Posts Tagged ‘the real california’

Friends and Heroes

Friday, October 15th, 2010

I got to have lunch with a friend of mine this week, who I follow pretty closely, but due to our busy schedules, I rarely actually get to sit down with. As he and I shared our passions, pains, frustrations, joys and aspirations over a light meal at our favorite Taqueria, I told him how inspired I was by  his knowledge and persistence in the living of his life and what to me is one of the strongest examples of selflessness I have experienced in my Community.

Paul thanked me, and to my surprise told me that I was one of the few people who seemed to always take notice. “How could anyone not?” was my thought, as I crunched on a tortilla chip and home made salsa, brought to our table by Lily, who with her husband Juan owns and runs the homey place many of us like to frequent.

Paul Jenkin is the champion of water in our Community of Ventura. An expert on watersheds, he and I have a few mutual friends whose dedication to making the world a cleaner, more sensible place, actually created a very large Environmental group which continued on after their passage. If I ever do not understand the implications of a solution to an environmental or community problem, Paul is someone who I turn to for enlightenment.

He dedicates his life to his wife and son and all of us here in the broad world.  I have watched and endeavored to help in anything Paul sets his hand to. I know without reservation that in so doing, I will have done the right thing. Because Paul, on top of being educated, informed and passionate, is the most consistent person I know. He is as tenacious as the dawn which pushes back the night. One of those bright lights who quietly and persistently separates bullshit from the flowers, and plucking the solution like a sole rose, will hold it up, and make sure everyone sees it.

Of course that does not make him too popular with folks whose business is hiding beneath careers built upon layers of fertilizer. But Paul quietly and respectfully persists. Here is his latest blog entry. You should read it. Everybody needs to know Paul. He not only develops answers, but correct solutions. Big difference from the inauthentic and insincere plying of influence one sees in the Environmental movement designed to manipulate a result that is motivated on branding for influence and money.

Santa Clara River Estuary

Santa Clara River Estuary

In looking around at who I have in my life, I have recently come to the realization that every single one of them is a hero to me. Soldiers in the war of life that are willing to not just get dirty in the trenches, but do so willingly and consistently, so that the next generation has a better legacy. People who will not just stand and fight and take a bullet, but are smart enough to take out the one who is firing the bullets.

It seems we are all in a battle these days. With income streams crashing, and line items many of us grew up taking for granted fading away, everyone has new and challenging struggles, in just maintaining an acceptable level of existence. Politicians with six figure salaries, Government jobs which heretofore offered the promise of long term security, all of that which was once considered necessary social architecture, is being examined for the first time and being held up to the light of public scrutiny.

Ventura City Twilight

Ventura City Twilight

For the first time in my life, I am seeing people step forward and simply, ethically and steadily, begin to ask the right questions.

It really gives me goose bumps to look around me in my community and see everyone holding a rose.

Ventura Film Society: Beginnings

Ventura Film Society: Beginnings

But that is why we will succeed.

All of us need heros.

Look around.

You matter.

Daily Good is something my friend Jeff Parker pointed me towards. It comes to you every day and is a good read over your morning coffee.

Seth Godin, as always, is in perfect sync with my community today.

An organization where you will find a global assortment of heroes is One Percent for the Planet.

Thanks to Joe Cardella for sending this along once again. Stand By Me.

Click on any of the images in this blog for a little back story.

No Matter How Dirty it Gets

No Matter How Dirty it Gets

Community Leader and Activist. Helen Yunker

Community Leader and Activist. Helen Yunker

Pre Parking Meters. Before City leaders ruined the view.

Pre Parking Meters. Before City leaders ruined the view.

Ventura Pier, a good analogy of structural integrity.

Ventura Pier, a good analogy of structural integrity.

California Street Sunset

California Street Sunset

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.

Hybrid Vigor

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010


Increased vigor or other superior qualities arising from the crossbreeding of genetically different plants or animals. Also called heterosis.

Typically the term is reserved for describing the increased performance of a species.

But in Ventura California we have been seeing our fair share of the above described noun more in the form of a verb. Verbs denote action.

