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The Force Awakens


The Force Awakens

The Force Awakens Ticket with the Dark Side in the background!

On Christmas day I went and saw The Force Awakens with family. While some families have made a Christmas movie day a tradition, I had never done that.  It was kind of cool to be honest and I enjoyed it.  The new Star Wars movie was a tough sell for me. My younger days were built around Yoda, Ben Kenobe, Leia, Han Solo, Chewy, Luke and Darth Vader.  That cast of characters made special the trilogy that included Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.  The first Star Wars in the late 1970’s was and remains one of the best movies I have ever seen.  The filming and special effects in that first Star Wars were innovative and ground breaking as far as I am concerned, and it is hard to imagine recapturing that magic after a gap in the continuance of the story from the three films I grew up with.  Call me old, nostalgic, or whatever you like, the Star Wars of my childhood was pure magic, and not to stand up and look back and say that things were best in my childhood, but,I am saying that Star Wars was better during that time.  Yes, apparently I am one of those guys!  It is always better in the past while the present and future don’t measure up or are falling apart. I am definitely not that curmudgeon so relax. Being a kid in the 70’s and 80’s was special and Star Wars was without question a part of those cherished memories.

I have no attachment to attacking clones, a phantoming menace or a returning sith, and I question the strategy of going backward before going forward. I realize that George Lucas started with the fourth movie in the story, and perhaps it was inevitable that the story went backwards in number before going forwards.  The only problem with that is the aging of Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, Mark Hamil and Chewy!  Let’s be real though, Chewy doesn’t look a day older than he was in Return of the Jedi.  They are lucky that the three stars are still alive and kicking after years between the number 6 story and the Force Awakens.  Harrison Ford once again rolled the dice while crashing a plane that he was piloting.  Had he been unlucky, what do you do with the Force Awakens Story?  Will they make the next movie in time to take advantage of these character actors in the realm of the living?  They need to if for no other reason than to keep us 70’s Star Wars fanatics into this story.  I had no attachment or interest in Attack of the Clones, Return of the Sith or the Phantom of the Menace. I may go back and pick those up just so I feel like I didn’t miss anything, but let’s just say I am not chomping at the bit.

The Force Awakens was entertaining and worth venturing out for on a Christmas Day Celebration.   For you 70’s babies like me that were old enough to process and understand the first Star Wars Movie, the new movie in the series might fall a little short. I would even go as far as saying I will eagerly anticipate the next film whenever that may be.  Just like I want to make sure the old characters are alive for the next movie, so too would I like to be in the living when it comes out.  Yo Disney, are you reading this?  Please do not create these long gaps between movies.

There will be no spoilers here.  I can tell you that we were introduced to 4 or 5 new characters 3 of which I am imagining will have larger roles in the story told moving forward.  2 characters on the good side were fabulous in the movie and very likable as characters.  It gives the Star Wars franchise characters to move forward with as their aging predecessors continue to grow long in the tooth.  Based on their central roles in this episode and the fact that this old fart thinks it was crucial for Disney to find actors to carry this story forward, they did a good job.  While the Force Awakens is smashing box office records, I am saying they did a good enough job to pull even us nostalgic folks out of the wood work to continue watching the battle between the Force and the Dark Side.




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Body Found At Three Arch Bay


Eleven days after Las Vegas high school student Anthony Parnell went missing after getting hit by a wave in the rocky area of Laguna beyond the sea cave at Thousand Steps Beach, a home owner in the Three Arch Bay community saw the body and alerted local authorities.  The coroner has yet to make a determination as to whether or not this is indeed the teen who was lost to a large wave 11 days ago on February 8th.  Although I know of no other missing person report in the South Laguna Beach area, the coroner is understandably going to make absolutely sure.  At a beach just to the north of Thousand Steps Beach, I watched a large wave smash into a cliff with two people standing on it. The bounce of violent salt water engulfed the rocky platform atop the cliff and made two people disappear from view.  Prior to review of a video that was cut short due to loss of battery power, I had no idea they were there. Where they were was an extremely precarious spot to be in with large ocean waves tearing up the Laguna Beach coastline. Had I not seen the emergency personnel on PCH above Thousand Steps Beach, I might have been convinced that the people lost were the two on top of this rock.  If they weren’t hurt and because there were no additional reports of missing persons, I would say they were much luckier than the young Anthony Parnell.  I would also say given my video that they were in no better a place with high surf battering the coast than Anthony who appears to have paid with his life.  Three people that put themselves in really dangerous positions during this large wave event were hit by a wave and one didn’t make it.  Unfortunately for the Parnell Family and friends, he was the one that wasn’t so lucky.

