Archive | February, 2011

UCI: Special Collection at Langson Library Chronicles Surfing’s Role in Local Culture

By Laura Rico
UCI Communications

Some of the world’s best surfing beaches are just minutes from UC Irvine. Closer still is a special collection at UCI’s Langson Library that documents the history of surfing and surf culture in Orange County.

Archive memorabilia includes books, magazines, vintage photos, movie posters – even the first published description of surfing. It goes on display Wednesday, Feb. 23, through the end of spring quarter. Photo: Michelle S. Kim / University Communications

“It’s a small collection but one that appeals to a growing number of our patrons – UCI undergraduates” says Steve MacLeod, public services coordinator in Special Collections & Archives. He started gathering materials for the collection five years ago.

It’s part of a much larger collection on Orange County history that encompasses environmental activism, Irvine Ranch, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the city of Irvine, ranchos, the Irvine Company, 19th century actress Helena Modjeska and local politics. 

It was a good fit for MacLeod, a Palo Alto native who learned to surf in Santa Cruz as a teenager. “This was before wet suits,” he says, recalling the chilly Northern California waters.

Starting Wednesday, Feb. 23, selected surfing collection materials – books, vintage photos, movie posters, etc. – will be on display in Langson Library, near the fifth-floor entrance to the newly renovated Special Collections & Archives department.

To read the rest of this story, please click this link.

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Obit: Donald J. Tyson, Chicken Choker

By Jim Earl
Contributor

Donald J. Tyson, visionary leader of Tyson Foods and instigator of the worst chicken holocaust since Kevin Smith’s last barbeque, is now on his way to processing.

The man who made eating chicken almost as safe as living under Chernobyl’s concrete containment dome, was found dead in his home, his legs grotesquely pulled apart and looped over his freakishly large breast muscles as if someone had made a cruel wish.

Donald J. Tyson

Donal J. Tyson, chick choker

The health department discovered his body buried beneath half a foot of fecal waste which apparently was scheduled to be cleaned out every 18 months.

As a young boy working on his father’s chicken ranch, Tyson knew there was something about poultry that he liked. But it wasn’t until he enrolled at the University of Arkansas that he truly embraced his love for cock.

Tyson later recalled he could never get enough cock. Though he was partial to white cock, Tyson soon grew to crave black cock as well. And the bigger the cock the better, he said.

In 1952, he married Twilla Womochil, which coincidentally is the sound a chicken makes when you crush its skull with a steel-toed boot.

Under his leadership, the company’s revenue increased from $51 million to more than $10 billion. And that’s more money than Jesus ever made with his stable of chickens.

In 2001 the company was charged with using illegal immigrants to work in its chicken processing plants. In his defense, Tyson claimed he was just using them for “nugget filler”.

Biographers note Tyson was often compared to fellow Arkansan Sam Walton, primarily because both were huge assholes.

Tyson requested bored employees stomp, kick, and slam his remains against a wall, but not before hanging him by his feet, cutting off his nose and mockingly playing baseball with his head.

Jim Earl has written for The Daily Show, numerous shows on Air America Radio, and is a recipient of the Emmy and Peabody Awards. You can read his satirical obituaries at MorningRemembrance.com, where he makes fun of dead people. You can listen to Jim’s band, The Clutter Family, on iTunes http://bit.ly/bhK9t3

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Update: Bomb investigation is over

Update: Bomb investigation is over

Approximately 30 minutes ago HB police and fire investigators unblocked the intersection at 14th and Crest streets, drawing an investigation of a “suspicious” object that could theoretically have been a bomb. The Voice awaits more details of the investigation from the HBPD.

Update at 3:16 p.m:

Lt. Russell Reinhardt of the HBPD issued the following statement to the Voice:

“The device was a grenade brought to Dwyer school by a student. The bottom had been re-sealed making it appear to be active. The OCSD Bomb Squad removed the device from the school.”

And Jeri Moreau, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of the Huntington Beach City School District, issued the following statement to the Voice:

“Want to inform you that the issue at Dwyer School has been resolved.  The Police investigation revealed that there was no danger to any students. Students have resumed their normal day at school and parents have been provided information throughout. Also please know that Smith School was never involved nor included in the investigation.  Please don’t hesitate to call the Superintendent, Kathy Kessler at (714) 378-2011 for any additional information.”

