Sunday, September 26, 2010

San Francisco 1999/Defensive Handgun Training

Today I was thinking about San Francisco and the time I spent there. These pictures were taken in the spring of 1999. 

In the picture below from left to right is:

Enrique: Intelligence officer in the Navy reserves at the time; maybe he still is. He is now a law enforcement officer and a parent.

Mark: Later earned a grad degree in systems security and is now a professional in SF.

Bill: VP of engineering at Quokka Sports at the time. He is also a professional living in SF today. I sleep on a Duxiana bed once owned by Bill.

We used to enjoy pistol shooting and would do it once a week after work at a range. The routine would be to first eat at KFC, and then go to Jackson Arms in South San Francisco and shoot. If I remember correctly we each would shoot about 100 rounds.

Here is Bill checking in at the Jackson Arms. I like the targets in the background. They were for sale; you had to have targets to shoot at.

The men in the targets are all in 'challenging' positions and are armed. I would describe the expressions of the men in the targets as resigned. They had targets with armed women and children also.

The staff at the Jackson Arms got to know us quite well since we were a jocular bunch. Every shooter must first check in and identify themselves before entering the range. Sometimes we would buy ammo and rent a pistol if needed.

Incidentally, they will not rent a weapon to a lone shooter. People have been known to come into the range, rent a weapon, and then use it on themselves.

Enrique owned a Sig Sauer P228; it was the nominal weapon of his reserve unit. Here is Enrique... shooting.

Mark eventually had some big .44 revolver that required a lot of hand and arm strength to handle.

Mark... shooting.

Bill had a very tasty Springfield Armory 1911.

Bill... shooting.

And me... shooting.

I have to explain that I simply enjoyed target shooting. I admired the engineering of a semi automatic pistol. It's design has not changed significantly since it was patented in 1911.

Eventually I bought a Sig Sauer P228 which is a 9mm. It was really not the right weapon for me because I'm left handed and this gun is not ambidextrous. It looked like this:

The de-cocking lever and the slide release of the P228 are on the right side and are meant for the thumb of a right handed shooter.

We heard about the training offered by Frontsight which is a firearms training academy. We decided to sign up for the defensive handgun class in the spring of 1999. The class was held in Bakersfield, which is a long drive from SF.

Here is a picture of the class in session. There is an instructor for every 3 or 4 students. I thought our classmates would be gun crazies, but they were mostly professional people. Doctors, lawyers, business people, many women, and other technologists as well. Business cards were exchanged.

The lead instructor shouted his lectures to us in order to be heard. They taught us how to hold the weapon, aim it, and draw it from the holster. I have to admit I learned an awful lot. 

As a left handed gun, they made me stand on the left side of the line. I realized that a better weapon for me would have been a Glock 40 caliber.

A Glock is ambidextrous and good for lefties like me. It also has a special 'Glock' action and a consistent trigger pull. The Sig P228 is a double action pistol. The first shot out of the holster is a heavy double action trigger pull as compared to the subsequent shots which are single action.

Some of the exercises involved metal targets. They would 'plink' and fall over when you hit them.

We shot at the targets from varying distances. The trick is to be able the draw your weapon, aim and fire, as quickly and accurately as you can. Doing this in an actual gun fight would be a very different matter for several obvious reasons. Think of dealing with the level of adrenaline that your body produces in such a situation.

The range was out in a rural area outside of Bakersfield. Sheep are raised here and herds of them clogged the roads.

We had a night shooting exercise and utilized these extremely bright flashlights. When shooting in the dark you must point your weapon, turn on the light, fire, turn off your light, and step aside. You need to move after firing and extinguishing your flash light because your light has just exposed your position to the enemy.

I shot well at night. 

'Your gunfight better come at night, son!' said my instructor.

In this picture Enrique is elated.

The instructors were mostly law enforcement officers (LEO) who would teach these classes part time. They were really quite good.

This was taken when we arrived at the range at the beginning of class. Bill and Enrique look happy and refreshed here but everybody was exhausted when the class was over. We had steaks and wine at Harris Ranch in Coalinga on the way back to SF.

