The Production Room was founded in 1995 as one of the first full time digital commercial recording facilties on the central coast of California. We started with 4 stereo tracks, 16 mb of ram and a 250 mb hard drive. A lot has happened since then. Today we're focusing on ways to serve clients who are creating web based media content. This includes strategic planning to integrate the benefits of traditional media, web design and IT solutions into new programs produced especially for on-line consumers. Join in the conversation. Throw rocks at glass houses. Share your vision of the future. This is the most progressive time in the media arts since Johannes Gutenburg invented movable type!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Last Debreifing of Bill Boyd

I took this job for love. There was no money.

A woman I know, a talented producer and director I have worked with over the the past several years, needed a favor.

Her father, Bill Boyd, is getting up in years. He's 86 years old now.
As a young man of 22 he was a bombardier in a B-17 with the 8th Air Force flying missions in World War II over Germany. On his 18th mission, he was shot down, wounded by flack and captured on the ground. He spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp. And after years of keeping his story to himself, telling bits and pieces of it to family and other veterans of the war, he was ready to tell his war story on camera. His daughter said to me, "Dads still real sharp, but now is the time." Knowing my love of history, she asked me if I would interview him.

How could I say no?

I know my American History pretty well. I knew I could help him tell his narrative. But we wanted something more personal. We wanted to look inside the man who went to war, came home and raised his family. We wanted a document that included background and details that would help future generations and historians put a face on the dry text of history. And I wanted the details that are often not recorded. Details so ordinary in the moment, that they become lost in later interpretation. Anyone who has talked to veterans of that war know those details and inside looks are hard to get. But Bill was ready to tell it and I wanted to help him.

We talked for almost 10 hours over two days and the whole of our conversation was recorded on HD video at Brent Sumner's studio in Santa Barbara. What came out was what historians would call an "excellent primary source". What I heard was a remarkable story told by an honorable and humble man.

Even after all the years that have passed, Bill has an amazing memory for dates, places, people and names. For his own reasons he memorized an incredibly detailed record of his life. As I probed for memories, emotions, background details and stories, more would come pouring out.

The hours of Bill's last debriefing will one day be edited and produced into a documentary film. Some will remain as a priceless record for genealogists to come. Some will help tell the story of the American Air Force in Europe. And some will help us understand who we were as a people in 1944, and after the war.

I scratched notes as we talked, questions to ask that would illuminate the man and the record. As the son of a WWII veteran, I probed for insights into the man who raised his children after the war. And as the product of the modern era, I looked for reasons to label his actions in ways I could understand and relate to my own contemporary understanding. What I found went beyond those meanings to the truth I sensed he was telling about himself, about his war and about how it had affected him.

I won't relate all of his adventures here. They're exciting alright, but the deeper message moved me more.

Several times I asked him about his feelings. About his duty, about the missions, about bailing out of a dying B-17 near the Swiss border. He answered honestly each time. But at one point he began to talk about fear. He said he was afraid on every mission. But what he was most afraid of was failing. He was most afraid of letting down the men who depended on him to do his job. And in that emotion was a key to what I've heard so many times. "I'm not a hero. I was just doing the best I could to do my job. There were a lot of other guys over there doing the same thing."

Nothing special. Just a guy doing his job.

On a day in the summer of 1944 over Germany that job got pretty tough. In five minutes, flack bursts turned the aluminum hull of the "Strictly From Hunger" into a sieve. Off target, leaking gas and with engines dying, Bill found his bomb sight blown to pieces, he snuffed smoldering electrical wiring with his fingers and realized that a bit of red hot shrapnel had pierced through his shoulder.

The ball turret gunner came forward, cut open Bill's flight suit, gave him a shot of morphine and bandaged his wound. Then, because his right arm was numb, the gunner strapped Bill's parachute upside down on him so he could pull the cord with his left arm. Bill exited the plane from the forward escape hatch and he fell as far as he could before pulling the ripcord. The whole crew got out. Half didn't survive on the ground.

Just a guy doing his job.

