Friday, May 29, 2009

City of San Diego vs. Seal Colonies at Childrens Pool

The city of San Diego is preparing to disperse the seal colony at Children's Pool beach in La Jolla. - U-T file

The city of San Diego must remove the seal colony at Children's Pool beach in La Jolla, but a judge isn't sold on a proposal to use the sounds of barking dogs to evict them.

Superior Court Judge Yuri Hofmann ruled Wednesday the city must disperse the seals despite questions about whether a federal restraining order may prevent the city from doing so.

The judge set a June 15 hearing to determine the best way to remove the seals – a process that could begin shortly thereafter.

Assistant City Attorney Andrew Jones asked the judge to hold off on a decision as a bill makes its way through the state Legislature that would allow the City Council to decide the fate of the seals. Pro-seal advocates say that could render any judge's ruling moot come Jan. 1, if the bill becomes law.

Jones also asked Hofmann to consider the financial implications.

The city estimates it would cost about $689,000 to use a portable public address system to emit barking noises.

“This is money the city does not have,” Jones said. “We're in the middle of a recession.”

Hofmann questioned the price tag.

“I just can't in my mind comprehend why the cost would be that,” the judge said. Hofmann said the city could likely hire someone full-time to disperse seals at one-fourth of the cost.

Paul Kennerson, the lawyer who is pushing for dispersal of the seals so the public can use the beach, said the city could purchase a sprinkler device that would spray and disperse the seals for $300 to $600.

“It strikes me that the city, which opposes doing this, has devised the most intrusive and obnoxious kind of remedy it can in order to generate support against dispersing the seals,” he said.

A Superior Court judge ordered San Diego to reduce bacterial contamination at Children's Pool four years ago so it could become a swimming area again – as it was designated by state law in 1931. The city had to prepare a seal-dispersal plan for Wednesday's hearing.

There's also a federal case filed by attorney Bryan Pease to force the city to maintain the seal colony.

City lawyers argued a restraining order in that case remained in effect, preventing the city from removing the seals.

Judge Hofmann said he believed that order expired last November and could find no language to dispute that. The city has asked the federal court for clarification.

Cindy Benner, president of the La Jolla Friends of the Seals, called the judge's ruling a big setback.

“It's just going to be a black eye for the city of San Diego when this reaches the national media and tourists come to see the seals and there's an effort to actively keep them off the beach,” she said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

La Jolla Cove and the Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum's La Jolla: Halfway to Oz
by Bard C. Cosman

Frank Baum, ca. 1911. Courtesy of Syracuse University

By far the most popular children's writer of the early twentieth century was L. Frank Baum, creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Oz series. In Baum's books The Sea Fairies, Sky Island, and The Scarecrow of Oz, the young heroine Trot starts her adventures from a home place that has physical beauty, variety, and mystery. This is in contrast to the rest of the Oz series, in which the child protagonist escapes to an exciting and beautiful fairyland from a prosaic or austere home setting, exemplified by Dorothy Gale's Kansas. Trot's home is in La Jolla, which Baum visited in 1904-5, when he began wintering at Coronado. Baum's impressions of La Jolla as a magical place are understandable in light of his previous experience and both echo and enhance a popular stereotype of Southern California as an earthly paradise.

Gateways to Oz

L. Frank Baum's Oz stories follow a pattern in which a child hero sets out, often accidentally, for an adventure in fairyland from a starting place that is dull or blighted. Dorothy Gale's Kansas, in the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is the model: W.W. Denslow drew its severe, monotonous landscape in gray, in contrast to his color pictures of Oz,1 and the 1939 MGM film mimicked his technique by presenting Kansas in black-and-white and Oz in color. Throughout the fourteen-volume series there are sharply drawn contrasts between the gray, careworn adult world and the vibrant vision of a child's imagination, or between the stolidity of mid-America and the exuberance of Oz.

The other locations from which Baum's mortal protagonists reach Oz (or neighboring fairylands) are similarly monotonous: the humdrum California farmland from which Dorothy and Zeb fall into an earthquake fissure in Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz,2 the featureless, destructive ocean on which Betsy Bobbin is shipwrecked in Tik-Tok of Oz3, or the hardscrabble Kansas from which Dorothy must eventually escape permanently, in The Emerald City of Oz4. Even the fairy children who have adventures in Oz start at the periphery, in adverse or austere settings: for example, Tip's virtual slavery in Gillikin Country in The Marvelous Land of Oz,5 Ojo the Unlucky's blighted home in rural Munchkin Country in The Patchwork Girl of Oz,6 Prince Inga's pillaged island home in Rinkitink in Oz, and Ann Soforth and Kiki Aru's stultifying isolation in Oogaboo and Mount Munch, in Tik-Tok of Oz7 and The Magic of Oz8.

