Sunday, December 2, 2012

Friday, August 10, 2012

Doheny Surf Festival

Design by Drew Brophy

Why State Parks Still Matter:
A look at why private charitable contributions are still fundamental to
California State Parks in the wake of the ‘hidden funds’ debacle

by Trey Highton

At a conference in early June at UCLA’s Fowler Museum entitled “Making Waves: A History of Modern Surfing and the Clash of Cultures,” I met Jim Kempton, former editor and publisher of Surfer magazine and current executive director of the San Onofre Foundation.  Jim is also one of the event directors for the Doheny Surf Festival, which in its fourth year, is now expanding into a two-day event with major music headliners including Eddie Money, Everlast, ALO, Fishbone, Common Sense, and Honk (revisit Five Summer Stories if you don’t know who Honk is).  Since meeting, I have been badgering Jim and other panelists I met at the conference for guidance and expertise as I work on my graduate thesis on various aspects of surfing and globalization, and in return, Jim asked me to help him get the word out and spread some “digital aloha” through social media outlets about the Doheny Surf Festival, which will be taking place this weekend, August 11th & 12th at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, from 10am – 9pm.  I was happy to oblige – the Doheny Surf Festival raises funds for the local state park beaches of San Onofre, Doheny, Trestles, and San Clemente.  Not only do 100% of proceeds raised by the event stay local, but the event itself, which not only provides entertainment but educates the public, and particularly the youth, through engaging activities about eco-issues, is aiming to be 100% carbon neutral this year.


Unfortunately, timing is just as important in public relations as it is in surfing, and the recent headlines and ensuing public outcry over the discovery of $54 million in unreported funds in the coffers of the California State Parks, has made it difficult for non-profits to justify asking for funds and concurrently made donors think twice before contributing due to a crisis of confidence in the state parks system.  These funds would have been more than enough to cover the $22 million of imposed cuts to the department in 2011 – which resulted in slating 70 parks for closure and a reduction of normal operating hours and services to nearly every other state park.

To make a long, sordid tale as concise as possible, in mid-July the Sacramento Bee uncovered the unauthorized buyouts of unused vacation time by state parks’ employees, orchestrated by deputy director of administrative services Manuel Thomas Lopez, 45, of Granite Bay, who received one of the largest payouts himself - over $20,000. Lopez resigned in May and his replacement, Aaron Robertson, found the unreported funds when he started to dig into the vacation buyout operation.  This program cost the state more than $270,000 and was carried out in secret – to avoid a paper trail, many requests were submitted on Post-It notes.  The fallout of the scandal brought about the immediate resignation of Ruth Coleman, director of California State Parks for more than a decade (the longest tenured director in the department’s 150 year history), and found her second-in-command, Chief Deputy Directory Michael Harris fired.  The funds had been accumulating for more than twelve years, because the department had a pattern of underreporting their funds in its regular dealings with the state Department of Finance.  As a matter of practice, each state department self-reports their funds for each year to the Department of Finance, from which the governor will draft a budget annually in January.

Of the $54 million in hidden assets, only $20.4 million is readily accessible for use in a Parks and Recreation Fund that is composed of mainly camping and day use fees.  The majority, $33.5 million, is allocated in to the Off Highway Vehicle Trust Fund, which is supplied by an estimated percentage of how much OHVs consume in relation to the total sum of state gas taxes collected at the pump.  A 2006 report found that the OHV fund is receiving more than it should, and with the new figures in place, the OHV fund balance is more than triple the Parks and Recreation Fund, with a balance of $165 million compared to $52.1 million.  Some critics say that the OHV fund simply has more money than it can use, charged with simply maintaining off-road trails for recreational moto-enthusiasts to enjoy.  (*Although I would enjoy the debate, I do not have the space in this article to delve into the deeper philosophical notions relative to ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ recreational activities, of which I would personally draw the distinction between the two with the necessity of fossil fuels.  For example, playing catch is ‘clean’ in this regard, while off-roading on a four-wheeler would be ‘dirty’ due to its burning of fossil fuels.  Things become complicated in instances when, instinctively, we as surfers think of the act of surfing as a ‘clean’ pursuit, being one with the ocean and all . . . but the surfboard manufacturing process is an inherently toxic one [ask Grubby Clark], and when jet-skis become involved, forget about it.  Although the ‘greening’ of the surfboard has been under way in experimental new ways since Clark Foam was forced to close by the EPA in 2005, unless you are riding your bike to the beach and bodysurfing nude, you are far from participating in a carbon-neutral activity.)

