Monday, June 29, 2015

Seven Facts About The Landers Earthquake

THE HOT MOJAVE DESERT IN SAN BERNARDINO COUNTY - Little earthquakes, many of them very little earthquakes, shake Southern California everyday. However, it was on June 28, 1992, on which the largest county in the lower 48 states was the epicenter of the largest earthquake in California in about 40 years. Though not a lot of spectacular, memorable damage was done, there were a lot of lessons learned from this earthquake.

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Probably the most noticeable damage following the 1992 earthquake was this bowling alley in Yucca Valley. Photograph taken by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and in public domain.

Waking Southern California up on a Sunday morning at 4:57 a.m. in the very busy year of 1992 here are seven interesting facts about the earthquake commonly known as, "The Landers Earthquake."

1 - It Still Remains The Last Largest Earthquake In California

It has been over 20 years and the Landers Earthquake was, according to the moment magnitude scale (M), a M7.3 earthquake, and (as of this writing) retains the record as being the last large earthquake, by way of magnitude, to hit California. Prior to the 1992 event the last large earthquake to hit California was the 1952 Kern County Earthquake, which occurred near Wheeler Ridge on the (thought to have been inactive) White Wolf Fault, and was M7.3. After the Landers Earthquake the next closest earthquake in magnitude size was the 1999 Hector Mine Earthquake at M7.1.

Even though this earthquake was rather big, it was not "The Big One." In fact, "The Big One" is expected to be M7.8-8.0.

As paleoseismology has shown this record held by the Landers Earthquake will likely be broken at some point.

2 - There Was A Lot Of Fault Involved

Rather, lot of faults were involved. The Landers Earthquake did not just rupture on one single fault-line, but rather ruptured on five separate fault-lines: Johnson Valley, Landers, Homestead Valley, Emerson, and Camp Rock Faults, according to the Southern California Earthquake Data Center (SCEDC).

3 - A New San Andreas Fault Could Be Opening Up

That is the theory, at least, from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) geologist Pat Williams. According to the LBL article that came out in August 1992:

A theory that was posed in the aftermath of last month's earthquakes was that a new San Andreas fault could be opening up from the Salton Sea north to central California. Williams says instead that the recent activity has linked the Gulf of California with slip systems east of Mount Whitney, the 1872 site of one of California's three historic magnitude 8.0 earthquakes.

Williams' theory is that the strain is heading toward the back side of the Sierras, northeast into central Nevada, where it may affect active geothermal fields. The earth's movement could enhance the production of geothermal fluids by contributing to a thinning of the crust and allowing the fluids to circulate through complex fractures.

A huge strain response on a scale never seen before occurred during the 24 hours following the Landers earthquake. At the Pinion Flats Observatory researchers from UC San Diego observed a massive redistribution of strain deep in the earth's crust. For the first time, Williams says, scientists will be able to study not just how the upper 12 kilometers of brittle crust reacts, but the response of the deep crust beneath it.

This theory is still being debated among geological and seismologists circles, and, frankly, it will probably take a few more large earthquakes to see if this theory is correct. The earth sciences is sometimes a game of wait and see.

4 - Did You Feel The Foreshock?

At the time nobody knew it was a foreshock to the Landers Earthquake, and in fact, there was concern this might have been a foreshock to a San Andreas Fault event, and that was a M6.1 foreshock that hit about 11 miles east of Desert Hot Springs on April 23, 1992. The Earth Day earthquake caused a moderate amount of property damage in the Palm Springs area. As this earthquake, called the Joshua Tree Earthquake, rolled through to Los Angeles at 9:50 p.m. a Dodgers' game was going on and Vin Scully broadcast the the rolling motion happenings at Chavez Ravine.

There was concern this could be a foreshock to a San Andreas' event, and, according to the SCEDC, "A San Andreas Hazard Level B was declared following this quake, meaning that a 5 to 25% chance existed for an even larger earthquake happening along the San Andreas fault within 3 days."

This made for some big headlines in L.A. media, but by April 29, 1992, this earthquake and the threat of the San Andreas Fault unleashing its fury would be forgotten, at least for a little while.

This foreshock had its own foreshock, a M4.6, a little over two hours earlier.

5 - Was The Big Bear Earthquake Really An Aftershock?

This was the Big Bear Earthquake broadcast live on CNN to the country and parts of the world.

The short answer, no.

This is a report of the earthquakes from KTVU-TV, Oakland/San Francisco, which includes on-air coverage from KTTV-TV as the Big Bear Earthquake shook the KTTV/Fox 11 newsroom at the now gone Metromedia Square in Hollywood.

At 8:05 a.m. on that Sunday morning a lot of people were already up and had already felt quite a few aftershocks, but one the largest, and probably most damaging, earthquake that morning was the Big Bear Earthquake. It was originally thought the M6.5 Big Bear Earthquake was simply an aftershock, and having an aftershock of that size following such a large earthquake is not unusual. However, as later research showed, the Big Bear event was not an aftershock of the Landers Earthquake. Rather, that earthquake in the San Bernardino Mountains was apart of a "regional earthquake sequence," according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

6 - Location And Magnitude

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While there was some strong shaking in the Inland Empire, L.A. area, Orange County and San Diego area, all of the violent shaking, which causes severe damage, was in mostly unpopulated areas of the San Bernardino County desert. "Shakemap" by USGS and in public domain.

