Friday, August 28, 2015

The new "Grand Bohemian" 1

Oh yeah, I liked the look as soon as I entered and headed toward the check-in reception area at the Grand Bohemian Charleston hotel.

Touring on the evening of Day One is a good way to see how all the previous behind-the-scenes training has paid off

Friendly, efficient and knowledgeable sums up the employees I met.

The Post and Courier ran a nice piece the day before and I attach it here.
I was merely a citizen who recalled it had opened, was in the area and decided to stop in and look around.

Well, I also had my camera with me so I looked maybe a little closer than most.

Right near the entrance is an enticing, well-appointed  32-tap wine tasting room where you can use a credit card to draw some samples.

I did some similar tasting at Bay Street Biergarten a few months ago but that was sampling an array of beers, not fine wines.

Had a seat at the 4th floor (Penthouse) bar and looked out over the Élevé restaurant where the theme is French-meets-Charleston. 

Sampled a bar serving of three fish tacos and was well satisfied with the taste, the freshness and the "crunch."

Stepped out to the deck to see this new view of the Historic District.

Colorful, and designed for ease and comfort, I will be sure to come back for a daytime view.

Don't know what you call that very large round couch with throw pillows, but it sure looks comfortable.

In addition to a wide spectrum of paintings featured in the guest rooms and public areas, there is an actual Grand Bohemian Gallery.

It will be open, not only to the hotel guests, but also the general public. 

Hey, the Holy City has proudly featured such displays of art for years. 

A nice touch, which was pointed out while I was looking at a sample guest room, is a Bose sound system in each room.

The included CD album, "Bohemian Beats,"
features music personally selected by Richard Kessler, CEO of The Kessler Collection, owner of the new $30 million, 50-room boutique property.

Music from that same CD is heard, softly playing in the background, in the public areas of the hotel.

This was related to me by the delightful lady from the Reception desk who had keyed me in to see a Standard King room.

She, and several other staffers that night, proudly described the window drapes in each room that show an image of a Philip Simmons crafted ironwork fence and gate.

Most guest rooms face out on either Meeting Street or Wentworth Street. Inner rooms view a sunny atrium area, planted with real grass and lighted at night with fanciful illumination.

I was told that large sculptures soon will be added.

Hey, this was all on display on the first day of having guests in the house.

I have worked in hotels during my checkered career and salute the careful preparedness that was evident on Opening Day.

(Click on the photos - and links - for more details).

Thanks for taking a stroll with me and popping into Charleston's newest boutique property.

More good news..the bar does NOT serve Bud light or any "lite" beers. !

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger....50 good years

Recently, I wrote about seeing The Rolling Stones in concert.


My whole life, I had never seen them perform live and then, twice, in a matter of weeks.

Atlanta was a 5-hour drive to the concert. There I was, with 42,000 close personal friends.

Then in Raleigh - a shorter drive - to see them in another football stadium. Yet another 40,000 fans.

Better than I expected them to be.

Mick Jagger made you feel proud to be in your seventies!

Five years ago I got to see Paul McCartney in concert up in Charlotte.

Wow! What an evening.

What great songs.

Sitting up close and watching his eyes twinkle.

He spoke to a fan in the audience who was waving a blue and white North Carolina license plate...with his name on it.

He smiled and then pointed out it was misspelled. And, it was wrong when spelled M-C-C-A-R-T-N-Y because his name has 9 letters. There just weren't enough spaces on the tag.

But today, I was surprised with a real treat...going back 50 years to relive my newspaper's coverage of the 1965 Beatles concert in San Diego and seeing again the pictures I had taken of the Fab Four that morning at a press conference. And I was credited as the photographer.

I had not seen these since I left the paper in the late 60s. I did notice my name credit was included but the negatives now reside with the San Diego Historical Society.

Hey, half a century later, I'm just glad they are part of a safe collection.

The actual proof sheet of my shots was shown with circles drawn around two the Picture Editor had picked to run with the story. Looking closely, I could see my initials "CB" printed just on the edge of the film.

Our cameras were altered to show two letters to always reflect the staff photographer's identity on each negative.

Don't know if the entire attachment will open here but it was mind-blowing to time travel back to that event 50 years ago.

The Beatles at Balboa Stadium: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

It was 50 years ago today (well, this week) that the Fab Four performed its only San Diego concert. For some, it was a life-changing night.

Mugshot of George Varga
By George Varga | 12:44 p.m. Aug. 22, 2015
Proof sheet of San Diego Union photographer Chuck Boyds take.  San Diego Historical Society/The San Diego Union Tribune CollectionProof sheet of San Diego Union photographer Chuck Boyds take. San Diego Historical Society/The San Diego Union Tribune Collection — U-T file

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    Wednesday, August 19, 2015

    "Heah Come Da Judge.."

