Archive for March, 2011

The Cove

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011







I was reading my daily dose of Seth Godin today, and his words on initiative, really struck home for me.

Coincidentally, last night was Linchpin night here in Ventura. The Linchpin meetup is¬† an event Seth innovated, where self starters and doers, get together, network, have fun, and sow the seeds of creative fulfillment. We had met at the Watermark, a rather ambitious restauranting endeavor. For our podunk little town (Ventura, Ca), it is what one would call an upscale establishment. I think I must have left the meeting of bright linchpin lights pretty wound up, as my dreams were of doing endeavors…….. all nite long.

My thoughts and dreams have a way of awakening me. So at 3 am, summoned out of a fitful sleep, I began work.  I had an image to locate for a Tedx talk in Munich. The request had come via a search through my website, and the images selected were ones I had not seen in many years.

What many people do not know, is that every image is the result of a quest of some sort. So there is a story behind each. The first image in this edit request was simple to find. It was a Wiamea dawn shorebreak shot, which I had captured 10 years ago, standing right next to Warren Bolster, who was twitching in manic fashion when I would look over at him. I had not known this, but since I was staying at Wiamea that year, and heard the break fire up in the night from my bed, (I was first on it) but I had inadvertently placed myself in Warren’s favorite spot. I could see his discomfort, and found it amusing, as I was shooting with an ancient Century 650 F 6.7 manual focus telephoto. He of course, had a beautiful Canon 600 F4 L autofocus lens. I was sad when I learned of Warren’s death awhile ago. Lots of memories attach themselves to my work.

This made me think of my friend and colleague Jason Wolcott’s words, which I included in the image above. It was shot in a remote cove in Mexico 12 years ago, using that same Century 650 lens.

I had been shooting from the water at the South end of the cove that afternoon, having driven down with my friend Dean and  one of the Goleta Bodyboarders. The Cove is an amazing place. Pristine and alive with all manner of sea life. A fish farm lies just offshore.

As the light was coming on in the later afternoon, I was in the water shooting one of the guys on a left and saw an entire school of fish jump through the air in panic. We all laughed. Then I thought, hmm, why the display? And there he was, a huge tiger  shark charging down the line on the very next left hander of the set.

I turned and caught the wave, (same wave as the shark) and began to bodysurf in. As the wave began to slow, I felt something near me and looking up realized that one of the bodyboarders had gone as well, and was stalling, waiting for me. I pulled myself up onto him and we rode to the sand together, laughing in relief as Dean sat outside alone looking at us quizically.

On the beach was a cave which you could walk through to the water. I had wandered over and realized that the entire school of fish had beached itself and lay dying now. We managed to get Dean to come in after that.

So I had set up my tripod, and shot the image you see above in this post, which was of a wave, spawned by some distant storm in the Southern Hemsphere, that had traveled all the way across several seas, to expire as a backlit gem and reward me in it’s wonderful death. Jason’s words say it perfectly.

So in answer to Seth’s query: what do I do when the phone is not ringing? I engage, create. That is just what Linchpins do, and the affect is the same as that wave spawned by the storm, which travels out from the source to crash ashore in another time and for yet a new set of eyes to engage, and another heart to inspire and aspire.

I do not think any of this, or us, ever really stops.  It is just in our nature to go on. That is the gift that we have been bequeathed: to expand.  I would rather inspire than do anything else. That matters.

Amber Storm

Amber Storm




The Significance of Mermaids

Saturday, March 26th, 2011


In running through an edit the other day for a magazine feature, I happened to stumble upon a file titled “Lost Mermaid” In it were some large scan images of Hannah Fraser performing as a mermaid which I had shot in the Maldives quite some time ago.

The scans had apparently been put in a  back file and forgotten. When I had run across them eventually, I had finished my post production work, sent them out into the netherworld of global editorial submission, and once again sort of forgotten them.

Flicking through thousands of images deftly , when I opened that Lost Mermaid folder I simply stopped in my tracks and went “Wow”.

 Come Hither

Come Hither

On the face of it, a pretty girl putting on a mermaid suit and floating around in the Laccadive Sea (Far side of the world, mid ocean) could be construed as a silly thing to deem of any real value or significance.

Eco Concerto

Eco Concerto

But the reality is that in process, this artist inspires each of us to don our own suit of many colors and step out into the void. The world needs that from us, especially right now as it groans under the weight of vast change and challenge.

Here is a good example, sent along by Eric Skaar. A beautiful mind.

Here is another, sent along by Dr Ed Brenegar. A TedX talk by the wonderful CEO of Random Kid,  sixteen year old Talia Leman.

Earlier this week, I got to sit in an hours long conversation with my friend George Orbelian, who among many things heads up the San Francisco Global Trade Council and Project Kaisei. As sunshine magnified by a big bay window, warmed away the chill of a wintery afternoon in Ocean Beach SF, I listened intently as we examined a number of quite vast issues, ones that would appear to be out of reach for any “normal” person in our culture.

After we had looked at “the Japan Problem” and George had presented some rather intriguing information about the Nuclear Plants and Tsunami damage and I had thrown my POV’s worth of data on the pile, George looked at me and quite earnestly said something that hit me with more force than any bitch slap ever could: “What are we going to do?”

And I thought about the mermaid.¬† There are always solutions, but often they come via something that is so lateral, “the powers that be”, due to the way socio- political organizations function, would never consider that maybe the answer was in the examination of a different process and a shift in Philosophy.

Japan changes everything. In this dire time, is presented a remarkable opportunity to change our world for the better and establish something very remarkably sustainable: clean energy, more secure nuclear power generating stations and the creation of a waste recycling system utilizing fuel with a fraction of the safety issues of Uranium and Plutonium. Ever hear about Thorium?

Here is a very simplified view of the potential of Thorium as an energy source in the generation process.

But as my friends in Japan have already pointed out, you cannot build nuclear bombs if your plants run on Thorium. Ever think about what that means strategically? To have all your fissionable material breeders spread all over the countryside generating electricity as well as material to build bombs?

So as my time with George came to an end we looked at the hard line items in Japan and our World, which due to some Geologically time based activity, is likely going to see more incidences like the quake off of Japan that killed so many.  It also created the scenario for catastrophic failure that will in all likelihood cause the reactors to need to become entombed like Chernobyl, thereby causing a loss of the land, adjacent ocean, and vast environmental  resources and health.

As I watched the video of the Tsunami coming ashore and the roiling black waters that I knew contained bodies being crushed by the weight of water and debris, I thought laterally. You could limit some of this further by  a number of actions. But the greater damage and threat to life, that of environmental nuclear disaster, energy dependence and the war expense that implies, that catastrophic flood, can be prevented entirely.

 A Far Shore

A Far Shore

You just need to understand the significance of mermaids.


Sea Within

Thursday, March 24th, 2011
The Sea Within

The Sea Within

I once met a man who inspired me greatly. At his encouragement, I went on to accomplish all manner of things in the ocean. Of course it was not by his urging alone, but for some reason, he was my catalyst, and the reaction which occurred as a result of his input, wed my life to the sea.

Many years later, as I sat with a writer pal of mine at the man’s home on the sand near Santa Barbara, he recounted his life before the Multiple Sclerosis morphed him into a creature who could do no exploits. “I lived my entire life in the span of 8 years” he had said. He did grand and wonderful things at the helm of a dory, a sailboat, paddleboard, and on a surfboard. He lived his ocean experience in a time when the grand and golden California burgeoned and beckoned to the world at large with a pristine ocean, replete with salty, gusto laden vitality.



As I knelt down, and apologized for my lens which set dead square upon him for a memorial portrait, he looked me straight in the eye and said: “Don’t you just love the feel of that cool crisp water, as it envelopes you?”

And at that point I “got it”.

What a gift.

Soul and Heart

Soul and Heart

Mason Van Valin says it well with Ghost Love

Rocket’s Red Glare

Thursday, March 17th, 2011
Rocket's Red Glare

Rocket's Red Glare

My Father worked on the weapons delivery systems for the Defense department. He would have terrible nightmares. So I grew up with all of the information regarding what occurs in a  worst case scenario of a nuclear detonation. The knowledge acquired was probably what drove my love of Science and caused me to at one point, major in Bioscience. I have never stopped learning. None of us should.

That cold handshake was what pointed me back to nature, and my current philosophy and knowledge of God. I learned that fear is a mind killer and knowledge leads to Hope and Faith. God always brings those line items along.



In this terrible event in Japan, you have a lot of things occurring in a very fluid manner. Line items that involve risk and danger, ebb, flow and shift. Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend of ours who has a robotics factory inland of the Tsunami impact zone. It was damaged. Equipment needs recalibrating. Some walls need repair. But they can get back up and operating.

The issue in his¬† and adjacent Prefectures, is that the infrastructure has collapsed. “We can build things, but without roads, there is nothing that we can do. It will be a hard year for Japan. But we will be okay. The very important things are establishing food and water supply, housing, infrastructure and Military strength in maintaining a country. We will do this, and Japan will be better after”.

I have had all manner of contact from colleagues and friends in Japan. They are in the trenches. But like my friend Shin says, they will come back.

It occurs to me, that the sorrow in all of this is in what has just happened: a large number of lives snuffed out. As a culture we need to face that one down, grieve, and take a look at our own lives.

This  is via Mario Vitonne.

Like a Wave

Like a Wave

It is the common consensus that were this scale of a disaster to hit in the US, that anarchy would occur immediately. I see that as likely in this current environment.

