Friday, February 25, 2011

Unmasking the Eco Warrior By Jake Howard

By Jake Howard, ESPN

For James Pribram, it's time to take the water you're surfing in a lot more serious.

Writing a check to the Surfrider Foundation and putting a "member" sticker on your car is one thing. Noble as it may be, risking life and limb to protect and save our oceans and beaches takes a bit more commitment. Meet Laguna Beach's James Pribram, aka "the Eco Warrior." From legalizing surfing in the Windy City to protesting Chilean pulp mills to paddling through BP's muck in the Gulf, Pribram takes pride in putting himself on the front lines of some of surfing's more serious environmental disasters. ESPN Surfing caught up with him recently to get a little more background on the man known as the Eco Warrior.

Politically, morally or otherwise, what is your stance on the environment?
People need to get realistic about cleaning up the environment and our individual roles. I am trying to demonstrate that each of us can be Eco Warriors if we decide to make a difference in our own backyards. In addition to local Laguna Beach projects, I travel the world to help shine a spotlight on local challenges that folks are fighting in their own backyards. We can't just keep pissing in our playgrounds. For some kids the ocean is their only path to a normal and healthy life when they don't have the resources to be involved in after school programs and or sporting programs.

James Pribram CollectionOn scene during the BP spill in the Gulf

What do you do for a living?
I travel around the world as a professional waterman/spokesperson bringing awareness to environmental threats such as ocean pollution, over development, and in the case of the Windy City, I helped the locals get surfing legalized. It's important that we keep a good balance in finding better solutions and compromise in these problems that plauge our oceans and beaches.

Where did the passion come from?
My passion comes from growing up on the beach in Laguna and having my older brother John teaching me how to surf at age six, from that moment on surfing has always been the one constant in my life. Then sadly enough, I was teaching a surfing lesson in Aug. of 1997 and contacted MRSA [a strain of Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria that can cause serious infection when entering the body through a cut, sore, or body passage] from the polluted water at Dohney. That was really the tipping point for the person the media likes to call the "Eco Warrior." The doctors that day said had I not come into the emergency room that I would have likely died within eight hours. That was a huge wake-up call for me on a personal level. Because of it I now I dedicate my life to giving back to the our beaches and oceans.

When did you officially become "the Eco Warrior" -- and does that come with a costume or any superhuman talents?
The Eco Warrior project was started as a collaboration between Op and the Surfer's Path magazine. I was hand picked to travel around the world to report and write feature stories about environmental threats around the world. I was already heavily involved in environmentalism as a spokesperson and a participant. It wasn't until a photograph of me walking in the south of Chile participating in a protest march for the Rio Itata holding a white cross with thousands of Chileans marching behind me that Surfer magazine's Scott Bass dubbed me the "Eco Warrior." The moniker stuck and people really started to take notice of what I was doing. The only costume I wear is my heart on my sleeve. I'm just one of tens of thousands who care about our environment, beaches and oceans. In all honesty I really don't like being called the "Eco Warrior," but if it helps my cause, which it does, then so be it. I can live with that burden.

James Pribram Collection - When not off saving the world's oceans you may find Pribram shredding at home in Laguna.

Can you talk about causes you've dedicated yourself to in recent years?
Well, my first trip as part of the Eco Warrior project was back in the south of Chile and the march for the Rio Itata River. There was a pulp mill there pumping chlorinated water into the river. Another heavy one was in Taiji, Japan, where they kill thousands of small whales each year. It was featured in the documentary movie "The Cove," not many people know that I was involved and one of the first surfers to paddle out into the notorious "Killing Cove." That was by far the scariest environmental action I have been involved in. Getting surfing legalized in Chicago was a great victory for the locals there who really did all of the heavy lifting. The Gulf of Mexico fiasco last summer was just mind numbing and sad, just wtnessing the destruction of the coast. The recent South Atlantic voyage was a strong and personal lesson in life itself. I went through a lot on that voyage. Lost and gained a new perspective on life and people. Truly sad to see floating plastic debris out in the middle of the ocean amongst the most stunningly beautiful colored cobalt blue ocean. Hard to imagine, but it's true, not to mention all of the confetti pieces and other plastic litter scattered just below the oceans surface.

James Pribram CollectionSaving the surf in sweet home Chicago.

Chicago, you legalized surfing in the Windy City?
I really just helped the likes of Jack Flynn, who was actually arrested for surfing there and spent the night in jail. Along with Todd Haugh, Mike Killion, Vince Deur amongst a host of others. It was really baffling to me that in this day and age in the United States of America that something like surfing was illegal. But is so goes to show you when you show respect to the other side more often than not they are willing to listen and listen they did. The City of Chicago along with the city parks district were instrumental in getting the ban lifted and truly great to work with. That was a great for everyone both sides included and that's what it all about it. In finding better solutions and compromise in today's growing world.