In terms of public relations, this has been a disaster for the state parks department.  Retired park ranger and former deputy director of operations Ted Jackson stated, "The department has been going around telling people we had to close parks, and it comes to light we had been sitting on this kind of money.  It's devastating for the department and it's devastating for state government. This is the worst violation of the public trust that one could imagine."  When the state budget was announced and the list of park closures was released, local municipalities stepped up to meet budget shortfalls, despite being in their own fiscal quagmires, to keep 69 of the threatened 70 parks open to the public.  Now, after these findings, some local governments, like the counties of Ventura and Oxnard, have publicly asked for their money back.  "There was a sense of betrayal," said Carolyn Schoff, head of the California League of Parks Associations, an alliance of nonprofits. "We're the ones in the trenches raising funds for state parks and now there's a dark shadow over us."

Out of the ashes of this debacle, however, some good does seem to be emerging.  Governor Brown issued an independent audit of all 560 special state funds, from specialty license plate fees to anti-bullying funds in public schools, that has uncovered more than $232.6 million in unreported funds.  These findings have also led to a change in policy that will require the state Department of Finance to reconcile and confirm balances between the state controller’s office and the governor’s budget, to ensure that allocated funds do not slip through the bureaucratic cracks again.

Gov. Brown wants to put the found $20.4 million in the Parks and Recreation Fund towards one-time maintenance projects, which have accrued a $1.3 billion backlog over the last few years.  Brown has also supported the idea of creating a state matching fund for private donations to the state park system.  This fund was first proposed by Assemblyman Fred Keeley (D-Santa Cruz) in 2000, who proposed a $2 billion endowment - $1 billion from a then budget surplus and $1 billion from private foundations.  Unfortunately, then Gov. Davis rejected the idea.  Although Gov. Brown’s proposed fund would be substantially less, it is a step in the right direction, one that will double every dollar a citizen puts toward the state parks.  (Less has been said about the over $30 million in the OHV fund, and it will probably not be addressed until the next annual budget is proposed, in January ’13.)


In 1931, oil tycoon Edward L. Doheny donated the beach for public use, making it California’s first state beach.  From the 1930s to the ‘60s, Killer Dana was home to one of the most vibrant local surf scenes in California.  This was the home break of Hobie Alter (pioneer of the surfboard shaping industry and creator of the Hobie Cat catamaran), Bruce Brown (filmmaker of “The Endless Summer”), Corky Carroll (international surfing champion), and one of California’s first true watermen, Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison.  Killer Dana is also where in the summer of ’53, a thirteen-year-old Phil Edwards put on an infamous display of ‘hotdog’ surfing that changed the aesthetic approach to wave riding from that day on.  To those outside the surfing community, however, these aspects are unquantifiable - or worse, down right meaningless.

Rumors first circulated in 1964 that the Dana Point Chamber of Commerce was seeking government and military assistance for the instillation of a harbor. One year later, congress doled out one million clams for the project, an allotment that triggered three days of celebrations in Dana Point. One year after that, the first 10-ton boulder was laid to the delight of a few thousand clapping onlookers, many of them stuffy yacht dorks in topsiders. Today, it's nothing but tricked-out sailboats, bad Mexican food and an oversize parking lot with only gutless Doheny left for your longboarding pleasure.

Among the surfers there was a general sense of helplessness -- a sense that the project was inevitable. Longtime local and noted surf scribe Chris Ahrens says of the spot's demise, "It was like a sudden death that you couldn't talk about. I couldn't even look at it for probably 10 years, just the most painful thing you can imagine. It was a whole world, a whole history erased. I knew I'd never feel at home in Southern California again. If they can do that, they can do anything.              (Heller,

But the history of Doheny is not the only attribute that makes it such a fitting venue for a benefit fundraiser – its contemporary status as one of America’s most polluted beaches is another important factor:

For many years Doheny has been ranked at or near the top of lists of the most polluted beaches in southern California. Orange County Health Care Agency's 2003 Ocean and Bay Water Quality Report indicates that Doheny had the most "Beach Mile Days" of water quality standards violations of any beach in Orange County. Heal the Bay's 2003-2004 Beach Report Card listed Doheny as their #1 Beach Bummer, consistently earning "F" grades for water quality, especially during wet weather. Although a sewage treatment plant exists alongside San Juan Creek just up from the beach, this plant has had a good operating record in recent years. Doheny's high bacteria counts are likely due to a combination of factors, including urban runoff from the 134 square mile San Juan Creek watershed, pollution from boats in Dana Point Harbor, large flocks of seagulls that poop in the creek water near the creek mouth, and poor water circulation at Doheny which has been a problem ever since Dana Point Harbor was constructed.

