Candlestick Park – Now Just a Field of Dreams

At the very south end of San Francisco, at the eastern edge by the bay, along Highway 101 is Candlestick Point. At one time it was home to Candlestick Park, the massive concrete stadium where the San Francisco Giants played baseball and the San Francisco 49ers played football. It has surely been home to many events – monster truck shows, rock concerts, soccer matches. It was a large stadium made of concrete and a place best used to watch the 49ers play their gladiator sport. No soft chairs and few cozy luxury boxes. It was made like a parking garage and had that same lack of warmth.  You could get a seat high in the upper deck and watch the little ants down below. If you missed the amazing play, there was no instant replay – too bad.  You spilled your beer and missed the interception all at once. The accommodations and locker rooms for the players were surely not as they are today. Candlestick was a fitting place to see grown men push and shove each other around for an afternoon.

In the 1960s Willie Mays caught fly balls out in center field. By the 1990s you could get into the bleacher seats in left field for a few bucks, squint your eyes and see Will Clark nervously try to send a runner in from second. Of course, Candlestick is famously known for the 1989 World Series between the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland A’s when the Lomo Prieta earthquake hit and everyone thought for a second the world might end.

In the late fall the weather would often be that Indian summer time of year when the the temperature was at a human ideal, the wind light out of the east and the light would have that warm autumn glow. It was football weather. The 49ers played many classic games at Candlestick. Joe Montana connecting with Jerry Rice. John Taylor running back kickoffs. Steve Young running wild until the doctor said that it may be better just to throw the ball to keep all the marbles upstairs intact. Then there were games in the winter storms when the field would be wet.  The storm coming in from Alaska and a high tide would make the field like a pig slop.

When you landed at San Francisco International Airport and caught a cab into town, you would often drive up 101 past Candlestick and see the stadium there poetically on the point. True to its moniker, at night it would often be lit up. It seemed a bit timeless, like the Parthenon, and you innocently thought that it would somehow always be there watching over the bay. For a time the name would be bought out. The speaker cable company, Monster Cable, purchased the naming rights and called it Monster Park, not realizing that people assumed it was for the job website.  Other large companies, usually in the telecommunications industries, would then take over the naming rights. No one remembers their names now.  People in San Francisco would always just  call it Candlestick.

Which brings me to Candlestick Park. The stadium was torn down many years ago. One day it was there and the next it is gone. Phfff! All that concrete surely broken up and hauled away to be recycled one truckload at a time.  Now when you get off the plane and drive north along the bay, you have to explain to your friend that once a large stadium loomed there. Remember that hill that you would see from the blimp.  That’s the same lonely hill.  Where the stadium was is now fenced in. It is mostly grassy fields and when it rains ducks and redwing black birds hangout in the ponds that once was around the fifty yard line. It is quiet save for the never ending hum of Interstate 101 a half mile away.

The 49ers left Candlestick years ago and now play down in Santa Clara. The South Bay and all the tech money bought them out. On Saturday, January 20, 2024 they will play the Green Bay Packers in a classic playoff match up. Two young quarterbacks will duel it out and try as best they can to not make mistakes. They will push and shove, run, pass, block and kick. People will go into the blue medical tent to see if their marbles are still round. There is rain in the forecast so the field may be a bit wet. No one will care how high the tide will be at game time. All that matters now is which team scores the most points and maybe who gets the ball last.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche – A Review

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is a documentary film from 2021 that tells the story of a massive avalanche. You can now watch this movie on various streaming services including Netflix.

Throughout history the mountains have had various meanings. In the Middle Ages, mountains were thought to be places where evil lurked and venturing  into the mountains was a deal with the devil.  Mountains were dark, mysterous places where ungodly people hid out.  Since the sixteenth century, mountains have taken on a more sacred place in the Western imagination.  By the nineteenth century, mountains were seen as a place to regain health and vigor. Fresh air. Clean water.  A place to get away from the foul industrial urban centers. Even the tragic story of the Donner Party in 1847, a few miles from Alpine Meadows, did not slow this new sense of the healthful sacredness of the mountains. In many ways, this notion of the mountains being healthy and even sacred lives on today. To this end, there are hundreds of ski resorts high in the mountains of the American West, one of which is Alpine Meadows (now Palisades). Life is short. Drop a few thousand dollars for a weekend. Regain your health and even get a bit closer to God.

