Looking for help with Help-Portrait

Since 2009, Record Photographer Clifford Oto has organized an annual help-portrait event in Stockton to take portraits of those in need.

Diana Aguilar and her sons Christian 3,, left, and Jaden, 5, pose a picture at the Help-Portrait Event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless. STOCKTON SHELTER FOR THE HOMELESS/COURTESY 2016

People who cannot afford to have this done themselves, including some who have never had a formal portrait taken. This year, he is looking for volunteers to help for a few hours on Sat. Dec.2. He needs photogs, helpers, hair and makeup people and so on.

Siblings Janiece, Janee, Brian Adams sit for a portrait at the Help-Portrait event at the Stockton Shelter for the Homeless in Stockton. BEN WONG/COURTESY 2011

This is a great cause.

Record Photographer Clifford Oto works with a family during a Help-Portrait session. CLIFFORD OTO/RECORD FILE 2011

If you would like to volunteer or help in some manner, contact Clifford at coto@recordnet.com. or 209-546-8263.

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Reader feedback on a seemingly innocuous item

I found this voicemail quite interesting.

The caller was referring to a tidbits column, titled Random Thoughts, that was published Wednesday in the Sports section of The Record and on recordnet.com. The column contains tidbits about various sports-related items.

You can read the full column by clicking here.

The caller didn’t like it.

He stated (in no particular order):

  1. That he was tired of me writing about race.

  2. That he was qualified to say the above because his wife is black and she too is tired of me writing about race.

  3. That I am stoking the fires of racial hatred and separatism by writing about race.

  4. That I was not qualified to write about sports.

  5. That if he knew who owned The Record he would have me fired.

I had someone else review that column and he could find no direct reference to race in it.

My guess is this is what the caller was referring to:

It’s hard to ignore the $250,000 cost of Vice President Mike Pence’s trip to Indianapolis for last Sunday’s 49ers-Colts game. It’s one thing to stay for the game, no issue with that as the Colts honored Peyton Manning, a two-time Super Bowl champion and first-ballot lock for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What makes it difficult is that Pence walked out before the game began in protest of the NFL players protest during the national anthem. It’s not as if it was unexpected that the players would do that.

I viewed that note as being about something that happened at a football game.

Any interpretation of it as being about race is through your own filter.

It goes to an ongoing discussion I have been having with a number of people about how others are emboldened to step out of the shadows with their putridity.

I listened to the entire voicemail, in part to see if the caller would leave a name and callback number. Of course, he did not. People like that never do.

But here’s how I would respond to that caller (also in no particular order):

  1. In this case, I was not writing about race, I was writing about a waste of taxpayers money at a football game. But I am going to continue writing about race.

  2. My wife is black, too.

  3. Racial hatred does not come from me writing about racial issues.

  4. I am a journalist with 36 years of experience at professional newspapers. I can write about pretty much any topic with authority.

  5. Gatehouse Media is the corporate operator of The Record.

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Behind every photo, there is a story

Here’s the story behind my favorite Clifford Oto photo.

Graduation at University of the Pacific is Saturday. And often at this time of the year, that event causes me to think back to 2011 when I sat in the stands at Spanos Center to watch my eldest daughter, Devon shown in the above photo, graduate.

I saw Clifford getting photos of the graduation ceremony and later I saw Devon walk in.

Smiles all around for me and my family.

The next day Devon’s photo was in The Sunday Record.

I was surprised to see it.

Devon told me that Clifford approached her during the event and that their conversation went something like this:

“Hi, I’m Clifford Oto with The Record. I got your photo. Could I have your name, please?”

“Uh,” she said, aware of any conflicts of interest. “Devon. D-e-v-o-n”

Clifford scribbled it down. “And the last name?”

“Blount,” she said.

“How do you spell that?” he asked.

“B-l-o-u-n-t,” she said.

His head down, looking at his notepad, Clifford dutifully wrote that down too. Looked at it and then stopped.

“Uh, are you Don’s kid?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Ok, thanks. And congratulations,” he said before heading off.

That photo was published in The Sunday Record.

It’s a great photo and will probably always be my favorite Clifford Oto photo.

