• Coastal Port Committee


    Coastal Port Committee

    The Coastal San Pedro Port Committee will discuss the China Shipping Settlement, the Harbor Boulevard Realignment and Public Market, and Fleet Week.
    Time: 6 p.m. March 27
    Details: www.cspnc.org
    Venue: Marine Exchange Conference Room, 3601 S. Gaffey St., #803, San Pedro

    Pulse of the Ports

    The 13th annual “Pulse of the Ports: Peak Season Forecast” will feature a panel discussion with industry experts who will provide their thoughts and expectations for the upcoming peak season and the effects of new container alliances beginning in April
    Time: 7 p.m. March 29
    Details: www.polb.com/pulsersvp
    Venue: Long Beach Convention Center Grand Ballroom, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Waterfront Development Meeting

    The Port of Los Angeles will host a public meeting ont eh status of the Wilmington Waterfront Development Program.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. March 30
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/WaterfrontMeeting, lawaterfront.org
    Banning’s Landing Community Center, 100 E. Water St., Long Beach

    Call for Artwork

    The Aquarium of the Pacific will host its annual Urban Ocean Festival on April 29 and 30.
    In partnership with the Arts Council, the Aquarium also holds an annual juried art contest and displays the winning artwork at the festival. Winners are selected in three categories – painting/drawing, photography and sculpture – and receive $500, with one grand prize winner receiving an additional $250. The deadline to submit to the contest is March 31.
    Details: aquariumofpacific.org

    Long Beach Advisory Commission on Disabilities Transportation Town Hall

    The Long Beach Citizen’s Advisory Commission on Disabilities will be hosting a public town hall meeting regarding transportation issues.
    Time: 12:30 p.m. March 31
    Venue: Cesar Chavez Park, 401 Golden Ave., Long Beach

    Monthly Beach Cleanup

    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites the public to participate in its monthly beach clean-up.
    Volunteers learn about coastal habitat, the growing amount of marine debris within it, and the benefits of protecting this ecosystem.
    Time: 8 to 10 a.m. April 1
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium , 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro.

    Pathways to Employment Youth Event

    This annual event is designed to assist Harbor Area youth ages 16 to 24 with the skills they need to apply for jobs, get hired, and successfully navigate every day work life.
    Time: 9 a.m. April 1
    Details: http://nwsanpedro.org/pathways-to-employment
    Venue: San Pedro High School John Olguin Campus, 3210 S. Alma St., San Pedro

    Public Safety Meeting

    A public safety meeting is scheduled to address community concerns and questions
    Time: 8 to 10 a.m. April 1
    Details: (562) 570-7777; district7@longbeach.gov
    Venue: Long Beach Job Corps Center, 1903 Santa Fe Ave., Long Beach

    Help Reinvent the Heart of Downtown San Pedro

    Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn wants to hear youth thoughts on the land use options for the San Pedro Courthouse site. RSVP by April 3.
    Time: 6 p.m. April 5 or 10 a.m. April 15
    Details: heartofsandpedro@dpw.lacounty.gov
    Venue: Port of Los Angeles High School Multipurpose Room, 250 W. 5th St., San Pedro

    People’s State of the City

    Long Beach Rising Coalition is hosting the 6th Annual People’s State of the City
    Time:  5 p.m. April 5
    Details: www.bhclongbeach.org/lbrising
    Venue: First Congregational Church, 241 Cedar Ave., Long Beach

    AOC7’s 5th Annual Literacy Fair

    In preparation for AOC7’s 5th Annual Literacy Fair, the group, whose acronym stands for Anaheim, Orange, Cherry and 7th Street, is collecting new and gently used children’s books through April 28.
    Donations locations:
    Neighborhood Resource Center
    100 Broadway, Suite 550, Long Beach

    Lincoln Elementary School
    1175 E. 11th St., Long Beach

    Mark Twain Library
    1401 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    The Center Long Beach
    2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    POLA Community Investment Grant 2017

    Applications for the Port of Los Angeles Community Investment Grant Program for Fiscal Year 2017-18 are now available. Up to $1 million in grants will help support initiatives, programs and events benefiting the Los Angeles Harbor communities. Applications are due by 5 p.m. May 8.
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/POLACommunityGrant2017

    Together We Will Long Beach/South Bay

    Together We Will Long Beach/South Bay is a growing group of local, caring, everyday people who came together as part of the resistance movement following the election of Donald Trump. Whether you are looking for like-minded people or are interested in influencing our political system, you have come to the right place. See how you can volunteer.
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/TWW-Long-Beach-South-Bay

    Read More
  • Queen Mary Needs About $300 Million for Repairs

    • 03/23/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — A recent marine study found that the Queen Mary is at risk of its hull collapsing and flooding due to corrosion. Corroded pillars also could lead to the collapse of an area. Should that happen, there are no watertight doors or working pumps to remove the water. Flood prevention requires more than $5 million in immediate repairs, and somewhere between $235 million and $289 million in work over the next five years, to prevent an internal collapse.

    At the request of Long Beach officials, naval architects and vessel experts conducted the survey to assess the structural condition of the ship.

    Steel corrosion has resulted in one-and-a-half-inch thin tank top rusted away. The report predicts that at the rate of corrosion some internal collapse of the Queen Mary’s structure will take place within 10 years.

