—  Ken and Vesta  —

Wedding and Portrait Photography

541 773-3373

Beach People, 1-25

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Day 1. Here is Devonta.

Vesta and I met him yesterday evening on the beach. We found him sitting, with his camera mounted on a tripod, waiting for sundown. So I sat next to him, because, well because he’s a photographer. He’s also a writer and a wanna be filmmaker. Which I can certainly understand, cuz he’s a young guy and that’s where the money is.

Heck, if Vesta and I would’ve started our photography journey when we were his age, we’d’ve wanted to do that too. It would’ve been a great way to tell my stories.

As for telling my stories, some reading this, maybe a couple people anyway, might have noticed that I haven’t been on FB for something like two months or so. Maybe not that long, but a long time anyway and it’s because I’ve been getting up way to early and working on those stories. I’m hoping to have new books out soon. I’ve finished two and completely rewritten another.

But now I’ve got to set them aside for a couple weeks or maybe a month, then go over them again. I have to do that, because right now I think they’re wonderful and they’re probably not. I’ve learned that about myself, you know, that my stuff’s never as good as I think it is. And that really sucks.

We were able to meet Devonte yesterday, because we’d learned that we didn’t have to spend the day reading the California DMV handbook and worrying about a driving test, because tomorrow we have to go to the DMV and get California driver’s licenses.

Actually, I think the DMV is an evil organization, created only to rob us of our money. I didn’t always think that way, but when we moved to New Zealand we had to get Kiwi licenses, because they wanted us to have insurance on the 1966 VW beetle we bought. I didn’t think we needed it, but I was convinced by a very nice post office lady that really bad stuff could happen to us if we didn’t have insurance.

The reason we were talking to the nice post office lady is because they don’t have a DMV to rob you in New Zealand. You register your car at the post office. It takes about five minutes (at least that’s all it took thirty years ago).

After we registered the car, the post office lady sent us to the Waingarai (small city were we lived) Police Station. In New Zealand a copper gives you a test, then after you hopefully pass it, you come back the next day and go for a ride with another policeman and if he likes the way you drive you get a license at the station a couple days later.

We didn’t understand what the copper meant when he told us to come back. I thought we were gonna get our picture taken, but not so. Instead when we got there the copper who we had our checkout rides with, gave us our licenses.

“Hey,” I said, “there must be a mistake here. It says it expires on my seventy-second birthday.”

“Not a mistake.” The copper smiled, then said, “We don’t think you forget how to drive every three or four years.”

“So why do I have to come back when I’m seventy-too?”

“We want to make sure you can still see. So from seventy-two onward you have to come in once a year and read an eye chart.”

“How come there’s no picture on our licenses?” Vesta said.

“Why would we waist money putting your photo on a driver’s license?”

“What if someone else was using it?”

“Why would they want to do that?” the copper said.

I was pretty sure she was about to tell him why someone might want to do that, so I said, “Thank you very much,” to the policeman and we left.

So you can imagine how ticked off I was yesterday morning when I read on the California DMV website that not only did we have to take a written test, we were going to have to take a driver’s test too. I was so upset that I called ‘em up, because I’ve been driving for over half a century and I haven’t forgotten how to drive.

But the nice man named Matthew who I talked to said that I was reading the part for new drivers. We not only didn’t have to take the driving test, we didn’t have to do the written one either. We just had to bring in our old licenses along with proof that we lived in California and have our eyes checked. And of course get our picture taken, because I suppose in California they know what someone who’s not you might do with your license.

PS. That big white spot behind Devonte’s head, that’s the sun.

PSS. This is Day 1 of I don’t know how many days. We’ll see.

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Day 2. Here is Dave.

Yesterday started out the way most of our days have, since we’ve moved to the beach. I got up at 3:00, did a thirty-minute Spanish lesson (I swear, I’m going to learn this language), then I wrote till Vesta got up at 6:30 or so. We had breakfast and then started our day.

Around noon, maybe a little before or a little after, time yesterday is all a haze for me. Anyway, around noon, I heard Dave shouting at my sister’s door (she’s the manager of the apartments we live in, my brother Tom lives in these units too).

“Michele, call 911. Johnny’s not responding!” Johnny is Dave’s brother.

For a flash of a second, I thought of the woman I’d saved in a Mexican restaurant a few years back. She’d been choking and everybody in the restaurant seemed to be paralyzed, when Vesta said, “Ken, go save that woman.” And I did and I was the hero of that story. This is what flashed through my brain as I ran out the door, down the stairs and across the courtyard. I could do CPR and be the hero of this story too.

But sadly, there are no hero in this story.

Johnny’s door was open wide. He was on the sofa. Dead. But I couldn’t be sure. I felt his forehead. Cold. He wasn’t breathing. I’m certainly no expert, but it appeared to me that he’d been dead for several hours. He looked peaceful. His eyes were closed, he was in a semi fetal position.

I went up the stairs to Michele’s, not running this time, where I found her on the phone. Dave was anxious and maybe in shock. He doesn’t live here, but he comes by to visit his brother. My first thought was that he’d just come by, found Johnny and run for help and that was in fact the case.

“He’s gone,” I said.

And that’s where time and events all run together for me. We went downstairs, to Johnny’s. Vesta was there now. The 911 man was still on the phone. He said the fire department was on the way. We could hear the sirens as he said it. They came in, dressed just like they were going to a fire. They were all so young. One of them told me, this was a part of his job that just seems to get harder and harder.

Cops came, because I guess they have to. They wanted to make sure there was no foul play. But it was painfully obvious there hadn’t been.

Then we waited, drinking wine. Tom came home from work. A girl named Laura came by. She tends bar at the Reno Room, which is a place I used to have breakfast at with friends years and years ago. And we waited with Dave for what seemed like forever, till they came for Johnny.

And maybe there is a hero of this story. Johnny, if there’s a hero here, it’s him.

I’d only known him for three months. He was John to most people. Heck, maybe he was John to everybody, but I called him Johnny from the day I met him. Because, despite his conservative believes, there is just something about him that makes you like him. Something that makes him a Johnny and not a John.

