Next of Kihn


Greg Kihn performs at the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton.(Camera: NIkon D300. Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm @ 180mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

“Age to me means nothing. I can’t get old; I’m working. I was old when I was twenty-one and out of work. As long as you’re working, you stay young. When I’m in front of an audience, all that love and vitality sweeps over me and I forget my age.” – George Burns


Greg Kihn performs at the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton.(Camera: NIkon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)


Greg Kihn, right, performs with his son Ry Kihn at the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton.(Camera: NIkon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 35mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/8. ISO: 200)

70s-80s rocker Greg Kihn opened the Asparagus Festival on Friday. He was the first of three acts to headline each of the three days of the festival in downtown Stockton. He also served to make me feel my age. It wasn’t his performance. Kihn jammed like any rock n’ roller worth his guitar strings. It was when he introduced his lead guitarist, his adult son, Ry Kihn, a fantastic musician in his own right. I kept thinking, “He’s not that old, is he? Because if he is, that means I’m old too.” But there he was with his son, wailing on his guitar. Apparently, he is that old and so am I, but as Greg Kihn showed in his performance that, as long as you’re having fun, age doesn’t matter.

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Best of the West


Volunteers Francine Poelestra, left, and Adrian Soto-Maldonado cook up some deep friend asparagus in the Asparagus Alley area of the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/160 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 100)

One of my pet peeves are festivals that have very little to do with what they’re supposed to be about. Just try finding something bean related at the Dry Bean Festival, for instance. They’re just glorified crafts fairs. Just another place for crafts/food vendors on the county fair/festival circuit to pitch their tents and sell their wares.


Margo Cook of San Francisco, left, and Lisa Mattingly of Alamo enjoy themselves at the Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm @ 80mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. @ f/5 ISO: 200)

The Stockton Asparagus Festival doesn’t have that problem. It’s regarded as one of the best festivals in the country. Sure, it has its share of booths that sell handmade jewelry, toys and tie-dyed clothes. And you can get the ubiquitous tri-tip sandwiches, corndogs, curly fries and kettlecorn.


Hundreds of people lined up for deep fried asparagus and other asparagus dishes in the Asparagus Alley area of the Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/11. ISO: 200)

The thing that the Stockton event has that others lack is Asparagus Alley. They have several different asparagus-themed dishes, the most popular being the deep-fried asparagus. Hundreds of people at a time line-up for the food. On top of which are the celebrity chefs (Martin Yan headlined this year) who demonstrate asparagus recipes. As far as themed-festivals go, the Asparagus Festival is one of the best in the West.

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Drumming up business


The street percussion musicians Adam Litke, left, Jack Walker and Shawn Robbins pound out rythmns on garbage and recycling cans as a part of their act at the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: NIkon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec. @ f/6.3. ISO: 200)

A crowd pleaser at the Asparagus Festival is a group of street performers called “Petting Zoo.” The Sacramento-based trio put on a high-energy percussion show. They bang, thump and rat-a-tat-tat on garbage cans, recycling bins, bottles, old mail boxes, anything that’ll make a cool sound when pounded on with a drum stick. Their energetic movements could light up a small city and the beat is so infectious that the crowd is groovin’ to the beat. They put on a pulse-pounding show every 15 minutes or so which makes them some of the hardest working performers at the festival.

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It’s fun to stay at the…


Jose Vargas of Davis, left, and Hilda Lopez of Stockton, eat some deep fried asparagus at the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec. @ f/5.6. ISO: 200)

It’s once again time for the 20-something annual Asparagus Festival in Stockton. There have been so many of them, they’ve stopped numbering them. Besides celebrating all things asparagus, the festival is a fundraiser for over 100 charities. And as such, it runs with help of an army of volunteers.


Asparagus ready to be cooked in the Asparagus Alley area of the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/1256 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 100)

The biggest seller by far is the deep-fried asparagus. There’s probably 50 volunteers at a time working on the tasty treat in assembly line fashion. The work can be a bit repetitive and mind numbing. Loud and lively music is played in the kitchen area of Asparagus Alley which helps to keep everybody entertained and on task.