Even though the Landers Earthquake was a historically large, powerful earthquake, the epicenter was seemingly in "the middle of nowhere," and damage was mostly minor-to-moderate (if you were somebody who lived near the epicenter in "the middle of nowhere" it was, no doubt, not quite a good morning). The Big Bear Earthquake a little over three hours later, and a lot less powerful than the Landers' event, was in a more populated area, and thus more damage was caused despite it only being a moderate-size earthquake. The Northridge Earthquake vividly showed that it only takes a moderate-sized earthquake in an urban area to cause major damage. So, even though an earthquake may be quite large (and scary sounding to those around the country who only hear, "A 7.3 earthquake struck the L.A. area on Sunday morning"), if it is located in a very sparsely populated area very little property damage will be found. This, too, would be visibly illustrated following the 1999 Hector Mine Earthquake.

7 - The Landers Earthquake Happened One Year After The Sierra Madre Earthquake

Some people have forgotten about this earthquake, but on June 28, 1991, a M5.8 earthquake struck in the Angeles National Forest about 12 miles northeast of Pasadena in an event called, The Sierra Madre Earthquake. It is interesting and curious that some people have forgotten this event as this earthquake caused some major property damage in the Pasadena area, such as, windows shattering and brick-walls collapsing. One of this interesting things about this earthquake was for a quake of its size it had a small aftershock sequence.

No, despite these earthquakes occurring a year apart they are not related.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Six Facts About The 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake

STATE STREET AND CABRILLO BOULEVARD IN SANTA BARBARA - Standing at the foot of Stearns Wharf looking northward turning your head left-to-right on a clear day you get a fantastic view of one of California's most famous places. The jagged rocks sticking out of the dark green mountains of the Los Padres National Forest against the bright blue sky makes for one of the best scenic backdrops in the world. Turning around behind you is the vast blue Pacific Ocean with sailboats making for a beautiful picture, but the picture perfect ocean right off Santa Barbara has a fault, or two. That is to say, there are earthquake faults off the shore of the famed city, and at least one of them were responsible for the 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake.

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Those asking for a room with a view of the Pacific Ocean at the Hotel Californian perhaps got a little more than what they asked for. This is State Street looking north from Cabrillo Bl. In the almost upper middle-left is the Southern Pacific Depot, which still stands today. Photograph in public domain.

June 29, 2015, will be the 90th anniversary of the Santa Barbara Earthquake, which is one of California's (in)famous earthquakes. Here are six interesting facts about this earthquake.

1- Turns Out The Earthquake Was Much Stronger Than Previous Thought

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Given the shock and anxiety following the earthquake there probably was not much of a run for the product being advertised on this damaged Rexall Store on State St. Photograph in public domain.

For many decades following the Santa Barbara Earthquake it was believed this earthquake registered magnitude (M) 6.3 on the Richter Scale, which was developed by Doctor Charles Richter about ten years later at The California Institution of Technology, or, as we all know it and look to it after the earth shakes, Cal-Tech in Pasadena. The 1970s brought new developments in better understanding measuring earthquakes. One of those developments was the Moment Magnitude Scale, which is what we used to measure earthquake strength in most California earthquakes today. The Moment Magnitude Scale put the 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake at M6.8.

2 - The 1925 Earthquake Resulted In The Only Dam Failure In The United States During an Earthquake

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The earthquake damaged Sheffield Dam. Photograph in public domain.

While the Lower Van Norman Dam had severe damage following the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake and came very close to failure (according to the California Geological Survey, had the earth shook for two more seconds in 1971 the dam would have failed flooding a large portion of the San Fernando Valley) the 1925 earthquake resulted in the only dam (so far) to fail as a result of an earthquake in the U.S. The Sheffield Dam, located at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains at the north-northeast end of Santa Barbara, failed and flooded a good portion of the then sparsely populated eastside of Santa Barbara. According to the University of California-Santa Barbara, "a wall of water rushed between Voluntario and Alisos Streets, carrying trees, automobiles, and three houses with it, and leaving behind it a muddy, debris-strewn mess. The water filled the lower part of town up to two feet deep, until it gradually drained away into the sea." Santa Barbara was still bit of a farm town, and the water swept a lot of cows out to sea. One of the main reasons The Sheffield Dam failed was due to the fact the dam, which held 30 million gallons of water, was built on sandy soil, and sandy soil amplifies ground shaking during a moderate-to-large earthquake with typically devastating results for anything built upon it (see the aftermath of the San Francisco Marina District following the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake).

3 - Learning From 1906 Santa Barbara Avoided San Francisco's Fiery Fate

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The badly earthquake damaged Santa Barbara Mission. Photograph in public domain. 

There was a lot of significant structural damage in this 1925 earthquake, but one thing the aftermath of this earthquake lacked was fires. Many people aware of San Francisco's calamity just less than 20 years earlier realized Santa Barbara could face a similar fate. Thankfully, the overnight operators for Southern California Edison and The Southern California Gas Company immediately shut off their respective utilities to Santa Barbara to help prevent such a catastrophic disaster. Both the Santa Barbara Edison and Gas Company buildings were very badly damaged in the earthquake, but despite the damage William Engle of Edison and Henry Ketz of the Gas Company likely saved Santa Barbara from burning, and were recognized by the city for saving the city by quickly shutting the utilities down.

4 - The Way Santa Barbara Looks Today Is Due To The 1925 Earthquake

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Damage to the Grand Hotel on State St. Photograph in public domain.

Santa Barbara is often rated as one of California's, and even the world's, most beautiful places with its unique architectural style, and that is because of the 1925 earthquake. How so? Well, much of downtown Santa Barbara was destroyed in the earthquake. The Santa Barbara Community Arts Association, which was formed in the early 1920s, was commissioned to rebuild the city, and the association decided upon the Spanish Colonial Revival style, and that decision would soon make the city famous. This in turn resulted in a strict architecture city code that remains in effect to this day. Prior to the earthquake much of downtown Santa Barbara was designed in Neo-Moorish style.

