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December 31, 2007

Top ten (Well, five, anyway)

Inside the Dume RoomOne of the peculiar quirks of journalism is the obligatory year-end Top 10 list. This little blog being nothing even remotely close to journalism (see proof here or here or here) such rules don't apply. Still, here are a few photos from the last year that I really like. (And yes, the Dume Room shot was taken with a cell phone, but it's the quality of that now-vanished joint and not of the photo that's the point here.)

Below that is a sign that, in addition to the wonderful staff and the actual scent of actual coffee being brewed, reveals the heart and cranky soul of our now-vanished Diedrich's Coffee.
Diedrich's Coffee in Malibu

And links to a beach chair in the Cove, some bobcat cubs in my friend's back yard, and (OK, another cell phone shot) Jerry Seinfeld's vintage Porsche.

Don't shoot your guns in the air. Take an aspirin before you go to bed. Be good to your loved ones.

Happy New Year!

December 27, 2007

Danger, Will Robinson!

road sign in Palos Verdes
Road sign in Palos Verdes.

December 25, 2007

Stocking stuffer

street sign in san pedro
A street sign in San Pedro on a warm and sunny Christmas day.

December 24, 2007

O pioneers

You can't find it unless you're looking for it. Even then, it's not that easy to reach. But tucked away in a wild and untouched quadrangle of land in Santa Monica Canyon lie the graves of my friend, Ernie Marquez' relatives.

Ernie's is one of the original land grant families. He wrote a lovely book about the history of the place. His childhood memories of playing all day in the undeveloped hillsides, of abundant wildlife, oak thickets and fast-running streams sound like a fairy tale. The family lost the land by means as sneaky and unfair as those used on the native peoples who came before.

All that's left of Ernie's childhood home is this family cemetery, hemmed in on all sides by by the walled back yards of modern houses. A few marked graves, and many more unmarked. Ernie waters, he prunes, he communes. He's fighting a slow and expensive legal battle to keep this site in his family.

It's quiet back there, warm and sunny on the day we visited, the air heavy with the sound of bees. Sit real still and you can hear old California.
Burial site in Santa Monica Canyon

December 22, 2007

Solstice sunrise

Did you feel it, the instant last night when the sun moved as far from the earth as it ever gets? Solstice, the start of winter. (Or the first day of the countdown to spring.)

We sure felt something here in Paradise Cove, though exactly what is still under discussion. The pear/rosemary martinis packed enough of a punch for a few inebriated profound discussions and a lively game of flip-the-shrimp skewer, which involves the lever-action trash can, a swift foot stomp, and some Golden Glove catching near the kitchen sink. Malibu. We know how to live.

Anyway, the top photo is the solstice sunrise, as far south across the Santa Monica Bay as it'll ever get. You can see a bit of the mountains on the left. And below, for comparison to how far we've spun on our celestial journey, is the dawn at last summer's solstice, the sun lifting up over the mountains.

Last year's solstice sunset was pretty great. (There are a few pix in the series if you click through.)

And here, should you need a bit of leverage against the loved ones in your life, is the pear martini recipe.
winter solstice 2007
winter
solstice 019
summer

December 21, 2007

Solstice

The solstice should be a national holiday. It should be the official New Year. So what if wobbles a bit, falls on the 21st one year and the 22nd another, it's quite literally the start of a new annual cycle. Days get longer. Nights get shorter. Winter reruns kick in.

Tonight at 10:08 here on the west coast - the moment of the solstice. That makes tomorrow the first day of winter, the first solstice sunrise. If the pear martinis we're serving at our solstice soiree aren't too lethal, I'll try for a photo or two. Tomorrow, a holiday gift for everyone - a few extra minutes of daylight.
cold beach in malibu

December 19, 2007

'Tis the season

And so it's here, our winter weather. A relief after last year when, following a few unseasonably early rain showers, the skies went silent. This storm has heft. It has staying power. And it has local newscasters in a lather, braying about the inconvenience of it all. This rain, it's so...wet.

Flooding or mudslides? Yes, let's worry about those, pray they don't happen. But after the drought years we've had and the fire season we've endured, fretting that rain may make shopping less fun (seriously, have they never been to a mall? No rain needed to add to the hellishness...) is either selfish or stupid. Or both.
A rainy December morning.
A kinda boring photo of the pier because at 7 a.m. it's still too dark and too wet to get much more ambitious than this.

December 17, 2007

Fire benefit on Wednesday

The Great DebatersOur little city has organized a special pre-release screening of Denzel's latest (hey, it's Malibu, we're all on a first-name basis here) at the Performing Arts Center on Wednesday. Proceeds go to help fire victims, many of whom, popular myth aside, were ordinary working-class people who lost everything and are faced with starting from scratch.

"The Great Debaters," a Golden Globe nominee for best picture, also stars Forest Whitaker. Inspired by the life of poet and teacher Melvin B. Tolson. it's the story of how he led a debate team in tiny Wiley College, an all-black school, in 1930s Texas. Suggested donation is just ten bucks, a real steal considering prices at the Malibu theater. ($12.50 weekdays, $14 weekends. No kidding.)

The Performing Arts Center's located at 23825 Stuart Ranch Rd., 7:30 p.m. For more info, call 310.274.3448.

(And just for the hell of it, here's Maisie.)

December 15, 2007

Update on fire arrests

A lawyer for some of the men accused of causing the Corral Fire in Malibu on Thanksgiving weekend say they thought the campfire was out when they left the canyon. Andrew Blankstein updates the story in Saturday's LAT.

Outside the Van Nuys courthouse, lawyers for Anderson and Coppock said their clients were remorseful but did not start the campfire, nor did they know that it had not been fully extinguished, allowing high winds to carry embers into the brush, igniting the blaze.