Modern people are so complicated. We look so deep for answers and examine every detail. A difficult time called for simpler answers.

In the POW camp, Bill said, "You got to tell your horror story once. Then nobody wanted to hear it anymore. Everbody had one. You got to tell yours once."

This week Bill got to tell it again. In the studio we asked him to please tell it all. Because we all need to hear it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Zawahiri Appoints House Negro


Al-Qaida No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has criticized President-elect Barack Obama, calling him a demeaning racial term implying that Obama is a black American who does the bidding of whites.

In an audio message which appeared on militant Web sites Wednesday, al-Zawahri said that Obama is “the direct opposite of honorable black Americans” like Malcolm X. He called Obama a “house negro.”

With all the excitement and speculation about the new administration and Obama's picks for the cabinet it's understandable that Mr. al-Zawahiri would get carried away and make his predictions too.

But on November 4th, the American people elected Barack Obama to be master of the house. And as it looks today, either Hillary Clinton or Bill Richardson will be the house negro.

While al-Zawahiri's pick may have been off the mark and displayed a lack of understanding of American politics and government, he does have the distinction of making a remarkably original point.

Not even in the heat of the contest did evil terrorist Sean Hannity suggest that Barack Obama did the bidding of white people. Perhaps his eyes are open now!


So Long Don. See You on the Internets

Don Frederick has left the building.

He's been downsized over at the LA Times political blog, "Top of the Ticket"

Top of the ticket was one of my favorite places to read political comment starting late last winter. Don Frederick worked out of the LA Times Washington Bureau and fellow blogger Andrew Malcolm worked form an undisclosed location.

Both wrote brilliant coverage during the Democratic primary season. After the general election, they continued to lead the news with commentary, though I began to read them in terms of left and right. Don always seemed to "get it" in my view; a sure sign that he is in fact a biased news source with a left wing radical kinda guy!

Andrew Malcom, whom I respect, once earned my wrath for publishing a totally bogus conservative hit piece on Canadian abortion policy. It was retracted by the Times and corrected on the blog, which I thanked them for.

Now the election is over and the recession has pulled up to the front door. The Times are cutting staff. Mr. Frederick has taken a buy out and is moving on. But you know, when a radio station I worked for was automated so that the air staff could be fired a friend of mine said, "You can't replace somebody with nobody." Since nobody at the newspaper could figure out how to monetize Don Frederick with ads from the strip clubs near LAX, cuts had to be made.

And so, Andrew Malcolm and Top of the Ticket - you have my best wishes. But this would seem to be the wrong year to have your political blog equal the sound of one hand clapping. In a year when the political tide has clearly turned do I want only the perspective of an establishment conservative in exile? Or do I want to know what the government is actually doing.

Good luck Don, let us know where you land.

Awful Good to be Home

Born and raised in the San Roque neighborhood of Santa Barbara, product of northside public schools (Peabody and La Colina) and Bishop Diego High School, I've seen a lot of things change.

The fire this week sort of brought me back home again. Sometimes I need to touch base with the comforts of home to know who I am and where I belong.

I was trying to write a script this morning but I couldn't seem to focus. So I got in the car, drove down to State Street and went to the post office to check the mail. I ran into local vaquero and Jedlicka's store owner Si Jenkins. "How's your house Si?" I asked. "Oh, fine" he said.

I Happened to know that the fire was right up the road from his home.

"Josiah came over and sprayed water on the roof and the yard to knock down the embers that were blowing around."

"Did you get your horses out?"

"Oh yeah, yeah."

He made it sound like they'd moved away a month ago and he was forwarding their mail. The fact is he must have moved his horses before doing anything else that night because it was only a matter of an hour or two after the first alarm that the fire was racing his way. Catherine Remak reported on the radio that traffic was stopped on Foothill near mission canyon that night by a woman riding her horse out of the hills to safety. Losing a horse in a fire would truly be awful.

