Saturday, March 13, 2010

"Oh death, where is thou sting?" Johnny Cash: The Hospice Sessions

On 'Ain't No Grave,' it's a vulnerable Johnny Cash, accepting his physical state and making the best of it. Anyone who has lived with the decline of a loved one will feel the raw emotion." target="_blank"> Anyone who has lived with the decline of a loved one will feel the raw emotion.

STUDIO, 2002: Johnny Cash, left, John Carter Cash, Smokey Hormel and Rick Rubin. (Martyn Atkins)

<!-- sphereit start -->Let me tell you a story about my dad and Johnny Cash. Many American music lovers of a certain age could spin out such a connection; Cash is primary among artists who represent the tough psyche of the post-war patriarchal male, his music exposing the connections between empowerment and violence, pride and repression, that defined an ideal still romanticized long after it became dated.

Frank Sinatra did it, tux tie loosened, with a Scotch in his hand. Muddy Waters shouted about it in a sharkskin suit before the folkies persuaded him to put on overalls. Cash wore black, keeping everything primal even when he was playing a role or just goofing around. He was the ultimate father figure, King James biblical in proportion, showing how deep a baritone voice and a limited color wheel could go.

My father, also named John, was never a Cash fan. His taste ran more to the big bands and sentimental singers like Mario Lanza. But when he died of pancreatic cancer at 82, John T. Powers did so in a way that John R. Cash's late-period music perfectly describes. Exiting this world, the imperfect patriarch of my family was forced to reach for the essence of dignity in a way that both called upon and challenged him as a traditional American man, which is what Cash does on the album that producer Rick Rubin gives us now.

Drawing on my experience with my dad, I'd call "American VI: Ain't No Grave," due out Tuesday, Cash's hospice record. The singer lost his battle with diabetes and asthma months after he recorded these songs; during the sessions, his wife and primary support system, June Carter Cash, unexpectedly succumbed after heart surgery. Though he wasn't formally in end-of-life care, it's clear that when he selected and interpreted these 10 songs, he was closing his life's book.

Taken as a whole, the six-part American Recordings series offers a striking portrait of an artist confronting physical decline. The word "physical" is important here. Cash's late-coming sobriety and Rubin's ability to get the old showman to take himself seriously again, combined with the singer's natural tendency toward minimalism, produced a remarkable clarity.

There might be hokum on these albums -- as the critic Jody Rosen pointed out in a 2006 Slate essay, Cash going Goth with covers of Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode was "both great art and shameless kitsch" -- but there is no fat. Adopting Trent Reznor's angst, applying his own writing talents to old folk forms like the murder ballad, or simply praising the God who helped him get through, Cash unadorned every lyric, exposing the dumb phrases as well as the gems. The musicians Rubin enlisted to embellish the work, many of them famous but obviously all hushed by the legend's presence, listened and gave him room.

Cash's legend grew exponentially, because while Americans have heard many men in their prime declare themselves tough or wounded or murderous, we've been less open to the voices of the old or the vulnerable. The sound of Cash in decline was a powerful shock that reminded listeners of the breadth of every human life.

A strongman in decline

At first, it was also something of a show. Like most chronic drug users, Cash had many health struggles, but in 1994 he was in vigorous voice, and you can hear a chuckle behind the spooky tone of his first recordings with Rubin. It's there in the swing he gave the tale of mayhem " Delia's Gone" and in the droll croon he applies to his former son-in-law Nick Lowe's dissection of the id, "The Beast in Me."

Holding onto that chuckle was a key part of the remarkable feat Cash and Rubin accomplished over the ensuing decade. Loving the work, Cash recorded all kinds of songs -- funny ones, familiar ones, some he'd recorded before and others he never would have heard if not for his hip younger friends. The material matters; it was a blessing that Rubin kept Cash away from the soft rock of contemporary Nashville, and occasionally, the hipster connection worked magic. But the greater value of the American Recordings emerges through Cash and Rubin's unflinching attention to the details of his slowly failing instrument.

Many older singers just sound bad because they're still trying to present themselves as totally masterful. Cash didn't do that. He let in the cracks and the shortness of breath and the flatness. That's when the chuckle comes in, often silent but always pushing against the inherent drama of the songs and the moment. "Oh, well," you can almost hear Cash say, "I'm still singing."

The recordings leading to Cash's last sessions, which resulted in both "Ain't No Grave" and the preceding posthumous release "American V: A Hundred Highways," constitute this public display of a man's man coming to terms with his own vulnerability. Those final efforts, however, are different, and "Ain't No Grave" especially captures Cash's final mood. It's more private, not as overtly "heavy," but in its humility and inward-turning spirit it profoundly completes Johnny Cash's gift of a good death.

Here's a vivid memory I have from my dad's first days in hospice. We'd just found out that this cancer, one of several serious diseases that plagued him during his last decade, was inoperable. My Uncle Bill, his older brother, brought my Aunt Joyce over for a visit. We settled into my parents' living room and exchanged meaningful pleasantries. My dad sat in his special chair; my mom served hors d'oeuvres. The knowledge that my father was dying took up plenty of space in the room, but for that afternoon, we tried to simply live with that knowledge, incorporating it into the day-to-day.

The earliest volumes of the American Recordings remind me of that visit. In both cases -- my family in the living room, Cash and his collaborators in various studios, together or alone -- everyone involved applied great energy to the act of relaxing into the total ambiguity that takes over when death is in the room. There was a sense that public gestures still mattered.

That feeling is gone on "Ain't No Grave." Rubin has told interviewers that after he lost June, Cash lost his motivation to live, beyond making music. Think of that: For Cash, at the end, recording the vocals captured here was the reason to fight for life. Yet they're not full of blood and thunder. Partly because of failing strength but also maybe because he no longer felt any need for bluster or any other kind of show, Cash melds with these melodies, not so much interpreting them as letting them support him, gently.