We argued a lot, me and Johnny. Because my beliefs are not so conservative. But we didn’t raise our voices. Well, not so much anyway. And, I’m ashamed to say, every time I was with him, I was on his case about his smoking. He couldn’t talk without pushing fingers on this throat, because he had throat cancer. I didn’t meet him till after the surgery and he told me he was on the mend.

“You’ll never be on the mend, not really,” I’d say to him, “till you stop smoking.”

And he’d tell me he was working on it. And then we’d shift the conversation to Trump and Biden and how I was full of shit and how his conservative values had been the bedrock of his life and how he’d done so well, because of them. And I’d shake my head every time he lit up another cigarette.

And on several occasions when he lit a smoke, I’d tell him he was knocking on death’s door and he’d answer, “You don’t think I don’t know that.” But I didn’t know for sure if he did know that. However, it turns out that he did. He’d called Laura, his bartender, like back in November and told her he had stage four cancer and that they were using experimental drugs on him and that he didn’t have too much time.

None of us knew that. Not even Dave. Shit, if I’d’a known, I never would’ve said a word about those smokes.

Anyway, here’s the deal about Johnny. He’s a nice man. You can’t can’t say that about many people. I remember one time, Tom, Johnny and I were arguing, and it got maybe a little more heated than usual and I walked away, but I overhead what he said about me when he maybe thought I was out of earshot.

I wouldn’t have been surprised if he’d’a come out with something like, “What an asshole,” because I probably deserved it. But instead he said, “I like him. He cares about me.”

Johnny is a nice man and to know him is to care about him.

So about this photograph, yesterday, while we were waiting for the coroner to come, I remembered that I’d started a new project and that I was supposed to photograph a new person everyday, till I don’t know how many, but certainly more than one. I didn’t want to fail on my second day.

“You can take my picture,” Dave said.

So I did. Then we toasted Johnny and drank till they came and took him away. Then we drank some more. And we talked about Johnny, because that’s what you do when you lose a friend.

You know, if you have to sum up a life in only a few words, I can sum up Johnny’s. I said it above and I’ll say it again.

“Johnny was a nice man.” And that’s way more than enough.

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Day 3. Here are Maroon, Loren and Maha.

Vesta and I met them by the Belmont Pier, which is now called the Veteran’s Memorial Pier. But I think I’m gonna stick with the old name, because it’s been that for most of my life and they didn’t change it, till after we moved away. So it’s really not fair that they did that, you know, without at least getting my opinion.

We were walking along the beach, with an eye on the setting sun, waiting for the perfect light and the sun dropped right to where we wanted it when we got to the pier and the first people were saw there were these three, Maroon, Loren and seventh month old Maha.

“Them,” Vesta said. “It’s gotta be them.”

And of course I knew she was going to say that, because she’s a real sucker for babies.

And we have some extra photos of this lovely couple and their child below, because as I said above, Vesta really likes babies.

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Day 4. Here is N. Pimentel.

I didn’t get what the N. stood for, so I’ll refer to him as Officer Pimentel. He’s a police officer, but I’m supposing anybody reading this has already figured that out. If you’ve been following my posts since my faces project in Reno, you know that I like photographing cops.

That wasn’t always so though. When we first moved to Reno the police people there would give me the evil eye and wag their fingers at me whenever I pointed a camera at them. But not so in Sparks, which for you who don’t know, is like Reno lite. If you imagine one great city, then draw a line though it, you have Reno and Sparks. And the Sparks cops would light up with a smile and pose whenever they saw my camera.

Then one day, after about two years in Reno, the cops did an about face. It’s like they got orders from on high that read something like, “If you come across Ken with his camera, make sure he takes your picture.” I can’t tell you how many times when I was photographing someone during one of Reno’s famous crawls that a policeman, sometimes two, would photobomb my picture.

Heck, one time this cop takes my camera from me, hands it to Vesta, and he and his partner sandwiched me between them for a photo.

But we’re in Long Beach now and I didn’t know if we were gonna get the no no finger wagging treatment here that we got during those first two years in Reno or “Sure, you can take my picture.”

Well, Officer Pimentel was glad to let me take his photo. So hopefully, I’ll get a lotta police officers in front of my camera in the coming months.

After we made his photograph, we continued our walk down to the beach and on the way there I said to Vesta, “Is it my imagination or do the cops just seem to be getting younger.”

“No, they’re the same age they always were. They start in their early twenties and quit in their forties or fifties.”

“You’re sure, cuz he looked like he was fifteen?”

“Maybe it’s not that they’re getting younger. Maybe it’s you’re—”

“Don’t say it!”

“Getting—”

“Stop!”

“I was gonna say wiser,” she lied.

Yeah, I knew it was a lie, but at least she didn’t say the horrible “O” word.

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Day 5. Here are Tom and Isabel. Vesta and I came across them as they were dancing on the beach to music which must have been in their collective heads, cuz we couldn’t hear it. So, we had to pick them for today, because anybody who can dance to silent music, like nobody’s watching, really should have their photo taken. That’s what I think anyway.

They’re here on vacation from Geant, which is a town in Belgium where Tom has just about the most interesting job I’ve ever heard off. He works for the city government and his job basically is to make peace between loud bars and their neighbors.

First off, what kind of neighbor complains about a loud bar? They should be in the bar for gosh sakes. But you know how it is, there’s always gotta be some party poopers, even in Belgium. But think about this, they have so many loud bars in Geant that the government actually has someone to pacify their neighbors. It certainly sounds like the kind of place I’d like to retire in.

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Day 6. Here is Nelly, who Vesta and I met on the Belmont Pier. She was standing on the very end of the it with her family. The land side, not the beach side. But the sun was still too high in the sky for our liking.

When we did our 1001 Days of Faces project during the dawn’s early light in Reno, we always had good light, because the absolute best time to take people photos our of doors is just after sunrise or just before sunset.

