Posts Tagged ‘City of Ventura’

Beyond Local: A Film Maker’s Request

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

Mission San Buena Ventura

I reside in the quirky town of Ventura California, which is located approx 50 minutes drive up coast from Los Angeles, and approx 30 minutes drive down coast, from Santa Barbara. If you do not know much about the place, you may not pull off the freeway. Why would you? (There are a lot of reasons to do so, actually)

One of my friends and colleagues, a young Brooks Institute of Photography graduate (read that: saddled with a large student loan) has been spending her time shooting and filming the music scene around California, and more particularly in our funny little town.

The reason I call Ventura quirky, is because it never really seems to find it’s way.

Saddled with a City Council, which has given rise to all manner of community embarrassment the past ten years, via large numbers of City generated actions, it has a history of perpetually seeking to validate itself through embrace of the various Arts. There are a few regular, valiant, “rogue dissenters” in City Hall, to be sure, but they are generally silenced by the majority via the power of an odd City Charter, which enables a few to rule and determine the fate of many. (The mayor is not elected as such. The council members choose the ring leader)

Recently, a predictable re occurrence was seen in the City’s attempt to brand itself as a “Music City”,¬† after the fine Artists took the former monicker: “Art City” out of the gutter, where City Hall had tossed it, and made Art marketing their own once again, after the City canned it’s fiscal involvement, officially.

The rebirth has been a largely privatized, independent success,  led by Bell Arts, run by Josh Addison via new Board Chair, Jim Rice, Green Art People, and Stoneworks Gallery, led by sculptor Michele Chapin, and the vast number of incredibly talented Artists who all generously contribute in whatever manner they deem fit and possible.

But back to that former Brooks Student and her film project, “Beyond Local”. Her name is Angela Izzo. When one meets “Angie” she seems a bit ditzy and unfocused. Not much different though, than many brilliant creatives I have worked with in Entertainment Industry based projects over the years. She came to me awhile ago after she developed a concept and trailer for the film, and asked me to help her get it funded.

I did not. This is why.

I wanted to see if the new Music City would get what her Film project was about. It seems to have been treated with a vote of no confidence, as after a fund raiser for her at the Museum of Ventura County, she managed to raise 50 dollars when someone handed the donation to her.

Consider how that would feel, if you were in Angela’s position.

Spend a fortune on education here locally (Brooks Institute) for an Industry career. Discover an amazing depth of musical talent in your Community, which stretches itself to reach towards the International Stage. Realize that your training and schooling enables you to tell a story that could empower those Musicians, further brand your town, and validate the modus of Brooks Institute.   Ask for help to fund the film for a paltry sum of 8k which would make it happen. And someone hands you Fifty Bucks. A great gift, 50 bucks. But only one person, at a Museum event? Really?

There it is. The new Music City.

Money talks. The room really is sort of quiet, regarding Angela’s project. So this blog is my typically unedited view of my town and an effort to put a light on both the film and the path we as a Community may want to consider. If what I am saying makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry for that. Real Artists are funny. They typically like to see their fellows succeed, as it bodes well for the tribe.

Here is the Kickstarter page for Beyond Local.

Only a short time remains on the Crowd fund site, to meet the project goal. We should do this. For a large number of reasons. But really, I am supporting Angela because I see a lot of validity in her concept, and the story she wants to tell.  No Artist I know likes to ask for money. For whatever reason we tend to feel embarrassed by the act. (I too am no exception) I think the reason for this is because as artists we frequently do not comprehend the true worth and value of our life pursuit and passion. We need to.

As a Community, the Musicians could make this happen. So could the City. It is going to be interesting to see who really sees what this project means and gets behind it. Though I know Angela can complete this film for 8k, a 40k budget would be far more appropriate. Then Angela and her small crew would be paid to document what without a doubt, has got to be one of the deepest music talent pools that I have ever seen in a small(ish) town, and expose them on a more global stage through the Art of Cinema.