There's plenty here for the morbid to mine. Still, Cash refuses to be overly somber. Rubin's production on the title track is ominous, with banjo and foot-stomping from his protégés Scott and Seth Avett to give this old hymn a freak-folk edge, but Cash's vocal has the punch of an old fighter. "Cool Water" is more characteristic; in Cash's hands, the well-known cowboy song of fatal thirst becomes positively soothing.

Meeting death head-on

"1 Corinthians 15:55," Cash's sole writing contribution, better captures the overall mood of acceptance and even some small joy in the face of insurmountable loss. Based around St. Paul's rhetorical question "O Death, where is thy sting?" it's a waltz that trips lightly along in an old-timey parlor music arrangement. The song pairs beautifully with folk singer Tom Paxton's existential blues, "Can't Help But Wonder Where I'm Bound," which in Cash's wavering but calm voice becomes a mantra of self-acceptance.

"Ain't No Grave" is governed by that spirit, the feeling that comes to the dying once they've absorbed the real meaning of the euphemism "making peace with death." You make peace with life, with what you have left. You take whatever tiny pleasure remains. You try to love the ones losing you.

At least that's what my dad did, even in the last few weeks of hospice. One song on "Ain't No Grave" made little sense to me until it triggered another memory of his final days. Near the end, he was confined to his bed. Only immediate family came to visit. We had entered a private space in which no one tried to be particularly upbeat, but the mood in the house wasn't heavy. My dad was ready to go, and we were ready to let him.

One afternoon I walked into my dad's room, and music was playing. It was an easy-listening record, probably one by Jackie Gleason and his orchestra. Lying semi-conscious, my father lifted his hands like a conductor and waved them. That corny, beautiful sound had gone right into him and carried him somewhere.

When I hear Johnny Cash singing "Aloha Oe," the Hawaiian song of goodbye, I see my dad, almost gone but still with us, simultaneously sustained and transported by music.

"Aloha Oe" is a song easily pegged to airline commercials and luau-themed patio parties. But as Cash imparts it in a tone that deserves to be called "dulcet," that baggage slips away. "Aloha Oe" becomes as basic as life itself is at the end. Just another lovely melody, there for Johnny Cash to sing, while he still could.

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

$35 million OC home assessed at $3.2 million

A home currently asking $35 million in North Laguna Beach has a strange history, according to the Southern California MLS.

The home, located at 31887 Circle Drive, was listed March 17, 2006 with the following listing prices:

  • $33.9 million
  • $31.9 million
  • $33.5 million

After 575 days on the market, the listing was canceled on October 18, 2007.

The home was listed again January 21, 2008 for $2.9 million. Then the listing expired May 21, 2008.

Then, it was listed Feb. 17 at $35 million.

Offering only 3 bedrooms, 3 baths and a 5,640-square-foot lot, the position on the promontory and panoramic views are the driving force behind the price of the home.

The assessed property value of this oceanfront home is $3,289,744.

The only other home in Laguna Beach listed at $35 million is located at 22 Emerald Bay and includes two oceanfront lots with the intention to demo the existing structure.

A home in Laguna’s prestigious Irvine Cove Abalone Point community listed for $31.5 million (reduced from $40 million) is the next priciest listing in Laguna Beach. This home, however, spans 10,8000-square-feet, has 5 bedrooms and 8 baths and boasts 23,997-square-feet total for the lot.

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Bank Sorry for Taking Parrot

BofA Believed Woman's Home Was Vacant, Padlocked It and Kept Bird Over a Week

Bank of America Corp. apologized after its local contractor entered the home of a mortgage borrower when she was away, cut off utilities, padlocked the door and confiscated her pet parrot, Luke.

Angela Iannelli, 46 years old, alleged in a lawsuit Monday that the October incident -- which separated her from her 11-year-old parrot for more than a week -- caused so much "emotional distress" that she needed a prescription medication for anxiety.




A Bank of America spokesman said Wednesday a bank employee erroneously believed the house was vacant and sent the contractor there with instructions to install a new lock and otherwise "secure" the property. The bank spokesman said those instructions were inappropriate because Ms. Iannelli wasn't in default and the house wasn't vacant.

Mortgage lenders have struggled in the past three years to hire and train enough people to deal with the biggest wave of foreclosures since the 1930s. Nearly eight million households, or 15% of those with mortgages, are behind on their payments or in the foreclosure process.

Many borrowers complain they get the runaround when they call their lenders for help, receive contradictory information from different employees and are required to repeatedly fax the same documents.

At the same time, suicide threats from distressed borrowers are so common that one lender, OneWest Bank Group in Pasadena, Calif., had to establish procedures for alerting the police. Lenders' call-center employees are under heavy pressure. "These people make $14 or $15 an hour, and we ask them to move mountains," said a OneWest executive at an industry conference last month.

In her civil suit filed in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, Ms. Iannelli said a contractor hired by Bank of America entered her house about 15 miles north of Pittsburgh in mid-October when she was away. According to the suit, in an "invasion" of the home, the contractor stopped utility services, cut water lines and electrical wiring, damaged flooring and finishings, poured antifreeze into sinks and toilets, and "stole" the parrot.

Ms. Iannelli, who owns a diner and works part-time as a bartender, said Bank of America representatives weren't helpful when she called in to protest. They first denied knowing where the parrot was, and later told her she could go to the offices of the contractor, about 80 miles away, to retrieve the bird herself. Ms. Iannelli said bank representatives also told her they were "tired" of hearing from her, hung up on her and advised her to seek help from the police.

