Monterey’s history as a Spanish, Mexican and United States capital of California is well documented and has become a cottage industry in the small city that hugs the Pacific Ocean. But there are a few stories clouded in mystery, or simply misunderstood for more than a century. Two of which I recently dug into for the San Francisco Chronicle, shedding light on two historical topics beloved by many—pirates and cheese.
California’s only ‘pirate’ raid in history was actually about independence
Volleys of cannon fire echoed through the adobes of Monterey, followed by a group of privateers storming the city from the sea with cannon, muskets and pikes. Eventually they pulled down the Spanish flag before hoisting up the blue-and-white stripes of Argentina under a Californian sky. Read more…
The competing legends of Monterey Jack cheese
The origin story of Monterey Jack cheese is complicated, no matter whom you ask or what version they tell you. It may encompass some or all of the following: a prosperous Mexican land-grant family fallen from grace, a shrewd Gold Rush land baron, the colonization of California’s Central Coast, and possibly a bullfight gone awry. Some historians believe its tendrils even extend to ancient Rome. This semisoft white cheese, homogenized and ubiquitous in dairy aisles across the U.S., carries with it the near entirety of California history dating to Spanish colonization. Read more…
For some respite from a few years of writing about cops, crime, mayhem and disasters, I’ve started writing stories about the intersection of adventure sports, politics and history in the state of California.
Here are a few highlights of recent interviews: Chris Burkard, surf photographer who looked to the Arctic for inspiration; Jeremy Jones, a big mountain snowboarder-turned climate activist; and Frosty Hesson, an avuncular big-wave surfer who’d pioneered Mavericks and always ready to impart life-wisdom. Many more stories to come.
Surf photographer and SLO native Chris Burkard shares his favorite local spots
Chris Burkard has become synonymous with images of the icy landscapes and deadly cold waters of Alaska, Norway, Iceland and Russia, and his work is recognized beyond the surf world. In the 33-year-old’s short career, he has published eight books, directed four films, garnered more than a dozen awards, given a TED Talk, and gained 3.3 million followers on Instagram. Forbes named him a top social influencer in 2017. Read more…
Q&A: Jeremy Jones on why the outdoor industry needs to speak out about climate change
While hiking atop crusty springtime snow on a ridgeline in California’s John Muir Wilderness, pre-eminent big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones wondered whether or not his descent down the slope would be the last by anyone on skis or a snowboard because of lack of future snow. Read more…
Surfing legend Frosty Hesson’s guide to California’s most iconic breaks
Large statured and emblazoned with platinum-white hair, surfing icon Richard “Frosty” Hesson is often found standing near his home at the end of 36th Avenue in Santa Cruz, watching the swell come in, as he has for decades. He’s quick to strike up conversations with people passing by. His face might not be familiar, but his nickname is. Read more…
Sonoma County is a drinking destination. Roads swell with traffic on summer weekends when out-of-county visitors go tasting at more than 425 wineries and two dozen breweries that call the county home.
People line up for hours in downtown Santa Rosa every February to get their three 10-ounce glasses of Pliny the Younger triple IPA — a ration designed to prevent people from drinking too much of the high-octane 10.25 percent alcohol beer.
More than 7 million people come to Sonoma County annually, 4.6 million of whom cite beer and wine as their reason for visiting, according to the Sonoma County Economic Development Board.
While some locals blame beer-drinking and wine-tasting tourists for making Sonoma County roadways less safe, the fact is most drunken drivers in Sonoma County are residents whose last drink came at home, a bar or a restaurant.
Read more at The Press Democrat…
Thank God I don’t work at Whole Foods anymore.
That was my immediate thought when news broke that Amazon was planning to purchase the organic grocery chain for 13.7 billion dollars. If I still worked the fish counter at Whole Foods, I’d have to work harder and more efficiently — while eating fewer samples — to justify my job over Amazon’s robots.
In 2012, I had a three-month stint as a fishmonger at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco. I worked at the store in the SoMa neighborhood. My job included organizing the seafood case and cleaning fish to customer preferences. I earned $13 an hour for my services.
But at Whole Foods, being broke didn’t mean we had to go hungry. There were perks — a relaxed atmosphere, 25-cent leftovers at the end of the day, and access to samples from the meat, seafood, and other departments. Amazon knows robots don’t need this kind of margin-eating sustenance.
Read more at Vox…
Santa Rosa Police Officers Jason Brandt and Brian Sinigiani sat in a police van by the Fifth Street underpass during a weekly Wednesday morning homeless encampment cleanup. Those living on the street knew the officers by name, and the officers knew theirs, their addictions and their stories.
Brandt and Sinigiani estimated there are more than 200 chronically homeless in downtown Santa Rosa with whom they are on a first name basis. Nearly all have been offered services, they said.
“We’re trying to take away all of the excuses and break down the barriers to get them off the street,” Sinigiani said. “We’re really social workers with a law enforcement aspect.”
Google recognized the late Native American activist Richard Oakes on its homepage Monday with an illustrated image of the man who was shot and killed in Sonoma County in 1972 when he was just 30 years old. The honor came on the day Oakes would have turned 75.
Oakes’ killer, the manager of a YMCA camp near Annapolis in northwest Sonoma County, was acquitted for involuntary manslaughter by an all-white jury at the Sonoma County Superior Court in March 1973.
“We are excited to see Google give him recognition today on his birthday,” said Reno Keoni Franklin, chairman of the Kashia Band of Pomo Indians, by email. “His passing still haunts us, and the decision to let his killer go is a sad example of the type of injustices that he fought so hard against.”
Read more at The Press Democrat…