Summer Issue 2014

clarion cover

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



VHJtB0uI remember the day my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Burkett, told my class about Johnny Appleseed. I couldn’t relate to him, at all. I tried to imagine actually meeting a real person who wore a cooking pot on his head like a hat and scattered apple tree seeds everywhere he went. I remember thinking, “If I’d actually met him, I would’ve thought he was nuts. But it’s super cool that he left a trail of abundance in his wake.”

Much of what I learned about Johnny Appleseed was fiction. Even so, there are plenty of amazing people who are carrying out his seed-scattering legacy today.

In this age, we call them guerrilla gardeners. Ron Finley, one of the leaders of this movement, gave an excellent TED talk explaining what he does and why he does it.

 Of course, there’s a big difference between Johnny Appleseed and today’s guerrilla gardeners. Johnny Appleseed was a nurseryman, and guerrilla gardeners are shovel-toting revolutionaries. As a group, they’re not out to topple governments, but they don’t mind breaking a city ordinance or neighborhood HOA rule when there’s land that needs tending.

Maja, the guerrilla gardener
Photo from, Photo by Mr. Babdellahn
Maja, the guerrilla gardener

Why do they do it?
Mr. Finley, who lives in South Central Los Angeles, became a guerrilla gardener because he wanted to turn that area – a food desert – into an oasis. So many in his neighborhood were sick because they were subsisting on fast food and soda; fresh, healthy produce was a rarity in that area. Finley noted a common sense solution to the problem: all around him, there was neglected, public land on which to grow the fruits and veggies missing from their diets.

Some choose guerrilla gardening because they want to beautify their cities, while others do it as an act of civil disobedience.

Flowers in a newspaper stand
Photo from, Photographer unknown. Please contact us if you know the artist.
Flower garden in a newspaper stand

In some situations, guerrilla gardeners carry out clandestine operations under the cover of darkness. In others, secrecy may not be necessary because property owners or city officials support operations. In Finley’s case, he encountered trouble when he first started gardening. Eventually, he gained the backing of his Congressman, and the rules blocking his public gardens were overturned.

n18Gf6v LElzASj NfTRT1e Y0pkyr8

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



A Massachusetts police officer heroically dove into a murky lake to rescue a Chihuahua from eight feet below, in a completely sunken truck. The little dog was not breathing, but after pulling him from the water, Officer David Harriman also revived him.

Debra Titus, 59, narrowly escaped with her own life when her pickup truck plunged into a lake on Saturday. One dog, Stitch, was able to swim out with her, but her little Chihuahua, Moochie, was trapped.

She called the Carver Police Department and frantically waited, feeling totally helpless. The right officer responded to the call. David Harriman is described as an “avid dog lover.” He has an eight-month-old English bulldog named Jax and says he’d “do anything I could for him.”

“We showed up at the water and saw the vehicle was submerged,” Harriman told the Boston Herald. “We were told a dog was still in it, so I did what I felt I should do – go in and get the dog.”

He quickly removed his gun belt and shoes and dove in.





Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Sometimes we think the modern use of language has become something of a joke. With texting that limits us to 140 characters, using emojis and Snapchat, who needs proper words?

There’s no doubt times are a-changin’, and you might find yourself confused with new age slang terms like #winning or everything being “epic.” How is it that being “down” means you agree? Or that “selfie” was the Oxford Dictionaries 2013 word of the year?

Frankly, we think slang terms of decades past are far superior, and it’s a time for them to make a comeback. We asked our readers on Facebook and Twitter what vintage slang terms from their youth they wish would make an appearance today. Here are some of the ace words they just can’t get enough of:

1. Groovy.
Meaning: Awesome.
Because without it, “Wild Thing” wouldn’t exist. And it’s just so fun to say. Groovy.

2. Swell.
Meaning: Excellent. Fabulous.
As in “Gee whiz, that Ellen sure is swell!” Adorable.

3. Radical.
Meaning: Cool. (Not extreme.)
Because sometimes you just want to sound like an 80s surfer dude.

4. Scram.
Meaning: Get out of here. Immediately.
The only thing we had to say to our younger brothers and sisters growing up.

5. Neat.
Meaning: Cool. (Not tidy.)
Feel free to put your own spin on it. Like “neato keeno” or “neato torpedo.”

6. Funky.
Meaning: Cool or stylish. (Not smelly or stinky.)
Because you’ll love the confused look on your kids’ faces when you say it.

7. The bee’s knees.
Meaning: Used to tell someone they are simply the best.
It’s disputed as to how this phrase came about, but many sources agree this was a flapper-era phrase coined in the early 20s. Similar nonsensical terms were “the flea’s eyebrows” and “the canary’s tusks.” We can see why those didn’t stick.

8. Cool beans.
Meaning: Agreed.
Because sometimes cool just isn’t enough.

9. Tubular.
Meaning: Excellent. Incredible. Terrific. (Not something shaped like a tube.)
The ultimate 80s slang term. Saying it will remind you of big California waves, surfboards and big hair.

10. Hot to trot.
Meaning: Eager. Ready to go.
This one’s a bit naughty. “He’s hot to trot, with a different date every night of the week.”

11. Wicked.
Meaning: Ultra cool. Impressive. (Not evil.)
The Brits might have us beat on this one. It’s a commonly used phrase in the UK… and Harry Potter and his friends love to use it. Especially Ron.


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


enhanced-buzz-11277-1356674195-1 enhanced-buzz-16326-1356674277-1 enhanced-buzz-25499-1356674033-0 enhanced-buzz-19162-1356673854-1 enhanced-buzz-16328-1355723091-0 enhanced-buzz-2092-1355722177-0 enhanced-buzz-3265-1355722109-0 enhanced-buzz-2088-1355721976-2 enhanced-buzz-22841-1355721729-0 enhanced-buzz-1023-1355721631-0 enhanced-buzz-24443-1355721519-0 enhanced-buzz-25787-1355721349-8 enhanced-buzz-31477-1355721206-13

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Art has a knack for finding its way into forgotten spaces. From tiny cupboards to rummage sale piles to that empty space behind a door, the most unassuming locales can play home to iconic objets d’art.

So, we’re not all that surprised to hear the recent hiding place of a little-known trove of Andy Warhol masterpieces is none other than… a set of floppy disks.


The Warhol works date back to the 1980s, the Warhol Museum announced in a press statement, when the artist created a set of images on a Commodore Amiga computer. The digital artworks were part of a launch event for the Amiga — when that particular model of PC was being marketed as the ideal, high-end home system.

But just as quickly as that piece of tech hardware went out of style, so too were Warhol’s color-splashed drawings forgotten. No one seemed to think about them until new media artist Cory Arcangel found a YouTube clip of Andy’s Amiga experience, prompting a group of Carnegie curators and the Warhol Museum’s chief archivist to embark upon a game of Where’s Warhol Works?


Arcangel’s interest in the unique Amiga footage paid off. He and the team of researchers eventually found the artworks on a series of Amiga floppy disks and used the Carnegie Mellon University Computer Club’s stash of retro equipment to bring the doodles alive.

From a mutant version of Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” to a digitally scribbled take on his Campbell Soup obsession, the crude pieces reveal a style reminiscent of pixelated Microsoft Paint renderings. Not necessarily examples of Warhol’s finest work, they do harken back to his penchant for winking slyly in the face of art world commodification. Or, you know, his appreciation of advancing technology.


“Warhol saw no limits to his art practice,” Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner explained in the press statement. “These computer generated images underscore his spirit of experimentation and his willingness to embrace new media.”

Now, three decades after their creation, the neon doodles are going on view as part of the Carnegie Museum of Art’s “The Invisible Photograph” documentary series. 

o-BOT-570 o-CAMP-570 10155457_10152128721591130_1166547324787829004_n

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

9 Famous Songs With Seriously Misunderstood Meanings



Many people felt that the Beatles’ songs dealt heavily with drugs. However, John Lennon was heavily influenced by pop culture at the time, as well as by absurdist poets like Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. “He wrote, “I am the Walrus,” a song deliberately full of nonsense, to poke fun at people digging for hidden meanings in his songs.

Sometimes, there can be a deeper meaning hidden behind a catchy chorus. Some songs are misinterpreted because people don’t bother to listen to all of the words, while others are misunderstood because people read too much into them

At first glance, “Every Breath You Take” by the Police seems like a sweet love song. After all, Puff Daddy used the refrain for his song, “I’ll be Missing You,” a tribute to his friend Notorious B.I.G.However, Sting wrote the song about his divorce, and the lyrics explain how the experience made him obsessive and controlling.

If you don’t really listen to the words, “American Woman” by the Guess Who sounds like a patriotic tune. However, love of the U.S.A. was far from Burton Cummings’ mind when he wrote the hit. The song tells of how the Canadian band will not be seduced by the “American Woman” and her “war machines”.

“Puff the Magic Dragon” by Peter, Paul and Mary might not seem like a controversial song today, but many critics in the 1960s believed it was about drugs. They couldn’t have been more wrong. The song is an innocent tune about a child and his dragon friend, and about the loss of wonder children face when they grow up.

It seems that a lot of people were afraid of drugs in the 1960s. Bob Dylan’s “Mr. Tambourine Man” was widely believed to be about drug use due to its surrealistic lyrics.However, Dylan insists that he wrote it about a musician who inspired him named Bruce Langhorne, who played tambourine on some of Dylan’s early albums.

“Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen is another hit that is often mistaken for a patriotic song. To many, it almost serves as an anthem of American pride. However, that was far from Springsteen’s intent.

Devil worship was to the 1970s what drugs were to the 1960s, and bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were often accused of including devil worship in their songs. Famously, a conservative group claimed that there were satanic messages in “Stairway to Heaven” when the record plays backwards.The band finds the accusations ridiculous.

Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day” is often taken for a cheery song; in fact, it is frequently used in ads. However, Reed wrote the tune during a period of heavy heroin use. The song is actually about a “perfect day” of using heroin in the park, making it significantly less cheery than its title suggests.

Like “Born in the U.S.A.,” “Pink Houses” by John Mellencamp is a political song that reflects the singer’s progressive views on social and economic equality. However, that didn’t stop John McCain from using the tune as a patriotic anthem during his presidential campaign or the National Organization for Marriage using it for anti-gay marriage events.


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



The Wedge is not a good wave. Sorry, but you’re most likely not going to score a perfect barrel here. You’ll be lucky to make it out of one. Whether you’re J.O.B. or a hardcore local, brace for impact because getting tossed is a guarantee. Despite all that, you could just have the ride of your life.

Make no mistake, I’m not telling you to rush out and come surf The Wedge. People die here. Seasoned pros get their asses handed to them. It’s big, heavy, shallow, cold, and dangerously close to shore and the rock jetty. Knowing when it will break is not the same as knowing when it will be breaking.

I don’t care. It’s still one of my favorite waves in the world.

A session at The Wedge is the best combination of adrenaline-filled action and a carnage reel. At any given big swell, refracting waves double-up for impossibly steep drops; massive backwash explosions will either launch you to the air or completely obliterate you; 20-foot plus walls of water chase you towards a shore you can never quite reach because of raging, river-like rip currents; four-to-five times overhead barrels closeout on top of you when it’s waist deep if you’re lucky; and if you’re likely to win the lottery, you may find a doggy-door out of one.

Summer is on its way, and for those brave enough and skilled enough to grab a surfboard, bodyboard, skimboard, or a pair of swim fins and a speedo (as the local, die-hard bodysurfers are wont to do), it’s an adrenaline rush like no other. I’ll be glued to my reports from the guys at Solspot, long lens in one hand, waterhousing in the other.

The local news crews have taken to posting up and reporting live all day whenever there’s even a remote chance of waves, so expect it to be crowded like a heat with Kelly at Pipe and tempers to be short.

See more of Ben’s work at and on Instagram:

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Dave Engledow, self-proclaimed “World’s Best Father” to daughter, Alice Bee, has turned his hilarious photo series into a book, Confessions of the World’s Best Father.

The project started as a single shot — Engledow said he was just trying to make fun of himself as a new, sleep-deprived, clueless dad. He was holding a “World’s Best Father” mug in that photo, which now appears somewhere in every picture.

When the series first went viral in 2012, Engledow said he was trying to avoid the “Facebook parent” stereotype, and wanted his friends to be interested in watching Alice grow up. Now, the quirky photos have a much larger audience.

But most importantly, “This has been a project that’s for Alice. I want to be able to have something that I can give to her that she’ll look back on and treasure,” he said.


slide_348472_3710841_free slide_348472_3710843_free slide_348472_3710842_free slide_348472_3710850_free slide_348472_3710849_free slide_348472_3710848_free slide_348472_3710847_free slide_348472_3710846_free slide_348472_3710845_free slide_348472_3710844_free


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



From who built it to what it was used for, Stonehenge is surrounded by many enduring mysteries — and researchers from the University of Buckingham in England now say they’ve solved one of them.

“For years people have been asking why is Stonehenge where it is, now at last, we have found the answers,” David Jacques, an archaeology research fellow at the university, said in a written statement.