    The tank tops act as a platform for machinery and cargo. Longstanding failure of the bilge system and leaks in the sewage holding tanks caused the corrosion. The watertight compartment walls of the ship were removed during retrofitting work the 1960s, making an area of the hull at risk for leakage and flooding.

    About $23 million has been approved to address the most urgent repairs. a plan to build entertainment around the ship would generate the tens of millions of dollars needed to do more repairs.

    The ship was built in the 1930s in Clydebank, Scotland. Long Beach purchased the Queen Mary about 50 years ago after it was retired. The ship now is a floating hotel with shops, restaurants and event areas.

    Read More
  • The Whale & Ale: One Pub, Hold The Gastro

    • 03/23/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Features
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    There’s something attractive about a classic English pub even if there isn’t a single British chromosome in your DNA.

    It’s the polar opposite of an eat-and-run establishment: a place designed to be comfortable, to encourage you to linger over just one more beer, to listen to just one more song and perhaps even sing along.

    British pubs have only one problem: English food is not particularly fashionable these days. The bland and carelessly made fare in London pubs  inspired the gastropub revolution, which modernized bar food across the world. The downside of that revolution is that many people who are happy paying high prices for fancy burgers and other novelties have forgotten the joys of the eclipsed hearty traditional fare.

    Those old-fashioned specialties are very well presented at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro, which has been run by Andrew Silber since 1995. Silber is from Northern England. He ran a successful restaurant in London before coming to the United States, so he knows English cuisine and is a champion of making it correctly. The Whale & Ale menu is stocked with pub classics like sausage rolls in pastry, shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and chicken curry. On any given night, you’re likely to hear the accents of expatriates who have come in for a taste of home.

    If you’re wondering about curry being on a list of British specialties, it’s worth noting that curry powder was sold in England at least as early as the 1790s. Those who think that everyone who lives in the British Isles prefer their food bland will have an awakening if they ask for it spicy here; while it doesn’t greatly resemble standard Indian curries, the pub variant can raise a sweat. For that matter, there are more spicy condiments that are traditionally British; the banger sausages served alongside the ploughman’s lunch and other dishes are flavored with gentle herbs, but those who crave a kick can hit them with spicy Coleman’s mustard and enjoy the burn. Freshly baked soda bread and butter is at every table. It is handy if you overdo it with the hot stuff.

    The most popular item appears to be fish and chips. That’s the meal you’re most like to see on the platters heading for tables. The fish is Atlantic true cod, which is more expensive than many of the common substitutes but delivers thick, flaky filets with mild flavor. The Whale & Ale kitchen has decades of practice battering and frying it so that the batter is crisp and not greasy. They deliver every time.

    The fish and chip plate demonstrates a point about the food here: it’s measured on execution rather than innovation. This doesn’t mean The Whale & Ale offers no novelties for those who want to try something new; a few items on the menu here are so rarely encountered that most people have never tasted them before.

    One of these is roast duck in Cumberland sauce, which is red currant berries simmered in port wine with citrus and a hint of ginger. The tart berries and sweet wine cook into a fruity, aromatic sweet and sour sauce, one ideally suited to flavorful duck meat. The flavor balance is almost reminiscent of some sauces used in Vietnamese cuisine, but this is no fusion dish — there are recipes for it going back to the early 1800s. Try it here and you will wonder how this could have ever gone out of fashion.

    Another classic dish is Beef Wellington, a filet mignon coated with a mushroom and seasoning mix, wrapped in puff pastry and baked. One can hazard a guess about why this is no longer on most restaurant menus: it’s time-consuming and most restaurant cooks can’t do it well to save their lives. The steak has to be seared and partly cooked before wrapping; it finishes cooking in the oven. If any part of it is done wrong, you get soggy pastry or overdone or underdone meat. The Whale & Ale’s kitchen has that timing down and the thick filet came out the medium rare I requested with the pastry crisped to flaky perfection. The portion was almost enough for two, so you might split this and a lighter dish with someone and enjoy an aristocratic treat.

    British desserts have a well-deserved reputation for being rich and sweet, so here again you might want to split one with someone and order another if you still have room. I recommend the sticky toffee pudding — a confection of caramel with ground dates in a warm cake topped by vanilla ice cream — or the raisin bread pudding. If those and the other offerings don’t ring your bell, you can always have an after-dinner drink from the full bar.

    Musicians James Hendricks and Simon Spalding make The Whale & Ale a regular stop when they are in town. Photo by Jessie Drezner

    For decades, The Whale & Ale has successfully pleased a clientele that includes both homesick Brits and locals who experienced this food here for the first time. Whether it was a revelation or just a reminder of the joys of a good pub, those satisfied people have made this a mainstay of the local dining scene, a place to come for a pint in friendly surroundings or for something more substantial.

    The Whale & Ale is at 327 W. 7th St., in San Pedro.

