California Supreme Court backs expanding access to police misconduct cases

Case affects privacy rights of law enforcement officers, and freedom of information for those investigating police abuse.

Fairyland donkeys react to classical music

Children's Fairyland, the mid-century theme park for little kids in Oakland, California, posted this video of their resident donkeys reacting to classical music that is too cute not to share.

Fairyland:

Donkeys get a kick out of classical music! We were testing out our PA system and Gideon and Chiquita got into it. As Brett, our staff mechanic, notes, "It's like a real-life Fantasia!"

When they aren't digging classical music (or doing whatever donkeys do), they can be found grazing on grass in the big field when the park is closed:

Previously on BB: Children's Fairyland, the mid-century storybook theme park that inspired Walt Disney and where Frank Oz got his start Read the rest

In California, the 2020 elections will feature an epic battle to allow cities to reinstate property taxes

In 1978, anti-taxation extremists managed to get a California ballot measure, Proposition 13, passed, and with it, they managed to effectively end the ability of cities to provide services to their residents, by capping property tax at 1% of their cash values, and limiting property tax increases to the lower of the annual inflation or 2%. Read the rest

Spot famous folks' scrawls in the backstage "Autograph Room" at this legendary San Francisco venue

Warfield Autograph Room

Earlier this week, I bought tickets to see a concert in September (Gogol Bordello!) and wanted to see the view from our seats. I discovered that the venue, San Francisco's legendary Warfield, has a terrific 360-degree virtual tour of the entire theater, backstage and all. It's a bit of a rabbit hole but totally worth a look. Not only can you see the view of the stage from anywhere in the theater but you can also visit its green room (spacious), "Jerry's Room" (Jerry Garcia's "second home"), and this Autograph Room. The theater calls it a "hidden gem" and it sure is! Zoom in closely to the walls (and ceiling) to try and spot the Sharpie-d art and autographs of famous people you know. I was able to find both Penn and Teller's and Beck's fairly easily.

(The seats I nabbed have a fantastic view, by the way.)

screenshot via The Warfield Read the rest

Oakland's iconic "Mid-century Monster" rescued

If you know Oakland, you know about the big, free-form sculpture that lives on the shores of Lake Merritt in Oakland. You probably also know that it's been behind a chain-link fence in disrepair for several years. But for a long time, it was not just a piece of art to appreciate but a usable play structure for children to climb in and on. Now, a local group of its fans have ensured the now-iconic "Monster" will live on.

In 1968, for their "Dance to the Music" album, Sly & the Family Stone posed on the "Monster."

The "Mid-Century Monster," as it's now called, was created in 1952. Oakland Parks Superintendent William Penn Mott, Jr., who had founded Children's Fairyland just two years earlier, asked local art professor Bob Winston to create the 40-foot, chartreuse sculpture.

The "Monster" in the 1950s, photo via Martha Ellen Wright

Many years later, however, the "Monster" fell into such disrepair that the city fenced it off and forgot about it. In 2015, an effort was launched by Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club, led by Kyle Milligan and Susan Casentini, to bring it back to its former glory.

This is what the sculpture looked like just four years ago — blanched, broken, and behind a fence. image via Lake Merritt's Mid-Century Monster Fan Club

Earlier this year, the restoration was complete, and on Sunday, July 28, from 11 to 3 the club will be hosting a free party to celebrate at the site. The public is invited. Read the rest

#Vanlife: Camping California's coast -- the Pismo Beach Oceano Campground

This is post is part of a series of reviews of Federal, State, and County provided campsites along California's amazing coastline.

I've visited the Oceano Campgrounds at Pismo State Beach several times this summer. Conveniently located right off the 101 highway along the central coast of California, Pismo is a great place to take a break.

There are other State-run campsites at Pismo, Oceano is not 'Oceano Dunes,' nor is it 'the Pismo North Campground.' Oceano sits on a lovely, bird-filled lagoon about 2 short blocks from the State beach. The sites are very typical of Cal State camping, picnic tables and fire rings. I've stayed in both sites with RV hookups and tent camping sites. I felt situated a little closer to other campers than I'd have liked for a several-day visit, but as a convenient overnight place to stop, cook and shower? Oceano kicks ass.

The hosts and rangers are also very nice people here and are super helpful.

There is a Mexican restaurant right outside the very modern and nice Visitor Center, however I have not tried it. The hamburger shack about 1 block towards the beach, Adam's Burgers, is fantastic. Enjoyed by both my daughter and I. There is also a small market, and a coffee shack that'll sell you t-shirts and stickers as well.

There were a lot of RVs set up for lengthier stays. Most folks had dune buggy type cars, but nothing as cool as Wonderbuggy. Oceano Dunes is one of the last places folks can hoon around in the sand. Read the rest

#Vanlife: Camping California's coast -- Morro Strand

This is the first in a series of reviews of Federal, State and County provided campsites along California's amazing coastline.

I started my summer of #vanlife at the Californa State Park campsite of Morro Strand. It was pretty depressing to sit there, but you can leave and see wonderful things.

Morro Strand is a cement parking lot next to the beach along California's beautiful central coast. You can see Morro Rock, and easily drive to San Simeon, Cambria, Los Osos or Montaña de Oro. Hearst Castle is also close by.