Last October, Jacques led an archaeological dig at a site 1.5 miles from Stonehenge. His team unearthed flint tools and the bones of aurochs, extinct cow-like animals that were a food source for ancient people. Carbon dating of the bones showed that modern-day Amesbury, an area that includes the dig site and Stonehenge itself, has been continuously occupied since 8820 B.C. Amesbury has now been declared the oldest continually occupied area in Britain.

The finding suggests that Stonehenge was built by indigenous Britons who had lived in the area for thousands of years. Previous theories held that the monument was built in an empty landscape by migrants from continental Europe.

“The site blows the lid off the Neolithic Revolution in a number of ways,” Jacques said in the statement, referring to the assumption that those migrants drove Britain’s transition from a hunter-gatherer to a farming society in the 6th Century B.C. “It provides evidence for people staying put, clearing land, building, and presumably worshipping, monuments.”

The researchers say evidence suggests that before erecting Stonehenge, people living in the area set up gigantic timbers between 8820 and 6590 B.C. — a sort of wooden precursor to the stone monument. Jacques likened the area to a “Stonehenge Visitor’s Center,” where visitors from far and wide came to feast and tour the site with local guides.

“The area was clearly a hub point for people to come to from many miles away, and in many ways was a forerunner for what later went on at Stonehenge itself,” he said.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá | Catedral de Sal de Zipaquirá |

Though many of the world’s most impressive churches feature high ceilings and soaring spires, sometimes you have to go underground to find the real gems. Jesus called the apostle Peter, the rock on which “I will build my church,” but these churches are built inside the rock or carved into it.

Cave churches and monasteries have been around since the beginning of the church, often as a way to seek out spiritual succor in a remote and solitary place. Carved into the rock, or located inside caves, they have a raw appeal that often contrasts with urban cathedrals with stained glass windows.

o-CAVE-CHURCH-900 The rupestral sanctuaries of Cappadocia f fd Scenes Of Coober Pedy o-BUDAPEST-CAVE-CHURCH-900t


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



8-SantaMaria-AlamyMore than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti. It’s likely to be one of the world’s most important underwater archaeological discoveries

“All the geographical, underwater topography and archaeological evidence strongly suggests that this wreck is Columbus’ famous flagship, the Santa Maria,” said the leader of a recent reconnaissance expedition to the site, one of America’s top underwater archaeological investigators, Barry Clifford.

“The Haitian government has been extremely helpful – and we now need to continue working with them to carry out a detailed archaeological excavation of the wreck,” he said.

So far, Mr Clifford’s team has carried out purely non-invasive survey work at the site – measuring and photographing it.

Tentatively identifying the wreck as the Santa Maria has been made possible by quite separate discoveries made by other archaeologists in 2003 suggesting the probable location of Columbus’ fort relatively nearby. Armed with this new information about the location of the fort, Clifford was able to use data in Christopher Columbus’ diary to work out where the wreck should be.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Thanks to years of scientific advancement, we now have the ability to see the nooks and crannies of the moon better than ever, courtesy of high powered telescopes and astronomical knowledge that we personally haven’t quite mastered yet. But photographer Laurent Laveder offers an enticing alternative, eschewing the posture of an expert for the curiosity of a child. Along with his wife Sabine, Laveder created a hypnotic series of moon-centric photos — images that look entirely different than the stuff of space exploration relics and text book imagery. Laveder’s series, entitled “Moon Games,” resembles more a photographic fairy tale than moon documentation. The contemporary silhouettes cleverly toy with perspective to bring the moon to our level, replacing whimsical, everyday objects with the luminous orb. Instead of capturing the particulars of the moon’s light and shadow, Sabine poses with the lunar entity as if it’s an inflatable ball, a floating balloon or an ice cream scoop. “Freeze a moment for eternity, it’s magic,” the artist writes in a statement about the project. Indeed Laveder’s imagery does transform scientific subject matter into something far more surreal. Although the primary goal of the photos is simply the wondrous experience of viewers seeing them, the artists also hope to raise awareness about the precious beauty of our natural surroundings. “We don’t have any message to tell with this series, just the pleasure to create some funny or dreamy scenery,” Laveder explained to The Huffington Post. “And for me, my mission is to give people the envy to look to the sky at night, and maybe, people will realize that there is a lot of splendors to see there, and they will take care of the night sky by controlling the light pollution.” The dreamlike photos are inspiring us to interact with the night sky like never before, bringing the universe’s majestic playthings down to our level, if only in our creative fantasies. For another artist who uses the moon in new and enchanting ways, check out Leonid Tishkov’s series “Private Moon.” Monter sur le Lune à l'aide d'une échelle slide_348146_3701208_free slide_348146_3701209_free slide_348146_3701210_free slide_348146_3701212_free slide_348146_3701213_free slide_348146_3701214_free slide_348146_3701215_free slide_348146_3701217_free

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Photo of Frank SINATRA

On May 14, 1998, the world lost a music legend. Rat Pack member Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack at the age of 82.

Beginning his musical career in the swing era, Sinatra became the idol of the “bobby soxers” in the early to mid-1940s and continued to sell millions of records through 1994. Today, his memory lives on in the form of timeless music. “New York, New York,” “My Way,” “Strangers In The Night,” and “Come Fly With Me” are just a handful of Sinatra’s most memorable hits over the span of his lengthy career.

The New Jersey native also had a plethora of nicknames to match his larger-than-life character and talent: “The Voice,” “The Sultan of Swoon,” or “Ol’ Blue Eyes” are just a few examples.

Rolling Stone’s Rock and Roll Encyclopedia summed Sinatra up perfectly:

“With his character a mix of tough-guy cool and romantic vulnerability, he became the first true pop idol, a superstar who through his music established a persona audiences found compelling and true.”

Robin and the 7 HoodsLoren And Sinatra At The Pride And The Passion PremiereFrank SinatraSinatra ThinksFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank SinatraFrank Sinatra, Dinah ShoreSinatra And Kelly

  1. slide_329393_3219902_free


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



If there is a cat heaven, it probably looks a lot like this. “This” being The Cat House on the Kings, the world’s largest cat rescue, where more than 700 cats roam a 12 acre plot of land in Parlier, Calif.

Since its founding in 1992, the no-cage, no-kill, lifetime cat sanctuary and adoption center has saved more than 20,000 cats and 6,000 dogs, not to mention the “handful of goats” who also roam the property helping keep the grass in check.

“I’ve always felt that, if they don’t have a home, at least they have a life,” said Cat House founder Lynea Lattanzio in an introductory video about the sanctuary. “To me, it’s not a life if they’re in a cage. They need to be able to run full speed and climb a tree. That’s a cat.”

Photographer Christina Gandolfo paid the sanctuary a visit in the Spring of 2013, documenting the shelter as part of a personal project.

“Literally within seconds of kneeling down to take out my camera I had cats on my back, climbing around my hair and up my legs,” she told The Huffington Post in an email about the experience of walking around a sanctuary surrounded by nearly 1,000 cats. “It was so clear that they associated people with love, care and attention. And they just couldn’t get enough.”

“It takes a lot of manpower and volunteers to keep the sanctuary going,” Gandolfo added. “While on one hand it’s cat utopia, you see animals with medical needs (that are being treated) and that truly are craving attention … I want everyone to know that the cats are all available for adoption!”

slide_351314_3789355_free slide_351314_3789336_free slide_351314_3789319_free slide_351314_3789318_free slide_351314_3789334_free slide_351314_3789316_free


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Picture a place where Stepford wives meet their eerie Tim Burton-inspired neighbors and you just might find yourself in none other than Ireland. Despite being more commonly known for lush rolling hills and beautiful scenery, the country is also home to thousands of unoccupied houses. And unlike most of the haunted buildings that have made their way into the category known as “abandoned places porn,” these ghostly structures, which bear now-ironic names like “Paradise Valley,” were actually never occupied — they were simply left unfinished when the luck of the Irish dissipated and the housing bubble burst in 2008.

Unfortunately for the Emerald Isle, the uplifting monikers as well as the perfect preservation of the uninhabited properties just simply cannot detract from their creepiness, which can be seen in Valérie Anex’s book “Ghost Estates.”

And while the number of ghost estates has dramatically decreased in Ireland since 2010, the pictures below help prove that the mission of Anex’s project — to depict how consumer fetishism led to the collapse of an economic system — remains untainted.

slide_352692_3823482_free slide_352692_3823481_free slide_352692_3823480_free slide_352692_3823479_free slide_352692_3823483_free slide_352692_3823478_free slide_352692_3823476_free

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Sometimes a makeover is for vanity, but for Charlie the shelter dog, a makeover meant the difference between life and death.

That’s because the terrier mix pup, who was found on the side of the road, was in a Los Angeles high-kill shelter where quick adoption and appearance matter. When he arrived at the shelter earlier this year, he was covered in dirt and had painful matted hair.

Fortunately for Charlie, the folks at Hollywood Grooming were there to step in and make him shine.

He went from this:


To this:




Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Rejoice, happy-go-lucky and environmentally conscious Coca-Cola lovers. Thanks to this new “2nd Lives” kit from the brand, you can now transform your Coke into something even more delightful.
Is that just an empty soda bottle? Nope, it’s a squirt gun. Useless piece of trash? Nope, it’s a pencil sharpener, or the perfect rattle for your baby. Make your children happy. Give them Coca-Cola, and toys made from Coca-Cola. And if you have two empty Coke bottles, you can even make a dumbbell to burn off some of the calories you gained by guzzling both.
Created with the help of Ogilvy & Mather China, the campaign features a line of 16 innovative caps that can be screwed on to bottles when they’re empty, transforming them into useful objects like water guns, whistles, paint brushes, bubble makers and pencil sharpeners. It’s all part of a clever effort to encourage consumers in Vietnam to recycle, and a rare success at the sort of alchemy that seeks to reincarnate garbage as advertising (even if such attempts are a cornerstone of the marketing industry). Coke will give away 40,000 of these modified caps, which come in 16 different varieties, to start.
It’s not clear if the add-ons themselves are made from recycled material. Even if they are, producing more plastic parts might not be the best way to reduce plastic waste.
But that’s beside the point. While the caps might not quite hit the sharing chord as clearly as the it-takes-two-to-open bottles, they’re a smart bit of advertising. “What if empty Coke bottles were never thrown away?” the campaign asks. Clearly, it would mean people everywhere could finally live in a utopia where everything was made of Coke products.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


bradentonWith the help of two of his seven adopted kids, a Bradenton homeowner painted an American flag across the front of his 100-year-old house to send a message to what he believed to be overly intrusive city code enforcement officials that “this is America.” The Bradenton Herald reports that after Brent Greer was visited in February by a city code enforcement officer about a tree that had fallen over in his front yard, he received a list of code violations—including paint that did not meet “city standards,” exposed wires, and too many toys in the yard—and the threat of a $250 per day fine. “I told the code enforcement officer that the Constitution gives me rights, and he told me that the city’s laws trump the Constitution,” said Greer. “I said, ‘Well, no, it doesn’t.’ This is America and what rules America is the Constitution.” Fed up with what he felt to be unnecessary harassment and overreach by the city just because “someone doesn’t like the way my house looked,” Greer decided to finally fix that paint problem. With the help of two of his children and armed with cans of red, white, and blue paint, Greer sent an unmistakable message to city officials. “I thought this was the best way to remind people that this is still America,” said Greer. The family picked up the toys and wrapped up the new paint job just in time for Memorial Day. Greer must appear before the city’s code enforcement board on June 17 to determine if his renovations have sufficiently brought the house into compliance.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Love, they say, is in the eyes. In Rosie’s case, it also takes the form of a slobbery kiss from time to time.

Rosie, a deaf pit bull mix, has spent the last three months in the Central Nebraska Humane Society, hoping for a new owner. In a sign that some things are just meant to be, Rosie was recently adopted by Cindy Koch — a woman who also happens to be deaf.

When Rosie first arrived at the shelter, workers couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t respond to them, reports Central Nebraska News. That’s when shelter volunteer, Tracie Pfeifle, realized Rosie couldn’t hear them, and set out to teach the 3-year-old dog sign language.

“[Rosie] was pretty scared at first. I don’t think she had a good first four years of her life,” Pfeifle recalled in an interview with New York Daily News. But after learning a few signs, including a thumbs-up for “good girl,” Pfeifle says the dog transformed into a totally different animal.

“It was just amazing to watch her just blossom into a dog, I don’t think she knew how to be a dog,” Pfeifle added to KCTV5.

Despite Rosie’s progress, however, she still needed a new owner. That came in the form of Koch who has always wanted a deaf dog.

Why? “Because I’m deaf and we want to relate to her, and understand how she feels — want to communicate with her through signing, teach her signing,” Koch explained to KCTV5, as Rosie snuggled in her lap.

Judging by the glances exchanged by Rosie and her new owner, the two are going to be best buds for a long time to come.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Dogs are one of nature’s most enthusiastic and loving creatures. Whether it’s going for a walk, having a snuggle on the couch or playing a game of fetch, man’s best friend always seems to be on board with a big puppy grin and a wagging tail. However, there is one activity that will halt those eager paws in their tracks and send them running in the other direct. The dreaded (dun dun dun!) bath.