    Details: (310) 832-0363; www.whaleandale.com

    Read More
  • Funkalicious

    • 03/23/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off


    March 24
    Get out your grooviest 70s gear and get ready to dance. Funkalicious is the New Generation of Funk Music, taking you back to the fun times of the 70s and 80s.
    Time: 8 p.m. March 24
    Cost: $16 to $101
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/lokxdna
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    March 25
    El Segundo 100th Anniversary Concert
    Two-thousand-seventeen marks the 100th anniversary of the City of El Segundo. To help celebrate this tremendous milestone the El Segundo Concert Band and the South Bay Music Association present the El Segundo 100th Anniversary Concert. The celebration will focus on music from the era the city was founded.
    Time: 7 p.m. March 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.esconcertband.org
    Venue: El Segundo High School Auditorium, 640 Main St., El Segundo

    March 25
    Perla Batalla sings Leonard Cohen

    The Grammy-nominated vocalist wraps her exquisite voice around the Leonard Cohen songbook. Batalla was once a back-up singer for k.d. lang, Iggy Pop, The Gipsy Kings and Cohen.
    Time: 8 p.m. March 25
    Cost: $25 to $55
    Details: (310) 833-4813; www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro


    March 24
    Musical Theatre West presents Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical masterpiece.
    Carousel explores the timeless messages of love, hope, forgiveness, and redemption.
    Time: 8 p.m. March 24, 25 and 31, and April 1, 6, 7 and 8; 1 p.m. March 26, April 2 and 9; and 2 p.m. April 2 and 8
    Cost: $20
    Details: (562) 856-1999, ext. 4; www.musical.org,
    Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    March 25
    In a large, tastefully appointed townhouse, the Deputy Mayor of New York has shot himself. Though only a flesh wound, four couples are about to experience a severe farce attack. Despite being his tenth wedding anniversary party, the host lies bleeding in the other room and his wife is nowhere in sight. The lawyer and his wife must get “the story” straight before the other guests arrive.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through March 25
    Cost: $14 to $20
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    March 31
    Romeo and Juliet Rehearsals
    You are invited to Elysium for each and every Romeo and Juliet rehearsal.
    Time:  6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, until March 31
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.fearlessartists.org/box-office-1
    Venue: Elysium, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    April 2
    Letters From Young Gay Men
    Letters from Young Gay Men is a project that was inspired by Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet. It is show that brings a unique intimacy between the gay youth and elders of the community.
    Time: 8 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays through April 2
    Cost: $25
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/letterstogaymen
    Venue: Studio C Artists, 6448 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles


    April 3
    The exhibition Threesome featuring multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula on April 3.  The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    April 9
    Frank Brothers: The Store That Modernized Modern
    The exhibition relates the story of Southern California’s largest and most prominent mid-century retailer of modern furniture and design. Based in Long Beach from 1938 – 1982, Frank Bros. embodied the optimistic postwar ethos of the American consumer.
    Date: 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, through April 9
    Cost: Free
    Details: csulb.edu/org/uam
    Venue: California State University Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

    April 16
    Wearable Expressions

    Wearable Expressions explores the unbreakable bond between Art and Fashion portraying boundary-pushing works in fiber, jewelry and accessories by creative minds from around the globe.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: wearableexpressions.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 26
    Creative Expressions
    Creative Expressions, featuring glass artist Howard Schneider, local painter Kathie Reis and abstract artist Lois Olsen opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. An opening reception is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. March 4.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through April 16
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; www.artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center/Beverly G. Alpay Center for Arts Education, at 5400 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    April 30
    Ann Weber, Sculpture
    TransVagrant and Gallery 478 present Ann Weber, Sculpture. Ann Weber’s organic sculpture is abstract, formally elegant and composed of inelegant salvaged cardboard. There are abundant hints of figuration and recognizable objects: think chess pieces, balloons, human torsos, plant forms, and graphic ciphers.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, through April 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 600-4873; www.transvagrant.com
    Venue: Gallery 478, 478 W. 4th St., San Pedro

    May 6
    The Artist Co-Op is proud to announce the opening of Bits, a four-person exhibition. Both two- and three-dimensional works by Ivan Deavy Zapien, Angelica Fegley, Keith Fegley and Katie Stubblefield will be presented.
    Time: through May 6
    Cost: Free
    Details: kestubblefield@verizon.net
    Venue: Artist Co-Op, 1330 Gladys Ave., Long Beach

    May 21
    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero in the exhibition entitled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works, including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway, address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach


    March 25
    Rancho Days
    Be part of Rancho Day on the Rancho San Pedro. Experience life in the 1800s before California became part of the United States. This fun and interactive day will focus on what life was like on the Rancho San Pedro in Alta California.
    Time: 12 to 4 p.m. March 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 895-5736; www.dominguezrancho.org
    Venue: Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum, 18127 S. Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez

    March 25
    Long Beach Live
    Councilman Roberto Uranga invites to support talented local performers, including singers, comics, poets, dancers and storytellers for a free public event.
    Time: 7 to 10 p.m. March 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/LongBeachLive
    Venue: The Mirage Grill, 539 E. Bixby, Long Beach

    March 29
    Meet the Grunions
    Grunions are small sardine-size fish of the silversides family, which are one of the few fish species in the world that actually come ashore to lay their eggs on sandy beaches.  They are found from central California through Baja California, with Cabrillo Beach being one of the better places to observe the fish.
    Time: 8 p.m. March 29
    Cost: $5
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    March 30
    CITT Town Hall Meeting
    The Center for International Trade and Transportation will commemorate its 20th anniversary with a State of the Trade and Transportation Industry Town Hall meeting. People who work within the trade and transportation industries are encouraged to attend. Seating is limited.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. March 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/CITTTownHall
    Venue: CSULB, Gerald Daniel Recital Hall, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