5 - The Epicenter Was In The Ocean

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred in the Santa Barbara Channel at 6:44 a.m., but the USGS is not too certain just what fault caused the earthquake. What the USGS does believe is this earthquake was the result of slippage on an extension of either the Mesa Fault or the Santa Ynez Fault system. Even though this earthquake had its epicenter in the ocean there was no earthquake generated tsunami (however, some landslides into the ocean caused minor tsunamis).

6 - Rumors Ran Crazy

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Isoseismal map showing how far and strong the 1925 Santa Barbara Earthquake was felt. Photograph in public domain.

Today, in the immediate aftermath of disasters rumors run crazy, especially amplified in the social media age, and, well, even though there was no social media in 1925 not much has changed since then. Following the earthquake there were rumors in Santa Barbara that Los Angeles and San Francisco had been destroyed, and that this had been the earthquake to end all earthquakes. Once telephone and telegraph service was restored, along with military ships coming up the coast to assist in security of the city, the rumors were quelled as it was quickly noted by The Morning Press, "that the earthquake was purely local." Though the earthquake was "purely local" it was felt from Santa Ana, San Bernardino to Monterey County.

6.8 - Before and After

Before the 1925 earthquake in Santa Barbara the last damaging earthquake in California was in April 1918, in the San Jacinto area with a M6.8 earthquake on the fault that shares the town's name, the San Jacinto Fault (which, by the way, happens to be the most active fault in Southern California). The last notable, damaging earthquake in the Santa Barbara area was in 1978, and that is when a M5.1 shook off the coast of Goleta. That earthquake caused a few shattered windows, knocked a lot of items over and derailed a Southern Pacific freight train.

UPDATE: A Book Coming Out Soon

Turns out the above photographs were not quite in Public Domain as Internet research would suggest, but are apart of a detailed 2010 four-part series of the 1925 earthquake by Neal Graffy in EdHat Santa Barbara, which is a highly recommended read. Furthermore, Mr. Graffy is in the process of writing a book about the earthquake, and will feature how Santa Barbara rebuilt after the shock, and the earthquake faults in and around Santa Barbara.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The KNBC David Horowitz Incident

FROM THE NOW GONE NBC BURBANK STUDIOS - Say the name David Horowitz to almost anybody who grew up in Southern California and the reply is often, "Oh, remember that when he was held up on Channel 4?"

Here is probably the most infamous, bizarre moment in Los Angeles television history when on 4:42 p.m. on August 20, 1987, a mentally disturbed man walked onto the KNBC-TV news set in Burbank during a live broadcast, held a gun to the back of Fight Back consumer reporter David Horowitz and ordered him to read a rambling statement.

The audio on this is not all that great, but here is a KNBC news report later that day on what happened on their news set.

The gunman was Gary Stollman, who was the son of former KNBC pharmacist reporter Max Stollman. Max Stollman had recently left KNBC some months earlier.

The four-page letter the gunman demanded Mr. Horowitz read began with, "The man who has appeared on KNBC for the last three years is not my biological father. "He is a clone, a double created by the Central Intelligence Agency and alien forces." It was at that point KNBC News Director Tom Capra ordered the station off-the-air.

When KNBC went off-the-air Stollman noticed the brightly colored "One Moment Please" card on one of the television monitors, and the anchors, John Beard and Kirstie Wilde, along with the camera operators and floor director, had to convince Stollman that KNBC was really on-the-air. The deception seemed to work.

During the ordeal it is amazing to watch Mr. Horowitz appear, well, acting completely relaxed and carrying on like a regular interviewer, despite the fact he had a gun to his back.

Looks can always be a bit deceiving as Mr. Horowitz told the Los Angeles Times in 1987, "The guy came up and put a gun in my back [and] my first reaction was, 'I can't believe this is happening.' "His first words to me were, 'Read this or I'll shoot you!' "People later told me how calm I looked, but believe me, I wasn't!"

"I kept thinking of my wife and kids," Mr. Horowitz said to the Times. "I didn't know if the guy was a terrorist or a whacko or somebody trying to get even for something. "My fear was that if any police came into the studio, and there was a marksman there and he fired at this guy, I might be caught in the cross-fire or this guy might pop a shot off and get me through the back of the head or whatever because I was not aware of the fact that this guy had a toy gun."

With a gun pointed to his back Mr. Horowitz told United Press International in 1987, "who the hell was going to rescue me?"

At the end of the saga when it is reveal the weapon was no more than an unloaded pellet gun Mr. Horowitz shrugs his shoulders and gives something that could be best described as a, "you've got to be freaking kidding me!" look as Stollman was thanking him for reading his statement that lasted seven minutes.

Just as Stollman put the toy gun down on the news desk co-anchor Mr. Beard quickly grabbed the fake weapon and Burbank Police rushed onto the set and promptly arrested Stollman.

Mr. Beard later told reporters he had never felt his heart beat as fast as he did that afternoon. Most disturbingly to Mr. Beard was, "if he (Mr. Horowitz) is shot how am I going to explain to people at home what just happened."

On a site called Stollman has a rambling manifesto written in 1991 titled, The Invasion of the Human Race.

There, Stollman says in part,

I never planned out my life to wind up on the set of KNBC in Los Angeles LIVE, standing behind TV consumer advocate David Horowitz holding a toy gun to his head, demanding that he read a statement about how space aliens and the CIA had replaced my father and family with clones. I had only planned on becoming a computer programmer and a good citizen. At least that was before I discovered I had somehow stumbled onto a vast plot to overthrow the human race.