Assuming that the body that was pulled out and delivered to the coroner by Orange County Fire and Rescue and Laguna Beach Lifeguards belongs to the young man, at least the family can give him a proper burial and allow friends and family to gain a little comfort in being able to say goodbye and put him to rest.  I have talked personally to lifeguards and members of theLaguna Beach community and they are deeply saddened by the loss of Anthony.  Off the record, a lifeguard I met a year ago was visibly upset with the event and was heart broken that a young man was lost and that they hadn’t recovered the body.  County lifeguards have their hands full and take the safety of all all beach goers in Laguna Beach very personally and it really stung them to lose Anthony.  They are trained to save lives and I might even say they are trained to save us from ourselves.  When we misjudge the ocean or don’t offer it the appropriate level of respect, we put ourselves in positions that lifeguards maintain responsibility for getting us safely out of.  The winter season does not offer regular staffing at Laguna Beaches by lifeguards so the ability to save Anthony and friends from the positions they put themselves in wasn’t there.  Things like this happen so fast and underscore the need for us all to be aware about the dangers found at the water’s edge.

My guess is that the body found at Three Arch Bay today does belong to Anthony Parnell. My hope is that this senseless tragedy helps shed light on the dangers found on the other side of this cave when trying to get to the man made salt pools.  It is well documented that Thousand Steps Beach is a buzz in social media.  This Thousand Steps Yelp Review from a young beach visitor from Rosemead, California is part of the problem and the dangerous cave area reference in reviews is in many of the reviews.  It is safe to say that people coming from out of town are not nearly as experienced or well-versed in Laguna area ocean conditions and tides in general and that makes what happened to Anthony Parnell something that could happen to others.

As I have said all along, something good has to come out of this so I am hoping the word gets out that the salt water pools on the other side of the cave are too dangerous of an area to be messing around in and to avoid putting yourselves in that situation.  Rest In Peace Anthony!

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Aliso Beach Post Hurricane Marie Needs A Break From High Surf

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Not to minimize in any way the seriousness of the crime of murder but post Hurricane Marie, Aliso Beach has more yellow caution tape than a Crime Scene Investigation Miami episode.  The yellow tape is roping off dangerous and unstable areas where severe beach erosion has caused a sidewalk to buckle and near collapse and exposed rocks all over the beach where there once was sand.  In the nearly 30 years I have ridden waves at Aliso Beach, I have never seen the kind of beach damage evident today.  Half the parking lot is still closed with a boat load of sand reaching the parking lot with each combination of above normal waves and higher tides.  I don’t know what the plan is to fix the damage that exists at Aliso Beach post Hurricane Marie, but I do know that she has a way to go before things normalize and that County and City officials will have some serious thinking to do about how to fix this damage.  I would imagine that lost parking lot revenue will be just one of the many pressing reasons to put this beach back together.  This morning, county workers were wrapping up trees, barriers and light posts to keep people out of the areas falling apart from the damage.  It is no joke.

Here are more photographs from Aliso Beach Most Hurricane Marie.  Aliso Beach needs a break from high surf and high tides to recover and give the County of Orange the opportunity to think about the extent of the damage and make moves to put back together a valuable asset and revenue producer for the county and city of Laguna Beach.




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Star Fish Waste Disease Kills


You may recall that early in 2014 I went down into the low tide reef areas of both Aliso Beach and Crescent Bay and found that the health of star fish appeared to be good.  There were beds of them piled on top of each other with vibrant orange and purplish brown colors.  To the naked eye, the population looked to be thriving.  In fact, I was shocked to see that many of them.  Reports of this disease in the media were so damning for the local populations of one of my childhoods favorite marine creatures that I fully expected there to be compelling evidence in January that the disease had wiped them out.  Leaving the tide pools that day, I was very happy when with my own two eyes, I could verify that the star fish were alive and well.  There were no lesions, missing limbs or signs of wasting away.  Two halves of any one sea star I saw had not split and walked the opposite directions from each other.  There was no pile of goo left behind as the waste left behind a sea star with the disease having nearly run its course.