Her lawyer, Michael Rosenzweig, a partner at Edgar Snyder & Associates in Pittsburgh, said Ms. Iannelli was seeking damages of more than $50,000. The amount of any damages would be decided by a jury if the case goes to trial.

A Bank of America spokesman said the bank would "quickly review the allegations in the lawsuit, the actual events that led to them and the causes of those events, and consider any hardship that resulted."

Mr. Rosenzweig said Ms. Iannelli had missed one payment around the time of the incident but quickly caught up and was now current on her loan.

After she drove two hours to reclaim her parrot in October, the bird initially seemed nervous, Ms. Iannelli said in an interview Wednesday. "He's doing very well now," she said.

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Alexandra Cousteau on Kilimanjaro, the Clean Water Crisis, and Transgender Fish

You’d expect someone who has spent most of her life at or below sea level to sweat a little harder hiking up 19,340-foot Kilimanjaro on the Summit on the Summit climb last January. Not so for Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques, lifelong water advocate, and a National Geographic emerging explorer. While she can’t explain why altitude sickness didn’t affect her on Africa’s tallest peak, she can shed light on why we all are connected to the climbers' cause, the global clean water crisis. Here Cousteau explains the issues surrounding water scarcity worldwide, her upcoming Blue Legacy expedition, and what you can do to help out.

You grew up diving the planet’s great oceans and are now a leading advocate to help improve water issues worldwide. Did you feel a little like a fish out of water climbing the world’s tallest freestanding mountain?
That was definitely the first time I had scaled a mountain of that size. It was challenging to trek five to seven hours every day at altitude. The weather was not cooperating very well. We had fog, rain, hail, and snow. But I was fortunate in that I didn’t experience any physical ailments at all.

Continue reading "Alexandra Cousteau on Kilimanjaro, the Clean Water Crisis, and Transgender Fish" »

Posted via web from eWaste Disposal

Homes in 16 Orange County cities get foreclosure dates

Every week, homes throughout Orange County go to foreclosure auctions. The owners can be millions of dollars in debt, foreclosedhomesmediumor owe just a few thousand.

Often these homes revert to the lenders, who eventually put them back on the market. Sometimes the homes are bought by investors and resold.

Foreclosures affect more than the homeowners involved. They can impact entire neighborhoods. At the very least, they can affect nearby home sales.

All of these homes and addresses have been listed in the public notices, as required by law.

For auction info, click on city:


widget-lansner-text-messageRead more:

How foreclosure auctions work

Trustee, trustor … what’s the difference? Click here for foreclosure terms and definitions

Top tips for buying investment properties

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Eight homes sold in Irvine high-rise in the last month...Auction list of irvine homes as well..

Irvine is not often associated with “urban” luxury high-rise condominiums.

A view from the only rooftop pool in Orange County, located at the top of the 15 story 3000 The Plaza condo tower. A home in the building is the grand prize of this year's IPSF Dream Stakes raffle.

In a city characterized by suburban villages and neighborhoods of single-family homes and town houses, it’s easy to forget that there are real estate alternatives just down Jamboree Road.

Well, that doesn’t appear to have affected potential homebuyers, as 3000 The Plaza, a tower of condos on the corner of Jamboree and Campus Drive, has sold 77 of its 105 available homes, eight in the past month alone.

3000 The Plaza, the newest and largest building in a three-tower complex on Jamboree, offers upscale homes ranging in size from 1,400 to 2,400 square feet and in price from $600,000 to $1.5 million.

The recent sales have validated the investment that Geoffrey Edmunds, 3000’s new majority owner, made when he acquired the tower in August, rescuing it from foreclosure.

Edmunds and his company had a minority stake in the development when Opus West, the original majority holder, filed for bankruptcy last year.  In the deal, Wells Fargo restructured the loans and debt with number of sales and budget bench marks that the project must meet over the next two years.

Sales have sped up since the August acquisition and the 28 new sales (19 of which have been finalized in the last three months) means that Edmunds has already met the quota for this August.

“People look at and demand quality,” Edmunds said, “That demand for quality has made (3000 The Plaza) the most successful urban living project in Orange County.”

3000 The Plaza is also the only urban living project, or building for that matter, in Orange County with a rooftop pool. Built on the top of the 15-story building, the swimming facility offers residents and visitors a spectacular view of Irvine and Newport. Although a quick warning, when I checked it out, it was pretty windy and I can imagine that it can get chilly for swimmers.

The building also offers a small gym, a game room and lounge, and homes with open living areas and kitchens.

All of this will go to the winner of the Irvine Public School Foundation’s “Dream Stakes” raffle.  Edmunds confirmed that this year’s grand prize will be a $700,000 Plaza home.


Fifteen more Irvine homes are now in default on loans and scheduled to go to auction, according to legal notices printed March 11th. Among them is a million dollar home in Lower Peters Canyon. Below are some highlights of the houses up for auction.

18 Mirror Lake #30, El Camino Real

  • Amount owed: $440,689.56
  • Last sale: March 2005, $445,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at noon
  • Location: Front entrance to the County Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana
  • Trustee sale #:09-35148-FF-CA
  • Information: 714-730-2727

60 Burlingame, Lower Peters Canyon

  • Amount owed: $498,835.41
  • Last sale: Aug. 2004, $550,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at10 a.m.
  • Location: In front of the flagpoles at Placentia Civic Center, 401-411 E. Chapman Ave.
  • Trustee sale #: 4329407
  • Information: 714-573-1965

173 Tarocco, Oak Creek

  • Amount owed: $333,981.78
  • Last sale: April 2001, $176,500
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at noon.
  • Location: Front entrance to the County Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana
  • Trustee sale #: CA-09-330919
  • Information: 714-730-2727