In this project, we’re focusing on just before sunset, so normally we would have passed Nelly by. After all, our beach walk is a two hour journey every evening and we had plenty of time left for perfectly lit faces. But she was just too stunning for my camera to ignore.

That’s right, I said ignore. We communicate telepathically, my camera and me. I named her Suzi after a rabbit my mom got me one Easter when I was like six or eight. Sadly, about eight or nine days later, she strangled herself in a basketball net we had in the garage. So, no more Suzi, till now.

I thought it was a good name for a camera, but she wasn’t hot on the idea of being named after a dead rabbit, so after I had her for about a week or so, she told me she just wanted to be called Camera or C, which of course would’ve been short for Camera.

But I thought that was too impersonal so we compromised and came up with SuziCi.

This telepathic relationship I have with SuziCi is a closely held secret of mine, that I’m telling here. Vesta doesn’t even know and she won’t find out till she reads this.

“If you don’t photograph this beautiful girl,” SuziCi said, “you’re stupid, because she is just dripping with je ne sais quoi.”

Maybe the light wasn’t the best, but I’ve found that when I ignore SuziCi, I’m ignoring a good photograph. And Nelly is for sure beautiful.

So I asked her and she said, “So you want to take my photograph?”

“You’re French.” I didn’t just learn what a French accent sounds like from television. Vesta and I have been to France plenty of times. Heck we spent a year in Paris with our kids. So there was no fooling me. This girl was French. And, as it turns out, she lives in Paris.

But like I said, the light wasn’t right, so the sky was blown out, nothing by white where the sky was supposed to be and both me and SuziCi, we don’t like bright white instead of real sky. So I took the sky form another photograph and photoshopped it in. Sometimes SuziCi gets upset about this, you know that her and I don’t get the photo absolutely perfect the first time. I think that’s because she doesn’t get to participate in the computer part of the photo making process.

But when I pointed the lens she was wearing at the final product, she told me she liked it. So there is that.
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Day 7. Here is Seyduu who Vesta and I met last evening about an hour before sundown at the bottom of the fifty foot stairway down from Bluff Park to the beach below. He was masked and covered in sweat, but he was too proud to let me take his photograph, until he wiped it off.

We first met him about a month ago. We were walking along the beach on a cold evening when we came upon him. He was sitting alone with a cane in his lap, staring out to sea. He looked lost, forlorn, sad and he seemed to be in great pain. And he was covered in sweat then too.

“Do you need help?” Vesta said.

“No, I’m alright.” Only three words, but it was hard for him to say them. It seemed like he was fighting demons, just to get them out.

“You look like you’re in trouble. You sound like it too.”

“I had a stroke.”

“Do you live far from here?” Vesta said. “Can we help you get home?”

“No, I’ll be okay.” Four more words. He had a foreign accent. Maybe French. West African maybe. Not enough words for me to tell.

“Are you sure?”

“I’m getting better.” It looked like he was trying to smile, but couldn’t?

“We can stay with you for awhile,” Vesta said.

“No, I will be okay.”

It was pretty obvious he wanted us to go. It seemed wrong, but we did. And maybe three quarters of an hour later, when we came back that way on our way home. He was gone.

Vesta told me that she felt bad, us leaving him like that and I told her about when Lou Gehrig fell in the locker room toward the end of his career. His teammates left him alone there. Because they knew he was too proud to ask for help for such a simple thing like getting up off the floor.

“This was like that,” I told her. “That young man didn’t want us to witness him struggling to stand, to fight his way up the beach as he tried to get to wherever he’s staying.”

“I think pride’s a stupid thing,” she said.

“Maybe it is. But maybe it’s all he’s got left.”

When we saw Seyduu for the second time, sitting at the bottom of that long stairway up from the beach, drenched in sweat, I knew I had to take his picture, because he certainly had a story to tell. After he dropped his mask and wiped the sweat off, I photographed him sitting on the stairs.

Then he pushed himself to his feet, because he wanted me to photograph him standing. He has a very limited vocabulary. I’d try to figure out what he was saying or wanted and he’d answer yes or no.

I asked him his name, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying, because of both his accent and that he was slurring the word. I asked him if he could spell it. He tried, but he could not. So he touched the wall behind him with his index finger and traced out his name. So he knew what I was asking and he knew how to spell his name, but he couldn’t make the connection from his brain to his mouth, but he could make it to his finger.

Communicating was difficult, but not impossible. He told us he was from Senegal, that he’d lived in Burundi and if you know anything about Burundi, you know that was and probably still is a very dangerous country to live in. Somehow, we couldn’t figure out how, he moved to France.

And apparently he’d come to America on holiday. He spent time in New York. Went to Vegas, where it’s very hot. Then to San Francisco, which he liked. Then he came here and had a stroke and he’s trying to recover. And he’s staying till he gets better and is able to travel.

He’s staying by the beach and working very hard on his recovery.

He wanted to cooperated when I asked him if he could put his hands on the rail behind himself for the photograph. I asked him to do that, because I thought it would be a good pose and because I’m stupid. He tried, but he can’t raise his arm high enough to grip that rail.

How the heck he was going to get up those steps, I don’t know, but like last time, he said he was going to be fine. So we said goodbye and we left him there.

He’s a very interesting man in a very difficult situation. He speaks three languages, but he struggles to say three words in a row. He obviously made money somehow, because not just anybody can move from Burundi to France then take an extended vacation in the United States. He’s staying somewhere by the beach until he recovers and that has to be very expensive. And sadly, he’s a victim of the American health care system. I don’t know how much money he has, but he’ll be lucky if he has any left by the time they get through with him.

We talked about this on our walk. And like last time, when we got back to where we’d left him, he was gone.
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Day 9. Here are ALG and Angel. ALG is a musician and that’s the name he goes by. So that’s what I’m calling him. Vesta and I met these two while we were on our evening walk. The were shooting a music video and on a break. I’m guessing the drone needed new batteries. Anyway, because they had a few minutes, I asked, they said yes and here the are.