The bands and stories are the important thing. This film is the tale of people who deserve more support and recognition than we could ever give them by ourselves in the purchase of a song or album on itunes. It is the opportunity to provide a vote of confidence in our Artists. Whether this film funds or not, Ventura really owes the Arts a lot of loyalty, because in them, is health and security for the future of the town. And yes, Rock and Roll is a valid part of the Arts. It is the texture of a substantial portion of US popular culture.

Here are a few links to Angela Izzo’s work.

We Govern We.

Neal Casal.

Gypsy Death Star.


All the images in this blog were shot Friday night. Beautiful place Ventura, but really the only reason to live here is……..


It should always be about our people.

IMG_4120 puuadj.4089b puuadj.4150b puuadj.4158bc

Christmas Sonnet

Saturday, December 25th, 2010
Just like Gabriel

Just like Gabriel

This Song from John Lennon resonates with me. But not for the reasons one may at first surmise. For me the challenge is contained in the lyrics “So what have you done?” Doing, going, is what matters.

A young woman making her way up the stairs of a very old Catholic Church in the cold of a Milwaukee Wisconsin night, tripped. It was Christmas Eve. She had been on her way to Midnight Mass, as was the tradition for many Catholics of the time.

I was born sometime around 6 am the next morning.

People always ask me if I felt gyped by being born on Christmas, referring to the present count. My answer was set in stone from an early age, based on my experiences growing up in a rather strict household. “No, not at all.”

Being good Catholics, my parents had six kids, of which I was the first born. So discipline was pretty much a matter of survival for us as a family. But we had a tradition in our Goleta household, where my parents eventually had settled to raise us all. On your Birthday, you got to choose to do whatever you wanted. Since my day fell on Christmas, and the reigns of structure were loosened, I established a tradition for myself

I would wake early, everyone would excitedly rally round the Christmas tree which somehow, my parents always managed to have lavishly decorated and loaded with gifts under it’s scented boughs. Scarcely would that be done, and I was off down the road either walking or later, riding my blue Schwinn Varsity ten speed, to any number of Winter breaks that existed within a few miles of our house in University Village.

My Christmases are full of salton memories, of a plethora of days spent alone surfing, as none of my friends had such a tradition being offered by their parents. Glassy kelp strewn lineups, with Northwest groundswell sweeping down the points of the Gaviota Coastline, offered empty beautiful solace and inspiration on the celebration of the Creator of all’s birth. That meant a LOT to me. Still does.

So it came as no real surprise, especially in hindsight, that I should turn the respect and love for the Sea and all that inner meaning, into a career in Surfing and become enmeshed in various aspects of the Surfing industry as a surfboard builder. Everything I did while under the strict thumb of my parents, scholastically and regimentally, supplied me with the tools to succeed where few managed to.

Eventually I found myself being pried by industry and life changes which seemed to be sweeping me ashore far too frequently, back out to sea, as I became a Photographer. Specifically, first and foremost, a Water Photographer.

Funny thing about my career. It is all about communicating emotion and sharing. Giving, when no one asked. In hindsight, it strikes me as a very Christian avocation that modus. It is with no small sense of irony that I realize that the gift of me being born to my parents on Christmas, in turn lead to a domino like chain of events that presents what I do to a global stage today.

It leaves me with a deep sense of gratitude and purpose which generally has resulted in my own Christmas tradition based on the gifts God gave me.

Every Christmas, camera in hand, I meditatively shoot the things which inspire gratitude in me. I hold those, meditate on them and realize that everything in life is a gift, and comes with purpose. That is what I was given and in turn what I bequeath to others. It is all that I have of any value, really.

As I sit here at my computer, early on a Christmas morning, coffee on the rough hewn sturdy wooden table  growing cold, I remember the story of three kings following the light of a star to Bethlehem. They brought gifts to one who brought the greatest endowment of all, to mankind.

Just like mankind, gold, frankincence, myrrh: presents, things. But it was all that they had, a tangible representation of gratitude carried by faith and in hope, that what was to come by promise, would change the world forever. And it has.

So now the gifts we give, well they can be something greater, living.

The Gift of a Home

The Gift of a Home

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27

The greatest gift of all. Jewel. Appropriate, and sent along by Eric Pederson.