    March 30
    Spit ’n’ Argue
    Enjoy an evening at Harvey Milk Park by taking part in a debate club.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. March 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://innovatelb.com/showcase
    Venue: Harvey Milk Park, E. 3rd St., Long Beach

    Read More
  • Lowenthal’s Conversation About America

    • 03/20/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • News
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — On March 13, Rep. Alan Lowenthal hosted A Conversation About America Town Hall at Long Beach City College.
    The town hall, which filled the school’s auditorium, included guest speakers discussing the future of the Affordable Care Act, Social Security and Medicare. The panel also discussed immigration and refugee policy under the Donald Trump administration, as well as well as the ongoing struggle to protect the environment and further civil rights for all Americans. The event was met with a small group of Trump supporters.

    Photographer Diana Lejins covered the events that took place that night.

    Rep. Alan Lowenthal addressed constituents at a town hall meeting March 13. Photo by Diana Lejins

    A handful of Trump supporters continually disrupted the Long Beach town hall meeting on March 13, waving signs, shouting and making loud noises. Photo by Diana Lejins

    The Long Beach City College auditorium was packed with more than 1,000 constituents at a town hall meeting March 13 sponsored by Rep. Alan Lowenthal. Photo by Diana Lejins

    Panelists Immigrant Rights Coalition Alicia Morales, ACLU James Gillian and Dr. Elisa Nicholas from the Long Beach Children’s Clinic answered questions from the audience at a Townhall meeting March 13 hosted by Long Beach City College. Photo by Diana Lejins

    Read More
  • Local Band Hangout Jams with Elan Atias

    • 03/17/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • Music
    • Comments are off

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Elan Atias of the Wailers recently performed a special acoustic set while hanging at the Queen Mary’s Observation Bar. The jam was the third concert of Local Band Hangout, a live music series.

    Atias is best known for performing with The Wailers on and off from 1997 to 2010; he was lead their singer 1997 to 1999. His voice sounds astonishingly like Bob Marley’s. However, he has been influenced by a wide variety of artists, from Fela Kuti inspired African rhythms and 1980s new wave bands such as Depeche Mode, to The Beatles and rhythm and blues artists such as Otis Reading.

    He has been busy with several new releases including a reggae style cover of Chris Isaacs’ Wicked Game. He has also just released a single on a side project with Coldcut x On-U Sound’s album in the United Kingdom with a stream of Divide and Rule. And, his single, Sit Upon My Throne on has his own label, 1 Lion Records, is due in April.

    His material always delivers a positive message that is often inspired from everyday life occurrences.

    “I try to write very simple so that even a baby can understand, but still deep and cryptic to compel thought and so [the audience] can relate it to their own lives,” Atias said.

    One example of how he’s done that is through his encounter with Dr. Roots (Larry Singer), had come to some of the Wailers’ shows in Colorado.

    “He had the idea to incorporate traditional Jewish prayers and life experiences that related to the meaning of the prayers with English lyrics,” Atias said. “His love of reggae was enormous and our connection made the perfect sense.”

    Atias looks forward to lots of work, more releases, shows and inspiration. Doing what he loves and sharing it with the world is what is most fulfilling to him, especially when it comes to helping people get through hard times.

    Long Beach’s own folk jazz duo Queen Califia also graced the stage of the Local Band Hangout.

    “It is exciting to see music fans fill the Observation Bar each month to support these local artists in a venue that has hosted so many celebrated performers.” said Steve Sheldon, Queen Mary’s director of events and entertainment.

    Tickets are $10 and the admission ticket value can be used in the Observation Bar and at Queen Mary restaurants during the concerts.

    Details: www.queenmary.com;  http://elanmusic.com

    Read More
  • 24 Million Will Lose Health Insurance Under GOP Plan

    • 03/17/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • Briefs, News
    • Comments are off

    On March 13, the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the GOP health care bill, warning that 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018, a number that would increase to 24 million by 2026.

    The CBO estimates are routinely recognized as the most authoritative basis for projecting the impact of legislation. The budget office did not address increased mortality, but the best estimates from past studies indicate that more than 1,000 additional deaths will result for every one million people without insurance.

    “The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment,” the report said. “In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law.”

    CBO also found that $880 billion would be cut from Medicaid by 2026 and 15 percent of Planned Parenthood patients would lose access to care. A 64-year-old making $26,500 would pay $14,600 for insurance in 2026, compared to $1,700 under Obamacare.

    “If you’re looking at the CBO for accuracy, you’re looking in the wrong place,” said White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the week before, in a desperate preemptive attack

    But GOP attacks on the office failed to unify behind Trump once the report was announced.

    “I’m pretty encouraged,” Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters. “It actually exceeded my expectations.”

    Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price stood out by continuing the attacks.

    “We strenuously disagree with the report,” said Price, attacking the 14 million figure as “unbelievable.”

    When Price was chairman of the House Budget Committee, he was deeply involved in selecting CBO’s director, Keith Hall, in 2015. Presumably, Price believed in Hall’s analytical judgment at the time.