So the Doheny Surf Festival, in essence, is both a cultural and environmental reclamation of a place that was once an epicenter for the Southern California surfing community.  This year’s event is presented by Subura, along with supporting sponsors Kona Brewing and Rubio’s.

Unfortunately, financial support from SIMA (the Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association – think Quiksilver, Rip Curl, Billabong, Volcom, etc.) has remained tokenistic at best.  Although they market the ideal of a pristine oceanic paradise to their consumer base, the industry does little to support its sustainability and protection.  Since its inception in ’89, SIMA has awarded $5.8 million to non-profit environmental groups, including the Surfrider Foundation, through its public-relations ploy, the SIMA Environmental Fund (  The amount of money doesn’t seem quite so paltry until you realize that the surfing industry has become a $16 billion business annually, outpacing even the domestic film business in the United States, which comes in at roughly $10 billion.  SIMA’s total philanthropic contributions to environmental causes comes in at a scant 0.0003625% of their current annual sales (I couldn’t find a calculator big enough, let alone the mental fortitude, to calculate how much smaller the number would get had I factored in annual sales since ’89).  Even worse, the vast majority of these funds are not coming from the businesses themselves, but solicited from the public through the annual Waterman’s Classic Golf Tournament and the Waterman’s Ball & Auction.  What is paradoxical about SIMA and their tight-fisted attitudes concerning the environment is that surfing has always subsisted as a counter-culture within greater hegemonic societal forces; yet, how can the surf industry hope to maintain this image, which is their greatest marketing gimmick and point of difference from more traditional sports, if they conform to standard industrial praxis – running business as usual?

SIMA has been more than happy to profit hugely off of the usurpation of the indigenous Hawaiian practice of he’e nalu, or wave sliding, but has turned a blind eye to the reciprocity of malama ‘aina, the care for the sea and land, that surfers have an inherent responsibility to embody.  “At best, Pacific islander culture lingers on as something exotic and different to be marketed, simulated, and consumed – as ‘ex-primitive’ delight” (Wilson, Reimagining the American Pacific 111).  As native Pacific anthropologist Epeli Hou’ofa notes, “Economists do not take account of the social centrality of the ancient practice of reciprocity – the core of all oceanic cultures,” wherein by acting as a steward of the environment, it will in turn provide to those who safeguard its resources, and the people are essentially indivisible from the land – “we are spiritually and mystically related to the lands to which we belong” (Hou’ofa, We Are the Ocean 36 & 74).

These facts are meant to do more than condemn an industry and it’s practices; they are meant to act as an impetus for individual action.  Do more than be mindful of the problems affecting our environment - help to turn the tide back in nature’s favor.  And nothing could be easier, or more fun, than attending the Doheny Surf Festival this weekend.  There will be outrigger canoe races, SUP demonstrations, tandem surfing and nose riding exhibitions, vintage surfboards and woodies on display, and the chance to meet and greet living legends such as Peter Townend, Skip Frye, Paul Strauch, David Nuuhiwa, Herbie Fletcher, and contemporary big-wave hellmen Mike Parsons and Greg & Rusty Long – not to mention delicious food from some of LA’s finest food trucks and a stellar music line-up for the evenings.

"This is a significant effort to show how much appreciation the citizens of California have for their public lands," says San Onofre Foundation President Steve Netherby. "Every dollar we raise stays right in the local parks."

So if you’ve ever claimed local status at any of the beaches that will be aided by this event, or even if you’re just happy to have a clean beach to enjoy, come out, support a worthy cause, and put your money where your mouth is – because if you don’t, who will?

Official Festival Website -

Friday, June 8, 2012

Fijian Steam

Today (Thursday 6/7 in America, Friday 6/8 in Fiji) saw an all-time swell driven by a massive low-pressure system reeling out of the Tasman Sea smack into Cloudbreak during the Volcom Fiji Pro.  After holding only two heats, contest directors and ASP Tour Manager Renato Hickel called off the competition for the day, allowing the world's best big-wave surfers to enjoy what eleven-time world champion Kelly Slater described as, "a day that will go down in surfing's history."  As both an avid surfer and surf fan, it was hard not to stay glued to the webcam broadcast as guys like Ramon Navarro, Reef McIntosh, Mark Healey, Damien Hobgood, and even Pat Gudauskas (who pulled off a miracle drop) got some of the best waves of their lives.  These guys, especially the guys not on tour, live and train for these moments.  I have nothing but the utmost respect for them and it was a privilege to watch what transpired today.

