The (Not So) Favorite Son Returns?

cleveland_skylineScreen Shot 2014-07-10 at 11.45.28 PMAs a Clevelander who never blamed LeBron James for taking his talents to South Beach, let me add my own column space to the ten million blogs currently weighing in on The Decision Part Two:

I’d love to see King James come home to the Best Location in the Nation.

And then I’d like to see Dan Gilbert publicly eat that letter of his at center court!

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Maura’s in a Musical! (And Other News)

495ff1a9-ec42-41a7-9851-1e6202501d55My daughter Maura will be appearing in the musical, Miz Bonnie’s Band, on June 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM in Hollywood, CA .

After a decade spent rocking and singing the blues in bands and in the recording studio, Maura is excited to return to the stage with the wonderful cast of Miz Bonnie’s Band — an original musical stage play about a little band with big issues.

ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY.

Bring your dads and make a Father’s Day event of it! Meet the Team. 

Click HERE to purchase tickets. $15 in advance — $20 at the door.

And that’s not all…94fc7730-aa6c-4d20-a6b4-a9c18a1475ab

FRIDAY, JUNE 13 @ 8 PM

Maura will be singing with Mitchell Storkington’s Funktastic Voyage at the C.I.A. in NoHo. Join Maura and the band for a night of music, macabre and mayhem! Click HERE for more info.

maura-murphy-barrosseMs. Maura’s been working on some new tunes and videos! More info coming on that soon. In the meantime, be sure to follow her on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on all her fabulous adventures!

Ms. Maura’s music is available for streaming and purchase on Bandcamp, and iTunes, and your other favorite music services.

Spread the word!

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President Obama Shreds the Pundits.

121012_barack_obama_speaks_ap_328Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 1.25.45 PMPresident Obama made the following remarks at a recent fundraiser, calling out the false equivalency narratives spun by the insufferable, Beltway-blinkered poobahs of the pundit class. He should continue to say these things publicly and emphatically – just like Harry Truman would have – all the way up to the mid-term elections.

“You’ll hear if you watch the nightly news or you read the newspapers that, well, there’s gridlock, Congress is broken, approval ratings for Congress are terrible.  And there’s a tendency to say, a plague on both your houses. 

“But the truth of the matter is that the problem in Congress is very specific. 

mitch-mcconnell“We have a group of folks in the Republican Party who have taken over who are so ideologically rigid, who are so committed to an economic theory that says if folks at the top do very well then everybody else is somehow going to do well; who deny the science of climate change; who don’t think making investments in early childhood education makes sense; who have repeatedly blocked raising a minimum wage so if you work full-time in this country you’re not living in poverty; who scoff at the notion that we might have a problem with women not getting paid for doing the same work that men are doing.

john-boehner-sequester“They, so far, at least, have refused to budge on bipartisan legislation to fix our immigration system, despite the fact that every economist who’s looked at it says it’s going to improve our economy, cut our deficits, help spawn entrepreneurship, and alleviate great pain from millions of families all across the country.

“So the problem…is not that the Democrats are overly ideological — because the truth of the matter is, is that the Democrats in Congress have consistently been willing to compromise and reach out to the other side. 

Barack Obama by Nitin Vadukul for Newsweek - 12/20/2004“There are no radical proposals coming out from the left.  When we talk about climate change, we talk about how do we incentivize through the market greater investment in clean energy.  When we talk about immigration reform there’s no wild-eyed romanticism.  We say we’re going to be tough on the borders, but let’s also make sure that the system works to allow families to stay together…

“When we talk about taxes we don’t say we’re going to have rates in the 70 percent or 90 percent when it comes to income like existed here 50, 60 years ago.  We say let’s just make sure that those of us who have been incredibly blessed by this country are giving back to kids so that they’re getting a good start in life, so that they get early childhood education…

“Health care — we didn’t suddenly impose some wild, crazy system.  All we said was let’s make sure everybody has insurance. And this made the other side go nuts — the simple idea that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, nobody should go bankrupt because somebody in their family gets sick, working within a private system.

paul_ryan_s640x427“So when you hear a false equivalence that somehow, well, Congress is just broken, it’s not true.  What’s broken right now is a Republican Party that repeatedly says no to proven, time-tested strategies to grow the economy, create more jobs, ensure fairness, open up opportunity to all people.”

