California Sun

Happy Sunday.

Here are a few stories you missed in the California Sun over the last week.

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Sun sampler


A helicopter tried to douse flames in the Doyle area on Monday.

Neal Waters/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In 2019, Mike Snook began buying up properties in the rural town of Doyle near the Nevada border. His vision: to create an outpost for the free spirits of Burning Man who had been priced out of the Bay Area. “Five houses down, one left,” he said, tallying the destruction of the Beckwourth Complex fire, which raged through town last weekend. “I thought, ‘There’s no way it’s going to hit all of them.’” Reporting from Doyle’s only bar, the L.A. Times' Anita Chabria painted a vivid portrait of a dream crushed.


"California, Two Men and a Woman, 1979."

Paul McDonough

During summers in the 1970s and 1980s, the celebrated street photographer Paul McDonough set off on road trips from his home in New York. His series of pictures from along the Pacific Coast, collected in a new volume titled "Headed West," is exquisitely nostalgic. Huck Magazine | Flashbak


Charles Bello sought out a quiet life in the woods of Mendocino County.

Geartooth Productions

"Now I look upon photographs of people in New York City and these buildings, they have 5,000 people. And they go into that thing and they go up there and they spend eight hours and they come down. I can't believe it! That lifestyle to me is like so foreign it could be on the moon."

Charles Bello, an architect who once apprenticed under the famed modernist architect Richard Neutra, moved with his wife into the Mendocino redwoods in 1968 to create his own idea of paradise. His wife died, but Bello is still there, alone. Aeon created a gorgeous short film about him, titled "A Little Piece of Earth." Vimeo (~15 mins)


A British paratrooper training with U.S. troops crashed through the roof of a Central Coast home last week, officials said. Several people in the Atascadero neighborhood saw the soldier spiraling toward the earth as his parachute failed to properly deploy. Incredibly, he was fine, if a little banged up. “It’s a miracle in my estimation, really," said Rose Martin, a registered nurse in the neighborhood who rushed to check on him. "I mean, who lands like that without a parachute and lives?” KSBY |

An image purported to show the soldier sprawled in the kitchen after the crash. 👉 @TheWTFNation


A long-tailed weasel gripped a vole in its teeth at Bonny Doon Beach.

David Cruz, via KQED

The long-tailed weasel has been described having the heart of a lion crammed into a muscular, 8-inch body. They're fearless, commonly attacking animals far larger than themselves. Long-tailed weasels roam throughout much of California, but prefer habitats with lots of cover, making them elusive. A photographer described seeing one chasing a rabbit along the Santa Cruz Coast, "the way a cheetah hunts a gazelle." KQED

The BBC captured heart-pounding footage of a stoat, a long-tailed weasel cousin, taking down a rabbit. 👉 YouTube (~1:50 mins)


"Team Jesus, Holtville."

Lars Borges

Gazing out an airplane window above Imperial County, the German photographer Lars Borges was surprised to see a massive green grid below. "I asked myself: How can that be — a field in the desert?" That sparked a yearslong photo project on the people of California's southeastern corner — a place of poverty, joblessness, and relentless heat that Borges says represents everything that can go wrong with the planet. | Leica Camera Blog


California archive


In 1970, Sérgio Mendes, a Brazilian musician, employed a shaggy-haired young carpenter to build a music studio in his backyard in Encino. The worker was an aspiring actor, but had taught himself carpentry to support his young family. That's him on the right. 👇

At the time, there was little to suggest that Harrison Ford, then 28, was destined to be one of the most famous leading men in Hollywood. A few years later, he landed a small part in George Lucas' "American Graffiti." But he returned to woodworking as his principal profession. In 1976, Ford was asked to help Lucas audition other actors for the director's next film. It was the carpenter, however, who stole the show. Ford became Han Solo and the carpentry became a thing of the past. Mashable | Entertainment Tonight


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The California Sun is written by Mike McPhate, a former California correspondent for the New York Times.

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