The people who live up in ski resorts are a fun-loving bunch.  Few who live in the mountains are there for the money. Some enjoy the solitude and quiet. Some the never ending thrills of deep power snow. Some live for the scenic beauty. Other are there to escape something and get a new start. Some are there to endlessly party. Whatever the case, it a place where people’s main motivation is to live in the moment.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche tells that story of people living in the moment.  It is a remarkable movie as the filmmakers somehow gathered one by one all the major people that were part of this event and had them candidly talk about the winter of 1982.  The combination of these interviews, along with footage from the time, including local news reports tells the story in a very even, engaging way. You even get to watch San Francisco’s Channel 2 reporters, Dennis Richmond and Elaine Corral report on the tragic event – a time when the 6 o’clock news was the news.

This view into a time before the personal computer, cellphones and the internet is part of what makes the movie so intriguing.  The ski patrol had only  walkie-talkies and snowmobiles. Weather reports came over the weather radio.  The young avalanche forecaster Jim Plehn used a system of large paper charts to map the snow densities and where they had used explosives or side-cut skiing to create avalanches. To this day, it is an inexact science that in the end requires more than paper, computer models and theories, but all your senses, experience and instinct.

As the film unfolds, the movie does an excellent job of telling the story of the avalanche and then for the rest of the movie the digging out of bodies and the hope for any survivors.  Volunteers with shovels. A few specially trained avalanche dogs. All the while it is continuing to snow and the people in charge have no way of knowing if there will be another massive slide. The majority of the people dealing with this tragic event, the ski patrol were all people in their late twenties. Making critical life and death decisions at a very young age. Even in the hedonistic mountains, people grew up pretty fast back then.

Buried – The 1982 Alpine Meadows Avalanche is an important film telling an  important story that is critical part of the history of the American West. Watch it with a bowl of fresh popcorn and a cool beverage of your choice.

Well done. 5 stars.

BREAKING NEWS: San Francisco Aqua Surf Shop Holds Gnarly Surf Contest at Sloat

With the swell measuring around 8 feet at 12 seconds, on the morning of December 3, it was observed that the Aqua Surf Shop was holding some sort of surf contest. The surf was gnarly and the paddle-out ridiculous – rows and rows of white water to paddle through just to get to the outside.  It looked impossible but the contestants, both women and men in their twenties seemed to be able to make their way past the inside close-outs. Just nasty out there.

UPDATE: The contest is what is called the ‘Battle of the Bay’ competition. This has been held in previous years when San Francisco State was victorious.  It seems to be surf clubs from local colleges – SF State University,  Cal, and UCSF get together and organize this event. Very cool!

From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco
From the NOAA Buoy Report and San Francisco


BREAKING NEWS: Man on Stand-up Paddleboard Surfs 15 to 20 Foot Wave at Ocean Beach

While the San Francisco Journal is dedicated to “Slow News that Does not Break,” we have breaking news today. Late in the day, on November 25th, 2023, during a northwest swell that delivered waves in the 15 to 20 foot range, it was observed that at the south end of the beach a man caught a rather large wave on a stand-up paddleboard. After catching the wave he went right down the face and stayed comfortably on the shoulder until wiping out when the wave closed out. He then caught the the next wave riding his board on his stomach as the sun was setting and a full moon was observed rising over the city.

Further up the coast near Noriega Street it was observed that there was a pack of surfers and a jet ski, apparently assisting surfers in catching waves.

This story is not developing any further at this point. According to all available reports, all the surfers made it back to the beach safely.



2022 – Happy New Year

Serene Lakes at Soda Spring

Much to be thankful for in this New Year and much to be wary about.  Let’s start with the thankful. Snow in the Sierra! Below is an after (Jan 4) and before (Nov 28) satellite photo of snow around Lake Tahoe.

That is a lot of snow! For December, 2021 in California it is officially 210 inches give or take a few feet and plus or minus 80 inches if the plows came by.

Playing in the Snow

I grew up in snow. I love snow. I even enjoy shoveling snow. Thanks to some gracious friends we were able to get up to Donner Pass the last week of December 2021. Below are some photos.