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As the city turns

Just yesterday, we saw drama play out once again nationally and also close to home. I think most are familiar with this by now of how Attorney General Jeff Sessions responded to information that he had met with a Russian official, when he said he had not.

Where I come from, that’s called a lie.

It seems that every day there is some news, and not good news, generated by this administration. A bit more than a month in office and it seems like it’s been years.

If chaos is what President Trump and his advisers thrive on, they have certainly created it.

Locally, things buzzed when an arrest warrant was issued for former Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva. Police confiscated a number of items from his home but the mayor was nowhere to be found as was out of the country.

Unfortunately, Silva’s story seems to continue turning down dark paths. From a football recruiting scandal at Franklin High School, to the charter revocation of the Stockton Boys and Girls Club to charges of playing strip poker with naked teenagers, providing alcohol to minors and illegally recording the activities.

The latest charges  include misappropriation of public funds, embezzlement, money laundering and grand theft.

Remember, innocent until proven guilty.

Hopefully, this chapter in Stockton’s history will close in some way sooner rather than later.

 

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Rebuttal is part of free speech

In this new era when hate speech has approval to be expressed publicly, a Sacramento Brewery owner discovered that free expression comes with a price. According to The Sacramento Bee, three co-owners of Red Rabbit Restaurant gave up their minority ownership in Twelve Rounds Brewing after brewery founder, Dan Murphy, on Facebook railed against the Women’s March.

Murphy  wrote: “I am disgusted at all of the people and politicians that supported this anti-Trump event. … I am especially disgusted with the politicians who supported this divisive event. Time to vote all these pieces of garbage out of office.”

We all have free speech rights. Unlike in some other countries we cannot be jailed for ranting against the government (unless of course we threaten someone) or for expressing a point of view. This is why we have the Tea Party, the KKK and Black Lives Matter for example. However, we need to be aware that what we say comes with consequences. If we publicly rant against say a Women’s March, we need to understand that people do not have to say “Ok” and do nothing; that they are free to rant against our view as well. That could mean verbal rebuttal or taking their business elsewhere. If the views expressed result in strong rebuke then one needs to realize that perhaps those views are not for everyone. Perhaps those views are better kept to ourselves.

As the saying goes: Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.

 

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Racist ignorance doesn’t disappoint

I listened, I laughed and then I had a conversation about hate. I ignore most anonymous voicemails because in those cases cowards are the ones who hide behind the cloak of anonymity.

And a voicemail left at 2:40 a.m. without a name or callback number qualifies as anonymous.

And this caller did not disappoint in spewing hate-filled ignorance.

The only reason I listened was because she had called about a column I had written about the Presidential election.

I did not listen to all of that voicemail, either.

And I probably should not have listened fully to this racist rant.

Yet, she (I am pretty sure it was a woman) gave me a belly laugh when she said “IF the KKK were alive and well, you’d be part of the reason.”

Oh, and she did go on to say how Donald Trump was going to do great things for the country.

My strategy for handling people like her follows this bible verse: Proverbs chapter 26, verse 4. “Answer not a fool according to his folly lest you be like him.”

Or in this case, her. And this is just one example of responses I receive.

No doubt bigots do exist. And that’s a reason why I write about racial and social inequities.

Agitate, agitate, agitate.

 

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A few thoughts on the national election

Never before have election results left me this uneasy. In Donald Trump we have a president who represents so many things that are the antithesis of what we would teach anyone to be.

He has publicly shown or made statement that are homophobic, misogynistic, racist and anti-immigrant.

Just as frightening is that he appears to be saying things in public that many apparently are saying in private. The polls showed Trump trailing Democrat Hillary Clinton, yet Trump swept the swing states. The only thing that leaves one to consider is that voters were not being honest with pollsters.

It reminded me of local Republican candidates Ken Vogel, Steve Lopez and Alan Nakanishi, In an interview with The Record Editorial Board, Vogel only after being pressed said he would reluctantly support “the Republican nominee.” Both Lopez and Nakanishi refused to say who they would vote for, despite seeking positions to serve the public.

Obviously they did not want to be too closely connected to someone who behaved as Trump did. If elected, would you want to know that your representative thought less of you because of your ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation?