Of the 4 of us, only Mark graduated from the class and qualified to take the next class. I should have taken the class again. I'm sure I would have done much better. Bill eventually returned to Frontsight and took a shotgun class with his father!

These days I'm facebook friends with all of the guys. I'm on the other coast now, but those days don't seem so long ago.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Old Photos

I found some old photographs yesterday and I took them to kinko's and scanned them in. I've assembled them in reverse order.

This picture is probably from around 1987. I was working for Bankers Trust at the time and I was an Asst Treasurer.. which meant I was an officer... which meant vault duty.

I look like some beat-nik saxophone player waiting to go on stage. Either that or waiting to 'geez' up.

This is me and Sandy on the beach at South Hampton in 1990. She looks as though she's about to chomp on some jogger. Sandy awoke each day assured that she was in charge.

I'm guessing this was taken around 1982. That's when I had that cheap suit. The woman on my right is my cousin Michelle. On my left is my grand mother, Anne Goldberg. I don't know who the guy with the glasses is. He looks like he would be named Izzy, but who knows?

My college graduation day in 1982. We're at Brooklyn College on the quad and that's Ingersoll Hall in the background. Robert is on the right side of the picture. I don't remember who snapped this picture. I remember that my grandparents were there. Maybe it was my grandfather?

This is a picture of my parents which I'll guess was taken around 1968. That is my cousin Cheryl in the center. This was taken at my uncle's house in Brooklyn. I think my Aunt and Uncle lived near Prospect Park. The elbow on the right belongs to persons unknown.

My mother wore her hair high.

I have no idea when this was taken, but I'm pretty sure that it was at a passover seder.  I'm going to guess that I'm on the left side of the picture, but I can be convinced otherwise.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Break Fast... Brooklyn... 9/18/10...

Saturday was Yom Kippur, which is the day of atonement. It occurs about a week after New Year and it is a fast day. This week is spent in reflection. By taking stock, people consider how they'll adjust their behavior going forward.

My friend Lori hosted a break fast at her home in Brooklyn and I was invited! 

I arrived in Midwood about 7:00pm. This is a picture of the sun going down on Avenue M. Not too many people were on the street, maybe due to the holiday, and those that were out were on their way to temple.

This is Dave and he is the face of traffic court in Brooklyn. He adjudicates cases where people are disputing their parking tickets. Sometimes Dave dismisses cases because the tickets are 'defective'. That means that the information entered on the ticket by the traffic agent is incorrect in some way. It does not mean that the defendant was not illegally parked, but they are not responsible for the fine.

I thought that sounded fair.

Here is Lori and husband Ed. I've know Lori since high school and she introduced me around as her 'old' friend Martin.

Lori is a proud parent. This is Lori and daughter Susanna who is a sophomore in high school. She has just transferred to Goldstein High School for the Sciences.

Leon M. Goldstein was the president of Kingsborough Community College and the high school was named after him by David Dinkins. That must have happened in the 20th century.

The other celebrants chatted and helped themselves to the buffet. There was all sorts of food and it was plentiful. I had a bagel with whitefish salad. I cut into the first bagel I picked up which, by accident, was a raisin bagel. Lori thought that was an odd choice on my part.

Here is Lori and Susanna listening to someone standing.

Dave's son Zach was there and he is a junior at Brooklyn Tech. He would like to be a photographer and maybe a photojournalist.  He told me he'd be willing to embed with soldiers in combat to take pictures. He'd like to make a difference and I thought that sounded very brave.

Zach took this picture of me and Lori. I was trying to smile, but I'd say this does capture my mood.

Susanna is quite the cyber-chick. Here she is surfing the web on her notebook, smiling for the camera, and taking a phone call at the same time. She has a pierced nose. Lori took her to a special tat shop to have the piercing done because it's not a simple procedure.

Lori and Ed have a nice house on a nice block.

I haven't been to Brooklyn for a long while and I'm glad I went over there.