    Read More

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer

    Emmy Award-winning director Marta Houske’s film, Crows of the Desert — A Hero’s Journey through the Armenian Genocide, will be presented by the Los Angeles Harbor International Film Festival on March 19 at the Warner Grand Theatre.

    Houske, the film’s producer, director and writer, has spent almost four years documenting written and photographic accounts of the atrocity, still denied by the Turkish government.

    Levon Yotnakhparian’s memoir cover

    The film is based on the memoirs of Levon Yotnakhparian. It chronicles his struggles to stay alive during multiple harrowing treks to help save thousands of fellow Armenians from near extinction during one of the 20th century’s first genocides.

    The story can be hard to understand. But Hauske transports us, presenting a clear timeline of events joined with a beautiful musical score by John Massari. The film offers viewers a grasp of the present crisis in this region and reveals how people of different religions came together to save the Armenians.

    Not long ago in America, if someone said they were Armenian, the common reply was, “What’s an Armenian?” Full disclosure: my maternal grandparents were survivors of this genocide.

    For a clearer vision, Houske provided some vetted facts by about this genocide and the history behind it. Ground central for this war is now called Israel, Jordan and Syria.

    At its peak, the powerful Ottoman Empire stretched from Vienna to Egypt and east to Russia. Yet, after 400 years of decline, it had shrunk to less than half its size while still maintaining control of the Arabian Peninsula.

    Around this time, in 1915, Constantinople (known as Istanbul  today) was full of successful Armenians. The Ottoman Turks were threatened by this and their loss of wars and territories. They came in to arrest and kill these intellectuals, marking April 24 as the genocide. Later, more Armenians were turned out of their homes and sent on death marches through the desert without food or water.

    Click image for trailer of the documentary

    Able-bodied men throughout the Ottoman Empire were killed except for the young men who enlisted in the army, so that there could be no resistance.

    The Young Turks, who had earlier overthrown Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid, came into power. They said the old system was corrupt. They talked of bringing equal rights, which persuaded many Armenians to join the army. This is how Levon, the hero, came in. He and other Armenians joined the army believing in The Young Turks and then it all turned against them.

    The Young Turks’ solution to the Empire’s decline was the religious and ethnic cleansing of its society. In an ultranationalist agenda, the government branded the Armenians as Christian infidels. “Turkey is only for the Turks” was their propaganda.

    The Turkish government systematically planned to use the cover of war to deport and murder its Armenian, Greek and Assyrian Christian minorities. Estimates of people killed by the Ottoman Turks range from 1.5 million Armenians, 300,000 to 1 million Greeks and 3 to 400,000 Assyrians.

    Executive producer of the documentary, Paul Turpanjian shared how this story relates to the current political climate.

    “The parallels between the crises taking place today in Syria and Iraq and the events of a hundred years ago are startling,” Turpanjian said. “Once again, regional and world powers are locked in a struggle for control over the very same land resulting in a distressingly similar humanitarian crisis. The film’s examination of historical events helps underscore how current turmoil in the region is primarily motivated by nationalism and imperialist ambition, rather than religion. Yet, much like a century ago, religion is used by both sides to rationalize the conflict and justify atrocities.”

    Mutual Cooperation

    In large cities like Constantinople, Damascus or Aleppo the Druze, Christians, Muslims and Jews lived together peaceably. Leaders from these religious groups did not hesitate to use any resources available to help the Armenians escape.

    The U.S. ambassador to Constantinople, Henry Morgenthau was one of the first people to inform President Woodrow Wilson of what was happening. Morgenthau also co-founded the Near East Relief, the first international aid effort in which American people raised more than 2 billion in today’s dollars. It saved the lives of more one million Armenian, Greek and Assyrian victims.

    With Turkish forces hunting and killing Armenians, Levon asked King Hussein bin Ali, head of the ancient Hashemite Arab dynasty, for help. King Hussein had initiated an Arab revolt in 1916 amidst World War I, aligning with the British and French to fight the Ottoman Turks. Hussein agreed to protect the Armenians and issued a decree.

    The Druze have their own justice oriented religion based in part on protecting those in need. These fierce warriors lived in the Druze Mountains in Syria. Armenians found refuge there because the Ottomans did not want to cross the mountain range.

    Druze chieftain, Emir Hussein El-Attrache pledged to do everything possible for the safety and freedom of the Armenians.

    The Jewish people featured in the film, Moshe Smilansky and Sarah Aaronsohn, were witnesses. Aaronsohn, who later became a British spy, testified to seeing up to 5,000 Armenians massacred. As a writer, Smilansky wrote about the women and children refugees stranded throughout the region.

    Prince Faisal’s army controlled the Hejaz Railway. Syrian railways were used strictly for military purposes but Faisal who was King Hussein’s son offered the Armenians free transportation to the British refugee camp in Damascus.  He also ordered a decree stating that Levon Yotnakhparian was granted permission to transfer all Armenians to Damascus via any train station, free of charge.

    King Hussein said that it was their duty as Muslims to protect the persecuted and the traveler.

    There was a massive refugee crisis, poverty and starvation. Parents were killed and women were captured and taken into harems. The thousands of orphans who remained spurred this relief effort.

    “Collectively as human beings we did the right thing for once,” Houske said. “People came from their higher side to help each other. It’s important to understand that there are times in recent history when people came together instead of fighting. It speaks to the inclusive versus exclusive nature of humans.”

