Tag Archives: California

No Doubt A Drought.

Creek BannerFor those who might be wondering if the talk of a drought in Southern California is overblown, I submit these photos of Mailbu Creek State Park in the Santa Monica Mountains near my home in Woodland Hills.

IMG_3791Malibu Creek State Park is named, of course, after the rather large creek that flows through it. Or, rather, that used to flow through it. At this moment, there is NO Malibu Creek.

I have seen the creek bed at low water in previous years – when the stream was reduced to a few feet across during the hottest days of late summer. But I have never beheld this parched, arid landscape — especially just a few months removed from Spring.IMG_3790For reference – check out this footage I shot this January, showing winter rainwater pouring down into Malibu Creek from the mountains above, churning up foam as it falls.

Now? Not a trickle.IMG_3792

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this drought. I applaud Governor Brown for getting serious about it. Perhaps, as my very creative wife suggests, we Southern Californians should get together for a big rain dance.

We could hold our Grand Rain Dance in Malibu Creek State Park.

We could dance right in the creek. And nobody’s shoes would get wet.IMG_3789


Filed under Adventure, Politics, Random Commentary

A Dry Season: Malibu Creek State Park & Sycamore Canyon

droughtbanner 1droughtbanner 2Last month, as California experienced its driest year on record, Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in our glorious Golden State. (Which is currently more burnt umber than gold.)

images-1At a news conference held to make his case for the severity of the drought, Governor Brown used charts to show that this drought is historic — and that it’s time for Californians to conserve our precious water.

But most of us Californians didn’t need Jerry Brown’s earnest show and tell to inform us that we’re going through a shockingly dry season.

We have the clear evidence of our own experience.650x366_01191358_hd29

IMG_2877My wife and I took two hikes in the Los Angeles area this past weekend – and our state’s dire drought conditions were dramatically evident on both hikes.

On Saturday we went, as we often do, to nearby Malibu Creek State Park. However, right now there’s no creek.

Here’s a photo of the creek from one of our hikes in the spring of last year.img_1062

Here’s a photo of the creek as it appears now. All that’s missing is the creek.Drought Malibu

IMG_2938On Sunday, we took our second trip to The Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Rancho Sierra Vista – Satwiwa — just south of the 101 Freeway on the eastern edge of Ventura County.

This wonderful park encompasses the area where the old Chumash Indian village Satwiwa once stood, as well as 8 miles of winding trail through Sycamore Canyon that the Chumash used as a path to the Pacific Ocean shore.

Victoria explores a traditional Chumash dwelling at the Satwiwa Native American Indian Cultural Center.

Victoria explores a Chumash dwelling at the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center.

IMG_2882Last year, in May 2013, a wildfire raged across much of this parkland – and the devastation from that conflagration is evident in the charred, blackened landscape.

Wildfires can happen in any season, in any year in Southern California, but drought conditions increase the danger of fire exponentially.

Fire is a natural part of the cycle of life in the Santa Monica Mountains. For ages, coastal Southern California chaparral land like that in the Santa Monicas has experienced infrequent but intense wild fires. These fires usually blaze in the fall, driven by dry conditions and hot Santa Ana winds. Unfortunately, the frequency of fires has increased due to human activity. And the drought doesn’t help.

IMG_2897But, while the ravages of the fire can seem almost apocalyptic as you gaze in awe at the darkened, denuded hillsides – you can also see signs of bright green life creeping back into view.

Within a few years, these hills surrounding Sycamore Canyon will be covered in greenery once again. Of course, a little rain would help that process of regeneration along.

Here we are at the fire line: the place where the fire stopped. On one side, you can see Victoria walking under a canopy of live oaks: a sylvan heaven.IMG_2899

But when you turn around 180 degrees – there’s no canopy of trees anymore: just a charred hillside.IMG_2900

IMG_2903Victoria and I hiked the trail that leads to what, in a normal, rainy winter, is a dramatic waterfall. But our hike along the waterfall trail brought home the deadly dry nature of this year’s drought. What follows are shots of the small pools of water that linger below the tiny trickle that, at this time of year, should be a dramatic cascade.IMG_2909IMG_2916IMG_2910IMG_2895IMG_2928IMG_2929IMG_2933


Filed under Adventure, Beauty

GOTV: Occupy the Voting Booth!