We didn’t get a chance to talk to them, because the pilot had the drown ready super quick, so we gave them a card and went on our way. And because we got Sanjay Gupta’s new book on Brain Health, we’re trying to walk 17,000 steps on our walks.

As we got close to downtown, Vesta grabbed my arm, pointed out to sea and shouted like a kid who’d been waiting for the ice cream trunk, only she didn’t scream like we all used to scream for ice scream, instead she shouted out, “Dolphins.”

Sure enough there were dolphins inside the breakwater. A lot of ‘em. It looked like they were having fun and for a few minutes there I was reliving all the times we’d seen their distant cousins riding our bow wake when we sailed the Caribbean.

We met some nice people as we watched the dolphins play, cuz Vesta not only alerted me to their presence, she alerted others as well. Which was nice as we met this nice Indian man and his two daughters. He was a slight man, maybe five foot five, who looked like a runner and his two teenage daughters were as tall as he was.

But they weren’t afraid of anything, because they had this very large, unleashed German Shepard with them. He never left their side. He seemed very friendly, but there was no doubt in my mind that if somebody threatened him or his daughters that that dog would silently rip their throat out. That’s the vibe he gave off.

After the dolphins left, we watched this man and daughters and their dog as they walked down the beach. There were people out and about, waves were lapping the shore, there were a couple people with dogs off in the distance, all things that draw dogs away from their people, which is why they have leash laws. But that dog walked between the two girls, never straying away from them. I for sure wouldn’t wanna be the lifeguard whose job it was to tell that nice man that he needed to leash his dog.

As we turned and started back for home, we came across a man crying uncontrollably. Like he’d lost somebody he dearly loved. It was just about the saddest thing I’d ever seen. Nobody should ever go through what he was, but I suppose we all have or will someday. It’s one of the tough parts of being human.

Closer to home, we found four young girls, maybe sixteen or seventeen, sitting in row facing the beach, but they weren’t looking at it. I don’t why, maybe the stuff on their phones was more important. But one can only wonder, why come to the beach at all, if all you’re gonna do is be on your phone? You can do that at home.

We got home after dark and when Vesta checked her Fitbit, we’d learned we’d only done 12,000 steps. Jeez, it seems like 17,000 steps will take us like four hours. That’s a lotta walking.

So, why 17,000 steps. Sanjay tells a story in his book about the time he went to spend some time with this tribe in the Amazon. These people don’t get heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimer's or any kind of dementia. And they’re active well into their eighties or early nineties. And by active, I mean they hunt, fish and live like they’re way younger then they are, unless they’re killed by snakebites, jaguars, child birth, stuff like that. But when they die, they are for the most part, healthy when they go.

And on average they walk 17,000 steps a day.
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Long Beach Faces, Day 10.

Here is Lauren, who got married a mere three weeks ago and it looks like she’s still glowing from the wedding. She is a very bubbly person and fun to be around. I know this, because Vesta and I spent about fifteen minutes with her and she was, well bubbly.

She lives in LaHabra, but she comes to the beach about three times a week, because she enjoys walking by the water and clearing her head. However, because she’s got a lot on her plate at work now, she’s only able to make the drive down to Long Beach once a week and sometimes she even misses a week.

She’s the funeral director at Rose Hills in Whittier. I didn’t ask her what a lot on her plate meant, but, because of the times we’re in, I can just imagine. The Omicron variant of Covid, though not as deadly as Delta, is infecting so many more people, so the body count is still high, because everybody is gonna get it. If they don’t have it now, they will.

And even though Covid is now mostly a disease of the unvaxed, a lotta vaxed people, like me and Vesta are getting breakthrough infections. Fortunately for us, the vaxed folks for the most part are staying out of the hospital and they’re not the ones dying.

Oh sure, someone might say, “I know a vaxed person who died.” And maybe they do, but it’s very rare.

And I thank God that Vesta and I are vaxed and boosted. Cuz we got Covid and we are careful. We wear N95’s. We change ‘em up. But we did a stupid thing. We went do the DMV to get our California Driver’s Licenses. I say stupid, because I believed the lady on the phone who said it was safe there.

It is not. We should’ve taken off outta there as soon as we saw the crowd. Shit, I drove for a dozen or more years in California when I was younger without a license, because I just didn’t wanna wait in line at the DMV.

Heck, even when my congressman asked me if I would get a license if he could get the DMV to process me early one day, like just before they opened and all the people flooded the place, I told him no, that I didn’t want any special favors and I drove for two more years after that, sans license.

So there’s really no excuse for us getting Covid. We coulda passed. A driver’s license is just a piece of paper. You don’t need it to drive. All you need to do that is a car.

Anyway, re: Covid. I’m gonna do a post about that and us later on today. But we’re fine. Fine, because we are vaxed and boosted.

But this post is supposed to be about Lauren and our Long Beach Faces. I only brought the Covid stuff up, cuz we’re gonna have to take a few days off this project, because we’re staying in.

We shouldn’t have been out last night or the night before or even the one before that, but we didn’t find out we had this problem, till three or four hours after we photographed Lauren.

When she told us she was a funeral director, I naturally wanted to know what that was all about, so she told us about her job and what she does and it’s almost exactly what a wedding planner does. She could do that, it’s be a natural. And if you’re a wedding planner and you’re tired of that, you could be a funeral director. Who knew?
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Beach People, Day 11.

Covid put a temporary damper on this project, but we’re okay to go out now, however we couldn’t do Long Beach, because we had an engagement shoot at Huntington Beach. And since we go there a lot and it looked like this project was gonna put a halt to that, Vesta thought we should change this project from Long Beach People to just Beach People.

And that seemed like a really good idea, so Beach People it is. Because that way we can visit all the beaches we have in SoCal and we got a lot of ‘em.

So here are Laura and Keith. We met this mother son due, just before we headed home. They were out, getting people to sign a petition, because in California if you get enough signatures on a petition, they gotta put it on the ballot.

I’d say what the petition was about, but I try not to be political about anything on Facebook, except around election time. Usually I start up about six weeks before an election, because I think that’s about enough time to do electioneering.

