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Born Charleston,SC; 4 yrs USMC; 1960 Scholarship to University San Diego; Union-Tribune staff photographer 7 yrs; Graduated USD 1968. Covered Charles Manson trial for CBS TV; 2 yrs at Universal Studios; promoted Southern Calif then Kansas City ConVisBurea

Updated: 2017-11-21T19:44:30.393-05:00


Another anniversary...


 The date - November 22 - brings sad memories of President John F. Kennedy.My actual vivid recollection was in downtown San Diego when Senator Kennedy came to California, campaigning for the highest office.It was 1960 and I was a 21-year old former Marine Corps photographer who had just started as an older freshman at the University of San Diego.Some buddies and I skipped classes and went downtown to see this young candidate.Of course, I had a camera with me and stood at the back of the large crowd that had turned out in this basically Republican city.A few months before, I was at Camp Lejeune, N.C. as a Corporal E-4, trying on my new civvies before my discharge and heading home to Charleston.USD had offered me a photography scholarship and I jumped at the chance to be the first one in my family to attend college!As a designated Marine Combat Photographer, I was not shy about moving up through the crowd to get closer to the candidate.I've told this story before that I looked up at a policeman on the raised platform and held up my camera.I told him I was the official photographer from the University of San Diego and wanted to be up there for better photos.He had no problem with that and gave me a hand up.I was now standing on the end of the platform with a great view of the crowd, the dignitaries, and the candidate himself.Waited until he stretched out his left arm to make a point and turned his body and face in my direction."Click."As he finished his speech, Senator Kennedy was applauded and I hopped down to street level to photograph him coming down the steps, shaking hands. Got a few more photos as someone threw confetti.As I said, I was a newcomer to San Diego, trying to adjust my military mind to civilian activities.I recall I was wearing my USD windbreaker that day which no doubt helped the police officer decide I was not a threat.Back on campus, I watched the candidate's debate and generally was in tune with supporting the Catholic candidate. I mean, it was an 11-year old Catholic University and I was an eligible voter. There was a separate College For Men and a College for Women with the beautiful Immaculata Chapel situated between the two.The year after I graduated, the colleges combined and it was a true University, also with a School of Law, and a large seminary.With my photography background, I started to visit the downtown newspaper, the Union-Tribune and made sure to stop in the Photo Lab to chat with the staffers there. And the boss.About a year later, I was hired to be a lab tech and wire photo operator. After six months working inside the lab, I was sent out on assignments and became a staff photographer.In 1963 I was part of a team dispersed around San Diego to cover the arrival of President Kennedy.He was to receive an honorary degree from San Diego State and be the commencement speaker.With Secret Service approval and our newspaper credentials, we photographers and reporters swarmed all over State's campus and along the route of the Presidential motorcade in and out of the city.I had a plum assignment.Here I was again, on the left side of JFK, using a long lens to capture the moment and the happy June graduation crowd.The President flew to Dallas five months later.As I said, I have posted my photos of the candidate and, later, the President on my blog before.I'll probably share them again in the future.(Click on the photos for more details.)Thanks for sharing these memories.[...]

A very happy Veterans Day....


Burp.  I ate my way through Veterans Day 2017.There were invites by more than one eateries and I availed myself of a few.I even received a vet's voucher for a free haircut!Don't remember doing this before but it WAS the 60th anniversary of my becoming a U.S. Marine.Living in Charleston back then, my Reserve Unit had merely shipped me down to Parris Island in 1957 on a Greyhound bus.My lunch on Saturday was at Chili's, a national chain restaurant that had a special menu to treat veterans.My plans were to go have a free seafood dinner later so I chose the Old Timer burger. With cheese.Very fitting...for me.The restaurant was packed with happy - and hungry - vets and families.I had no drink or desserts so no check was presented. I handed my server $5 as a tip and hope everyone else did so.My choice for dinner was Hyman's Seafood and I saw many G.I. haircuts as I sat at the bar downstairs.I also saw some salty dudes with no hair. "Thank you for your service" was heard all around me.Hyman's offered a free entree up to $20. I chose to enjoy their Crispy Flounder at $18.95.Along with a Palmetto Amber, the restaurant would not be losing much with the $20 freebie for vets.I sat next to a nice-looking young couple and when I showed my red former service ID card, he asked if I was a Marine. I replied that I was and found he too was a Marine and his wife was Air Force.They asked what I did in the Corps and I said my MOS was combat still photographer. They said they knew others with that title and I added Being in 1957-1960, I was fortunate never having been under fire.Down the bar I saw a man with a David Letterman-like very full white beard.Have no idea if he actually WAS Letterman but the retired talk show host had to be somewhere and Charleston would have been a good choice.Hyman's places small brass plaques on tables showing what celebrities had sat there but I don't think they add those to the bar seats.It was my first time NOT sitting at a table so I was enjoying being among the chattering crowd being seated or stepping inside on a brisk evening, waiting for their names to be called.Nobody else seemed to think the bar patron was Letterman so I focused on my flounder, hushpuppies and the mac and cheese side.Oh, and my local craft beer.I had had my hair cut the day before and my regular barber noted it would have been free the next day.He suggested I stop by on my way to my Veterans Day lunch and he would give me a voucher for a free haircut, to be used before the end of December.I have had a beard for a year now so the picture shows me a few years ago, posing in front of his shop.I usually have my hair cut every 5 or 6 weeks, so I am sure I will use this freebie before the end of the year.(I am about to shave off my beard so this is a reminder to me of how I will look again.)Hmmm, I also stopped wearing glasses after successful cataract operations so I won't look exactly like that again.My evening ended when I stopped by the newest craft beer Brewery - MUNKLE - and chatted with the Owner/Brewer R. Palmer Quimbly.He opened a few weeks ago at 1513 Meeting Street Road and stated the only beer he would brew would be Belgian."No IPAs here, ever. They are too hoppy and burn your palette." I mentioned I had been in Belgium, taking a train down from Amsterdam, and had enjoyed my time - and beers - I had in Bruges. He poured me a tasty Bruges Brun (Brown ale) and pointed out his dog, sitting in the corner, was named Brugges, the Belgian spelling. He also pointed out items of furniture he had refinished and showed me photos hanging on the wall of familiar Belgian sights and sites.One included the famed Half-Moon brewery where I had continued my beer education.I said I had been told there are more than 7,000 beers brewed in Belgium, with a special glass for each one."Quite possible," he said, pointing to his large collection of glasses on display.He added they were here because his wife wanted them somewhere else. not at home.Next week there will be a stout added to [...]

Meanwhile, down in Savannah....


 Had a brief - but pleasant - visit a  week ago down south in lovely Savannah.A 9-person musical group that we had seen in Toronto back in 2004 was bringing its hot Swing Jazz sound to town.Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was performing at a fairly new performance site a little bit away from downtown.The Stage On Bay resembled a warehouse from the outside but was set up pretty good inside for an evening of music.Folding chairs down front, a cleared dance area behind the seats, a full bar and even a VIP balcony area.The bar had TWO Irish whiskies: Jameson and Bushmill. Nice.We support live music, loved the band's contemporary swing revival sound and wanted to lend a hand to the new venue.The place is still a little rough around the edges but we hope it grows as a needed new entertainment outlet for Savannah.They might want to re-think the rather high $10 parking fee.The band's founder and lead singer Scottie Morris informed us the Southern California-based group has been around for 37 years ...with the same, original 9 musicians.I remembered there was a 5-piece horn section and they did not disappoint!A stand-out was Glen "The Kid" Marhevka on trumpet.Joshua Levy, composer, and pianist shared one side of the stage with bassist Dirk Shumaker.The drummer was Kurt Sodergren.Their new album "Louie, Louis, Louie" is a tribute to Armstrong, Jordan, and Prima.We heard some cuts from the new release as well as some Cab Callaway classics like "Minnie the Moocher."Leader Scottie Morris kept a fast pace on guitar, banjo - and even cowbell  - as he directed his long-time band through an energetic evening.Before the show, we had checked out two of the three craft beer breweries.We learned that the burdensome Georgia beer brewing dictates imposed in the past, recently had been eased and now a fourth brewery was in the works.Our experience in Atlanta with craft breweries earlier this year ago had been tasty but a bit confusing. There was a strong emphasis on giving a tour and limiting how much beer could be consumed in a taproom.I feel that Georgia has seen the light and there will be more breweries there in the near future.At Southbound Brewery, the first one we sampled, I enjoyed its Southern Delight Praline Amber, obviously with pecans in the mix.Southbound even had its own Brew Cat on premise. Did not get the guardian's name.Dire warnings about it being a "savage beast"  were discounted as it purring-ly roamed its turf all around inside.Then, it ambled out to the patio for a snooze among its new beer-drinking friends.I didn't try to pet it but I am told its fur was as soft as a cuddly bunny rabbit.I guess using actual rabbits would be a challenge, even more so than herding cats. When we sipped beers at Coastal Empire Brewing, one distinctive draft pull caught my eye.It denoted a part of Savannah's recent past with "the book"...Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Nice touch.Hmmm, odd that none of the Atlanta breweries we had visited had come up with even a slight nod to the classic Gone With The Wind. Maybe a Scarlett (O'Hara)?Or (I Don't) Give A Damn.Just plain GWTW would make some visitor ask what that meant... and then perhaps try a pint.I leave all of these on the table for ANY brewing Company in the state of Georgia.Hmmm, trying to think of some good names for brews in Charleston not offered yet...maybe: Rainbow Rye beer?The Battery Bock.  Morris Lighthouse Lager.How 'bout Gose Creek?Summerville Saison?  Sangaree Stout?Between breweries in Savannah, we were referred to Treylor Park on Bay Street for a meal.It offered a slightly different decor and menu.The ambiance was road warrior and mobile transit residence.I settled on the Chicken Biscuit and collard greens so I would fit right in.Saw a lady sort of  "hiding" a small dog in her lap which made me consider some hush puppies too.Here are a few more photos of the "day tripper" we had. My buddy had to be at work at 8 am the next day so we drove down, sipped and sampled and list[...]

