Chris Ward is Every Man ~ If You’re One of The Best Surfers to Ever Walk the Earth

By Matt Pruett
Photos by Pete Taras and Tom Carey

Long ago, Chris Ward was the best 16-year-old surfer in the world. These days, if you believe the press, he’s a washed-up thirty-something surfer who likes to pound hillbilly gals for fun. The truth is a little more complex, perhaps…

Accounts vary. But the most fantastic version goes something like this: During the wee hours of last call on Tuesday morning, January 8th, 2008 outside the Whiskey Creek in Mammoth Lakes, California, 29-year-old Chris Ward – flushed and puffy-faced and full of booze and testosterone and god knows what else – is out of his element. He’s on land.

Confronted by three mouthy women over a jacket while their brooding male escorts crack their knuckles in intimidating disdain, Ward grips a large piece of ice beside him.

This is where things get hazy: for the courts, the media and anyone else who’s followed the Californian’s bizarre proclivities over the years. “Fuck you bitches!” he screams. “Gimme that goddamn jacket!” Ward lifts the weapon over his head, roars and hurls the missile at the females. Naturally, they all go down at once like some extreme sports parody of the Three Stooges. Their valiant avengers proceed to beat Ward to a bloody pulp before the coppers come and drag him off to jail and unchecked online circuits everywhere start firing, confirming that the 17th ranked surfer in the world has achieved a whole new zenith of douche-baggery. [Read more…]

Tales of a Deadhead


Tales of a Deadhead


Because I couldn’t get into Boston University I got stuck at good Ol’ Ithaca College.

No offense, but another cold winter after a couple of years in the Berkshires freezing my butt off in High School and here I was stuck with a bunch of Long Islanders in the middle of nowhere.

In 1985 The Grateful Dead came to nearby Rochester and I jumped at the chance to go.

My brother from another mother -literally- lived in Northern California and was a big Head. I remember hearing “Uncle John’s Band” from his front room in our house when he was in High School. I was six or seven and thought it was secretly about me.

When Jerry Garcia died in 1995 I had seen over one-hundred shows. You’re either on the bus or off the bus but one must decide and my decision had been made long ago.

Twenty-four years later from that fateful day in Rochester New York, I’m back on the East Coast – in bloody New York City with a knockout wife and a beautiful blond four year-old little girl after five years in Santa Cruz and ten years in Venice California.

The Dead minus Mr. Garcia are not The Grateful Dead.

Much has been written since Jerry died;
much of it dreck.

I’ll never forget that *piece* that that woman wrote in the New York Times when the leader of the band left the stage.

But after all these years Mr. Hart, Weir, Kreutzman and Lesh can still bring Madison Square Garden to its knees and this very authentic cover band with original members did just that Saturday Night in the Big Apple.

Man o’ man, I hugged Avril ROSE extra tight the next day.

April 25, 2009

Set I: Cosmic Charlie, China Cat Sunflower > Shakedown Street, Ship of Fools, He’s Gone, Cassidy, Sugaree
Set II: Drums > Cryptical Envelopment > The Other One > Born Cross-Eyed > St. Stephen > The Eleven > Uncle John’s Band > Unbroken Chain > Gimme Shelter > One More Saturday Night
Encore: Brokedown Palace
Only “Ship of Fools,” Only “Gimme Shelter”

PHOTOS: Jay Blakesberg




California State Unemployment Rate Highest Since 1941

San Francisco Chronicle

Saturday, April 18, 2009

BY TOM ABATE Chronicle Staff Writer

simpsons_torch_mobThe state unemployment rate soared to 11.2 percent in March, the highest since before World War II, leaving a record 2.1 million Californians out of work, according to a report issued Friday.

Employment Development Department spokeswoman Patti Roberts said the March figure surpasses the 11 percent rate that occurred during the 1980s recession and brings California close to the jobless level of January 1941, when unemployment stood at about 11.7 percent.

Roberts said unemployment is estimated to have been as high as 25 percent during the Great Depression. The highest reliable figure in state archives is the 14.7 percent rate in October 1940.

The U.S. unemployment rate for March stood at 8.5 percent.

“California’s higher rate of job loss is primarily the result of greater exposure to the housing downturn,” said Stephen Levy, with the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto.

The Bay Area job market remained slightly better than the state average in March. But local rates continued to rise even in the San Francisco metropolitan area, which has been among the state’s most resilient job markets.

Unemployment in the three-county metropolitan zone made up of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin counties rose to 8.5 percent in March.

In the Oakland metropolitan area, composed of Alameda and Contra Costa counties, the March rate was 10.2 percent.

The unemployment rate in metropolitan San Jose was 11 percent, as Santa Clara County and San Benito County suffered accelerating losses.

