few clouds


Laguna Beach


Michael J. Fickling

October 16, 1952 – March 17, 2018


A brilliant star was extinguished from life all too soon when precious son, brother, friend of many left to join our Lord & Savior in heaven.  

Michael J. Fickling was born October 16, 1952 in Newport Beach, California, grew up and was schooled in Laguna Beach, and graduated from Laguna Beach High School. On Dec 14, 1990, Michael successfully completed Prescribed Program of Electronics Engineering Technology and [was] awarded Associate of Applied Science Degree from ITT Technical Institute.  

Michael will be remembered as an extraordinary musician who excelled in drumming, entertaining with his very own group, Second Helping, the Peter Dobson Band, popular Laguna Beach Art Festivals, and magically styling rhythms to please audiences from Southern California Night Clubs, to River 47 Church in Orange.  

Michael was especially grateful to have entertained the world over with The Darryl Mansfield Christian Band, which took him to a multitude of foreign countries.  Let’s also recall a second happiness in Laguna Beach when Dog Grooming inspired his unusual concept of washing family dogs together rather than separately thus giving pets a fun time together rather than an upsetting experience, typical of his appreciation for creatures big and small. Michael would not even swat a fly, rather ushered insects carefully out the door.

God took Michael lovingly home following a very sudden cerebral hemorrhage on March 17, 2018. God bless this sensitive, loving son, brother, friend. May dear Michael remain forever in Heaven, the place to be for which he long prayed.


Bo Brackett

December, 1940 - March, 2018

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Bo Brackett, former longtime resident of Laguna Beach, passed away in March 2018 in Encinitas, California. He was 77.

Bo was born in Richmond, Virginia in December 1940 and moved to Los Angeles in 1948 when his father, Deke, accepted an assistant position coaching football at UCLA. Bo earned a Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a Master’s degree from USC.

While attending UCLA, Bo served as President of his fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon. He also proudly served in the United States Army as a 2nd Lieutenant for four years during the Vietnam War era. Bo met his wife Nancy when she was a student at UCLA and they married in 1967. Bo worked as a probation officer in LA County for 10 years.

The Bracketts moved to Laguna Beach in 1973 where Bo sold real estate with Lingo Real Estate, then partnered with Ken Kelly in their own company, Coast and Country, and later with Prudential. Bo and Nancy had their daughter Catherine in 1984. They remained in Laguna Beach until retiring to Palm Desert in 2006 and eventually moving to San Diego in 2016 to be near Catherine and her family.

Bo was a loving, devoted husband and father who will be remembered for his outgoing and unforgettable personality. He made friends with people from all walks of life and loved to give people nicknames. If you knew him you probably have one. He adored his daughter and was an enthusiastic participant in all her activities from weekly volunteering at Top of the World school to AYSO soccer, Indian Princesses, and “handicapping” dance competitions. 

People will remember his pie and ice cream breakfasts, how he loved playing volleyball at Main Beach, and the special friendship he had with his mother in-law, Helen, who survives him at age 95. Bo is survived by Nancy, his wife of 50 and a half years, his sister Sallye, his daughter Catherine, son-in-law Travis, and his three precious grandsons – Deacon Jay, Wyatt James, and Austin Bo. The family resides in Carmel Valley in San Diego. He will be missed every day by family, friends, and his rescue dog Wiley. 

A military service will take place on April 5, 2018 at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego. 

Remembering Dr. King

Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination in Memphis. I was a sophomore at USC at the time and remember it like it was yesterday.  

Because I wanted to be a teacher, I volunteered as a lunchtime aide at an elementary school a few blocks from campus. Hours before the news broke about Dr. King’s death, I had escorted a rowdy boy into the principal’s office. When I reported for work the next day, that same boy was in the office. When he saw me, he walked up and said, “We’re going to get you today, whitey.”  

I didn’t think much of his threat until I heard students at the nearby junior high school had been rioting earlier in the day. If that wasn’t enough, I was asked to patrol the playground even though all the students were being kept indoors for safety purposes.  

So there I was, a 19-year-old Trojan all alone on an empty playground. I must have walked the perimeter a dozen times that day. To say I was scared is an understatement. I don’t know what I would have done had there been trouble, but I did my job nonetheless. I stayed on as a noon duty aide until June, but I never saw that troubled boy again. I always wondered what I would have said to him if I had.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Important to shut down anti-immigration sentiment

Recently, behind closed doors, Orange County Board of Supervisors decided to join the federal government in a lawsuit against the state of California over its stance on immigration sanctuary. Now, there are neighbors on who seem to want the city of Laguna Beach to do the same. Although, I assume they are in the minority, they are determined and very loud.

This harkens back to 2006 when a small conservative advocacy group sued the city for allegedly breaking federal law by spending public funds on the day labor site in the canyon. Our city won that lawsuit, and I’m glad we did. Our council was a voice of reason back then, and I was proud of how hate speech and intimidation were shut down. After the lawsuit, things returned to normal. Laguna remained the accepting place that anyone who’s lived here for awhile can appreciate.

But here we are, all these years later, with a new group of people who seem to be emboldened by current politics. They are very vocal and are pressuring our city to join with other cities and Orange County to go against the state of California. 

The immigrants here in Laguna are part of our community. They are people our kids and grandkids play with, they go to our schools and churches, they serve in our military, they work with us and for us. It is important that we shut down this discriminant anti immigrant pressure, and just like in 2006, we again counter racism in our town, once and for all. 

Carey Strombotne

Laguna Beach

Ted Nugent says shoot Democrats like rabid coyotes

Ted Nugent’s recent comment that Democrats, the media and academics be shot like rabid coyotes is, in a word, “un-American.”  For the most part, here in Laguna, we don’t shoot coyotes.  