Don't step on a crack...


 Recently, I saw that a knee-high black plastic tarp had been placed in a shallow ditch in front of my house.In fact, as far as I could see, it was stretched in front of ALL the houses on my side of the street.A few days before, I had noticed colorfully painted lines on the pavement - blue, orange, yellow, and green - that showed where gas, water, and sewer lines were located.I expected some construction digging was going to happen. Been down that street before.Years ago, the city had dug up water connection pipes in the middle of the street.During that activity, a gas line had been clipped and the distinctive rotten egg smell filled the air.There was an adrenaline-rush of activity as word was spread of the possible danger.But, the leak was quickly repaired. No harm, no foul.So it was comforting that efforts had been made to locate potential danger zones.The contracted labor force showed up and starting to carve away a large portion of the lawn I had kept mowing by the street.I knew it was right-of-way but nobody else came by to cut it so I would hop on my riding mower.Heavy equipment arrived and dug out a rough path of what would become a sidewalk.The city had sent out a flyer to all of the homes affected by this new addition on my side of the street.It described the why, how, and when and - happily - assured us it was funded by a grant so home-owners would not be assessed for the improvement.Yay!Chatting with some neighbors, we realized it was to be a limited length of sidewalk.Children walked along this street to their school bus pickup points.The concern was for their safety.In the afternoon, flocks of after-schoolers walked down the middle of the street, to the consternation of impatient drivers.This project would help the drivers and increase safety for the walkers.After the path was cut, the root-filled dirt was hauled away and fresh construction soil was laid down as a smooth foundation.I quickly learned that half the workers were "Soil guys" and the others were the "Concrete team."Each was doing its part up and down the street, in sequence to allow the next step to be taken.That step appeared to be the placement of wooden strips to form the sides and ends for the later pouring of concrete. I believe those are called"forms."Once the foundation was made and the forms placed, a large cement (concrete?) truck rumbled up the street.It gets in place, its long chute is extended and wet concrete comes sliding down.Now the "concrete team" uses a long 2x4 to push and massage it into all the cracks and crannies to make it uniform.Several "finishers" follow along with long-handled toolsto buff and smooth the quickly drying surface.Eventually, there's just one man on his knees, giving the surface a final touch with his trowel.By now, it's starting to look like a sidewalk - but - something is missing.There are no "cracks" in it.I was told that once it had hardened or cured, another team member comes back with a saw and cuts the lines.These allow for expansion and contraction and that helps to keep it from cracking. Your Mother's Back is not a factor.The teams are now working further down the street.My strip of lawn that has been altered is just about ready for foot traffic.I keep receiving mail and putting mail out front with the red flag up for the mailman to retrieve.Not sure what was the purpose of the tarp?The teams have to do special work on driveways so they'll be back again nearby.My only complaint so far is a dangling wire that was snapped by one of the sidewalk builders vehicles.It is nose-high for the school children who soon will be passing by on the safety addition walkway.Human nature means someone is going to yank on it and I'd like to see that avoided.When I mentioned it to the crew, I was told to call the cable company.Hmmm, I don't have cable, just internet online service, and it's working fine so apparently, I am not affected by the broken line.I was advised by a passi[...]

"Lake" at me now...


This is my one-picture stylized image of Lake Marion.It was my first time on the water there.Even off the water, I had not been here before.Joan Perry, a good friend,  had invited me to join a group for BBQ and a boat ride out to Church Island.I knew there were trees (Cypress) sticking up out of the water but I had not thought about the shorter ones that were slightly under the water.Yikes.We all were on the lookout for birds sitting atop these stumps to warn the skipper there was danger ahead on this "3-hour trip."I should not have worried. The Captain was Wayne "Cat Fish'n Fool" Vining, a veteran fisherman.He also was watching the screens of a depth-finder and, I guess, a stump-finder.Joan had told us he takes out fishing parties but also groups of non-fishing types like we were.She had hired him and mentioned we were interested in Church Island and its history."Hey, I ain't no historian, jes' a catfish guy. With me, you're not fishin', you're fish-catchin'."We gathered for a group shot after walking around on Church Island.The church was de-sanctified as the water rose when the dam was built and the lake formed.Oddly enough, the cemetery was spared and we walked among headstones dating back to the 1800s.The large island can't be reached by car, only by water.A local young lady in our group remembers when her grandparents long-time family land was taken through eminent domain. I recalled reading about the danger of ticks when walking through tall grass.I was prepared though with my hiking boots and long pants that were snug around my shoes.We inspected each other before we re-loaded onto the pontoon boat. (It was NOT named the S.S. Minnow.)There were no sightings of bugs.Did see several trees that had been struck by lightning.What an awesome display of power!Bet it made quite a racket when the bolt(s) met the tree.The group wandered around for quite a while at the cemetery. There was a marker where the church had stood.There was an enclosed area with multiple plots for two families.Joan found one headstone with no first name. Just the word "Baby." A sad reminder of young deaths.The tree with the missing pieces of bark reminded me of some trees in a scene in  Charleston at Trident Tech.Various areas represented a town in Ohio for the Mr. Mercedes 10-part series now playing on AT&T Audience networkThree tall palm trees stood at the entrance of a "hospital" building. We extras milled around inside, playing roles as doctors, nurses, visitors, and patients.On a break, I wandered outside and saw the three palms had been covered with a 20-foot high fake oak tree bark. The "oak" was topped with palm fronds, but the camera did not aim that high. Haha.I rode out in a comfortable chair, up front on the boat. My small camera often held high.Fascinating scenery.The lake water was down a bit we were told, so the bulbous "bottom" of the Cypress trees was very obvious.I had seen Cypress "knees" before but don't recall seeing this array of so many distinctive-looking ones.There was a bit of boat traffic on the lake.My zoom lens and fast shutter speed captured one that was heading toward us.It threw an impressive wake.The zoom lens made it look much closer than it really was.My Mom and Dad used to trailer their 14-foot aluminum boat up to this lake and Lake Murray.I can picture my Dad cranking up his trusty 40 hp Evinrude!I hope they had stopped at Sweatman's Bar-B-Que while in the area.That's where the group met on the outskirts of Holly Hill at 1427 Eutaw Road.Joan said they now are open Saturday and Sunday and usually are packed.My full plate showed me why it was so popular featuring dine-in, take-out, and catering.It was a fun-filled day ashore and on the water.And the food was so good, one of the group stopped for a take-out meal before driving back to Charleston.Lunch AND dinner at Sweatman's had crossed my mind too butinstead, I drove back[...]

A Christmas Story....of sorts.