    When I arrived at the courthouse for Jury Duty, I saw it was situated in a strip mall.

    Hey, that's OK...Justice is blind. 

    The quaint Town Courthouse Square seen in movies (I worked at Universal Studios when the tour first started) has been replaced by Subway stores, pawn shops and pizza places. 

    Oh, and a Berkeley County Veteran's Affairs office.

    Just before I opened the door, I saw a sign banning most anything you could think of. 

    I had left my camera in the car - realizing courtrooms and cameras do not always co-exist. Then I had to go back to my car to drop off my cell phone. 

    Courts are smarter than many music venues that ban cameras but seem to ignore PhoneCams .

    Everybody now carries one and is not hesitant to whip it out and snap a picture or even create a video.

    Inside, I handed in my paperwork, noting I had arrived at exactly 12:45, the designated and mandated requirement to do my civic duty. 

    I pushed through a set of double doors to see an array of citizens in an obvious waiting area.

    All of the seats were taken (when had they all arrived?) and I thought about saying that I was called as lucky Juror #7 so I was guaranteed a place to sit and wait. 

    Thought better of that and shuffled over into an adjacent area that still had a few empty chairs.

    Now I was seated among those with Veteran Affairs issues. 

    I had served in the Marines as a combat photographer (Hey, 1957 - 1960 just happened to be very peaceful. Lucky for me!) I had served my tour of duty.

    I sat back. crossed a leg, opened the paperback that I took a chance was safe to bring in, and immersed myself in the problems of a spy named Evan Tanner by a favorite author Lawrence Block.

    All of the activity was on this side of the large room. 

    People (veterans?) were called, they were ushered through a doorway for private consultations BUT, we all could hear the voice of the very loud counselor. No secrets here. 

    "Haha, it says here, he's a Vice-President and he doesn't even know how to fill out a form correctly," was one refrain we could not avoid hearing. 

    I think Joe Biden had finished his South Carolina vacation so I don't think that he was the VP in question.

    After an hour of reading - and observing vets being called and taken in for assistance - there was some activity over in the Jury side of the room. 

    Without a watch or my cellphone that shows the time, I really was just guessing it had been an hour.

    The lady seated next to me said it was 1:30.

    The newcomer - obviously an official, though dressed very casually - stated that deliberations were going on and we should hear an update soon.

    I went back to my book where Tanner was sneaking across borders in Eastern Europe. I also noted there was an empty space on a hard wooden bench in the jury area so I moved over and sat down among my peer group.

    A young lady with many tattoos commented that she had come on a Moped and was afraid that a 3 pm heavy rain would make her pretty miserable. 

    I joked that I had heard Mopeds called a DUI-mobile because if you lost your license, you still could drive one of these. Haha.

    She said it was true. She had had a DUI and a DUS (driving under a suspended license) and had served some time for drug possession so she was surprised she had been called for jury duty. Yikes!

    A little after two, Judge Sessions came in, relaxed, with his black robe unzipped, to tell us the lawyers had met and, I guess, had accepted a plea bargain.

    He said two jury trials had been avoided. 

    He thanked us and noted the mediation had worked because all involved knew there was a jury "waiting in the wings."

    Hey, unorganized and not even empaneled, we were a force for justice. 

    We walked out to our cars - and at least one Moped - at about 2:30, and resumed our daily routines. 

    I hope the veterans receive what they were seeking. All we ask for is justice.

    Drive safely young Moped driver.

    (Click on the photos and links for more details.) 

    Thanks for sharing my day (almost) in court.

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    Sunday, August 16, 2015

    Take A Hike!

    Saturday, 16 members of my 21st Century Photo Group staged a Photo Scavenger hunt in the Historic District.

    The Scavenger mastermind was Charles Giet, a long-time member.

    And a huge fan of all sorts of photo walkabouts by the group.

    He compiled a list of 25 "items" to be found - and photographed - by the five teams of 3.

    My two teammates and I had no problem with one calling for "a cannon."* Thanks David, for stuffing yourself into that barrel.

    We had gathered at White Point Garden (the Battery) and had from 3:30 to 6:30 to go down the list and snap pictures.

    However, each picture had to include the team's miniature yellow fan.

    This ensured team members would not be tempted to split up and go off independently to search, find and take a picture.

    Team effort was required.

    One item on the list - a jogglin' board - caused confusion for one team's member.

    She was from New York she had not ever heard of such a thing.