And your Gulf response, what your experience?
It was truly heart breaking visiting 'Grand Isle' which should be renamed 'Grand Oil' with all of the oil boom that ran horizontally along the beach for as for as one could see. The oil wells that littered the ocean in every direction you looked. The smell of oil that was just choking the breath out of you. It was like the twilight zone but sadly it was reality for so many who lost their jobs and a way of life. Heart breaking for everyone and our environment as well.

How has all that changed you? Are you more motivated because of what you've seen?
It's a lonely life sometimes, and I've grown a lot as a person. I've been called names, threatened, questioned, but it has made me a stronger person with a clear vision of the person I am today. I lost a lot of friends growing up; to drugs, prison, death, but surfing was always been my savior, and perhaps more importantly, the beach itself. It has always been the one constant path in my life. It has taught me about life, love, desire, dedication and respect. I owe my life to it, not to say I'm willing to give it, but I have thought about it and that's a scary feeling. I'm not sure I could be anymore motivated?

James Pribram Collection - keeping the beach clean one piece of trash at a time

Most recently you sailed across the Atlantic in search of a trash island, how'd that come about and what exactly were you doing?
We sailed from Brazil to South Africa to document the South Atlantic Gyre which had never been seen before by the human eye. For ten days I was waiting for this huge plastic trash island and until I finally asked when we would see it and to my bafflement I was told it didn't exist. I felt embarrassed but that's why you have to go out and investigate these claims to make sure there real or not or as bad as claimed? In this case it was worse. Because of the small confetti sized pieces of plastic that are scattered below the oceans surface for miles in the middle of the ocean it makes a clean up almost impossible? Where as if were a big trash island perhaps one could find away of scooping up all of the trash?

What was the goal or objective?
To be the first to witness it firsthand, document it and bring back all of the samples from the trawls that were set out to study. Perhaps through this course of action we can find a solution, one way is stop using everyday plastic thro- away's like water bottles.

You mentioned you almost fell off the boat while in the middle of the ocean, where is that line for you, how far are you willing to push your eco battle?
I'm not sure? I would never say that I am willing to give my life, but I think I have certainly put myself in circumstances where something awful could have happened. I think I have demonstrated that I am willing to go pretty far for the cause.

Lessons learned from all of this?
That's there always two sides to a coin. You have to show respect to both sides and not get emotionally caught up in these environmental battles. Stay calm, level headed and keep exploring better solutions and compromise it's pretty much just the same as I try to live my life.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pageant Of The Masters 2011

WHEN: July 7 2011 - August 31, 2011
WHERE: Irvine Bowl

July 7th thru August 31st - Irvine Bowl - Laguna Beach Get ready to believe in the art of the impossible! In its uniquely theatrical celebration of tableaux vivants – "living pictures" – the 2011 Pageant of the Masters is venturing into magical artistic realms. Only Make Believe will be your passport to explore worlds populated by ancient and modern superheroes and strange, mythical creatures. It will also showcase the creative expressions of artists who devoted themselves to conjuring everything from Victorian historical fantasies, illustrations for fairytales beginning "once up on a time," to futuristic visions of things to come, all in a breathtaking performance of "art that lives and breathes." There'll be no shortage of fun and fantasy for the whole family as Only Make Believe leaves ordinary life behind to reveal the wonders of artistic imaginations unleashed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

South Coast Plaza Announces 11 New Stores for 2011

Luxury shopping center South Coast Plaza has announced the first grouping of its 2011 retail lineup, which includes 11 new additions to the center. Nine of the additions are new stores; two are major remodels.

South Coast Plaza is known for launching new brand concepts and exclusives. Several of the new stores for 2011 are either Southern California exclusives or Orange County exclusives. This year’s assortment continues to round out the retail portfolio at the internationally known shopping center.

“This is just the beginning of a very exciting year of welcoming sought-after brands and concepts to our incredible family of retailers,” said Debra Gunn Downing, Executive Director of Marketing at South Coast Plaza. “Our continually evolving collection is what continues to keep the shopping center vibrant and our customers excited and in search of newness.”

New stores for 2011 include:

Brunello Cucinelli — Men’s and women’s high-end cashmere brand with a cult following, known for producing some of the most coveted cashmere sportswear (Orange County Exclusive)

Diane von Furstenberg — Colorful, contemporary women’s fashion from the designer known for creating the beloved wrap dress (Orange County Exclusive)

Lego — The retail outpost for the adored classic toy building bricks

Longchamp — Luxury tote bags, luggage and accessories from this Parisian-based, classic leather goods house have become a staple for women everywhere (Southern California Exclusive)

Lululemon Athletica — Yoga-inspired athletic wear that has become as fashionable to wear out of the gym as in the studio

Madewell — J Crew’s edgier concept with a coveted denim line, T-shirts, footwear, accessories and more (Orange County Exclusive)