It’s Sunday morning, President Obama’s giving a great speech on C-Span, and I’m going to an Obama for America call center this afternoon to spend a few hours helping to get out the vote in swing state Nevada. My daughter is going door to door for Obama in Wisconsin this weekend. My cousins in Cleveland have already voted early to help make sure the GOP Secretary of State in Ohio can’t mess with them on Election Day.

It’s GOTV time. Those of us in heavily blue states MUST get out and vote in big numbers so Obama-Biden captures the popular vote as well as the Electoral College.

Let’s go, California progressives! Vote like the Golden State is a swing state and the polls are within the margin of error.

Vote to re-elect President Barack Obama!

From Andrew Sullivan in The Daily Beast:


Filed under Politics

2010: The First Year In Review

This snapshot by Rob Mendel (above) appears to have been taken at The John Lennon Auditorium at 703 Howard Street in Evanston, Illinois on what looks to be New Year’s Day 1982.  (Note my Beggars’ Holiday hair and beard.) My 18-month old daughter Maura appears to be grasping a champagne bottle in her right hand, the stage looks as though it’s set up for a Rockme gig, and the numerous empty beverage containers and crumpled gift-wrapping all suggest a big holiday party the night before. (Maura certainly didn’t close the party, so this must be the day after.) Of course, I’m on clean-up duty. (I trust the amazing Rush Pearson will let us know if my photo analysis is correct.)

30 years after this picture was taken — and just one year ago — I started this blog.

So far, it’s been a fine voyage.

As of this writing, Paul’s Voyage of Discovery & Etc. has attracted over 22,250 views. I’ve made 73 posts and readers have contributed 565 comments. That’s a pretty healthy start — and I’m grateful for everyone’s interest, enthusiasm, and participation in this admittedly idiosyncratic forum.

This is not the real subscription sign up box. The real one is further to the right. And up a little...

I’m especially gratified by the 63 subscribers who have signed on to have my posts automatically delivered to them via e-mail. (And when Mark Lancaster gets his e-mail address straightened out, we’ll be back to 64.) Are you a subscriber? If not — just look to your right at the photo of the saluting Matey, then look below the photo and follow the simple instructions to “Hop Aboard!” I know most of us just can’t get enough e-mails stuffed into our inboxes, but I promise my posts will be at least marginally more entertaining than the daily onslaught of Viagra ads, MoveOn broadsides, replica watch ads, and assorted unrelenting spam you’re already inundated with.

My posts on this blog largely stuck to the main topics I established at the outset: history, adventure, politics and rock & roll — including a four-part history of The Practical Theatre Company. And to what type of posts were readers of this blog most attracted? What follows is a list of The Top 12 Posts of 2010, listed in order of the most views. Taken as a whole, they represent a sort of oddball Year-in-Review.


Note: Just click on each the title of each post to access the original article.

1. The Saints Come Marching In…

The New Orleans Saints got 2010 off to a great start by winning the Super Bowl. So, why does a man who was born in Cleveland, went to college and met his wife in Chicago, and moved to Los Angeles twenty years ago care if the New Orleans Saints finally won a Super Bowl after decades of epic gridiron failure? Simple: my daddy was New Orleans born and raised. Who dat say what about dem Saints?

2. All About The Rockme Foundation

It’s not possible to write everything about Riffmaster & The Rockme Foundation in one article, but I tried my best in this post to tell the basics of the band’s ongoing legend. A spring reunion gig at SPACE in Evanston was the catalyst for telling the story. The band is making plans to play SPACE again this year. Rockme-mania lives.

3. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 1

One of my goals this past year was to tell the story of The Practical Theatre from start to finish. (Is it ever really finished?) This first chapter covered the period from the company’s founding and the establishment of The John Lennon Auditorium  — to just before our 1982 comedy revue, The Golden 50th Anniversary Jubilee, brought the PTC to SNL.

4. Baseball Season Opens: Of Mud Hens & More…

Readers loved those Mud Hens. What was written as a tribute to The Practical Theatre Company’s contribution to the Chicago Theatre 16-inch Softball League became a post that hundreds of Toledo Mud Hens fans found online, attracted to the info and photos of Toledo Mud Hens history — especially that picture of Jamie Farr. Go figure. Cluck! Cluck! Cluck!