Thus concludes the pleasant part of this post.

Treachery and the Great Downfall of American Democracy

Treachery and greed is the way these days. The slow, methodical deterioration of American democracy. The coup attempts. The regrouping of white nationalists. Henchmen running free, disobeying court summons at the highest level of government. Many people would assert that the whole system was rigged from the beginning – the racist concept of the electoral college, the overwhelming influence of the rich, corporations and big money, the federal reserve. The travails are many, but at least in an earlier time period the notion of decency was a virtue.  The truth mattered.

This trend towards fascism has been written about by many of the major mainstream progressive magazines. The Atlantic started having pieces about this six months ago and recently has devoted an entire issue to it.

The Crystal Ball

I see the 2022 and 2024 elections down the road like a car wreck in slow motion. It is night. A car is parked on a hill without the emergency brake on.  All is well until a storm blows in and a breeze picks up in the middle of the night. The sky turns dark. The carload  of Treachery and Greed slowly begins to move, inch by inch, making it’s way gradually faster and faster, down the hill.  We all look on in disbelief. At the bottom sit the Statue of Liberty, the Lincoln Monument, the Capital buildings of Wisconsin and Georgia all gazing innocently off into space. With a loud crash the out of control car knocks over every one.  I wake up.  It’s 2022 my friend. Be well and Happy New Year!

Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter

Recently some very large swell hit Northern California. December 4, 2020 was probably the biggest day of the year so far with waves peaking at probably around 25 feet. The following day, December 4, 2020 I ventured to the beach to take some photos and surf. These are photos from around 9 am to 11 am at Ocean Beach in San Francisco when the waves were about 7 feet at 14 seconds. Fortunately, even though there is a raging pandemic, surfing appears to be a safe activity. As the saying goes, once you leave the beach, you are in the wild.

Some sequences of rides

Ride 1
Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter

Ride 2
Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter
Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter
Surfing Ocean Beach in the Winter

At the beach (the little black things on the waves are indeed humans)


Haight Ashbury Music and Wise Surfboards Closing

Happy New Year! Out with the old, in with the new! It is 2020, a number with a perfect ring. Even. Clear and surely a year that will be remembered as long as we are on the planet –  which according to the latest reports may not be that long.

What will hopefully be remembered are two great San Francisco stores, Haight Ashbury Music Center  and Wise Surfboards – both are closing.  (Haight Ashbury Music will be open until January 20, 2020.)

Haight Ashbury Music Center and Wise Surfboards were essentially unsustainable, competing with eCommerce and the internet.  Retail can be a pretty cut-throat world and eventually even Walmart will feel the heat.

PART 1: Haight Ashbury Music

“Haight Ashbury Music Center got it’s start on Haight Street in 1972. Hundreds of famous — and thousands of not-so-famous! — great musicians have walked through our doors over the years. Along with thousands of student players just starting out. Unlike many of the big-box retailers, we’re a locally owned music store and have been under the same management for over 30 years.”–

The quote above kind of says it all. A neighborhood music store started at a time when a lot of famous musicians lived within a few blocks and surely Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia walked through the front door.  Rock and Roll was everywhere. Haight Ashbury Music carried all kinds of instruments – even wind instruments. Many a time I have found myself in Haight Ashbury Music  buying a  harmonica in a weird key for some gig in a hour.  It was an excellent shop with a great vibe and will be missed. RIP.

PART 2: Wise Surfboards

Wise Surfboards has had many locations out in the Sunset neighborhood of San Francisco. For many years the store had a seemingly endless quantity of excellent surfboards, all with their beautiful clean decks pointed towards the sky. Long boards that everyone would drool over – all out of our price range. The place was hopping. Wise Surfboards is where surfers in San Francisco would buy their boards and wetsuits. The last time I went in the place it was dead with not a single customer. I made my way to the third floor and bought a surf hoodie for the cold Ocean Beach waters and knew the days were numbered.