Now, I wish the mainstream Democratic Party position on climate change was more radical – and I don’t like hearing President Obama extolling an “all of the above” strategy, especially if that means we all get “fracked” in the process.

20090805_nancy-pelosi_33But, let there be no doubt. Progressives must get out the vote this fall. The only answer to our broken Congress is a Senate controlled by Democrats – and a House of Representatives in which Nancy Pelosi once again holds the gavel. Important issues like climate change, immigration reform, raising the minimum wage, Wall Street reform and income inequality will never be addressed while Republicans are in a position to obstruct positive change.

clearly-john-boehner-wrote-this-press-release-before-the-jobs-report-came-outThen, in 2016, we must work to keep a Democrat in the White House – because our endangered democracy can’t afford another religiously biased, corporate stooge conservative on The Supreme Court.

But first – we’ve got to get that oversized gavel out of John Boehner’s hands.mitch-mcconnell1-e1365549079396

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This Week: An Emilia Comedy Trifecta!

Screen Shot 2014-05-19 at 12.38.40 PMFor the first couple of decades that my wife and I lived in Los Angeles we rarely went to nightclubs because we were raising children. We rarely went over the Santa Monica mountains to enjoy the nightlife in Hollywood – or all the way to Silver Lake.

maxresdefault-2However, now that the kids we raised are (somehow) all performing in nightclubs, we find ourselves going out to all those entertaining spots we missed while hovering over our babies.

This week, we’ll be hitting the clubs three times to see our very funny daughter Emilia work the crowds with her standup comedy act.

Comedy-Store-Main-RoomOn Monday May 19 at 8:00 PM, Emilia will perform in “The Comedy Madness Show” in the Main Room at the famous Comedy Store on the Sunset Strip.

You can’t get tickets online for this one – so you’ll just have to get in line behind me and get them at the club.

UnknownOn Thursday May 22 at 8:00 PM, she’ll be knocking them dead at the Leche Lounge in the Malo Cantina on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake.

If you come to the gig at the Leche Lounge you’ll want to come early enough to enjoy the food at Malo Cantina. It’s tasty, spicy Mexican cuisine that will fortify you for the night of laughter ahead.

1365274718_BellyRoomLogo copyAnd on Friday May 23 at 10:00, she’ll be back at The Comedy Store, appearing on the bill in The Belly Room.

So, come on out and enjoy my daughter Emilia’s unique brand of comedy.

I’ll be there. I’ll be that guy laughing and having fun with a glass of wine in my hand who no longer needs to hire a babysitter in order to go to a nightclub.

Because my baby is on the bill.

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Eva & David at Molly Malone’s

mainheader1maxresdefaultGET YOUR TIX FOR THE GIG THIS FRIDAY!

Off_the_Record_Reprise_Eva_Barrosse_Davi_155677384_thumbnailMy daughter Eva Barrosse and her guitar-playing partner David Miller are playing their coolest gig yet at Molly Malone’s this Friday May 16 at 8:00 PM. Molly Malone’s has a 25-year tradition of showcasing the finest musical talent in the Los Angeles area – and the beat goes on…

safe_image.phpIf you haven’t seen Eva & David yet, don’t miss this chance to enjoy their hip, jazzy, bluesy mix of original songs and tunes from the Great American Songbook. It’s a 21+ venue, so leave the kids at home – and come for an evening of adult fun.

Tickets are $15 – and can be purchased via Email at: evadavidmusic@gmail.com 

(If clicking on the above link doesn’t work, just copy the Email address into your mailbox.) Email with the number of guests – and your tickets will be waiting for you at door. 

Victoria and I will be waiting to join you inside Molly Malone’s.

For directions to Molly Malone’s 
at 575 South Fairfax Ave
, click here.

event-poster-2591717

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A Childhood Memory of Kent State, May 4, 1970.

(I first posted this article in 2012.)

On May 4th, we should pause to remember the price of freedom, paid in blood by patriots – like the young people who died at Kent State.

On this day 42 years ago at Kent State University, Ohio National Guardsmen fired 67 shots into a group of students protesting the American invasion of Cambodia — killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom was permanently paralyzed.