The campsite has solid support by rangers, the camp host is very nice. There is no shade at most of the campsite. State-provided wifi is sufficient and will allow you to run a VPN. The site is so nestled into a residential area along the coast that it appears pizza and other forms of local food delivery are available to campers.

There is drinking water available and there are restrooms, however no showers! If you'd like to shower however, you are allowed to take your camping pass and drive to Morro Bay State Park and use theirs. The showers at the Morro Bay Campground have long been amongst the best in the Californa system.

Morro Bay was so crowded in late June, however, it looked like a refugee camp.

Morro Strand was mostly RV campers, and mostly groups of 2-3 campers who situated next to one another who were throwing multi-day beach parties. The camphost and rangers kept things well under control and life was always family friendly, clean and relatively quiet. Read the rest

Your chance to swim in a Hearst Castle pool is now

Ever dream of taking a dip in one of those gorgeous pools at Hearst Castle? YES, ME TOO. Well, get out your credit card, because it's going to cost you.

Architectural Digest:

...it will require you to join The Foundation at Hearst Castle with a minimum donation, which helps fund the castle’s art conservation and education programs (and the minimum amount for a members-only swim event is $950). But can you really put a price on the opportunity to swim at this storied San Simeon landmark within the California State Parks system, built for newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst between 1919 and 1947? Open for only five pool nights this summer and fall (July 6, August 4, August 24, September 21, and October 20), it’s a rare chance to float and frolic where famed stars like Howard Hughes, Joan Crawford, and Charlie Chaplin have. Admission is capped at 40 people, so lucky attendees aren’t elbowing one another for the privilege of swimming in one of America’s most iconic design attractions.

Reserve your spot now. Read the rest

Fur industry paid protesters to attend California and New York hearings on a fur ban

When California's legislature opened hearings on a proposed ban on fur sales, they met with stiff opposition: Andrew Aguero, who described himself as a Native American student said that it was "people from a privileged culture are telling people of my culture that our culture is inhumane" (the bill exempted traditional indigenous uses of fur from the ban); they also heard from Andrew DiGiovanna, another student who said he opposed the bill on environmental grounds; Edwin Lombard said it was “an affront to the African-American community" who used furs to "show we could overcome barriers" like redlining. Read the rest

Valedictorian ruthlessly rips apart adults who didn't help her succeed

A San Diego valedictorian took the opportunity to shred apart adults at her school in her commencement speech. San Ysidro High School's graduating senior Nataly Buhr called out her guidance counselor for leaving her to "fend for herself," the school's office staff for their "negligence," and one of her teachers for being "regularly intoxicated." Ouch. Of course, the crowd went wild.

New York Post:

Unsurprisingly, school officials were not pleased with the stunt.

“We think that the student’s speech was inappropriate and out of line,” Manuel Rubio, a spokesman for the Sweetwater Union High School District, told the San Diego Tribune on Tuesday.

He said he couldn’t comment on specific personnel issues.

The speech Buhr delivered was not the one she submitted for approval before graduation, Rubio added.

“While we definitely welcome the concerns of students and their families regarding any situation at one of our schools, doing so in such a manner without any prior knowledge of this situation by the school, is not the right way of handling this,” he said. “Ultimately this takes away from what should have been a day of celebration for the school and their community.”

Read the rest

LA's new homelessness stats reveal a crisis that is only worsening

LA has the nation's worst homelessness problem, a (literal) epidemic so terrible it distorts the national statistics. Read the rest

To chase out low-waged workers, Mountain View is banning overnight RV and van parking

Mountain View -- home to some of Silicon Valley's most profitable companies, including Google -- is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, thanks to the sky-high wages commanded by techies, who have gone on to bid up all the real-estate in the region. Read the rest

California set to legalize eating roadkill

California bans eating roadkill in part because it's viewed as a temptation for poachers to disguise their kills as road accidents; but that means a lot of game goes to waste (at least 20,000 deer alone are hit by Californians every year -- some researchers put the number at 80,000), and the animals involved are left to die slow deaths by the roadside. Read the rest

Ahead of California's criminal justice reforms to reduce mass incarceration, prosecutors are locking in plea deals forcing defendants to give up the rights they're about to get

If you enter into a plea deal in California today, your prosecutor will likely make you promise not to use any future legal reforms to get out of jail earlier than is stipulated in your plea -- that way, you won't be able to take advantage of the slate of criminal justice and sentencing reforms passed by the California legislature and voted in by Californians through ballot initiatives. Read the rest

The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

California's Right to Repair Bill, killed by Big Ag and Apple, has been reintroduced

Last year, California was one of several states to introduce right to repair legislation that would force companies to end practices that discourage the independent repair sector, creating a requirement to sell replacement parts, provide documentation, and supply codes to bypass DRM systems that locked new parts out of devices until the company activated them. Read the rest

Oakland teachers' union declares total victory after seven-day strike

Well, that didn't take long: after seven days on strike, the Oakland teacher's union has received an offer that they say capitulates on every major point at issue in the strike, including the stealth privatization of Oakland schools through vouchers and charter schools. Read the rest

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