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Greatest surfing move ever made

My wife and I were at the 2018 Pipeline Masters contest last week on our vacation to Oahu and Kona. Perfect prelude to watching the best surfing movie ever the next day, featuring some of the best North Shore and Pipeline stories ever told.

The movie classic “Endless Summer” and its intergenerational legacy is not threatened or supplanted by “Momentum Generation.” “Endless Summer” will always be the seminal narrative and definitive global travelogue of the surfing subculture. 

But HBO’s stunning and astonishing “Momentum Generation” is the more literate narrative revealing the complex humanity of the surfer legends. “Endless Summer” dressed up its two surf idols in white shirts and black neckties looking like Mormon missionaries off for Africa. 

“Momentum Generation” deconstructs mythology and affirms the true identity of the sport’s latter day surf legends with psychological realism and moral truth. The same fun and humorous social idiosyncrasy of the early surf movies before and after “Endless Summer” are still present in the gang of the real life misfits, outcasts and Huck Finn characters who became a legendary tribe on Oahu’s north shore. 

That tribe produced some of the greatest surfers of all time. It is distilled and captured in this movie. Incontrovertibly the most exciting surf move ever produced. 

Learn more about the film at:

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach


Aragon, The Cat 

2004 – December 12, 2018

Aragon close up

Click on photo for a larger image

Aragon, the cat actor, comedian, and social activist, passed away peacefully on December 12 at 1:15 p.m. Aragon was 14 years old and a longtime resident of Laguna Beach. 

Aragon was a well-known celebrity cat and Laguna Beach local. Aragon was cast as Lord Tubbington on the Emmy Award-winning show Glee from years 2010-2015. On Glee, Aragon’s character Lord Tubbington joined a gang, married Mrs. Tubbington, smoked cigarettes, was addicted to ecstasy, and was known to sneak out to eat at Arby’s. Known as the biggest cat in Hollywood, Aragon was also in several commercials and featured on Animal Planet shows My Cat from Hell and Collar of Duty, documenting Aragon as a nationally recognized animal therapy cat.

Off set Aragon spent countless hours of service as a Pet Partners animal therapy cat visiting hospitals and charity events around the country including traveling to Capitol Hill Pet Day in Washington, DC. 

Aragon loved Laguna Beach and spent time meeting and greeting all he could at community events and fundraisers. Aragon’s favorite message to those he worked with was, “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”

Aragon is survived by his mom CeCe, Krista, and his sister Lady Beatrice.

All Heritage Trees should be inspected so that they don’t pose a danger to our community

One of the agenda items at Tuesday’s City Council meeting involved a Heritage Tree that was apparently quite tall and had been growing for decades. In its growth it has embraced (literally) a power pole, and attempts to keep it reasonable have failed – in fact part of one side of the tree leaned precariously to one side and one of its lines was braced by a neighbor to keep it from being ensnarled with any tall vehicle that might pass under it. It was deemed dangerous from many angles. Consensus was to remove it – Edison would remove the power pole and replace it. Neighbors in the area agreed with its removal including one who lived a bit further away who said, although they loved the tree, it did “block their view”.  Everyone chuckled over this remark.  Although technically not on the homeowners’ property, the previous owners did keep the tree trimmed.  A neighbor commented that children often played nearby.  Who is in charge of replacing the tree?

Edison was involved in this particular issue obviously because the power pole was being hugged by the tree and the only way to mitigate this situation was removing both.  But at the whose cost? Whose approval? What timeframe, especially with the advent of the rainy season and potential for high winds. 

My suggestion is that each tree that is on the Heritage Tree be inspected not only for its health, but for the implications it has for future growth that might create a dangerous situation, be it with power poles (another reason to go underground) or falling over/endangering property/people with its age and location. I suggest this for several reasons – obviously to protect lives and property of those who live around these trees, and make plans for its replacement. Also it should be decided who has responsibility for its upkeep and determination of cutting/removing. Do we need to wait until tragedy strikes or can we be more proactive as concerned citizens – rather than reactive – and have policies/procedures in place? I would recommend that if such a “committee be formed” that it is balanced and not wanting to spend thousands of dollars debating/getting experts and alienating our community further. Let’s be reasonable. I suggest that instead of trying to save a questionable/dangerous tree for another twenty years, we spend the money in purchasing a new tree that fits the community, meets safety requirement as it ages, and is not expensive to maintain. I hate to think how much the city has spent in “trimming/cleaning” up after some species of trees that have been put on an exalted alter. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Teen wanted to shoot middle school students