The gallery below is Christmas in Ventura California, 2010. Click on any image to toggle through as a slide show.

The Big Nevermind

Sunday, September 19th, 2010
Pay Up

Pay Up

The City of Ventura is my home. I have owned a house and various other properties and leases here for 30 years.

Communities are pretty simple really. Generally they are composed of diverse components, all assembled in a willingness to live and work in a place that they find desirable. The willingness to contribute, is directly proportional to establishing a  sense of forward motion. Effect must equal cause. Benefit is weighed against cost.

So onward the ship sails with all of us aboard, planning, building, laughing, crying, fighting, healing, birthing, living, dying: together.

For any of this to occur, the members of the community must feel that they each, by their contribution, have a positive affect.  They must believe in the product. Otherwise it all just stops.

That is why everybody matters.

Seth Godin, a marketing genius, and the brain behind the Global network called Triiibes of which I am a member, has this to say regarding products we put ourselves behind.

Being someone who must establish benefit in my product and taking my relationship with the people who I serve very personally, I spent a few days looking around at the latest thing the City of Ventura has implemented in it’s little Downtown:¬† Big Blue Parking Pay Stations. Police are swarming the streets. That is new as well.¬† A somewhat beleaguered group of downtown merchants, and what appears to be an oppressive choice by the City of Ventura, done in a manner that is confusing, insulting, and restrictionist, no matter how one looks at it, was a high profile tone where ever I walked, listened and shot.

With the exception of a few abject apologies and explanations to six distraught visitors, I said NOTHING. I just watched, and listened.

I have never seen a population so ticked off by what, in a couple months, as the affect settles in as a fact of daily life, is really a small thing: pay parking downtown. But if I am silent, or put money in the meter, or place myself in an environment swirling with Law enforcement, I am endorsing what City leaders have done. I do not agree,  nor will I accept the aggravation and thereby let it change who or what I am.

I know how retail works. (I was in it for almost twenty years. Think about what one can learn by opening a door to the public for twenty years) This could possibly kill Downtown Ventura again (This is the third endeavor to meter downtown and by far the most onerous and expensive).

I suspect that City Hall has engaged in an attack on the citizenry of Ventura that will eventually see Federal investigation.(Parking meters are only one of multiple things which the City is doing to-for the people of Ventura)  I do not need the headache, nightmare or further association with the City of Ventura. No one does. Not really. Not at this cost.

So rather than bitch, rant and moan about the meters, engage continually on Facebook, or in Community meetings, I am simply going to share what I witnessed this week and list several avenues available as a means of remediation, then move on to more productive endeavors.

This is bigger than what one would suspect. The proverbial tip of the iceberg, it just lets you know how city leadership is, and what they are.¬† Entitlement does this. Disconnectedness and disrespect are it’s fruits. Most of our City management are not from here, so they are applying rules and methods learned somewhere else, to a community that in the past five years seemed to be reaching an appropriate stride.

But our capitally leveraged economy has collapsed in the past five years. Big change. Everyone has been left in the lurch. Including the City. It is tough out there.

The Ventura Star. Our local newspaper, explains the meters here.

A Pasadena blogger explains our City Manager, Rick Cole, here. They are from one of his prior projects-towns. I was stunned by what I read, but seeing what has been going on here, it made sense. Read it and decide for yourself.

The Ventura Star looks at Mr. Cole and other City leaders here.

A look at a recent recall effort (and it’s failure) of our appointed Mayor, Bill Fulton, here.

What the Federal Government seems to be discovering, as it continues in it’s investigations of corruption in California City Governance, is that frequently, common threads link issues and people across county and city limits. It is true about birds of a feather.

YOU can report corruption and your personal experiences right here at the FBI website. If you feel your Civil Rights have been or are being violated, you can try there. More information here.

If you have an issue with City Governance, you can also try to file a complaint at the county level, which is an overseer of the City. The DA’s office website link is here.

The Brown Act, a State Statute which among other things, gives you a right to be in on every City meeting and input the process, is defined here. Cities need to know about this act, especially if a citizen suspects  that backroom deals are being cut, to facilitate the existence of onerous local code. The law is pretty clear. But you need to know that it exists.