I asked Si to say hello to Karen and stepped out of the Post Office. I remembered when Irene Davis Bakery was next door and my mother would sometimes stop inside. I remember the smell of baking bread and cinnamon in the air outside. Stepping inside we were greeted by the smell of fresh coffee. I used to ask my mother for one of the free donut holes that sat on a little white china plate next to the big silver coffee urn.

"Only One".

I tucked the approximately 80 catalogs in the mail under my arm and walked from the post office down along the little row of shops. I passed where Jim Rankin's Toy Store used to be. When I was a kid that was where you got all the toys baby boomers remember from Mattel and Whammo. Remember "Creeple People?" I really wanted a Thing Maker.

Just down at the end of the arcade of shops I walked in to the Farmer Boy Restaurant.

One of the original tenants in what used to be the a little shopping center at the edge of town, the Farmer Boy is a 50 year old coffee shop. Nothing fancy. Don't look for any nouveau cuisine. (hit the link for pictures, details and customer comments). "Awful Good Food" is the slogan painted on the side of the building.
You can't get a latte. On the other hand, you can get a cinnamon roll instead of toast with your bacon and eggs.

This is a locals hangout. Last December 7, I sat at the counter and had breakfast with Danny Ramirez of "Danny's Custom Styling". Danny lived just 2 doors down from us when he opened his barber shop in 1960. Both he and my dad were WWII Vets raising young kids in the suburbs.

I said, "Happy Pearl Harbor Day Danny."

He told me that just after Pearl Harbor he'd gone with friends in Santa Barbara to enlist in the Navy. He served on a destroyer in the Pacific and that's where he learned to cut hair. Guys were lined up for haircuts from the ships barber so they could pass inspection. Danny set up shop with scissors so that his shipmates could get cleaned up in time for inspection.

We talked about my brothers and his kids and grand kids and then shook hands and went off to work.

Now I'm back home. And it's time to get back to work.

* * * * * *

Quote of the day:

"I have a lot of depth, a lot of layers."
Ashley Dupre - Eliot Spitzer Prostitute

A lot of layers? Priceless!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thanksgiving - We Owe Thanks To So Many

Just a quick post this morning, I'll update later.

First things first, last night was quiet. The winds died down and the emergency officials began letting residents into the burn area late yesterday. One of our friends found that her home on Mountain Drive was completely destroyed. Located at the bottom of the canyon along a creek bank, there was no way for fire crews to save it.



Mayor Blum, County Supervisors - especially Salud Carbajal, SB City Council, State Assembly member Pedro Nava and Representative Lois Capps. Thanks for standing with us. Your work is only beginning.

Also a special note of thanks to everyone at Rincon Broadcasting in Santa Barbara for bringing Santa Barbara REAL RADIO that made a BIG difference. You were a crucial factor in protecting lives. That, folks, is what a broadcast license is for. Thank you all.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Santa Barbara Tea Fire - Night Terrors

I stood on the roof of our house at 11:30 last night and watched the western edge of the fire as it ran up the canyon toward Gibralter. I saw the top of Sycamore
canyon explode in towers of wind driven flame 100 feet high. At the same time I could see the glow of the fire on the eastern edge of the Riviera.

We are safe and sound this morning. The menacing orange rampage of last night is replaced by an ashen and edgy calm here this morning.

We're in shock. Like waking from a nightmare that continues to haunt you.

Last night at about 5:45 the fire started. In less than an hour it was tearing through the brush and homes were literally exploding. I know that when the stories are told we'll be hearing about people literally running out the door of their homes with the smoke and flames chasing them down the street. This has been an extremely agressive and fast moving fire.

No cause reported yet, but rumor and speculation?

One friend who lives near ground zero says the Tea House area is popular with people who like to enjoy the view at sunset...with perhaps a smoke of one kind or another.

The damage could be half a billion dollars.

That's a lot of dreams in ashes this morning.

UPDATE - Fire Map Link

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tea Fire - Santa Barbara is Burning Tonight

I took these photos during the 7:00 PM hour from the roof of my home in Santa Barbara. The sundowner winds are driving a the flames at up to 70 miles per hour.
Wind gusts and warm, dry conditions are forecast to continue through tonight.
The helicopters are in the air...we are told that a water dropping copter from LA is here and a chopper from SB County. The rest are media choppers

I saw SB County fire crews and engines surrounded by burning homes from an aerial picture on KCAL9 TV from LA. Fire started in the area above Sycamore Canyon/western Montecito.

