Southern California

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Floats readied for the 125th Tournament of Roses Parade

If you will recall, last week I headed out to Fiesta Parade Floats to take photos of the floats they were building for the upcoming 125th Tournament of Roses Parade. It was December 23 and at that point the floats were virtual skeletons; waiting for December 26 when the actual decorating could begin. The parade rules state that all surfaces of the float framework must be covered in natural materials; usually flowers and seeds. Since these natural materials have a tendency to decay after they are plucked from the ground, the decorating does not begin until December 26. The decorating must be completed by the evening of December 30 so that the floats can be judged on December 31.

Yesterday, December 30 I headed back out to Fiesta Parade Floats in Irwindale to see how progress was coming along. The first thing I noticed was how great it smelled in there with thousands upon thousands of flowers; most already on the floats, but some still waiting to be applied. One of the volunteers told me that they got a slow start because of the extremely warm weather we have been experiencing, but it was obvious that most of the floats were very close to completion.

After I left Irwindale I headed out to the Rose Bowl Stadium parking lot, having been invited by the California Cut Flower Commission (CCFC) to come photograph the float by entered by California Polytechnic State University (Cal Poly). Last year the CCFC reached out to me because approximately 80% of all cut flowers sold in the United States are imported from other countries. The CCFC and California flower farmers were working with the Cal Poly Universities and the City of South Pasadena to ensure that more than 85% of the flowers used on their floats were American grown, specifically from California’s flower farms. This year, Cal Poly is the only certified “California Grown” float in the parade with more than 85% of the flowers used to decorate the float being sourced from California flower farmers. Continue reading

Bluegrass, Punk & Gospel at Saint Rocke

These photos are from a concert I attended at Saint Rocke, a live music venue in Hermosa Beach, on Wednesday night. The photos begin with Saint Rocke’s Bluegrass Happy Hour, which featured the band, Pompous Highmen. The main show featured Hang Dog Expression, The Curly Wolf and starred Dustbowl Revival.

A week or so ago I won a contest on the Saint Rocke Facebook page; as a prize I won a couple passes to an upcoming event. I let Tanya look through the Saint Rocke calendar of upcoming events and she suggested we see Dustbowl Revival, an old school bluegrass, gospel, jug-band that had been recently named Best Live Band in LA. I listened to a couple songs I found online and agreed this would be a good show to attend; I really had no idea how good it would be.

Saint Rocke has a happy hour most days, and last night it featured Pompous Highmen, a local group made up of three South Bay natives. We got there at the end of their act, but enjoyed what we heard. Since I had not looked at the calendar of events myself, I did not realize there would be two more acts before Dustbowl Revival came on. The first was Hang Dog Expression, a band that we had the pleasure of seeing when I covered the Froth Awards last March. You probably noticed that their vocalist, Kate, has a set of knitting needles and a work in progress. I noticed this the first time I saw them, so I decided to ask her a little about it. During every show, she knits throughout. To be more specific, she knits scarves. She then donates the scarves to homeless shelters. Excuse me if the next part is not dead on, but she has four sisters and sisters-in-law and they are all knitting these scarves. I guess they set a goal of knitting 250 of them, but a sister decided they would do 1,000 scarves to donate. Maybe it was that each would knit 250 for a total of 1,000. It is not that important, what is important is the work they are doing. I asked if other people could help them reach their goal and Kate excitedly said, “Yes!”

If you knit, or knows someone that knits or crochets and want to be included you should visit the Hang Dog Expression Facebook page and leave a message on the page and someone will contact you. Continue reading

Decem-brrrr in the South Bay

Last night a meteorologist (or two) on my Twitter feed mentioned that today west facing beaches would have some high surf advisories. I immediately noted on my calendar that I would need to head over to said beaches to see what kind of photos I could get. I have to admit, I really did not expect temperatures to hit the low 80’s; I guess that is why they call it Decem-brrrr.

The main obstacle I was to encounter is that high tide was going to happen around 1:00 AM and, truth be told, I have never photographed surf in the middle of the night. I decided to see how lucky I was by heading out a little before noon, with my first stop being the breakwater in Redondo Beach. Sometimes when we get big surf, the waves crashing on the rocks can be pretty dramatic. It may have been dramatic at 1:00 AM, but it was not that impressive when I arrived. There were several surfers to photograph and I could see the swells were getting bigger so I moved up the coast a mile to the Hermosa Beach Pier to see what I might find there. The surf was no bigger and there was a lone surfer that looked like he was a beginner, so I left and headed off to Manhattan Beach.

The Manhattan Beach Pier is photogenic no matter what the weather is like and there were several surfers and boogie boarders enjoying the active surf. All in all, it was a great winter day in the South Bay; it is feeling a lot like Christmas. Continue reading

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