When a person and in turn a community, becomes insular, the processes of growth cease. Of course growth has many forms. But the one we all ought to be after, is sustainable personal and community growth. This sort provides a stable platform that better ensures an economic, social and even spiritual future for a community.

Several years ago, I noticed a change in Ventura, and I believe it may be in response to not just published media, but efforts on the part of some folks not in City Hall, but employed by the City. Those folks, with Global scope at heart,  began to craft a public persona for this town, that communicated the unique venue for people to live in, that is Ventura California. I saw people begin to move here from various parts of the globe. With them came new ideas,  tone, flavor, that in a short period of time, began to create a cultural shift.

McGrath Family Farms Party

McGrath Family Farms Party

Cultures have the same affect on a community, as filters do on light. They color them. Those filters can make a community ugly, or pretty, productive or destructive. This shift was a good one. But here is the deal, if my town changes from it’s eco conscious, art savvy, community driven sense of purpose, the flow of people here would shift, and likely not in a good way.

Attractive Environment

Attractive Environment

With much controversy surrounding the lack of enforcement of our Federal Immigration laws, it is a quirky thing to do to argue for an influx of “foreigners”. But here again is another deal maker: the new influx comes here LEGALLY. They are here to experience and contribute.

International Influence

International Influence

So again, once more, and in my little town, I see the tenets that made this country great in the first place, begin to make a town great.

Zuri Star

Zuri Star

I hope we see more of what Ventura has experienced¬† on a National level. Our country needs symbiotic relationships more now, than ever before. Now concerning “illegal immigration”. What exactly do you not understand about the word “illegal”?

Lily and Juan: Hosts, Taqueria Tepatitlan

Lily and Juan: Hosts, Taqueria Tepatitlan

Click on any of the images in the gallery to enlarge, or toggle through as a slide show.

Swell 4

Thursday, December 24th, 2009


The latest in our wave makers arrived innocuously enough with a soft and barely perceptible pulse arriving late in the evening. I had watched the shoulder high lines stacking up at California Street at last light, under yet another masterpiece sunset. Yet not much pulse showed on the weather buoys.

The next morning at 3 am saw the East Channel buoy climb 3 feet in the interim before dawn. A straight West swell, and not too big. It was the proverbial Goldilocks and the Three Bears storybook combination of swell angle, size and weather for the Gold Coast’s multiple breaks. It would be “just right”.

Damn. I knew at that point I would be on the road. I knew all other aspects of life would have to come to a halt. But it is, just what it is, and I wandered, viewing with rapt wonder at the 14-15 second interval swell that featured sets with so many waves in them that each spot became a lineup dream of pulse, spoking  into, around, and down each break.

The abundance was such, that even at the more crowded spots I saw innumerable waves spin by unridden.

Swell 4 lit every place up and the perfect disposition made it fit a diverse number of ability levels as almost every place became a diorama of rolling perfection. A holiday gift for all of us.

Lars Rathje

Click on any of the images in the gallery below for a larger view.

A Fall Fantasy

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009


Nothing deep to share. Or is there?

The past weeks have allowed me a lot of time and effort to delve into what many consider to be my forte, which is shooting surfing, nature,  beach culture and lifestyle.

So this blog is devoted to showing a few of the sights seen this last several weeks of Fall. It is a teensy sampling of over 1200 final images collected. The culmination of a huge number of commercial, editorial and personal interest projects.

Thanks to the beautiful place that I live in, and all my wonderful friends, commercial clients and publications for making such a huge collection possible. And to my girlfriend and principal stylist, Donna Von Hoesslin of Betty B.

Much looms on the horizon for us as we plunge towards Winter and a New Year.

Take a deep breath. Breath. And as my friend Korina instructed me to do yesterday: “Step on to the sand.”

Click on any of the images in the gallery for a larger view.

All of it was shot on the Canon5D Mark 2 and Canon and Tokina lenses, using SPL waterhousings.

Step On To The Sand

Step On To The Sand

Last but not least:

© 2009 David Pu'u. All rights reserved.