The County Sheriff’s office which maintains legal authority and control¬† has an excellent list of resources where you can speak with a higher elected official. Do not mistake the local Police Department with the Sheriff’s office. PD is under City authority. The Sheriff is County. Just like in the Wild West, the Sheriff will ultimately uphold your Constitutional rights. They are tutored in them. In fact my film partner, Rob Dafoe’s dad, was a career Deputy Sheriff in Santa Barbara. Those guys know a lot.

I will not be a part of this. There is an entire world and life outside of where my house is, that I continue to explore and share. Being downtown and seeing the affect of all of this, just saddens and angers me. I do not need that.  Being responsible for my own life, tone and family, the act of being awash in dirty negatives, will shortly devalue my soul,  Art and Craft. We become who and what we are in bed with. I want no part of an entity that hurts people or environment to survive. It is the ultimate in destructive unsustainability.

I must believe and have trust in the place I market, and expose to the world. Because by endorsing it, I am putting my own self behind the invitation to experience this place.

This is an image of a trash and recycle station. The former head of the Downtown Ventura Organization Rob Edwards’ brainchild, which serves as a billboard and refuse collection device. When these went in, Rob asked me if he could get usage of some of my Ventura imagery to be placed on the bins so that they would encourage, inspire, and market the strong points of this town. The City had no money to license the images. So I loaned them free of charge, a large collection, roughly equating in usage value to about 10,000 dollars. Rob was on point. The message was flawless.”Look at our town and ocean: preserve and protect it.

The City fired Rob Edwards shortly after that. Rob now heads the San Mateo DVO. Rob is one talented and smart man. A former cop, he understands cities, and community. This is what is on the bins today.

Recycling a Town's Dreams

Recycling a Town's Dreams

In the course of a year, hundreds of magazines and commercial entities use my work. I even lend usage to financially beleaguered City Departments for nominal or no charge promotion of this place. I engage a Global community of media professionals in Film, Editorial and Commercial work with Ventura as my home base. I believe in the people of this place enough to have somewhat recently, branded myself as a Ventura Photographer and Film Maker rather than a Santa Barbara one, in spite of my roots in and library of, SB related work and community.

What that does basically, via metadata embedding, captioning and basic marketing tools, is create a small fortune in high credibility marketing for the City of Ventura. At no expense to the City, beyond offering an inviting, ethically run, safe place for the world to visit. I put myself on the line in doing this. My colleagues trust me to be ethical and true in what I portray.

Below is an image which I shot yesterday. It is of Kathleen Fitzgerald, the former Director of Sales for the City of Ventura Tourism Department. She is moving back to the City of Longbeach after being let go of here. Like Rob Edwards, she believed in this place and marketed it Nationally and beyond for almost 5 years. She was a huge service benefit to Ventura. No one will probably ever know the number of hats she wore and the massive victories she accomplished while an employee of the City of Ventura. A few of us helped her sell off and pack her belongings. Venturans do  stuff like that. We tend to stick up for those who stick their necks out for us.

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

I Tried: Kathleen Fitzgerald

So after seeing (actions are everything) what the City really thinks of this beautiful place and its wonderful people, by my own sense of  ethics I must make a choice, as I am eminently responsible for what I market and will not be a party to what I perceive as being harmful, degrading or  illegal and in violation of Civil Rights.

I have one ethical choice, as our actions, define our self and community.

So: nevermind.

“If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful.” Theodore Roosevelt

Below is a gallery of images and how Ventura looks to me right now. If you come here. the people of this place will appreciate you, endeavor to help you, show you beautiful things, and our City may screw with, and threaten and charge you for things which you may be able to acquire for free in other communities.  Being warned, I hope that you still come. (Forewarned is forearmed.) Our town is truly the Real California. Though that can be a scary thing these days.

Ventura’s Zuri Allen Star, wrote a song called Walk With Me. It says a lot.