In fact, in England that’s how long political campaigns are allowed to be. Oh, if only it were like that here.

Ah well, it’s not, but for me it is.

Hey, I have an idea, maybe we should start a petition.

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Beach People, Day 11.

Covid put a temporary damper on this project, but we’re okay to go out now, however we couldn’t do Long Beach, because we had an engagement shoot at Huntington Beach. And since we go there a lot and it looked like this project was gonna put a halt to that, Vesta thought we should change this project from Long Beach People to just Beach People.

And that seemed like a really good idea, so Beach People it is. Because that way we can visit all the beaches we have in SoCal and we got a lot of ‘em.

So here are Laura and Keith. We met this mother son due, just before we headed home. They were out, getting people to sign a petition, because in California if you get enough signatures on a petition, they gotta put it on the ballot.

I’d say what the petition was about, but I try not to be political about anything on Facebook, except around election time. Usually I start up about six weeks before an election, because I think that’s about enough time to do electioneering.

In fact, in England that’s how long political campaigns are allowed to be. Oh, if only it were like that here.

Ah well, it’s not, but for me it is.

Hey, I have an idea, maybe we should start a petition.
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Beach People, Day 12.

Here is Hank, who Vesta and I met as soon as we got to the beach yesterday. He’s sorta stuck in the parking lot with his RV, because it broke and he’s waiting on parts. Meanwhile the wonderful, understanding Long Beach police people seem to be continually ticketing him. Ah well, the law’s the law and the city is so far about $2700 dollars richer, because of Hank’s misfortune.

Still, he seems to be taking it all in stride. And that’s a good thing, because I think I’d be going through the roof. Anyway, we talked for about fifteen minutes about this and that and during our conversation the word Junepero, which is the street right above where we were talking, left his lips. And he pronounced it correctly or incorrectly, depending on your point of view.

The correct pronunciation according to any Spanish dictionary is hu-nee-pay-ro with the accent on the second to last syllable. However, some people upon reading the street sign pronounce it ju-ni-pay-ro, accenting the first syllable.

However, those who have lived here forever, you know, since they named the street, no matter what their heritage or native language is, even if it’s Spanish, pronounce it wan-a-pero. And yes we know that it’s not spelled like that. We know that. We really do.

But Hank and I and every Latino person I’ve ever met who grew up in Long Beach and in fact all the other folks who live here pronounce it wan-a-pero. It’s a local thing. We Long Beachers don’t go to where you live and try to tell you how to pronounce your street names.

So anyway, that off my chest, do you think there is anybody more stupider, more dumber, more inconsiderate than Sarah Palin.

Can you just imagine what woulda happened to America if John McCain woulda beat Obama, then died and she became president. Jeez, this dumb, stupid person who thinks it’s okay to go to a restaurant the day after she tests positive, cuz of course this whole pandemic thing is a made up lie.

Like the leaders in America and Mexico and Canada and all the countries in Africa and South America (except the idiot in Brazil) and England and France and China and Japan and Vietnam and Spain and a whole bunch of other countries. And all the virologists in the world and all the families of all the dead people and all the TV stations (except a couple right wing ones in America) all got together and conspired to fool us into wearing a mask and taking a vaccine to try and protect ourselves from dying and to protect people we come in contact with.

Who are the stupid ones. Us or the brain dead people who have forgotten how to think for themselves who follow those like Sarah Palin.
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Beach People, Day 12. Friday, January 28, 2022.

Here is PM who Vesta and I often see in the early evening as we begin our beach walk, as he trains fighters in Bluff Park, by the Art Museum. Or maybe he just works out with them. In any event, he’s there a lot and the fighters seem to change.

I’m going to post the fighter he was working out with yesterday tomorrow. I know it’s a bit of a cheat, but we’re going to be busy tomorrow and so we won’t be able to go out, so I took two photos last night.

As for PM (short for Peacemaker), he’s one of the friendliest people we’ve met in our two months at the beach. He’s always got a kind word for us when we pass him, which we do a lot, because the steps down from bluff, to the beach five stories below, go right past where he’s working out.

According to Vesta, if everybody was as friendly as he is, the world would be a whole lot better place. And I have to say, I agree. Kind words don’t cost anything.
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Beach People, Day 14. January 29, 2022.

Here is Casey, who we met the day before yesterday as he was training on the bluff above our beach. Well, actually it’s not our beach, we don’t own it. In fact, it’s more like it owns us, because it draws us there everyday.

Going to the beach and staring out across the water, is almost like going to the end of the Earth and gazing out into an abyss. Maybe that’s a little too dramatic, but I hope you get the picture. Maybe not an abyss, but looking out over the sea, certainly does make you feel small. It puts things in perspective.

Anyway, Vesta and I didn’t really learn much more about Casey, other than he’s a boxer. At least that’s what he does in part of his life.

I’ve photographed a couple boxers in the past and now, like then I’m in awe of the awesome concentration, stamina and physical courage it takes to do that sport. When I think about boxing, part of me thinks about an early Bob Dylan song called, “Who Killed Davey Moore.” It’s about a boxer who was killed in the ring, sort of any anti-boxing song.

But then I think about Muhammad Ali, one of the greatest humans to ever walk this Earth. And I’m not talking about his skill in the ring. But without boxing and without his skill, we never woulda got to know the man and the world would be a lesser place.

I’m sure a whole lotta other people can come up with reasons why boxing’s good or evil, but I’m gonna leave that conversation alone for now and instead I’m gonna write a little bit about Neil Young.

Vesta and I saw him when he played the Troubadour, back when he was beginning his career and we liked him a lot. But after he got famous, he went anti-bootleg like an idiot and we stopped liking him, especially me. I don’t listen to him. I don’t own any of his material, I just didn’t think about him at all.

Till now.

And I gotta say, Neil Young is having a Muhammad Ali moment as I’m writing this and he’s meeting the challenge like the champion Ali was.