I came across a photo I actually did not remember taking back when I was moving to Jefferson City, Missouri.In the late seventies, I had just been named the Director of Tourism for the state of Missouri and needed to move my family to the Capital.With me would be my wife Sandy, our daughter Heather and our big, white, mixed-breed dog named CCASH*.(*His name was the first initials of our family: Chuck, Chris (my son),  Amy (my older daughter), Sandy and Heather,)My new job came with a substantial raise in pay and I realized prices were better there than in Kansas City, so four potential homes for the Boyds were examined by me.I planned to fly Sandy in for - hopefully - her selection and approval.I made sure the 2-story I liked best was first on the list for showing by my real estate rep and he alerted the owner, an elderly lady when we would come by and she went to stay with her son during our morning visit.The realtor had baked some cookies in the oven so the house had a nice, pleasing aroma.  I placed a vodka tonic in the fridge to have something familiar in the house and had selected tapes of music I knew Sandy liked to be playing in the background as we toured.We pulled up at the curb, Sandy got out and said: "I love it, we'll take it!" Pleasantly surprised by her quick acceptance, we then quickly went inside for the actual tour.Well, that was easy. We had lunch with the happy realtor and I found it was not quite a done deal yet. One more step was needed before I flew Sandy back home to KC.The realtor said the owner wanted to meet me to make sure her house would be in good hands.I took Heather along that afternoon to meet the lady who had lived in that house for nearly 60 years.It was near the holidays and she proudly showed off a wooden Christmas tree from Germany that was older than she. The rising heat from candles turned a paddle wheel at the top and the tree slowly revolved after she asked me to light the candles.Heather charmed her of course so she agreed that we were a family she wanted in "her" house.We bought some of her furniture at a good price including a huge mahogany china cabinet, a long dining room table with 8 chairs and several beds with carved headboards and several ornate dressers.  She kept the beautiful grand piano that was in the living room and it was hauled away a few days after we closed on the deal. I saw deep ruts across the lawn and knew it was gone. Well, it DID take up a lot of space.I may have posted photos of the stately house before. And even some shots of the replica dollhouse I built for Heather when she was 9 years old.  But the photo of the Christmas tree I just found. I am so glad I had taken a view of it with the owner and my younger daughter.I went online and could not find one even close to it.The large, unique "tree" left with the owner. And, I guess that was a good move. So many moving, lighted candles in that beautiful WOODEN house would have made me nervous.(Click on the photos and links,  for more details.) I know it's a little early for Christmas stories. But, I wonder how many people have seen one of these rotating holiday gems? As I said, I Googled online but did not find any this tall and this grand. And, as potentially dangerous with lighted candles! I really loved that striking home in the middle of Missouri. And, so did my cat. Especially lounging around in the dollhouse copy that I had created.[...]

Music was in the air....


Several recent musical nights sort of blended together.None had made it into the blog. Time to correct that.Even though I have been warned to use caution before I set my camera on "Fish Eye Effect," a smooth trombone slide just calls for it.Sorry, couldn't resist. Excuse the distortion.Steve Rogness kept playing and I kept shooting.This was at the Pour House with Davina & the Vagabonds, a band from the Twin Cities of Minnesota, pounding out Old Time Blues and jazz.Davina was in charge at the keys and jiving swing dancers were sweeping all around the dance floor.I decided black and white images would capture the upbeat moment.(I sent this image to Davina and she posted it on her Facebook page.)Yes, I credited the PoHo and added my wish that they return again soon.This was the second show for me that night.Had raced out to the club on Maybank Highway after an enjoyable musical evening with Robert Cray and his band, Hi Rhythm.This was the fourth or fifth time I have seen Mr. Cray and this might have been the best.The sound of course in the Charleston Music Hall is superb and he and the band were on fire.I had learned to turn off the green light that shoots from the camera to enhance focus.Not only does it distract the players, ushers are quick to come tap me on the shoulder and say NO. And the focus was spot on.I caught some facial expressions that were intense and showed the musician deep, deep into his playing.Changing shutter speeds, depending on the stage lighting, has become second-nature, so the action was captured very sharp.Head thrown back in emotion, grimacing at a sad passage, it was an exciting time.All around me, cell phones were capturing images but I had a camera with a variable zoom lens. I controlled the lighting and camera speeds.His hands were in constant motion on the strings.I really didn't know I had caught his "pickin' hand" at a peak moment, until later as I went through the shots I had taken that night.You can watch a performer and sometimes can gauge what might come next.That moment when the face is NOT hidden by the microphone.There is a pacing and rhythm that develops and I try to tune in to catch a brief, fleeting instant.Robert came through for me this evening. The best recent "two-fer" was the combo of Taj Mahal and Keb Mo onstage at the Gaillard.Have enjoyed both musicians separately and this was an interesting pairing.Taj always has been a commanding presence as contrasted with the laidback smoothness of Keb Mo.The chemistry was cooking that night and the jam-packed crowd lapped it up.(I still wonder why there are no JumboTrons flanking the stage to accommodate the fans in the balcony seats at the back of the hall. I see them in lots of venues.)I usually am able to shop early for tickets and get seats nice and up front so I can see all the action up close.In fact, for this show, I could swear I was listening to the two guitars right in front of me while the amplified sound soared above me, over my head. To the balconies.Makes for an intimate concert setting.The two bounced back and forth with their individual hits and also presented tracks from the new album where they blend voices, sounds, and style.A rare treat by two of my favorites.At home a few days later, I asked my Google Alexa to "play me some Keb Mo."It started with the opening song by RajMo.Thanks, Alexa.Keb Mo was his usual relaxed performer.These seasoned pros knew what the audience wanted and they delivered.A lady seated to my left had glanced over when I was checking some shots and nudged me and asked if I could send a few to her.I had seen her stretching to get a good angle on her cell phone but her seat placed the microphone in front of the face for most of her tries.No empty seats or space to maneuver so I agreed I would send some if she emailed me how to contact her. I handed[...]

Welcome to the 21st Century...


 Coming up on 10 years as the 21st Century Photography Group, I'm taking a look back over my shoulder.Pleased to see we are still an active bunch of friendly and talented photographers and wannabes.It has been a decade of change as we saw the rivalry between Nikon and Canon have to adjust to the number of people using cell phones to take pictures.Now there's a 10-year old battle between the iPhone fans and the androids.When I was growing up I used to drop off a roll of film at Walgreens - 12 or 24 exposures - and, a week later, got them back. Some were ok.While in high school, I built a home darkroom so I cut the time-lag between shooting and seeing.Digital means now you "click" and look at the back of the camera to see what you have.Then adjust and shoot it again.To give hands-on experience, we invite members to go on outings.This is in addition to the regular second Wednesday meetings at the Carolina Ice Palace.There we have a private space where we can dim the lights for Show and Tell, use our projector, pass around a microphone so all can hear and see what others are doing with the cameras.When we go out in the field, the challenge is to pick places that are great for landscape photographers, architectural fans or nature lovers. Sometimes we go to historic places, we have had models join us on some shoots, street photography is a natural during 2nd Sunday on King Street.For example, we have done themed outings-with-cameras to learn how to use dark filters in bright sunshine that lets us shoot at slower speeds and see how it affects rivers, or fountains or waterfalls.Moving water slowed way down, becoming filmy or cloudy or leaving tracks on the beach as the waves roll in and recede out.Co-Coordinator Rudy Lutge is very informative and knowledgeable so he often lectures and demonstrates how it's done.In fact, Rudy was the presenter last week. Some members commented:Diana O'DonnellReally enjoyed last night's get together. Already learned a lot. Looking forward to the next time!Like · Reply · 8h ago · MuteTonyaI had a great time and learned so much!!! Thank you Rudy for teaching me about the filters and the triangle!!! See everyone again soon!Like · Reply · 9h ago · MuteChuckLots of new faces and long-timers. Spirited conversations about Macro and ND from Rudy who knows his stuff!2 · Like · Reply · 12h ago · MuteDcGood Meetup, Rudy did an excellent job!Like · Reply · 12h ago · MuteSusan TurnerAwesome meeting. Rudy gave a wonderful talk. I am so glad I found out about meetup and found this group.Like · Reply · 14h ago · Mute[...]

12th Anniversary coming up.....