The small college town of Kent is about 40 miles southeast of Cleveland, where on Monday, May 4, 1970 I was an elementary school student at St. Rocco’s School.  The shooting on the Kent State campus began at 12:24 pm – and by the time we were getting out of school at 3:00 pm, the news had reached Cleveland.  But the news was by word of mouth when I first heard it. And it was wrong.

The first thing I heard when I walked out of school along with my 6th grade classmates was that “some hippies had shot some National Guardsmen.”

That’s what I heard from one of the parents waiting to pick up their kids.

When we got home and turned on our black and white television sets, Walter Cronkite set us straight.

Later, Crosby, Still, Nash & Young captured the moment, the sorrow, the sacrifice — and the defiance.

“Ohio”

Written by Neil Young

Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
 
Gotta get down to it
Soldiers are gunning us down
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her
And found her dead on the ground
How can you run when you know?
 
Tin soldiers and Nixon’s coming,
We’re finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drumming,
Four dead in Ohio.
Four dead in Ohio
Four dead in Ohio.

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Available Adventure: Big Santa Anita Canyon

Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 10.46.28 PMScreen Shot 2014-04-30 at 10.56.40 PMI’ve said it in this space before, but one of the great advantages of life in Southern California – and there are many – is the opportunity to embark on a myriad variety of grand adventures within an hour or two of your home.

From where we live in Woodland Hills, nestled in the southwest edge of the San Fernando Valley, my wife and I can arrive on a Pacific Ocean beach within 20 minutes, begin an ascent into the Santa Monica Mountains in less than 15 minutes, visit the high desert in a half-hour – and drive less than an hour into a world as rough-hewn and glorious as Big Santa Anita Canyon in the San Gabriel Mountains.

BigSantaAnitaCanyonIt’s hard to imagine that Victoria and I have lived in Southern California since 1991 and it took us 22 years to discover Big Santa Anita Canyon. We’ve often hiked Malibu Creek State Park, Topanga State Park and many of the wonderful trails winding through the valleys and along the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. But it wasn’t until the summer of 2013 that we trekked eastward above the town of Arcadia into the fascinating valley at the foot of Mt. Wilson, below Chantry Flat in the San Gabriels.

Victoria at the trailhead, ready for adventure.

Victoria at the trailhead, ready for adventure.

Victoria and I first descended into Big Santa Anita Canyon on a day hike. And it’s a steep descent. The walk down from the Chantry Flat trailhead to the valley floor begins at the parking lot and plunges 400 feet over 8 tenths of a mile. As relaxing as it is to start a hike with a long downhill stroll, veteran hikers know it only means a tortuous uphill slog on the finish.

Once on the valley floor, we followed the wide, shady trail along Santa Anita Creek leading to the popular 50-foot Sturtevant Falls.

We hiked about 7 miles that day, enjoying the canyon’s unique, rocky, riparian landscape and the midsummer trickle that dripped down the otherwise impressive Sturtevant Falls.

Sturtevant Falls, Photo by Andy Serrano

Sturtevant Falls, Photo by Andy Serrano

Contemporary-cabin-scene1-600x450We especially enjoyed the sight of all the funky old creekside cabins, built back in the 1920’s and 30’s, when the U.S. Forest Service promoted recreational residence in the canyon. There are over 80 of these privately owned cabins, which have no electricity or running water — and they’re not available for rental. But they look cool. The whole scene reminded me of a So Cal version of Middle Earth. (Indeed one of the cabins was dubbed Bombadil’s Castle: a clear J.R.R. Tolkien reference.)DSC_4967-copy20_12638999_0_1354646330_636x435

After surviving that last, brutally hot, 8th of a mile, uphill endurance test to climb back to the trailhead — Victoria and I decided to return as soon as possible for an overnight stay at valley’s historic Sturtevant’s Camp.

ranger-cabin-signSturtevant’s Camp is the oldest resort in the San Gabriel Mountains, built in 1892 by Wilbur M. Sturtevant during the “Great Hiking Era”(1880’s through the early 1930’s) when thousands of tourists hiked into the local mountains, covering long distances over crude trails to encounter the natural beauty of their Southern California home.