56 Bridgeport, Northwood

  • Amount owed: $577,656.52
  • Last sale: June 2002, $385,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at 3 p.m.
  • Location: On the front steps to the entrance of the Orange Civic Center, 300 East Chapman, Orange CA
  • Trustee sale #: C505843-CA
  • Information: 714-480-5690

40 Declaration Place, Lower Peters Canyon

  • Amount owed: $1,006,960.09 (estimated)
  • Last sale: Aug. 2005, $929,000
  • Auction date & time: April 2 at10 a.m.
  • Location:  In front of the flagpoles at Placentia Civic Center, 401-411 E. Chapman Ave.
  • Trustee sale #: 09-35980
  • Information: 714-573-1965

16 Sage #26, Woodbridge

  • Amount owed: $494,016.54
  • Last sale: April 2004, $425,000
  • Auction date and time: April 1 at 10 a.m.
  • Location:   Front entrance to 8180 East Kaiser Blvd, Anaheim Hills
  • Trustee sale #: 5801604
  • Information: 949-603-7342

77 Canyoncrest, Turtle Ridge

  • Amount owed: $642,383.36
  • Last sale: May 2005, $759,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at 10 a.m.
  • Location:  In front of the flagpoles at Placentia Civic Center, 401-411 E. Chapman Ave.
  • Trustee sale #: 4152689
  • Information: 714-573-1965

95 Remington #218, Northwood

  • Amount owed: $339,407.52
  • Last sale: Dec. 2005, $415,000
  • Auction date & time: April 8 at noon.
  • Location:  Front entrance to the County Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana.
  • Trustee sale #: 09-0112756
  • Information: 626-927-4399

218 Lantern Lane, Oak Creek

  • Amount owed: $542,158.57
  • Last sale: Oct. 2006, $590,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at 10 a.m.
  • Location: In front of the flagpoles at Placentia Civic Center, 401-411 E. Chapman Ave.
  • Trustee sale #: 20090033501612
  • Information: 530-672-3033

14 Fairside, Woodbridge

  • Amount owed: $21,303.00
  • Last sale: Oct. 03, $370,000
  • Auction date & time: April 1 at noon.
  • Location: Front entrance to the County Courthouse, 700 Civic Center Drive West, Santa Ana.
  • Trustee sale #: WC-230790
  • Information: 714-730-2727

Is this home Irvine’s most expensive listing?

March 11th, 2010, 7:06 am by Ian Hamilton

Aerial view of 26 Grey Owl in Irvine courtesy

The square footage on this listing is about the same as last week’s $5.77 million home that sold in Shady Canyon, but the price certainly isn’t.

The biggest thing people seemed to latch onto about the $5.77 million home was the location on a half acre lot. Not this home. This 13,500 square foot behemoth at 26 Grey Owl sits on a 1.73 acre lot.

The listing price? $15,995,000. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Friday, March 12, 2010

FHA Head: Don't Raise Down Payments

Now is not the time to raise the downpayment requirement on a Federal Housing Administration loan, warns FHA Commissioner David Stevens.

Stevens, testifying before a committee of the U.S. House, said his agency would probably insure 300,000 fewer home loans per year if the mandatory down payment was raised from 3.5 percent to 5 percent — a 40 percent increase.

Congress has been considering various ways to put FHA on a sounder financial footing. Besides increasing the downpayment requirement, another suggestion under discussion is raising the upfront mortgage insurance premium to 2.25 percent of the loan amount, up from 1.75 percent currently.

The National Association of REALTORS® also opposes the proposal to raise the mandatory down payment for an FHA loan. The FHA remains financially strong because it has taken steps to ensure solid underwriting standards and responsible lending practices, said Charles McMillan, NAR immediate past president, in testimony before the House Subcommittee on Housing and Community Opportunity.

“As the leading advocate for housing issues, NAR believes that one of the best ways Congress can help strengthen FHA is to quickly consider and pass legislation that would make current loan limits permanent,” McMillan said. “It’s important to note that higher balance FHA loans perform better than lower balance ones. While some argue that higher balance loans put taxpayers at risk, such loans actually strengthen the program and reduce risk to the fund.”

Explaining that FHA has played an important role in the recent housing and economic crisis by filing the gap left by private lenders, McMillan said FHA insured almost 30 percent of single-family mortgages in 2009 and more than 50 percent of first-time buyer loans. “Historically, FHA’s market share has hovered between 10 and 15 percent of all loans. And when the private market is strong enough to return, we welcome a reduced FHA market share,” he said.

McMillan said NAR was also concerned that FHA wanted to decrease seller concessions to 3 percent. Reducing seller concessions could put homeownership out of reach for many buyers, he said, because it could require buyers to pay more at closing.

Source: Associated Press, Alan Zibel, and NAR (03/11/2010)


Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Some Really Weird History Photos

Back into the history, people were little bit weird. They are taking pictures funny dressed, with some really strange people, and I wanna say thanks to all people who saved these pictures, and allow us to see them today. I think that most of people will agree with me about these pictures, and for those who are not agree with me, take a look, and be a judge. So, take a look, and enjoy.

Weird History1 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History2 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History3 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History4 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History5 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History6 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History7 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History8 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History9 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History10 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History11 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History12 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History13 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History14 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History15 Some Really Weird History Photos

Weird History16 Some Really Weird History Photos

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Permanently modified mortgages grow by 45%, government says

In February, the number of homeowners with permanently reduced monthly payments grew to 168,708, the Obama administration reports, as 91,483 more trial modifications are approved.

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Before You Die

For many sportsmen, deep in their heart of hearts, there is an outdoor list of things we want to do before we die. For those who want to chase “The Dream,” here’s where to make it happen.