Part of the fabric of the San Francisco surf scene will be forever altered. Wise Surfboards hosted many community events. The great big wave surfer Fred Van Dyke once did a book signing. Surfboard shapers would give talks about surfboard design. Sometimes Wise would even screen new surf movies. In the morning you could call a number and they would give you the surf report. You got to know the voices and it was odd when you finally met the person face to face. Sort of like seeing a radio host for the first time. One day a young employee was on surf report duty and had the brilliant idea to tell the world that the surf was terrible when it a was actually very good.  He had the day off and was heading out to go surf and he did not want a crowd in the line-up.  Bob Wise, was a bit perturbed as I remember, True story.

So If you are in San Francisco heading to the ocean, plan ahead. Bring your wax and an extra leash. Pretty soon there may not be a single surf shop out by the beach.


The 2019 World Series and a Geography Lesson Ignored

It is October 30th, 2019 and the Washington Nationals have won the World Series in seven games over the Houston Astros. The winning coach, Dave Martinez is the first manager of Puerto Rican decent to win a World Series. Washington has not won a World Series since they were the Washington Senators in 1930. This years’  Washington Nationals won all their games in the Astros’ ballpark. In any major sport, the visiting team always winning away games in a series playoff is a first. Baseball, though there are but four bases and one simple objective – to run around them and get home, always has a way of  discovering the unusual and the unlikely.

One thing that was not unusual and unlikely, but clearly in view, were all the Latinos on both teams. The list of countries are many –  Mexico, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and even Brazil.

Houston Astros 40 Man Roster
5 Cubans
3 Dominicans
2 Mexicans
1 Puerto Ricans

Washington Nationals 40 Man Roster
1 Cuban
5 Dominicans
2 Venezuelans
1 Brazilian

That the Fox news coverage just ignored the geographic and cultural origins of these professional baseball players that come from the West Indies was strange but perhaps predictable for a network that  is often xenophobic and has an uncanny ability to ignore the obvious. It was a great learning moment lost. North Americans’ knowledge about geography has for many years been very poor.

Let’s review a map of the Caribbean

That about a quarter of all the players in the 2019 MLB World Series came from the Caribbean. One can just imagine these players as kids being outside all day, playing with whatever gear was available. Perhaps at times rags or socks for the ball. A broomstick for the bat.

Besides players that were born in the Caribbean, many players were of Latino decent. Anthony Rendon is a third generation Mexican-American from the visiting teams hometown of Houston, Texas. I think that Rendon should have been named the  MVP of the series. His incredible Zen-like detachment was amazing to behold. It did not matter whether he hit a home run or struck out, he maintained the same steady detached demeanor – in the midst of the unknown, tranquility was not to be disturbed. Marcus Aurelius, the great Stoic philosopher would have enjoyed his approach.  George Springer on the Astros, while raised in Connecticut, has Latino roots. His father’s family is from Panama and is mother is Puerto Rican. There were probably more examples, but that is what I found.

The baseball season is over, the autumn chill is in the air and winter is around the corner.

There were three men down
And the season lost
And the tarpaulin was rolled
Upon the winter frost – Night Game – Paul Simon

The San Francisco Quarterly Report – March 2019


Since the last report there has been extreme weather. Late in 2018 a fire season began that was massive. Whole neighborhoods in Santa Rosa burned to the ground. The city of Paradise in the Sierra foothills burned to the ground. There were massive fires in southern California and all up and down the coast. In San Francisco the smoke was so thick you had to wear a mask to breath outside. From San Francisco, Oakland was not visible.

Then on Thanksgiving Day the rains came and it was a gift from the heavens. Since then the rain and storm dump on the Sierra. Snow-pack is at 150% of normal. For people who like to hike up to the tops of mountains and ski down – that activity will be available until the end of June. We are just now beginning to dry out.


Governor Jerry Brown has retired and been replaced with the former mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom. Jerry Brown has been a great public servant, and we will miss his generally good judgement, candid sense of humor, honesty and fiscal skills – why Republicans get the moniker of being fiscal conservatives when they always drive federal and state governments in to debt is strange.  Jerry leaves Governor with money in the bank. We know that with Gavin, at least we now have a Governor with way better hair but certainly less brains. Let us pray that Gavin uses good judgement. We know he has no sense of humor.

Sporting News

I do not pay attention of professional sports so this is about the local sports. The skiing is fantastic, there is plenty of snow. Biking is off the charts when you can hit a clear day after a rain, 50 degree weather. Great light.  Light winds. The surfing is off the charts with many head-high and overhead days with off-shore winds and long period swells.