Sophie Gamand, a French photographer living in New York, decided to get a closer look at our furry friends’ least favorite activity in her photo series, “Wet Dog.”

Gamand set up shop at pet stylist Ruben Santana’s Bronx studio earlier this year to catch the groomers in action, Today reported. She photographed more than a dozen dogs in an attempt to capture the adorable expressions of misery on the faces of the now clean canines.

“The expressions were priceless and really entertaining,” Gamand told the outlet. “It was magic.”

“Wet Dogs” won the Portraiture category at the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards, and the series is currently being expanded into a book, which is due out Fall 2015.

Enjoy the delightfully pained expression of these pups below as they endure the torture that is good hygiene.

slide_349673_3743579_free slide_349673_3743578_free slide_349673_3743573_free slide_349673_3743572_free slide_349673_3743571_free slide_349673_3743570_free slide_349673_3743569_free slide_349673_3743568_free slide_349673_3743577_free

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

Mom Turns Fallen Soldiers’ Uniforms Into Teddy Bears For Mourning Kids


Sharing stories and reading old letters often helps Lisa Freeman grieve for her son, Matthew, who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan.

But the Georgia mom knows that holding onto something more tangible, something that was closely connected to her child, can bring even more comfort, which is why she decided to turn fallen servicemen’s uniforms into something that can make mourning family members smile.

Matthew knew from the time he was 4 years old that he would join the Naval Academy, his mom told CNN.

The honor roll student and former Eagle Scout followed in his father’s footsteps, graduated from the Naval Academy in 2002 and took his commission in the Marine Corps, The Huffington Post reported back in 2012.

Just nine days into his service in Afghanistan in 2009, after he had gone home for a secret trip to marry his high school sweetheart, the 29-year-old succumbed to enemy fire.

Though it’s been five years, Freeman told CNN that the pain is often still so “raw.”

To help honor her son’s memory, Freeman established the Matthew Freeman Project, a nonprofit that provides school supplies for children in war-torn countries and gives scholarships to siblings of fallen soldiers.

Freeman recently added another component to the organization, turning fallen servicemen’s uniforms into teddy bears to help comfort family members who have lost relatives in combat.

994325_650261581652073_1868917140_n 483932_650309401647291_481010355_n 1901984_757938780884352_1836198511_n 1969197_765884896756407_1618065689_n

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



A massive wildfire tearing through Alaska’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has caused wildlife to flee the area, but not every creature managed to escape.

Earlier this week, firefighters found a den of wolf pups that had been left behind when the rest of their pack raced away from the advancing flames of the Funny River Fire.

The pups were dehydrated, injured and hungry — but almost all of them were alive.
The den was in a firebreak built as workers rushed to stop the fire’s spread, but no one noticed the pups at first.

“We actually cut through part of the den with the dozer and just kept going. Nobody realized anything, that was three or four days ago,” firefighter Brian Nichols told the Peninsula Clarion. “Yesterday, a couple of guys were sitting there mopping up… and saw (one) come out.”

The firefighter who first spotted the pup was too big to fit into the den — which reached 10 feet into the hillside — so a smaller firefighter crawled in and pulled out four more pups, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

“They would have died if we didn’t pull them out,” firefighter Jefferson Sam told KTUU. “For me, it was the right thing to do.”

The pups — three males and two females — are about two weeks old, and were so dehydrated that wildlife officials believe they had been abandoned for several days. A sixth pup was also in the den, but was dead by the time rescuers got to it.

The rescued pups were given sugar water to help them to hydrate.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


slide_322562_3046881_free slide_322562_3048457_free slide_322562_3050822_free slide_322562_3047511_free slide_322562_3047042_free slide_322562_3047105_free slide_322562_3049220_free slide_322562_3046740_free slide_322562_3049138_free slide_322562_3046754_free slide_322562_3047466_free slide_322562_3047523_free slide_322562_3050630_free slide_322562_3049027_free slide_322562_3049959_free slide_322562_3052731_free slide_322562_3052533_free slide_322562_3046831_free slide_322562_3046817_free slide_322562_3046968_free slide_322562_3046801_free slide_322562_3046875_free slide_322562_3424403_free slide_322562_3047744_free slide_322562_3047453_free slide_322562_3046710_free slide_322562_3046854_free slide_322562_3046718_free slide_322562_3054393_free slide_322562_3049377_free slide_322562_3049322_free

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Robby Krieger, the Doors’ guitarist, has come on board “Poet” as an executive producer who will work on the film’s soundtrack with Manzarek’s son Pablo and noted composer William Ross.

He’s also hopeful that Harrison Ford can be persuaded to portray Manzarek. During the band’s heyday in the late 1960s, Ford worked with the band as a stagehand and second camera assistant.

“I admit that it’s a longshot,” Krieger said of the potential casting of Ford. “I want to help this movie get made as much as possible.”

Alcon Entertainment went public last week with its desire for Ford to reprise his role as Rick Deckard in a reboot of the iconic sci-fi film “Blade Runner.” Reps for Ford have not responded to inquiries.

“The Poet in Exile” is an exploration of the urban legend that Morrison is still alive. Manzarek set up the project in 2011 with Tim Sullivan, who’s writing, directing and producing through his New Rebellion Entertainment banner.

Manzarek, Morrison, Krieger and John Densmore formed the Doors in 1965. Manzarek’s novel, published in 2002, explores the notion that Morrison staged his death in 1971 and later contacted Manzarek from his hiding place in the Seychelles Islands to embark on one final journey of “rock ‘n’ roll rebellion.”

Sullivan and his sister Liz Sullivan have been polishing the script and recently brought on Ross and Pablo Manzarek as an executive producer. Ross, who composed the score for Sullivan’s supernatural thriller “Driftwood,” has served as orchestra conductor for three of the last four Academy Awards ceremonies.

Manzarek left behind a plethora of unreleased recordings that will be worked into the film’s soundtrack.

The band’s history was the subject of Oliver Stone’s 1991 feature “The Doors,” along with documentaries such as 2010′s “When You’re Strange,” narrated by Johnny Depp. “The Poet in Exile” is the first Doors film project originated by a member of the band.

Krieger has remained active as a guitarist and toured extensively with Manzarek as Manzarek/Krieger. “I’ve done a lot of charity gigs, and I’m going next month to the Bonnaroo festival,” he added.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment




Out in front of America’s troops, combat canines and their handlers lead the way onto the most dangerous battlefields on Earth. Here is Marine Corporal Jose Armenta in his tent on the night before getting blown up in Afghanistan. He jokes with Mulrooney and Berry and the medic the guys have nicknamed “Christ.” He feeds and waters his dog, Zenit, a sable-coat German shepherd. He lets Buyes, who will be dead in three months, ruffle Zenit’s fur, for the radioman is crazy about the dog.

Then he takes Zenit outside in the waning light of this dusty, desert otherworld to train.

They’re happiest like this. Jose has Zenit sit, which the dog does obediently, and then Jose jogs 50 yards down and hides a rubber toy, a Kong, up against a mud wall, covering it with dirt. On Jose’s command, Zenit bursts forward, zigging in search of it, tail wagging. It’s an intricate dance. Voice commands met by precise canine action, always with the same end goal in mind—to find the toy. Tomorrow, on patrol, the objective will be finding not a toy but an improvised explosive device, or IED, one of the Taliban’s most brutally effective weapons against American troops here in what many consider the most dangerous province in one of the world’s most dangerous countries. And no dog can find every bomb every time.

For the past three months Jose’s been stationed at Patrol Base Alcatraz, at the edge of a town called Sangin in Helmand Province, without a “find.” Despite his optimism—the man always beams a disarming smile—the lack of finds is beginning to wear on him almost as much as the 100-degree heat, which feels even hotter rucking 75 pounds of gear.

As a Marine dog handler, Jose is a perpetual outsider, assigned to platoons that have been together for years, tight-knit combat brotherhoods that regard newcomers, especially dog handlers, with a high degree of circumspection. His job is to accompany that platoon, to clear a path through hostile territory for his fellow marines. But as thankful as they may be, Jose knows it’s natural for them to wonder: Is this guy any good? Will he fit in? How will he respond in that first firefight?

At this moment in August of 2011 the stated mission in Sangin is to secure the 320-foot-high Kajaki Dam, to keep the Taliban from blowing it up and flooding the Helmand Valley. The marines of Third Recon, in groups of a dozen or so, take turns disrupting the enemy, mapping active pockets of Taliban fighters. Jose and Zenit are asked to accompany practically every mission. Each time he and Zenit go out beyond the wire, they’re walking point along with a marine carrying a metal detector, making themselves the first targets as Zenit scours the area for any whiff of nitrate that might signal a buried IED. As exhausting as it is, Jose always says yes.

Maybe there’s a little chip on Jose’s shoulder, or maybe he feels there’s a lot to prove—to himself, to the marines of Third Recon, and to his family back home. Maybe he’s just doing his job, or maybe he needs just one find to allay whatever doubts he harbors about his—and Zenit’s—ability to do the job. In this place especially, the threat is palpable. Sangin is littered with IEDs and teeming with enemy fighters tucked behind thick mud walls. It’s where British forces, before pulling out of Sangin altogether in 2010, lost more than a hundred troops. It’s been a graveyard since for many Americans, and a place where numerous U.S. troops have received disfiguring injuries.

This is what a dog handler tries not to dwell on: the risk associated with the need to find bombs and with the possibility of missing one. On base you sometimes hear them go off in the distance, set off by a goat, an unsuspecting villager. Sometimes frantic locals will rush a bleeding kid up to Alcatraz for medical help. And the recent news about two fellow dog handlers, Jeremy and Jasco, in his deployment, has been bad. Both were blown up and lost their legs. Jose is clear about this: He’d rather die than lose a limb or some vital body part. He’d rather get waxed than be half a person. What you do to take your mind off the fear is just what Jose does now, as he has done for the past two years: You train your dog, do your job, leave the rest to fate.

The next morning, August 28, Third Recon knows that the Taliban have been busy. Alcatraz sits on a rise out in the cornfields, not far from a wadi, and intel has it that IEDs have been planted everywhere. “We knew someone was going to get hit on that mission,” Sgt. Ryan Mulrooney will say later. “Every day something was getting blown up. We knew going in there that it was a pretty risky movement.”

So for the first time since deploying to Afghanistan, Jose puts on his “blast briefs,” underwear made of Kevlar material to limit genital injuries, and he mounts his helmet cam hoping to document his first find. Then he puts an IV in Zenit to keep him hydrated in the heat.

The team moves out at 10 a.m. in ranger file, and Jose guesses it’s already 120 degrees. The marines work down the hill slowly, and when they hit the 611 highway, Jose feels a surge of adrenaline. His mouth goes cottony as he commands Zenit, orchestrating the dog’s every movement. The team veers through the corn to avoid the road, until they hit the wadi that runs parallel to the highway, eight feet deep and ten feet wide, empty of water.

Jose guides Zenit from bank to bank. Mulrooney, working the metal detector, calls out, “I think I got one here.” Jose approaches, looks at the humped, loose dirt with a wire showing, fixes Mulrooney with a smile, and says, “Yup.” The team leader is notified. Jose moves on, spies another device, and calls it out. Sensing a pattern, he sends Zenit to the far side of the wadi, where the dog freezes, tail wagging, nose suddenly working overtime. The change in behavior marks the spot. After nearly a hundred days out here, it’s their first IED as a team.

In his mind Jose throws an invisible high five and lets out a silent whoop. Trainers say, “Emotion runs through the leash.” Jose knows he needs to remain calm, to keep Zenit focused, but how can he not be excited? The team leader is notified again. Jose and Zenit continue down the wadi in the deathly heat. The sun blisters down on the men in formation slow-walking in each other’s footsteps, using shaving cream to mark safe spots. Just like that, three in a row. The riverbed is full of explosives—but where’s the next? With that question, Jose’s elation gives under the weight of duty. He and Zenit are the ones responsible for finding out.

Zenit—a 78-pound German shepherd with an irrepressible love for ball retrieval—was born on Halloween, 2007. He was bred by a private contractor in Europe, who gave him his odd name (pronounced ZEE-nit), the meaning of which, if there was a meaning, Jose never learned. Having passed a battery of medical tests, Zenit was procured by the U.S. military just after his first birthday and shipped to the kennel at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio. There working dogs are initially trained by the 341st Training Squadron in “drive building, grip development, and environmental and social stability,” according to the Department of Defense. Days are regimented, the dogs released only at allotted hours for food and water, exercise, and training. It’s during these training sessions that the marines evaluate what role a dog is best suited for: patrol, detection, or tracking. Though the military resists discussing individual dogs, records indicate that Zenit spent 13 months in the Lackland kennels. Because dogs have short attention spans, his lessons would have lasted up to an hour or two each day, with some as short as three to five minutes at a time. At the course’s end Zenit was certified for explosives detection and patrol.

Yet when the two-year-old Zenit was finally paired with Jose on Okinawa, Japan, in 2010, the dog was still very much raw material. Having been passed over for deployment with his previous dog, Jose felt extra pressure to succeed with Zenit.

