It was in a friend's back yard last week, while playing guitars, banjo, congas and bass, singing real loud and scandalizing the neighbors, that we first heard about the shark encounter. A great white, 12 feet long, followed local waterman Vic Calandra as he competed in The Call to the Wall, an annual race. The shark bumped Calandra's board for about 20 minutes, tracking him until Joey Everett, a lifeguard who was paddling nearby, heard someone shouting. Everett saw Calandra, saw the big fin and paddled right over.
Here's a nice piece on Surfer Magazine's site. (Writer Ben Marcus shot this photo, too.) Calandra says Everett saved him.
"The only reason this thing didnít strike me was because Joey was there to fight it off. I had seen this guy around and but didnít really know him and there is no doubt he saved my life."
The two then pulled their boards together, sat back-to-back and fought off the shark. Eventually, they were able to paddle to a nearby fishing boat and climb safely aboard. Except Calandra didn't get out out of the water.
"The ocean was completely glassy when I heard something cut the water. That is not unusual because you see and hear all kinds of things when you are paddling. Usually itís a seal or sea lion or a dolphin or sometimes a fish breaking the surface, but a shark is always in the corner of your mind. This had a different noise so I stopped paddling and turned around and saw something big in the water about 30 feet behind me. It had a different kind of surface track and I thought it might be a dolphin, but the fin kept coming out of the water until it was 18 to 24 inches high.Ē
Calandra tried steering away from the big fish, with no luck. And then it started bumping his board.
"Four or five times the shark approached me from behind or laterally. It looked like a small submarine, the way the water was running off the back of it, on both sides of the fin. I slapped at the water with my paddle just as the shark turned on its side. I got a full look at its belly and the full mouth and its head and eyes. The shark was about two feet under the water but I was about six feet above the surface and I saw all of it. I would say it was 12 feet long, but it was the girth of the shark that really impressed me. Those things are just huge.Ē
Pix of the Monterey Bay Aquarium's controversial shark pen, mentioned in the story, on this page tomorrow.
Dear Mr. Magee,
You were right - I am sorry I didn't try harder in math class. Instead of watching the clock or sneak-reading "Cat's Cradle" or taking that quiz about who's cuter, Josh Enright or Denny Safhay (unanimous answer: Denny Safhay) I wish I had paid closer attention. Then, when the little kid on the beach looked at Maisie and said, "Is her tongue, like, a million miles long?" I could have had a precise answer. As it is, we both settled for "Yes."
Cook's Family Market was sold last fall and a new market is coming. Someday. Maybe. The "Grand Opening" banner used to say "Summer!" Then a few weeks before summer, a new banner said "Fall!" That banner is now lying in the dirt, looking none too promising. But these palm trees were delivered and planted, their fronds tightly bound. Between the tied up trees and the shuttered market, it looks like a hostage situation gone very wrong.
Dry in the mountains, dry in the flats, and the coyotes are living close by this year. Woke to the pre-dawn howls of a large pack, long minutes of those wild voices. No more sleep so I walked the dogs. Pearl light, yeah yeah, a cliche, but that's how it looked, how it felt, smooth and cool. Here's the sun about to rise, and some blue flowers on the bluff, and the tent a movie crew put on the pier, and a barbeque someone left on the beach last night.
I was telling a friend yesterday about the 4th of July in Malibu, how the streets were choked with traffic all day and, that night, the skies were choked with fireworks smoke. Like locals in neighborhoods all over the county, we hunkered down and wondered at all the visitors. According to the local papers, more than 800,000 people made Malibu their Independence Day home base. It was lively and lovely and maddeningly hard. Which is why this little postcard of 1950s Malibu is so appealing. That's the entrance to the pier on the right, if you're looking for landmarks.
Every year I plant a garden up at the barn and every year I'm surprised when things actually grow. This is, after all, the same soil that May RIndge turned into tile, the same clay from which you can roll a coil and build a pot that holds water. Marking rows and planting seeds, tiny bits of dried plant matter which vanish among the lumpy clumps, seems absurd.
This year's garden is a little odd. Corn, all planted from the same seeds on the same day, ranges from ankle- to waist-high. Why? The artichokes are enormous while the peppers are petite. Tomatoes, as ever, are thriving.
Here's the first of the sunflowers to open, a pale and icy yellow, as though born of this summer's stubborn fog. Below that is the first of the pumpkins. If all goes well, it'll appear at the Thanksgiving table in the form of a warm and fragrant pie.
A couple of years ago a series of freakishly late spring storms followed by a few weeks of really high surf sucked all of the sand out of Paradise Cove. Well, OK, not all of the sand, but enough so the beach would vanish beneath even a medium tide and the kayaks tethered to the bluffs would float. The foot of the steep trail that leads to the water washed out and, until some guys with a tractor repaired it, you had to use a ladder to get to the beach.
This spring and summer, a series of slow, low tides has gently pushed and packed and patted the sand back in place. Here's the beach being rebuilt by nature, one grain at a time. Quite likely it'll all vanish again when the storms return this winter (the storms will return this winter, right?) and then get rebuilt (again) the following spring.
I love the guys at Malibu Auto, a terrific indie repair shop here in town. Their office is a shipping container. A lot of the work takes place under a grove of trees. The mechanics there have kept my fleet of aging cars running for years. But lately, when I say something like yes, replace the transmission on the Toyota wagon with 241,000 miles, or yes, please see if the honeycomb radiator in the '49 Plymouth can be repaired, their voices take on a tone. They agree, but they sound weary. Disappointed. A little worried. They want me to get a new car. It's altruistic, really, because a new car isn't going to need the same level of care that, right now, is paying for someone's Princeton education.