Surf in Norther California – 2019

San Francisco Construction Boom

A few photos of San Francisco and the changing skyline. Building all over town is extensive. The new Warriors stadium is looking like it is on schedule. Warehouses are being torn down. Condos are being built in record time.

Below are the new buildings around 3rd Street. The Warriors new stadium is almost done. UCSF has an entire campus. Kaiser and a lot of medical, pharmaceutical and biotech companies abound. Not a single corner store anywhere in sight but massive concrete parking garages for all the wealthy professionals driving in from Marin and Walnut Creek.

Mavericks Surf Spot Breaking

There is a large period swell hitting the West Coast of California this week. The Mavericks  Surf Contest may take place on Thursday (1/18/2018) but that does not mean people aren’t surfing all week. The photo above is from Monday morning. If you want to see the waves get a Surfline subscription or head on down to Half Moon Bay with some binoculars.  Afterwards, I recommend the Princeton Harbor Public House and Grill.





The San Francisco Surf Report – November & December 2017

The end of 2017 has seen some very clean but small surf. Usually by December most days are double overhead. This year we have a high pressure system over the Pacific Ocean, what they are now calling the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.  This is the weather pattern that we had for many years starting in around 2013 and the years of drought. There is not too much snow up in the Sierra and it looks to be pretty much a dry year.

Drought years are almost always good surf years. The surf becomes tamer, chest to head high, and without all the storms there are more days to surf. Below are some shots from one of my favorite places along Ocean Beach in San Francisco. The crowds on good days get a bit too much but there is a lot of joy out there in the water. There is also  a mystery spot gallery down the coast.


November 5, 2017

November 18 and 19, 2017

December 2, 2017 – Mystery Spot

December 7, 2017

December 10, 2017

News from San Francisco – Quarterly Report

The Weather

While the rest of the country is experiencing some pretty strange weather with the Hurricanes in the south and the cold in the north, here in San Francisco we have had two weeks of heat. While the heat records were broken in early September, the heat has not really subsided. Presently it is pretty muggy out there and as I write this I hear thunder and see lighting, both pretty infrequent in San Francisco on the coast.

Two weekends ago, starting September 1, the temperature rose to over 105 degrees and set all-time heat records for San Francisco and fortunately the waves at the coast were only about 3 feet high. The beach was packed and little kids were jumping and playing in the waves. Probably a weekend they will never forget. You could surf without a wetsuit and many went out simply for a swim in the ocean just to cool down. Try that in January my friends.


Construction and More Construction

While the tearing down of warehouses and the building of modern luxury condos continues at an alarming rate, everyone is simply trying to figure out how long it will take to finish the top of the Salesforce tower. This tower looms large and is visible from all over the city, but the top, last tip is taking forever to complete. What are they debating? Circumcised or uncircumcised? All glass or steel plates? Flags or no flags? Whatever happens no-doubt Mark Benioff will be up there peering down upon the hospital named after him and the rest of the city and thinking up new ways to leverage all the customer data he has in the vaults.

The Old-time San Francisco Does Exist

Contrary to many old salts, the old bohemian edge does still exist, you just have to know where to look. Most of the techies are oblivious to some of the amazing music talent in this town. You simply have to know where to go. Apologies to those looking for advice on the matter, as I like the places just as crowded as they already are – filled with old friends.

Skiing on June 15th in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

I have always wanted to ski late in the year during a big snow year. 2017 was that year. It is a truly amazing experience to hike up and ski off the top of a mountain in 70 degree weather. The sun bright and hot. The snow hard but not yet slushy in the morning.

We made our way up to the top of this undisclosed mountain along the Pacific Crest Trail. A mile in we ran into a group of six hikers with packs. As usual custom along hiking trails we stopped and drank some water and chatted a bit. These were six people hiking the PCT all the way from Mexico to Canada. They had all started out doing the hike solo but formed a group over time. One person from Oregon. Another from Albuquerque. Another from Israel and another from New York. I asked them if they could let me know one of their most essential tools in their pack. Something they value most of all and could not do without. They first said what all people who backpack say. “Just too much shit. You do not need much in the end.”  Then they stood and pondered and then one of the older hikers said, “You pack your fears. If you are afraid of being thirsty, you carry too much water. If you fear hunger, you pack too much food. If you are afraid of being cold, you pack too many clothes.” Some heavy trail knowledge – just in the nick of time.