So just how did Stollman get past security? Ms. Wilde, co-anchor with Mr. Beard during the incident, told the Times Mr. Stollman simply exploited his father's former position with KNBC.

Ms. Wilde told the Times, "He scoped the studio out before. "He came last Thursday and called me to get in. "He said he was Max Stollman's son and he lives in the East and he never had the opportunity to see his dad while he was on our air and could he come down and watch. "I felt kind of bad because Max's contract was terminated and he hadn't had a chance to see him, so I said come on down."

The impression left on Mr. Wilde prior to the incident was Stollman, "seemed a little unstable, or maybe not very bright."

Since the incident Stollman has been in and out of mental facilities and continues to post conspiracy thoughts on message boards, as noted above.

After the incident Mr. Horowitz launched a state and later national campaign to outlaw toy guns that look a little too much like the real thing.

Mr. Horowitz remained with KNBC until August 1992 when management declined to renew his contract. Many in the industry believe his 20-plus years at the NBC owned-and-operated station came to a sudden end because funds were needed to pay Paul Moyer's unprecedented $8 million contract. Mr. Moyer had come to KNBC from KABC-TV in August 1992. In August and into fall of 1992, in addition to Mr. Horowitz, a few on-air and many behind the scenes employees were also let go from KNBC.

During his time at KNBC, aside from being a consumer advocate and hosting his famed Fight Back program, Mr. Horowitz was the first television reporter on-the-air following the 1971 Sylmar Earthquake. During that event he was broadcasting sitting on a stool in a darken parking lot. Later joining him during that early morning coverage was fellow KNBC reporter Tom Brokaw.

For a time David Horowitz returned to television in 1994-95 on KCBS-TV, joining Jerry Dunphy and Dr. George Fischbeck.

Today Mr. Horowitz is still fighting back for you by way of Photograph used under a Creative Commons license.

Timely enough just a short time later on October 1, 1987, KNBC would once again be in the national spotlight for another bizarre on-air incident, and this time with David Letterman making fun of the incident, when Kent Shocknek and Christopher Nance went under the news desk for an extended period of time during an aftershock of the Whittier Narrows Earthquake. Mr. Shocknek, who retired from KCBS/KCAL-TV in 2014, has said many times over there was a genuine threat with heavy studio lights swinging precariously overhead. Nonetheless this incident created an awkward moment and is, much to Mr. Shocknek's dismay, perhaps the second most unusual event in local television that is highly remembered.

(Editor's Note: This story has been updated and reedited, but originally appeared in the now defunct Southern California News Wire in 2010, and it seems parts of this story has been plagiarized in some places around the Internet. So goes life on the Internet.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

14 Random City Facts: Santa Ana

SANTA ANA - Passing south on Interstate 5, the Santa Ana Freeway, just below the Orange Crush Interchange, you come across a place that bills itself on its water-tower as, "Downtown Orange County." That is not too far fetched as Santa Ana is the Orange County seat, which is to say all the main Orange County government services are headquartered in the city. In fact, and here is a Santa Ana fact in the opening paragraph, the Orange County government is the largest employer in Santa Ana.

So, with a quick glance passing along down the I-5 Santa Ana, like much of Southern California, looks so much like one of the many same suburban cities making up the puzzle piece of the Los Angeles Basin. Getting off the freeway and spending some time in the city you will see there is much more to Santa Ana than meets the eye.

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Postcard of 1973 downtown Santa Ana. Used under Creative Commons license.

Here are 14 random facts, in no particular order, about Santa Ana. We hope this will inspire you to learn more about the fun, interesting and sometimes not-so-happy history of Santa Ana.

1 - Santa Ana Is More Densely Populated Than L.A.

Wait! That cannot be right. L.A. has over four million people and is the second largest city in America. Yes, that is true, but the City of Angels is not quite as densely populated as Santa Ana, and so just how densely populated is Santa Ana? Well, in an answer that often surprises a lot of people is Santa Ana is the United States' fourth most densely populated city behind, New York, San Francisco and Boston, respectively, according to the 2010 United States Census.

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It is Fourth Street in circa 1950 Santa Ana. Used under a Creative Commons license.

2 - Santa Ana Is a Rather Safe City

There is a perception in Orange County and around Southern California that Santa Ana is not quite safest place to be. Sure, like any large city they have their problems, from street crime to corruption in city government, and some of these problems make the rounds on local news and even international news. However, and this is another thing that surprises many people, according to a 2011 Forbes study of cities with populations of 250,000 and up, Santa Ana ranked as the nation's fourth safest city.

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Downtown Santa Ana circa 1940s. Used under Creative Commons license.

3 - Who Named It Santa Ana?

The name of Santa Ana comes from the controversial Friar Junípero Serra who named the area Vallejo de Santa Ana following the 1769 expedition of Gaspar de Portolá. The original name, Vallejo de Santa Ana, translates into Santa Ana Valley, or, Valley of Saint Anne. This name did not include just where the city currently sits, but rather Vallejo de Santa Ana was the name of most of present day Orange County. Furthermore, growing up in Southern California some people have said the city was named after General Santa Anna, but that is not true.

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Downtown Santa Ana in the 1930s, Used under a Creative Commons license.

4 - How Did The Present Day City of Santa Ana Come To Be?

The Santa Ana of today is a result of a guy from Kentucky named, William H. Spurgeon. The story goes, Mr. Spurgeon rode through on horseback on October 10, 1869, and he liked what he saw and paid Jacob Ross, Sr., $595 for 74.2 acres. In 1870, Mr. Spurgeon became postmaster and owned a general store and, to no real surprise, he became the city's first mayor when Santa Ana incorporated on June 1, 1886.

5 - Who Was Jacob Ross, Sr.?