So now, despite the fact that Mr. Young isn’t a fan of what I used to do, I have to admit that I might have been wrong about him. So, I’m thinking that I should go online and listen to some of his stuff and maybe buy some of it. But I can’t do that right now, because I just cancelled my Spotify account.

And that was hard for me, because I have more than many playlists there that took me years to make. Until now, I listened to Spotify most of the day, everyday. But I’m guessing I can find Neil on Apple Music, which I’m going to join as soon as I finish this post.

Will I miss Spotify? Sure. I’d planned on being with them for the rest of my life. Leaving them will be hard. But then looking back is not a good thing, so I’ll just look forward to all the new playlists I can make with Apple. And who knows, besides learning about Neil’s music, maybe I’ll find a lot of other great musicians out there. After all, getting out of one’s comfort zone can be a good thing. I think so anyway.
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Beach People, Day 15. January 30, 2022.

Here are Stephanie and Dave by the Huntington Beach Pier, which is now our favorite place to do engagement photos. And apparently it’s not just ours, because there were two other photographers out there doing the same thing.

This very nice couple was at the pier before us, which is very rare, because we’re usually early, so we were able to start work a little early, which was good because the sky was overcast, which meant good photos, but also that it would get darker quicker.

On the way home, Vesta reminded me that her birthday is only a couple days away. She does that a lot, because I’m pretty forgetful. Usually, I have to sneak some money out of her purse, cuz she doesn’t let me carry any with me, because if I was allowed to do that, she says we’d be poor.

So, I have to sneak some money at the last minute and make up a lame story about why I have to go somewhere in the car all by myself. Then I make an emergency trip to Target, instead of doing the lame thing I was pretending to be doing. But I know and she knows I know that she knows what I’m really up to, cuz she’s been through this enough times before.

Anyway, she’s probably gonna read this before I get the cash or make the lame excuse, so maybe I’ll just order her something on Amazon. That way, if she’s set a mouse trap in her purse, I won’t get my fingers hurt.

She wouldn’t do that, would she?
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Beach People, Day 16. January, 31 2022.

Here are Kacy and Alex, who we photographed at Huntington Beach last night. This was one of their engagement photos. And if you think they look awfully young, you might be right, but they’ll be a year or two older when they get married, cuz they just got engaged a few weeks ago.

Still, we know people who were a lot younger than them. Me and Vesta for example. If I remember right, she was nineteen and I was twenty, but I could be wrong, maybe I am, she mighta been eighteen and I mighta been nineteen.

Let’s see, we got married in— Wait! I’m not gonna go there. Suffice it to say we were pretty gosh darned young and it still seems to be working. So there you go.
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Beach People Day 17. February 1, 2022.

Here is Janell. We met her by the Belmont Shore pier yesterday evening. Vesta spotted her shoes straightaway. She was wearing checked van slip ons like ours. Only hers were black and white checked and ours were grey and white.

Me, I spotted her Canon camera.

So, we had two good reasons to ask her if she’d like to be a part of this project. And also, I wanna get a hat like hers. I wear my Wolfpack hats a lot and I’ll probably never stop, but we’re in California now and I grew up going to Dodger’s games at the Coliseum. And I suppose I’ve just given away my age, but that’s okay, cuz I guess everybody knows I’m old. Or at least older.

Anyway where they play now is bigger, but bigger’s not always better, cuz when my brothers and I were kids, we’d get to the games early, watch them warm up, talk to the players, get free baseballs from them and that was even better than the games. Kids can’t do that now and that’s a shame.

I am partial to Dodger blue, but Janell’s black hat is super cool. Plus it matches her camera strap and I got a camera strap just like that. And I can have a hat just like that too, because they got ‘em on eBay for $17.05 plus free shipping. But I do like Dodger blue. Decisions, decisions.

On another note. We haven’t been able to walk much on the beach in the last two weeks, cuz we’d tire out easily. But yesterday we made it all the way to the pier, which is exactly a mile from our apartment. And, of course, we made it back, which is obvious, cuz if we’d’a fallen down dead on the way home, I wouldn’t be writing this.

But everything aches from our hair to our toes. Fortunately we were able to dull our pain with Vesta’s birthday Cabernet.

It’s kind of a sad thing, getting out of shape so fast when you’re older. Younger people can take a couple/three weeks off from walking or running and get right back into it. When you’re older, and we are a wee bit older, it’s like starting all over again.

And that really sucks. But nobody ever said life was fair.

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Beach People, Day 18. February 2, 2022

Here is David, who Vesta and I met as he was walking along the beach with his skateboard. Not counting us and him, there were very few people walking by the water, because there were signs posted saying not to, because there had been some kind of garbage spill. But, we figured it was okay, because we weren’t actually going to go swimming.

David has just about finished truck driving school and he’s looking forward to being on the road. His dad’s a trucker and it’s what he’s always wanted to do. Vesta and I told him how our friends Stephanie and Brandie are truck drivers and they post from all over America and they seem to be having a great time doing it.

And he said that’s exactly the kind of life he want. And I envy him, because he knows what he wants to be in life at such a young age, because I still haven’t figured out what I want to be.

And then I told him the only truck driving story I know.

Vesta and I were driving the backroads across America, visiting small, out of the way places no one’s ever heard of. And early one morning when we were on some highway in nowhere New Mexico we saw this truck up head, heading toward as and all of a sudden he jackknifed when he shouldn’t have.

We found out shortly after that he’d fallen asleep and I suppose he woke up pretty fast when his cab flopped onto its side and his trailer broke loose, spilling frozen chicken all over the road.

We stopped and by the time we got to his overturned cab, the driver was climbing out. He had blood on his head, but not that much. Vesta got our first aid kid and we cleaned his wound the best we could as he sat on the side of the road, head in his hands.

The bleeding stopped pretty fast, because it was more of a scrape than a serious wound. And by the time we were finished with it, some people had started to gather, as there was a one pump gas station and a small town within seeing distance.

The trucker seemed okay, but Vesta wanted to verify it, before we got in our car and left him to the townspeople and the police who were surly gonna be along shortly.