State figures show that employers cut 62,100 jobs last month. Since March 2008 the state has lost 637,400 jobs.

Over the past 12 months, another 913,000 have joined the ranks of the unemployed. That includes workers who were laid off, young people looking for their first jobs, and older adults who rejoined the labor force, perhaps because a family member got laid off.

“These are stark numbers and this is certainly not an easy time, but on the other hand things are not really as bad as you might think,” said Chris Thornberg with Beacon Economics, a firm that forecasts California conditions.

Thornberg said these job losses reflect the slump in consumer spending that occurred at the end of 2008 and in the beginning of 2009. He said spending is starting to stabilize rather than fall.

“If the stability in consumer spending continues over the next few months, as I expect, the job market will stabilize,” Thornberg said.

But even if the national and state economies start to bottom out later this year, that would only slow the rate of job losses, said Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist with the UCLA Anderson Forecast.

“Unemployment will likely creep up through the end of the year because employers will want to see that the increase in demand is strong before they hire,” he said.

Nickelsburg predicts that the state jobless rate will hit 12 percent before it starts to decline in 2010.

Meanwhile, record numbers of Californians struggle to find work in the toughest job market of their lives.

“This is the first time I’ve been out of work for seven months,” said Phillip House, a 46-year-old San Francisco native who can’t find openings or land interviews in his chosen field of accounting.

“I’m at the point where I’ll do any job that’s legal, moral and ethical,” he said.

State unemployment in March

Labor force*


Total employment


Total unemployment


State unemployment rate

11.2 percent

*People with jobs or looking to work

Source: Employment Development Department

E-mail Tom Abate at

This article appeared on page A – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle

San Francisco is Flat Broke; If Only There Was Something They Could Tax…

S.F. faces $575.6 million budget deficit

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

(12-08) 20:43 PST — San Francisco’s budget deficit for next year has grown to $575.6 million – equal to nearly half the city’s discretionary spending account. It’s a financial crisis Mayor Gavin Newsom called one of the worst the city has experienced since the 1930s.

Newsom will announce his plan for cutting up to $125 million from this year’s $6.6 billion budget today, but gave few details about what it will include.

“This is nothing we’ve seen before,” he told The Chronicle. “As difficult as these cuts will be, the real challenge is in the next three, four, six months.”

Today’s announcement is expected to include proposals to cancel police academy classes, lay off some high-paid attorneys and cut health services, including outpatient treatment programs for the mentally ill and drug addicted.

One thing that won’t be part of the mayor’s cuts package: slashing by 50 percent the city funds given to the Symphony, Opera and Ballet. Supervisor Aaron Peskin called for such cuts last week; if adopted, they would save the city about $1.1 million.

Peskin is also expected to present pages of cost-cutting ideas today, including the arts proposal, as a way to prevent deep cuts to the Department of Public Health and instead spread the pain around.

But Newsom said that while those three cultural institutions and the American Conservatory Theater, the Museum of Modern Art and the Exploratorium will see a 7 percent cut, the 50 percent idea is unnecessary.

“It’s more symbolic than substantive,” he said of Peskin’s proposal. “I want to deal with the real problem, which is hundreds of millions of dollars and not hundreds of thousands.”

Peskin declined to comment Monday.

Salary givebacks or wage freezes from the unions will also not be part of today’s announcement. Newsom said that will have to be part of the budget talks for the 2009-10 year, which starts July 1.

He said he doesn’t necessarily want the Police Officers Association to give back its coming 7 percent pay hike, though, because San Francisco police officers make less than those in small Bay Area cities like Berkeley, Fairfield and Fremont, making recruitment difficult.

This year the mayor had control over about $1.2 billion in discretionary spending, with the rest of the city budget required by law to be spent in specific ways.

Nani Coloretti, the mayor’s budget director, said the midyear cuts will help because programs and positions eliminated now will mean continued savings next year.

“It means you feel pain over 18 months, not over 12,” she said.

Downgrading positions and charging enterprise departments like Muni more for city services are also ways to save money without eliminating entire programs, she said.

Coloretti and Steve Kawa, the mayor’s chief of staff, have been making the rounds to supervisors’ offices in recent days to prepare them for today’s extensive budget cuts.

However, supervisors said the mayor’s representatives have not shared many specifics during these meetings and some have complained they’ve been left in the dark.

Newsom countered that “the board will have ample time to deal with the real issue, which is next year’s budget.”

Chronicle staff writer Marisa Lagos contributed to this report. E-mail Heather Knight at

General Barry McCaffrey Exposed For The Ultimate Spineless Shill That He Is


November 30, 2008

One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.

The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.

Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.

“That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

[Read more…]

%d bloggers like this: