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Author Archive for Michael Ray

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

The Reawakening   Laguna Beach used to be a gay Mecca.   We had our own goodly district of gay bars, restaurants and clubs.  Then time and local demographics changed that and now the Mecca has moved.  It went mostly to Palm Springs.   Palm Spring’s reached its height of pre-gay notoriety between 1950-70, when actors […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Tour of Duty: Personal and Political   Last Sunday at Newport Harbor yacht club, about 25 of us gathered to board the Soluna, my brother’s 52” motorboat and spread ashes at sea. They were of my former wife’s father, Les.  Like my own father, Les had suffered the torments of a long, lingering diabetes death. […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

The Risks of Ignorance It happened early last summer.  An overweight tourist almost drowned.  He had been ocean kayaking near Seal Rock off Crescent Bay in north Laguna and flipped.  He was with a similar guy in rented kayaks.  They had removed their lifejackets.   I was in my own kayak about 100 yards away […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Code Words   I was at CdM High School during the 1960s race riots in America.   There were almost nightly scenes of black people on TV being fire-hosed. Or attack dogs set on them.  Or being beaten by police with batons, arrested, put on buses to jail.  Or soldiers would guard them as they attempted […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

The Concrete Foreman   My father was a construction contractor and I worked on his jobsites from the time I was 8.   So from my earliest years, I knew Vic Vaca.  He was my dad’s concrete foreman. By God, he was a specimen.  I did not know that then.   All I knew was Vic worked […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

My father was one of seven kids from Kansas. During the Great Depression, he got married and the next day took the freights West. There he eventually joined the Coast Guard and at the end of WW II ended up in Newport Beach. He did well in real estate and luckier yet, did not lose it back during one of the many down cycles.

He and Mom lived full and good lives, and their kids, we four plus one foster brother, still are going strong. Our foster brother, Gary, came from a broken family and joined us at the age of 16.

At Christmas, I no longer am sure who my whole family is. Yes, I know it includes my brothers and sisters and their offspring and their offspring too. But it is more than that. My former wife lives near me in Laguna and our children navigate between us in a manner that works for all concerned. During holidays it can be tricky, but we all accommodate one another and go to the same music recitals together.

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

  Beyond Posh First, the disclosure:  I am a personal mess.  My clothes are of no discernable style.  My shoes are scruffy and sometimes do not match.  My hair is uncombed.  My home in Laguna is a mish-mash of styles, junk, discarded objects never thrown away, paintings that belong on some other wall, chairs with […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Beyond Posh First, the disclosure:  I am a personal mess.  My clothes are of no discernable style.  My shoes are scruffy and sometimes do not match.  My hair is uncombed.  My home in Laguna is a mish-mash of styles, junk, discarded objects never thrown away, paintings that belong on some other wall, chairs with battered […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Arts School Survives Early Setbacks   A high school music teacher named Ralph Opacic founded the Orange County High School of the Arts (OCHSA) in 1987.  By the late 1990s, it had some 400 students and was at an excess school site in Los Alamitos. When the local school district needed the site and kicked […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

The Homecoming   My second daughter Garbrielle, 19, went off to her first year of college in August. She is at Lewis & Clark in Portland, not that far away, but it feels like forever. We knew we would miss her terribly and we did. But she called often and told us all about her […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Midnight Encounter   It was a strangely Laguna night last Friday, but it began in Newport. There was a political fund-raiser for Suhkee Kang, who is running for Congress in a district that includes Laguna Beach. Suhkee, currently the moderate mayor of Irvine, is running against incumbent John Campbell, who’s claim-to-fame is that government should […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Tribute to a Tragedy This last Sunday in Heisler Park, precisely at 11 a.m. on Sept. 11, the 10-year dedication began with bagpipes playing and the assembled crowd silent. The ceremony was to commemorate the official unveiling of artist Jorg Dubin’s 9/11 sculpture. It features two steel beams donated by the New York Port Authority […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Graceful Endings and Transitions In my last column, I wrote about the founding of the Taco Bell Discovery Science Center (DSC) in Santa Ana.   Its founders were my brother Walkie and his wife Janet. A week before the official opening, City Manager Dave Ream called for advice about naming the tiny road leading into the […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

The Birth of the Discovery Science Center   Earlier, I described the non-profit Art Spaces Irvine (ASI) and its program to put public art in Irvine, a program eventually killed by then Irvine City Councilwoman Christina Shea. Nevertheless, out of ASI came two seminal ideas: creating a huge park in Irvine and a hands-on science […]

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Musings on the Coast

Musings on the Coast

Art Outcasts Envision a New Venture  Over the years, I have been involved in many non-profits whose influence continues to reach every corner of the county, successes that often sprang from adversity. This column and others to follow will tell some of their surprising histories. My involvement with non-profits began with Art Spaces Irvine, whose […]