That said, I'm not quite sure what the ASP stands for anymore.  I know it used to be the Association of Surfing Professionals . . . after today though, maybe the Association of Surfing Pussies is a more apt fit.  (This critique is not aimed at anyone on the tour but at the management of the ASP and the poor decision they made to call off the competition today.)  Part and parcel of this supposed "Dream Tour" which allows for an ample waiting period for each event is to ensure that the competition is held in the best possible conditions.  I understand that the contest was slated for man-on-man heats and that many perfect waves would have gone unridden.  I understand that every big name in big wave surfing was on-hand and chomping at the bit to have a go at it.  I understand that even with the contest called off, Volcom's webcast probably had a record number of hits, maxing out their ad revenue (kudos Mr. Woolcott).  What I don't understand is babying professional athletes whose only job it is, is to surf.  From two feet to twenty feet, these guys are supposed to be the best in the world.  Let these guys earn their paychecks and the world's respect at the same time.  

These contests at Teahupoo, Cloudbreak, and the Triple Crown are supposed to be the equalizers for the more mellow yet high performance (rippable) breaks like Snapper Rocks, Trestles, and Rio.  If you're going to keep the tour guys from surfing contestable waves (ie - able to paddle into, which is why you didn't hear me moaning about this last year during the mega swell in Tahiti - check the video below to see the difference in conditions pertaining to what is and is not paddle-able), what's the point of these destination contests when all of the main sponsors have been clamoring for more urban locales to continually reach out with hands-on marketing to capture an ever greater audience and potential consumer base (NYC, Rio, et al.)?  The beauty of the XXL contest is that it is world-wide and runs all year long; therefore, to give the XXL crew priority over the scheduled contest is completely baffling to me.  Was today's session good for the soul of surfing, watching so many hellmen eager to push over the ledge without any jetskis whipping anyone in?  Undoubtedly.  But what is good for the soul of surfing is often contrary to what is good for the sport of surfing - and for those decision-makers who get their paychecks by running a so-called professional organization, they did themselves and the tour a great disservice today.  Professional surfing was founded by die-hards like the legendary "Dead Ahead" Fred Hemmings, who when surfers pleaded with him to call off a Waimea contest during the '70s due to the massive and dangerous surf, he challenged them that if he paddled out and caught a single wave that they would hold the contest.  The threat alone was enough and the contest went on as scheduled.  Judging from today's decision, the contemporary ASP is sorely lacking in this type of leadership.

Kelly was right.  Today was "a day that will go down in surfing's history," but possibly for more ambivalent reasons than he imagined.

Catch the rest of the contest here -

More highlights from the day of days here -

And a perspective most can only imagine in massive Cloudbreak, courtesy of Kalani Chapman and Go-Pro:

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Beyond the Mullet

Cupid Mullet @ Surf Ride, V-Day 2004
As I write this, Ossicles will pass the 25,000 hit mark.  In terms of internet traffic, 25K over the course of what will soon be three years is what one could put mildly as "stunted growth," but for scribblings, many of which were never supposed to have seen light (beyond my own eyes) . . . it's pretty cool to think that people are actually checking this stuff out.  My audience has included Scandinavia, Brazil, South Africa, France, Australia . . . and I can't even speak Australian.  But every once in a while, when you hit a milestone, it's good to stop and flex.  Feel good about yourself.  Get yourself a nice something-something.  And then, just wallow in that accomplishment.

Ah yeah.  That's so nice.

What a journey.  I feel like we've learned so much along the way, together.  Like I learned that most of you only like to read about mullets.  The rest are here to read about music, look at surfing, and then a few creeps who have read about "Gaddaffi's Ass."  

Brilliant marketing.  I'll take two.

You've probably learned a lot about me as well.  You know I post on my blog with little to no regularity. This is to maintain an aura of mystery, especially with the lady-folk.  No one off galavanting around the globe should have time to make regular blog-posts.  You gotta keep 'em guessing.  Unfortunately, I haven't been getting much galavanting on as of late - thanks grad school (italics mean extra sarcasm, underlining means extra extra).

