Archive for November, 2011

A Thanksgiving Story

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
Hobie Surfboards

Hobie Surfboards

A little while ago, at the behest and planning of artist Robb Havassy, I found myself at the home of film maker Bruce Brown. Though I tend to want to keep some aspects of my life private, this is something to share, as it is a story about the power of gratitude. November twenty fourth being the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S., it is especially appropriate, as thankfulness is in the heart of a Nation today. This little tale explains how it works, in the lives of my friends.

I met Bruce many years ago. He had rang me up out of the blue. His son, Wade and I, had worked together in my surfboard shop in downtown Santa Barbara. Yet our paths had never crossed. Bruce had asked me to come up and meet a writer on assignment for the NY Post, as they were doing a piece on him. He was so funny on the phone, that of course I said yes, and laughed for about ten minutes after we rang off. Not wanting to take any chances screwing it up, I had dragged my then assistant, Brian Nevins up with me. The portrait below was at the end of that day we would share at the Ranch and his home with writer Corey Levitan.

Film maker Bruce Brown

Film maker Bruce Brown

As my fiance, Donna Von Hoesslin, Havassy and I, sped up coast in the warm afternoon light washing the California Coast, Robb explained a film project idea that he was developing. Donna was craning to see if any of the multiple breaks that lie alongside the 101 on the Gaviota Coast were breaking, and I was quietly thinking about how special the people in my life are.

Gaviota Coast

Gaviota Coast

Robb loves to cook. Whenever he comes up to visit Donna and I, we usually let him. So part of his happy little plan, was Carne Asada del Havassy, and it was stashed in the car boot along with Vodka, a bottle of pretty special wine made by my friend and filming partner Rob Dafoe, and a few other sundry things for dinner.

The Speed 3 rumbled up the dirt road that led to Bruce’s home, Robb and I laughed. A big van emblazoned with Sanuk marketing wrap was parked next to the garage. Ha! It belonged to Wingnut, AKA Robert Weaver. We had just discussed him being in Robb’s project. Of course he was there. You could see what was coming in terms of our evening, as clearly as one would driving a long country road and happening upon a cross road.

As an image maker and Journalist I am highly cognizant of the significance of cross roads. They are pretty special when you look back on them with the benefit of retrospect. But nowadays, I cherish what comes at me via these very fortuitous moments in time. I pay attention to the traffic.

There we all were on the Gaviota Coast, and as golden fingers of light withdrew in leisurely fashion across the coastal scrub and the ocean took on mauve and amber tones, the stories flowed, and Bruce, his daughter Nancie, son Dana, Wingy, Robb, Donna and I shared stories, wine, laughter and the texture of our separate and collective lives. I will forever sit rapt at the feet of a great story teller. And I was surrounded by them.

As dinner wrapped up, none of us left the table. A lot of very rich and heavy sonnet ensued, and I swear I went from tears to laughter and back, several times before Bruce got up, only to return to the table with a sheaf of papers bound together. A hand made phone book of sorts.

“Hey have you talked to Hobie lately?” Bruce asked. “Ah no. I had wanted to interview him actually Bruce, but he has been having a pretty heavy battle with Cancer. I think he may be on Orcas Island.” (A lot was contained in what Bruce was doing. That man has the sharpest mind of just about anyone I have met. I swear he thinks in multiple dimensions. It is an ability which I have seen and found in common with many great creatives).

“Let’s call that foker up.”

I had been enlisted many years ago as an image maker for Hobie Sports Intnl and they had sent me all over the world. I have gotten to travel with Jeff Alter, Dan Mangus, Sean Douglas and a plethora of great athletes that today are a part of the lifestyle Hobie Alter created, which I truly view simultaneously as being descendent from my Hawaiian heritage, and having steered the development of contemporary culture. I constantly pinch myself when on our shoots, the ocean delivers repeatedly, experiences that are sort of mind blowing.

Bruce got Hobie on the line by the third ring I think. Without betraying the confidential nature of the conversation, I will just say that it was about gratitude. I listened as he thanked Hobie for everything he had done. From surfboards to boats to gliders and more. Bruce thanked Hobie Alter for introducing him to it all. And then he handed the phone to me.