An atypical gateway

A remarkable counter example is found in the three books which feature the child heroine Trot and the peg-leg sailor Cap'n Bill: The Sea Fairies9, Sky Island10, and The Scarecrow of Oz11. Of these only the last is part of the Oz series by title, but all three are rightfully in the Oz canon, as characters and settings are intertwined. The Sea Fairies, published in 1911, introduces the spectacular coastal California home from which Trot and Cap'n Bill depart for their adventures (Figure 1). Sky Island (1912) has the same initial setting, and it features Button-Bright and Polychrome, both characters from The Road to Oz (Figure 2).12 The Scarecrow of Oz (1915) is the formal confluence of the narrative streams, starting at Trot's clifftop home and ending in the Emerald City, where from then on Trot and Cap'n Bill participate as minor characters in subsequent Oz stories.

What is different about the gateway to Oz in these books? Unlike Dorothy's Kansas, Betsy's Pacific, or Zeb's California farm, Trot's home is picturesque in the extreme. In The Sea Fairies we are introduced to Trot's cottage by the giant acacia tree, both located on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific. An unnamed village a mile distant is "built upon a bend of the coast...overlooking a pretty bay."13 Just around the North Promontory from the village are the "great caves which the waves had washed out of the rocky coast during many years of steady effort."14 Called Dead Man's Cave, Bumble Cave, Smuggler's Cave, Echo Cave, and Giant's Cave, these caves can be entered only from the water (Figure 3).15 A nearby spot on the coast is identified as Smuggler's Cove.16 Trot's guide in this exciting landscape is the well-travelled Cap'n Bill, who "had been wrecked on desert island like Robinson Crusoe and been attacked by cannibals and had a host of other exciting adventures,"17 not her parents, who are an absent ship's captain and a preoccupied housewife.

In Baum's other fairy tales, when a child leaves her drab home and enters a landscape of wonders, she must also leave her everyday parent-guardians and travel with an intriguing parent-substitute whose wisdom and experience are from a world unlike her own: consider the Scarecrow and Tin Woodman (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), the Wizard (Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz), the Shaggy Man (The Road to Oz, Tik-Tok of Oz), King Rinkitink (Rinkitink in Oz), Princess Ozma (Glinda of Oz),18 and others. The three Trot/Cap'n Bill books are distinct in that the child (Trot) starts out more than halfway to fairyland, already living in a place of beauty, wonder, and mystery with an adult companion who fits the adventure-companion mold perfectly (Cap'n Bill). It only remains for a portal to open, and the transition to fairyland is immediate.

La Jolla: cliffs, caves, distant islands

What is that place? Though unnamed by Baum, it is clearly La Jolla, which the author knew well from his winters in Southern California. La Jolla of the early 1900s is described fairly precisely in the introductory chapters of the three books. Like Baum's fictional village, La Jolla overlooks a small bay, is "nine mile from the railroad station" (presumably Santa Fe Station), and had a small fishing fleet.19 Baum gives La Jolla just a little of the prosaic quality of the typical protagonist's home when he says "most of the people earn their living by fishing" and describes the villagers as "simple."20 In fact, in Baum's time La Jolla was already a fairly sophisticated resort, though not as developed as Coronado. Contemporary tourist pamphlets describe it as "The Jewel of the Sea," "The Jewel by the Sea," or "The Little City of Heart's Desire."21 La Jolla boosters have always cheerfully mistranslated an early Spanish geographical term meaning a hollow (jolla) as 'jewel' (joya).