AT 10:00 PM

Fire is totally out of control in suburban foothills. Areas below HWY 192 East Valley Road / Stanwood Dr / Hot Springs Rd. ordered evacuated. More current news

Dozens of homes burned so far. The Riviera is burning. Fire crews are rushing in but they can't begin to stop the fire.

people are being cautioned to be ready to leave. We're asked to turn off the gas main before evacuating because homes are exploding.

We are safe at this time. But winds and fire will make the next several days very long. The same area burned in 1977 in the Sycamore Canyon Fire.

Before that, the area burned in the Coyote Firein September 1964. I sat on the couch in our living room as my family waited for the evacuation order which was delivered by a police officer who came to the door and told us to leave.

A night like tonight brings that all back.

Special thanks to Rincon broadcasting of Santa Barbara and KEYT Channel 3 for their excellent work tonight.

I happened to be listening to the radio when my old friend Peter Bie cut in with the first live report about 40 minutes after the fire took off. Great work Peter!

UPDATE 10:30

National Guard troops are ordering evacuation of homes on upper Gutierrez Street just below the Riviera neighborhood. Caller says portions of Botanic Garden (Mission Canyon) are burning.

UPDATE 11:50

Link to KTYD Live coverage

Link was busy on my last attempt but good local content

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prodroom delivers to NPR's Robert Krulwich

New Santa Barbarian Jade Blackwater was our guest in The Production Room studio for an ISDN connection with National Public Radio science reporter Robert Krulwich.

So how many trees are there for each person on the planet?
NASA knows.

And what are we doing with all those trees?
Find out by listening to this story that aired today on Morning Edition.

As a side note, Some mornings when Susan and I wake up on the farm one of us will look out of our bedroom window and say, "See those trees? They're mine." This picture was taken in September at the farm.

For more please click on this link to Dunn Creek Farm

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NAFTA: Revised or Reinterpreted?

What will President Obama mean to Canadians? Ask most Canadians and after polite expressions off relief you'll likely hear speculation about NAFTA.

Former Canadian UN Ambassador Paul Heinbecker is interviewd in this link to a Q and A with Doug Fisher of Canwest News Service published Saturday,November 8th in the Ottawa Citizen.

Q. But what about Obama's vow to reopen NAFTA?

A. Obama and a Democratic Congress might very well open up those labour and environmental provisions of the trade agreement that Obama talked about during the primaries, but there are a lot of Canadians who wouldn't mind that at all. So long as the Americans come at it recognizing that the closest they are ever going to come to energy independence is by co-operating with Canada, I think we could negotiate a pretty good outcome. It's been a long time, nearly 20 years, since the treaty was on the table, and there are plenty of items that could be added or adjusted. None of that really terrifies me.

This is exactly what I heard from Canadians on the East Coast. Ambassador Heinbecker is correct about the benefits for both sides in re-examining NAFTA and there are several other reasons why a reinterpretation of NAFTA will reveal the abuse of the treaty terms by the Bush administration and could restore the intent of the treaty.

There have been times during the last few years when CBC reported mumblings about a withdrawal from NAFTA after US intransigence on trade issues. The softwood lumber fight and a series of border closings related to beef and potatoes left Canada pissed off. Endless US appeals of legal decisions favoring Canada's trade position made some ready to quit. A reinterpretation of NAFTA in Washington could solve some of the problems immediately.

And the US electorate (and our media) should take note of the following comment:

"Canada is the Americans' largest supplier of oil, petroleum products, gas electricity and uranium. And I think significant markets could be found for those elsewhere, if necessary. The Americans know that. So it doesn't make economic sense. Nor does it make sense strategically for the U.S. to force Canada to seek other markets, like China, for resources."