5. History & Honeymoon: Part Three

20 years ago, my wife Victoria and I went to Gettysburg and other Civil War battlefields on our honeymoon! It’s true. I needed no other assurance that I had married the perfect woman. On our 20th anniversary we returned to Gettysburg. Now both students of the battle, we walked the battlefield on July 1, 2 and 3, 2010 on the 147th anniversary of that critical conflict. My four-part account of our battlefield tramping became one of the most popular items on the blog.

6. The Vic & Paul Show

After more than two decades off the stage, Victoria and I once again wrote and performed in an original musical comedy review, The Vic & Paul Show, in June at PUSH Lounge in Woodland Hills. It was the most fun we’ve had in years. We hope to bring the show to Chicago sometime in 2011. If you’re curious about what the show looked like — there are a series of clips on my YouTube channel. Click here to get there.

7. “I have not yet begun to fight!”

History and politics are two of my greatest passions — and this article combined the two. I’m gratified that so many people have continued to find it and read it since it was first posted on January 20, 2010 at the time of President Obama’s first State of the Union Address.

8. Le Salon de Crawford

I wrote this tribute to the incredible Crawford family early in the year — and I feel as though I must already write another. Ron and Sydney Crawford and their fabulous children are a gift that keeps on giving. I cannot imagine what this blog would have looked like in 2010 without all those wonderful Ron Crawford drawings lifting each post into the realm of true art. We love Ron & Syd. And we can’t say it enough.

9. Will California Buy a Used CEO this Election Year?

In an otherwise bleak mid-term election for progressives, California turned back the conservative tide by rejecting the self-funding, millionaire ex-CEO candidates, Meg Whitman for Governor and Carly Fiorina for Senator. Instead, liberal Democrat Barbara Boxer was returned to the U.S. Senate — and former “Governor Moonbeam” Jerry Brown was sent back to the California governor’s mansion (where he refused to live back in the 70’s). Maybe Jerry will pass on the mansion again. But thank goodness California passed on Meg and Carly.

10. The Practical Theatre Co. Part 3

This installment of my Practical Theatre history covered the insanely creative and productive period from the aftermath of the PTC’s headline-making success in 1982-83 to the closing of The John Lennon Auditorium in 1985. Looking back, it’s hard to believe a bunch of inexperienced, counterculturally-inclined twenty-somethings accomplished so much in so little time. That Practical spirit lives on today — and I hope this blog has helped in some small way to keep it alive.

11. The Matey’s Log: Sailing Season Begins

This blog has a nautical theme for one reason: Captain George Moll, who invited me to sail with him some years back, and instilled in me a love of the sea that had first been aroused by my reading of the entire Patrick O’Brian canon. I am grateful to Captain George for allowing me to serve as a crewman aboard his fleet of racing sailboats — and my accounts of several of our races proved to me among the most popular series of posts on the blog this year. And did I mention we won this year’s TGIS Series Championship? Hats off to Captain George!

12. A New Day of Glory for the Great (you heard me right) Cleveland Browns!

Great football teams bookend this list. When my beloved Cleveland Browns upset the defending Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints in the early part of the 2010 NFL season, I was moved to write this remembrance of the Browns’ glorious past. Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar are just a handful of the memorable stars that made history with the Cleveland Browns. Now, it’s up to Colt McCoy and Peyton Hillis to write the next glorious chapter.

So, that’s the best of 2010. Stay tuned. Subscribe. Post those replies!

Here’s to another fine voyage in 2011!


Filed under Random Commentary

Postcards from California

On Election Day 2010, while much of America was awash in rancid Tea and the GOP, one state was left standing as a progressive firewall: California.

The wise people of my adopted home state rejected millions of dollars of secretly-funded corporate attack ads and the self-funded, ego-driven campaigns of out-sourcing, out-of-touch CEO multi-millionaires. Californians bucked the national trend and elected Democrats to every statewide office — from U.S. Senator to Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner — and on down the ballot.

To celebrate California’s stand for political sanity, I rushed out to buy a series of postcards to send to the rest of America. With love, of course.And for our New York friends, who also came up big for the progressive cause…


Filed under Art, Politics

Another Two-Minute Brain Cleanse

Do you need a break today? A moment of light amid the political and environmental gloom?