The "marriage" with my 2006 Saturn Quad Ion has had some counseling and adjustments. I am happy that we are still together!You could say that cooler heads had good ideas that made our day.We handled a hot problem that was a surprise when it popped up.The mechanics at AAA Car Care heard my version of our A/C difficulties and then did their own consultation under-the-hood with the Saturn. They agreed that some changes had to be made and they had a fact-filled discussion with me. I was optimistic that there might be a simple solution to keep us bonded to each other.Fantastic features on a small vehicle had originally caught my eye.         The hope-for-a-small-leak-that-could-be-fixed-easily did not happen. The $90 diagnostic showed that replacing the condenser was the only option that could be considered, and the reality of our surrounding climate and humidity made that decision easy - we had to chill. Half of the cost was for the parts and the other half was the capable hands that did the labor.          Experiences during the 11-year union showed that I had properly responded to the GM recall of the ignition system snafu and the Saturn's main expense to me had been only a replacement of her windshield after a 3rd party big gravel truck threw a rock at it. No guilt or fault by either of us.          No extravagant expenses on either side. Always Regular at the pumps. Steady attention to detail in the partnership meant oil changes somewhat close to what the silly oil-change people suggested. New "shoes" when appropriate where the rubber meets the road. No "nickel and dime" expenses had popped up. The Saturn had NOT ever "run home to mother" at the dealership. (Well, the dealership itself had changed its partner years ago.)          In short, this $560 A/C challenge could be handled without a drastic disruption of a fine relationship. A two-year warranty on the parts sealed the deal.It has been a happy companionship and we look forward to December when we celebrate our 12th anniversary together. No sticker shock then..and still none now. I have noticed prices have gone up - a lot - since I entered into this relationship. My thought is I got more for my money than I ever expected. Unique design and features at an affordable cost. Can't begin to imagine what features a 2017 Saturn would have offered.[...]

Thirsty for some new brews....


11 days ago, the long-awaited Edmund's Oast Brewing Company opened its doors as the 21st local craft beer brewery.I was fortunate to have General Manager Devin T. Marquardt chat with me at the bar and give me a behind-the-scenes tour of the new facility.They will be adding additional products and right now are pouring four new draft beers and two cask ales.First cask ale I've had at a brewery. It bodes well for the future.Closed For Business on King Street has one cask setup and, I believe, there are two cask stations on Vanderhorst at Kudu. The problem has been getting the beverage from a brewery.Up till now, brewers had to juggle things around to make a small, delicate batch of this ale.Time and circumstances dictated when this might happen.Apparently, bars were never sure when a keg would become available.Now we have a local brewer who is committed to brewing it often to supply its own taps daily and, of course, to pour at its nearby namesake restaurant.A few weeks ago, as this area began to hunker down for the approaching hurricane Irma, there was a long-awaited opening of local craft brewery number 20.Well, Pawleys Island Brewing in North Charleston had not factored in a hurricane but the opening went well.Head Brewer Daren McLean gave a guided tour and explained the steps involved in making their beers.A Friday-after-work group from nearby Bosch arrived and quickly designated this would become a weekly local stop.Founder Fraser Blake, was behind the bar, talking about their goals for the brand new entity.All around him, snazzy new blue t-shirts were being sold that displayed the turtle logo elements.Several other new breweries are planned around the Charleston area and a few are close to opening, notably Munkle on upper King and Commonhouse Aleworks on O'Hear  in the Park Circle area.Living in Hanahan, the East Montague 3-block beer, wine, and eats places are close at hand so any and all new openings have my attention.As usual, I will stop in, sample what they have to offer and try to spread the word with my blog.It's a pleasant task...which just happens to rhyme with Cask!.* I had a vast array of casks while in Europe and the UK. Here I am in Edinburgh after the barkeep offered to let me "pull my own."I had asked if I could take a photo of him pulling my choice and he said "NO."I was taken aback until he added: "It will be me taking a picture of you doing that!And he did. It tasted delicious.I can add barkeep to my resume.[...]

Something about "compound interest"....


I receive a daily "newsletter" from San Diego compiled and edited by former newspapermen (and women) who had worked for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper. I was a staff photographer there in the 1960s and belonged to the editorial staff as opposed to pressmen and plate makers. I like to submit an item now and then and the "Editor" Jack Reber graciously includes them in the newsletters. Here is a recent one I submitted:  CHUCK BOYD writes:I had mentioned a while back that in 1964 I took a photo of QUIET plowed into a field near Miramar. The paper was not interested so I offered it to LIFE magazine.Back in the sixties, LIFE was a biggie and the photo staff all had fired off photos, hoping to be part of this national treasure.  We usually received polite rejection slips.          This time they CALLED me to say they wanted it for the Miscellany Page at the back of the magazine. A full page in LIFE!          It ran in 1964 (yes, I have a copy or two) and I received not only a photo credit for me - and the newspaper - but also a check for $300. Wow.          I was telling someone about this and he said: "I wonder what that would be worth in today's dollars?" I Googled that query and got this back...          According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.98% per year. Prices in 2017 are 689.6% higher than prices in 1964.          In other words, $300 in the year 1964 is equivalent to $2,368.90 in 2017, a difference of $2,068.90 over 53 years.          Too bad I didn't invest that $300.Today there was a follow-up comment by a fellow photographer:ERNIE COWAN writes:Regarding payment for Chuck Boyd's "Quiet" image:Sadly, today the photographer would earn very little for a similar shot. The advent of digital photography and good cameras has made everyone a "photographer." Two examples:          I lead photo tours and it amazes me that just about everyone who participates has a business cardIdentifying them as some kind of photographer. Most have no real clue about taking pictures. Also, I was recently contacted by a resort asking to buy some of my images to promote their property. I quoted standard rates, and the person at the other end laughed, saying "I could find dozens of similar images on Facebook for $15 each."[...]

"My Friend Irma"....NOT!


When we first heard about the huge category 5 Hurricane Irma with winds of 180mph heading our way, the state of South Carolina paid attention. Many still remembered the devastation by Hurricane Hugo in 1989  when it clobbered Charleston with a direct hit. As it got closer, the "spaghetti" trails on the weather forecasts seemed to center on Charleston,Well, it sure seemed that way to me!OK, we all began preparations to be ready. I moved all of my deck plants inside.I stored chairs, tables, lamps and other items that would fly around like deadly missiles in the projected huge wind.I did leave up all the wind chimes, I remembered my dad telling me years ago "Don't hang up another one, there's not enough wind for two." I think he was joking.He also said he didn't like all the noise they produced.Dad could be difficult at times. He thought the same of me I am sure.A gallon of water per day per person seemed to be the norm suggested. I was all set for the long haul.Glad I thought ahead because about a week out, all the  expensive bottled water suddenly evaporated from store shelves. I filled empty sweet tea jugs with tap water.Also, the bathtub would be filled to be used to flush toilets if needed. Plan for the unexpected.I also saw a telling sign at Home Depot.This warning alerted buyers of generators not to even think about bringing it back after the storm passed.You buy it, you keep it.Mine is 11 years old and has NEVER been used during an emergency.I did crank it up ever so often and followed the suggestion to drain the gas out each year so things didn't get all gummed up.Armed with a generator,  I decided to hunker down and ride it out. I hoped for the best and reminded myself this house withstood Hugo and all the other storms since it was built in the 1950s. The 2-story is elevated and never has had more than a large puddle form in the yard so not likely to be flooded.My buddy booked a room for himself in Atlanta for Sunday and Monday, just in case we remained a major target on the weather forecasts. He also could cancel on short notice.Charleston started to relax a bit as the projected track wandered Westward. The warning tone shifted to a pretty sure tidal surge but I live 12 miles from the coast so didn't worry about beach erosion in my back yard. Those with houses on beaches had real concerns of course and it could be very damaging from flooding and brute force slamming ashore on a high tide.I asked my brother about his son living in Tampa, the new designated ground zero after Irma had her way in the keys and lumbered up the state. He responded that the family of four people - and 2 dogs - had hopped in their van and were heading to stay here until it was safe to return to Tampa/Clearwater.The wind is still just a breeze this Sunday afternoon and, on my tv in the background, I am hearing dire reports from Florida as well as detailed local updates from our mayors, first responders, and even the Coast Guard. We are indeed a harbor city.Hope to wake up tomorrow with an all clear as stormy Irma decreases intensity and continues limping north into hurricane history.(Click on the photos for more details.) Thanks for hunkering down with me. Hope you and your families are safe. [...]

"It's Istanbul, not Constantinople......."