What’s become of our beloved country? How did a story about an Indiana teen, intent on shooting middle school students yesterday, barely make the news? Has gun violence become so commonplace (i.e. expected) that no one really cares any longer? On behalf of the families whose children were massacred at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland and many other schools, I want them to know this writer never will forget or overlook their loss. And frankly, neither should the media.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

War on trees is a disgrace to our City

The historic inventory of Laguna trees is being systematically destroyed. Gasoline poured on trees in South Laguna, Montage trees defaced, and dozens of trees chopped down (e.g. in North Laguna). This is a disgrace to our City. 

The so-called art lovers should revisit the paintings of William Wendt and others and learn the trees of this current Council destruction order were the subjects of exquisite oil paintings.   

A sad holiday season to those who love foliage and nature.

Perhaps the ‘’non-native’’ folks who despise our trees should leave so an errant branch per chance doesn’t fall and hurt them. Their disease is called hylophobia.

Game on tree haters. 

Paul Merritt

Laguna Beach


Sally Sykes Forbes 

1928 – October 28, 2018

Sally Forbes Obituary

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Sally Sykes Forbes died peacefully at her home in Emerald Bay on October 28, 2018 at the age of 90. Sally and her twin sister, Cynthia, were born in Brecksville, Ohio to William and Dorothy Sykes. Sally attended Richfield High School and graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University where she was an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

After graduation, Sally took a job working for the Stouffer’s human resources department. It was there she met her husband Gordon Angus Forbes. The two were married in 1955. They began their family in Chicago, but Gordon’s work with Stouffer’s prompted the young family, now made up of three children Andrew, Carrie and Peter, to move west. They came to Laguna Beach in 1962. Shortly thereafter, in 1963, their youngest daughter, Sara, was born.

Even with four children Sally was always active in her community. Committed to the mental health field, she earned her MFCC from Chapman University and worked for the community mental health clinic. She, along with Lucinda Prewitt, was instrumental in developing the City’s youth shelter (now called the CSP Youth Shelter), which is still in service today. 

Additionally, Sally was active in her Emerald Bay community, serving on many committees, as well as extending a hand to both friends and strangers alike. Sally was a force. That is a fact agreed upon by all who knew this incredibly vibrant and strong-willed woman.

In addition to her children, Sally was blessed with nine grandchildren, Chrissy, William, Amber, Brianna, Brandon, Peighton, Kate, Morgan and Ben, as well as seven great grandchildren, Aiden, Harley, Makayla, Evander, Mac, Cash and James. Nieces Tori, Elizabeth and nephew Sam complete Sally’s devoted family.

As a longtime member of Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church who served on the vestry as a lay minister and was active in the Episcopal Church Women’s group, Sally will be laid to rest there, next to her beloved husband Gordon.

Balboa Island residents approve funding for undergrounding their utilities

I was surprised to learn that Balboa Island has approved funding for undergrounding their utilities. I had to read it twice. Yes, every area can succumb to horrific fires – but if I were to put a list together, I would put Laguna Beach closer to the top than Balboa Island. Probably wouldn’t be as expensive as the proposed plan, which was turned down by some, well…I won’t go there. I truly hope that part of the agenda in making our city as fire safe as we can looks again at this project. With so many businesses/people living in that part of Laguna Beach that is also a significant transportation corridor and that the a fire can go uphill and strike Top of the World, etc. I think it behooves us to bring this to the forefront and perhaps actually become a priority soon. As we have seen it is not just the financial damage for some, but it is emotional and physical damage for all of us. 

Ganka Brown

Laguna Beach

Who decided Laguna is supposed to look a certain way? The answer to that question

At the Planning Commission meeting on the Cleo Street project on Wednesday, Nov 7, 2018, someone attempting to defend the project against charges of incompatibility with the neighborhood asked rhetorically, “Who decided Laguna is supposed to look a certain way?” The answer to that would be “More than in most places, the community,” and this distinctive idea goes back to the town’s beginnings. 