"When they left Malibu, they believed they had extinguished the fire," said attorney John J. Duran, who is representing Anderson.

"This was not intentional, which is key to a criminal case," added Coppock's lawyer, attorney Andrew Flier. "This is a civil matter. They are the scapegoats in this case."

Prosecutors are seeking enhanced jail time, alleging that the fire was set in an area where a state of emergency had been declared after fires in October.

"This wasn't an 'oops,' " Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley said in a statement. "The law is clear. You cannot go into a high-fire danger area and for whatever reason build a fire. It's not only a recipe for disaster, it's a criminal act."

A bail hearing is set for Dec. 21.


latigo canyon
Latigo Canyon in ashes.

December 13, 2007

Malibu fire arrests

Andrew Blankstein has the story in the LAT.

Arrested in the sweep: Brian Allen Anderson, 22, William Thomas Coppock, 23, Brian David Franks, 27, all of Los Angeles; as well as Eric Matthew Ullman, 18, and Dean Allen Lavorante, 19, both of Culver City, said sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore.

Officials in the Los Angeles district attorney's office said each had been charged with two felony counts: recklessly causing a fire resulting in great bodily injury and recklessly causing a fire to an inhabited structure.

Because the blaze began in an area that had been declared in a state of emergency during the October firestorm, the men could face additional time if they are convicted. In all, prosecutors could seek as many as 10 years in prison.

Cops checked with local businesses that sell firewood and picnic supplies, and matched receipts to items found near the point of origin in Corral Canyon.

A search warrant was issued and, bolstered by witness statements, the five men are being held on suspicion of starting the fire.
fire before dawn
View from the Paradise Cove bluff, near dawn on Nov. 24.

Downtown is pink from here

That's right, pink.

At least at this unreasonably cold and early hour of the day it is.
downtown

December 12, 2007

Point Dume hawk

This hawk rides the currents each afternoon above Point Dume. You can tell it's the same one because, when he spreads his wingtip to fine-tune his flight, the feathers form a pattern.

Like all hawks, this is a patient bird. He hovers for minutes at a time above potential prey. They see him at first, freeze or scatter, but he lulls them, becomes part of the skyscape. He's there, has always been there, until he gathers his wings in one swift gesture, plummets to earth for the kill.
point dume hawk

December 11, 2007

What goes up...

One of my neighbors here in Malibu made it into the NYT yesterday. Jeb Corliss. He wants to fly.

You may remember him as the guy who was arrested in New York last April when he tried to jump off the Empire State Building. Which gives a clue to his obsession: Jeb wants to jump from a helicopter without a parachute.

The landing, as one might expect, poses the biggest challenge, and each group has a different approach. Most will speak in only the vaguest terms out of fear that someone will steal their plans.

Mr. Corliss will wear nothing more than a wing suit, an invention that, aeronautically speaking, is more flying squirrel than bird or plane.

He plans to land on a specially designed runway of his own design. It will borrow from the principles of Nordic ski jumping and will cost about $2 million...

This spring, he's doing a series of test runs. You know, just noodle around a bit, nothing too crazy.

Wearing his wing suit, he will jump from a plane, which will then execute a 270-degree turn and descend at a steep angle. He will fly down to the plane and re-enter it. This will be his second attempt at the benchmark. His first failed when he missed the plane; he deployed his parachute and glided to earth.

Turns out the plane was going too fast, though, so they're going to give it another shot.

Anyway, it's a great story that calls up images of Icarus, the Wright Brothers and my personal hero, Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

Jeb Corliss, you make me proud to be from Malibu.
Jeb Corliss wants to fly
Axel Koester for The New York Times, left; Perry Trowbridge/AFP

December 10, 2007

The holiday spirit

Point Dume headlandsCity slickers get choked up about department store windows. For country folk, it's Currier and Ives. Here on my little stretch of the California coast, with the wintry sun rising later each day and the sunset arriving sooner, it's more than ever all about the light.

I know it's illogical, probably physically impossible, but the Point Dume headland feels like the brightest place in Malibu. It's an ancient coastal bluff that marks the northern tip of the Santa Monica Bay, sticks straight out into the sea. To the south, orderly surf and a sheltered calm. To the north, chaos. Waves and wild whitecaps, breakers, surge, sweeps of current.

Sunrise is good. Sunset's amazing. But here at the end of the year, it's the midday light I crave. It's like slivers, like crashing, like atoms exploding, great chunky fractures, cold and brilliant and loud, none of which makes sense and isn't, let's be honest, even very good writing, but thank god for the fact that something in this calculated, highly calibrated season makes your mind slip a gear, lets you go a little nuts.
earth curve
Overexposed, I know, but I love the slight curve of the earth.

December 7, 2007

A moment of light

That this photo turned out at all is a triumph of the auto-focus feature of the mighty Canon 10D.

That I can manage to upload it to flickr and get it onto the page is a testament to the miracle of modern cold meds. (If, in fact, it's not actually in focus, please don't break it to me just yet.)morning in the Cove

And if I feel compelled to share this photo of...well, you'll just have to look - I can blame that on the cold meds, too.

(And now you can see why I'm not posting too much on Kevin's main LAO page. How much can one man be expected to forgive?)

December 5, 2007

Early light

I love this moment - instant, really - when sunrise is still a spill of light, flat on the horizon.
sunrise

December 4, 2007

Washed up

kayaks in the Cove
Kayaks on the beach in Paradise Cove.

December 3, 2007

LA skyline

LA skyline at sunrise
Looking east at dawn in Paradise Cove.

December 1, 2007

A new perch

Evinrude in the morning
Evinrude finds a new place to sit and judge the world.

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