Ummm yeah. We import more energy from Canada than we do from Saudi Arabia. And we get a pretty good deal on energy under NAFTA.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Did I Mention Change in Iran?

It was only yesterday that I suggested change could be brought about by soft power as a result of the US election.

While it's still early and dangerous to suggest that a major shift is already under way, I found this interesting story from Borzou Daragahi in today's LA Times online linked to the Huffington Post:

Iran Economists Denounce Ahmedinejad's Policies

Seems that the Iranian President is taking more domestic flack from nascent opposition to his government's standard of bellicose nationalism.

Now, to be fair, Iran has unhappily found itself centered between hostile forces in destabilized countries on two of it's borders. It's only natural for the Iranian government to focus on nationalist themes in the face of a serious threat.

But when your own economists contradict your leadership in an international forum and you start reading this:

In a 30-page letter quoted by several newspapers and state-run television and published on the website of the independent Iranian Labor News Agency, the economists say Iran is in dire economic straits and must drastically change course. The letter also says Ahmadinejad's "tension-creating" foreign policy has "scared off foreign investment and inflicted heavy damage" on the economy.

"Meager economic growth, widespread jobless rate, chronic and double-digit inflation, crisis in capital markets, government's expansionary budget, disturbed interaction with the world, inequity and poverty have combined with the global economic downturn to leave undeniably big impacts on exports and imports," the letter says.

Ahmadinejad immediately blasted back, contending at a seminar on economic development that Iran has been "least affected by this international financial crisis" and urging economists to design "an independent economic system and model based on justice," according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

A man like President Ahmedinejad has got to be a little concerned about his fellow conservative ideologues and their ability to hold on to power. He knows that his people realize that America has peacefully overthrown it's own hard liners.

The president of Iran and many in his government are veterans of the Iranian revolution and no doubt command respect among older and conservative people. I wonder what the feeling is among young Iranians who don't remember the revolution but do like democracy.

More from the LA Times:

The letter and its publication suggest that Ahmadinejad and his clique face growing discontent among Tehran's elite political circles ahead of the presidential election in June.

The negative assessment flies in the face of recent bragging about Iran's economy by religious leaders, some of whom have described the West's economic downturn as God's revenge.

Sound familiar? Religious fundamentalists are the same in any language.

In America, we've just passed through our own democratic process - 22 months of fear against hope.

Now I wonder what the Iranian people hope for this June?

Saturday, November 8, 2008

President Obama and the Return of Soft Power

I'm not the first to notice this factor and I'll post some links below which we can examine together since I have not yet read other articles on this topic.

It's a good think piece for this first Sunday after the election.

I'll keep my comments focused on one example so we can move on to what the real thinkers think and you can compare my take with theirs.

Imagine for a moment that you are a citizen of Tehran, Iran. You may not have been out dancing in the streets last Tuesday night but you certainly know who Barack Obama is and you know that he has peacefully overthrown the American government by winning a decisive democratic vote of confidence from the American people.

You know that Obama risked his candidacy by expressing his willingness to resolve conflicts in the interest of peace.

Consider what this means to Iran's president Ahmadinijad, whose own government has been recently been rocked by scandal. Consider the superficially gracious and yet slightly pointed letter he sent to president elect Obama regarding future discussions.

President Ahmadinijad now faces the problem of appearing belligerent in the face of democratic principle and reason. He faces the risk of placing his tenuous hold on government against a world leader who is probably now more popular in his own country (especially among young people) than he is. He and others in the establishment could face a newly energized electorate chanting "Yes We Can" on the streets as they work to further their own Democracy.

This is how President Barack Obama can win the peace we all seek with soft power.

George Bush attempted to impose American will with military might. But ironically Barack Obama and America, with new democratic allies everywhere, are in a position to use this election to drive the change that doesn't come from a gun.

America has shown that all of us are free to rise up and shout, "YES WE CAN".