The plein air painters had set the tone by helping spread the word about the beauty of Laguna, and early residents took every opportunity to preserve and enhance it. In 1925 the Woman’s Club launched a campaign to make it “the Paradise of the Pacific,” distributing 700 trees for planting on Arbor Day. Photographs of new houses “in the Laguna spirit” were often featured in the newspaper, and artists such as Anna Hills and Frank Cuprien played key roles in city planning. The city’s first improvement project was announced in the South Coast News for February 1931 with a rendering of the proposed building and the headline “NEW LAGUNA SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT IS ATTRACTIVE IN DESIGN.” The city’s first land use plan, adopted in 1940, included restrictions on building size, and its 1959 General Plan called for “keeping residential and commercial development in the central area low.” When the planning commission proposed a maximum height of 50 feet in 1971, a citizens’ group circulated petitions for an initiative that would limit buildings citywide to 36 feet, and 75 percent of the voters said yes. 

In the course of the seventies, as development around it intensified, the city found additional ways of preserving its character, including a program for preserving heritage trees and a historic register that today includes more than 300 homes. Design review of proposed development was required as early as 1972 and extended to residences in 1986. In the early 1970s Fred Lang led the South Laguna Civic Association in preparing the South Laguna Specific Plan, which led to the creation of the Village Green and the preservation of the hillsides. The Downtown Specific Plan, adopted in 1989, was designed to protect the downtown’s small scale and variety of shops and services. These measures have been kept up to date over the years, and at the meeting November 7 it was apparent that community concern about how Laguna is supposed to look is alive and well. 

Johanna Felder,

President, Village Laguna

Laguna Beach desperately needs more goats

The recent rains give us a short respite from the fearsome future. But, let us not be deluded. The increasing occurrence and ferocity of firestorms of these last years everywhere, in the West particularly, are only a predicted preview of what may come. Hopefully not.

Laguna Beach has had its existence just saved back in ‘93 by the change in the winds and we have subsequently been hit by at least two fires requiring air drops in the canyon in the last few years. Aliso Creek was the scene of the last attack in June, requiring substantial air and ground assistance, and we were luckily aided by the lack of winds. We clearly need as much planning, luck, assistance and help as anywhere else in the west.

One of the seemingly best ideas that we have instituted has been the use of the glorious goatherd and its management. But, I would submit that we need more herds inserted despite the curious assertion of a recent council candidate that the inevitable deposit of goats’ poop outweighs the value of the use and safety provided, as if deer, coyotes, squirrels, rodents, fox, rabbits, porcupines, possums, raccoons, lions may but apparently minimize by recycling their own.

I would submit and request that the City immediately acquire/employ/hire/contract two or three more herds to circulate around more frequently and that these herds be given the authority to eat back further and deeper the heavy brush, etc., protective zone created. Having no idea of the why not, should the safety zone not be enlarged to 100 yards +/-? Mr. Lardie does a terrific job in his retirement managing the single herd but why not double or triple his groups? Some areas, such as Park Ave canyon, seems overgrown even now and the safety zone impinged. Brush and bush grow quickly, especially with rain.

Can we not immediately consider these ideas as the danger is so apparent? (And what a deal for the herd owner to be paid to graze and raise and grow your animals!)

Byron Nelson
Laguna Beach

Reflections on GHWB

Reflections of Navy JAG lawyer and General Counsel of a State Department agency who had the honor of serving and spending time with him, his family and friends, when GHWB was Vice President and President:

His biggest “problem” was not being as mean spirited as those who put their own interests before the national interest, which he refused to do. That is a “problem” we want and need our President to have...every time.

Letter Hills 1

Lura and I are in Kona and woke to this sad news. Comforted by thinking about how unsurpassed his life was in every respect. Also reflecting that his faith sustained his resolve in all he did to the very end.

So glad my daughter Natalie and son-in-law Jonathan joined his granddaughter Marshall for the 2018 Bush family celebrity golf invitational at Kennebunkport, and got to visit with the President at Walker’s Point this summer. Natalie and Marshall were flower girls at Scott and Lindsay Bush’s wedding in the White House years. 

Letter Hills 2

We all were inspired to serve and he made being conscientious a higher value than being recognized for success. We wanted to be part of something that mattered and made a difference, something bigger than just us. 

He had the big shoulders, he was all the big man we needed, big enough he did not need to act big, and that made us want all the more to serve and be part of his cause. He modeled competence with compassion, strength with restraint. 

He taught us all how to handle success and failure with grace and character. What a gift, enabling his people to go our own ways and succeed in post-public service careers and life.

Howard Hills

Laguna Beach

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