Before the guy from Kentucky bought the land that would become the city of Santa Ana it was owned by Jacob Ross, Sr. After California was taken by the U.S. from Mexico Mr. Ross purchased 650 acres from the Yorba family's vast Rancho Santiago de Santa Ana. The Rancho was a Spanish land-use grant that had been awarded in 1810 to Jose Antonio Yorba, a sergeant of the Spanish army who served with Mr. Portola's 1769 expedition. For more on these land grants check out the Californio-Alta California-Spanish-Mexican-American history of California.

6 - Santa Ana Used To Be Called Hotuuk

Long before the Spanish or other Europeans came to the area the indigenous Native American Tongva inhabited the area beginning around the year 500. After the Spanish colonization the Tongva people became known by their European names, Gabrieleño, Fernandeño, and Nicoleño.

7 - Orange County's First Gay Pride Parade Was Held In Santa Ana

On September 11, 1989, Orange County LGBTQ history was made with the first Orange County Cultural Pride Festival parade held at Santa Ana’s Centennial Regional Park. According to festival organizers around 10,000 people attended the event. This event was not without incident as the Santa Ana Police riot squad had to be called out. According to the Los Angeles Times,

Six people were arrested Sunday after a fist-swinging brawl broke out among more than 50 militant gays and fundamentalist Christians at Orange County's first Gay Pride Festival.

About 50 riot-equipped Santa Ana police were called in to Centennial Regional Park to quell the disturbance, but no serious injuries were reported as the two-day gay festival concluded Sunday evening.

The six people arrested--identified by police as militant gay activists as well as fundamental Christians--were taken to the Santa Ana police station, where they were cited for interfering with police and released.

Despite the rough start this event is considered to be a milestone in Orange County LGBTQ history.

8 - Santa Ana May Be The Nation's Fourth Most Densely Populated City, But It Is Not The Most Populated City In Orange County

As first noted above Santa Ana is one of America's top five most densely populated cities ranking up there with New York and San Francisco. However, in total population numbers Santa Ana is not the largest city in Orange County with its 329,427 residents, according to the 2011 U.S. Census. Rather, the most populated city in Orange County is the home of the Mouse, Anaheim, with their 336,265 residents, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

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Owl Drug Store in Santa Ana. Used under a Creative Commons license.

9 - There Was A Lynching at Sycamore and Main

Many like to think lynchings were a thing that only happened in another part of the country, but, sadly, Southern California had more than a few of them, and one of them happened in Santa Ana on August 20, 1892. The person lynched was Francisco Torres. Mr. Torres was accused of the murder of Captain William McKelvey near the home of Madame Modjeska. According to the 1892 L.A. Times,

Pinned on the breast of the corpse was a placard on which was written: 'A CHANGE OF VENUE.' His hands were tied behind him and his feet were bound together, one foot being bare and the other with a stocking on. An undershirt and dark pair of pants were the only clothing on the body. Torres's face told the story of terrible suffering, a bungling job and a desperate struggle for life. So quietly was the lynching done that it did not even arouse the guests in the Hotel Brunswick, not fifty feet away.

10 - Santa Ana Burnt Down and Destroyed Their Chinatown

Combine xenophobia against Chinese and having that Chinese xenophobia recognized by local, state and federal officials, with things like Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, along with city officials claiming Chinatown is a hotbed for the dreaded leprosy, and you have the makings of people doing whatever they can in wanting to get rid of "undesirable" Chinese by burning down their neighborhood. That is, sadly, what happened on a May day in Santa Ana. On May 25, 1906, over 1,000 people gathered to watch Santa Ana's Chinatown be burnt to the ground. Gustavo Arellano, of Ask A Mexican fame and the incredible editor-in-chief at the OC Weekly, wrote a very important piece about this conveniently overlooked important bit of history.

11 - The 1970 Movement for a Democratic Military Peace March

Orange County back then in 1970 was not a place nationally known as being a hotbed of liberal, anti-war or left-wing political activism, and many of the powers that be, from the Chamber of Commerce to Register owner R.C. Hoiles did all they could to keep it that way. (By the way, and probably not a big surprise for those who know a little bit about Orange County history, Orange County was known for lot of right-wing activism, such as being a hot-spot for The John Birch Society, and Mr. Hoiles' Register had many editorials, many from Mr. Hoiles himself, that wanted to keep Orange County that way.) Well, in 1970 in a protest that looked like something coming out of Berkeley the Movement for a Democratic Military sponsor a four-mile peace march and rally at Santa Ana Memorial Park where around 2,000 people listened to speeches given by members of the military. The speeches, according to the Raitt Street Chronicles, included pleas stop to all alleged military censorship and intimidation; military wages commensurate with the minimum federal wage; an immediate pull out from Vietnam; and an end to the draft.

12 - The 1969 Movie Theater Riot

Much like how liberal and left-wing protests had been mostly kept under wraps in 1960s Orange County, and in many cases driven underground as being associated with any such group in Orange County could cause you to lose your job, there was not a lot of rioting happening. Orange County had been mostly spared from the racial riots and civil unrest that were occurring in many places around the nation in the 1960s.

In 1969 the racial divisions and tensions happening around the country and boiling in parts of Orange County exploded at a Santa Ana movie theater. According to the OC Weekly,

More than 400 Mexican and black youths riot in Santa Ana after a black girl was kicked out of a theater. She had complained after a white teen yelled, "Why don't you black niggers keep quiet?" Teens threw bottles and bricks at police, set fires, and even took batons away from officers and beat them with the sticks.

13 - The 1933 Long Beach Earthquake Gives Santa Ana A Whole Lot of Damage

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Damage in Santa Ana following the 1933 earthquake. Used under a Creative Common license.