I have surfed all over the world. I think that I have built maybe 40k surfboards in my life. I’ve sailed, swam, fished, soared, built and raced cars and bikes, and today I travel with cameras, and communicate what that life can look and feel like. I introduced myself to the gentle voice on the phone and gave a brief explanation of who I actually was: some guy who really is no different than any of us whose life revolves around the sea, and all I could think to say that meant anything was this: “Thank you. What you have done has made a big difference to me. I know you have been dealing with Cancer. How are you?” “Pretty good! I have to walk with a cane now. But I feel pretty strong. I think that I am going to be around for awhile”¬† “Really happy to hear that Hobie, I am going to hand the phone off now. There are some others here who want to talk to you.” And I said goodbye.

Auspicious moment, getting to talk to a man whose work created the platform for the things that bring joy and meaning to your life. Bruce knew what he was doing.

Then he called two more people. He was sowing seeds.

That is what we are doing today. All of us as we give thanks, are sowing to the future, in the honoring of the lives and memories of those who invested in their dreams, and pursued happiness. There is much to be said for that.

Here is a fantastic example by Photographer Giles Duly

Here is another, by  film maker Louie Schwartzberg.

Gratitude and Happiness are siblings.

You have to invite one in to get the other.

Happy Thanksgiving. Sow some seeds.

 

 

Winning

Thursday, November 10th, 2011
Crimson is the Color

Crimson is the Color

I often wonder what goes through the mind of some people who, intent on winning, never consider that, in the pursuit and application of the process of the win, they are working to insure a contract be executed on their existence.

I cannot recall how many times I have endeavored to explain symbiosis versus parasitism to some  low talent underling, who is convinced that I should spend everything that I have to support their vision. It seems that they all came out from under their respective rocks this week.

“Pay, oh we don’t pay anything for other people’s work”. (Think about a City Manager getting paid 200K a year who wants citizens (artists,musicians) to ante up for, well, whatever…….)

Note to underling: “How is that dead end entity, which is based on free content working out with your advertisers and supporters, hmm?” Sooner or later your subsidized job, in your tax foil organization, will end, and you will be gainfully unemployed.

The race to the bottom, frequently is overlooked by the footsoldiers in the lead.

I saw that this week in my home town. Politics are very similar to the publishing business. Fortunately, both are metered by both readers and the public, ultimately.

Winning

Winning

Any intelligent investor knows this:

Ethics matter.

All con men will try to convince you that the opposite of what you know, is true. They can be so convincing that frequently I have seen them believe their own line of compelling manipulation. It is what keeps them moving forward. They believe.

What Matters

What Matters

In business and in life, how you ride, run, lead, follow, in the race, is everything. At the end of the day, it is only you who looks back at your Maker. The choices we have in this Country? Well, someone paid for those. Best to appreciate and cherish that.

This link is to an e book on the aspects of Leadership, written by Dr Ed. Brenegar, who is coming to visit Donna and I this week end. I highly recommend it. One never knows when one may be forced to lead. Having tools to be good at it, is important.

This image is courtesy of the US Military Press Corps. I did not shoot it. I would have had a very difficult time doing so.

 United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, of Hopewell, Virginia, died April 4 near Helmand province, Afghanistan.

United States Air Force Staff Sergeant Phillip A. Myers, of Hopewell, Virginia, died April 4 near Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Pursuing Happy

Saturday, November 5th, 2011
Happiness Is

Happiness Is

One of the things that always strikes me about Bali and the Balinese is the degree of happiness which exists.

Some may say that being happy is a choice. Well it is, sort of. But not the type of selection one may suspect. Happiness is in the choices open to you as an individual and member of a Community, and in the case of a Citizen of the US, the pursuit of it, is a National Guarantee.

Here is a fantastic read on Happiness, by Dr William B Stewart. Take close note of what he says about the US Bill of Rights and Constitution.

Peace

Peace

I very recently returned from Bali, a supposed “Third World” nation, to Ventura California. A place that by all rights and history, should be a bastion of freedom and happiness, seeing it was founded on the backs of settlers who became ranchers, farmers and¬† oil field workers. One would call those, “salt of the earth” types. People whose families and existence were based on the pursuit of happiness.

However, (and I write this with great reluctance) a cancer moved into my Community in the past decade. Lubricated by money and the pursuit and love of it, a Socio-Political faction obtained control of the town through the City Council and hiring of a dis-re located City Manager to run the town, which proved to be at the expense of the freedom and happiness of the township, which is a Corporation.

Repressive Disconnect

Repressive Disconnect

As the US economy spiraled into a new abyss, those people engaged in a philosophy of  City Governance one would at best call repressive, and at worst Totalitarian. The irony of course, being that most of the empowered are rather well paid at Taxpayer and Community expense.