Not all military dogs are suited to combat. Some wither in the heat or become too excited by the sounds of gunfire or explosions, even after they’ve been desensitized to them in training. Some are too loyal, too lazy, or too playful. Each dog is its own particular, sometimes peculiar, universe. Still, certain breeds generally do better than others on the battlefield, such as German shepherds, Labrador retrievers, and especially the Belgian Malinois, which is known for being fearless, driven, and able to handle the heat.

But what works in a given environment may not work in another. History suggests that each battle situation calls for its own breed and tactics. Benjamin Franklin encouraged the use of dogs against the Indians. They “will confound the enemy a good deal,” he wrote, “and be very serviceable. This was the Spanish method of guarding their marches.” (Spanish conquistadores were said to have used bullmastiffs against Native Americans.)

During the Second Seminole War, starting in 1835, the U.S. military used Cuban-bred bloodhounds to track Indians in the swamps of Florida. Dogs were said to have guarded soldiers in the Civil War. During World War I both sides used tens of thousands of dogs as messengers. In World War II the U.S. Marines deployed dogs on Pacific islands to sniff out Japanese positions. In Vietnam an estimated 4,000 canines were used to lead jungle patrols, saving numerous lives. (Nevertheless, the military decided to leave many behind when the U.S. pulled out.)

At the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. military had a force of roughly 2,500 military working dogs (MWDs). Some have entered our national lexicon as heroes in their own right: Cairo, a Belgian Malinois hailed for his work with the Navy SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden. And Rex, a shepherd; his handler, Mike Dowling, wrote a book about their harrowing exploits in Iraq, saying, “It was Rex who gave me the strength to get up and to carry on.”

This age-old bond between man and dog is the essence of our fascination with these teams: The human reliance on superior animal senses—dogs are up to 100,000 times more alert to smells than humans are. The seriousness of the serviceman’s endeavor, in contrast to the dog’s heedless joy at being on the hunt or at play. The selflessness and loyalty of handler and dog in putting themselves in harm’s way—one wittingly and one unwittingly—to save lives.

The image of dog and marine living as Lassie and Timmy, however, is not entirely accurate. In general, the military bureaucracy regards a working dog as a piece of equipment, something Jose understood the first time he saw Zenit’s ID—N103—tattooed in his ear. After their training sessions in Okinawa, Jose always returned Zenit to his kennel according to protocol, and he knew it was vital that he establish himself as the alpha in tone and action. “Dogs are like toddlers,” says Marine Gunnery Sgt. Kristopher Knight, who trained Jose and Zenit at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. “They need to be told what to do. They need to know that their primary drives—oxygen, food, water—are taken care of. Two betas will never get it right. One must be the alpha, and it must be the handler.”

The truth was, until Afghanistan and that August day in 2011, Jose would have repeated the party line. If Zenit stepped on an IED and was killed, Jose was pretty sure he wouldn’t have shed a tear. Theirs was a strictly professional relationship and needed to remain that way. If Zenit got blown up, Jose would start all over again with another dog.

Jose Armenta grew up tough, simply because nothing came easy. His family lived in East Los Angeles, where his parents were affiliated with gangs and split up when Jose was young. His mother, who was of Puerto Rican heritage, cared for the children as best she could; his father, of Mexican origin, came and went. One of Jose’s earliest memories is of the car accident that spared him and killed his little sister. He was five; she, four. The rent was often overdue, and sometimes his family simply jumped to another house, another school—15 in all. He was always the new kid, the outsider. In high school he lived in his garage, cranking heavy metal. He played drums in a band. He wore his hair in a Mohawk and pierced his nose.

But even the extremes of Jose’s rebellion were relatively tame: ditching class, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes, playing video games. Living in a violent world of real and wannabe gangsters, of random shootings, of drug dealing, he wanted to escape. What he wanted most was the opposite of that world: He wanted to be a marine.

In July 2007, at 18, he enlisted and found himself at Camp Pendleton. Having grown up rootless and without religion, he immediately fell in love with the military’s sense of tradition and ritual. He was nicknamed “Socks,” for his civilian uniform of baggy shorts and tube socks pulled up to the knee. Upon graduating from boot camp, he signed up for military police training and was eventually assigned to the U.S. base on Okinawa. As a class standout, he was also offered the chance to go to Lackland to begin training as a dog handler.

Jose had always loved dogs. During his erratic upbringing, they’d been ballast. At various times he’d owned a Dalmatian, a pit bull, and a Pekingese–chow chow mix named Bandit, legendary for once biting a friend on the posterior. But Jose understood that a military dog was an instrument he had to master, just as a technician had to understand sonar on a submarine or a drone operator had to learn to control a Predator.

The military, with its sharp edges and unyielding discipline—the thing that was saving him from the streets and his parents’ life—seemed a little more humane in those moments when he was rewarding a dog by roughing its neck fur or giving it some fawning praise. Though he instantly loved the work, he was also inspired by its higher purpose. One bomb found in the field might equal several lives saved.

Jose’s first impression of Zenit was that he seemed too sweet and a little unruly, still full of puppy energy. Jose already had a dog, a Malinois, but he was eager to try a shepherd and picked out Zenit himself.

A new working dog in the Marines learns to search for IEDs in small, incremental steps. After mastering basic obedience, the dogs are taught to recognize a range of odors associated with explosives, including ammonium nitrate, which is used in the majority of IEDs in Afghanistan.

Then they begin to practice an exercise known as “birding,” which is designed to let the handler direct the dog’s movements from a distance. First a handler unleashes the dog and orders it to move toward a hidden “bird launcher,” a remote-controlled catapult loaded with a tennis ball. Adherence to voice commands and hand signals is crucial and often hard-won. When the dog comes close to the launcher, the handler triggers it, and the ball rockets into the air. The dog gives chase and returns the ball to the handler, who praises and pats the dog.

As the dog gets better at following directions, the handler begins hiding items scented with all types of explosive materials in the surrounding terrain. By constantly moving the launcher and spreading scents both near and far, the dog becomes adept at searching large areas and alerting the handler to everything that smells like an explosive.

Eventually there’s no bird launcher, no tennis ball, just the scents. After finding each one, the dog is called back and rewarded with the Kong. And that’s what the process boils down to for a dog. An IED search is a game—identify a scent and get a toy.

Zenit was a motivated seeker—and perfect partner. In the fall of 2010 the pair was selected for deployment and sent to Yuma Proving Ground for a final three-week, boot-camp-like crystallization of everything a handler and a dog need in a war zone and for one final test to prove they are ready. In a fake Afghan village a handler and his dog must search out a complicated array of IEDs. Some are scented for the dog to find. Others are unscented but left exposed for the handler to spot. If together they find more than 80 percent, the pair receives final approval to go “downrange.”

“Jose was a bit of an East L.A. hood rat when he came into the corps,” says one of his supervisors, Sgt. Alfred Nieto. “But he and Zenit really knew what they were doing—that wasn’t in doubt. I think they grew up a lot together.”

After passing the training course at Yuma, the two boarded a transport, spent one night in Germany, and then flew to the Marines’ main base, Camp Leatherneck, in Afghanistan. From there Jose and Zenit were sent to Alcatraz. One moment they were in a fictional Afghan village in the desert of Arizona, the next they were in a real one, in Helmand Province, on their own.

Now it’s three months later. They’re in the wadi outside Sangin surrounded by IEDs. The finds are rapid-fire, oscillating between Mulrooney and Jose and Zenit. I got one … Over here … Yup.

Two years of training with your dog, three months in-country, every day with Zenit at your side, eating MREs, packing your gear—and your dog’s—humping, working, waiting, waking at midnight to make sure Zenit pees and poops in the designated spot, and suddenly everything, your life as a soldier and handler, your life as hood rat and outsider and striving human being, gets compressed into 15 minutes and 60 yards.

Jose believes he’s onto the pattern. It seems the Taliban have buried IEDs at the access points to the wadi, assuming the troops would feel safer out of sight down in the dry riverbed than exposed in the open fields. It’s all happening so quickly now. He takes deep breaths to tame his excitement and maintain focus.

A dog’s nose generally works best—or is most sensitive—in cool, calm weather. Odors become more volatile at higher temperatures, and wind can dilute and disperse them over a broad area, camouflaging their source. That’s the good thing: Down here there’s no wind. But it’s midday, bone-dry, and so fryingly hot Jose can taste the salt of his sweat as it trickles to his lips.

Zenit is working the far bank, tuned to Jose’s commands, ears perked, feet scrambling, excited too. The dog is looking for all those scents it knows will yield his toy. Where are they?

Over here a wide path leads from the berm into the wadi, and Zenit moves past it without any change in behavior. Jose follows at a distance, gauging his own steps. The men behind them follow at a distance, marking a shaving-cream route based on Jose’s progress.

At the path he veers from the most trafficked area and walks up a little rise. He takes a step, then another. Which is when the earth gives, and a deafening roar fills his ears.

When his eyes open, Jose is lying on his back. All he can see is the sky. He’s been blown 20 feet back into the wadi. He knows exactly what’s happening but can’t comprehend any of it. His mouth is full of dirt, and his body yowls, as if on fire. He can’t breathe. Mulrooney is the first to his side and cuts off his vest. Jose keeps repeating, “I fucked up. Do I still have my legs?” And then: “Where’s Zenit?” Mulrooney says, “You’re good, man, you’re going to be fine.”

There’s a procedure out here when someone gets “got”—that’s what the men call a hit like this. The marines secure the area; the medic puts a T-POD, a tourniquet at the waist to stanch the bleeding, on Jose; Buyes calls in a chopper; and everyone works to beat the “golden hour,” the time within which the military endeavors to get a wounded soldier off the battlefield to increase his odds of survival.

But the closest chopper is already ferrying another wounded marine out of the area and takes two hours to arrive. Jose has lost a lot of blood but somehow stays conscious, asking again for Zenit. The dog, initially 20 feet from the blast, knows something has gone wrong. Zenit lies down next to Jose, his ears pinned to his head, which he lays on his paws. He stays there as they work to save Jose before the chopper arrives. According to protocol, both handler and dog are loaded on board and whisked from the spot.

A faraway light—Jose remembers that. He remembers letting himself slip toward it, overcome by a very tired feeling. This was on the chopper. He remembers sensing Zenit nearby. He remembers thinking about his three younger sisters and brother (never having had role models himself, he wonders who will be theirs), his fiancée (how will she find out?), and then his sister who died (is he about to see her?). He remembers turning from the faraway light, shaking off sleep, and reentering his body.

What followed wasn’t easy. He woke up in Germany, and ten days later he woke up again in Walter Reed hospital. There were 12 operations, a move to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Both legs had to be amputated above the knee. He slept 20 hours a day for a month. He dreamed that someone performed experiments on him with dolphins. He woke thrashing, calling for Zenit, only to learn that N103 hadn’t accompanied him home, had been reassigned to a new handler, also by protocol.

“I was furious,” Jose says. “And jealous. I never blamed Zenit for what happened. We were a team. If it was anyone’s fault, it was my own. I just wanted my dog.”

In different ways, it seemed, they were both itemized gear, until one of them didn’t work anymore. Back in Afghanistan, Zenit had been returned to Camp Leatherneck, where he soon went through what’s called a validation trial with another handler and then went on more than 50 foot patrols with other units. He had one more IED find.

At home, in the months after the operations, Jose waited for his incisions to heal, then worked to strengthen his core and what remained of his legs. He was given “shorties,” introductory prosthetics without knee joints so he could learn to balance and stand—and get used to the pressure on his legs. Later he received prosthetics with knee joints so he could learn to walk again.

Physical recovery is one thing; mental recovery is a much different matter. Jose’s wife, Eliana, whom he married six months after getting injured, remembers some very dark days: Jose, at 24, in a wheelchair in the house, drapes drawn, trying to come to terms with his new life. “I went from being this badass fighter to a young guy in a wheelchair,” Jose says. “Your mind doesn’t just make an easy switch. I’m not sure it ever will.”

Meanwhile, Jose was intent on getting Zenit back. “He was like my worn-out shield,” he says. “Every scratch tells a story. And nothing felt right without him.” Jose wasn’t the only one feeling a nagging sense of incompleteness. Some injured handlers had been able to adopt their dogs after the animals had been discharged. Others had begun asking for their dogs even though the canines remained on active duty.

No formal program exists in the military to reunite dogs with their injured handlers, and some of those handlers have found the process inscrutable and frustrating at a time when they needed clarity. For Jose, there were calls and paperwork, excruciating months of waiting. Eventually Zenit was sent to the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in California. More months passed, and finally in June 2012, after the Marine Corps approved the adoption, Jose and his wife road-tripped the three hours to the base. He approached Zenit in his wheelchair, and the dog covered him in slobbery kisses. “I couldn’t stop smiling,” says Jose. “For days. Actually I’m still smiling. It felt like the beginning to this new life.”

It’s twilight in San Diego. Jose is seated by the pool at his house, drinking a beer, taking a break from his prosthetics, throwing a tennis ball for Zenit. The dog took immediately to eating steak and sleeping on the couch when he first arrived. Jose spoils him as he never could before. The German shepherd’s glossy, sable coat flashes in the sun as he chases down each toss with happy zeal, then returns the ball to Jose, who keeps up a patter of “Good boy.” It’s a long way from war, yet the war seems ever present.