Joseph Nye - Barack Obama and Soft Power

Joseph Nye II

Galen Fox - Capitalism + Democracy = Peace

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Year of Jubilo

Kingdom Coming
(Henry Clay Work)

Say, darkeys, hab you seen de massa,
Wid de muff-stash on his face,
Go long the road some time dis mornin'
Like he gwine to leab de place?
He seen a smoke, 'way up the ribber
Whar the Linkum gunboats lay;
He took his hat an' lef' berry sudden
An' I spec he's run away!

cho: De massa run? Ha ha!
De darkeys stay? Ho ho!
It mus' be now de kingdom comin'
An' de year ob Jubilo!

Henry Clay Work was a white abolitionist from Connecticut. The song is based on a published parody of runaway slave ads which were widely published in all of the states before the Civil War. The joke here is that "massa" ran away from the Federal Army and the slaves he left behind are offering to take him back.

Headlines from "The Change"
Here are some of the latest dispatches from the front:

Sarah We Hardly Knew Ye
The long knives are already out...

The battle is on for control of what's left of the Conservative coalition. Obviously there are some who don't want Sarah Palin to be the face of the party in 2012.

Man The Lifeboats!

Nice summary of Rush Limbaugh comments yesterday

"The conservative movement does not need to be rebuilt," he said. "We had some people abandon the conservative movement, and they need to be abandoned."

Someone might mention to Rush that he could be the one cut loose in the purge that is surely underway. Rush flogged for McCain (after trying to destroy him in the primaries). He lobbied hard for Palin and now wants no responsibility for damaging the coalition that won elections. He labored mightily for conservatism and failed. So why does he have a new contract? Stay tuned while you can. There are going to be stations leaving the EIB.

Where Does This Leave The Christian Coalition?
They really should have seen this coming. They were patronized by the Republicans in exchange for political influence. And they sure don't like anyone being critical of their political activism as Michelle Goldberg found out when she published:

Kingdom Coming - The Rise of Christian Nationalism

Apparently large numbers have found Jesus again and are done rendering elections to a Caesar who never delivered on their agenda.

CALIFORNIA'S PROP 8 - Legalized Discrimination

The Christians and Catholics and Mormons (you'll notice that Christians even discriminate against each other) poured millions of out of state dollars into a vote on a constitutional amendment in my home state of California. How's that grab you? Not since the Supreme Court nullified free state constitutions(Dred Scott)has their been such an abuse of States Rights.

The battle will go back to the court and this amendment will not pass a civil liberties test. It will wind up in the US Supreme Court which has jurisdiction over individual rights under Federal Law. The conservatives may have created the unintended consequence of taking this issue out of the hands of the states and putting it squarely into the hands of Federal courts who will have to rule on this in the context of human rights.

De oberseer he make us trouble, an' he dribe us round a spell;
We lock him up in de smoke house cellar, wid de key t'rown in de well.
De whip is lost, de han'-cuff broken, but de massa'll hab his pay;
He's ole enough, big enough, ought to known better, dan to went, an' run away.
De massa run? ha, ha! De darkey stay? ho, ho!
It mus' be now de kingdom comin', an' de year ob Jubilo!

Monday, November 3, 2008

A New Reality is Coming

A senior Republican Adviser to President George W. Bush was interviewed by Ron Suskind. This excerpt from Suskind's report tells us a great deal about the people and the mindset of the out-going American President and his administration. It also may be key to understanding why Americans will break the Republican hold on government tomorrow.

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Excerpt from:
Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush

Published: October 17, 2004

Amazingly, this report explains so much about where we are on the eve of this election.

Why are we so hungry for change?
Why was a faith based know-nothing picked for VP?

Read this article and then vote.

If you're not American, read this article and then watch the election returns tomorrow. I promise it will make viewing more interesting.

The terms of political discussion in America have changed. The framing of political issues and American foreign policy are about to be re-modeled.

America's conservatives find themselves unable to persuade the populace with the language and ideology they have become addicted to.

Barack Obama is a master of modern political campaigning.

I read this article when it was first published and have seen it quoted and misquoted repeatedly. I post it here, in hopes that it will help make this touchstone bit of reporting on the George W. Bush Presidency more readily available.