The deadliest earthquake in Southern California history was the 1933 Long Beach Earthquake, and this earthquake still holds the record for being Orange County's most damaging earthquake causing major damage in downtown Santa Ana. One reason Santa Ana had so much major damage was the fact that the epicenter of this earthquake was not in Long Beach, but rather in nearby Newport Beach. The Newport-Inglewood Fault was the cause of this earthquake (interestingly enough in the past few months there has been a series of minor magnitude 2-3 earthquakes in the Inglewood/West L.A. area on or around this fault).

14 - The Santa Ana Winds Are Not Named After The City

Raymond Chandler once wrote, "There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Ana's that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."

There has been, and will continue to be, much debate on the etymology of just where the name Santa Ana Winds comes from. However, one thing is a fact, those winds that have brought much burning destruction on mountains and hills are not named after the city, and furthermore have nothing to do with Orange County.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Those Freeways Named After Traffic Reporters

WHERE THE 101 AND 110 MEET IN DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES - Motoring rapidly across the freeways that make up the fabric of Southern California, or maybe moving slowly across the freeways due to a Sig-Alert, you have probably come across more than a few memorial signs on the side of the freeway. There may be a few memorial signs you have noticed and perhaps wondered just who are those people.

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Coming up northbound on the 110 just before The Hollywood Freeway it is a slightly different view of the famous Four Level Interchange in Downtown L.A. in this public domain photograph.

Some of those people on the memorial signs along side the freeway were legendary broadcast traffic reporters warning us all about Sig-Alerts and what alternative routes to use to get back home.

Somehow it just seems appropriate that in Southern California portions of freeways would be named after traffic reporters, and, in no particular order, here are three very big names in the world of broadcast traffic reporters that very much earned their name on the freeway.

1 - The Bill Keene Memorial Interchange

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Even way back then, as shown in this 1962 KNXT-TV advertisement with Bill Keene, the seven-day forecast was a big deal.

Sitting in traffic is never fun, and merging on an old interchange like the Four Level Interchange in Downtown L.A. can rattle some nerves. Sometimes you just need to have a little fun when the traffic is not all that fun to deal with, and Bill Keene was one who made traffic reports fun. Anybody with a decent enough voice can go on-the-air and say, "On the 110 northbound a ladder is blocking the number two lane just before the Four Level." In similar situations Mr. Keene would go on-air and say, “Watch out for rung way drivers ... Don’t worry, the highway patrol will be taking steps to remove that ladder.” If things got a little fishy on the freeway Mr. Keene would report that, "With the highway patrol on the scene, it's fish and chips," according to KNX radio's Jim Thornton in a 2000 interview with the Los Angeles Times. Mr Thornton, by the way, succeeded Keene.

Mr. Keene had a very long, rewarding career in L.A. broadcasting that began in 1957 at KNXT-TV, which, of course today after changing call-letters in 1984, is KCBS-TV.

While at KNXT Mr. Keene was one of the on-air people to help bring about the groundbreaking hour-long "Big News on 2" along with Jerry Dunphy and Ralph Story.

On KNXT Mr. Keene did the weather, but soon he would have his own variety shows on the CBS owned and operated station, "Keene at Noon," and "The Bill Keene Show."

Mr. Keene would stay with KNXT until a baffling massive management shakeup led to his, along with Mr. Jerry "From the desert to the sea to all of Southern California" Dunphy, being laid off.

Much like Mr. Dunphy, who would not be off the air for long, Mr. Keene quickly returned to television a couple blocks east on Sunset Boulevard at KTLA. Now Mr. Keene never totally left Columbia Square as he was doing traffic reports part-time on KNX while at KTLA. After his brief stint at KTLA it would be in 1976 that Mr. Keene began working full-time at KNX delivering his unique traffic reports. In the late 1980s as KCBS-TV began to expand their morning news program Mr. Keene would do televised traffic reports in the morning on Channel 2 along with his reports on KNX.

In 1992, Mr. Keene, who, by the way, served as a navigator in the Air Force during World War II, was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Coverage from KCAL-TV of Mr. Keene receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. 

After many decades having made the commute a little more fun, or sometimes downright funny, Mr. Keene retired in 1993.

Mr. Keene passed away in April 2000.

In 2006 The California Department of Transportation, or, as we all simply know it, CalTrans, officially named the historic Four Level Interchange in Downtown L.A., where U.S. Route 101, Interstate 110 and State Route 110 meet, The Bill Keene Memorial Interchange in Mr. Keene's honor.

2 - The Mark Denis Melbourne Memorial Interchange 

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A traffic reporter who knows his freeways. The guy with all the computers, maps and scanners around him is, Mark Denis at the KFI/KOST traffic center circa 1999. Used under a Creative Commons license.

Whether you are coming out of The Corona Crawl going into Anaheim and out to Long Beach, or getting ready to brave The Corona Crawl going into the Inland Empire, the sort of the unofficial western terminus of The Corona Crawl is where The Riverside Freeway meets The Costa Mesa Freeway, and that is named The Mark Denis Melbourne Interchange.

Mark Denis Melbourne was on Southern California radio for many years and went by the name, Mark Denis. Perhaps using his full name might have been a little too much for the jingle singers.

Many jingles across Southern California sang Mark Denis' name. Mr. Denis was on-the-air at KFXM and later top-40 rival KMEN in San Bernardino, and later came over to 1190 AM at KEZY in Anaheim. Mr. Denis also worked for the KGB. That is, rather, KGB-AM radio in San Diego. In the 1980s Mr. Denis had a chance to be on-the-air at the legendary KHJ-AM, which is where he started his legendary traffic reports during 93/KHJ's short lived "Car Radio" format. Being on "Car Radio, 93/KHJ" led the way for Mr. Denis being best known as the legendary traffic reporter on KFI and KOST, and Mr. Denis is best remembered as being one of the nicest guys in broadcasting.