“For a long time I beat myself up over that day,” says Jose. “I kept wondering what I could have done differently. I think the IED was offset from where I had Zenit searching or was just buried too deep. They always say that no dog is 100 percent accurate.”

For more than a year after that day in the wadi Jose had to learn how to walk on his new legs. He went to rehab several times a week. “He always came in joking and upbeat,” says his physical therapist, Dawn Golding. “You could hear him cranking his motivational music when he walked down the hall.” Sometimes when he’s out for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, a kid may see his plastic-and-metal legs and ask if he’s a Transformer. “Nah, man,” says Jose. “This is what happens when you don’t eat your vegetables!” And then he flashes that huge smile.

He’s learned to sail and ski and has been on outings to Colorado and Alaska. He works as a dispatcher for the military police, on the 4 a.m. to 1 p.m. shift. He comes home to his wife, who is newly pregnant, and they take Zenit to the beach. “He’s like my quiet partner,” says Jose. “He bridges three worlds: the person I was before Afghanistan, the one I was there, and the one I became after. I joke that when he dies, I’ll get him stuffed and put him by the bed. But really I can’t imagine it. I don’t know what I’ll do then.”

Jose—brother and husband and soon-to-be father—cocks his arm and releases the ball, which arcs into the darkening sky like some forlorn hope. Before it takes a second bounce, Zenit has it in his mouth, racing to return it to his master.

senior-airman-smith-with-tara-525 air-force-staff-sft-chambers-bartja-525 navy-master-montoyo-with-crash-525 marine-villard-with-bank-525


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

DOG 911

10013256_10202817159085022_460547436_n Move over, Lassie — there’s a new dog in town. And he knows how to use an iPhone. Meet Major, a Labrador retriever pit bull mix, who spends his days with owner Terry McGlade, a U.S. Marine who suffers from PTSD and seizures after being wounded by an IED in Afghanistan. When McGlade had a seizure earlier this month, Major, a trained rescue dog, knew exactly what to do: He called for help. Not by whining or barking, but by pawing at McGlade’s iPhone. “He was actually able to get my phone out of my pocket,” McGlade recalled to Ohio’s ABC6. “I don’t have the phone anymore because there are teeth marks on the phone.” Major called 911 by repeatedly stepping on the phone’s screen for several seconds, alerting concerned dispatchers who eventually heard McGlade having a seizure in the background. In an interview with Fox & Friends, McGlade says the dog called 911 a total of 10 times. “[The dispatchers] kept hanging up because they thought it was a prank call,” he said. With help finally on its way, Major waited in front of the house for medics to arrive, then led them to McGlade in the backyard. McGlade told Fox he didn’t think he’d be alive today were it not for the dog, adding: Before I got [Major] I was actually in a really really dark spot. I was almost one of those suicide statistics. Just because the PTSD was that severe. The organization I received him from, Stiggy’s Dogs, actually rescued him from a hoarder situation, and … basically now he’s an extension of me. He’s brought my confidence back. According to a Facebook post by McGlade’s mom, Debbie, Terry has recovered from the episode, but another seizure could happen again.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



A traffic jam on a California highway on Saturday wasn’t sparked by an accident or construction. It was caused by a scared little dog that hopped onto the divider and then tried to hunker down as cars whizzed by.

The California Highway Patrol’s Contra Costa office tweeted a photo of the frightened chihuahua on her precarious perch:

The photo shows a CHP officer trying to lure the dog with a bit of his own snack, a protein bar. But the dog wasn’t biting.

“We attempted to coax it, we could tell it was very frightened, it was shaking,” CHP officer Alex Edmon told NBC Bay Area. “We were able to pet it a little bit, but other than that we could tell it was not happy.”

The officers were on motorcycles and had no way to transport the little pooch, so they called in Contra Costa County Animal Control, based in Martinez, Calif., to help complete the rescue.

“She is extremely scared and allowed only a preliminary exam,” the agency said on Facebook. “We found nothing obvious, but will do a further exam when she calms down.”

The agency estimates that the dog is about 2 years old. And by Sunday, she was doing much better. 


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



The owner of Cheri Amour, the building on Norton Avenue that was rocker Jim Morrison’s last home in the United States, not only wants it designated as culturally significant, she wants to turn it into a bed and breakfast.

The city’s Historic Preservation Commission will hear the request by building owner Cheri Woods at a meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Plummer Park Community Center.

Jim Morrison’s “Riders on the Storm”
Jim Morrison’s “Riders on the Storm”
The building, which encompasses 7,329 square feet, contains five apartments. Woods intends to evict two current residents if her request to convert the rent-controlled building to a bed and breakfast is approved. One of the tenants, who is disabled, pays rent of $700.74 a month. The other pays $707.23 a month. Wood is working with the city’s Rent Stabilization and Housing Division to withdraw the property from the rental market.

Woods will rent out four of the apartments and keep one for herself. Bed and breakfasts are permitted in buildings designated as cultural resources in the city’s R3 and R4 residential zones.

In addition to proving the cultural significance of the building, Woods has to make the case that she would face economic hardship if she weren’t able to convert the building to the bed and breakfast use.

The city’s Department of Community Development, in a memo prepared for the Historic Preservation Commission, recommends that it approve Wood’s request.

It bases its recommendation on the fact that the building, which is at 8214-8218 W. Norton between Fountain and Santa Monica, was home to Morrison and his girlfriend, Pamela Curson, from the summer of 1969 to March 1971, when they went to Paris. Morrison, the lead singer for the rock band The Doors, died in Paris of what is widely believed to have been a drug overdose. Morrison was 27.

At “the time during which Jim Morrison rented the second story apartment at the subject site, the band was in a very productive period recording the albums, “Morrison Hotel” (1970) and “LA Woman” (1971),” the city report says. “At the same time, the Sunset Strip was thriving as the home of a new music industry, which included a new generation of music makers and music appreciators that oversaw clubs such as the Whiskey a Go Go.”

A document filed by Woods describes an encounter by one of the building tenants, Gisele Tobelem, with Morrison. “She came out of the front door of her apartment only to find Jim Morrison standing at the bottom of the staircase, smoking marijuana,” Tobelem told Woods. “In a neighborly gesture, he offered her a hit off his joint. She had no idea who this guy with a scruffy beard and beer belly was, thus rejecting his offer. After their initial meeting, she often heard Jim and Pam’s loud fights taking place in their upstairs apartment.” Woods also says Morrison wrote his famed “Riders on the Storm” in the apartment.

The commission also will hear a request to designate the building at 8866-8872 Sunset Blvd. between Larrabee and San Vicente as a cultural resource. The city’s Community Development Department recommends that that request be denied. That property now houses Take Sushi restaurant, Amarone Restaurant and the Hippocampus and Sound Check Hollywood retail stores. The Community Development Department report says the building, owned by Ronald S. Kates & Company, “has been significantly altered from its period of significance and does not retain enough integrity” to warrant the designation.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



A Sumter police officer went above and beyond for a 13-year-old boy.

A few weeks ago, 13-year-old Cameron Simmons called Sumter police because he was upset after fighting with his mom. The teenager told police he didn’t want to live in the house with his family anymore.

Officer Gaetano Acerra responded to the call.

“I said, ‘You have it good, you have a roof over your head,'” said Acerra. “I told him I would try to help him out, and here we are now.”

The officer brought Simmons home, and realized the boy didn’t have a real bed. In fact, Simmons didn’t have nearly anything he needed for a bedroom.

“My heart went out for him,” said Acerra. “I thought the little things that he needed I could give him, to make him a happier kid.”

A few weeks after the call, Acerra showed up at Simmon’s house with a truck full of gifts.

“Bed, TV, desk, chair, a Wii game system that somebody donated to me because of the story I told them,” said Acerra.

Simmons told Acerra that because of the new bed, his back won’t hurt anymore.

Simmons was sleeping on an inflatable mattress. The teenager said the mattress would slowly deflate throughout the night.

“I didn’t do this for publicity or to get people to notice me,” Acerra said. “I did it because I could. It was the right thing to do and I think people should do things like this.”

Officer Acerra said he has gained more than just a few pats on the back; he’s gained friend.

Acerra gave Simmons his cell phone number, and told him to call anytime.

Acerra plans to bring Simmons more bedroom furniture, including a dresser and mirror.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



After a great career representing the Marine Corps, English bulldog Sgt. Chesty XIII stepped down as the corps’ mascot. The much-loved 6-year-old dog served honorably for five years in parades and community events at the Marine Barracks, the oldest post in the corps.
During the retirement ceremony along with Marine comrades last week, Chesty XIII’s successor, Pfc. Chesty XIV was promoted to lance corporal and is starting his new career as the Marine Corps mascot. After completing his obedience school and “marine training” boot camp, the 9-month old has some big paws to fill. Chesty XIV will have a service record and rank just like a regular Marine. He also wears a uniform resembling that of a Marine with rank and medals.

Chesty XIII has a no-nonsense attitude but also likes to play with his ball even if it is for a brief moment. Whenever he sees a ball he’ll do anything to get the ball. He’s also food aggressive and when he follows a command, you better hand him a treat.
The name Chesty comes from Lt. Gen. Lewis “Chesty” Puller, the most decorated Marine of all time. He is the only Marine to be awarded five Navy Crosses. The mascot role has been filled by a bulldog since 1957. Bulldogs represent the fighting spirit of the U.S. Marines because the breed is known to be muscular, aggressive, fearless and tough.
The Marines are very selective when it comes to choosing a mascot. Main criteria, the dog has to be a pure breed. The mascot tradition started in World War I, when the Germans called the attacking Marines “Devil Dogs.”
Retirement for Chesty XIII will be an easy one living with a host family.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



By Alan Graham

Back in the day you paid two dollars to join the festivities, namely peddling your bike all over Coronado stopping at selected houses where there would be a keg or two of cold beer, and after downing a few, you would ride to the next location and repeat the process. 

For many reasons legal and from a liability standpoint there is no way such an event could be held today in Coronado. In San Diego, some in the community engage in a more subdued but equally intoxicating ritual known as:


World Famous Cinco De Mayo PubCrawl – San Diego Edition

It’s time to put those Sombreros on and head out for the Ultimate Fiesta at over a dozen or more venues around and along the Gaslamp District with some Mind Numbing Drink Specials!

The Deals last for at least 3 hours at each location:

$2 Cervezas
2-for-1 Margarittas
$5 Tequila Shots 

After Party – Bonus* Each night will feature 1 or more After Parties with No Cover – No Wait in Line 

Here is how it works:
1) Buy your ticket
2) You MUST Check-in at  Taste/Thirst during the following time:
Saturday 5/3 | Time: 2 pm – 10 pm

(You may register anytime between those times, but don’t miss the final cut off time. Keep in mind some locations may stop participating in the drink specials at different times throughout the night, but new ones will begin.) 

3) At Registration, you will be given a map with the bar locations and when they’re participating in the drink specials.

Taste & Thirst
715 4th Ave
San Diego

Date and Time:
3.5 | 2pm – 10 pm- Saturday- All Day & Night Pub Crawl

More info Call: 323-604-6030
-Bring out your ponchos and Sombreros
-Must be 21+ to participate
-Do Not Drive- Take a cab, limo, walk, or arrange designated driver.


: | Full Disclaimer |:  

Each venue must abide by Fire Marshall and capacity issues. In which case, you may not be able to enter a venue immediately. Ticket Holders will be giving priority in a timely manner when entering a club. Each venue may have private/reserved sections of the venue that are not accessible to Ticket holders. Venues may be replaced with other nightclubs. Call 24 hours ahead of time to confirm listed venues above. If you appear to be over intoxicated then the venue has the right to deny your entry.

Must be 21 years old to participate; valid State ID required. Advertised drink specials are subject to change and may vary at certain venues. 2 for 1 drinks means you get 2 drinks for the price of one. Actual drinks offered are at the venue’s discretion, and are subject to change. Participating venues and advertised times are subject to change. We promote safety and urge all participants to drink responsibly. Participants must bring their Print At Home Ticket to the registration venue. Each venue may only participate in the drink specials for a 2 hour period. If a venue is at capacity then you may have to wait or proceed to another venue.


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



Last week I spoke with the police chief in Sulphur Springs who told me that there was an investigation in progress, and he would email me the results when it was completed. I received it to day….

Sulphur Police Department PROTECT AND SERVE

Lewis Coats, Chief of Police New Release – May 8, 2014


In an effort to maintain transparency and to assure no appearance of impropriety, Sulphur Police Chief Lewis Coats requested the assistance of the Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office in conducting an internal affairs investigation of Officer Brian Thierbach’s actions regarding the shooting of a dog on April 28, 2014. The joint investigation has been completed and the findings are as follows: Officer Thierbach violated the Sulphur Police Department’s Departmental Policy and Procedure regarding Use of Force and Personal Conduct and Behavior. On May 7, 2014, Officer Thierbach submitted his resignation to the Sulphur Police Department prior to final disciplinary action being taken. Chief Coats states, “I am a dog lover and I am deeply saddened by this incident. I realize there is nothing I can say that would take away the hurt this incident has caused Mr. Brandon Carpenter. The actions of Officer Thierbach did not represent what I expect from the officers of the Sulphur Police Department. Those of us who serve as law enforcement officers do so with the responsibility of serving and protecting the community as professionals. The resignation of Officer Thierbach was accepted so that the officers and community can heal and move forward.” The Calcasieu Parish Sheriff’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation into this matter. If you have any information concerning these crimes or any other criminal acts, please call 337-527-4550.