I remember the ditty about what was once called Constantinople, that is now known as Istanbul.It must have been a geography lesson in high school. so that would have been in 1953 - 1957.The "Queen of Cities," as it was known during the middle ages, was the capital of the Byzantine Empire until it fell in 1453, and then the Ottoman Empire until 1930.That's when the name was changed by the Turkish National Reforms.Google or Bing told me all this. It was NOT from my 1950s memory.I did know I liked strong Turkish coffee.After my haircut at Great Clips near Tanger outlets, I stopped in to check out a new restaurant that had just opened.The hostess Nicole greeted me at the door and gave me a tour, telling me all about the new buffet offerings.I asked how long had it been open and she said: "Seventeen days and tomorrow will be my first day off!"  Nicole was smiling so I knew she was related and not just an employee.I mentioned I had enjoyed Turkish foods while vacationing overseas,Especially kabobs.She asked if I preferred chicken or lamb I said both so I watched the chef fanning two kabobs being cooked over a charcoal fire.My meal was coming together.The shawarma was being shaved off both the chicken and the lamb/beef combo as they slowly turned on vertical spitsI saw the fresh pita bread next to the familiar hummus and the roasted eggplant dip.Aha..Baba Ghanoush.Nicole oversaw the construction of my buffet meal.I tasted the Falafel and several variations of eggplant.The several round tasty balls of falafel were what I thought might be Middle Eastern hush puppies.Turned out to be crunchy, spicy rolled up chickpeas.So they were added to my plate with pita bread, along with the hummus and Baba GhonoushAs I started eating, more customers came in and one couple asked about the sushi?Nicole explained there was no sushi and agreed that, yes, the sign with "Shish" did sort of look like sushi and she seated them and started pointing out various items on the menu.I was shown two types of Turkish coffee. I picked one and Nicole said she would start getting it ready.Like most foods and beverages, it needed to be fresh and hot.I added "and strong," served in a demitasse cup.She brought a cup and poured the thick, dark coffee and advised me to wait a bit before drinking it."It is hot of course, but it's unfiltered so give it a few moments to let the grounds settle."I waited and sipped the strong flavored coffee, pretty sure this was not on the menu at Starbucks.The meal break just happened when I noticed the restaurant newcomer. It was a pleasant meal experience and I am sure I'll stop by again.Leaving, I looked closely at the sign. I didn't think it said Sushi at all.*I added a photo that shows more of my buffet meal.Man does not live on pita alone.(Click on the images and links for more details.)Actually, I was in the area again a few days later and stopped by.This time I tried the Turkish coffee with the green label.After it cooled and I sipped I realized that GREEN is the worldwide symbol for decaffeinated coffee.Yikes.It lacked the "punch" of the other cup I had had on my earlier visit.[...]

Hey, it's getting darker....


Yes, as L'il Orphan Annie sang, "The sun'll come out tomorrow," after the stunning and awesome 2017 eclipse in Charleston, S.C.         I had planned it pretty good. Slipping on my approved solar glasses, I had checked where the sun was in the sky several days at 2 pm when I stood on my deck in Hanahan.It looked like I could be seated comfortably and track it easily as the sun was gobbled up by the moon and arced across the sky.The total black out would happen before the sun dipped behind trees, so I was good to go!Unfortunately, those pesky clouds rolled in about two minutes before the eclipse reached totality.Sadly, I stepped inside and watched the "money shot" scene on tv. Bummer!It could be seen happening about 12 miles away on our barrier islands of Mount Pleasant and the Isle of Palms. Coastal breezes that we usually love had blown all the clouds my way!          Until the sun was blanked out, I had enjoyed watching the crescent sun that gradually mimicked the moon on our state flag before the rains came.I went back out on my deck, taking off the safety glasses.The sudden and complete brief 2-minute afternoon darkness was awesome!It got quiet - no birds chirping -  and all of my solar-powered yard and deck lights came on. My confused indoor cat ambled off to take yet another brief nap.          Several members of my Photo Group* were in the right places nearby and posted some really nice photos, (thanks, Rudy Lutge) including this great "Diamond Ring" one by Brian Smith.          I had planned to relax and just enjoy the experience and not even bother taking photos for a change. I saw my neighbor and family in their back yard, sitting in chairs and looking up and, later holding altered cereal boxes to get a pinhole camera effect.Member of the 21st Century Photo Group, Joseph Nienstedt, was able to shoot through a thin layer of clouds He caught this crisp shot as the sun started peeking out around the shadowing moon. This was when I would have put my solar glasses back on if I had had that great view.I think I scared some folks the day before when I posted a picture of my real solar dark glasses and a pair of some old 3-D glasses I found in a drawer.There was concern that I was dumb enough to damage my eyes wearing the wrong pair.I knew that National Geographic - and the NASA people in town - would produce better images than I could hope to with my small pocket-size Canon sx280HS. Hmm, but it does have a 25mm - 500mm zoom lens.Fortunately, my group members really came through.I was disappointed to have missed the several minutes of the awesome totality.Our tv weather persons were very apologetic about the cloud cover that wiped out views in Summerville, Ladson, North Charleston, Hanahan, and others.NBC's Al Roker, was aboard the USS Yorktown over at Patriot's Point in Mt. Pleasant.Al gave his morning report on the Today Show and stuck around to see the eclipse from the last view spot in the United States in South Carolina.He and all the people who chose to drive to the beaches made good choices and saw the heavenly display.(Click on the photos and links for more details.) Hopefully, you were in a clear sky spot and enjoyed the total experience. 2024 I'll get another chance. Think I'll head to the beach.[...]

Just chillin'....finally


 Bad as this looks - inside your home in Charleston, S.C.  in August - it kept going up!Hotter and hotter.It peaked out at 95 and then cooled a bit that night.Fortunately, I had several Tower Fans that I added to my bedroom to augment the ceiling fan.I slept fitfully... and somewhat moist.When I had awakened the day before, I was sweaty and I had a panicky thought "Oh, no, has the Air Conditioner broken?"Sure enough, the temp on the thermostat was at 88 and was rising.I called the company that had sold me the unit and installed it many, many years ago and asked for a repairman to come check it out. She said it might be Saturday - or even Sunday - before that could happen. Yikes. That was not what I wanted to hear.This was the company I had paid annually for twice-a-year inspections and adjustments.I was doing my part to keep it humming along and it had stopped humming.She contacted the repairman who had visited me two times a year and he called me.He had been off work, recovering from some broken bones after a fall but led me through the steps I had taken.He said it MIGHT be a malfunctioning thermostat that failed to start the compressor.I liked the sound of that, bought a new Honeywell wall unit, replaced the old "suspect one" and...nothing happened. Still watching the ambient temperature climb even as I jabbed in the desirable lower temps.The fellow on the Honeywell HOT line (see what I did there?) had me do several things and finally said his product was working fine but the compressor was not answering the command being sent to turn on. I brought several additional fans into the bedroom and decided I would get through the night and cross my fingers that I would hear from an AC repair person in the morning.During the afternoon, I did learn that the cat does not like fans blowing air in her face.My side of the house has windows that opened vertically at each end so I opened them to let the cooler night flow in.Well, it was a lovely thought. Instead of getting into the 'hammock" she made on the bottom of the bed's box spring, she slept curled up in the front hallway.Don't think any air was flowing there but how do you dissuade a feline when her mind is made up?I also didn't think there was an alternative.Fans obviously were out for her.I am sure we both spent an uncomfortable night.I called a different HVAC company this morning that had a 4.9 out of 5 approval rating and lots of July and August testimonials that touted their attitude and service. I figured a weekend call would be expensive but there was the cat to worry about, who depended on me to do the right thing.As I waited for a callback that he was on his way to my warm house, I suddenly remembered a smart thing I had done several years ago.There are so many!In the event of an AC failure, I had bought a 5,000 BTU window unit to give me a cold spot as things got sorted out! And a cool night's sleep!The windows on my side of the house would not accommodate it but my Mom's bedroom - now a spare room - had windows perfect for this. I unboxed it, set it in place and turned it on. Blessed cold air!I quickly put Kibble and water in there and tossed in the cat.My phone rang, the repairman had arrived and he came in and began to fiddle with the thermostat.Instead of going up in the attic, he went to the outside portion of the HVAC and then I heard the AC click on!Ryan with Air Plus HVAC showed me a 5-inch long red wire that was crimped and broken.He said replacing that wire allowed the unit to kick on and the rest was glorious cool comfort.He did caution me that my Trane unit was 19- years old and I should start shopp[...]

Lawnmower not working?


 When I first came back to Charleston, I rented a small house on one of the barrier islands, not far from the beach.Each spring, for the four years I was there, my landlord would release two or three goats into a fenced storage area and shed next to my rented 800-sf brick home at the end of a winding dirt road.Within a month, all the tall grass would be chewed down.Then he'd move them to a much larger fenced area up near the main road.They would begin to munch, producing the same "mowed" results. The downside, of course, was that goats will climb anything to get up higher and many mornings I awoke to the sound of hooves prancing on the metal shed.I can see why someone would "leap from their bed to see what's the matter" (say, on Christmas Eve).          This gentle man invited me to join him and his wife at a gospel tent revival, and I went.  He was very prominent in the church group so we were seated on white folding chairs in front row center. I got a close-up look at the purpose of a "spit jar" for a preacher in an outdoor setting.          If a bug entered his mouth mid-sentence, he would grab the glass, take a swig and spit out the offending critter. Or, cast it forth. These grass-eating goats, along with some sheep, would be part of a living display each Easter at the church's outdoor "Road To Resurrection". The faithful would drive by the three crosses and celebrate "He Is Risen" in a bucolic setting, complete with grass-munching livestock.          One year, in preparation, he rounded up his "herd" in the large fenced field by my house, and a large roving pack of feral dogs attacked the animals and, in a frenzy, killed all of them.So, that year, fellow church members helped him dig deep holes and bury the slaughtered goats and sheep and the annual church event was canceled.(Click on the photos for more details)I drove out to James Island a few years later to see the small house I had rented and enjoyed.The landlord had died and the house fell into disrepair.That's a shame.[...]

