Monday, September 29, 2008


Rick's Tacos, Burritos, Burgers, etc. has been a staple of my junk food menu since the early 80s. Although I try to limit my trips to Rick's, I can hardly resist ripping open the thin, yellow wrapping of their "combo burrito" and consuming the ultimate in Mexican comfort food.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Freedom of Religion

After I took the shot of a mother and her child in LA, I immediately thought of all the ways I could use this photo. Artistically, it’s beautiful. Politically, it’s correct. Religiously, it is Muslim. And I am a Christian, yet each time I visit this photograph I think how blessed I am to live in a country that accepts people of all religions and beliefs.

“It cannot be emphasized too clearly and too often that this nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.”

--Patrick Henry

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Just say, "No."

There should be a rule about solicitors at store entrances. Unlike the woman pictured above, who seems to be legitimate, store patrons should not have deal with transients pleading for sympathy, wearing a homemade badge. I often question their authenticity. Quite frankly, I believe most of the front-door beggars are moonlighting; a so-called “second job” from their off ramp gig.

I cringe each time I walk up to the front door of my local Vons to find a card table with a coffee can on top. I know what’s coming; a determined person with a perpetual smile blurting out their pitch, often unintelligible, followed with a guilt-intended, “God bless you.”

I’ve tried talking with them, asking for more information but no one can produce as much as a brochure or website, legitimizing my suspicion that they are in fact pan handlers.

Some stores, however, discourage solicitors. Other establishments have all but banned them, including the Salvation Army and Girl Scouts. I think that's sad.

Rather than ignore the swindlers, I sometimes ask if they take Visa; that usually thwarts their effort and answers their question. And with a wink and a smile, I continue into the store.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Rising at Friendship Park

Clumsily, he emerged from his dirty PT Cruiser and staggered toward the Korean Friendship Bell in San Pedro. The man wasn’t drunk; rather he was squinting through sun’s light at a kite fluttering overhead. He gazed at the kite, wearing a smile from ear to ear as he continued to stumble over a curb and clumps of grass.

I recognized the gray, pony tailed man as a free-spirit (from my Venice Beach days). I noticed what looked like a chicken bone on the band of his felt hat. He also sported a few other bones as well as a Donald Duck button with “Party” written along side. The aroma of burned white sage permeated his clothes. White sage is used by spiritualists to ward off evil spirits.

I introduced myself as he wiped the sweat from his forehead and extended his hand. He pausing for a moment and introducing himself as, “Rising of the Sun,” followed with a mumble, “Yes, that’s me, Rising of the Sun.”

Again, Rising looked up at the kite and marveled at its beauty. He lowered his sunglasses, took a deep breath, and sighed, “Isn’t this a wonderful place?”

I asked if his collection of charms around his neck had meaning. He raised his hand to a bracelet illustrating all the world religions. He said he tries to be a good Christian but believes in all the religions.

“You see, my father is Aztec and my mother is Cherokee and Shoshone,” Rising explained. “I was brought up near this park, and as kids, we used to think we would fall off the edge of the grass into the ocean if we got to close.” He laughed out loud, and like a cowboy after a long dusty ride, he lifted his water bottle to his lips, took a long slurping swig and continued his walk to the Friendship Bell.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Death at the Dairy

A cow leaves her stillborn calf to the flies...

... and quickly moves on with her life.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Ice Cream and School

The last days of summer—what a sad time it was as a kid. The thought of going “back to school” used to send chills down my back. No one likes school, do they? As a kid, the Back to School ads depressed me. The JC Penny and Sears ads seemed to run around the time I finally got acclimated to summer. Gone are the days of freedom, roller skating all day, trips to the beach, and of course my birthday season.

Although school was anything but a joy in my life, I do look back at the first day of school as an exciting time. The thrill of the new classroom, meeting the new teacher, new friends and the scent of new books was not all that bad now that I think about it. Remember the smell of the blue, freshly-printed mimeograph paper?

Today at Bethany church, the kids graduated to their new Sunday school classes. Awards were given, a stimulating curriculum announced and new faces introduced. The primary-aged kids were all smiles. Afterward, a special ice cream fest was given for the kids and adults to help kick-off the new season.

Full-size scoops of vanilla were piled high in white, styrofoam bowls. An assortment of rich sauces and bright shining cherries tantalized the wide-eyed kids as they created their own masterpiece and slurped up the sugary dessert in the hot morning sun. Oh, what to be a kid again! But then again, there’s school to deal with….