    We were fortunate to not only know WHAT it was but spotted one in the garden of an historic Battery home and grabbed the shot we needed. Thanks Debbie for posing.

    Notice the small yellow fan is in the shot. Rules are rules.

    A license plate is a good one to seek on a Saturday afternoon scavenger hunt.

    Charles made it doubly interesting by specifying it had to be a "West Virginia license plate."

    Hmmm. Lots of tourists down around the Market area and we quickly noticed that most states had stopped having a tag on the back AND on the front.

    We waked along, checking the rear end of cars, but finally found a visitor who had parked in the open air lot by where the carriages depart, next to Henry's restaurant.

    One other team found theirs in a parking garage. Not as easy as it sounds!

    Because we started at the Battery, one of our earliest - and easiest -  finds was "a sailboat."

    The challenge was to zoom in so the boat was clearly visible and also include the team's token - the yellow fan.

    Early on, we discovered that the small fan did not have any batteries in it, so it could not be used for a cooling breeze.

    No complaints on the weather though. Temps in the upper 80s, relatively low humidity and not a drop of rain. The "chance" for rain was predicted to be about 20%.

    Around Meeting Street at Market, we spotted a small bridal party, really dressed to the nines.

    One of our team members went over to ask if any of the ladies was wearing "stiletto heels?"

    Sure enough and she was willing to hike her skirt to have the shoes photographed.

    She did ask about the small yellow inoperable fan that was placed next to her right foot. 

    We explained and the party went on with their downtown stroll.

    Our hunt continued for a very difficult object... a "Live Lobster."

    I am sure all the team members had Charles Giet on their minds as they went in and out of restaurants and even into the Harris-Teeter on East Bay Street.

    It was confirmed that the store "used to" have them in a tank, but the tank had broken, etc. 

    We also were told we were not the first Scavengers to come in and ask.

    Apparently many upscale seafood places have them "flown in fresh daily" but none was on premises at that moment.

    Ahah! The new Ruth's Chris Steak House, which has opened where Tristan's used to be, happened to have two hefty beauties relaxing in a small tank at the back of the main dining room.

    The genial manager used a wooden rake-like tool to bring one up for it's photo close-up. 

    Lots of splashing and claw-waving but no damage done. The confused 10-legged crustacean was told that "No, it wasn't dinner time yet," and was returned to his cold, briny home.

    Did I mention we were the only team to score a photo of a live lobster? 

    We gathered at A.W. Shuck's seafood 
    restaurant at the conclusion of the hunt, and all the other teams admitted looking around hopefully as they entered, searching and wishing to see a lobster tank.

    My team had 21 finds and tied with another team, two were tied at 18 and the fifth had tallied 17.

    (Click on the photos and links for more details.)

    *Yes, technically that is called a mortar but it tosses a cannon ball a long, long distance.

    And...Charles Giet (standing on the far right) had researched and compiled the list so he did not participate in the Hunt. 16 were present and we formed five teams of three.

    My daughter in California just sent me a note about a Scavenger Hunt they engineered for a friend's birthday. Unique and fun-filled. 

    Ended with some lawn bowling.

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    Tuesday, August 11, 2015

    Oh, yeah. Adam Sandler and I in Savannah....

    I sent in some paperwork and several photos to the Extras Casting people working on The Do Over movie.

    Surprisingly, I got a response that they liked my look.

    I was invited to be a "hospital visitor" in the Adam Sandler movie being filmed on the campus of the Savannah Technical College.

    Two hour drive, $15 to fill my gas tank and pack 4-5 complete changes of clothes.

    Arrived a little after 11 am and prepared myself  to wait.

    This was not my "first rodeo."

    Last year I was an extra - also in a hospital setting - as a patient in an open-back gown, pushing an IV bag on a stand.

    That was IDENTITY, a pilot for CBS that did not get picked up.

    I remembered a 12-hour day at the old Navy Hospital in North Charleston.

    Paid to wait with perhaps only 2-hours of actually assuming our atmosphere/background person positions, then going through it quite a few times.

    But, this time I got lucky and sat next to Michael Curry, a Savannah fire fighter, who had  a great tale to tell. He's in the green scrubs as an orderly.

    Michael had already posted it on Facebook, but he went through it again for me.

    A friend of his is the Sales Director at Ruth's Chris Steak House and asked if he would like to help deliver a $1400 food order to the Adam Sandler plane at the airport.

    "Well, heck yeah," he responded and "can I bring my son Cole?" 

    He even convinced security - and the pilot - that it would be easier to load the food if he drove out onto the tarmac.