“I’m fine,” the guy said, standing up. “But I’m really fucked.”

“Yeah, you crashed your truck,” she said.

“It’s not just that,” he said. “This was my first delivery.”

“You mean, this is like your very first day driving a truck.”

“Well no, not if you count trucking school.”

“Then I’m guessing you’re gonna be looking for a new line of work,” I said.

“Guess so,” he said.

And then we left him to his fate.
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Beach People, Day 19. February 3, 2022.

Here are Tiffany and Justin, who Vesta and I ran into near sundown on the cement path along the beach in Long Beach, about ten minutes from our apartment. I’m guessing Justin is a Kansas City fan. They both work for a non profit and like so many others in these times, they’re working from home.

Actually, we work from home too, most of the time. Certainly not when we’re out photographing people, but the bulk of our work is done sitting at our desks, looking at a screen. However, we’ve been talking about getting out more. Maybe going to other beaches. I know, I’ve talked about this before, but you know, baby steps.

Before Covid, we drove near and far and farther to make pictures. Now we go to the beach close to us and to Huntington Beach for engagement shoots and of course we go were we have to for weddings and wedding shows. But we wear masks. And we are as careful as it’s possible to be in those situations. We are way more cautious than most, but we still got Covid.

But we don’t wanna get it again. However, our case was very mild, so we’re thinking we chould maybe get in our car, maybe sometime next week, and drive somewhere picturesque and do nothing all day except make pictures.

It’s not like we haven’t been getting out, but our getting out was for our evening walks along the beach where it’s plenty safe or for work or to buy food like on every other Tuesday when we go to Costco, WinCo, Grocery Outlet and Aldi. Not exactly an adventure to write home about.

So, we’re thinking, we’re gonna have an adventure that we can write home about. Maybe find a ferris wheel somewhere and get on it.

Also, below we have the same photograph as we do above, but we thought maybe we might need a different sky.
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Beach People, Day 20. February 4, 2022.

Here is Ben who goes to the Beach, as in Cal State Long Beach, or the Beach to people who have gone there. Vesta and I saw him in front of Vons, the one in Belmont Shore, a stone’s throw from the beach, where we’ve photographed three quarters of the 20 people we’ve photographed so far. Actually twenty-five, because five (I think) of our daily faces were couples.

He’s majoring in Biology and I told him my brother Tom teaches there and that his Phd was in microbiology, which apparently is the building next to where Ben takes most of his classes, the Biology ones at least.

He was birdwatching when we came across him. Or rather parrot watching. So we told him where they came from, because they didn’t just all fly up here from the Amazon.

And here’s the story the way we heard it. There was a fire in a pet shop and the owner opened the cages and let the birds go, rather then let ‘em burn up. That was about forty years ago and the birds have thrived. There’s gotta be at least a hundred of ‘em flying around in the evenings here now, maybe more.

But, I’ve always wondered about that story, because wouldn’t the birds in the pet store have had their wings clipped. But maybe not. We bought two parrots from that store, Felix and Fred. Felix came with unclipped wings, Fred came with his wings clipped.

We came home from the movies one day and Felix’s cage was open and he was gone. Where he went, nobody knows. Did someone break in and steal him. If so, why didn’t they take anything else, cuz we had a lotta stuff worth taking.

Did Mahitable (for anybody who might be familiar with the Archy and Mehitable book, we spelled our cat’s name with an “A” not an “E.” We didn’t do it on purpose, we just didn’t have a copy of the book and didn’t get one till about twenty-five years after Mahitable crossed over the Rainbow Bridge) the cat eat him?

I don’t think so, because there would have been lots and lots of green parrot feathers all over the house.

Did Felix open his cage, get out and fly away over our heads when we opened the door? Was he, or is he (cuz parrots can live up to a hundred years) one of the birds flying around now? Probably not.

It’s a mystery alright, what happened to him.

And since our kids were devastated at Felix’s disappearance, we went back to the pet store and got Fred. At first the girl there didn’t wanna sell him to us, cuz she thought we were bad parrot parents, but I had money and she wanted it, but she also wanted to scold me, so I let her, because my kids wanted another bird.

A few years later we moved to Paris and during that time is when the parrots showed up in Long Beach, so we weren’t exactly here when they got loose. However, we kinda got to know them, because sometime after we moved back they somehow found out about Fred and they liked him. I know this, because they’d land on our roof and squawk like banshees to Fred and he’d banshee squawk back to them.

And that went on till our kids graduated from college, then we moved away. We’re back now and there are lots and lot of parrots flying wild. They mostly roost in the tall palm trees by were we live. They are loud and annoying and we love them.

PS. Archy and Mehitable is a story about a hooker cat and a cockroach and the adventures they have together. My dad read it when he was a child and one day when we were kids, he brought home a white cat and he named it after the cat in the book he loved. So, our cat, the one we gave to our kids, was actually Mahitable II. Anyway Vesta and I now have an eighty year old copy of the book and someday, I’m gonna read it.
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Beach People, Day 21, February 8, 2022.

Right after we took the seventy-five steps down to the beach, yesterday evening, Vesta and I saw these two women by the water’s edge. They are Galina and Faina and they’re from Russia, but they live here now.

During our conversation, I told them that I’d taken two semesters of Russian in college, but that it didn’t take and thinking back, all I can say in that in that language is, “please” and “thank you” and “better late than never,” which is, “лучше поздно, чем никогда.” Or, using our alphabet, “luchshe pozdno, chem nikogda.”

I know that “better late than never” phrase, because Mrs. Tatiana Gale, my Russian prof, said it to me often enough during those two semesters, because it was my first class of the day and I was a little tardy to the party more often than not.

Galina and Faina were fun to talk to and we decided to photograph them, even though the sun was still bright in the sky, which makes for awful lighting. But I have Photoshop and I knew I could fix a blown out sky, or replace it if I had to. So we took their picture and continued on our walk.

We usually make our people photographs toward the end of our walk, because the light is way better and as luck would have it, as we were headed home, about forty-five minutes later, we again came across these two lovely women again, going the other way on their way home, so I didn’t have to use photoshop at all.