Located around a promontory at the north end of the village (as in Baum's description) are seven sea caves, with their only natural entrance from the water. Baum presumably inspected the interior of Sunny Jim's Cave, which became accessible from the land side via a tunnel built in 1902-3;22 he began wintering in Coronado in 1904.23 His names are more fanciful than the historical names for the individual caves, which include only Sunny Jim's and The White Lady.24 However, Dead Man's Cave could reasonably be an informal name Baum heard while visiting. In later years lifeguards "pulled dead bodies out of those caves," and the drop from the cliff above is still called Dead Man's Leap.25

The author's son Frank Joslyn Baum, in his biography of his father, acknowledges the caves as La Jolla's: "the author had in mind the caves along the shore of La Jolla, just north of San Diego, where, at high tide, visitors enter by long stairways from the ground above, and enjoy the sight of sea life in its natural habitat."26 The rocky "cavern under the sea," which serves in The Scarecrow of Oz as an antechamber to fairylands bordering Oz, is a fair description of the interior of any of the caves.27

Baum locates Trot's house on the bluffs north of the village of La Jolla, and she and Cap'n Bill launch their rowboat on the Pacific just below. Today's surfers thread their way down "zigzag...winding...steep" paths to the ocean, following in Trot and Cap'n Bill's footsteps.28 As Baum describes it, "[their]boat cut across a much larger bay toward a distant headland where the caves were located, right at the water's edge."29 They are crossing La Jolla Cove from northeast to southwest when they encounter the whirlpool that is their portal to fairyland (Figure4).

The only Smuggler's Cove along the California coast is in Santa Barbara County, two hundred miles to the north, so presumably Baum added this fictional name to enhance the romance and mystery of the setting. However, such names are not unknown around San Diego: Smuggler Gulch is a valley in Imperial Beach, the next town south of Baum's beloved Coronado,30 and the caves themselves are located at La Jolla Cove. Further acknowledgement of San Diego is found in the fish that Trot and Cap'n Bill encounter as they swim toward the mermaids' palace; they are yellowtail tuna, then a staple of San Diego's economy.31

Sky Island is another identifiable feature of the La Jolla landscape: a "dim island lying on the horizon line...half in the sky" can be seen from Trot's clifftop home and has "an awful hard name to pernounce," so she calls it Sky Island.32 This corresponds to San Clemente Island or Santa Catalina Island (probably the former, which is due west and easier to see), whose Spanish names Trot found so difficult. On clear days both islands are visible on the horizon from the La Jolla Farms bluffs, just north of the village itself. Baum located Trot's house on these bluffs, which stand above Black's Beach.

In his article "The Coronado Fairyland," Scott Olsen (of Southwestern College in Chula Vista) mentions a Smuggler's Cove in the Coronado Islands, twenty miles off the coast of Coronado, and speculates that one of these islands, seen from the Coronado shore, may be Trot's Sky Island.33 This is unlikely, as Trot's home is La Jolla, not Coronado: there are no bluffs in Coronado, the highest point of which is 40 feet above sea level, whereas Trot lives on a high bluff across a bay from the sea caves, a mile from the village, a fairly precise La Jolla location. In addition, Smuggler's Cove in Sky Island is on the mainland coast.

From San Diego and Coronado, Baja California's Coronado Islands loom more closely than a "dim island lying on the horizon line"; that description fits San Clemente and Santa Catalina, 75 and 81 miles off La Jolla's shore, respectively. Finally, the Coronado Islands are not visible from the La Jolla Farms bluffs, where Trot's home was located, as they are blocked by headlands.

One of the two American islands, perhaps Santa Catalina, also likely corresponds to Pedloe Island, the island "lying off the California coast" on which Baum planned to build his Land of Oz theme park.35 Although, as one critic has pointed out, there never was a Pedloe Island, the name may have been transmuted in Frank J. Baum's memory. Baum mentions both Santa Catalina and the Coronado Islands by name in Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John.36

When and how frequently Baum visited La Jolla is unknown, as Baum's movements in San Diego were not covered completely in the San Diego Union social pages, and La Jolla did not have its own newspapers until 1913. It is recorded that Mrs. Baum and their son Kenneth spent a day in La Jolla on March 19, 1905,37 and the descriptions of caves and cliffs ring clearly of personal experience. La Jolla was easily accessible by road and rail from San Diego, and there may have been many day trips from Coronado between 1904 and 1911, when the Baum family moved to Hollywood.

San Diego as fairyland

Baum frequently set his pseudonymous, non-fairytale novels,intended for adult or teenage audiences, in places he had recently visited. Examples are The Last Egyptian: A Romance of the Nile38 and The Boy Fortune Hunters in Egypt, written after a cruise up the Nile; Aunt Jane's Nieces Abroad, set in Taormina, Sicily after Baum's trip there;39 and Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John, set (in part) in Coronado.40 He also did this in his fairy tales, using the Great Plains in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Emerald City of Oz, South Dakota in The Twinkle Tales,41 and La Jolla for the three Trot/Cap'n Bill books. But he evinced a special appreciation and affection for the San Diego area that went beyond using it as a backdrop. For Baum, it was an American fairyland.