Bucket 1--Largemouth

I have caught an 8lb bass. This spring I'm going for a turkey. I can see many great hunting and fishing trips in the future.

Catch An 8-Pound Largemouth 

Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

Top 5 Most Common Tattoo Symbols

  • Top 5 Most Common Tattoo Symbols

    "Human history illustrates that tattoos have provided in lots of various societies as incomes of way, symbols of position and grade, signs of spiritual and devout loyalty, streamer for courage, sexual lure and script of fecundity, read more..."

  • Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    85,000 O.C. real estate jobs gone

    In January, Orange County real estate and finance bosses employed 199,200 workers, 24,600 below 2009 levels and 85,100 less than the recent cycle’s peak, by the state Employment Development Dept.’s freshly revised math.

    Job sliceLast mo.Vs. ‘09Vs. ‘09
    Construction 65,800 -15,000 -18.6%
    • Construct buildings 13,900 -4,600 -24.9%
    • Heavy construction 6,500 -1,500 -18.8%
    • Specialty trades 45,400 -8,900 -16.4%
    Lending activities 32,000 -500 -1.5%
    • Bank lending 17,400 -1,200 -6.5%
    • Non-bank lending 8,500 -900 -9.6%
    • Lending support 6,100 +1,600 +35.6%
    Other finance 11,400 +700 +6.5%
    Real estate/leasing 32,400 -2,500 -7.2%
    • Real estate 27,700 -1,500 -5.1%
    • Leasing 4,700 -1,000 -17.5%
    Architects/Engineers 19,200 -3,200 -14.3%
    Bldg. services 26,100 -2,600 -9.1%
    Building supply 9,000 -1,000 -10.0%
    Farm 3,300 -500 -13.2%
    All real-estate related 202,400 -21,400 -9.6%
    All other O.C. jobs 1,137,700 -51,200 -4.3%
    All O.C. jobs 1,340,100 -72,600 -5.1%

    All told, thank sto harsh reductions in the revisions, local real estate/finance employment is now pegged at a low last seen in July 1998. Also, in January. we saw:

    • 65,800 Orange County construction workers, off 15,000 from a year ago. That’s also 44,600 below this niche’s peak.
    • 32,000 people in the Orange County lending businesses, down 500 from a year ago. That’s also 23,100 below this niche’s peak.
    • 32,400 in Orange County real estate and leasing jobs, a decline of 2,500 from a year ago. That’s also 7,200 below this niche’s peak.
    • 54,300 working in other real estate services — from architecture to building supply to janitors, a drop of 6,800 from a year ago. That’s also 17,400 below this niche’s peak.
    • 14.9% of local jobs were in real estate/finance vs. 18.7% at the peak.

    At right are key real estate/lending job slices, showing job counts last month and how that compares to a year ago.:

    PS: We tweaked our real estate jobs math to now include the “Architectural, Engineering and Related Services” category.

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Costa Mesa Shadow Inventory. MLS has 172 Listings while Distress Properties Register at 489

    On Friday we were served with a chilling reminder that the unemployment riddle has yet to be solved.  Wall Street still managed to perk up.  Why?  Stock market cronies now believe the Federal Reserve will not hike rates for a very long time thus spurring a positive gain even though unemployment is now up to 10.2 percent.  If we look at the underemployment measure of U-6 the rate soars to 17.5 percent (in California the rate is 22 percent).  Yet there is this pervasive school of thought that housing prices are now set to boom even in the face of rampant unemployment.  This is a carry over from the bubble halcyon days.  In fact, I hear people talking about buying up foreclosures and flipping the home for a double-digit profit.  This is reminiscent of 2005 except for the fact that our unemployment rate in California has nearly tripled but don’t let that get in the way of the gold rush mentality.

    The real action is in the shadow inventory.  As you might have noticed, those preaching the gospel of “no shadow inventory” are largely gone.  Now their argument has shifted to the obvious that when banks have a REO, they move on it quickly.  Sure.  We can agree on that point.  Yet banks are not moving to the REO stage.  Moratoriums, delays, and flat out incompetence rule the day right now.  REOs are but one small part of the shadow inventory.  The real hidden inventory is with the massive amount of pre-foreclosures and homes that are in mortgage purgatory.  That is, homes that are destined or prime for a strategic default or are already in default but the bank is simply holding back on even filing a NOD.  As I discussed in the last article, Wells Fargo is jumping ahead of the option ARM freight train stating they will convert over $100 billion in Pick-A-Pay loans to interest only loans.  Now why would they be doing this if these loans were in good shape?  Try telling this to those so laser focused on housing that they fail to miss the fact that our economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression.

    Before we examine our Real Home of Genius today in Costa Mesa, let us survey the nationwide foreclosure picture:

    nationwide foreclosures

    nationwide foreclosures


    As you can see from the chart above, nothing has stemmed the rise in nationwide foreclosures.  The only thing we have accomplished is creating the greatest generational wealth transfer we have ever witnessed.  And it didn’t take a revolution either.  Every program devised to help the housing industry has failed thus far.  We have committed nearly $13 trillion in bailouts and handouts to Wall Street and the banking industry.  With that amount, we could have paid off every single mortgage in the United States and still have some $2 trillion to go to Vegas and gamble!  Then again, this isn’t really about protecting the American homeowner.  This is about protecting the crony oligarchs on Wall Street.  How much more data do people need?

    Take for example the current sham that is sucking a lot of people into the California housing expedition.  Let us first look at MLS inventory for Southern California:

    mls inventory socal

    mls inventory socal



    Wow, things are going really well!  Forget about the $60 billion in budget deficits we just had to contend with or the fact that 1 out of every 5 Californians is either unemployed or working part-time for economic reasons.  Housing is selling like pancakes.  Or is it?