So when my 1991 Toyota wagon, which already needed new rear shocks, developed the ticking, clicking sound of a front half shaft gone bad, I just couldn't face Kelly or Viddy one more time. Instead, I dialed the number to a very nice charity Viddy had recommended. And 48 hours later, the Toyota was gone.
Here's a photo of the trio of tiny dogs that ride around with the tow truck driver who took my donation. And beneath that is my last glimpse of my sweet little car. Thirty miles per gallon and it still passed smog check.
For the longest time, no one knew what to do with that empty space on the side of the market at the Trancas shopping center. It was a coffee spot, then it was a news stand, then it was a coffee spot and a news stand. Nothing worked. So what did Malibu want? Barbeque, apparently. Hot sizzling coals topped by tender, roasting meat. Ever since the guys at HOWS Market set up this grill and started cooking up fragrant tritip, carne asada and jumbo hot dogs, it's been standing room only. Pass the napkins, please.
* Thank you to the alert reader who caught me on a typo I always make about HOWS (not Howe's) Market. I couldn't explain the name better myself, so here are his words: "It is actually an acronym for the last names of the four owners, beginning with Roger Hughes, former owner of Hughes Markets, along with Mark Oerum, Dave Wolff, and Steve Stricker, all of whom used to also work at Hughes back in the pre-Ralphs acquisition."
It took just under a week to dismantle and remove that old-style trailer here in the Cove. The whole thing is gone, including the chassis, so that means a new trailer is coming to replace it. Already kids are using the empty lot to play in. Dogs are using it to, well, they're using it. Soon enough, a whole new trailer will come rolling down the road, make a three point turn, and back gently and precisely into place. Instant house.
A friend and I were at breakfast at the Malibu Kitchen, Sunday papers, warm muffins, warm sunshine. Quiet at 8 a.m. (the dogs woke up early) when suddenly, a loud, angry squawk. Then another and another and, after a suspenseful silence, what can only be described as, well, clucking. Clucking?
We looked up into the tree, saw a flash of white feathers. My friend looked puzzled.
"Chickens," he asked?
"Egrets," I said. "So graceful and elegant and ..."
It's been a long, rough, year here in Paradise Cove. The slow-motion sewage project reached the upper section and the roads all went to hell. Then the roads went away altogether and we were driving on dirt. The dogs loved it, ran like maniacs down the street - traction! - chasing balls. But the dust and ruts and bumps were a drag. And did I mention the dust?
Yesterday, something of a miracle happened. Brand new pavement, spread like frosting on a cake. Here it is, the new Cove road at sunrise today, inching its way toward my house. People are giddy. We're talking block parties now, dance parties, skating parties and slumber parties. New road, new start all around.
We see container ships on the horizon here almost every day, sometimes small in the distance, sometimes magnified to huge hulks by a trick of the light. And here's their terminus, the port complex in San Pedro. The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach share the deep-water harbor carved over the last century from the San Pedro Bay. Here's how it looked at the edge of the harbor last week, just another day in one of the busiest ports on earth.
I wanted to get photos of those fledgling egrets in the tree at Cross Creek here in Malibu. Instead of the white birds we've been seeing all summer, though, this little guy peered out from the foliage. Bill Schmoker, a photog and bird blogger who has helped with several IDs in the past, came through again. It's a juvenile black-crowned night-heron, he said. Probably able to fly but, quite likely, still getting food and care from its parents. These are nocturnal birds (thus the name) who sometimes feed during the day. Seems the herons and the egrets may be sharing this very busy tree. A time share rookery. Who knew?
Crews worked all weekend to get this trailer ready to roll. Literally. In the next few days, the halves will get hoisted onto wheels, attached to semis and pulled out of here. No matter that we've seen it a dozen times before - it's just plain strange when someone's stripped-down house rides off down the road.
Here's one of the very last of Paradise Cove's original trailers, untouched by remodeling, in the process of being dismantled. A semi will haul it away soon. Just as neighbors become used to the extra light and the broader vistas, two semis will deliver the halves of a much larger house.
A small herd of deer has claimed the vast expanse of lawn at Pepperdine (kept vividly lush despite near-record drought conditions). The deer appear early in the morning and meander, grazing, as traffic on PCH roars by. Every once in a while the largest doe will look around, nostrils flared, ears tilting and twirling like hairy radar dishes. The rest of the herd pauses, waits for the leader to give the all-clear. Then they all go back to browsing their way across that unnaturally green, green lawn.
As month six of my slow motion remodel unfolds, a bigger, even dirtier and much noisier remodel continues outside my front door. An enormous machine rolled down the street this week and literally chewed the pavement off the road. Everywhere we look it's mud and dust, and dusty muddy men happily playing with big, yellow smoke-belching machines.
As we get ready for the noisiest, most crowded, chaotic and, occasionally, joyous holiday of the summer season (July 4th, not the semi-annual sale at Nordstroms) a bit of serenity would be nice. Here's the last of the moon, setting in the morning sky over Barbra's house(s). Streisand, that is. You can't see it in this photo but she's got an America flag flying from the fence. It appeared soon after the Sept. 11 attacks and has been there ever since.
So this is Diedbuck's (thank you, Karen Duffy Walker Gindick, for coining the name) the third Starbucks in our little burg. Built from the bones of the late lamented Diedrich's coffee, the new place looks kind of the same. Same layout, sort of. Similar couches, homegrown art on the walls. Already the old crowd is drifting back, pulling chairs around the tiny tables to talk real estate and market shares, the Dodgers and city hall. Reassuring, somehow.