Volunteers Erick Matienzo, left, Melisa Banal and Francine Torres dance to the Village People song “YMCA” while cooking deep fried asparagus in the Asparagus Alley area of the annual Asparagus Festival in downtown Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/320 sec. @ f/2.8. ISO: 100)

Over some speakers, a horn section blared the intro to familiar 70s song. It was the famous (or infamous) classic YMCA by the Village People. While most of the volunteers were a bit vague on the verses, nearly everybody knew the chorus, along with the hand motions. While food production slowed a bit, everyone had fun. I guess happy asparagus comes from happy workers.

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An end to a bad day

Pacific’s Alyce Jorgensen throws a pitch during a softball game against Cal State Fullerton at UOP’s Simoni field in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 @ f/11. ISO: 250)

University of the Pacific Tiger softball coach Brian Kolze is one of the nicest guys around. He’s always treated me with openness and geniality, I’ve always felt welcome at Bill Simoni Field where the teams plays on the UOP campus.

Last Saturday, Kolze didn’t have the best of days. A few days earlier, The Record published a story saying he was just two games shy of reaching 500 career wins. Saturday, UOP held a double-header against Cal State Fullerton at Simoni Field in Stockton. The first game Pacific lost 8-0. But there was still a chance of achieving the 500 wins because the Tigers would not only play Fullerton in a second game, but a third game the next day as well. The 500 mark was still in reach. But Kolze wasn’t so much focused on reaching the goal, but rather just winning the games.


Pacific’s softball coach Brian Kolze leans up against the equipment shed after being ejected from the game for arguing over a disputed call during a softball game against Cal State Fullerton at UOP’s Simoni field in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 @ f/6.3. ISO: 250)

In the second game, things went a little better, but not by much. Trailing in about the 5th inning, a Pacific base runner was called out for interference between first and second. Most everyone thought that it was a pretty bad call (well, everyone except the umpire who made it and the opposing team) and Kolze went to argue the point. A few seconds later, Kolze was sent packing. He watched the rest of the game about 100-yards away near an equipment shed at the edge of the outfield. The Tigers lost 4-0. A bad end to a bad day.

I saw Kolze a few days later at a Ports baseball game against the San Jose Giants at Stockton Ballpark.  I apologized for the shot of him after he was ejected from the game, but he actually thanked me for the picture and said, “It’s not like we had any runners on base that you could shoot.” “We haven’t had to struggle (like that) in twelve years. I can handle once every 12 years.” Hopefully this weekend’s games against Cal Poly will go better and Kolze will reach his 500th win.

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Oh snap!


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/1000 @ f/8. ISO: 250)

Over the last several days, we’ve experienced a Spring cold snap. The sun was out, but the high’s hovered in the low/mid 60s, while the lows dipped into the 30s and 40s. A warm day for say, Bemidji, Minnesota, but chilly for the sunny Central Valley. It been about 10 degrees lower than what’s normal for this time of year.

Sunny, cloudless, deep blue skies made the weather all that more deceptive. It looked like it should be a warm and inviting day. Two college students decided to take in some sun at Knoles Field on the University of the Pacific campus. A stiff breeze whipped around and what started out as an afternoon sunbathing turned into a struggle to stay warm for Emily Veeh of Los Angeles and Anna Bernard of Stockton. Veeh and Bernard spread out a blanket on which to lay on while sunning themselves. Soon they were using it to huddle under to keep warm.

Not too long from now, Summer will arrive and with it the season’s unrelenting heat. It’ll be then when we’ll be wanting weather like we’ve been having lately.

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Turkey trot


(Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-55mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/250 sec., f/3.2 w/Elinchrome strobes, ISO: 250
)

During an ECHL playoff game between the Stockton Thunder and the Las Vegas Wranglers at the Stockton Arena in downtown Stockton, Thunder fan Randy Pocock wore a turkey costume with a referee’s shirt. He said that he breaks out the outfit 4-5 times a year, as a comment on the quality of the refs’ calls. Asked if they see him, Pocock said, ” Oh, they notice me.”
The Thunder’s playoff hopes came to an end when they lost to the Wranglers in Las Vegas on Tuesday. Pocock will have to wait until next season to wear his turkey suit again, although he might want to avoid using it around Thanksgiving time, lest he be mistaken for a holiday dinner.