In an industry where ego and personality clashes, along with very long, tiresome hours, are apart of job, many colleagues and contemporaries of Mr. Denis always spoke very fondly of Mr. Denis as he was a very nice guy to work with, and just an all around very nice guy.

Mr. Denis had many wonderful pieces of advice, and one he often said was, "Find a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life."

He took his own advice to heart as Mr. Denis told Variety in 1996 as he celebrated his 35th year in Southern California broadcasting, "It's like going to the circus every day [...] When it comes to job satisfaction, I'm in the 90th percentile. Then there are days that it's even better than that."

Born in Glendale and raised in Compton it was at Compton Junior College where Mr. Denis announced the halftime show during football games, and it was from there he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, and it is safe to say Mr. Denis never again worked a day in his life.

A memorial of Mr. Denis' life, which features photographs of his time at KMEN, KGB and KEZY, among other photographs.

During his time at KFI and KOST it is believed he broadcasted around 9,000 traffic reports a year.

If you rode the Disneyland Monorail in the mid-1980s or early 1990s as it left the Tomorrowland Station making its way across the vast (now long gone) parking lot to the Disneyland Hotel the narrator you heard was Mark Denis.

Unfortunately the audio is not all that great in this 1990 video of the Disneyland Monorail, but you can still make out Mark Denis' voice.

Mr. Denis passed away in 2000.

In January 2002 the California state senate introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution Number 50, which designated the SR-91 and SR-55 interchange as the Mark Denis Melbourne Memorial Interchange.

3 - The Paul Johnson Memorial Freeway 

"Buckle up, be careful out there." With that perfect baritone voice made perfect for broadcasting those were the wise words of longtime KNBC-TV and Metro Networks traffic reporter Paul Johnson.

Starting in
1988 Mr. Johnson was apart of KNBC's "Today In L.A." For a time in the mid-1990s Mr. Johnson began doing traffic reports for KNBC's afternoon newscasts.

What some people may not know about Mr. Johnson is well before he began reporting on Sig-Alerts, tie-ups and alternative routes, the Southern California traffic reporter was once an opera singer and stage performer.

In the 2007 movie "Mr. Woodcock," starring Billy Bob Thornton, Mr. Johnson makes an appearance as the announcer at the corn-eating contest.

An avid golfer Mr. Johnson used his skills on the course to hold and appear in charity tournaments to help disabled children.

Before Mr. Johnson passed away his wife, Nancy, told her husband that there is a push in Sacramento to have part of a freeway named after him. In a February 2011 interview with the Orange County Register Nancy Johnson said Paul's reaction to that was, "He looked at me, square in the face, and he said, 'Well, I'll be damned,' in that deep baritone voice, and we both just giggled and laughed."  

In 2010 state assembly speaker John A. Perez, D-Los Angeles, introduced the bill that put Mr. Johnson's name on the freeway a few days after he passed away, and it passed the Assembly and the Senate by unanimous votes and was signed into law in September 2010.

Now as you drive through Orange, perhaps on the way to Newport Beach, South Coast Plaza or John Wayne Airport, on SR-55 you are driving along The Paul Johnson Memorial Freeway.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

When Local Radio Was A Big Deal

SAN BERNARDINO - Driving east on Baseline in San Bernardino onward to Highland you may notice three mid-size radio towers and an unassuming shack building behind San Gorgonio High School, and probably not think much of it. There is much more to the shack building than meets the eye, because that little building behind the high school actually has quite a bit of pop musically history behind it.

That little building once housed radio station KMEN on 1290 AM, and at its peak in the 1960s that radio station was a powerhouse. Many big names in pop music history, and radio history, came through that little building.

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A "K/MEN-DOUS-TEN" Survey Sheet ending January 24, 1964, and of course The Beatles are number one.

Sometimes lost or buried in radio broadcast history with much focus on stations like, 93/KHJ, 1110/KRLA, 77/WABC or 89/WLS, KMEN never quite received its due in broadcast history.

Known as K/MEN 129 with its deejay personalities known as The K/MEN this radio station broadcasting out by a cow pasture was once a force in the radio and music industry.

In an era of YouTube, Pandora, Spotify, iTunes, Soundcloud and other forms of new media to check out new bands, for a younger generation it may be hard to imagine that radio was nearly the only place you can check out new bands. Even for new bands today, it may be hard to imagine the backing you needed from radio to have some sort of success. Back then, before the Internet, before cable television (if you can even imagine such a time), radio was one of the biggest forms of entertainment for kids, teens and adults. Bands back then did not have all these outlets to have their music heard, and bands knew radio was the place to go if you wanted to be heard.

Adding to bands wanting to be heard, competition from rival Inland Empire top 40 station 59/KFXM added to the sense of urgency on K/MEN's part to be the first in airing the newest bands.

Here are four things K/MEN 129 has in connection to music history.

1 - The Rolling Stones

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A 1966 ticket stub of The Rolling Stones' performance at The Swing Auditorium.

It was K/MEN that brought The Rolling Stones for their very first U.S. performance at The Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino. How this radio station in San Bernardino brought them to the U.S. for the first time is a whole story in and of itself, which we will have in the not too distant future. The short story is, in the wake of The British Invasion K/MEN had a connection in London sending them the latest British hit-makers, and basically looking and hoping to find the next Beatles. Well, K/MEN's London connection sent them an album by "this group that is better than The Beatles," as their London connection described The Rolling Stones. Afternoon K/MEN personality Bill Watson played a cut from the album, suddenly the telephone lines were jammed, and "Mr. Kicks," as Bill Watson was known, did something extraordinarily out of the ordinary for top 40 radio and played the entire album.