Sometime after January when I documented what appeared to be the good health of star fish in these Laguna area tide pools, the disease swept down the coast and had wiped them out. Interesting to me was that the reports of their demise in Laguna Beach were premature. While the stories of star fish waste disease on the West Coast were numerous at that point, what I could see myself was a complete lack of evidence of the disease being there.  To say that I was devastated to learn of their demise in my favorite part of the Southern California Coast would be a huge understatement.  I found myself in disbelief and disheartened.  I took my eyes off those tide pools, and while there was nothing I could have done, the star fish population in Laguna was wiped out around March of 2014.  When this happened the stories and media sensationalism had slowed to a trickle.  The reports were early, but the devastation of the sea star population was very real.  They were gone!

I can’t tell you how saddened I was.  Listening to the commentary of ocean loving friends, I was told that it takes as much as a decade for populations to get back to where they were.  That is a long, long time.  Caring about the ocean and the creatures in it, I am left with questions.  Was this of human doing?  What did we do to cause it?  What could we do to reduce the amount of time for them to come back?  How would we avoid this tragedy in the future?  I don’t have any answers for this but will be digging into this topic once again for my own good and with the intention of sharing what I learn for the great many people out there that are interested in the subject and care about the ocean.


Stingray And The Screaming Child

Had just returned from the Sawdust Festival and was in the Salt Creek parking lot to take a look at the surf from the bridge.  Despite there being incredible surf while I was out in Hawaii for the Grand Opening Celebration for Wys Gallery, the waves were pretty weak. There was a strange occurrence in the parking lot with some young kid revving his car up for no apparent reason.  This behavior attracted the displeasure of a middle aged dude who started yapping at the teen.  The teen continued to rev his engine with children and families present and this man telling the kid he should stop in the parking lot.  The teen continued to behave strangely in the lot so we went to inform the lifeguards.  I would have regret it if the kid reved the engine and somehow ended up plowing through people trying to leave the beach.

Interestingly, there wasn’t an OC Sheriff in the parking lot.  They do a good job of watching over Salt Creek.  So, we told the lifeguard and he said he would call them in.  Then, I heard the screams.  Screams like that from a child at the beach are usually the work of a stingray.  The parents whipped their truck around to pick up their little girl as she continued to cry and scream in pain.  How after all of the years I have never ever had this happen I don’t know?  I know they are there.  I hope the little girl is on the mend and that the pain has left.

Stingrays love warmer water and are more commonly found in areas where the shore break conditions aren’t rough.  With 1-2 foot surf and warm water, Southern California beaches are ripe for swimmers and waders getting tagged by Stingrays.  Stingrays are not trying to hurt anyone.  In fact, if they could sense you were coming before you stepped their way, they would flee.  This is why you see recommendations by lifeguards to shuffle your feet while walking out to alert stingrays of your presence.  They will leave.  It is very easy to be caught up in the joy of being in the ocean and forget to do this but this practice will minimize the chances you find yourself on the wrong side of a barbed tail from a stingray.

You may see an explanation of the shuffling recommended to swimmers by lifeguards in the video below courtesy of the folks at Swim At Your Own Risk.


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Treasure Island Pier


Said to be taken down in 1999 at the same time the Aliso Beach Pier was removed, the Treasure Island Pier that was once reserved for residents of the Treasure Island Mobile Home Park was taken down and relegated to memories and photographs.  As enamored as I have always found myself with Aliso Beach, how is it possible that I cannot recall ever setting my eyes on the Treasure Island Pier?  Is it because I was so swallowed up by the waves and experience at Aliso Beach? Is it because I was oblivious?  I really have no explanation for why I can’t remember ever seeing, and certainly ever acknowledging, the existence of this structure.  I was surprised to be stopped dead in my tracks by a 199o’s (can we call that vintage because it’s film?) photograph of a pier in an older file of photography of the Aliso Beach area taken by Scotty Carter.  I had to ask where that was.  To my surprise, I was told that it was the Treasure Island Pier.  At one point, I might have said I am observant.  How on earth did this one get by me?