A traveler from Maine said a small-town Louisiana police officer smirked after fatally shooting his “incredibly friendly” dog on Monday.

Brandon Carpenter, 28, told The Huffington Post Tuesday that he and 21-year-old Logan Laliberte, both of Maine, had hopped off a freight train and were walking through the town of Sulphur, Louisiana, with Carpenter’s dog — a 14-month-old Labrador, Newfoundland, golden retriever mix named Arzy Kensington — when it started raining. The men were on their way to visit friends in Lake Charles.

They climbed into the back of a parked box truck in the near-empty parking lot of the Southwest Daily News to take shelter, Carpenter said. Before long, a police car pulled up and an officer, gun drawn, ordered them out of the truck.

The officer, Brian Thierbach of the Sulphur Police Department, spotted Arzy and told the men to “get your dog,” according to Carpenter. He said the officer watched him tie Arzy to a nearby fence with a 3 1/2-foot leash before Thierbach handcuffed both men, ordered them to the ground facing away from Arzy, and asked, “Is this dog going to bite me or attack me?”

“No,” Carpenter said he responded. “He is an incredibly friendly dog.”

Twenty seconds later, Carpenter told HuffPost, he heard a single shot.

Eric Midkiff, Southwest Daily News circulation manager, said his boss phoned him around 7 a.m., asking if he knew anything about the men in the parking lot. Midkiff “took off” and headed to the office, and by the time he arrived, “the officer already had Brandon and the other guy on the ground.”

Midkiff, 33, told HuffPost he stayed about 20 feet from the men, and heard Thierbach asking if the dog was going to attack. Midkiff said Thierbach was standing on the bumper of the box truck petting Arzy.

“The dog was rubbing up against the cop,” Midkiff said. “He would rub the dog’s back and then push him away. All of a sudden, he just jumped down and shot the dog in the head.”

Midkiff said he could see both Thierbach and the dog clearly. “That dog did not bite that officer,” he said. “The dog was wagging his tail, his tongue was hanging out.”

Carpenter said he spun around when he heard the gunshot. “I see my dog kind of start shaking and batting at his head,” he said. “I saw the blood start to run down his face. … I’m watching my dog die while I’m sitting in cuffs.”

Thierbach, Carpenter told HuffPost, “seemed to be fighting back a smile.” He said he asked the cop why he was smiling, and that Thierbach “smirked” and replied, “Well, he nipped at my foot.”

Backup officers put Arzy’s body in a trash bag and threw it into the back of a vehicle, Carpenter said. According to the Southwest Daily News, police charged Carpenter and Laliberte with trespassing and kept them in jail for a few hours.

Midkiff said he watched as other officers questioned Thierbach about the shooting. Within about 15 minutes, he said, Thierbach’s story changed. He first claimed to have been bitten on the calf, then on the back of his heel. Later, another officer took a photograph of his toe.

A Sulphur Police Department public information officer told the Southwest Daily News that the department has launched an internal investigation. The department did not return a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

Carpenter, who raised Arzy from a puppy, said the dog never behaved aggressively toward anyone. “He was just a big teddy bear that you had to feed,” he said.

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


Who says you can’t work and have a little fun at the same time?

That’s what 51-year-old Seymon Bukharin of Russia did this winter when the school groundskeeper decided to create snow art while cleaning up the schoolyard. The groundsman, who is in charge of keeping the school campus clean, used just a broom to create sprawling works of art on a field adjacent to the school building.

Bukharin’s choice of subjects range from animals to intricate scenes.

“All the students like him a lot,” Russian student Maria Kondrateva told GBTimes. “When he creates his snow pictures, we all look out of the windows to check it out. So do the teachers. It doesn’t even matter if we have a class at that moment — we can always find a couple of minutes to admire his snow art.”

See a sampling of the school groundskeeper’s snow art below.

slide_347694_3688733_free slide_347694_3688732_free slide_347694_3688731_free slide_347694_3688730_free slide_347694_3688729_free

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


pat_martinoThe journal World Neurosurgery has just published a remarkable case report: the rather uplifting story of Pat Martino: Jazz, Guitar and Neurosurgery

Martino (born in 1944 in Philadelphia) was playing jazz guitar by the age of 12. By 20 he had a record deal and a series of successful albums followed.

But in 1976, he began to suffer headaches. As these became more intense, he developed psychiatric symptoms including mania and depression, along with seizures that left him confused. He attempted suicide on multiple occasions and was treated in psychiatric hospitals for depression, but to no avail.

In 1980 a severe seizure left him hospitalized. The cause was finally found after a CT scan revealed an arteriovenous malformation in his left temporal lobe. Martino had probably been born with this abnormal mass of blood vessels, as they can lie dormant for many years. In his case, it had begun to haemorrhage, and had become life-threatening.

So a surgeon removed 70% of Martino’s left temporal lobe:  The result was devastating:

When discharged, he showed apparently no aphasia [loss of speech], but presented a profound retrograde amnesia, which included his own person, his environment and familiar people. He also had complete abolition of his musical capabilities.

So he began to relearn everything: Aided by his father, the patient was gradually introduced back into his past, with the help of photos, encounters with friends, including other musicians, and, mainly, by making him listening to his own records. The patient, in turn credited to a computer the necessary help to revitalize his musical interest: a small Apple Macintosh with a tiny screen, and a 127K system with a music program…

He returned progressively, though slowly and with difficulty, to play the guitar; this time as if it were a toy, “to escape the situation, and to please my father”. The process of memory retrieval took him about two years. Although he never lost his manual dexterity, the necessary skill to play guitar again to his previous musical level took years to bring back. In 1987 he returned to record a jazz album called, logically, “The Return”.

It was Martino’s first record for 10 years, but he’s recorded 20 albums since and is still working. Though he experiences some memory problems, they don’t affect his daily life, and he says that living more in the “here and now” has its advantages.

 The authors of the World Neurosurgery paper (who include Paul Broks, of Into the Silent Land) point out that Martino’s excellent recovery may have been aided by the nature of his illness. If the malformation had been in his left temporal lobe from birth, impairing its development, his healthy right temporal lobe might have taken over additional functions.

martino_brain M 0066

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

How ‘A Night With Janis Joplin’ Was Suddenly Canceled


Assured by producers that their jobs were safe, actors skipped auditions for other musicals. Band members signed apartment leases. Investors wrote more checks for the show.

But when they all gathered together on April 8, for a final rehearsal of their musical, “A Night With Janis Joplin,” a theater’s worth of hopes were dashed. They learned that the show’s lead producers — who had moved “Joplin” from Broadway to the lower-budget Off Broadway — were canceling the run because of poor ticket sales, just 48 hours before reopening downtown at the Gramercy Theater.

According to five production members who were at the Gramercy that night, one actress reacted with cold fury about the show’s marketing. Another curled up in a ball. Crying silently was the show’s star, Mary Bridget Davies, who had earned critical acclaim as Joplin on Broadway and may nab a Tony Award nomination next week. The investors seemed calmer, although one later used a profanity to rue the “train wreck” that the production had become.

Mitch Wilson, a drummer, and the actress De’Adre Aziza performed in “A Night With Janis Joplin.” Credit Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
The implosion of “A Night With Janis Joplin” — which had a budget of $3.9 million on Broadway and about $650,000 for the Gramercy — stands as one of the messiest of the theater season, judging by interviews this week with seven actors and musicians who were involved with the show.

But it is also an object lesson in making rosy assumptions about ticket sales in the unpredictable world of commercial theater. And to several of the actors and musicians, the show is yet another instance of producers’ toying with artists’ lives and careers.

“I guess it was naïve of me to trust our producers that I’d have a job because audiences would definitely come,” said Mitch Wilson, a drummer in the “Joplin” band on Broadway, who had signed on for the Off Broadway run. “I mean, shows close all the time — I get that. But what happened with ‘Janis’ was surreal.”

The producers — Daniel Chilewich and Todd Gershwin, who were relatively inexperienced in New York theater, and Michael Cohl, a lead producer of the recently shuttered Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” — declined an interview request. In response to written questions, they released a statement saying that they made the decision to scrap the Off Broadway run “in the best interests of our investors/co-producers” but with “heavy hearts for these talented actors and musicians.” They said they were planning a North American tour that would create jobs for many of them.

“A Night With Janis Joplin,” a bio-musical about this towering 1960s singer and the black musicians like Aretha Franklin who inspired her, opened on Broadway last fall with some momentum — out-of-town tryouts had sold well — and the blessing of the Joplin estate. (Joplin’s two siblings issued statements supporting the show’s producers this week.) But it earned mixed reviews, and ticket sales were uneven, a sign of limited appeal.

Continue reading the main storyContinue reading the main story
Several actors in the Broadway run said they became worried that their producers lacked savvy, particularly about attracting audiences. One cast member, De’Adre Aziza, a Tony Award nominee for “Passing Strange,” said in an interview that she and others had urged the producers to reach out to black theatergoers by highlighting Ms. Franklin, Bessie Smith and other characters through television appearances and magazines like Ebony and Essence. These ideas mostly went nowhere, Ms. Aziza said. (The producers said in their statement that they had an “open-door policy” with the cast to hear their marketing ideas and hired a consultant with expertise in reaching black audiences.)

Ticket sales slid in January, for which the producers blamed the weather and the seasonal drop-off in tourists. The show’s landlord, the Shubert Organization, urged the producers to close “Joplin,” the producers said. But they became convinced that it could have a longer life Off Broadway, where shows can survive on smaller budgets, as musicals like “Avenue Q” and “Million Dollar Quartet” have.

Despite its declining ticket sales on Broadway, the producers said that they believed that audience enthusiasm for the show and the “unique nature of the Gramercy Theater” would attract a mix of musical-theater fans and concertgoers.

Yet the theater — on East 23rd Street — was in an area with little tourist foot traffic. And there was relatively little time to market the show’s move: It closed on Broadway on Feb. 9 and was scheduled to begin performances at the Gramercy on April 10.

“I was concerned there wasn’t enough time to sell tickets, but we didn’t want to lose momentum after Broadway,” said one investor, Alan Shorr, who put more money in for Off Broadway. “There was certainly a risk in moving to the Gramercy; it became about trying to quantify those risks.”

Mr. Shorr, who praised the lead producers, said he hoped to earn back some of his investment from the possible tour.

According to several actors and musicians in the show, one of the lead producers, Mr. Chilewich, repeatedly assured them that the Gramercy run was a certainty. But Ms. Aziza, for one, said she passed on the move to Off Broadway because she had become mistrustful of Mr. Chilewich — especially after learning that he was among a group of lawyers who pleaded guilty in 2005 to a felony charge of filing false documents with a state agency. Mr. Chilewich was subsequently disbarred; he said by email this week that he has always accepted responsibility for the improper filing and was now a member of the New York and New Jersey state bars.

“I would rather collect unemployment and raise my son on that then go back into that show,” Ms. Aziza said. “My main concern was the treatment of the actors by the producers. I feel they did not look after the actors and musicians properly.”

Ms. Davies, the show’s star, did not respond to requests for an interview. The show’s director and writer, Randy Johnson, issued a statement expressing gratitude for all involved.

Another actress, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear that other producers would not hire her because she was outspoken, said she passed up an audition for the Broadway hit “Motown: The Musical” because she had committed to “Joplin.” She was all the more angry, then, that the three lead producers did not appear at the Gramercy on April 8 to announce the cancellation themselves or apologize.

The actors and musicians took a half-hour to rally themselves and collect their belongings. Boxes in hand, several walked along 23rd Street to Chelsea and settled into the Dallas BBQ restaurant to commiserate over margaritas. They stayed a couple of hours, and a waitress even brought them cupcakes on the house.


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



An authorism is a word, phrase or name created by an author or journalist; a literary neologism. William Shakespeare whose written vocabulary consisted of 17, 245 words included hundreds of authorisms. Some of them, true nonce words, never went further than their appearance in his plays, but others – like bump, hurry, critical, and road–are essential parts of our standard vocabulary today. Here are some prime examples–some more successful than others.

Banana Republic. A politically unstable, undemocratic and tropical nation whose economy is largely dependent on the export of a single limited-resource product, such as a fruit or a mineral. The pejorative term was coined by O. Henry (William Sidney Porter) in his 1904 collection of short stories entitled Cabbages and Kings.

Beatnik was created by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen in his column of April 2, 1958 about a party for “50 beatniks.” Caen was later quoted, “I coined the word ‘beatnik’ simply because Russia’s Sputnik satellite was aloft at the time and the word popped out.