With the amount of reading, writing, and teaching I'm doing with school right now, I don't often come home and want to further any type of productivity that's tied my laptop (cooking has become a renewed passion because of this).  But I do promise you this, dear reader(s), I will continue feeding the blog while I'm in school, just enough to keep it alive whenever I can, and that way, if it survives, it may truly be worth more of my attention.  Who knows - maybe six-digits?  If only . . .

. . . I could find an all-mullet rock band full of chicks that surfed and had asses like Gaddafi . . .

. . . this blog would be in the billions!

But seriously, thanks for dropping in to check it out.  Your attention is not unappreciated, from whatever part of the globe it's coming from.  And in the spirit of giving, here's my latest bit of embarrassing bragging rights:

Yours Truly with big-wave legend "Flea" Virostko, Middle Peak, Steamer Lane, March 2012
"don't be that guy"

Over the last week, during my spring break, I got to surf very good Black's Beach by myself, surf perfect waves with sixty guys at Malibu, surf all-time Rincon, and polish it off back at home with great waves at the Lane, catching waves through Indicators into the middle of Cowell's Bay.  I surfed my magic Merrick single-fin the whole way up the coast; I didn't take a single picture; but I promise next time not to be so selfish.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you wander upon these words, aloha


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hulk-a-Mania, The Gulf War, & The 'Info-War'

Edward Said & American Media Imperialism
Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of is completely free from the struggle over geography.  That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings (Said 7).

            In 1991, at the outbreak of the first Gulf War, I was nine years old, living in Virginia Beach, VA, the coastal neighbor to the Atlantic’s largest Naval station in Norfolk.  The window-shaking noise of fighter jets was as Virginian as the blue crabs of the Chesapeake and wouldn’t even interrupt the conversation of life-long locals.  Bumper stickers showcasing the silhouette of a F-16 stated solemnly that jet noise is “the sound of freedom.”  Although most of my political knowledge at that tender age consisted of Dana Carvey’s impersonations of then President Bush on Saturday Night Live, it was impossible not to get swept up into the fervor of the then mobilizing agents of the media when the drums of war began to bang.

Radio spots on the local radio rock station thunderously declared our boys would be bombing Saddam back into the Stone Age.  “Hulk-a-mania” was running rampant after Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF championship, and Hogan’s theme song, “Real American,” whose chorus chanted, “I am a real American, fight for the rights of every man / I am a real American, fight for what’s right, fight for your life!” was a simplistic, macho mantra echoing throughout the ‘80s and early ‘90s.  These aspects, coupled with, “. . . at least a decade [of] movies about American commandos pitted[-ing] a hulking Rambo or technically whiz-like Delta Force against Arab/Muslim terrorist-desperadoes,” served to comprise the cultural ephemera that saturated my young mind and the imaginary of the collective American male consciousness en masse (Said 294-5).  The American drive to war was thus not seen as a hubristic, imperial mission, but rather our tautological responsibility as the world’s one and only superpower to be “a righter of wrongs around the world, in the pursuit of tyranny, in defense of freedom no matter the place or cost” (Said 5).

Historically the American, and perhaps generally the Western, media have been sensory extensions of the main cultural context.  Arabs are only an attenuated recent example of Others who have incurred the wrath of a stern White Man, a kind of Puritan superego whose errand into the wilderness knows few boundaries and who will go to great lengths indeed to make his points (Said 295).

“Arabs” are only one in a long line of those deemed the dangerous “Other” in American history, including Native Americans, African-Americans, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, ‘Reds’, et al.  At a certain point in time, all of these racial and ethnic distinctions served to compose an ‘otherness’ that, in a Lacanian sense, helped to define our own national identity by exemplifying what we are not, serving to “separate what is non-white, non-Western, and non-Judeo-Christian from the acceptable and designated Western ethos, then herd it all together under various demeaning rubrics such as terrorist, marginal, second-rate, or unimportant” (Said 28).  This ethnocentric ideological formation is the end result of an education system and mass media bent on cultural indoctrination that prizes, “identity, always identity, over and above knowing about others” (Said 299).
At the time of writing Culture and Imperialism, nearly twenty years ago, the mainstream American media was internationally dominant.  “A handful of American trans-national corporations control the manufacture, distribution, and above all selection of news relied on by most of the world . . ." (Said 292).  By controlling the flow of information, Anthony Smith, in The GeoPolitics of Information, describes:

[a] threat to independence in the late twentieth century from the new technology [that] could be greater than was colonialism itself . . . The new media have the power to penetrate more deeply into a ‘receiving’ culture than any previous manifestation of Western technology (Said 292).