    Let us do a mini case study on a middle class city in Orange County.  We will examine the city of Costa Mesa.  Doing a quick search on the MLS pulls up 172 listings:

    MLS listings:                 172

    Short Sales:                  40

    Foreclosures:                2

    Not bad given that 61 homes sold last month.  At that rate, we have less than 3 months of inventory.  But let us look at some shadow inventory:


    costa mesa shadow

    costa mesa shadow


    Pre-foreclosure:            205

    Auction:                        235

    REO:                            49

    Ah ha!  This is where the delusion sets in.  The public can view 42 distress properties but only 2 are actual foreclosures.  Banks own 49 properties.  So 47 are sitting off the books.  This is the tiny number.  Those scheduled for auction and pre-foreclosure are the big deal.  This is where we are going to see massive losses.  Some need concrete examples so let us give them one.

    Today we salute you Costa Mesa with our Real Homes of Genius Award.

    Costa Mesa – Million Dollar Home with 3 Bedrooms

    Picture in your mind a million dollar home.  Got that image?  Think of how the property would look and where it would be located at.  Let us show you a home that probably reflects your vision:

     costa mesa 

    The above is a 3 bedroom and 2 baths home.  Let us look at some sales history as well:


    costa mesa sales

    costa mesa sales


    08/12/2004:     $670,000

    03/24/2005:     $824,000

    You would think that the above is incredible but if we dig deeper into the data.  We see the power of the California housing bubble:

    costa mesa loan details

    Did you get that?  After the home was purchased for $824,000 in 2005 it was refinanced and the loan amount on the home totaled $995,000.  This was done in 2006.  Nearly one million for a 3 bedroom home in Costa Mesa.  Incredible.

    The home is now listed as a short sale selling for $625,000.  The home has $26,000 in back payments so it is likely this home will be foreclosed.  Welcome to big league losses here.  That second mortgage is virtually gone.  Now we are cutting into the first.  You think this is the only home in this shape out of the 205 pre-foreclosures, many that aren’t even listed?  Think again.

    Today we salute you Costa Mesa with our Real Homes of Genius Award.

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    Starving, dying sea lion pups wash up in O.C.

    Dozens of sick and starving sea lion pups are washing up on Southern California shores and filling rescue centers — among them the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach, which has treated 27 thin and starving animals since December.


     Most are severely underweight and in the advance stages of starvation, and only 11 have survived. Rescuers say El Niño-influenced ocean-water warming is driving away their prey, mainly squid and fish — the same reason given by experts for a rash of dead and dying pelicans that thronged bird rescue centers .

    “We saw a large number of starvations at the end of last year,” said Richard Evans, a veterinarian who was treating sick sea lions at the Laguna Beach center Thursday. “Pups from that group are now out on their own, and they can’t find anything to eat.”

    Twelve pups were being treated Thursday, nine of them in critical condition.

    Almost all the pups weak enough to be captured and brought to the center have been starving so long that their bodies have begun to consume muscle and heart tissue, making survival unlikely, he said.

    “They’re just skin and bones,” Evans said. “It’s just a lot of work.”

    Hundreds of sick and starving pelicans were reported along the West Coast from Oregon to Southern California, also beginning in December, although the numbers began to tail off last month.

    Evans said the last time his center saw a major influx of starving sea lion pups was in 1998, also during a strong El Niño period.

    “This is a little worse,” he said, than in 1998.

    El Niño is a periodic warming of the eastern Pacific that can intensify storms.

    The center, at 20612 Laguna Canyon Rd., is open the public daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Posted via web from eWaste Disposal

    Program Will Pay Homeowners to Sell at a Loss

    In an effort to end the foreclosure crisis, the Obama administration has been trying to keep defaulting owners in their homes. Now it will take a new approach: paying some of them to leave.

    This latest program, which will allow owners to sell for less than they owe and will give them a little cash to speed them on their way, is one of the administration’s most aggressive attempts to grapple with a problem that has defied solutions.

    More than five million households are behind on their mortgages and risk foreclosure. The government’s $75 billion mortgage modification plan has helped only a small slice of them. Consumer advocates, economists and even some banking industry representatives say much more needs to be done.

    For the administration, there is also the concern that millions of foreclosures could delay or even reverse the economy’s tentative recovery — the last thing it wants in an election year.

    Taking effect on April 5, the program could encourage hundreds of thousands of delinquent borrowers who have not been rescued by the loan modification program to shed their houses through a process known as a short sale, in which property is sold for less than the balance of the mortgage. Lenders will be compelled to accept that arrangement, forgiving the difference between the market price of the property and what they are owed.

    “We want to streamline and standardize the short sale process to make it much easier on the borrower and much easier on the lender,” said Seth Wheeler, a Treasury senior adviser.

    The problem is highlighted by a routine case in Phoenix. Chris Paul, a real estate agent, has a house he is trying to sell on behalf of its owner, who owes $150,000. Mr. Paul has an offer for $48,000, but the bank holding the mortgage says it wants at least $90,000. The frustrated owner is now contemplating foreclosure.

    To bring the various parties to the table — the homeowner, the lender that services the loan, the investor that owns the loan, the bank that owns the second mortgage on the property — the government intends to spread its cash around.

    Under the new program, the servicing bank, as with all modifications, will get $1,000. Another $1,000 can go toward a second loan, if there is one. And for the first time the government would give money to the distressed homeowners themselves. They will get $1,500 in “relocation assistance.”

    Should the incentives prove successful, the short sales program could have multiple benefits. For the investment pools that own many home loans, there is the prospect of getting more money with a sale than with a foreclosure.

    For the borrowers, there is the likelihood of suffering less damage to credit ratings. And as part of the transaction, they will get the lender’s assurance that they will not later be sued for an unpaid mortgage balance.