    So now,  instead of sitting in the general aviation terminal to wait, he, the lady from Ruth's, and his son,
    were going in and out of the posh plane that belonged to Sony Productions, Inc,

    He also got a nice shot of his car - with its distinctive personalized tag - next to the private luxury jet.

    This was a great story and a pleasant way to kill time as we waited for the call to move over to the active set.

    Quite a few people had been called in for this 25th day of shooting of a 43-day script.

    Additional footage would be shot in Puerto Rico, I was told, when I asked Chad Darnell, the Extras Casting Director.

    Actually, Savannah had stood in for a P.R. bar crowded with 400+ extras  recently!

    Oh, wait a minute.

     I left out the best part about Adam Sandler and his family and friends showing up and agreeing to pose with Michael and his son and Randi Hempel. the Ruth's Chris sales marketer.

    A $1400 food order for the 15 people on board the plane was quite a nice order.

    And a swell guy from Hollywood made it even nicer.

    Many, many years ago I worked for Universal Studios in L.A. and met and worked with some charming and delightfully talented people.

    Also a few jerks.

    I was a publicist for the brand new Studio Tour and was available for odd assignments when the studio bigwigs threw a party or function, usually when it was held on "my" Back Lot.

    My worst ever assignment was handing name tags to the arriving guests at a outdoor gala. Most were gracious but more than a few "stars" ignored me and my stinkin' badges. One muttered as he passed " if people need to be told who I am!"

    I could mention his name but he has dropped from public view. A long time ago.

    Ok, back to Savannah.

    After wardrobe picked two complete outfits - from head to toe - from the assortment I brought, I was told to put on the first one and go to make-up.

    The hair stylist lady looked up, smiled and said "Your hair is fine just as it is." 

    I liked that affirmation. Made me feel good.

    Then the Make-up guy gestured for me to sit in his chair in front of the lighted mirrors.

    He mentioned a pink spot right beneath my nose (I had seen that earlier. It was like a blemish that appears on your face just before the Prom.)

    He also covered a spot on the tip of my nose and then used his magic to make some softening touches on the many wrinkles around my eye.

    He didn't work that area too long.

    This could have been a heavy duty assignment and I was simply an extra.

    A grateful one though.

    Went back to the table and watched as a large ice chest was brought in.

    It was filled with an assortment of bottled colas and I found me a nice cold water. Another addition while I was in make-up, was many bags of chips, sweet rolls, peanut butter crackers and even some energy bars.

    My snack of an apple and water was interrupted when the Casting Director pointed to me and a lady seated nearby and said to come with him.

    We passed through the school campus bookstore area and were taken outside beneath a sign that said Savannah General Hospital.

    Sandler's stand-in was at the wheel of a bullet riddled truck and camera angles and reflectors were adjusted as Sheila Cochran and I stood, waiting in the shade.

    Sheila was known as a good performer and was told to scream in surprise when she and I spotted a bloodied disheveled man with a compound fractured right arm staggering toward us to enter the hospital.

     We came out the door, excited and happy from just seeing our daughter's new baby. We walked right toward the camera, the injured man stumbled past and Sheila SCREAMED!

    I was told to comfort her on camera and we would scurry off toward our car.

    We did this three times. CUT! Steven Brill, the Director, pronounced it perfect.

    No cameras are allowed on the set so Sheila and I recreated it back in the staging area.

    We were taken back inside the air conditioned lobby and Adam Sandler came to her and said "You nailed it!"

    He patted me on the back, shook my hand and added "Nice job. You did great."

    Ate a delicious craft services meal and then changed into my second outfit for an interior scene. The extras casting director took me aside and said I could head on home. 

    He told me my face was so prominent in the scene outside, that I could not now be used in a crowd scene.

    I liked the sound of that!

    They liked Sheila and her scream so much, they promoted her on the spot. From extra to "featured." 

    She is an aspiring actress so I am pleased for her.

    Me? I headed back up to Charleston, feeling it had been a fun and exciting day.

    I got to actually chat with a noted actor who is a nice guy. I have my fingers crossed we don't end up on the cutting room floor.

    Sheila deserves to be in that film. Yeah, you bet I'll go see it too.

    Maybe I'll check out our new Ruth's Chris Steak House here in the Holy City.

    (Click on the photos and links for more details,)

    *No I did not take the picture of Adam. Found it online.

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    Thursday, August 06, 2015

    CROW counting.....

    I told a friend I was going to go see Counting Crows last night.

    The group was formed back in 1991, and I liked its leader Adam Duritz and the great sounds they make on stage and CDs.

    They were playing at the Family Circle venue on Daniel Island.

    Think I said something "cutesy" about "counting some crows."