Are you feeling exhausted after the day-by-day, blow-by-blow, gallon by millions of gallons, slow motion tragedy of the BP Oil Disaster? (That pretty picture at left is actually a not-so-pretty photo of oil in the Gulf near Orange Beach, Alabama in June.)

Are you annoyed by the steady media drumbeat, flogging Faux News’ latest contrived controversy: the Ground Zero Mosque? (Which isn’t exactly a mosque and isn’t really at Ground Zero, but let’s not get into that right now…)

Are you tired of scratching your head wondering how Dr. Laura’s loose talk and racism is finally driving her off the airwaves – and yet Glenn Beck’s nightly televised ravings continue?

Then, I’ve got a two-minute brain cleanse for you.

This summer, my 15-year old daughter Eva went to the Interlochen Arts Camp in rural Michigan. It was the first time Interlochen held a two-week summer session for singer-songwriters. This video was shot by one of the camper’s parents at the final song presentation on the last day of camp. Eva is performing her own composition, “California”.

Press play and relax. For about 1 minute and 46 seconds, you can take your mind off the madness.

“California by Eva Barrosse

I’m done with stormy weather,
I’ve seen people have it better, on the coast, at least most of the time.
Just to walk along the perfect beach,
And have the sand kissing my feet.
Oh, what I wouldn’t do to meet you there.

There where the light fills my eyes,
A day with you there would sure suffice.
Oh, I don’t ask for much you see,
Just a blanket there with you and me,
Home in California by the sea.

And as the summer breezes blow by,
Only heaven could know why
I’m so happy with the view.
But there’s nothing like the oceans roar,
And the rays of sun filling my pores,
Just thinking of it, makes me want it more.

There where the light fills my eyes,
A day with you there would sure suffice.
We could, never leave it all
These sea shells and these muraled walls,
So, let just lay.

There where the light fills my eyes,
A day with you there would sure suffice.
Oh, I don’t ask for much you see,
Just a blanket there with you and me,
Home in California by the sea.


Filed under Art, Beauty, Music

Will California Buy a Used CEO this Election Year?

How is it possible that in a post-Enron, post-Lehman Brothers, post-Wall Street Derivatives & Mortgage Meltdown, post-British Petroleum/Haliburton Oil Spill world – that Californians could consider handing the state’s highest offices to a couple of people whose claim to fame is that they were corporate CEOs?

Aren’t we well beyond false notions that “What’s Good for General Motors is good for the country”?

Hell, what was good for General Motors wasn’t even good for General Motors!

The elections in California this fall for Governor and U.S. Senator will test the appetite of the body politic for that old GOP/Chamber of Commerce pabulum that government works best if it is run like a business. Will working class voters still buy that snake oil from millionaires masquerading as populists? Does anyone really believe they want their government run like a business – when the primary purpose of a business is to make a profit? Protecting all of our citizens from crime, fires, unsafe drinking water, and providing us all with parks, roads, garbage removal, and a judicial system – none of that will ever turn a monetary profit. Our profit from the exercise of good government is a better life for everyone.

What have the corporate CEOs of the 21st century shown us so far in the first decade of the New Millennium about their concern for the welfare of average Americans struggling to stay afloat? How have they demonstrated their concern for the commons? How have they acted as stewards of the environment they exploit for profit?

The answer to these critical questions can be found in jacked-up credit cards rates, skyrocketing insurance premiums, continued pollution of the environment, turning banks into Wall Street gambling casinos making bad bets with our money – and, of course, corporate bailouts paid by taxpayers.

All the while, the CEOs that run these under-regulated rackets rake in mega-millions – taxed at a lower rate than the average fireman, cop, or teacher.

E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina are cut from the same bolt as the rest of our modern corporate robber barons. And now, after having lined their pockets in the Great Post-Reagan Corporate Cash Grab, they think that a bit of faux feminism and tough but tired talk about balanced budgets and “runaway” spending will convince voters to put two foxes in charge of the henhouse.

The U.S. Senate race pits Senator Barbara Boxer against her likely adversary, Carly Fiorina. Sure, Fiorina looks good, sounds good, and talks tough – but she’s the worst kind of predatory corporate animal. And like so many corporate CEOs whose successful image does not match up with their actual performance on the job, Carly hopes to “fail up”. And, if California voters don’t take a close look at her history, she might even get away with it.