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On the fast track

I wouldn’t call Lyons Golf Course the shiniest jewel in the Stockton public golf course system. Built in 1968, the compact nine-hole course is tucked away in the southeastern corner of Rough and Ready Island at the Port of Stockton.


The Lyons Golf Course on Rough and Ready Island at the Port of Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I recently shot the Edison High golf tournament at Lyons. Big trucks rumbled by carrying rice and other bulk items that are imported and exported from the port. A whiff of eau-de-fertilizer was carried on the breeze. Large oil tanks sat not far away.


Edison High golfer David Osterholt hits a shot from the 4th tee in the Edison High golf tournament at the Lyons Golf Course at Rough and Ready Island in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 300mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

Edison head coach Tim Montgomery, who is also the golf pro at Lyons, gave me a golf cart to follow the action. I don’t know if they use special batteries or some other supercharging tweeks, but the electric carts at Lyons felt faster than at any other golf course. The carts at Swenson are pokey in comparison and even the ones at the fancy Brookside Golf and Country Club are anemic.


McNair High golfer Mike Flores hits a shot from the 4th fairway in the Edison High golf tournament at the Lyons Golf Course at Rough and Ready Island in Stockton. (Camera: Nikon D300. Lens: Nikkor 17-35mm @ 17mm. Exposure: 1/500 sec., @ f/8. ISO: 200)

I zipped through the course at Lyons, slaloming through the trees, motoring up hills and racing down the flats. I got up on the levee along the deep water channel. The cool air whipped through my hair as I looked across the water to see the famous Klamath Ferry, now the headquarters for Duraflame, docked on the other side of the channel. Other golf courses in the area might be bigger and fancier, with more amenities, but Lyons has the fastest golf carts.

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Guitarzan


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)


“The guitar is a small orchestra. It is polyphonic. Every string is a different color, a different voice.” – Andres Segovia.
According to this quote by famed classical guitarist Andres Segovia, singer/songwriter Jackson Browne had equivalent of the New York Philharmonic with him despite being the only person on stage.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 125mm. Exposure: 1/15 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 3200)

Jackson Browne’s concert was a solo one. Just him and his music. There was a keyboard and 14 guitars (not including the one he started the concert with) on stage. I guess the money he saved on not paying for a band, went to his musical instrument budget.

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Tender is the night


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 17-55mm @ 23mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

My formative teenaged years were spent in the 1970s. The decade has been reviled for the quality of its music (or lack thereof). True that, with disco being one of the worst art forms know to mankind. The simple beauty of Jackson Browne’s music was one shining note that transcended the commercialism of the dance music era. He didn’t have to rely on flashing lights or a driving back beat. He was a performer who had the talent that didn’t require a gimmick.


(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 200mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 800)

Jackson Browne played a solo acoustic concert at the Bob Hope Theatre in downtown Stockton on Thursday. No band or backup singers, no flashing colored lights, just a bunch of guitars, a piano, a microphone, a chair and him. He walked on stage to appreciative applause, his signature shoulder-length brown hair was lightened with strands of silver. He sported a grey beard, giving him a bit of a grizzled appearance. From the way he looked, one almost expected him to sing in disappointed, graveled-washed tones. But, while time had worn away his boyish looks, it hadn’t diminished his voice. It was as clear and moving as when he was a young man. Emotion and poetry glistened in his eyes as he sang. Though the youthful honesty of his voice still was intact, the delivery of his moving songs was tempered with a certain maturity and thoughtfulness that only age can bring.



(Camera: Nikon D300. Nikkor 70-200mm @ 155mm. Exposure: 1/125 sec., @ f/2.8. ISO: 1600)

I could only stay and shoot for a couple of songs, which is par for the course at such concerts. As I drove back to the office I hummed some Jackson Browne’s tunes to myself. Not just the ones I heard him sing that night, but songs I remembered from my youth and would’ve like to have stayed and heard again.

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    Clifford Oto

    Clifford Oto, an award-winning photographer, has been with The Record since 1984. Through the changes from black and white to digital photography, he’s kept his focus on covering the events, people and life of San Joaquin county. This blog deals ... Read Full
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