you set your mind to it babe” bromides, but it’s wise to keep in mind this guy had the ability the whole time. He was just forced into resignation because we’re led to believe that our dreams are unrealistic. The Economist argued that back when the world wasn’t totally on its ass, California promised fame and fortune, whereas Detroit held promise for the modest man — a home, a car, a decent wage. I imagine that sounded like a reasonable compromise to Smallwood. Risk isn’t worth much when you have a family to support. But in a world where the schlepp is the schmuck and the fix is in, risk is the status quo and reward is waiting in the wings.

Lil’ Wayne’s favorite news anchor has the visuals: