Lives of the Rich and Obscure

August 14th, 2010

For the past week, a huge, mysterious and kinda creepy looking mega-yacht has been moored off the Malibu pier, prompting hundreds of inquiries to the local news outlets. At first, I thought it might belong to the fleet of the evil Dr. Oracle (Larry Ellison), who often parks his giant sailboat where he can keep an eye on the beachfront property he’s redeveloping (site of the former Pierview Restaurant).

It’s a sinister looking thing and huge, at least 300 feet from bow to stern. I’ll bet if you tried to paddle out for a closer look, a team of Uzi-toting ninjas would launch from a secret hatchway on a zodiac boat to dissuade you. Either that or a school of sharks with frickin’ laser beams on their heads…

$300 million buys you a lot of boat

It turns out to be the property of a Russian billionaire, one Andrey Melnichenko, who likes to cruise the world with his supermodel wife. Evidently Mr. Melnichenko is a guy who likes his privacy, in as much as you can go unnoticed on a $300 million yacht. Read more about the yacht here, as long as the link stays alive. By the way, the boat’s name is “A.” (Not “B” mind you, just “A.”)

The Lifeguard Towers are in Bloom… Must Be Summertime

June 1st, 2010

The non-profit group Portraits Of Hope assembled groups of volunteers to paint all of the LA County lifeguard towers from Malibu to Hermosa Beach for summer. A nice change of pace from that same old boring blue, dontcha think?

Memorial Day weekend was a record breaker for beach crowds at Zuma. Glad we skipped town for the slightly less crowded beaches of Laguna Niguel for a family gathering.

Amgen Tour of California comes through town

May 23rd, 2010

Passing through the intersection of Kanan Road and Mullholland Drive.

Today we caught a glimpse of the annual Amgen Tour of California as it wove through the mountains above Malibu. We drove up Kanan Road to the Mulholland intersection for a look. This was the final stage of the eight day race. While I’m not a big fan of cycling, I have to admit it has its moments: You see a lot of colorful guys in space helmets and mirror shades whiz by to the sound of cowbells and cheering. And then they’re gone.

Last year we had a closer look at the whole deal in Solvang where they held the time trial stage. The time trials are held over a closed loop route so the racers start and finish in the same area. This affords a much closer look at the riders and all of the support that the tour requires. Hopefully next year they’ll move it back there again.

You’re probably aware of all the steroid controversy surrounding professional cycling, if not other sports. Hardly anyone is surprised anymore when a rider is banned for juicing these days. It’s just a little weirder when the company that created the racer’s drug of choice (EPO or Epogen) also sponsors a major sporting event. Who knows? Maybe soon we’ll see British Petroleum sponsoring a surf contest.

Cowabunga(low)

May 6th, 2010

Every now and then you spot something out of the corner of your eye that makes you do a double-take, and that maybe brings a smile to your face. Here’s a “prime” example. (And I promise to keep the puns to a minimum from here on.)

This PCH home near the infamous Moonshadows restaurant features a small corral on the roof, home to one life-size plastic Holstein.

Just one question: Is that pole-mounted camera for watching the waves or for keeping an eye on the “range”? Never know when them Malibu cattle rustlers will strike.

RIP Emily

April 14th, 2010

EmilyIt’s been nearly two weeks now since little Emily Shane was struck and killed by a crazed motorist near the corner of PCH and Heathercliff Road on April 3rd. The roadside shrine in her memory is still there — a large bed of flowers, pictures and handwritten cards. I drive by it and have to look every time. Soon, the flowers will be gone and there will only be the ragged patch of iceplant where she died. But she’ll live on in our hearts. Earlier on the day she died, I had spotted her with a couple of pals walking near the very spot, on her way to a friend’s home to hang out. I was checking to see if my own son was with them.

Emily’s memorial gathering at the Malibu West beach club was heartbreaking. The small room, scene of so many happier memories, was packed to the walls with well wishers young and old, most of whom knew one another. I brought my young son. It was the first such event he’d ever attended. He took it pretty well although I don’t think the reality of losing a friend had set in yet.

Emily’s dad spoke eloquently at the memorial, challenging all in the room to do a good deed in his daughter’s name. I’ve made it my resolve to do more than one. The world needs and we all deserve a little more kindness. Rest well, dear Emily. Do a little tap dance for God when you get a chance.