    Details: http://crowsofthedesert.com, www.laharborfilmfest.com

    Read More
  • Trumpcare: GOP Plan Hurts Trump Voters Most

    • 03/16/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    “When you look at the Republican bill it should not be seen as a healthcare bill, because throwing millions of people off of health care is not health care legislation. What it should be seen as is a huge tax break for the wealthiest people in this country.”

    — Sen. Bernie Sanders

    “I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid,” Donald Trump tweeted on May 7, 2015. “Huckabee copied me.”

    For once, Trump was telling the truth — except for lying about Huckabee. He did make that promise. In fact, he made it repeatedly, in various forms.

    “I am going to take care of everybody,” Trump told 60 Minutes in September 2015. “Everybody’s going to be taken care of much better than they’re taken care of now.”

    Trump also promised lower costs.

    “We’re going to replace it [Obamacare] with something that’s going to be great, that’s a lot less expensive for you, and a lot less expensive, frankly, for the government,” he told a rally in South Carolina the following month.

    But now Trump is breaking those promises by embracing the House GOP repeal plan. This could break the GOP as well, unless they’re very, very good at pulling the wool over people’s eyes.

    So far, however, people just aren’t buying it, with mobs of constituents showing up at town hall meetings and organizational opposition coming from everyone and his dog. This opposition is led by top-name groups, including the American Medical Association, AARP and the American Hospital Association, along with dozens of others representing doctors, nurses, patients and hospitals — even small business owners.

    The GOP plan — (Paul) Ryancare, Trumpcare, whatever you call it — would take coverage away from tens of millions of people, including as many as 11 million on Medicaid. It would also raise costs and cut benefits for the majority of other Americans. This includes the 44 million Americans on Medicare, who now get free preventative care under Obamacare and an average annual savings of $700.

    The 38-million-member AARP called the GOP’s bill a “bitter pill for older Americans” and a “giveaway to insurers and drug companies.” In its letter to Congress opposing the bill, AARP wrote:

    This bill would weaken Medicare’s fiscal sustainability, dramatically increase health care costs for Americans aged 50-64, and put at risk the health care of millions of children and adults with disabilities, and poor seniors who depend on the Medicaid program for long-term services and supports and other benefits.


    Whatever happens next, it’s bound to be messy. But there is one way to make sense of things: by contrasting what the GOP is doing now with how German conservatives created the first universal healthcare plan in the 1880s. That’s right: the very first “socialist” healthcare system was created by conservatives almost 140 years ago.

    Conservative Dysfunction

    German conservatives had always been in charge of running things, although a unified Germany was something brand new. Chancellor Otto von Bismarck decided to steal the socialists’ most popular idea — universal health care — and structure it to meet a variety of different conservative goals.  For industrial capitalists, it would make German industry more competitive (especially against England) while building worker’s company loyalty; for nationalists, it would stem emigration to America while building a national identity; and for cultural conservatives, it would strengthened paternalistic values and the Protestant work ethic. To accomplish these things, of course, it had to actually work. And it did.

    American conservatives, in contrast, haven’t held unified national power — the White House and both chambers of Congress — since the Great Depression, except for a few years under George W. Bush. This brief time in power ended so catastrophically that it created a conservative identity crisis that’s still going on today — with Tea Partiers, Wall Street conservatives, white nationalists and others each fighting for the title of “true conservative.” Despite their differences, they share one thing in common: Their principles are overwhelmingly not practical — they are expressive and ideological and thus, very ill-suited for shaping comprehensive pragmatic policy on virtually anything.  As a result, the plan the party has come up with satisfies different specific conservative factions — just as Bismarck’s plan did — but without any attention to how things actually will function in reality.

    In January, before the GOP’s plan was unveiled, a study from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University warned that repeal of two key provisions of Obamacare could lead to the loss of 2.6 million jobs in 2019 alone, rising to almost 3 million by 2021. Bismarck would have taken that study seriously. Trump and Ryan have not. Instead, here’s the reality of what they’re proposing to do:

    First, the Trump/Ryan plan is a massive tax cut for the rich. An analysis released by the Joint Committee on Taxation projected almost $600 billion in tax cuts through 2026, of which almost half would go to wealthy Americans. Those in the top 0.1 percent would get an annual average tax cut of almost $200,000.

    Second, it’s a decimating attack on the welfare state and the millions of low- and middle-income Americans it protects and serves. Medicaid cuts through 2026 — $560 billion, according the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities — would almost exactly match the tax cuts. So, the poor lose their health care to line the pockets of the super-rich, with a sprinkling of crumbs for the upper middle class. The Medicaid cuts are twofold: first, the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare is halted, shifting massive amounts of costs onto the states; and second, Medicaid is turned into a per-capita block-grant. It will no longer cover a fixed percentage of the states’ costs, and the block-grant’s future growth won’t keep up as those costs increase. These cuts will force millions of recipients to lose coverage; they will also severely hurt state governments, rather than empowering them, as GOP rhetoric claims to do.