Having lived in upstate New York, Chicago, and Aberdeen, South Dakota, L. Frank Baum was in a good position to appreciate the warm winters and scenic variety of Southern California. Even accounting for his usual hyperbole, Baum's public statements about the San Diego-Coronado area are striking: during his first winter there, he said in a San Diego Union interview: "...those who do not find Coronado a paradise have doubtless brought with them the same conditions that would render heaven unpleasant to them did they chance to gain admittance...."42

Baum's explicitly calls the San Diego-Coronado area a fairyland in two 1905 ephemeral works. A poem in the San Diego Union entitled "Coronado: The Queen of Fairyland" contains these lines after a glowing description of the physical features of San Diego Bay:

And mortals whisper, wondering:
"Indeed, 'tis Fairyland!
For where is joy without alloy
Enchantment strange and grand."
And tired eyes grow bright again,
And careworn faces smile;
And dreams are sweet and moments fleet,
And hearts are free from guile.

In an introduction, the San Diego Union social reporter noted dryly, "It takes Chicagoans to appreciate the attractions and comforts of life at Coronado."43

Also in 1905, Baum published an unusual piece called "Nelebel's Fairyland" in the graduation issue of San Diego High School's magazine The Russ.44 It is unclear why the story was placed there, as The Russ usually printed the work of people associated with the school.45 This story details the construction of the San Diego area's spectacular landforms by immortal beings (knooks, ryls, and gigans) sent to accompany a wayward fairy (Nelebel) in her exile from Fairyland. She speaks for Baum when she says "Here is a new Fairyland, my friends! and to me it is far more lovely than the dark and stately groves of old Burzee. What matters our exile, when the beauties of this earthly paradise are ours to enjoy?"46 One easily imagines Baum comparing his new-found earthly paradise with the 'Burzee' of his childhood, his parents' estate near Syracuse, New York, which is wistfully recalled in many of his early writings.47

In his 1911 girls' series novel Aunt Jane's Nieces and Uncle John, Baum gives a less poetic but equally enthusiastic view of a picture-postcard California, citing the health-restoring quality of the "genial climate of California," and the "ideal climate at Coronado."48 The landforms of the San Diego Bay area are described several times, and one of the adolescent protagonists says "I never imagined any place could be so beautiful!"49 Enroute to Coronado, there is a nod to La Jolla: "From Escondido it was a short run to the sea and their first glimpse of the majestic Pacific was from a high bluff overhanging the water.

From this point the road ran south to San Diego, skirting the coast along a mountain trail that is admitted to be one of the most picturesque rides in America."50 And, echoing his 1905 verse tribute, Baum uses the "land of roses and sunshine" as a metaphor for the joy that is possible in a life that has been spent, in part, in the desert.51


The caves of La Jolla, ca. 1905.
The caves of La Jolla, ca. 1905.

La Jolla, clearly recognizable in L. Frank Baum's The Sea Fairies, Sky Island, and The Scarecrow of Oz, is described as an idyllic place with features of his fairylands, dissimilar to the settings from which children enter Oz in the rest of the Oz series. This is understandable in light of Baum's personal history. His other writings about the San Diego-Coronado area confirm his impression of it as an earthly fairyland. Fantasy and reality easily become entwined at resort areas in general, and in Southern California in particular, which has often called itself and been called an earthly paradise. L. Frank Baum saw in the beauty and mystery of the La Jolla landscape an American place that was halfway to Oz.

Top Ten SCUBA diving sites in the World.