“You pack your fears. If you are afraid of being thirsty, you carry too much water. If you fear hunger, you pack too much food. If you are afraid of being cold, you pack too many clothes.”

Hiker on the Pacific Crest Trail

We kept heading up the mountain. At times using skins and skis. At other times hiking straight up. We made it to the top and ate lunch. The top of the mountain is a unusual place. Life was exploding with bugs, birds, rodents, birds and butterflies. 9100 feet. At one point  a tiger swallowtail butterfly cruises by and you have to wonder what she is doing at the top of the world.

Here are some photos from that magical day.


PIERS LEWIS… I still have your surfboard. It is the last one that works.

Four years ago I made a call out to my friend Piers that I still had his surfboards. Since then two of mine sort of bit the dust. After a while, surf boards get dings and become delaminated, sort of like their riders perhaps, and become too gone to repair.

At the present moment I am basically down to the Piers Lewis Nev and a SF Surf Shop big wave board called a gun. The summer is not a good time to surf around here, but I took the Nev out for a test ride today. Piers. The Nev has turned out to be a great board for summer waves around here. Those short period windswelly, shifty buggers. Thanks for letting me store it. Just let me know when you need it back. I will keep it safe and always remember to tie it down on the roof rack. Your friend, Paul

From April 2012…

Hi Piers,

It has been a long time. Actually a really long time. I hope you are doing well. Where you are, I have no idea. We knew each other back in “the day.” You took up surfing as you thought the paddling would help out the carpel-tunnel in the arms. Exercise. The remedy of last resort for the inflicted. Not sure if it worked but in the end you left town and your surf board ended up in my basement. It is an 8 foot Nev, well-built with very few miles. I have used it perhaps 3 or 4 times. Actually it was my friends who rode it when we were short a board on surf ventures.

The issue is this. I cannot find you anywhere. Not on Google. Not on Facebook. Not on LinkedIn. You have done it! You have maintained your sanity and privacy. In the future, when someone needs a privacy policy, I will just send them to you as you got it down. The only problem is, I will have no way to get a hold of you. Anyway, I really want to get rid of the Nev surf board. The surf season is upon us and I have eyes on a more high performance model. Maybe a 7 foot pin tail. Something that really carves. Let me tell you. That Nev is not made for carving.

So just email me before say Thanksgiving. Lets work out a deal.

Your friend,


Ocean Eats Second Parking Lot for Breakfast – Ocean Beach, San Francisco

In 2012 I wrote a piece here on this website called First Glance. It documented my introduction to large waves and surfing in general and talked about how the government was transporting sand from the north end to the south end of Ocean Beach in a valiant attempt to ward off the ocean’s constant pounding of the coastline.


Anyone who has surfed that place in the winter knows that the ocean always wins in the end. If the ocean wants to eat a parking lot for breakfast, there is nothing you can do about it. A big December swell and a 6.2-foot high tide and half that sand will end up back were it came from.

From First Glance

Below is what the second parking lot at Ocean Beach in San Francisco looked like in 2008.

Ocean Beach in 2008 at the Second Parking Lot

While I had not ventured out to Ocean Beach in a few weeks, I was passing by when I noticed that the second parking lot at Sloat Ave along the Great Highway was closed. It had disappeared. The ocean had taken a large bite out of it for breakfast, probably during one of the big winter swells we have had this year. All the sand that they had hauled from the north end to the south had disappeared. In about five years there will be no Great Highway here. Pretty soon the San Francisco Zoo will be underwater.

In the end, the ocean always wins.

Below is what the second parking lot at Ocean Beach in San Francisco looked like in March of 2016.

Ocean Beach – Second Parking Lot 3/19/2016

I find it a bit strange that the fact that the Ocean ate the parking lot of a major metropolitan city did not make it into the local main stream press.

4 Best Documentaries on Netflix Streaming

Looking for a movie on Netflix Streaming? It seems that documentaries are the largest category in Netflix. Below are four movies that I highly recommend.