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Bomb Investigation Ongoing at Dwyer/Smith Schools

Bomb Investigation Ongoing at Dwyer/Smith Schools

The Surf City Voice has learned that police and fire officials have blocked off the intersection of 14th and Crest streets to investigate a possible bomb, although they say that they don’t believe at this time that students or others are in any danger or that evacuation will be necessary–from observation by the Voice, the investigation seems little more than a formality but precautions are being taken. “Something suspicious” was noted at one of the schools and is being

Photos: Surf City Voice

investigated, one official said.  Officials would not say which school the investigation eminated from or for how long the streets would be blocked off, but they are asking that residents outside of the blocked area stay away and that people who live inside of the area stay in their homes so as not to attract other spectators. Smith school is an elementary school, Dwyer is a middle school and as been the site of a recent controversy and protests over solar panels that are being installed on the front lawn of the school. In the unlikely even that there is an evacuation, a route has been selected, a police official said.

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Saving Face: Councilman Matt Harper didn’t disclose his own drunk driving conviction

Saving Face: Councilman Matt Harper didn’t disclose his own drunk driving conviction

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Councilmember Devin Dwyer’s proposal to post the names and photos of habitual DUI suspects on the police department’s Facebook page ignited nationwide news coverage and controversy, but it also opened a broader discussion about Surf City’s alcohol problem and what to do about it.

A study by the Huntington Beach Police Department showed that the high concentration of bars and restaurants selling alcohol downtown is linked to the city’s number one public safety threat –drunk driving (“Surf City’s Alcoholic Downtown”).

But on Jan. 18 the City Council voted 4-3 to direct the Chief of Police not to use Facebook to post DUI suspects’ profiles, whether they are “habitual” offenders or not. There were council concerns that the measure wouldn’t work, that it would humiliate innocent family members, and that it would scare off tourists.

HB City Councilmember Matt Harper. Photo: Arturo Tolenttino, SCV

Matt Harper was one of three council members (with Dwyer and Don Hansen) who supported Dwyer’s proposal and who opposed restricting the police. He had opposed Dwyer’s original idea of announcing every DUI arrest on Facebook, he told the council, but favored his “more deliberative and much more vetted” revised approach of exposing only “habitual” offenders.

Harper said he was glad to have the discussion.

“I do like the dialogue,” Harper assured the council. “I do like the council members getting out onto the table what their thoughts are because I think they’re representative of a lot of the thoughts that are happening in our community.” In light of changing Internet trends, he added, the council probably should periodically revisit the idea rather than implement it permanently.

But Harper was being obtuse or perhaps evasive, despite his call for a public dialogue.

Nobody on the council, including Harper, challenged the assumption that first-time arrested drunk drivers should be let off the hook. The reason given for that in other discussions was to respect the presumption of innocence. But that presumption is already overlooked in arrest logs that the police are mandated by law to publish and that have always been available at police stations and, more recently, on regular city websites.

The so-called habitual offender is also presumed innocent when arrested, so why not expose first-time (alleged) DUI offenders on Facebook as well as the alleged habitual DUI offenders?

The first-time alleged DUI offender would also be tempted to drive on a suspended or revoked license, same as the habitual offender. If that person did drive illegally, he could be reported to police by family members, friends or public citizens who know of his driving restrictions and recognized him from Facebook; again, same as for the habitual offender.

And, perhaps, the threat of being placed on Facebook might prevent the first-time DUI suspect from becoming a repeat offender or prevent some other potential drunk driver from getting behind the wheel in the first place. In other words, the same logic applied to the habitual offender argument can be applied to all alleged DUI offenders.

Surely, making one size fit all would be more consistent with the idea that a good Facebook flogging would serve as a deterrent and alert to others and help to ensure public safety.

Harper might be excused for not addressing the full range of possibilities for using Facebook to combat the city’s alcohol problem if not for one detail that he failed to bring up at the council meeting and that has not been reported in the press until now:

On Dec. 19, 2004, at about 1:30 in the morning, Harper was arrested by the HBPD on Beach Blvd. and Bishop Street in the city of Westminster and then booked in the Huntington Beach City Jail for driving under the influence and being well over the blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC), according to court records. Harper was serving as an elected member of the board of the Huntington Beach Unified High School District at the time.

When contacted by the Voice, Harper spoke willingly about the incident and acknowledged that on the night he was arrested he had eaten but also downed seven alcoholic drinks between the hours of 6 p.m. and 1 a.m.

Put another way, Harper was arrested for binge drinking, which the Center for Disease Control says contributes to 80 percent of “impaired driving events” and which it defines  as having a BAC of 0.08 percent from a single occasion—an occasion being from 2 – 5 hours long–usually from five (for men) or more drinks.

A breath test he took at the time of arrest showed an blood alcohol concentration of .131.13, which means that he was legally drunk to a point that could significantly impair balance, judgment, memory and motor skills.

Harper admits that what he did was both “illegal” and “inappropriate” but added that “some people will have different views” about what happened. He offered his own interpretation of why he was pulled over by the police.

