Friday, July 5, 2013

Frozen in time



By: George Lee Cunningham



Sculpted oil workers stand frozen in time on a hill above the city and port they helped to build. You can visit the sculpture — and get a great view of Long Beach — at Skyline Drive and Dawson Avenue in Signal Hill.
Friday, July 5, 2013

Are You Listening?



By: George Lee Cunningham


Virtually every married woman I have ever met has the same complaint about her husband. He just doesn’t listen.

I am no exception to this rule. As a matter of fact, I may be the poster child for this rule, or so my wife claims.

There are a lot of things men can say about not listening to their wives – most of which will get them in trouble quicker than a lightning bolt can fry a pine tree. And because we are not nearly as stupid as we sometimes seem, most men don’t actually say these things to their wives.  They just think these thoughts – or share them with other men. Thoughts like:

Well, women feel a need to talk, whether there is anything to say or not, so you have to tune them out or you are in this endless loop of female trivia.

Or, I am aware that she is talking, and I am listening, but I’m not really paying attention – kind of like when you’re squeezing the tomatoes in the produce section while the supermarket sound system is playing the Living Strings version of “Some Enchanted Evening.” You hear it, but it’s […]


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Signing Off on KABOOM



By: Reader Publishing Group



Author George Lee Cunningham spends a Sunday afternoon signing copies of his new book, chatting with old friends, eating cake, and drinking — what else? — KABOOMS. (photo by Natalie Shore)

Author George Lee Cunningham spends a Sunday afternoon signing copies of his books, chatting with old friends, eating cake and drinking — what else? — KABOOMS. To find out how you can order your own copy of KABOOM go to www.readerpublishing.com — photo by Natalie Shore

Friday, June 21, 2013

FuturePorts: Looking for Answers



By: George Lee Cunningham


I spent the better part of a day this week at the FuturePorts conference in Long Beach. Here are some quick takeaways from the event – not necessarily what the speakers presented, but what I took from the discussion. And some of my takeaways were not from the speakers themselves, but from some of the other attendees at the event. If you were there – and even if you were not – feel free to add your own.

Here goes:

• Folks are busy trying to build a port infrastructure that will last 30 years in a world that is rapidly changing. How much of that infrastructure will still be relevant 10 or 20 years from now? Huge mega-container ships are the big deal now, but just how far should ports go and how much money should they spend to remake themselves to accommodate the bigger ships?

• Two decades later, we are still talking about terminal turn times – the time it takes a trucker to arrive at a terminal, wait in line, conduct his business and be on his way. At issue is that we have one of the most structured workforces in the […]


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Friday, June 21, 2013

Waiting and Watching: In the Path of a Tsunami



By: Ken Cable


About a dozen of us stood looking out to sea from the third floor overlook at Paki Maui resort waiting for the wave to materialize from out of the blackness.  It was October 27, 2012. We had just learned that a 7.7 earthquake had hit off Canada’s west coast and that a huge tsunami was rolling across the Pacific Ocean and would collide with Maui at precisely 10:28 p.m.  The expected height of the surge was estimated at five-and-a-half feet – potentially devastating.

The Hawaiian Islands lie in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, farther from any continental land mass than any other island in any other ocean.  Viewed from that perspective, we were a forlorn little group huddled in a faraway place waiting for an angry tidal wave to surge over our seawall and sweep us away.  All we needed to complete the Hollywood scenario was for the Fire Goddess Pele to stir things up on Haleakala, Maui’s dormant volcano.   

Actually, we were more festive than forlorn, mainly because our full-time resident experts told us not to worry, the tsunami – if it arrived – would smack into the windward (east) side of Maui and we were safely […]


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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Old Time Journalists Had Something Today’s Journalists Lack



By: George Lee Cunningham


One of the interesting things about writing history is that you get to step back in time and see how people lived and thought back in the old days. And what you mostly find is that people haven’t really changed all that much. The world changes and sometimes people change the world, but the people themselves don’t change. They may adjust to their new circumstances, but the basic human motivations remain much the same as they’ve always been.

We’re writing a book on the history of the Port of Long Beach, so I have been going through old newspaper articles, looking how the events of the day were described by the people who were actually there. For a journalist, it’s fun to see how the art of reporting and writing the news has changed from the old days until now.

As every J-School grad knows, one of the most popular ways to write a story is the inverted pyramid. You start by telling all the main facts, and then as you proceed with your story, you add the various details. There is a reason for that.

During the Civil War many of the stories from the battlefield were filed over […]


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Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Story Behind the Big Story



By: Reader Publishing Group


GEORGE LEE CUNNINGHAM talks about the old days of journalism, why he wrote his first novel, The Big Story and why he set his book in the early 1970s when he was a young journalist.


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Friday, June 7, 2013

A Ride up Coast and a Look out to Sea



By: Ken Cable


He surged up out of an incoming wave like a Jules Verne sea monster and stormed through the surf to the sandy shore, bellowing loudly all the way. Of course, he was just showing off for all the lady elephant Seals already ashore. What he got for his troubles were not squeals of delight from the fairer seal-sex, but an even louder challenge from a bull seal already claiming this patch of beach. They charged each other (now, this needs some explaining; ‘flopping’ is a more accurate description of a bull elephant seal charge) slamming together chest to chest, open mouths emitting roars that would do a lion proud, trunk-like snouts distended. Then the biting begins and in short order, the interloper turns and flops away to seek a lesser adversary.

We witnessed this timeless conflict on a beach near Piedras Blancas lighthouse along California Highway 1 just north of San Simeon. We were not alone. Since these ocean going behemoths began hauling out at Piedras Blancas, people began stopping to watch. It soon became apparent that people – and the seals – needed protection. A large parking area was created and a board-walk and fence was installed along the […]


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Friday, June 7, 2013

Don’t Let the Big, Brown Eyes Fool You



By: Carmela Cunningham


Boy, you think you know someone. Then they go and do something so out of character, so outrageous, so heinous, that it leaves you reeling.

For the last year, we’ve shared a little Yorkshire Terrier with my brother-in-law. He’s a 13-pound cutie, which is pretty big for a Yorkie, but a great size for a small dog. He’s big enough to take for a mile-long walk, but small enough to carry that last quarter-mile when he’s all tuckered out.

I never really wanted a dog, but Henry is such a sweetie, that I only had to babysit him for two days before wanting him full-time. And although my brother-in-law won’t give him up, he is willing to share.

So, the pup spends a few days here with Daddy George and Mommy and a few days “there” with Daddy Charlie. When he’s “there,” he goes by the name, Pup Daddy. To us, he’s Henry.

Henry is about as sweet as they come. He’s a cuddler. He’ll chase a ball and fetch his bone, but he’s always been more of a lover than a runner, and that’s pretty good for me. I wrap him in a blankie and cuddle […]


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