In the 50′s and 60′s here, schools would require Civics courses where the tenet of preparedness and Civil Duty were taught. You saw it seeded through the entire American culture with Cub, Boy and Girl Scouting organizations etc. I remember the motto: “Be prepared”. There is a lot to be said for cognitive preparation in a life.

We have lost that in the general population base in the US and especially in California, and the loss has left us vulnerable in many ways. But the most insidious, is in the propagation of fear by a lack of hands on knowledge and preparation.

It does not need to be that way.

But in a culture grown fat, and prone to following fear based groups who continually perpetuate a Chicken Little  mentality (Insert name of PAC, Pseudo Enviro group, Political Organization or Religion here) we have gone from standing as the strong tribe of the planet, to being a bit of a spaz.



America needs to wake up. If ever we needed a return to the values espoused by our Founder’s pioneering spirit, it is in this hour. But it all starts with the individual. Me, you, us.
Our Founders knew this. It is why we safeguard individual rights in the Bill of Rights: it cedes strength and responsibility to the base of the house of State.

Pioneer Stock

Pioneer Stock

Here are a few links that offer some information that will allow for a certain amount of education regarding some perceived risks. Read them. Weigh them against your own knowledge base. Grow. Prepare. Spread that knowledge and stability within your community, because in so doing, you shore up the future.

Here is something pretty cool that the City of Ventura has done. Code Red

An interesting and informative editorial piece, sent along by Skip Saenger.

Dr. Ed Brenegar just sent across a rather involved and remarkable piece on building for the future entitled¬† ” The End and The Beginning

We quite possibly are entering a period of time where there are going to be great challenges, that many alive have never experienced or needed to manage. So since education and preparation promote stability and an environment of peace and health, lets all just agree to not “Tilt at windmills” any more, and simply be prepared. Stop supporting people that you HOPE will do the job for you. Do it yourself. The knowledge you will gain in the process can transform your world.

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

Life, Liberty, Pursuit of Happiness

Be your own hero.  You matter, and common sense needs to become common once again.

Future Perfect

Future Perfect


Monday, March 14th, 2011
Love's Secret Domain

Love's Secret Domain

This is a little deviation from the Loves serialization. Though the subject does relate.

The other night, I got roped into doing something I rarely ever endeavor. My son invited me to a “dive bar” to see him play. He had been working on creating a band to perform his music, and the never visited “hole in the wall” on a section of Ventura’s Main St, was to be ground zero for a shake down performance.

Josh Slavin is the stage name for Joshua Pu’u by the way. (People keep asking me.) I usually sort of just smirk. Hyperbole is everything.

His rather complex interpretation of music and performance was pretty much nailed in Seth Godin’s blog today. Bring me stuff that’s dead please. Josh is doing this. I was impressed when I finally figured it out.

It had been a busy week for Josh. One of our local papers, the VC reporter had done a little story on him. That sort of adds a  subtle layer of pressure. Especially when one spends all of their time writing, designing, and recording, pretty much alone. Guitar lessons, vocal lessons, plying the music scene in LA. Josh had delved into most of that on his own, in pursuit of interpreting something pretty much dead.

His new band shows a lot of promise. The complexity of their music and level of performance requires the refinement of a hundred dive bar performances, but that is how a craft is honed, one swing of the axe at a time. It never was lost on me that term: “axe men” for guitarists.

The process was related to me by my friend Samuel Shoemaker, who fronts a band with his brothers, called of course, The Shoemaker Brothers. (Those lyrics say everything.) Sam told me the story of them leaving home in Washington, and playing their way across the US and back, one performance at a time, each night ending with loading their gear back into their van and moving along. Zuri Star has related similar dues paying, and craft building performance campaign tales. It is just how becoming good works, in anything: one must undergo a trial by fire. The grand test is whether it ever matters of course. That is the risk. Life is lived  in a handful of moments. A career is like a fuse. Artists know this.

Here is a great NPR piece on Neil Diamond finding his music and voice.

At the end of the night, it was Josh alone in the corner of the bar. That said a lot. Because I know that for any performer, when all is said and done, it all comes back to being willing and able, to stand and deliver.

Artists are brave Mofos.

Here is the Music Video our group did for Josh and Love’s Secret Domain, for the song, “No Substitute”.

Here is a gallery of Art based branding imagery that I produced for LSD. I do a lot of this for a variety of clients and artists. It is a bit of work, but as in all creativity, when passion and inspiration rises, the hours shooting and interpreting in post seem to slip by un noticed, till at the end of the day, eyes a little gritty feeling, one swings open the door to the outside, and wow, another day in a life just passed. Glad that it mattered. Hope that is does for someone besides me.

The images were shot as we filmed the music video. The performers are Josh Slavin and Gabe Witmer.

Click on any of them to toggle through as a slide show.

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.