Re-hab one more time....


I'm of an age where I hear a lot of talk about hip replacements.And swapping out knee joints.Maybe that's why, when my right knee started hurting, I went to see the surgeon who had operated on my left knee 8 years ago.Back then, an MRI had shown that a piece of "padding" in the knee had torn and dangled enough that it got in the way when the knee flexed.Now, I'm picturing a sheet drying on a clothesline, flapping and billowing in the breeze.I had a vivid imagination.Knees tend to flex a lot so that piece of meniscus had to be cleaned up with a fairly simple procedure.Insert a tiny camera into an incision below the knee to take a close-up look.Then make another small hole to insert tools needed to snip and smooth the problem.Dr. Marshal Hay did the operation, my knee quickly fully recovered and I was good to go.A few months ago, when my right started to swell and become painful, I asked my doctor to send me to see Dr. Marshall Hay again.I recalled his calm and soothing manner from all those years ago and was VERY happy when he studied the MRI and declared I did NOT need surgery.Yay!He prescribed exercise and said rehab should take away the pain and shortly, I could re-start using my treadmill at home.He sent me to ATI physical therapy near my home, across from Northwoods Mall on Rivers Avenue.Twice a week I went to learn and perform exercises that strengthened my right leg, my calf, hamstring and even my glutes.My young therapist Robyn also addressed making my foot and ankle stronger to improve my balance.When I first tried walking a straight line heel-to-toe, I realized why the police make suspected drunk drivers do this. To do it properly requires good balance and concentration. Robyn did NOT have me extend my arm and touch my nose.We started each hour with 10-minutes of bike pedaling to loosen me up, warming and stretching my muscles.Robyn knotted a colorful piece of stretchy material and placed it around my ankles. Then she had me sidle sideways across the room.No problem at first but I quickly started to feel the burn along my thighs.I was exercising muscles I had never really thought about before.But she was not through with that piece of fabric.Next, she moved it up above my knees while I was seated and had me stretch my arms forward and stand up. She showed me how to stop "lunging" and simply rise up to my feet.One simple - though clever - device was a wooden platform angled to 45-degrees where I faced a wall, stood on it, and felt my calves tighten.A 30-second stand, step off and step back on for 10 sets.I'm pretty handy with tools and working with wood, so I made one for use at home.My cat was amused to see me stand perfectly still for half a minute, my face to a wall, and repeat it over and over.She also calmly ate her Kibble, watching as I would glide sideways across the kitchen, feet hobbled by that stretched band.After working at the ATI center, and taking home illustrated pages of exercises, I would repeat many at home.We would end each session with a gradually-increased time on their treadmill.One day, while pedaling on the bike, I asked about the stairs and a tall ladder I saw in the corner.I assumed the mock stairs were to rehab people until they were comfortable going up and down stairs. My house has several different levels so I am sure that what it was for.That indeed was the purpose they served but I asked if the tall, extension ladder was used mainly to change light bulbs overhead.Actually many people are injured on the job and ATI works to make sure they are fit to return to the workplace.Often workers have to climb up and down ladders so this w[...]

Not everyone is a former Beatle.....


 Had a chance to see the Lee Boys again recently at the Pour House.Really like their "Sacred Steel" sound.Robert Randolph and The Family Band was the first time I heard the foot-stomping sounds that can be made on a pedal steel guitar.Growing up, I had seen country bands on tv turn a guitar on its side, place it in the lap and hear something slightly similar.But, a full-blown pedal steel is a world of its own!The link above will give you a sample of what I was enjoying that night at the PoHo.When I saw them before at Wild Wing in Mt. Pleasant, it was a Lee Family Night.Several relatives came up on stage and set up additional pedal steels Yowzah!This night was another family gathering!Online says they are based in Miami but I would have guessed Charleston - or at least the Lowcountry."..we still keep our Miami roots. A lot of us play around here at different churches and concerts. That’s how The Lee Boys give back to Miami after getting so much from the city."  Yes, I too wondered what the words on the front of Chris Johnson's shirt, I Googled it. It translates as "Crazy Dudes." Sometimes the name of the opening band is just remembered as "the opener." People don't feel too bad if they arrive late to the main show.  Maybe stop to have a bite to eat and a drink, knowing what time the headliner will start. In this case, "the opener" for the Lee Boys included the pedal steel player Chris Johnson who sat in. Arriving early was an added treat.Another musical bonus was a surprise Father's Day present from my older daughter in Oakland. California. I had seen ads for the Amazon "DOT" but didn't realize how quickly it would become a standard feature around the house..especially in the morning in the kitchen. Setting up the tv to play Bob Dylan on Pandora meant a few steps involving my computer, changing the tv to HDMI1 and using my cell phone. Now I just say "Alexa, some Bob Dylan music please," and the device starts playing Dylan. My recent visit to Northern Minnesota is when I learned Bobby D. had been born in Hibbing. Obviously, he learned how to cover up that Iron Range twang. Sometimes in music, you don't alway get what you expected. Went to The Mill in North Charleston to hear The Wilkinson's Quartet., from Austin, Texas And, yes, I did expect to see four people crowded onto the stage area. There was plenty of room for half of the quartet and it was the talented part of the group.  At least I liked what I heard from the bassist and guitar and can only guess what the other two added to the mix. Maybe this was a case of a double booking? The opener before the Tedeschi Trucks Band at the PAC (Performing Arts Center) in North Charleston was introduced and the crowd seemed to know the two. And the duo played - mandolin and guitar - well.  But I didn't jot down their names and they announced they currently play, not very often, in Oblivion.  Sounded like some kind of musical Witness Protection program. I had seen Susan and Derek before and enjoyed the evening with them and their band. I am finding I did not blog about several bands and am trying to do some catch up here. Yes, I stayed a long, long time writing about all the craft breweries that had opened here and even some hints at a few more on the verge of opening their tap rooms for a taste. But a lot of music has been enjoyed so I wanted to touch on some.So pleased with the talent choosing to come to Charleston! Our venues are varied, we are seeing repeats by name stars and the Coming Musical Attractions are very "attractive." It's fu[...]

Uh oh, caught in the act!


 It's one thing to "sneak in" a camera at a music concert.Most people today carry cell phones so no longer bother with a ""real" camera.Sometimes you're not sure because the sign says "no flash please."The ticket might state "no cameras or recording devices."The Paul McCartney concert last Thursday in the Atlanta suburb of Duluth made it very clear, the singer - who just turned 75 years old - had no problem with fans taking photos.When you went through security at the Infinite Energy Centerdoor, you were asked to place your keys, camera, and phone in the basket. All were returned a moment later.The smiling crowd complied and we all were pleased with this nice, comforting welcome!I had been to this Arena before for a Jack Black Tenacious D concert and remembered the steep stairs to the floor level.So, I bought a tall beer before I ventured down to my 10th-row seat, careful not to slosh and spill my brew.When the usher escorted me to the proper row, I asked if my memory was correct of beer & bathrooms on this floor level.She smiled and pointed toward the back, letting me know I didn't have to climb those stairs again!It was a festive crowd of old and young, some with nostalgia and others new to the McCartney scene since the Beatles.Many knew him from Wings and there were some probably not aware he was in another band before that!I had seen McCartney in 2011 in Charlotte and wanted to see if the years since had slowed him down?Before that, while working as a staff photographer for the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, I covered the Beatles 1965 concert as well as the morning zany press conference.This night I quickly felt "slowing down" was NOT the case and sat back - with my camera - to document how a legend continues to grow and build upon itself.Himself.It was quite a well-scripted musical performance. As usual, he started out wearing a coat and open collar but that lasted for only a few songs.Then he doffed the pale blue coat and started rolling up his sleeves.He planned a long and energetic night and delivered ALL of that to our delight.Accompanied by a hard-working drummer, a talented keyboard artist, and two guitarists, the evening was going swell.The key light stayed on the star of the show and my camera tended to show all the others slightly darker.Hey, the crowd came to see Sir Paul.Earlier I added a link to a review of the show so pertinent details appear there.Click and look, there even is the set list of the 39 songs covered in the three-hour show.Here is my favorite shot of the night!A very-spirited, finger-snapping Paul obviously getting good feedback from the audience.There were more than 3 dozen songs and I want to stress he was on stage, performing on every one of them.That would be a strain on a much younger man!His enthusiasm is very evident and I am glad I captured that moment and am able to share it.Speaking of sharing, I saw a family a few rows in front of me, all costumed as the Sgt. Pepper Band members from 50 years ago!The videographer roaming the audience doing insert footage noticed them too and they were invited up on the stage to chat with Paul toward the end of the show.Needless to say, they were ecstatic!I believe they said they had come down from Kentucky for the show.Paul asked the 11-year old if she had made her costume and she answered "no."He quipped "You should have lied!"When they came back to their seats, I gave the dad my card and suggested he email me and I would send some photos of them with McCartney.The Mom did and I sent several the next[...]