The Legend of Eddie Aikau
If you do not know who Eddie Aikau was, you will by the end of the movie. A remarkable person, amazing athelete and incredible life. Indeed, “Eddie would go.”

Little White Lie
This documentary is remarkable, not only for the story but also the fact that the filmmaker is so young and yet makes a film that is so mature.


The Zen of Bennet
I have no idea why this movie has only three stars in places. Even if you do not like the music and singing of Tony Bennet, the movie is a great view into a man, way up there in years, who still has it all together. Features many pop artists including Amy Winehouse.


Muscle Shoals
There is no reason why this is at the bottom of the four. I am assuming that you have already seen this movie. This is the sort of history that always seems to get torn out of history books. You may be Caucasian but that does not mean you cannot be funky.

I feel better now

I don’t know anything and have no perspective, but here is my comment…. I feel better now.

From Barnswarm, commenting on the website Stoke Report and the “Rant – Laird speaks,” bringing up the concept that on the new Internet, everyone has the ability to post, and that the behavior is really about personal therapy.

2013 Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival Official Pelican Café Awards

As is the case with years past, The Pelican Café gives out awards for the Best of Hardly Strictly. It is a great honor to have been chosen for this task.


Ralph Stanley

Ralph can still belt it out and if you have not heard him sing, it is a truly American experience. Part Appalachia, part blues, part native Indian chants, it is a one of a kind thing. The Clinch Mountain Boys always deliver some solid traditional bluegrass.


Alison Brown

Alison sounded great and as the sun came out full-blast and I applied my second batch of sunscreen, the sus 4 chords just keep coming. Everyone knows that hanging out on sus 4 chords in Bluegrass is just strange. It is like mixing your sour mash whiskey with Dr. Pepper. Better just to drink it straight.


Richard Thompson

This guy played some heavy songs, with profound lyrics and delivered some totally out there guitar solos. I caught him later at the Rooster Stage playing a solo ballad. When the sound went out on his acoustic guitar, he did not skip a bit and borrowed yet another guitar and finished the last two verses.


Steve Earl

Speaking of singing ballads, Steve Earl at the Kate McGarrigle Tribute, sang one of Kate’s ballads, and pulled it off admirably. You could tell he was in unfamiliar waters, but rose to the occasion.


Nicki Bluhm

Just a breath of fresh air, great voice and a solid band.


Chris Wood of the Wood Brothers

Not too many harp players in bluegrass. It is a strange misunderstanding. Anyway the Wood brothers are a very interesting band. Maybe next time Chris should put down the bass and grab the harp with two hands. This year, I started to get into this band and strange combinations. It is easy to forget that all this music is just three people. Excellent vocals.


First Aid Kit

Can’t be everywhere…


The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival always takes place the first weekend of October in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. Because of the season, you either experience a weekend of warm temperatures and offshore winds, in other words “Indian Summer,” or the end of summer, and the usual foggy cold. This year it was warm. The surf lined up to be shoulder high glassy things, and the sky was so clear, on Saturday morning from the dunes of Ocean Beach you could see far off to the distance along the coast to the north, the bluffs of Point Reyes.

Some people say I like this festival because I am cheap. Sure, one look at my car and you get the idea that this is a person who probably rinses out the end of the ketchup bottle in the spaghetti sauce. It is true, I tend to gravitate towards the simple pleasures, being a free festival, things become simple when it comes to money. But to take on a festival with over 100 bands, you got to have a strategy even if your strategy is to have no strategy. This year, after much searching for comrades, it turned out I was flying solo. Strange, I was unable to drag anyone from my family, anyone from my extended family, and not even a single soul from my rock and roll jam band world. Plans. Travel. Prior engagements. Camping-surf trips. No problem. How can you possibly miss this thing!

The strategy was to be simple. Surf in the morning. Hit the festival all day. See as many bands as possible. Pack supplies. Water, refreshments and binoculars.

So, Saturday, I awake to a sort of paradise, and proceed with my HSB schedule all marked up, West, to the ocean and the Golden Gate Park. The following day, after jamming in some undisclosed location in the Mission with the Beauty Operators, I simply repeated the formula. By the time my honey showed up for the final show on Sunday, I had seen over 13 bands, many for the first time. The only problem was that there were at least 25 more that I missed. Next year, weather permitting, all Friday afternoon at the Porch Stage hearing some folksy stuff. All Saturday and Sunday checking out acts I know nothing about. The weirder the names, the better.