    For communities, the plan will mean fewer empty foreclosed houses waiting to be sold by banks. By some estimates, as many as half of all foreclosed properties are ransacked by either the former owners or vandals, which depresses the value of the property further and pulls down the value of neighboring homes.

    If short sales are about to have their moment, it has been a long time coming. At the beginning of the foreclosure crisis, lenders shunned short sales. They were not equipped to deal with the labor-intensive process and were suspicious of it.

    The lenders’ thinking, said the economist Thomas Lawler, went like this: “I lend someone $200,000 to buy a house. Then he says, ‘Look, I have someone willing to pay $150,000 for it; otherwise I think I’m going to default.’ Do I really believe the borrower can’t pay it back? And is $150,000 a reasonable offer for the property?”

    Short sales are “tailor-made for fraud,” said Mr. Lawler, a former executive at the mortgage finance company Fannie Mae.

    Last year, short sales started to increase, although they remain relatively uncommon. Fannie Mae said preforeclosure deals on loans in its portfolio more than tripled in 2009, to 36,968. But real estate agents say many lenders still seem to disapprove of short sales.

    Under the new federal program, a lender will use real estate agents to determine the value of a home and thus the minimum to accept. This figure will not be shared with the owner, but if an offer comes in that is equal to or higher than this amount, the lender must take it.

    Mr. Paul, the Phoenix agent, was skeptical. “In a perfect world, this would work,” he said. “But because estimates of value are inherently subjective, it won’t. The banks don’t want to sell at a discount.”

    read more;

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    Prince rehearsing 'When Doves Cry' from June 1984

    Pro Football Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen dies at 69 , a tough dude

    Pro Football Hall of Famer and former television actor Merlin Olsen has died. He was 69.

    Utah State University assistant athletic media relations director Zach Fisher says Olsen died Wednesday night at a Los Angeles hospital.

    He was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year.

    Olsen was an All-American at Utah State and a first-round draft pick of the Los Angles Rams in 1962.

    The burley giant from northern Utah joined Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Rosey Grier on the Rams' storied "Fearsome Foursome" defensive line known for either stopping or knocking backward whatever offenses it faced. The Rams set an NFL record for the fewest yards allowed during a 14-game season in 1968.

    Olsen was rookie of the year for the Rams in 1962 and is still the Rams' all-time leader in career tackles with 915. He was named to 14 consecutive Pro Bowls, a string that started his rookie year.

    Olsen was also an established television actor with a role on "Little House on the Prairie," then starring in his own series, "Father Murphy," from 1981 to 1983 and the short-lived "Aaron's Way" in 1988.

    Olsen was a consensus All-American at Utah State and won the 1961 Outland Trophy as the nation's best interior lineman. The Rams drafted Olsen third overall in 1962 and he spent the next 15 years with the team before retiring in 1976.

    Utah State honored Olsen in December by naming the football field at Romney Stadium "Merlin Olsen Field." Because of his illness, Olsen's alma mater didn't want to wait until football season and made the announcement during halftime of a basketball game.

    Olsen was well enough to attend, but did not speak at the event. He stood and smiled as he waved to fans during a standing ovation and chants of "Merlin Olsen!" and "Aggie Legend!"

    Utah State is also planning a statue of Olsen at the southeast corner of the stadium.

    The Rams also honored Olsen during a game Dec. 20, with a video tribute narrated by Dick Enberg, Olsen's longtime broadcast partner. Olsen did not attend because of his health. His name was already part of the Ring of Fame inside the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis along with other franchise standouts.

    He was voted NFC defensive lineman of the year in 1973 and the NFL MVP in 1974, and was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1982.

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle , they need a few reired young peoples wetsuits for our communities most severely abused, abondoned and neglected children, .a magnificent organization have a need

    they need about 7 or 8 wetsuits in young peoples sizes,

     I can pick up  anywhere in OC or most of LA, if you can help we would be appreciative.

    ps........Could use a couple of "soft-top" 9' or 10' surfboards as well.......if you've grown out of yours or your kids have moved up to real boards.   

    Condition?, just dosen't matter these kids, all are very appreciative and love the ocean!


    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    That Perfect Island: Does It Exist? Here's Where to Look.


    Thirty-two years ago, I set out on an around-the-world journey to find, well, paradise—a pristine island no tourist had ever seen, where the locals still lived off the land. Naive? Sure it was. Even the most “offbeat” islands were crawling with backpackers and hawkers pitching cheap bungalows. But then I glimpsed a speck of land off the coast of Thailand near Ko Samui. “That Ko Phangan,” my boat captain said. “No place stay. No go.” I offered him a few more dollars, and he changed his mind. And there I found it: a stretch of white sand tucked between two jungle-covered hills overlooking a clear lagoon. There were no tourists—just a fisherman and his family—and I stayed for three months. The Thai name for the place was Haad Rin, but I called it “the beach” and swore the location to secrecy. Sadly, mobs of backpackers have since descended on Haad Rin, and it’s now a magnet for full-moon rave parties (Alex Garland’s book The Beach is based in part on the island’s demise).

    But sustainable tourism has come a long way to prevent other “paradises” from meeting the same fate. One of my favorites: India’s Havelock Island, in the Andamans. Barefoot at Havelocks eco-friendly cottages are hemmed by jungle—86 percent of the archipelago is rain forest—and they’re just a short walk from jewel-like lagoons. December marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of a four-month span of sunny, 85-degree days. If paradise still exists, it probably looks a lot like this (doubles from $150).

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    $95 million home envisioned for Newport Back Bay

    Plans are being drafted to build a 29,000-square-foot home at the north end of the Newport Back Bay, with a tennis court, winery, three-hole chip and putt course and separate guard house at the entrance to the two-acre estate.