Farewell Zuma Video & Music

March 1st, 2010

Yet another venerable Malibu institution has closed its doors: Zuma Video and Music ended its 24 year run at the Point Dume plaza last week, the victim of a weak economy, bad location (relocated upstairs and out of foot-traffic range by the evil plaza landlords) and the inevitable march of technology. I guess we all saw it coming, but I’m still sad to see them go. Zuma Video was a big, well-stocked video and music store complete with all the stuff you’d expect: Posters, arcade games, funky carpeting and equally funky employees. I’ll miss the place a lot, despite having not rented from them very much in recent years. In fact, the main reason I patronized them was for the very complete range of guitar strings they offered, something I now have to drive 30 minutes to Thousand Oaks to get.

It seems that video rental stores, like film processing labs, have for the most part been pushed aside by the digital age. The convenience of on-demand cable rentals and the $1 Red Box rental kiosks has rendered them obsolete.

A digression: I often ponder whether there’s a net gain or loss associated with our “digital age.” For example, we don’t need to “go there” anymore. We can do it all from home. The way we discover new things like music and film is unrecognizable from how we did it just two decades ago. Sure, it’s more convenient, but is it better? Wasn’t going to the record store as a kid with your buddies more fun than watching an iTunes download? Isn’t sitting in a darkened movie theater more exciting than navigating the pay-per-view menu on your sleek new flat screen TV? The inconvenience of the trip was actually the fun part: “Going there” was its own reward. My own kids don’t know what they missed.

The Point Dume plaza is that much duller and emptier now. I for one will not be lining up out front when the new Subway opens its doors. But that’s another rant.

Please Help Haiti!

January 17th, 2010

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Please find it in your heart to give whatever you can to help ease the pain and suffering in Haiti. Any of these organizations offer direct donations online and are tax-deductible. Please give today!

Ah Summer…

June 28th, 2009

With the school year finally ending last week, we now embark on our brief, wonderful summer vacation. The usual June gloom has been staying away for the most part — surprisingly, the weekends have been clear and warm thus far. The water is inching up to an almost-tolerable 65 degree average. That’s as good as we can expect for our area of the coast. The boogie boards are stacked in the driveway. The surf is spotty but we’ve had some decent swells in the past week.

Not much else going on in Malibu. (I’m starting to sound like Garrison Keillor!) We don’t particularly care for the new shopping plaza built on the site of the former Malibu Lumberyard, but that’s OK. Let the tourists come and buy their $200 cargo pants. Summer in Malibu is about the beach and taking it easy. So excuse me, I’ve got to get busy doing as little as possible.

WWW (Want Warmer Water!)

May 11th, 2009

OK, enough already with the 55-degree water temps! Can’t we get a 65° southerly current for just one weekend, please? Why do we have to go to San Diego to find water worthy of ditching your 3/2 full suit? Gah!

Why Malibu Sucks (Sometimes)

March 2nd, 2009

While most of the country endures the inevitable effects of our economy’s downturn, Malibu continues to chug along in its own little self-absorbed bubble. Thousands of communities across the land are watching unemployment lines grow and businesses close, but here in the ‘Bu the biggest news in recent memory was The Mysterious Case of the Missing Palm Trees.  It seems that someone decided to form a group of vigilante gardeners and in one weekend uprooted and removed some 80 Queen Palm saplings planted at Malibu High School. These trees were planted by a parent volunteer organization using funds allocated from the school’s own budget. (Check out this account in the LA Times, which surprisingly gets most of the facts right.)

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This criminal act of self-righteous NIMBYism was clearly the work of a group of property owners living behind the high school. Mind you, the baby trees weren’t visible from anywhere behind the school, but by God they would have grown into massive, towering Redwoods and blocked out the light of the sun, right? Actually, my research tells me that the Queen Palm reaches a maximum height of about 20 feet in non-tropical climes. And besides, hasn’t anyone ever heard of tree trimming? But forget all that: Anything that potentially threatens a coveted ocean view is a subject of raging debate, lawsuits, inquiries by the California Coastal Commission, site visits by city council “fact finders”  and the wrath of the city planning commission. And now apparently illegal removal is also an option.

This was a sordid act of vandalism and grand theft.  It boggles my mind to think that someone could even have the balls to pull it off, and in broad daylight, no less. One has to wonder how many people were paid off to look the other way. And why haven’t the authorities launched a thorough investigation? Almost six weeks  have passed and not another word has been mentioned anywhere, the most conspicuous absence being from the local Malibu Times.

It’s truly a case of “no good deed goes unpunished.” It’s shameful that something like this can happen. And disgusting.