Treasure Island, Aliso Beach, Treasure Island Pier, Laguna Beach, South Laguna Beach

Aliso Beach Pier before Its Removal

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Good News For Waves And Aliso Beach

So, here we are in November and it seems like Aliso Beach and all of the Southern California Coastline have been deprived of waves.  Flat is a very telling word in the wave riding community.  When there are no waves, exercise for many of us goes out the window, we lose a good source of magnesium, we are deprived of vitamin a from the sun, we lose our tans and we do not have opportunities to get away from the concrete jungle and all of the stresses of every day life.  The ocean is our sanctuary, and for those Aliso Beach traysurfers, Aliso Beach bodysurfers, Aliso Beach skimboarders, Aliso Beach bodyboarders and Aliso Beach skimboarders, sustained periods of time without waves are extremely painful.  Boredom is no good for us!  It certainly is not our choice.

As I have most of the month, I drove through Laguna Beach in the early morning. Aliso Beach and all of the beaches and coves in Laguna were flat as a pancake.  The water could have been a sheet of ice it was so flat.  Little motion, no curves, no angles and no energy.  The water was an incredible iridescent blue that stole its color from the reflection of a baby blue skies staggered with clouds that partially obstructed the sun.  The view was incredible.  Barefoot in the sand, caressed by light winds blowing off the ocean and invigorated by the smell of salt in the air, I was in a perfect moment with no traffic, no headaches, no stresses and no worries.  All that was missing at Aliso Beach was the presence of waves.  I have almost forgotten what the experience of water, light and energy is like and how good it is for the mind, body and soul!

Friday may be a change to the pattern that has had high pressure over the North Pacific choking out storms that angle ideally towards Southern California to give us late fall and winter season waves.  There is a storm coming with this energy and nobody seems to know exactly how significantly it will bring weather but it appears that it will not greatly affect the quality of the conditions.  It’s standard to be thankful for all that we have on Thanksgiving but I will be thankful that the waves have come back to life at Aliso Beach and South Laguna.

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Finding Aliso Beach

In this website, we have provided a finding Aliso Beach section that gives you directions from the 405 Freeway and 5 Freeway.  We figured you knew the secret tricks of your local freeways connecting you to the 405 and 5 freeways so we figured we best just give you the nuts and bolts of how to get to Aliso Beach once you have found your way to them.

There is another way to find Aliso Beach.  Aliso Beach sits at 7 feet above sea level along the South Laguna Beach Coastline in California and is positioned at 33.5100268 degrees north and -117.7525544 degrees west.  These figures measure the latitude and longitude of Aliso Beach.  This geographical location is what gives Aliso Beach it’s temperate weather and coastal position.

The northern latitude of Aliso Beach tells us the beach’s position as it relates to the equator.  You may agree that when Aliso Beach was placed it was done so with favor.  In the northern hemisphere but close enough to the equator to have a high percentage of sunny days with less precipitation, Aliso has beach days all the way through the winter and year round.  It is amazing.  Wait a minute though.  Another element of Aliso Beach’s favorable location is it’s longitude. Longitude measures degrees east and west.  Aliso Beach is not Aliso Beach without it’s position both north and west.  The best way I can explain longitude lines as those lines stretching from Arctic to Antartic or North to South Poles that rap around the nearly spherical earth.  The line that dissects the earth from north to south is the prime meridian. Vertical lines north to south moving east or west of the prime meridian give us the coordinates for a location’s position on the earth east or west.  It is also said to be a circle running from the poles north and south and intersecting the equator in right angles.

Whatever the precise scientific explanation for the location of Aliso Beach is, this beach couldn’t be located any better than it is right now from our standpoint.  What we have with Aliso is a wonderful beach, with warm weather year round, beautiful blue ocean waters with a majestic back drop of rolling coastal mountains, sea cliffs and rocky outcroppings that give us the beach experience and waves that we all know and love.

The o

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