    My buddy's response was cryptic: be sure to look for Russell, Sheryl and Black.


    Yes, you are way ahead of me. 

    Of course, those are people and groups that are named C-r-o-w or even  C-r-o -w-e.  Duh.

    I had seen these Crows live many years ago in Atlanta at the now defunct Mid-Town Music Festival.

    So sad that went away. 

    It was easily worth a 5-hour drive over there to see multiple acts over a long weekend.

    Anyway - he and the band sounded just as good as I remembered.

    Don't recall him with all that hair but the voice was perfect. He actually seemed more relaxed than I remember.

     Sitting down at stage center, atop some monitors, he sang and kicked his heels up in apparent glee.

    I enjoyed the sounds AND the fact it was NOT raining.

    This afternoon, there was a torrential downpour but not on Wednesday night. 

    Those beautiful, well-maintained clay courts would have been hard-pressed to absorb all that water and not be adversely-affected by a huge crowd standing and dancing at mid-court.

    Oh, the evening was indeed hot and humid.

    But no rain. And a nice breeze came often enough to provide blessed relief. There was even an uplifting aroma wafting through every now and then.

    Up on stage, the light show was quite nice.

    As a photographer, I try to time my shots to peak action.

    A bonus is when spectacular lighting gives me an edge in capturing a moment that is visually outstanding.

    The venue holds 10,200 people for tennis matches but,  has to block off seats for a show like this that would have a poor visual angle.

    So, let's say, the filled seats totaled about 6 or 7 thousand. 

    Looked like a sell-out crowd to me.

    Impressive on a hot oppressive night of sweat, heat and humidity. 

    Hey, it's August in Charleston. We can handle it.

    I was a bit disappointed to see a young child of about 6 or 7 standing right behind me with parents who were a bit flustered.

    They took turns lifting and holding the small girl in their arms so she could see what all the noise was about. 

    She tried to sit down on the court but it was obvious that people dancing and moving with the music could be an "Oops, stepped on your child" hazard.

    The parents quietly left with her at the end of the show, skipping the extended encore.

    Did I mention I may have had the only real camera in that jostling crowd?

    Oh, there were plenty of phone cams and phablets (combo tablets and phones) all around me.

    But it was kind of sad to see hundreds/thousands of people concentrating on "selfies" and their recording devices and not the actual "Live" moment.

    I snapped a few shots with my camera for possible use to share with readers of this blog but my main focus was the music and the extravaganza happening right before my eyes.

    OK, actually, today, this afternoon, as the rain pounded down outside,  I took another computer step.

    I had caught Adam at the piano, in a delightful "really into it" moment and used "tools" to poster-ize that moment.


    Reached into my visual bag of tricks and accentuated the emotion he was showing.

    Guilty as charged.

    But it seemed the perfect way to illustrate how great he felt about that song. His head was thrown back as he shared with us.

    I have learned to NOT overuse the Fish-Eye lens effect but I'm a sucker for a good, clean poster look.

    I counted three different t-shirts on Adam as he and the band sweated their way through the excellent long song set list.

    This moment was repeated often as Adam teamed up with another band mate for a brief interchange.

    I mean really "brief."

    Only seconds to catch him with David  Immergluck on mandolin.

    Or with lead guitar Dan Vickrey.

    It was challenging to capture those brief pairing instants.

    So the breeze helped. I missed my earplugs but got through OK.

    Police assisting us in and out to avoid jams as traffic could have been really terrible and snarled.

    It was a fun and fulfilling time of counting the crows.

    (Click on the photos and links for more details.)

    Thanks for chillin' with me.

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    Saturday, August 01, 2015

    Bicycle ....theme of the day. Worldwide.

    A blogging buddy of mine - Joan Perry - posted a shot she submitted to a site that names a Theme of the Day on the first day of the month.

    For August, it is "BICYCLE."

    Her posted picture shows a bike sculpture at River Front Park in North Charleston.

    Bright, colorful and eye-catching.

    Looking in my files, I came up with a black & white photo of my Dad and his older brother with a bicycle "built for two" that would have to be shared.

    Older brother Eddie did seem to have 100% possession at this particular moment.

    Both boys are gone now - my Dad (on the right) died in 1998 and would have turned 100 in 2013. Eddie died in the sixties at age 45.

    I'm guessing this shot was taken in the 1920s.

    Probably with one of those new "Brownie box camera" made by Eastman Kodak.

    I had shown this picture before in one of my blogs but it's here again so I can submit it to Daily Photo Blog to help celebrate Bicycle Theme Day.

    Thanks for the heads up, Joan.

    I see the theme for September 1st will be "Curiosities." Hmmmmm.

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