In Harper’s view, he fit in well among the drunk driver profile types that the police were looking for when he was arrested: a 30-year-old male driving without his car lights on, late at night, three nights before Christmas.

“There were a lot of fish to be caught and I was one of them that night,” he said.

Harper’s DUI charge (count 1 of two misdemeanor charges) was dropped and he eventually pled guilty to the second count of driving over the legal limit of .08 percent blood alcohol content.

Harper was given three years informal probation with driving restrictions for 90 days, mandatory counseling and he paid over $1,500 in fines. After successfully completing his probation he changed his plea to not guilty for the second count, which was then dismissed by the court.

Harper had no prior arrests for drunk driving and has been clean since 2004. But as he pointed out, and as an HBPD study shows, many drunk drivers aren’t caught. Full disclosure: twice in the mid 70s and once in the early 80s this reporter was one of those people who drove under the influence but did not get caught. Luckily, there were no accidents.

The Voice was aware of Harper’s drunk-driving conviction prior to the November election when he ran for his first term on the City Council but did not report the incident then because it was deemed irrelevant as a news item.

In Harper’s view, his arrest and conviction for drunk driving is still irrelevant, despite that he voted on an issue that was directly related to his own personal experience, an experience that might have given him insights that he could have shared for the public benefit at the time of the vote.

Although Harper is required by law to disclose his conviction in response to “any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency,” etc., he believes that its dismissal separated him from it forever. “It was as if I had a car and I sold the car and no longer have the car,” he explained.

 “I didn’t feel that it would contribute significantly to the discussion in the same way that others [on the council] didn’t think they should have disclosed about speeding tickets under item 13,” he said, referring to a council discussion and vote (also on Jan. 18) on an ordinance that would change speed limits on city streets.

Harper’s take on the cause of the downtown area’s huge DUI problem is that it’s the result of the city’s unique geography–backed up against the sea rather than centrally located or near a freeway that would take drunk drivers away to be arrested elsewhere–and its highly concentrated younger (18-30) demographics. The long term remedy, he says, is to increase the diversity of businesses and store fronts downtown, with mixed-use residential to create clients who can walk rather than drive to and from the bars and restaurants.

If nothing else, Harper’s arrest and conviction for drunk driving, along with the entire Facebook controversy, helps illustrate how easy it is to blame others while ignorning the effects of our own policy decisions.

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Surf City’s Alcoholic Downtown: Build it and they will drink (and drive)

Surf City’s Alcoholic Downtown: Build it and they will drink (and drive)

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Build it and they will come, the saying goes.  

Likewise, a little more than two decades ago, Huntington Beach started redeveloping its blighted downtown area—linked economically as well as geographically to the beach and pier on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway—into a mall-style “village” that offers shops, hotels, and so far over 30 liquor serving restaurants and bars, all part of the city’s plan to market itself as a tourist destination.

From an economic perspective the plan has worked well. Over 11 million tourists come to the city each year; and two years ago the city collected a peak of about $7 million in hotel/bed taxes, most of it from the downtown area, Councilmember Keith Bohr pointed out at a recent city council meeting.

But encouraging tourism and alcohol consumption in a small area with a high concentration of liquor serving establishments has also created an alcohol dependent downtown with all the expected symptoms. Based on population, Huntington Beach has the 3rd highest DUI rate of any California city and is ranked 7th in the state, regardless of population, in drunk driver collisions, according to a report released by the Huntington Beach Police Department last July.

In 2009, according to the report, there were 274 alcohol related collisions in the city and 95 collisions occurred in 2010 between January and May. For the same time periods, respectively, there were 1,687 and 632 DUI arrests.

Death goes with the city’s high DUI rate. Last year the city had nine traffic fatalities, five of which were related to drunk driving, Chief of Police Kenneth Small told the council at its Jan. 18 meeting. “Drunk driving is clearly the most significant public safety problem we have in Huntington Beach,” he said.

Comparisons to other Orange County cities show how disproportionate the city’s alcohol problem is and how it relates to the downtown restaurant/bar scene. Irvine, for example, which has a slightly higher population than Huntington Beach (217,000 vs. 202,000), and despite being home to a large university, made 709 DUI arrests in 2008 compared with 1,729 DUI arrests in Huntington Beach. Anaheim (pop. 353,000) made 862 DUI arrests.

Anaheim and Irvine do not have highly concentrated downtown bar scenes; Fullerton, however, with a much lower population (137,000), also has a high number of downtown liquor serving establishments, according to the report, and made 1,188 DUI arrests in 2008—similar to the DUI arrest rate in Huntington Beach. Continue Reading

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