First Glance – Surfing Ocean Beach in San Francisco

I remember a day in about 1989 before I surfed. I had moved to San Francisco from some landlocked state without an ocean. I lived in the Mission on Valencia when you could find phone booths every four blocks or so and traffic was two lanes deep in both directions. Valencia was sort of a wasteland of old hardware and appliance stores, corner stores, a few Mexican restaurants but not much else. It is hard to imagine but true. If you rode a bike, you took your life in your own hands and probably were honked to the sidewalk. There was only one café that I can remember. Things have sure changed.

Anyway, I still remember that day. It was December and we took a drive out to Ocean Beach, the usual route, out San Jose to Brotherhood Way around the lake to hang out at the ocean. Maybe play a little Frisbee. When we came over the knoll by the wastewater treatment plant and looked towards the ocean we where greeted by quite a sight. It was a crystal clear winter day and the swell was huge, probably breaking on the outer bars. I had never seen waves this big and it made no sense at the time because there was no wind. I had always associated larger waves with thunderstorms and windy weather. We pulled into the parking lot and were simply amazed. It was like we were visiting another planet. The waves were these massive towering things that broke way out to sea.

It took about four years until I started surfing, courtesy of a Brit with a few garage sale wetsuits and equally lousy boards but a hefty amount of adventure and craziness. Due to proximity I definitely call OB my home break.

So last Friday I drove out to take a look. I doubted I would surf as I knew the waves were crappy. I just really wanted to hear the waves and smell the brine. When I got to the parking lot the wind was blowing hard from the Northwest but I realized my timing was perfect. I could take a photo of a dump truck dumping a bunch of sand and a guy driving a bobcat pushing it around. I knew this Ocean Beach Sand Management Project was going on and probably in the back of my mind I was curious how far they were along. You can read about the project here

I know they are spending a month moving sand from north to south and dumping it at my spot but in the end it is just an experiment. They are simply going to see where the hell it ends up. It probably will change the sandbars down there and it will be interesting to see what happens from a surfing perspective. Maybe they are setting stuff up for us for the fall surf season – like baseball umpires dusting off home plate. But I hate to tell them this. Anyone who has surfed that place in the winter knows that the ocean always wins in the end. If the ocean wants to eat a parking lot for breakfast, there is nothing you can do about it. A big December swell and a 6.2-foot high tide and half that sand will end up back were it came from. Anyone who surfs OB has a story about how far they drifted knows that stuff moves around down there, especially in the winter and a few dump trucks of sand is really just a small inconvenience to the big mama.

Which brings me back to the first time I saw a big swell at OB. To this day, when I go surfing and I make that same drive, when I drive over that knoll by the wastewater treatment plant, I turn off the radio and sort of hold my breath in expectation. Right away when you go over and get that first glimpse you can tell if it is going to be good or bad. Nasty or lame. Marginal or sublime.

NOTE: This essay first appeared on The Stoke Report as a Rant.

Piers Lewis… please pick up your surf board

Hi Piers,

It has been a long time. Actually a really long time. I hope you are doing well. Where you are, I have no idea. We knew each other back in “the day.” You took up surfing as you thought the paddling would help out the carpel-tunnel in the arms. Exercise. The remedy of last resort for the inflicted. Not sure if it worked but in the end you left town and your surf board ended up in my basement. It is an 8 foot Nev, well-built with very few miles. I have used it perhaps 3 or 4 times. Actually it was my friends who rode it when we were short a board on surf ventures.

The issue is this. I cannot find you anywhere. Not on Google. Not on Facebook. Not on LinkedIn. You have done it! You have maintained your sanity and privacy. In the future, when someone needs a privacy policy, I will just send them to you as you got it down. The only problem is, I will have no way to get a hold of you. Anyway, I really want to get rid of the Nev surf board. The surf season is upon us and I have eyes on a more high performance model. Maybe a 7 foot pin tail. Something that really carves. Let me tell you. That Nev is not made for carving.

So just email me before say Thanksgiving. Lets work out a deal.

Your friend,