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Mick Jagger on stage at The Swing Auditorium in San Bernardino doing his thing.

The Rolling Stones had made plans to tour the United States, but Mr. Watson knew they needed to get this band now! Mr. Watson, calling across The Atlantic, finally got in touch in The Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham. After some deals were cut, and told of the reaction of The Rolling Stones, Mick Jagger and company soon took to the U.S. stage for the very first time in San Bernardino thanks to K/MEN.

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Those are San Bernardino Sheriff's deputies keeping the screaming girls back from "attacking" The Rolling Stones.

2 - The Beach Boys

Many singers, songwriters and bands came through the small lobby of K/MEN hoping their tune will make it on-the-air. Among these many hopeful bands who came through was a group of brothers from Hawthorne who called themselves, The Beach Boys. Mr. Watson, who, by the way, was the program direction, really liked this band and told them to get their music properly licensed and they will play it. Once the guys from Hawthorne got all the legal stuff taken care of it is believed K/MEN was the first to play The Beach Boys. In later years The Beach Boys replied in kind by singing jingles for K/MEN.

3 - Up, Up and Away with Jimmy Webb

Not too long ago we wrote about Colton, and one of its well known residents was singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb, who was certainly influenced by what K/MEN was playing. One of Mr. Webb's biggest hits he wrote was, "Up, Up and Away," performed by The Fifth Dimension (and sung by other performers over the years). Well, K/MEN once had its own hot-air balloon, and Mr. Webb thought it was a very nice looking thing, and so he wrote a song about it, and that tune became, "Up, Up and Away." In fact, the song was originally meant to be part of a K/MEN promotion. Apparently, the story goes, Mr. Webb wrote the song in just one afternoon sitting in his car at the Robert Hall Clothes store parking lot on La Cadena Drive and Mount Vernon Avenue in Colton (after sitting empty for many years a 99 Cent Only Store now occupies the old Robert Hall clothing store).

They may be a little out of sync in this video, but the tune written by Colton's Jimmy Webb and performed by The Fifth Dimension makes for pure top 40 AM gold.

4 - John Peel

Before he began his legendary music show on BBC Radio 1 the man known as John Peel was across the pond here in the states hosting the morning show on K/MEN in 1965. Back then while in Inland Empire radio he was not known as John Peel, but rather he did something highly odd in radio, he used his real name on-air, John Ravenscroft. John Peel returned to England in 1967 and found a gig for a short time at Radio London aboard one of England's pirate radio ships (many of these England radio pirates were supported by U.S. record labels and had their radio jingles supplied by U.S. jingle makers). Mr. Peel would begin his BBC career later in 1967 and soon became a force in discovering and exposing England to underground, punk, new wave and alternative music. The Peel Sessions soon became, and still are, sought after albums.

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The Peel Sessions record with The Smiths. Used under Fair Use.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Know Your Rights Quick Take: Did The Patriot Act Really Expire?

ANAHEIM - This weekend, far from Southern California across the country, a political drama in Washington, D.C., played out resulting in a portion of the USA PATRIOT Act (The Patriot Act) to expire.

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Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security. Public domain.

Wait! I Thought The Whole Patriot Act Expired at 9 p.m. Southern California Time?

Despite some misconception in the media, and raving rants of certain lawmakers who never let a microphone and camera in their face go to waste, there was an impression that the entire The Patriot Act itself was going to expire. That was not the case.

So, What Really Did Expire?

What really expired, and what most of the debate was about, was Section 215, and, again, The Patriot Act as a whole did not expire.

What Does This Mean For You And Your Rights?

Well, as it stands now The Patriot Act itself, which is mostly permanent at this point, will still allow the government to get any information about anyone it wants for any reason, without a warrant, using National Security Letters (N.S.L.).

What Is The National Security Letters?

The N.S.L. is an administrative subpoena issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I.) in authorized national security investigations "to protect against international terrorism or clandestine intelligence activities," according to the F.B.I.

The N.S.L. program goes back to 1978, but Section 505 of the Patriot Act, which has not expired, allows the use of the N.S.L.s when seeking information "relevant" in authorized national security investigations. This portion of the act also provides the Department of Defense (The Military) the ability to issue N.S.L.'s when their use is necessary to conduct a law enforcement investigation, counterintelligence inquiry, or security determination.

What's The Big Deal About The N.S.L. Program

When it concerns The Patriot Act the N.S.L. powers under 18 U.S.C. § 2709 were expanded. This portion of The Patriot Act allows N.S.L.'s served on communications providers, like telephone and Internet companies, which allow the F.B.I. to secretly demand data about ordinary American citizens' private communications and Internet activity without any meaningful oversight or prior judicial review.

What If My Communications Business Receives a N.S.L.?

Do not talk about it with your customers, because you can get into a lot of trouble. Why? As the law is written recipients of N.S.L.'s are subject to a gag order forbidding them from revealing the N.S.L.'s existence not only to customers, but to their coworkers, to their friends, or even to their family members.

Bottom Line...

Even with Section 215 expired the numerous alphabet soup government security agencies still have massive surveillance legalities and tools, like the N.S.L., to use against its citizens, suspected terrorists and known terrorists.

Our legal disclaimer: Information here about The Patriot Act and N.S.L. is for general information purposes only and should not be taken as any kind of formal legal advice for any individual case or situation. If you find yourself in some legal trouble, or your business is served with a N.S.L., contact an attorney for further help.