    Listing agent Mark Whitehead of Surf and Country Real Estate said that at 29,000 square feet, the finished home likely would be the biggest house in Orange County.

    The price for this home, when completed about three years from now, currently is set at a range of $79 million to $95 million. The next highest-priced home being developed in Orange County, the Villa del Lago estate in Newport Coast, has a tentative asking price of $87 million.

    “The plan is to go ahead and build this monster,” Whitehead said. “The architect is working on the plans as we speak.”

    The property went up on the Multiple Listing Service today. Another listing, which went live Saturday, offers the two-acre parcel with the existing 10,000-square-foot house for sale for $19.95 million. The property last sold in August 2005 for $5.2 million, according to Redfin.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    Wednesday, March 10, 2010

    Loan Demand Stagnates. Only One Bright Spot in the Production Slowdown

    The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) today released its Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending March 5, 2010.

    The survey covers over 50 percent of all US residential mortgage loan applications taken by mortgage bankers, commercial banks, and thrifts.  The data gives economists a look into consumer demand for mortgage loans.  A rising trend of mortgage applications indicates an increase in home buying interest, a positive for the housing industry and economy as a whole.  Furthermore, in a low mortgage rate environment, such a trend implies consumers are seeking out lower monthly payments which can result in increased disposable income and therefore more money to spend on discretionary items or to pay down other debt.

    From the release:

    The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, increased 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier.  On an unadjusted basis, the Index increased 1.2 percent compared with the previous week. The four week moving average for the seasonally adjusted Market Index is up 0.8 percent.

    The Refinance Index decreased 1.5 percent the previous week. The four week moving average is up 1.0 percent for the Refinance Index. The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 67.2 percent of total applications from 69.1 percent the previous week. The refinance share is at its lowest level since it was 66.1 percent in October 2009.

    The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index increased 5.7 percent from one week earlier.  The unadjusted Purchase Index increased 7.2 percent compared with the previous week and was 10.7 percent lower than the same week one year ago. The four week moving average is up 0.7 percent for the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index,


    The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 5.01 percent from 4.95 percent, with points decreasing to 0.82 from 0.99 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio loans.

    The average contract interest rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 4.32 percent from 4.27 percent, with points decreasing to 0.88 from 1.36 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans. The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 6.80 percent from 6.77 percent, with points increasing to 0.3 from 0.29 (including the origination fee) for 80 percent LTV loans.The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity increased to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent of total applications from the previous week. This is the highest ARM share since November 2009 when it was 5.3 percent.


    I wish I had some great news to pass along to you in regard to a noteworthy increase in loan application activity....but I don't. Most housing and mortgage market participants don't need an MBA survey to tell them that though. There is one bright spot I can call attention to...

    Since this survey was compiled, benchmark Treasury yields have risen over 10 basis points. Yet mortgage rates have held relatively stable. WHY?

    The Federal Reserve's MBS Purchase Program isn't over yet.

    The gradual slowdown in loan production we've witnessed since the hey-days of 2009 has been beneficial to mortgage-backed security valuations and mortgage rates. The still shrinking pool of  qualified borrowers has served to slow the pace of new MBS coupon supply. Less new MBS coupon supply (float) has allowed the Federal Reserve to continue to reduce their daily spending totals, all without having any effect on mortgage rates!

    Plain and Simple: less new loan supply (qualified borrowers) requires less MBS investor demand to keep mortgage rates (MBS valuations) stable.

    What happens when the Fed exits the MBS market?

    Mortgage rates will rise relative to Treasury yields...but not as much as many expect. This is a message that is now starting to be broadcast by the mainstream media. I posted a very clear explanation as to why we do not think rates will skyrocket when the Fed exits the TBA MBS market. I know its a bit long,  but I believe it covers all necessary bases and provides a firm foundation to formulate your own opinion--- ITS A MUST READ

    The downside to this outlook is it assumes housing and mortgage professionals are not likely to see a significant pick up in business over the next few months, tax credit or not. The reality of the "new normal" is settling in over the housing sector. Only the strong will survive.

    That dims the "bright spot" of relatively stable mortgage rates doesn't it?


    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    Unfinished O.C. condos sell for $27 million

    March 10th, 2010, 12:01 am by Jeff Collins

    The idled Lofts at Von Karman recently went into receivership. The receiver hopes to resume construction and sales.

    The idled Lofts at Von Karman last April. The project sold recently, has been renamed DuPont Lofts and will reopen as apartments.

    A year ago, the Lofts at Von Karman stood unfinished, an Irvine condo project that ran out of money before developers could get it to a market in which sales were sinking.

    But now, the project is on the verge of being reborn — as apartments.

    Essex Property Trust, a Palo Alto apartment investor with more than 27,000 units in Orange County and elsewhere along the West Coast, recently purchased the 115-unit condominium development at Von Karman Avenue and DuPont Drive and plans to finish construction, then reopen the project as rentals.

    The real estate investment trust paid $27 million, said Jeff Rowerdink, Essex’s Irvine-based first vice president of acquisitions. He said it will cost the company $5.8 million to complete construction. Essex’s final cost will amount to about 55% of the project’s total construction costs, he said.

    Essex closed escrow last week on Skyline at MacArthur Place, twin 25-story condo towers next to the 55 freeway, and is “aggressively searching out additional deals like this,” Rowerdink said.

    The project at Von Karman, since renamed DuPont Lofts, was one of several stalled developments featured in a report last April about the proliferation of land consultants seeking to advise troubled developers. Read the rest of this entry »


    Posted via web from The Newport Beach Lifestyle

    HVAC boot cleared of Asbestos in Los Angeles