Today, it’s hard to imagine many So Cal families abandoning their SUVs, highways and fast food stops to hike with a pack mule train along the strenuous 4.5 mile trail from Chantry Flat to Sturtevant’s Camp, climbing about 1,800 feet along the way. But it was a challenge Victoria and I eagerly embraced.

Store01Incredibly, those pack mule trains still operate today. One of the coolest things about Chantry Flat is that it’s home to the last pack station in Southern California: the last operation where they actually use pack mules to haul supplies into the valley. Alas, Vic and I were too late to use the mule team service, so we had to carry two day’s worth of supplies on our own backs.

Road to campOn our return visit to Big Santa Anita we blew off another look at Sturtevant Falls. After all, it hadn’t rained during the intervening two weeks. Instead, we took the trail leading up the valley to Sturtevant’s Camp. This trail wound along the rising cliffs above Sturtevant Falls, providing us with a new perspective on the falls — and some dramatic photo ops.

We made good time climbing up the trail and arrived at Sturtevant’s Camp much earlier than we expected — and too early to rendezvous with our camp host.CampSturtevant-3613

We needed our host. He was the guy who would open our cabin and turn the gas on. Without him, all we could do was peek in our cabin window and look around at the dowdy yet charming remains of what was once considered a resort destination.

CampSturtevant-3626There was a time when Sturtevant’s Camp one of five resorts in the canyon back in the 1930s. That’s not the case today. Now, it’s the only “resort” left – and its chief characteristics are a rundown, historic appeal and a basic utility. It’s a comfortable and clean enough place to rest your head (and feet) after a hard day of hiking.

But there was no rest for us yet. An enthusiastic (and annoyingly unexhausted) group of 20-somethings arrived at the camp: a matched set of three boys and three girls. We were pleased to know that we wouldn’t be alone at the camp – but we weren’t ready to get social yet. And since our camp host had yet to arrive, we made a bold decision: to climb 5,710-foot Mt. Wilson.

Trail1Since the camp sits at about 3,500 feet above sea level, our ascent of Mt. Wilson covered three miles and 2,200 feet of elevation. That’s a lot of “up”.

It’s a good thing that Victoria and I had been hiking regularly for several months before we attempted the summit of Mt. Wilson. And thank goodness we brought just enough water. The late afternoon sun was merciless, and there were several treeless stretches with little or no cover along the winding, narrow, rocky, dusty trail up to the famous observatory.Up to Mt Wilson

Even before we gained the summit our hard work was well rewarded by stunning views of the L.A. basin spreading out before us to the south. It was a clear day – and even Catalina Island was in view.

Okay, so you can't see Catalina. Blame my damn iPhone camera!

Okay, so you can’t see Catalina. Blame my damn iPhone camera!

Mt Wilson 3At the summit, we still weren’t finished hiking. The concrete roads wound past the white domes of the observatory and a series of other telescopes. Finally, we arrived at the Cosmic Café, which is open from April to October.

The Cosmic Café is not fine dining, but we were happy to indulge in a hot dog, Diet Coke and more water as we rested before our descent back to the camp.

When we got back to the camp our host was waiting for us. He opened our cabin – and, exhausted but feeling victorious, we moved in for a rustic but comfortable night’s stay. The next day, we’d be hiking for another 7 rugged miles on our way back to Chantry Flat. But first, it was a delightful evening of sipping Chardonnay and enjoying the quaint, spare luxuries of Sturtevant’s Camp.

What follows are some photos of our cabin – and scenes from our hike back to Chantry Flat.

Our cabin.

Our cabin.

Inside our cabin.

Inside our cabin.

cabin room

The kitchen in which we cooked chicken breasts for dinner.

The kitchen in which we cooked chicken breasts for dinner.

Our somewhat comfortable bed: more than serviceable after our trek up Mt. Wilson

Our somewhat comfortable bed: more than serviceable after our trek up Mt. Wilson

The pleasant sylvan view from our window.

The pleasant sylvan view from our window.

A view from the upper trail back to Chantry Flat.

A view from the upper trail back to Chantry Flat.

Close to summit

It's scenes like these that keep us coming back to the mountains of Southern California.

It’s scenes like these that keep us coming back to the mountains of Southern California.

 

 

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