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Beach People, Day 23, February 9, 2022.

Meet Amie, who Vesta and I met on the beach, just as the sun was halfway past the horizon on its way down. That’s our new MO, we walk the beach and try to photograph the person closest to us when Old Sol is half hidden from view, because the light then is absolutely perfect.

Amie is a software engineer, who fortunately does not work for Apple, but she had to listen to my gripe about the richest company on Earth anyway, because just before we went out, I discovered that signing up for Apple Music comes with a price that is just to high for a person like me to pay. And that price is, you’re only allowed to listen to music approved by Apple on your Apple computer if you have Apple Music.

And because I had a lot of non approved Apple music on my Mac, they just deleted it from my playlists.

Amie’s a Dodger’s fan and goes to a lotta games, so I had to tell her than when I was a kid (and I’m probably telling my age here) Carl Erskine (14 strikeouts in a World Series Game) lived on our block and we had a party line (google it) with him.

My dad used to take us out of school (elementary) and we’d go to their games at the Coliseum, where the Rams used to play. We always got there early enough for batting practice and we got to know a lot of the players and more often than not, we’d come home with a baseball.

I told her that in Reno, where we have the Ace’s (a minor league team) that you could still do that, but in the Show (the Majors) that’s just not possible anymore. The stadiums are too big and nowadays kids can’t get close to the players.

She said she was jealous that we could do that and that she always takes a book with her when she goes to the games today, because she knows she’ll be in the parking lot forever trying to get out. I think that sorta ruins it.

Back home afterwards a pissed of me called Apple, wanting to know what I could do to keep their grubby hands off my music. The first person I talked to was a very nice woman, but she couldn’t help me, so the promoted me up to a very rude man who basically said I had no right listening to non approved Apple music and then he asked what kind of music I was listening to.

And when I said Billie Holiday concerts that were recorded over a half a century before he was born, he started to get a little shitty, saying something about music rights. So then I said, “How about my son’s band? Am I allowed to listen to that?”

And he said, not if the rights hadn’t been approved by Apple or some such nonsense. He then said he wanted access to my computer and that I only had a few seconds to click the prompt, that all of a sudden appeared on my screen, approving his access.

And I told him, no way was I letting him on my computer.

And he hung up on me.

And I hung up on Apple Music. I paid ten bucks for it. Had it for a week. And last night I cancelled. And you know what else? If I could afford it, I’d throw my five Macs in the trash and buy Windows machines. Whoever thought Apple would become the bad guys and Microsoft the good guys.

Sadly four of our five Macs are new. As is Vesta’s iPhone. But Kenny was gonna switch back from Android to another iPhone this week. But not now. I’ll be staying with my five-year-old LG a bit longer, while I check out my Droid options.

PS, I see Amie’s wearing the same Beats headphones that Vesta and I have. Ninety nine dollars for two pair at Costco just before Christmas. A good deal. Great headphones, but I wouldn’t buy ‘em today, cuz you know, Apple owns Beats now.

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Beach People, Day 24, February 10, 2022.

Here are Lotta and Teona, who Vesta and I met be the Belmont Pier. We were walking east, they were going west when the sun touched the land, on it’s way to the other side of the world. Well actually, the Earth’s rotating it’s way around the sun, so I suppose it doesn’t really go down, so it’s not really going to the other side of the world as the world’s rotating the sun away.

Anyway, this is a mother daughter photograph. Lotta is from Sweden, so Teona, according to herself, is half Swedish. So I guess that makes her a Swedish American. That’s what I though as we were walking home.

But then I started thinking about Ernest Hemingway and like a lightning bolt struck my brain, I knew that he’d call her an American Swede. And he’d have her flirting with a Spanish bullfighter all the way through a novel that takes place during the Spanish Civil War and that she and the bullfighter would bravely die, trying to assassinate Franco.

And that thought took me to Robert Ludlum and I got to thinking that he’d call her, ‘the’ American Swede and she’d be a hit woman for hire, but she’d only kill bad guys and in this novel, she’d come across Jason Bourne, before he lost his memory, back when he killed good guys.

Where the story goes from there, I didn’t immediately know, because I went off on another tangent and conjured up Richard Prather, who wrote great private eye novels starring a PI named Shell Scott. Prather would also have called her, the American Swede too, and she’d be a femme fatal, with a two shot derringer in her handbag, who hires Shell to track down a nogoodnik who’d double crossed her, so she could double tap him for doing what he did.

Then my thoughts took me back to the Jason Bourne, American Swede story. There’d have to be a conflict between them and in my stories, the girl always wins. So I suppose with Bourne dead before he lost his memory, there woulda been no Bourne movies for Matt to star in.

Duh, I’ve had way too much coffee too early in the morning, so I’m gonna stop now.
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Beach People, Day 25.

Here are Jennifer and Andrew, who Vesta and I met at Huntington Beach, which is a lot more crowded than the beach at Long Beach could ever think about being. We coulda done a whole year’s worth of people in one evening. Well the sun would have to stay touching the land for about six or seven hour, cuz we’d have to stop photographing when it got dark.

Andrew is a social worker who works with people on dialysis, so we spent a bit of time talking about that and what it was like to be a social worker almost a half century ago. I’ll never, not ever forget the bureaucracy and the paperwork involved.

We had to make sure every year that the people we serviced were still eligible for welfare. I can understand that if you’re working with young families who are poor, but who have the ability to get not poor, you know, they could get a better job.

But I worked with the totally disabled and it seemed pretty stupid to have to check once a year to see if they were still disabled. Because, you know, the word totally means just what it says. If you’re a quadriplegic this year, you’re probably still gonna be one next year. If you’re severely mentally challenged, that’s most likely not gonna change year after year. And if you have no hands or feet (extreme example) you’re probably not gonna grow ‘em back.

Anyway, Andrew’s got a great job and one that if he’s good at it, will give him a lotta satisfaction when he comes home after work.
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