After the Hewlett-Packard board forced Fiorina to resign in the wake of a contentious merger with Compaq and falling stock prices, Infoworld put Fiorina on their 2008 list of products and ideas that were flops, calling her the “anti-Steve Jobs” for losing the goodwill of American engineers and alienating HP’s existing customers. In April 2009, the business web site Conde Nast Portfolio named Fiorina to their rotten roster of “The 20 Worst American CEOs of All Time” for her failed HP-Compaq merger and the sad but salient fact that HP stock lost half its value during her tenure.

Of course, when they booted Fiorina out, the HP board softened Carly’s fall with a golden parachute worth more than twenty million dollars. How’s that for fiscal conservatism?But you can be sure she’ll be an aggressive penny-pincher when it comes to pensions for public employees. For corporatists like Fiorina, public sector spending is always “wasteful” and “bloated”. Besides, Carly is the queen of off-shoring jobs. Maybe she can have our California road system — and all those nasty potholes — fixed by low-paid phone-bank employees in India?

And if that’s not enough, Ms. Fiorina was the top economic advisor to GOP presidential candidate John “the fundamentals of our economy are sound” McCain.

Oh yeah, and moments later, our “sound” economy crashed and burned like The Hindenburg.

The race for Governor will be a contest between Meg Whitman (and her mega-million dollar campaign war chest) versus that old Democratic stalwart, Jerry Brown. It’s frightening that the Democratic Party couldn’t find a sexier, more contemporary, inspiring, and charismatic candidate that Jerry Governor Moonbeam” Brown. But progressives can’t let their lack of enthusiasm for a retread like Brown lesson our zeal to keep Whitman out of the Governor’s mansion.

Meg Whitman is a carefully packaged product, rolled out in a glitzy multi-million dollar promotional campaign – but voters should reject her like New Coke.

This ersatz woman of the people, has an annual salary of $2.19 million — but her eBay stock ownership has probably made her the first female billionaire created in the Internet age. Of course, we don’t really know ho much money Meg has. We can guess, however, that given the zillions she’s spent on TV ads so far, she probably is a billionaire. Great. Just what we need in California: a billionaire CEO deciding that we’re “wasting” too much money on public education, public parks, public heath, and all those pesky environmental and workplace safety standards that “drive business away”. Given her corporate-friendly priorities, no doubt Meg would help California win the national race to the bottom.

Whitman graduated from Princeton in 1977 and went on to Harvard, where she earned a master’s degree in business administration. But she still manages to join her GOP brethren, like the cranky old guy she’s smooching in the picture below) in casting progressives as “elites” who are out of touch with mainstream America. Whitman worked her wa up the corporate ladder, from Procter & Gamble, to Stride Rite, Florists Transworld Delivery (FTD), and Hasbro, where she successfully re-launched the vintage toy, Mr. Potato Head.

Alas, when she tried to help Mr. Potato Head get elected as President in 2008, she met with less success. (I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist.)

Of course, it was Meg Whitman’s success at eBay that earned her fortune and fame. She oversaw eBay’s initial public offering of stock in ‘98 and helped eBay become a great success. That’s true. And after making corporate history by helping to promote and expand this revolutionary new way for people get rid of things they don’t want by selling them to others – she’s hoping sell herself to California voters.

But Meg Whitman is something we don’t want. GOP fiscal policy is founded on one thing: what’s good for corporate America is good for the country. Whitman buys into that because she’s a thoroughly corporate creature. She didn’t devote herself to public service: she made money. She turned a profit. Government was something that often got in her way.

Would that government would have gotten in British Petroleum’s way. Or Enron’s way. Or Lehman Brothers’ way…

Don’t be fooled, California. Republicans and Corporate CEOs don’t give a damn about average working Americans, and progressive, egalitarian values are anathema to them.

Ignore the flags and the ads. We don’t need the GOP-CEO mentality in the Senate or the Governor’s mansion. We need leaders who put people above profits.

Barbara Boxer and Jerry Brown have proven their commitment to putting people first.

They may not be the flashiest product on the shelves this year, but they’re reliable.

Shop wisely this election year.

And if the Republicans can’t sell Meg Whitman and  Carly Fiorina to California voters this year — they can always put Meg and Carly up for sale on eBay. Just ask Meg: it’s a great way to get rid of stuff you don’t want.

Finally, just for fun — a loving look back at “Governor Moonbeam”…


Filed under Politics