I sure hope I get invited back.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Day In Coney Island/A Night In Astroland/Red Planet Mars


Around this time of year in 2003 I went to Coney island with my new digital camera. I really was not very handy with it, but I enjoyed running around and taking pictures of absolutely anything. 

On this day, astronomers from Columbia University were setting up telescopes on the beach. Mars was very close to the earth at this time. 


It was visible as a little red dot in the Eastern sky. The beach was the best location in the city for observing Mars. The physicists let anybody look through the telescopes and happily answered questions.

I thought this event would be good for some pictures. I spent the afternoon at CI, taking pictures, and waiting for the sun to go down. That's when I could look at Mars.

I first stopped at Nathans for a hot dog and fries. 2 hot dogs actually. Nathans serves the fries in a paper bag. What you do is pour some salt into the bag and then shake it up to get that salt all over the fries. I learned this from the older kids when I was young. It's the best. No ketchup.

Barkers were still extolling people to come into the bars and freaks shows.

There are handball courts at West 5th Street and Surf Avenue, right up against the boardwalk. The men play with a little, black, hard rubber ball and wear gloves to protect their hands. They slap that little ball as hard as they can. I always thought it must hurt real bad.


Here's the cyclone which is still there even after the razing of Astroland. The cars are just getting to the top of the tall hill in this picture. The screaming and yelling is just about to start.

The Wonder Wheel, also still there. Some of the cars swing and they can induce vomiting. You must try it.

You might recognize the parachute jump. It hasn't functioned in years; not in my lifetime. It's a landmark and a symbol of the neighborhood. It's surreal to stand near it and look up at the girders and imagine gliding down a cable in a seat with a parachute attached. 

My mother said that sometimes the cables broke and the people would end up in the water, but you can't always believe your mother.

The people who staff the concessions and rides were very patient and careful around young kids.

Here is a shot of Astroland. The Enterprise is tilting center and you can see part of Luna Park in the background. Luna Park is one the the Mitchell Lama housing projects in the area; the others are Warbasse, Bright Water, and Trump Village.

This is a picture of the Enterprise which was one of more elaborate rides at Astroland. The whole thing was portable and eventually was packed up and rolled away.

This is a pretty shot of the sun glaring thru the Enterprise.


Remember skee ball? They still had it at CI in '03. You can go to the official skee ball site to learn more. Perhaps you can get into the business.

Here is the Wonder Wheel again. I don't know the name of the ride on the right. This post would be better if it mentioned it's name. Anybody remember it?

This is a picture of the entrance to the can. I had to take a break. You know how it is. It is very near the entrance to the Wonder Wheel. There is a separate line for the swinging cars.

The games are run by all sorts of people. This girl was barking and running a water pistol game. I asked if I could take her picture.

'Why do you want to take my picture?'

'I think it would be a nice picture.'

'ok, champ'

Picture of the beach and sun. Law enforcement on the right.

This is a rotated picture of the parachute jump again. Did I mention that it's been given landmark status? Even though it hasn't been used in decades, it will not be torn down.


These are fine fisher folk fishing off the pier on the boardwalk. This is a popular place for catching crab. The people bait traps with chicken and lower them into the water. They like the fun and surprise of hoisting the trap later on and maybe finding some crabs.

They wanted to know if I was writing a book. Funny!


The sun goes down on a day in early autumn at the boardwalk.


After an active day, Astroland lights up for the evening. Coney Island begins to fill with teens and adults at night. Families are still enjoying the place as well.


Sunset over the boardwalk. I don't know if the light would have been the same in August.


One more time.


Game concession at night.


The Enterprise all lit up. I think the glare is nice.


Here are the Columbia astronomers and their telescopes on the beach. They were way out on the sand. This event was mentioned in one of the newspapers, probably not the Times. That's how I found out about it.


I like this picture of the people observing Mars.
Why don't I have a picture of the planet? Damn!


That's all folks. Astroland is gone now, replaced by the new prefab Luna Park. Visit the Coney Island wiki page for history and facts. The Coney Island History Project is also a great resource.

It was a really good day, Not a perfect day, but a good one.