They of course did not want you to know because they would cost them votes. And obviously many in our community, locally and nationally did not want us to know because of how that would reflect on them, if Trump lost.

Now that he has been declared the winner, many have come out of their closet, crowing about how America is going to change its path back to the good old days.

The way I recall that period, segregation was law in southern states, the glass ceiling for women was about five feet high and immigrants were granted third tier status.

Something is not right when you have kids in tears and classroom discussions to try to calm students down because of fear of the President-elect

I’ll have more on this in my column coming Sunday.

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Ranting over school drop off

I am annoyed, agitated, and still a bit angry.

So I am off and ranting again about drivers who take unnecessary risks during student drop off at school in the mornings.

Earlier this week, it was the driver who decided to stop in the middle of the street to let their kid out. This was a first. Other drivers pull over to the curb to allow their child to cross at the marked crosswalk.

Weekly, I see something that leaves me shaking my head.

Whether it be the driver who decides to make u-turn within oncoming traffic.  Or the one who decides to let their kid out of the car while other traffic is moving. Or the driver who decides to stop, say right at the corner of the intersection, to have their student hop out of their car.

Or the ones who ignore signs directing traffic flow. You know the ones who decide that the ALL CARS MUST TURN LEFT sign applies to others but not to them. They turn right anyway.

Their actions are dangerous, irresponsible, stupid.

Who knew that school zones could be so hairy at what should be the most benign time of the day?

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Stop and smell the bacon

I guess this website proves that not everything is improved by adding bacon to it. At least that’s my assessment but maybe you disagree and do not draw the line at bacon-scented underwear. You can view the products themselves by clicking here. They cost $19.99 a pair.

And you can read more from the news release that landed in my inbox:

J&D’s Foods, makers of Bacon Salt®, is pleased to announce the launch of BaconScented Underwear™, the world’s first underwear that looks and smells like bacon. Yes, this is real.

Marrying the ultimate in comfort and cured meat, J&D’s Bacon Scented Underwear represents the gold standard of meat-scented luxury undergarments. Each pair is hand crafted in the USA to offer the support of briefs, the freedom of boxers and the smell of breakfast cooking in your pants. You really can have it all.

Featuring state of the art moisture-wicking, scent-emission technology stolen from NASA, we’ve embedded the smell of everyone’s favorite smell into the fabric of your pants. This intoxicating scent will last through multiple wash cycles and wearings – depending on the (ahem) strength of your own scent, your underwear should continue to smell like bacon for up to 6 months or even a year.

Our legal team has advised us to post the following serious warnings:

  • J&D’s Bacon Scented Underwear is not recommended for people in the following professions: mail carriers, zookeepers, veterinarians, dog catchers and walkers, and circus performers (especially lion tamers).
  • If you have a large dog with razor sharp teeth, please do not fall asleep in J&D’s Bacon Scented Underwear.
  • If you are hiking in the woods where bears are known to roam, please do not wear Bacon Scented Underwear without also carrying a firearm.

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Epitome of an oxymoron

Now this would be the epitome of an oxymoron, and one of the few times I get to use “epitome” and “oxymoron” in a sentence. I received an email about a kickstarter campaign for FAST, a tail light for bicycles and electric scooters that will alert someone of an accident and warn you if your bike is being tampered with, and among a few other features. The nearly three-minute promo video extols the bike’s safety features. If the bike is left in a horizontal position the tail light’s app will send a signal to the Android phone of an emergency contact. That sounds pretty cool.

But in the video, the rider is not wearing a helmet. Maybe they should work on an app to prevent you from riding your bike if you’re not wearing a helmet.

Click here to see the video for yourself.

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    Don Blount

    Don Blount was named been editor of The Record in May 2017. He joined The Record as managing editor in 2005. He has also worked at newspapers in Modesto, Calif.; Sacramento, Denver and Allentown, Pa. A Philadelphia native, he is a graduate of Lehigh ... Read Full

    Mike Klocke

    Mike Klocke is editor of The Record. He is a native of Michigan and graduated from Michigan State University in 1978 with a degree in journalism. He has worked at newspapers in Michigan, Indiana, Florida and California. He was named editor of The ... Read Full
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