Speaking of nevermind, Saturday Night Live often develops cultural commentary that transcends generations. They did it again here. A conversation between City and Citizen. I doubt that Nevermind is now an option for them, but it is for us.

Ventura is what it is: a pretty, and remarkable patch of historic land and ocean with a culturally engaging populace. We just seem to have a lot of vultures here at the moment. Must be the dead bodies.

Stand Up

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
National Debt

National Debt

Shawn Alladio of K38 Rescue, has composed something beautiful for our warriors, and it also applies to those of you who seek to implement change. Shawn trains these men. She understands cost and expense, better than anybody I have met. She has told me repeatedly over the years, that for every valid action, every effort, you must be willing to give something up. Having seen her live this, I get it.

Not many people I know enjoy being the one standing there, fist raised to an adversary, drawing the line and shouting : You will not do this. I know that I certainly do not. It takes a lot to bring me to the point of action. It is why I will engage in Art and literature forever before I raise my fist. This gives time for consideration, and communication.

But the plain fact is, that the world in which we live, being filled with all manner of motivations and ethos, inhabiting every person and  organization which those people populate, sometimes creates a situation that requires a champion. Someone to go forth and do battle.

So in our world, we have powers that do so. On the higher end it is done at the behest of Nations, which send forth armies to do the bidding of that entity. But where genesis for this really is located, is in the heart and will of the individual.

Ventura City Hall

Ventura City Hall

In American society we have established layers of Governance to champion our will and desires. Federal laws, are mediated in turn by the individual States, which in turn are interpreted at the County, and then at the far end of the thread, at a Municipal level. All of that exists to do your will as an American Citizen. Pretty amazing the freedom that gives you as a lone person in a sea of millions.

As most of us learned in our High School Civics class, this creates a level of responsibility for us all as well.

Look closer, down through the layers of Governance, back though the years, and change, generally came down to one person’s decision to point the finger and say: ” That is wrong. Stop.”

Judge McGrath's Home

Judge McGrath's Home

Remember this saying: “Don’t Tread On Me” ?¬† It was on the very first American flag. It was in direct response and a warning to oppressors. This tenet has historic legs in American law and mind set. You see it all over the US Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Evan Wright is a journalist whose work I enjoyed in his covering of Marine culture and warfare. His original Rolling Stone three part series was turned into an HBO mini series called Generation Kill. Here is an interesting look at Evan’s perspective. Consider his cost.

Keep in mind that the US Govt. employs these men. So by proxy we do as well. They go because it is their job and what they believe in.

We have a debt that goes beyond  monetary for this. It is to engage in a rule by law, and we do that by standing up for those laws when any organization, entity or person decides to subvert those. That is the moral imperative of civic responsibility.

This is now. This is here. This is Uprising, by Muse. The lyrics in this piece describe much of the changes going on within culture today.

So stand up. If you don’t, no one will. And everyone loses.

This piece was sent along by Tony Luna. Special.

You don’t get a wave without¬† wind. Pretty as this one may be, somewhere there was a storm.

The Goal

The Goal

Song of the Chumash

Monday, April 19th, 2010
Animate Duplicity

Animate Duplicity

We just finished the Ventura Artwalk 2010, in my little town. The entire Downtown of Ventura California was turned into a living canvas for forty eight hours.

The event was a benchmark of sorts.

benchmark |ňąben ch ňĆm√§rk|
1 a standard or point of reference against which things may be compared or assessed : [as adj. ] a benchmark case.

2 a surveyor’s mark cut in a wall, pillar, or building and used as a reference point in measuring altitudes.

How did this happen? Not overnight. It was the result of seed sowing by a huge number of artists, city officials, merchants, and the many creatives who preceded us all: the various artists who showed. It was indeed the spirit of our forefathers, come back to life, borne by the flow of those involved.

Two of those, Kathleen Fitzgerald, and Rob Edwards, are no longer at their city jobs. Yet the work that they did for years here, bore much fruit the past week end. I saw and respect what they did to institute positive change for my town. I am blessed to have them as my friends. Everywhere I looked this past weekend I saw their, and many others, contributions.