Looking down on 4th of July fireworks!


 A quiet week up in Northern Minnesota, on Lake Vermilion.Relaxed with my younger daughter Heather and grandson Aiden.I was so laid back I didn't even try fishing.Sun came up early (I missed it) but the sunset was right around 10 pm so caught a lot of these scenes.Another favorite spot was standing on a deck facing the lake, down from the geodesic domes on the family private island. My son-in-law is a former Marine so this flag is proudly on display often.The mainland is not very far from the island and the nearest town - Cook, Minnesota - with Pop. 574 - is about 12 miles away. The whole County has 5,286 residents.The island has varied modes of water travel: a power boat with a 40-hp Mercury outboard engine, a fiberglass paddle boat, and a bicycle-style float to get across to the other side.,Handy, nearby Cook is where the gas station and general store is conveniently located. The Comet Theatre was founded there in 1939 and notes "There must be 5 patrons or you pay the difference."About 25 miles away is the larger town of Virginia, MN - Pop 8,716 - with it's Wal-Mart, Great Clips, various small businesses,  and several very nice family-run restaurants.Now, I'm back on the island for the first time in about 30 years and have not been there ever in the winter. I did live down in the Twin Cities for one year so I have experienced cold weather. "Cold" is when trucks drive on out the ice to deliver materials for summer construction projects. The ice usually "goes out" in April-May.There are several rustic cabins on the island as well as three hardy and spacious wooden Domes.My grandson filled most of the space with his various toys in the main dome's Great Room.The almost 6-year-old was very good at clearing up all of his toys before bedtime. He used an abundance of large, empty, clear plastic containers.The week on the island offered sunny days, a rainy afternoon, gorgeous sunsets, temps in the 50s and 60s and a slowed pace.As Charleston comes into its hottest month of the year, it was a welcome change.Oh and HHH, Hot, Hazy, and Humid down south.I was surrounded by birch trees and Douglas firs, the sounds of a loon on the lake and the chatter of an occasional passing outboard.Well, it had to end.We packed up all we needed for travel and headed to Hibbing, Minnesota, to the regional airport, to fly back to Minneapolis/St. Paul, the Twin Cities.The lobby was covered with images of famous Hibbing-ites such as Bob Dylan, recent winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, and a man I've seen in concert a few times.Also from there is baseball hero Roger Maris.And Vincent Bugliosi, Prosecutor of Charles Manson, a trial I covered for CBS for about four months.The "Fame on the (Iron) Range" display also included Judy Garland, listing her as born in Grand Rapids, about 41 miles from Hibbing.Hey, close enough. Still part of the Range.I took a photo of my grandson, posed with a "photo bombing" moose, grinning behind him.Our plane arrived, we quickly went through TSA in the regional airport and the grandson was given a sticker with a badge image stating he was a Junior TSA officer.I asked for one also.It might come in handy at other airport security situations. Haha.Oh, yeah, about "looking down on fireworks."That happened after I landed in Atlanta and, eventually boarded the flight to Charleston.We taxied out and as we slowly moved forward (a bit after 10 pm), we could see fireworks exploding and lighting up the sky off to the southeast.By the time we were in the air, all the city and county "of[...]

WOW! Had not ever seen THIS before....


 I've probably mentioned I have been visiting ALL of the craft breweries that have popped up in Charleston. We now have almost 20.My buddy and I decided to pick three at a time that are fairly close together and go sample their brews on a relatively quiet Thursday evening. Hey, I am a craft beer fan, and it's the least I can do to sample and write about it on my blog. Burp.          The night after stopping at Revelry Brewing Company, I was looking at receipts and noticed that, at the bottom, a suggestion was made by Revelry to support a dozen other breweries.          Competitors! I have never seen such an example of camaraderie among competing companies like this before. I am sure Sears and K-Mart would no doubt appreciate a cross-plug by J.C. Penny or Target.          Or, Amazon inviting you to grocery shop at Whole Foods. Oh, wait a minute, that's going to happen really soon now that they just bought the 400+ organic stores for a ton of money.          About four more crafters are due to open in the next few months so I will drop by, sip some of their suds and blog about them.          I'll also check my receipts to see if other breweries are as altruistic.Mural at RevelryChecking out a 20-barrel beer tank[...]

More to life than just craft breweries....


 And, that, of course, would be fine dining.Actually, at the Piccolo Finale in Hampton Park last Saturday, I opted to stand in line for two hotdogs.Naturally, I saw the bacon sign and did head toward that food truck. But, instead, I was swayed by the other sign that said $5 for a hot dog, chips and a cola.I am aware that a hot dog has never topped the list of healthy foods so I instead got two BRATS, packets of mustard and sweet pickle relish and some Fritter Corn Chips.I didn't need a beverage.My small cache of cold beer sat at my feet as I relaxed in my folding chair.I looked around and straight ahead was a fellow wearing not only a Holy City Brewing Company t-shirt but one that featured the very beer I was sipping.I tried to get MY beer in the same shot with the Chucktown Follicle Brown design he had on his back.But, my arm wasn't long enough to include both items, zoom in and keep all of it in focus.So I snapped this and resumed concentrating on my beer.And enjoyed scanning the crowd sprawled on blankets, in chairs, and wandering all around me.It appeared that each lady tending to a baby was also very pregnant.That would be having twins the hard way.Some childhood memories flooded my brain.Children were tossing pieces of white bread to the gathered ducks in a nearby pond.We have photos of my younger brother at Hampton Park doing that when he was about 7 or 8 years old.I can't recall but Mom must have brought along a half-filled loaf of stale bread in its wrapper for just that purpose.Nice memory.Overhead, I saw half a dozen confused seagulls flapping and circling us overhead.Guess they are not limited to the beaches or the last few K-Mart shopping centers parking lots, fighting over discarded bags of French fries.This starry-eyed youngster was in line for some hot dogs.I think she was giving me the eye as I raised my camera to snap this scene.Hard to tell for sure though with her sunglasses covering her eyes.I believe the Mom bought the $5 Special, aware that she would have to share.Or, maybe she bought two Specials.That's what I would have done, with leftovers for each.My brats tasted good and two was about right for me.Well, for now.We were in the back of most of the crowd, facing the large tent that was the main stage.The opening group played as we were getting settled and then, a large band - from Louisiana - started setting up.To my right, by the pond and bridge, I saw a young man and his date. sitting on two of the 250 MUSC colorful rental bikes.They had been recently donated to the city and proudly nicknamed Holy Spokes. These are really high-tech and apparently, you use your SmartPhone to log into an onboard computer to open your two-wheeler account.Believe I read it's $8 for an hour (hope they aren't paying that all afternoon!) but also can be rented for 15-days or even a month at a time.The best part - if needed - is it can be located and recovered using its GPS chip.Handy for the police or for a forgetful rider/renter.There WAS a booth selling beer which surprised me at a city function.But I had brought a few cans of a beer I liked just in case.The sun was shining, the shade was provided by the ample trees, and there was a nice  steady cooling breeze (no bugs!).I eased on back, enjoying the Cajun Indie band singing in French with at least 5 or 6 band members on stage. Speaking of the band Sweet Crude, here is a photo I snapped of the two leaders, Alexis Marceaux and Sam Craft, as[...]

Oops. Some local brewery visits I overlooked...