Omega — The luxury, Swiss watch manufacturer with a reputation for enduring quality (Orange County Exclusive)

Soma Intimacy — Women’s intimates and apparel store loved for flattering styles and in-store bra-fitting services

Microsoft — The official store of the tech giant brings to life everything from its software to hardware such as Xbox and Xbox with Kinect, PCs, tablets and more.
Remodels for 2011 include:

Origins — The bath, body and skincare brand will launch a flagship store with its new concept at the center

Tod’s — The luxury leather goods brand will add the ready-to-wear collection and offer its children’s line

In 2010, South Coast Plaza opened nine new stores and two restaurants, including Prada, Assouline, Herve Leger, Tous, Intimacy, Free People, Teavana, Catimini, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Seasons 52 and The Capital Grille. Among the eight major remodels at the shopping center were Dior, which debuted its first fine jewelry salon in the U.S., Anne Fontaine and Banana Republic, which opened its first new concept store in California.

South Coast Plaza is the crown jewel of shopping on the West Coast, and is recognized internationally for its unparalleled collection of over 250 boutiques, award-winning restaurants, spas and the adjacent world-renowned Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Its stellar cast of diverse retailers — from Oscar de la Renta, Balenciaga, Herm├Ęs and Harry Winston to Tory Burch, Barneys CO-OP, J. Crew, H&M and more — makes it Southern California's premier shopping experience. South Coast Plaza is located in Orange County, California, in the city of Costa Mesa. For more information, visit or telephone (800) 782-8888.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Laguna Beach Certified Farmers Market

WHEN: Saturday February 12th, 19th & 26th, 2011
WHERE: Downtown Laguna Beach
MORE INFO: (714)573.0374

Lumberyard Parking Lot next to the City Hall in Laguna Beach. The Laguna Beach Certified Farmers Market is the real thing - a place where genuine farmers sell fruits, nuts and vegetables directly to the public. Every farmer who sells at a certified market is inspected by the county agricultural commissioner to make sure he/she actually grows the commodity being sold. The Laguna Beach certified California farmers market is open for business every Saturday from 8:00am - 12:00 pm (rain or shine).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Natalie Cole Concert

WHEN: February 10, 11 & 12, 2011
WHERE: Orange County Performing Arts Center - Costa Mesa
MORE INFO: (949) 715-9713

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, an “Unforgettable” concert featuring the incredible Natalie Cole, backed by a full symphony orchestra. Warm, tender and heartfelt, her singing preserves the treasured standards made famous by her father, while adding her own touches of jazz, swing, soul and pop.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Surfing Soapbox: We all need access to the ocean

Awakening to clear, calm and breathless blue skies this morning, I once again had the same enthusiasm as a 15-year-old boy who grew up on the beach. I just couldn't wait until it was warm enough to hit the waves. Twenty-five years later I'm happy to say it really is no different of a feeling for me.The beach will forever be my world, my church, my everything; it has always been the one constant path in my life. My mom likes to call me Peter Pan sometimes and that's OK, maybe I am a big kid. It doesn't really matter to me because the beach has always had a deeper meaning and I have always believed that I have a deeper connection to it.

And I know, just as I believe this to be true. There are many others who feel the same about days like this, who just can't wait to hit the beach, no matter what they have planned. I have always believed that our beaches are another extension of playgrounds for everyone to enjoy, young and old.

It's an escape that is healthy and more often than not in a direction away from drugs and violence. A great alternative for those kids who don't have access to after-school programs or organized sports. We can't keep taking away the playgrounds of the world.

We have to find better alternatives and solutions for these problems that are plaguing our beaches. Rather than just continuing to put more and more restrictions on things like fishing, which in turn only take more and more freedoms away from those who need it the most. We need to care for our beaches and oceans. Stop the littering and pollution.

The time is now that we start cleaning up our own lives on land, because if we don't do that first then everything else is for naught.

Peace. James Pribram.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Laguna Beach Music Festival

WHEN: February 7, 2011 - February 13, 2011
WHERE: Laguna Beach - Varies
MORE INFO: (949) 715-9713

Laguna Beach Music Festival is a week-long event at various venues in scenic Laguna Beach, California, presented by Laguna Beach Live! and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County. Dedicated to artistic excellence and innovation, each Festival stars prominent and promising musicians in a variety of activities to attract both the casual listener and the aficionado, who share space in the Festival’s intimate, human-scale venues. A highlight of each Festival is the unique occasion for gifted young musicians to study with the Mentor in residency, while the public has the rare opportunity to observe these stars of tomorrow as they hone their technique and expression. Guest artistic director for the 2011 Festival is Brooklyn Rider. As the resident string quartet of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, Brooklyn Rider has gained prominence in classical chamber music as well as other musical worlds often remote from chamber music.