    Medicare is also targeted, though more diffusely, setting it up for future attacks. In its letter, AARP noted both how Obamacare had strengthened Medicare’s solvency and how the GOP replacement would weaken it:

    According to the 2016 Medicare Trustees report, the Medicare Part A Trust fund is solvent until 2028 (11 years longer than pre-Affordable Care Act (ACA)), due in large part to changes made in the ACA.  We have serious concerns that the American Health Care Act repeals provisions in current law that have strengthened Medicare’s fiscal outlook, specifically, the repeal of the additional 0.9 percent payroll tax on higher-income workers.  Repealing this provision could hasten the insolvency of Medicare by up to 4 years and diminish Medicare’s ability to pay for services in the future.

    Third, this new act will restructure the individual insurance marketplace in a way that increases costs for most consumers, especially those who can least afford it. It also hits Trump voters the hardest. According to a Keyser Family Foundation analysis, subsidies wouldn’t decline for everyone everywhere, but subsidies would decline in 81 percent of counties that voted for Clinton in 2016 and in 93 percent of counties that voted for Trump. What’s more, those gaining $2,500 or more in subsidies split 47 to 46 for Clinton, while those set to lose $5,000 to $7,500 voted overwhelming — 60 to 35 percent — for Trump.

    The Impact of American Health Care Act

    Kaiser Family Foundation has an interactive map illustrating the impacts nationwide on a county-level basis. For a 60-year old making $75,000 or $100,000 a year, the map is all reddish brown, meaning larger tax cuts from the GOP plan. But for those making $50,000 a year, most of the map is blue, meaning smaller tax cuts. For those making $30,000 a year, only a handful of counties in Texas and Massachusetts, two in Indiana, and much of upstate New York remain reddish brown. For those making $20,000 a year, no counties remain reddish brown.

    Things are not quite as bleak for 40-year olds or 27-year olds, but that’s just the point: older people average higher health costs and should be better protected because of it. Instead, as AARP told Congress, the GOP plan imposes “an unaffordable age tax.”

    Fourth, it’s an attack on women’s health and freedom. As summarized by the Associated Press, it includes a one-year freeze (easily extended) on Planned Parenthood funding, depriving 2.5 million current patients of birth control and mammograms; it bars the use of new federal tax credits to purchase plans that cover choice in abortion; and the Medicaid cuts affect mammograms as well as prenatal and newborn care. In many places, Planned Parenthood is the only provider available for low-income women’s healthcare. For all the GOP’s constant talk about “freedom” and providing Americans with “choice,” what they have in mind for women is the exact opposite.

    Fifth, it’s an indulgence in moral scolding. Despite being so proud of how short their bill was, House Republicans devoted six of its 66 pages — almost one-tenth of the document — to “a new rule allowing states to deny Medicaid coverage to lottery winners,” a miniscule cost problem, which could have been dealt with in a single paragraph, at most.

    This last point is particularly telling for the light it sheds on the profound difference between American conservatives and conservatives elsewhere, like Bismarck. He would have handled it in single sentence.

    The GOP’s obsession with abstract values over real consequences was summed up perfectly on Meet The Press on March 12, when Chuck Todd presented the following challenge to Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price:

    In Fayette County, West Virginia, this is one example, Keyser Family Foundation estimates the following: that the $4,000 tax credit that a 60-year old making $30,000 a year will get under the American Health Care Act [Trumpcare] is almost $8,000 less than they would get under Obamacare. This is a county, by the way, that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. The point is this: You say it’s going to make it more affordable, under this plan, in this county, in this state, less money and more expensive for these folks.

    “Who knows what that 60-year-old wants?” Price said in response, “I know that the federal government doesn’t know what that 60-year-old wants. I know that he or she knows what he or she wants.”

    Who needs healthcare, when you can have freedom from government providing for the general welfare instead?


    Read More
  • North on South Central Ave.’s Drive to the Future

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer
    The long running jazz musical, North On South Central Ave. will feature some of San Pedro’s best when it arrives, March 26, at the Warner Grand Theatre.

    North on South Central Ave. is told through the flashbacks of an elderly man recalling the golden age of Los Angeles jazz on Central Avenue, while sitting at a bus stop with a teenage boy.

    The scenes move back and forth between the present day and Central Avenue’s heyday to capture the glamour and the sheer elegance of the legendary Dunbar Hotel and Club Alabam.

    The Dunbar Hotel and Club Alabam anchored a growing African American community. During the 1940s, Los Angeles filled with a thriving black-owned business community after African Americans from the South began migrating en masse toward large urban hubs in the north and west. This migration accelerated when manufacturing and steel mills required a larger labor force due to World War II.

    The Dunbar Hotel was built in 1928. It was known as the Hotel Somerville before it changed hands. Upon its opening, the hotel hosted the NAACP’s first national convention west of the Mississippi. In the early 1930s, Club Alabam opened at the Dunbar. It became the center of the Central Avenue jazz scene for the following 20 years.

    The Dunbar hosted Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Lionel Hampton, Count Basie, Lena Horne and many other jazz legends. Other noteworthy people who stayed at the Dunbar include W. E. B. Du Bois, Joe Louis, Ray Charles and Thurgood Marshall. Former heavyweight champion Jack Johnson also ran a nightclub at the Dunbar in the 1930s.

    With the city’s growth in population and stature in the entertainment industry, the Dunbar was an important oasis during the time of Jim Crow.