  1. Yongala, Australia
  2. Blue Corner Wall, Palau, Micronesia
  3. Barracuda Point, Sipadan Island
  4. Thistlegorm, Egyptian Red Sea
  5. Shark and Yolanda Reef, Egyptian Red Sea
  6. Navy Pier, Western Australia
  7. Manta Ray Night Dive, Kailua Kona, Hawaii
  8. Richelieu Rock, Thailand
  9. Elphinstone Reef, Egyptian Red Sea
  10. Big Brother, Egyptian Red Sea

Top Ten SCUBA destinations of 2009

1. Scuba Dive Cozumel, Mexico
The Island of Cozumel, off the Mayan coast, is surrounded by gorgeous reefs and pristine clear water; perfect for scuba diving. On a good day visibility can be up to 200 feet. Gentle currents running parallel to the reef are a drift diver's dream. There are 19 popular scuba diving reef areas, including dramatic swim-throughs teeming with marine life. Cozumel is very friendly for the foreign tourist it has affordable accommodation and buzzing night life. Cave divers will enjoy a trip to the mainland to scuba dive the cenotes (freshwater caves). There are dozens of excellent dive shops to choose from in the main town of San Miguel.
  1. Scuba Dive Fiji Islands, South Pacific
    Fiji offers an incredible scuba diving experience. It is the "Soft Coral Capital of the World", the home of the "Great White Wall", the "Yellow Tunnel" and other famous underwater marvels, scuba diving conditions and visibility are unrivalled year-round. Because of its clear water and dazzling coral Fiji is a favorite hangout for professional underwater photographers.
  2. Scuba Dive Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands Visibility averages 80 feet to 150 feet in this tropical paradise revered by scuba diving enthusiasts. Rising like a mountain plateau in the Caribbean, the Grand Cayman's shallow reefs provide maximum downtime, next to massive drop-offs in the surrounding 12,000 foot abyss.
  3. Scuba Dive Florida, USA
    Florida offers the best scuba diving opportunities on the North American continent. Dive shops proliferate along the entire Gulf coast and Atlantic coast and within a short boat ride of the nearest beach you will be submerged alongside giant turtles, manatees, sharks, tropical fish, rays and dolphins. For ease of travel (especially for U.S. citizens) Florida is a perfect vacation destination for scuba divers. The convenience and economy of Florida travel is often the deciding factor in choosing Florida for scuba diving. The Gulf coast generally has better visibility, the Atlantic Coast has a wealth of reefs and wrecks and the Florida Keys offer beautiful warm water and tropical fish.
  4. Scuba Dive Belize
    Boasting some of the world's best preserved marine ecosystems, but undiscovered by excessive tourism, Belize is a natural destination for scuba divers. Visibility can be poor except along the leeside of atolls where it can reach 100 feet. The Belize Barrier Reef offers a stunning variety of marine life.
  5. Scuba Dive Heron Island, Australia (Great Barrier Reef)
    Heron Island is literally a coral island rising above the famous Great Barrier Reef. With excellent scuba diving, just steps from the shore, you can strap on a snorkel and stay under 20 feet for hours on a scuba tank. Heron is a quiet island, devoid of industry or day trippers, which is ideal for the scuba diver who wants to bask in a relaxed casual lifestyle during surface intervals.
  6. Scuba Dive Vanuatu
    East of Australia, suspended between New Zealand and Southeast Asia, Vanuatu is prized by scuba divers primarily for its incredible diversity. Amid clear warm water and abundant marine life scuba divers can experience caves, swim-throughs, walls, lava towers, fantastically elaborate wrecks, coral mazes, grottoes and overhangs, plus more.
  7. Scuba Dive Grand Turk, Turks & Caicos
    Located along the southern tip of the Bahamas, Grand Turk stays sheltered from heavy currents and visibility is excellent year-round for scuba diving. Grand Turk is a summer gathering place for gentle manta rays and inquisitive scuba divers. Grand Turk is surrounded by walls covered in sponges and corals starting at 25 feet and rising to 30 feet and plunging 7000 feet straight down.
  8. Scuba Dive Hawaii
    Scuba diving in Hawaii is big. Giant sea turtles, enormous stingrays, sharks and whales gather near Hawaii to live in its fertile volcanic ecosystem. Though lacking the clear visibility of a sheltered island, Hawaii makes up for clarity with grandeur. Frothing with tourism, and the many dive shops to choose from, Hawaii makes scuba diving fun and adventurous.
  9. Scuba Dive Koh Tao Island, Thailand
    Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand is a tourist-friendly resort island that caters especially to scuba divers. Surrounded on all sides by colorful reefs the island is also well known for opportunities for close-encounters with elusive Whalesharks and Grey Reef Sharks. The scuba diving is excellent, but despite desperate marine conservation efforts shark hunting is offered as a tourist diversion and many people travel to Koh Tao just to kill the local fauna.

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