Unlike the past physical presence of imperial colonists, which allowed for a manifest resistance, this phantasmal occupation of hegemonic culture through satellite broadcast enacts its methodologies of indoctrination not through revealed force, but in the barely perceptible, latent undercurrents of modern media.  This ‘presence’ not only serves to undermine the unique cultures and mores of specific localities, acting as a conduit in the rise of a modern global monoculture (for example “American Idol”, “Turkish Idol”, et al), but more insidiously, act as “instruments of social pacification” (Said 292).  Sean McBride dubbed this the “New World Information Order,” and Raymond Williams described it as, “a new and powerful form of social integration and control” (Said 291 & Williams 23).

Americans watched the war on television with a relatively unquestioned certainty that they were seeing the reality, whereas what they saw was the most covered and the least reported war in history.  The images and the prints were controlled by the government, and the major American media copied one another, and were in turn copied or shown (like CNN) all over the world (Said 302).

At this stage of technological development, it was impossible for anyone (excepting Negroponte, and Al Gore would argue himself) to realize the drastic changes that the rise of the Internet would have in terms of the traditionally oligarchical control of information and the concomitant rise of previously subaltern voices.  With the advent of new technologies, new voices began to emerge on the national and global media scene, for example, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now and the Al-Jazeera network, respectively.  What is disheartening, in terms of the means now currently at the general populace’s disposal, which can be felt as a general malaise when it comes to politics and has now been proven empirically, is a complete lack of “public connection” (Gripsrud 22).

Public connection is the minimal precondition of at least periodical attention to what goes on in the central processes of democracy, in the political public sphere . . . Voter turnout around 50% in national elections was long unimaginable in Western Europe, but is now not very uncommon there and quite normal in the US . . .  60% of UK citizens now agree that ‘people like me have no say in government’ . . . Such a lack of interest and confidence is matched also in the use of various media . . . only 12% use the internet as a ‘regular’ news source, i.e. between two and five days per week . . . Several studies reveal that, even for its most frequent and active users, the internet is rarely used as a source of information on news and current affairs.  Many . . . were very updated, interested in and knowledgeable about celebrities or sports, but they found no signs that such interests ever lead to interest in the central political processes of the country (Griprud 22-23).

Because advertising dollars drive content, substantial news coverage in the US media has been subsequently replaced by what has been termed ‘infotainment.’  Content is no longer as highly valued as high-gloss production graphics, and CNN’s decision to chase ratings rather than maintain an editorial standard, has seen a shift to a large segment of Americans getting their news from the cable network Comedy Central on their satirical shows “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”
            American news has devolved to the point that even Secretary of State Clinton, before the Senate Foreign Relations committee in March 2011, decried that America is now losing the “information war” in the world. 

Viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the United States because it’s real news.  You many not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and . . . arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff we do on our news which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners ( 3/3/11 “Hillary Clinton Calls Al Jazeera ‘Real News,’ Criticizes U.S. Media").

For a figure of Clinton’s political stature to herald the coverage of Al-Jazeera, which was harshly denounced by the US government in the past for airing Al-Qaeda video messages in the post-9/11 world, is emblematic of how far the power dynamic has shifted.  This contemporary inability of America sustain its imperial hegemony and to maintain complete control over “the apparatus for the diffusion and control of information” is more apparent in the cases of the Abu Ghraib torture scandal, disseminated images of innocent victims of Predator drone strikes, and most recently, the burning of the Qur’an (Said 291).  In this new era wherein all one needs is an Internet connection to broadcast their voice globally, the once stalwart “image of Americans as virtuous, clean warriors” will never be the same (Said 301).


Gripsrud, Jostein, ed. Relocating Television: Television in the Digital Context. New York: Routledge, 2010.

Said, Edward. Culture and Imperialism. New York: Random House, 1993.

Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. New York: Schocken Books, 1975.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Home Sick . . .

Looking forward to getting back down to SoCal for my spring break and dug up this gem from last year, filmed and edited in the span of an afternoon by my cuzzy Russell Spencer.  Can't wait for a solid afternoon sippin' on cold ones in Prestie's VW at the Oside harbor . . . enjoy this slice of life from the best coast.

vroom from Russell Spencer on Vimeo.