I am a 60-something father of three who loves this country. As a lifelong Democrat, I have helped many people seek elective office – including Barack Obama when few knew his name in 2007. Unlike Nugent, I never have advocated violence against Republicans, the alt-right media or ultra-conservative professors. That’s what terrorists do. To remain silent in the wake of Nugent’s statement is, in another word, to be “complicit.”    

Ted Nugent and his followers are a very small group of unpatriotic Americans. The vast majority of us are better than they are. I urge all elected officials, regardless of their political affiliation, to immediately repudiate Nugent’s hate-filled comment in the strongest words possible.   

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

It was exciting to watch our city decide March 27 to make our first downtown public plaza a permanent reality. After fans of the Park Plaza experiment this fall showed up in force at city hall, the City Council voted unanimously to reinstitute the block-long stretch near Main Beach into a car-free gathering spot – as part of their larger developing plan to improve the flow of downtown traffic and pedestrians.

I loved how longtime residents and groups from Laguna Beach – Billy Fried, Bill Hoffman, Chris Prelitz, Ruben Flores, the Beautification Council, the Chamber of Commerce, Transition Laguna, and others, from varied personal and professional backgrounds, teamed up to promote this public gathering space in the heart of downtown.

It was equally heartening to see our city officials, especially the city manager, assistant city manager and police chief, recognize the potential of this plaza, embrace the idea and navigate the many bureaucratic hurdles.

Unlike the proponents of other local projects for profit, such as expanding hotels, restaurants and shops, these Park Plaza advocates were after nothing more than helping Laguna Beach retain its prized identity as a forward-thinking community with a village atmosphere.

Also, as someone who used that treacherous shortcut on Park Plaza for more than 20 years to return to our Top of the World home, I’m happy to spend an extra minute or two getting through town to enable the new pedestrian plaza. (And, since pedestrians regularly stepped into the crosswalk against the light there, I believe we will all be safer when it’s blocked off for good.)

Let’s hope the City Council continues to sustain the momentum of this collective effort. A few councilmembers even offered ideas to explore similar pedestrian plazas in other parts of downtown. (To many residents, lower Forest Avenue is the no brainer.)

The greater point of this little Park Plaza victory, I believe, is that we still have the ability, despite our differences, to turn a creative vision into a source of community enjoyment and pride.

Laguna Beach, you still got soul!

Janine Robinson

Laguna Beach

Living peacefully with our wildlife

Last week I was delighted to encounter two coyotes during a morning walk on the trail above my neighborhood. I was equally delighted and awestruck this morning to see a beautiful white-shouldered hawk perched on a neighbor’s balcony. Spring is here and many wild animals with whom we share our neighborhoods and natural surroundings are beginning to breed. They are mating, building their nests and dens, and will soon be hunting food for their young. While they do so, let’s encourage their natural sense of hunting by discouraging their dependence on humans for food. 

Please take the following precautions: Keep your small pets inside at night and supervised during the day, avoid leaving food and water outdoors for animals, secure your garbage cans, and close your screen doors. If we tune in to Nature, we can find wise ways to coexist with our wild neighbors. Let’s avoid another extermination of coyotes like we had in Laguna Beach in 2016.

And as for that white-shouldered hawk on my neighbor’s balcony? When my neighbor realized it was eying her pet rabbit, she took the bunny indoors where it will stay for the remainder of spring. We then admired the hawk until it flew off into the canyon across the street where it likely will find its next meal – in the wild.

Cheryl Procaccini

Laguna Beach

Trump labels Comey “Untruthful Slime Ball”

Last fall, the president called NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick an SOB. Some time later, the commander-in-chief derided North Korea’s leader as a “Rocket Man.” Now he is attacking former FBI director James Comey as an “untruthful slime ball.” All of which leads me to ask my GOP friends in town: When is enough enough?  

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

How to solve traffic congestion – the blog Laguna Streets offers this wry look at the reasons we’re all so congested…

Just a Hole in the Ground reads, “Above ground utilities are the single biggest threat to our public safety.” The proponents of undergrounding use fear to motivate voters to approve the ballot measure. The proponents want to bury SoCal Edison’s 19th century power lines and pass the costs onto property owners and Laguna’s retail sector through bond measures approved by voters, but their headline is false and unsubstantiated. Statistical data show the top three greatest threats to public safety are falls, poisonings and motor vehicles not utilities, the occasional gas-burp from Bluebird Substation notwithstanding.  

As long [as] property owners are asked to pay for a $200 million 30-year commitment to dig a hole and bury obsolete utilities, it is prudent to review what to bury in the hole. Over time technology shifts are disruptive and largely unpredictable like the smart car, the smart phone, like distributed renewable power. How these technologies play out is uncertain, but the future will arrive and now is the time to study how renewable power will enter the value chain, define operating models and business in Laguna Beach. Solar energy systems worldwide have been consistently underestimated by the EIA (US Energy Information Administration). In Laguna, solar power utilities were not considered when undergrounding citywide.

The annualized cost of $200 million to underground power lines at three percent for 30 years is $10.2 million per year – alternatively this funding could be directed to build Laguna’s sustainable energy future for 2050. If Laguna became a clean power producer and sold power back to utility companies, SoCal Edison would happily bury their power lines at their cost not ours. UndergroundLagunaNow should propose a modern power utility rather than bury obsolete utilities, propose sustainability not creative financing, [and] motivate voter approval with facts, not public fear. 

Les Miklosy

Laguna Beach

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