    Due to the end of de jure segregation and the natural flows of demographic changes, Central Avenue no longers looks like it did then. After being renovated in the 1990s, the Dunbar is now an assisted living facility for seniors. The African American-owned businesses that once anchored the community are now mostly Latino owned businesses featuring huge colorful signs that cover the old art deco architecture.

    North On South Central Ave. waxes nostalgic with the euphoria of some of the best music ever made in the United States and exudes the pain of watching it all disappear as South Central declined.

    Storytelling serves as a means to preserve history, much like the old West African griots — traveling poets, musicians and storytellers who retold stories through songs of prominent families and important community events. The griot serves as the community’s collective memory, transmitting this information to younger generations.

    North On South Central Ave. was written and produced by the Theatre Perception Consortium, which is comprised of writers Larry James Robinson, Carla DuPree Clark and  Tu’Nook.

    Robinson came up with the idea for the musical in the 1980s as a way to pay homage to his father’s life.

    “Larry brought this idea to the table and it’s based on his father coming here from Mississippi,” Tu’ Nook said, who noted the title started out as South Central Avenue.

    Executive producer Michael Gean Curtis, who was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, discussed the personal connections to this history.

    “Having parents who have partied in Club Alabam and the other clubs on South Central Avenue, I find it interesting that it’s being revisited in the current time,” Curtis said. “It brings it to life. To see it is special. A lot of people do not realize what actually happened here at that time.”

    Curtis described the settlement location of early black Los Angeles.

    “A lot of people were raised south of all this movement on Central Avenue,” Curtis said. “Back in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the clubs were literally located North on South Central Avenue. The black Hollywood movement was actually in downtown Los Angeles, as far as 1st and 2nd Streets. Then it stretched down to 42nd Street and beyond.”

    The title is a reference to driving from that area, going north on South Central Avenue. All of the excitement takes place at Club Alabam and the Dunbar Hotel, which are north on South Central Avenue.

    Dupree has said that community elders are enthusiastic about this production. The youth also are excited.

    During the show’s 20-year run, it has won four NAACP Image awards for theater including Best Sound, Best Costumes, Best Ensemble and Best Director.

    The cast is filled with veteran performers who can sing the lights out anywhere.

    One of those performing is San Pedro’s Windy Barnes-Farrell, a local vocalist of unmatched talent who regularly tours the world performing. What folks may not know is that she is also an accomplished actor, songwriter, producer and choral director. Barnes-Farrell has toured extensively with Stevie Wonder, Julio Iglesias and Michael Bolton. She has also starred in various productions including Jezebel, The Wiz, Gospelrella and Voices.

    Veteran actor and playwright Melvin Johnson takes on the musical’s central character Old Willie, who recounts his life in conversation with a young man named Trayvon (played by Larney Johnson IV), a named character intended to achieve particular resonance in today’s context and remind the audience of the murder of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

    “Prostitution and drugs — this is what is pronounced around the world when you talk about South Central LA,” Dupree said.

    Instead, the creators behind North On South Central Ave. wanted the younger character and, in turn, younger audiences to know about the productivity happening in the businesses and all the entertainment on South Central Avenue.

    Old Willie engages Trayvon at the bus stop, enlightening the younger man, who in this rendition of the musical, has been rendered physically impaired by a drive-by shooting. It proves to be an invaluable history lesson for Trayvon as his elder recreates the vitality of Los Angeles’ Central Avenue during the 1940s.

    Trayvon is not a gangster but his character is aware of the negativity around living on Central Avenue today.

    Johnson, the actor who plays Trayvon, is the author of numerous plays including Nobody Told Us and The Hero Within, which opens next month at the Wallis Annenberg PAC in Beverly Hills.

    Phillip Bell plays the younger Willie, who is known as “Bilbo” in the musical’s flashbacks. Bell has been with the musical for several years and has performed in his own one-man show.

    Aliyah Robinson, the actress playing the wife of young Willie, Birdlegs, is Larry James Robinson’s daughter. The younger Robinson reflected on playing her grandmother.

    “It’s awesome to be able to play my grandmother and tell the story of my grandmother and grandfather of as they came to California and their journey here, and their life after they came here,” she said.

    Robinson noted that her love for the 1940s period was due to the stories her grandparents told.

    Legendary figures of the era such as Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holiday, Dorothy Dandridge and Cab Calloway all make appearances in the musical and are channeled through powerhouse performers such as Kerrimah Taitt, Pat Sligh, Larney “Dapper” Johnson III and Wanda Ray Willis-Raynor.

    Wanda Ray Willis-Raynor is an 18-year veteran performer with North on South Central Ave. and a 2016 nominee for the NAACP Theatre’s Best Solo award. Willis-Raynor also wrote, produced and performed the one-woman musical Walking in Dorothy Dandridge’s Shoes … Her Final New Beginning with musical director Cal Bezemer.

    North on South Central Ave. also recalls the dance moves and the dancers that graced the stage at Club Alabam during its heyday, whether it was the Creole Dancing Revue or Club Alabam’s Rocketts. San Pedro’s Jessica Haley Clark Dance Co. along with tap dancers Pysa Noel and Adrienne Diana Curtis will add another layer of cultural history to a talent-packed show.

    Time: 5 p.m. March 26
    Cost: $26 to $41
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/North-on-SouthCentral
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Read More
  • 1 2 215