I was continually, and repeatedly humbled by the generosity of my community this last week end. It is no secret that this country groans with the weight of drastic change and economic duress. But for a couple days, those that are poor in riches but rich with creativity and enthusiasm, made my little town forget about it’s ills. They did what artists do: create and share.

This¬† is a show that I did for the Artwalk. It is entitled “This is Ventura”. The piece is 16 minutes long and features local land and seascapes and many of my long term subjects. It is a series of four vignettes and was composed as a gesture of gratitude to the place that has been a constant muse for me.

In quiet fashion Sunday morning, a Chumash ceremony was performed by David Dominguez to dedicate and consecrate the new location of Zoey’s. It was in the middle of all of the Artwalk goings on. The event had deep significance. East, West, South and North. Those that were supposed to be there, were. My friend West Cooke, had invited me to attend. My girlfriend, Donna Von Hoesslin of Betty B, went with me. I love that Donna “gets” this sort of thing. (Most of my loved ones do.) She had taken a break from her busy schedule to experience this.



The vein that runs from the Sespe to the sea, is the Ventura River. It is a deep source of historic life and power. The Chumash settled here, and all along it’s path, used to hunt and fish. Eventually the Spanish came in, the Mission was established, and as modern civilization blossomed, the natives seemed to disappear. The issue though, is that the Spirit of the land, well, it still speaks to those that can hear. This image says a lot. Not everyone can hear it though. Can you?

Vital Venturi

Vital Venturi

Though I am a Christian by conversion, I am a native by birth. What that means, is that the land, air and water speak to me, even when I am not conscious of having listened. So what comes out via my art, whether it is in text, prose, paint, photography or motion work, tends to come straight from the heart. I am only a filter which colors that communique. Sometimes that is a good thing, other times, maybe not so much. Watch that movie with this in mind. Listen carefully to William Orbit, Justin  Young, Zuri Star, the Shoemaker Brothers, and Elliot Minor, both to their melodies, and lyrics.

The rainbow bridge is a deep part of Chumash lore. When this occurred early one morning, it was pre dawn. I was stunned. My life is like that: hearing hidden songs. Yes, that is Santa Cruz Island.¬† Some think that I spend a lot of time in Photoshop and After Effects, making all of this imagery up. I don’t need to. It is a whisper, often just below the threshold of physical perception. It is always there. I just key into it when I am ready. Not unlike the manner in which a baseball player homes in on a pitch to hit a home run. Easy peasey. I always have been a pretty good hitter.

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge

Music is the highest form of art. In Bible college I learned that Christian theology teaches that mankind’s destiny is to fill Heaven with the music lost when Lucifer became Satan and fell to earth. Jesus said that he saw Satan fall as lightening from heaven. Pretty vivid imagery. The word Satanas is a Greek word, meaning adversary. So if we are taking that dark underlord’s place, it should be no small wonder that he isn’t fond of us. {If you believe in that sort of thing :0) }

Music connects all human kind. It is a language of the soul. All true art, really is that. But music, like dance, is high art. Play some. Stop. Where did it go? My photo is still there. So is the sculpture, the painting, the drawing.

Sunday evening at Artwalk, at Jonathan’s in Ventura, Bobby Hart performed. Jonathan’s is a stone’s throw from the Mission and from where David Dominguez had done the Chumash blessing a scant 5 hours earlier. All of this lies on the vein of the Ventura River, under the Rainbow Bridge.¬† For 5 hours Bobby, and a plethora of musicians performed high art, trading out positions at instruments and on the mikes. I am still reeling from the feel of it, the smooth harmony exhibited in the transitions from person to person. Like when my friend and colleague Chris Jensen, handed off his sticks and drum kit to our friend Richie. The harmony was infectious. But again, art is flow. People like flow. We get that.

Bobby Hart

Bobby Hart

Perfection rarely rears its head for long in this imperfect world.



This weekend it did for awhile. I heard it.



Thank yous all around to everyone who participated, engaged, looked, laughed, enjoyed, and Watermark, Jonathan’s, Betty B for hosting the gallery shows, and Pi printing for their excellent print work and support

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.