Red Light Traffic cameras were installed, as a means of obtaining a new source of income. Parking pay stations were installed in the Downtown as a means of controlling traffic and the populace, under the guise of progress, killing it, at the expense of 1.8 million dollars. Only two City Council members resisted fairly consistently, Jim Monahan and Neil Andrews.¬† City¬† Mayor Bill Fulton, City Manager Rick Cole and the other Council members,¬† pushed for all of it,¬† on occasion, shouting down and conspiring against any who disagreed with the repressive and money losing attempts to create a “Sustainable Urban development” out of what is really a sprawling village.

Home

Home

I have long been involved in Ecological Study and Rules development and the more foot to the ground aspects of Environmentalism and Progressive development. I have never seen such an obvious attempt at Greenwashing and false flag flying under the guise of Sustainability, as I have seen by the leadership at large in Ventura Ca. Look into the backgrounds of the various members of City Governance and their allegiances, and you will find development companies and interests. You will find six figure salaries. You will find  a potential for corruption that makes Indonesian Govt look like a school for choir boys.

In Sustainable Systems, architecture demands that needs be met with available assets, thereby perpetuating the system itself. What Ventura has gotten shoved down it’s throat by these well compensated individuals is the opposite of that. It is the definition of Parasitism, where eventually the foreign entity kills or severely damages the host.

For this Community to thrive, the drain on it  must be removed.

Ever hear of the term “Proactive Zoning and Code Enforcement”? That is where the City Zoning and Code enforcement people show up at the door, flash a badge (They are actually NOT Law Enforcement) and ask to enter your home under the guise of A) Having a complaint lodged by some mystery person or B) Just wanting to make sure that your property is “safe”.

Then, IF the homeowner is gullible enough to let the inspector in, that CITY EMPLOYEE cites the occupant of the home (citizen) for anything that they can find and fine them for. Cannot pay it? No problem. The City of Ventura leins the home and it goes on the list for collection by the County Tax Assessor and sale later, by the County of Ventura if you still cannot pay. No kidding. Approx 148 homes are currently on that list and the Institute for Justice in Washington DC sent a letter to the City (watch their video on the 14th Amendment!), saying it was in violation of the Constitution of the United States. Not one of these homeowners was offered time payment plans or a hardship application.

A once proud heritage

A once proud heritage


So there is a City Council Election next week in Ventura, and three seats are being contested. The incumbents have made clear choices about their and the City’s future happiness. The challengers, (With the exception of candidate Cheryl Heitman, who moved to Ventura from Thousand Oaks this year) are long term members of the Community. Some have at great personal expense, fought against what has been done to their town. One of them, Ken Cozzens, is a retired Sheriff and local business owner (both highly qualifying vocations to have represented in office). Another, Carla Bonney, even went so far as to acquire nearly 12k Citizen signatures that would place the parking pay stations on the ballot, only to have her community building efforts be halted by City Attorney Ariel Calonne, who had been informed of the efforts all along. What he did looked very bad. It may have been what it looked like. It may not. But in any event, the people who all thought they should get the opportunity to VOTE on the changes rammed down their throats by the Mayor, City Council, Rick Cole and the Downtown Ventura Organization, were denied that opportunity.¬† Get the picture?

There is more. Much more.¬† I HATE dirty laundry, and my town like many, has skeletons which maybe ought not be exhumed. Or maybe they should? Ever read about our town Cemetery that was turned into a dog park illegally? Today, dogs walk where bodies still lie interred, the area scraped of grave markers, which were dumped in Hall Canyon. The City uses the issue to distract the public from the real issue: this large Midtown section of the city is the only section that has no real parks, so people continue to fight over the use of a cemetery. Legally, that is exactly what it still is. People’s families and the History of Ventura are buried there! No park for you, but here, have this cemetery. The dead won’t mind. After all, they are dead. The act violates all manner of State and Federal codes as well as the basic conventions of humanity in every culture of the earth. To make matters even more onerous, one James Sumner, a Medal of Honor holder, is also interred there. Ventura just wanted a park. Parks are happy places. Cemeteries are about something else. The bodies lie there still. Understand?

Goal of Governance

Goal of Governance

Now don’t get me wrong. Politics are dirty business and politicians seldom are leaders of any real sort. They typically only follow the money trail. So why expect Ventura to be different?

Because Venturans live there. And for that reason this tract of Coastal Land could possibly be one of the most vital assets in California. But only if Venturans determine the direction and application of Law, Civil Liberty, and Development. We must pursue Happiness. We must seek it out, architect it, and make it work for our future generations. There is smart growth in that. Anything less is just demise.