Bedazzled. To be irresistibly enchanted, dazed or pleased A word which Shakespeare debuts in The Taming of the Shrew, Act IV, Scene V: “Pardon, old father, my mistaking eyes, that have been so bedazzled with the sun that everything I look on seemeth green.” – Katherina.

Co-ed. Short for co-education–any co-educational institution or system. Louisa May Alcott wrote in her 1886 novel Jo’s Boys. “Never liked co-ed” The line is uttered by a boy named Adolphus “Dolly” Pettingill objecting to eating with girls.

Cyberspace. Novelist William Gibson invented this word in a 1982 short story, but it became popular after the publication of his sci-fi novel Neuromancer in 1984. He described cyberspace as “a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system.

Door Mat. As a metaphor applied to a person who upon whom others people ‘wipe their boots.’ First used in this sense by Charles Dickens in Great Expectations.

Factoid. Term created by Norman Mailer in 1973 for a piece of information that becomes accepted as a fact, although it is not actually true; or an invented fact believed to be true because it appears in print.

Freelance. 1. One who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them. 2. An uncommitted independent, as in politics or social life. The word is not recorded before Sir Walter Scott introduced it in Ivanhoe which, among other things, is often considered the first historic novel in the modern sense. Scott’s freelancers were mercenaries who pledged their loyalty and arms for a fee.

Granfalloon. Any large, amorphous organization without real identity. Coined by American writer Kurt Vonnegut (1922-2007) who added: “Other examples of granfalloons are the Communist Party, the Daughters of the American Revolution, the General Electric Company, the International Order of Odd Fellows — and any nation, anytime, anywhere.”

Little grey cells. The neurons of the brain which allow fictional Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to click and solve innumerable cases in English mystery author Agatha Christie’s (1890-1976) many stories about the fastidious detective stars.

Murdermongress. A female writer of murder stories, a term invented by Ogden Nash to describe Agatha Christie in his 1957 anthology You can’t get there from Here. The word was fashioned to rhyme with Library of Congress.

Pandemonium. For Book 1 of his epic poem Paradise Lost, published in 1667, John Milton invented Pandemonium– from the Greek pan, “all,” and daimon, “evil spirit,” literally “a place for all the demons”–or as Milton first expressed in the poem: “A solemn Councel forthwith to be held At Pandæmonium, the high Capital Of Satan and his Peers.”

Robot. Coinage of Czech writer Karel Čapek’s (1890-1938) in his 1921 work Rossum’s Universal Robots. Kopeck took the Czech term for “serf labor” and adopted it to the animatrons that we think of today. In 1941, Isaac Asimov invented the words robotic and robotics after Čapek’s robot.

Scaredy-Cat. A timid person; a coward. Introduced in 1933 by U.S. author, Dorothy Parker in a short story “The Waltz” with this line: “Oh, yes, do let’s dance together. It’s so nice to meet a man who isn’t scaredy-cat about catching my beri-beri.”

Undertoad. A form of intense anxiety, the chief feature of which is an overwhelming fear of the unknown in general and of one’s personal mortality in particular. This is American novelist John Irving’s term for fear of tragedy, coined in The World According to Garp (1976).

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment



These siblings epitomize brotherly love.

Cayden Long, 9, has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. His family was accustomed to driving almost an hour away to use a playground he could access, Good Morning America reported.

Big brother Conner, 10, wasn’t shy speaking out about the injustice. He voiced his opinions on a panel hosted by Miracle Recreation, a company that builds commercial playground equipment, mentioning how hard it was to find a playground that he and Cayden could both play on together.

His brave and honest words prompted a response. Miracle Recreation agreed to build a wheelchair-friendly playground in White House, Tenn., where the Long family resides.

The grounds, which officially opened earlier this month, is inclusive for all children wishing to have fun, regardless of physical disability. According to the brothers’ community Facebook page, Conner named the playground A Roll Around the Park, in honor of Cayden.

This isn’t the Long brothers’ first time in the spotlight. Conner was initially invited to attend the Miracle Recreation panel because of his heartwarming efforts to include Cayden in the triathlons he competes in. The duo has never placed in the competitions, according to The Tennessean, but that doesn’t matter. Conner guides his younger brother in the grueling contests, regardless — Cayden rides on a trailer on land, and in a raft during the swimming portions.

“It’s not always about winning,” Conner told the outlet. “It’s about having fun and crossing the finish line, and Cayden and I love to do it together.”

The brothers’ touching story of triumph inspired others from coast to coast, including NBA star LeBron James. Conner and Cayden were Sports Illustrated Kids’ 2012 SportsKids of the Year.


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


tff86985257 SleepingKids-e1311278289732 red

pitbull-and-child-759940 90094f27868dfe1780cdc9f37584fb08 pitbaby2-e1311282268889 Pit_Bull_from_Scooter-e1311283085624 562878078_Child_Mauls_Pit_Bull_by_SkyeStaff_xlargeimages cxz xcx

sa po x





Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment


queen elizabeth ii bag

equestrian queen

patterns queen elizabeth ii

queen elizabeth patterns 2

scalopped edge

red lip queen elizabeth

queen elizabeth bling

fur stoll 1

fur stoll 2

dog walking

floral crown 1

floral crown 2

floral crown 3


happy bday queen

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

Back to The Sixties Darkly

Excerpted from: Back To The Sixties Darkly

By Pat H Broeske

Morrison’s sister and her husband also announced their intention to make a Morrison movie. But first, stated Anne Morrison Graham and her then-husband, Alan Graham (no relation to Bill Graham), they would stage a rock opera in which seven actors would play various aspects of the Morrison persona. And they planned to make a 90-minute TV documentary.

The rock opera actually happened–at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip, where the Doors had played 16 years earlier. Krieger still laughs about the night that two of the Morrison look-alikes showed up at a club where he was playing and got in a fight with each other.

Though the Grahams have since divorced, Alan Graham remains impassioned about one day making a film about his former brother-in-law. He has a company called Lizard King Productions–so named because of Morrison’s moniker as the Lizard King (from a Doors song). From time to time, Graham sends out announcements of pending projects. Currently in the works: the provocatively titled rock opera, “Who Killed Jim Morrison?”

Jim Morrison: Back to the Sixties, Darkly

Los Angeles Times, January 7, 1990The storm still swirls around a generation’s ultimate bad boy as Oliver Stone prepares to bring his story to the screenDoors

Nearly 20 years after his death, Jim Morrison–enigmatic lead singer of the Doors–is headed for a theater near you. It hasn’t been an easy resurrection.

Like Morrison himself, the journey of his life story to the screen has been dark, troubled and complicated.

A decade-long quest, it’s been dominated by furious disagreements between the three surviving Doors and members of the Morrison estate. Some of the fighting centered on the controversial Morrison biography, No One Here Gets Out Alive–which the estate detests. It wasn’t until legendary rock impresario Bill Graham entered the fray in 1985, acting as a kind of mediator for the Morrison estate, that all the necessary dramatic rights were acquired.

Throughout the battles and beyond, projects were announced and unannounced. There were meetings with a slew of top producers, directors and actors. Several studios were involved.

Ultimately, the project made its way to film maker Oliver Stone, who was a soldier in Vietnam when he first heard the Doors’ music. “It blew me away,” remembered Stone, who maintains that “on the broadest possible level, Jimmy Morrison’s story represents themes of seeking a new consciousness and new levels of freedom.” Stone is now readying the yet-untitled “Doors Project” for a March start date for Carolco Pictures.

It may seem odd that Stone, the industry’s best-known Vietnam veteran, is writing and directing a movie about a group that represented the ’60s radical movement that embraced everyone from war protesters to draft dodgers. As it turns out, Stone–whose wartime experiences inspired the Academy Award-winning “Platoon” (1986)–sees Morrison as a soldier who traversed the frontiers of the mind, for the sake of art.

“In his own way, he was very much on the front line. He was a warrior,” Stone said. “He was an outlaw rebel pushing at boundaries. A searcher who wrote about sex and death, two things any guy who’d been in Vietnam could relate to.”

The Morrison project garnered a certain cachet when Stone came aboard. It doesn’t hurt that his recently released “Born on the Fourth of July,” about a disabled Vietnam vet’s homecoming, is being touted as one of the front-runners in this year’s Academy Award race.

Still, the Morrison movie remains a filmic mine field, with obstacles including:

* The downbeat grittiness of the subject matter–including Morrison’s drug- and alcohol-induced exploits, his physical deterioration shortly after attaining stardom and his still-mysterious death of a heart attack at age 27 in 1971.

* Dealing with the sexually free ’60s in the nervous climate of the ’90s, including Morrison’s sexual experimentation (though he was not always able to “perform,” perhaps due to all the drink and drugs) and his tendency to shed all his clothes in the night and run naked through streets or across balconies and rooftops.

* Contract stipulations from the Morrison estate, which limit the screenplay’s ability to explore Morrison’s family life–which may or may not have been central to Morrison’s personal turmoil.

* The fact that, with few exceptions such as “The Buddy Holly Story” and “La Bamba,” both set in the ’50s and about the boys-next-door–few rock ‘n’ roll movies have been box-office hits. Consider last summer’s mega-bomb about ribald Jerry Lee Lewis, “Great Balls of Fire.”

* The dilemma of capturing the complexity and mystery of one of pop culture’s most controversial figures. Everyone who knew him–the Doors, Morrison’s drinking cronies, his countless romantic partners–seemed to know a different man.

As a result, the casting of Val Kilmer as Morrison seems a crucial factor. Kilmer, 30, was most recently seen as the renegade swordsman of “Willow.” He’s probably best known for his role as Tom Cruise’s competition, Ice Man, in “Top Gun.”

Well aware of the challenges, Stone made a surprising confession when he said: “You do not get out of these things alive–or whole. At the end of the day you risk being condemned. Ideally, I would rather not be involved in this movie.”

So why is he doing it?

“The fact is, I can’t help myself. I’ve become obsessed with Morrison.”

Stone is hardly alone. For the part of the charismatic Morrison, countless young actors grew their hair long, took their shirts off, donned love beads and mimicked a famed Morrison photo session. It seemed that everyone wanted to snare the role of the man who has come to represent the classic rock martyr–the leader of the legendary band that symbolized, perhaps more than any other, the dark, hedonistic side of the ’60s.

(Joan Didion, writing in the Saturday Evening Post, once dubbed the Doors “the Norman Mailers of the Top 40, missionaries of apocalyptic sex.”)

As the most daring of the ’60s bands–both cerebral and hard-driving–the Doors became a bridge to the heavy-metal ’70s and the new-wave ’80s. Little wonder that they continue to be profitable today, and that their many hits remain staples of the airwaves.

Morrison himself was the forerunner of the countless rockers who have since donned leather and their most brooding, pouty looks for the sake of album covers and posters.

Leather and pouty looks aside, no one has been able to approximate what set Morrison apart, for the erudite rock star was also a poet.

He was also a conduit–from the audience to their fantasies. “This guy is basically like a mirror. You can see yourself in him, somewhere,” explained Sasha Harari, the Israeli producer who got involved with Morrison’s story in 1982 and is now seeing it to fruition.

For years, Doors guitarist Robby Krieger fought the notion of a Morrison/Doors movie. “I’ve never been in favor of it. I just never believed that anyone could capture on film how it was, you know?”

Drummer John Densmore is philosophical. “I’m trying to hang on to the original intent. We don’t expect this movie to be the truth. As a friend of mine once said, they’re going to take your six-year career and squash it down to two hours and blow it up to the size of a two-story building. Is that going to be reality? No. But if it has a sense of truth, then it’s worth it. If it inspires individual and social consciousness in the ’90s, it’s worth it. But it’s terrifying!”

Unlike his comrades, keyboardist Ray Manzarek has wanted a movie–desperately. He spent years trying to make it happen, along with Danny Sugerman–his good friend, personal manager, consultant to the Doors and co-author of the notoriousNo One Here Gets Out Alive. Manzarek–who has a master’s degree in film from UCLA–also sought to be involved creatively.

Said Krieger, “I think Ray always believed that he could keep control over it, enough to make it his idea of the movie. And that’s why he wanted to do it so bad. I always tried to tell him, ‘Hey, you know, once it gets too big in Hollywood and everything, we’re going to lose control.’ ”

Manzarek, who proudly speaks of “the magical symbiosis” and “synchronicity” of the Doors, would like to see a movie that focuses on the group, as opposed to their lead singer. Stone, however, clearly sees this as a Morrison movie–in which the other three Doors are supporting players. Thus, there have been difficulties between the two men. Or as Manzarek put it, they aren’t on speaking terms, they’re on “shouting terms.”

Shrugged Manzarek, “Oliver’s passionate and I’m passionate. He has a vision, and I have a vision.”

Manzarek’s vision? “I see the picture as a joyous celebration of youth and life. It’s got a great upward arc and then, boom, the lead singer dies in Paris. And it becomes an American tragedy–showing not just what happened to the Doors, but what happened to America.

“I want the movie to be spiritual, transcendental, psychological, psychedelic and kick-ass rock ‘n’ roll. That’s all I ask for,” Manzarek said, smiling.