 Lo-Fi was among the three North Charleston breweries that I visited during my fourth mini-tour that, for several reasons, never made it into my blog.Until Now.One excuse: May The 4th Be With You was the day I picked to go taste some brewed product.You know, May 4 and the big Star Wars hoopla, was going on.My brewery tour "report" was sort of lost in the shuffle.(This was a vastly different calendar event than the famed April 20th celebration.That one involved "munchies" by avid celebrants. Unless they forgot about it until the next day.)So finding the low-key LO-FI Brewing Company was the first challenge that Thursday afternoon/evening.They were pretty vague about where it was located so it was somewhat of a challenge for my phone's GPS.Came out Spruill Avenue and finally spotted a banner hanging on a fence about where it turned into Meeting Street Road.The brewery was among a cluster of well-worn industrial buildings and I parked near the wide open doors and walked into the spacious setting.The first thing I noticed was the bartender wearing a Star Wars t-shirt. OK, so the party had begun!This site was a bit different from the others as I was used to ordering a flight so I could sample several different brews.Not here at the Lo-Fi Brewing Company.It was explained they did not have the small 4 oz. glasses nor the cute wooden tray that holds them.Well, time to adapt. I asked what the most often requested, the most popular beer that they offered?Then, I settled on a stool and sipped a pint of Glitter Pony, an 8.4 ABV Belgian Trippel, named, I suppose, for their symbol, the colorful unicorn.My North Charleston brewery number two was just a short drive to Fatty's Beer Works, at 1436 Meeting Street Road.The Star Wars effect was also obvious here and the celebration had started quite a while before we got there.Relatively new (Fatty's opened in March), Davis McLain, the owner is personable and very welcoming.You are not a stranger to him, just a friend he had not met yet. David proudly handed out stickers of the three labeled cans they produce - so far.It was very obvious that dogs were welcomed here and many were lounging around, lapping at filled water bowls.Several parked bikes showed the riders had found a handy pedal break spot along Meeting Street Road to take a break.After finding this hospitable open space, I was pleased to hear the owner espouse that these new additions in a close proximity would be good promotable features of North Charleston.David added his thought that Fatty's was a nice and tasty alternative to driving all the way downtown.Perhaps this was a way to help alleviate some of the trafic.Both of these breweries are promoting and expanding distribution of their cold and frosty products.I recently sipped a Glitter Pony at YoBo Cantina in Park Circle so the word - and the product - is out there now in circulation.The third brewery in North Charleston to be explored on this mini-crawl also offers a GPS challenge.For example, the name itself might have you heading in the wrong direction! This is NOT east of the Cooper.Cooper River Brewing Company opened as a 15 barrel brewhouse and taproom in the Upper Peninsula at 2201 Mechanic Street, Suite B.The map on my phone's GPS showed more twists and turns than a  winding mountain road.But, the lady's calm voice kept encouraging me that I WAS heading in the right direction.And we did find it, pulled up, par[...]

Craft beers and a road trip to Atlanta...


 I know my way around quite a few craft breweries here in Charleston so I "took it on the road" to Georgia's capital for a look at two there.Did some research and it appears we have at least twice as many Crafters here than there are in Atlanta.Hmm, would have thought just the opposite.I earned my wings at Blue Tarp Brewing, in Decatur.Saw the painting on the wall,  just sauntered over and posed as I sipped.Then I saw other backdrops and the suggestion that they would appreciate people posting their photos online.Another very large chalk board tried to give a quick overview of how the state of Georgia always requires a "tour."Then you buy beer tickets or wooden coins to choose what you want to drink and in what prescribed quantities.Blue Tarp Brewing Company's Founder & Brewmaster Tom Stahl was interested in my observations of the Craft scene in Charleston as he attempted to explain that a TOUR is the Georgia focal point at all the breweries and that allows him to sell brews in proper portions so visitors could  enjoy some cold suds.Then Tom excused himself to go lead an actual tour.I snapped a picture of the blackboard poster so I could refer to the necessary optional steps that are offered.I certainly wanted to obey the law.This was our second stop after buying wooden "nickels" and hoisting a few at 3 Taverns Craft Beers.It had a neat loft upstairs where you could look out over the tasting room and watch the line form, move forward and then the people would go sit back down inside or step out on the patio to sip 6 ounces or whatever choices they had made.Per the information posted, people were also leaving with 6-packs and two sizes of Growlers, 64 ounces or 32 ozs.Then, shuffle up to the serving area again and hand over wooden tokens.It was a jovial crowd and we had a nice conversation with a husband and wife who had come up from Lexington, a suburb of Columbia.Friday night we were among 6,000 other fans of Chris Rock, performing his comedy at the Fabulous Fox Theater.Rock had booked the Fox  for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.That's pleasing many thousands of his fans.We decided to check out a few craft breweries the next day while we were in town.Tasting in moderation of course, before driving back home.We used GPS to find our way around from the Hyatt, and stopped for a delightful brunch at one of the Flying Biscuit Cafe near Little 5 Points.They are scattered around Atlanta and we appreciated that the Saturday traffic was light before the Memorial Day weekend.On the drive back to Charleston, we noticed that the Starbucks' symbol had been added to Interstate markers showing a variety of food close by at the next exit.Didn't remember seeing that addition before among all the Waffle House and Huddle House signs.As we traveled around Atlanta neighborhoods, the GPS lady managed to direct us through a tunnel beneath train tracks - I think - covered with colorful graffiti.As we moved slowly through, I caught a photo of some young men in the process of adding their visual messages.This was turning into a multiple-treat capital city tour.My eyes and camera were filled with images that I wanted to share.This was to make up for the NO CAMERA evening the night before with Chris Rock.Here is a scattering of images I collected during this overnight road trip.(Click on the photos and links for more details.)Thanks for riding along and sipping a few tasty beers.I have visited just about all 2[...]

My third craft mini-brewery crawl...


 I take drinking a tasty beer seriously.My credentials as a beery knowledgable guy involved flying to Dublin, Ireland and stopping at the main Guinness Storehouse to be entertained and educated in how to pour a perfect pint.I could have fooled around, drinking my many "mistakes," but I opted to get it right the first time.There are 6 steps and too often in bars I spot errors but usually bite my tongue.Then I just sadly drink the not-exactly-perfect pint.If I am having a second pint, I do speak up and explain how I was shown by Guinness experts to pull the tap forward for the pour...wait 60 seconds...and then push the tap handle back to complete the pour.The first pour, with the glass tilted 45 degrees,  energizes the nitrogen, creating literally millions of bubbles.After it settles, start the second pour at 50% volume so as not to damage the head that has formed, holding the glass upright.Some appreciate my wisdom while others continue in their error-filled way. Sigh.I also had discovered cask ales in London and Scotland, but now, here, I am concentrating on our fine local craft brews.Twisted Cypress is an excellent example of sweat equity producing a brewery long on interest and ability. And taste.The facility on Sam Rittenberg is a former Moose Lodge that was empty for a decade and fated to be a parking lot.It was handmade-over by three dedicated brewers.Reconstruction of the building allowed the freedom to make it just the way they felt it needed to be.Fitting for the first microbrewery in West Ashley, Mayor John Tecklenburg cut the ribbon before 300 eager coffee and craft beers fans.It's a coffee house in the mornings and brews later in the day.I have learned a lot in this craft beer blitz.So many variations of the physical property.Wide differences in the number and size of steel vats and tanks.A wide lawn-like grassy plot out back of Twisted Cypress.A view of the Ashley River from the deck of Freehouse Brewery.New developments and changes on allowing dogs at breweries.Here's an interesting - and unusual view looking down on the bar at the new location of  Frothy Beard Brewing in West Ashley.Made the move from North Charleston to West Ashley about two months ago.The bearded ones now have the largest brewery taproom in Charleston.The "loft" above the bar is great for people watching.Turn around up there and look down on the rows of shiny new barrel tanks.The demand kept growing so the expansion came months before they were planned to be added.There was a Zombie Bob's Pizza truck out in the spacious parking lot but I was pleased to see they also have an inside table-service layout.The aroma is very enticing and it's family friendly in the high-ceiling taproom.Some will notice there were only two microbreweries in this posting.The "standard" flight of 4-glasses of sample beers - some pretty high gravity - has now grown to a 7 sample offering at Twisted Cypress.Moderation had me stop at 4 + 7 for the evening.(Click on the photo and links for more details.)Thanks for tagging along on my three mini-brewery craft beer tours.I added one solo trip to Oak Road in Summerville where you can have a $2.00-$2.50 sample of every beer they make."Flights" of fancy indeed.Was just reminded by a buddy that North Charleston  soon will be the home of Pawleys Island Brewing Company.Maybe I'll be invited for a sneak peek?[...]