As the Occupy Movement and¬† crime in high places, struggle together for control, the only real chance for happiness, is for the community to assume control of it’s destiny, and in doing so, be allowed the opportunity to pursue liberty and happiness. It is why I will not expatriate, much as I love the peace that exists elsewhere in the world. It is why I am and remain, an American. That is my choice. I am not paid to be here. I want to be here.

Want to see a happy future for your children? Occupy your town. Take it back from those who are there to milk it for personal gain. You and I must do this. There is no one else with that responsibility, who will do it for us.

I hope things change, yes. But regardless of who is in a City Govt position, we all have an investment in our Communities, and must believe it to be worth all of the struggle to restore, and must understand, that eventually, the townships of America will be occupied by the Citizens, and not prurient interests hiding behind false flags.

Icon of  Ventura Justice: Judge McGrath's home

Icon of Ventura Justice: Judge McGrath's home

Seems like a prudent thing to me: the pursuit of happiness. For everyone. It is why our founders wrote it into the Law.

My son Josh produced this. A young man who is an idealist rooted in the realism of our National Socio-Political condition.  A Venturan.  No Substitute.  He gets it. So should we.

Love your family. Cherish your Community. Occupy. Take your town back. Make it YOUR homeland. You restore our Country by doing so.

That is an honorable thing.

Light Fantastic: Happiness

Light Fantastic: Happiness

Love Does

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011
How to Be

How to Be

 

I find myself back in the office, in Ventura, California, and once again, am up before the chickens. Maybe it is jetlag. But I doubt it. My waking dream was about love. Not the manner or type of which one might think, coming from somebody who just proposed marriage to his long time girlfriend.  It is the type that changes everything.

As I work through the processing of 2800 images from Bali, I went straight to the above image this morning. (It was in my head as I awoke).¬† A bracelet Betty B produces, post birth, in a Bali workshop. It is a ring of sorts. Rings say a lot. People’s lives are sort of like that: rings. Would that all of ours would have the same stamp on them. The world would be better for it.

If you read nothing else this year, read this remarkable piece on Steve Jobs, by his Sister, Novelist Mona Simpson. It was sent along via some mutual acquaintances through my dear friend and colleague, Martine White.

Love Is

Love Is

I am always struck by the quantity of people Donna Von Hoesslin’s company vision touches, and how it affects change. The look on her face as she sits with one of her teams of artisans on Bali says it all. This matters to her, that her company offers a link to other realities for her people. I think it may possibly be the single best design catalyst, to care enough about people that one would be willing to love them to the point of changing their worlds for the better.

Betty B could manufacture anywhere. Margins would go way up in some ways, but the quality of life for people she deems special, would not. So she keeps most of her work creation on Bali. I jokingly refer to her modus, as detente by design.

But it suits her. And her collaborators. And something very, very special, is born into this world by it. Jobs did this very same thing, in his own way with his family, and with Apple. He changed the world.

i Life

i Life

Donna and I both are able to create a heck of a lot with great facility, due to Steve Jobs. In the image above she documents something pretty cool. However, what she does not realize is that her artisan was working on the engagement ring which I had designed for her. The little green piece of seaglass on the table, was one which I had brought over from California and had at the last minute swapped out for a smaller piece found on Bali. I was stifling myself as I shot this in Ketut’s workshop.

Life tends to become a blur. Donna’s designs make one pause, and consider what beauty and love truly are all¬† about. We need that. I need that. It is what I want in my life.

Ubud

Ubud

I had a lot of time to think, and shoot, as Donna and I flew home on EVA. Our route takes us over Brunei. It seems that magical things always occur there. Here is one grand panoramic which seems to me like a castle in the sky.

Firmament

Firmament

Landing in LA and going through Customs, I saw some of the same agents who always seem to be there, and without fail, welcome me home each time. As I pass through the new station, complete with camera and fingerprint ID system, the tired looking agent asks me if I have anything to declare. “Ah not really. I did not bring much back.”¬† “OK. Good trip? he asks.”¬† “Yea great. I went over chasing a girl. Found her. Asked her to marry me. She said yes!”

Guy cracks a big smile. “Man that is great. Welcome home”

And as I strode into the baggage hall, I knew what lay ahead. It had been a peaceful respite being on Bali. But my country is in deep shit on many levels.

Fixing this place will take a whole lot of Love. I would have to live it. Not so easy to do, when what kills the country is selfishness. But each one of us, if we really want a sustainable future, well, we have no choice but to live it. That is where the beauty truly lies.

Banner

Banner

 

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.

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