Co-producer Bill Graham, who booked the biggest acts of the ’60s at his famed Winterland and Fillmore arenas, is hoping for a paean to the era. Waxed Graham: “Those times were a once-in-a-lifetime. . . . Whether right or wrong, they were about blind hope. Obviously, not enough people got involved to make a change but there were significant numbers saying: ‘What’s wrong with this world?’ ”

For Stone, the Morrison movie continues his cinematic journey across the ’60s’ tumultuous landscape. (Still down the road is a final title in Stone’s promised trilogy on Vietnam.) Only this time, he’ll explore the flip side of “Born on the Fourth of July.” Based on the autobiography of Ron Kovic, “Fourth of July” traces Kovic’s evolution from gung-ho Marine to disabled vet to outspoken anti-war activist.

“This will be the other side of the ’60s,” Stone said. “Ron bought the military life. Jim didn’t believe in it. Ron was an Eagle Scout. Jim Morrison was no Eagle Scout. He was a bad boy–the rebel.”

To some, the rebel–the tortured poet–has been enshrined as a god, a modern-day Dionysus. (Recall that the Greek god of revelry and wine was capable of unleashing a terrible fury when he was denied. Recall, too, that he was dismembered–and later resurrected.)

Not surprisingly, the mythologizing of Morrison happened in tandem with the rediscovery of the Doors.

What kicked off the resurgence was the use of the Doors’ haunting 1967 song, “The End,” in the opening sequence of Francis Coppola’s epic Vietnam film, “Apocalypse, Now” (1979).

Then came the album “An American Prayer,” featuring Morrison reading poetry that had been recorded in 1971, with new instrumental backing by the Doors.

It was followed by the controversial 1980 tome, No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Also in 1980: the release of the Doors “Greatest Hits” album–which entered Billboard’s Top 10 chart.

The next year, the specially made “The Doors: A Tribute to Jim Morrison” aired on cable stations.

In September, 1981, Rolling Stone heralded Doorsmania–and Morrison’s status as a rock savior–with what was to become one of its most famous covers: the one boasting Morrison as cover boy and the headline, “He’s hot, he’s sexy and he’s dead.”

He was also destined to come to the screen . . . eventually.

Danny Sugerman was 13 when he began hanging out at the Doors’ L.A. office. He wound up handling their fan mail and keeping their scrapbooks. Later, following Morrison’s death and the disbanding of the surviving Doors, Sugerman became Manzarek’s manager.

(The surviving Doors recorded several albums after Morrison’s death and then went their separate ways. Today, Manzarek and Krieger continue to be active musically; Densmore is pursuing an acting career.)

Sugerman also became a co-writer of No One Here Gets Out Alive. This after rock journalist Jerry Hopkins (author of the Elvis Presley bio Elvis) spent five years working on a book about Morrison. When Hopkins couldn’t get a publishing deal, Sugerman went to work on the manuscript, giving it the point of view of a Doors insider.

The resulting bio, from Warner Books, is a riveting look at rock ‘n’ roll hedonism as lived out by Morrison. (Hedonism has international appeal: The book’s been published in more than a dozen languages.)

Since its publication, the tell-all has virtually divided the Morrison camps. After all, it doesn’t dwell on Morrison’s good points–like his sense of humor and warmth–or the non-scandalous events in his life. And there are those who question Sugerman’s credentials as an insider. (They maintain he was too young to have known Morrison as closely as he claims.)

The three surviving Doors defend the book–with reservations. “It was kind of like aPeople magazine listing of binges. But all the binges were true,” said Densmore. He was thoughtful as he added: “But there were things missing. Where was the guy who wrote, ‘Before I slip into unconsciousness/I’d like to have another kiss/another flashing chance at bliss’ (the opening lines to ‘The Crystal Ship’)? That guy didn’t make it into the book.”

Pamela Courson, Morrison’s longtime girlfriend, didn’t come off looking like the all-American girl, either.

Courson, who discovered Morrison’s body in Paris, was later able to attain common-law-wife status. When she died in 1974 at age 27 of a massive heroin overdose, her parents inherited her half-portion of the Morrison estate, which receives one-quarter of the monies earned by the Doors. Morrison’s own reclusive parents, who have never spoken publicly about their son or his career, received the other half of the estate.

All of Morrison’s personal property–including the many notebooks he filled with his poetry–is owned by the Coursons. It was Pamela’s father, Columbus (Corky) Courson, a former Orange County high school principal, who oversaw the publication of Wilderness: The Lost Writings of Jim Morrison (Villard, 1988). Another volume is currently being edited.

The Coursons, who have met with Oliver Stone, are understandably anxious about how the movie will treat their daughter’s relationship with Morrison. Though Morrison’s associates have described a romance that could best be called erratic, Pearl Courson believes that her daughter and Jim enjoyed a “tremendous love affair,” and were “destined to be together.”

There is no love lost between the Coursons and the Doors–and Sugerman. “Trash city,” is how Mrs. Courson described No One Here Gets Out Alive. She added: “Are you aware that for years, they tried to bypass the estate to get a movie made of that book?”

After the publication of No One Here Gets Out Alive, Manzarek and Sugerman met with interested film makers–sometimes without the blessing, or even the knowledge, of Densmore and Krieger. Today, both Manzarek and Sugerman insist that what they were trying to do was drum up interest in a Morrison project. “The book was just a jumping off point,” explained Manzarek.

It was Sasha Harari who optioned No One Here in 1982, for $50,000. As he quickly discovered, it was a double-edged sword: Hollywood wanted it, the Morrison estate didn’t.

Still, there were meetings. Harari talked with producer Allan Carr and director William Friedkin about doing the movie at Warners. Much to the horror of Sugerman, who remembered, “I begged Sasha not to bring Allan Carr in. I just didn’t think that the man who had produced ‘Grease’ and ‘Can’t Stop the Music’ could be sensitive to the story of the Doors.”

Sugerman did think that then-hot disco king John Travolta might make a good Morrison. So Sugerman introduced him to the Doors–and he and Manzarek squired Travolta around town, taking him to places where the group had hung out. But the other Doors balked. (“John was a nice guy and all that. But he was too nice. He didn’t have Jim’s dangerous edge,” Krieger recalled.) When it became clear that all the rights couldn’t be acquired for Travolta to officially play Morrison, there were talks about Brian De Palma directing Travolta in a fictionalized project, like the thinly disguised Janis Joplin saga, “The Rose.”

Still other film makers approached Harari and the Doors–and vice versa. Among them: Jonathan Taplin, Jerry Weintraub, Aaron Russo, Irving Azoff, Michael Mann, Francis Coppola and Martin Scorsese.

As all this was happening, a feature-length Doors documentary was in the works. (It was later abandoned because of efforts to make the feature.)

Morrison’s sister and her husband also announced their intention to make a Morrison movie. But first, stated Anne Morrison Graham and her then-husband, Alan Graham (no relation to Bill Graham), they would stage a rock opera in which seven actors would play various aspects of the Morrison persona. And they planned to make a 90-minute TV documentary.

The rock opera actually happened–at Gazzarri’s on the Sunset Strip, where the Doors had played 16 years earlier. Krieger still laughs about the night that two of the Morrison look-alikes showed up at a club where he was playing and got in a fight with each other.

Though the Grahams have since divorced, Alan Graham remains impassioned about one day making a film about his former brother-in-law. He has a company called Lizard King Productions–so named because of Morrison’s moniker as the Lizard King (from a Doors song). From time to time, Graham sends out announcements of pending projects. Currently in the works: the provocatively titled rock opera, “Who Killed Jim Morrison?”

Harari eventually dropped the option on No One Here Gets Out Alive, but he didn’t drop his interest. In 1985, he succeeded in acquiring the rights of the three Doors.

Then Tony Krantz and Tony Ludwig, of Creative Artists Agency, got the idea to bring rock promoter Bill Graham into the project–to deal with the Coursons and the Morrisons.

During the ’60s, the Doors often played Graham’s clubs in San Francisco and New York City. He still remembers their first show at Fillmore West in 1967, in which they were billed with the Jim Kweskin Jugband.

(The Doors were to have other memorable nights at Graham’s clubs–including the time Morrison showed up drunk at Winterland, took to the stage and started throwing the microphone around. At one point, it flew across the room, hit Graham and knocked him down.)

Graham eventually succeeded as a rock ‘n’ roll Henry Kissinger with the estate. “They were not against a movie coming out,” Graham explained. “They’re against the exploitation or the exaggeration of what really went down. After all, those children were reared by those people. The parents want to retain some dignity. It’s obvious that this wasn’t exactly Jack Armstrong who was coming through life in that turbulent time. We can’t whitewash Morrison, or Pam. But we want to respect them.”

As it turned out, there was an attempt at a whitewash when the Coursons tried, unsuccessfully, to invoke a clause that would have forbidden any depiction of their daughter using drugs. One stipulation they did get: Pamela Courson-Morrison cannot be depicted as having anything to do with Morrison’s death.

Then there is the contract stipulation involving the Morrisons: With the exception of a pivotal scene involving Jim’s childhood encounter with Indian shamanism, the parents cannot be depicted.

The Coursons and Morrisons also wanted–and got–assurances that the movie would not be an adaptation of No One Here Gets Out Alive.

Ironic footnote: eventually, the film makers bought the book’s research materials from co-author Jerry Hopkins. And Sugerman recently came aboard the film, as a consultant.

When all the rights were at last acquired in 1985, Harari put in a call to Oliver Stone’s agent. Would Stone be interested in scripting? On the very day Stone was scheduled to meet with Harari, Stone got the go-ahead to make “Platoon.” The next day he left for the Philippines.

From 1985 until the summer of 1987, the Doors project was at Columbia, under then-chairman Guy McElwaine. But when David Puttnam came to the studio, the project was dropped.

Within 24 hours, Harari got calls from United Artists and Warner Bros. He also got a call from Tony Ludwig, who had left CAA to become the president of Imagine Entertainment.

Ludwig had an immediate advantage over the studios: He knew all the parties involved, as well as the project’s convoluted history. In September, 1987, Imagine officially acquired the Doors Project. Imagine chairmen Brian Grazer and Ron Howard then began talking with prospective directors–including Oliver Stone. Recalled Stone: “But they passed me up. I think it was because I liked a draft of the screenplay that the Doors hated.”

As coincidence would have it, Stone eventually made his way to another project involving Morrison–and Danny Sugerman. Based on the autobiographicalWonderland Avenue: Tales of Glamour and Excess (William Morrow, 1988), it’s about a young man’s coming-of-age in the rock world, and the rock star he idolizes.

Meanwhile, over at Imagine, development costs of the original Morrison movie had exceeded $2 million. So Imagine struck up a production deal with Carolco Pictures, which became the financing entity. A few months later, Carolco signed Stone to a production deal, which is how Stone finally connected with the Morrison movie.

Stone thinks he may have looked at as many as 200 would-be Morrisons before opting for Val Kilmer.

Over the years, the candidates have included the aforementioned Travolta, Gregory Harrison, Michael Ontkean, Timothy Hutton, Steven Bauer, Christopher Lambert and, in the latest casting go-round, Michael Hutchence, of the rock group INXS, and Jason Patric, who was a dead-on Morrison look-alike in “The Lost Boys.”

(At one point, Kevin Costner’s agent even got a call. Morrison’s mother had seen him in a movie on TV and thought he bore an incredible resemblance to her son.)

As for Wonderland Avenue: a script is currently being written, following Sugerman’s first-draft. Stone, who will produce, sees it as a coming-of-age piece in which (a yet-to-be cast) Morrison will be a supporting character.

Stone is currently at work on the Morrison/Doors script, working from three separate screenplay drafts penned by Randy Johnson (“Dudes”), Ralph Thomas (“Ticket to Heaven”) and Bob Dolman (“Willow”) and stacks of transcripts. Budgeted at approximately $20 million, the film’s cast includes Meg Ryan as Pam, Kyle MacLachlan as Manzarek, Kevin Dillon as Densmore, Frank Whalley as Krieger, Billy Idol as Morrison buddy Tom Baker, Joshua Evans as the Doors’ manager and Kathleen Quinlan as one of Morrison’s love interests.

Star Val Kilmer–who’s a baritone, like Morrison–is working with former Doors producer Paul Rothchild, “laying down tracks.” Kilmer did his own singing when he played a rock ‘n’ roller in the 1984 comedy “Top Secret!” Time will tell, said Stone, whether he’ll again do his own singing. Until the movie comes out, there’s no way of knowing if Kilmer will be able to evoke the sensual presence that was a Morrison trademark. To be on the safe side, he’s getting instruction in dance and body language from dancer/choreographer/singer Paula Abdul.

Stone is trying to keep a balance–between man and myth, ’60s freedom and ’90s caution. (Stone acknowledged that he has already toned down some extremely lurid sex scenes involving Morrison and groupies.) “This won’t be easy. After all, we’re sailing in the wind of the Just Say No era, which is pretty simplistic. And there’s the matter of Jim. Everybody will disagree on what he was.”

Whatever he was, Morrison may have had an inkling of what was to come when he wrote: “Did you have a good world when you died? Enough to base a movie on?”

Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment

Summer 2014 Back Cover


Posted in CLARION SUMMER ISSUE 2014 | Leave a comment