• Boys and Girls Club 9/11 Candlelight Memorial

    Boys & Girls Clubs of the Los Angeles Harbor’s high school students are organized a candlelight vigil in honor of the people impacted by the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

    The event included poems, speeches and live music by the club’s Arts Academy jazz.

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  • Gear Up for the Lobster Festival with Lobster Tortilla Soup, Other Recipes

    By Lori Lynn Hirsch Stokoe, Food Writer and Photographer

    With the world’s largest lobster festival right around the corner and in our own backyard (The Port of Los Angeles), it was time to develop a new lobster recipe.

    Now, while lobster is usually decadent, expensive and reserved for special occasions, I sought to create a more humble lobster dish for everyday enjoyment. These 3.5-ounce lobster tails cost $6.50 each, while the rest of the ingredients are quite inexpensive. This hearty meal in a bowl can be served to company as well as enjoyed for a weeknight dinner.

    And, in the process of research, I thought it would be neat to share a few interesting tidbits about our favorite crustacean:

    Are Maine lobsters always from Maine? Not necessarily. The American lobster, Homarus americanus, is found along the Atlantic coast of North America from Canada to New Jersey, with a very small percentage found all the way down to North Carolina. Maine lobster is another name for the American lobster. American lobsters are a cold water species. (more…)

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  • Soapbox Derby Debuts at Queen Mary’s

    By Joseph Baroud, Contributor

    Racers kept their heads down. Their eyes pointed straight ahead as they steered their wheels went for the gold at the All-American Queen’s Cup Soap Box Derby race.

    The derby took place Aug. 23 and 24 at the parking lot adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach. A ramp was placed at the beginning of the track. Racers were released from the top, gathering enough speed to push them to the finish line. The finish is 40, or 50 feet ahead of the ramp. Haystacks outlined the track to cushion a driver in the event of a crash and cones divided the two lanes.

    Most of the races were neck-and-neck from start to finish. Some ended with about a second, or a second-and-a-half, between them. Some ended with finishes that made your heart skip a beat. That instance alone was enough to fill the gap that separated the racers. Most importantly, none of the races were one-sided, which called for an exciting event.

    The races began at 11 a.m. There were four different races for each of the three different classes: stock; super stock; masters. The double elimination race had drivers race each other, mark the time difference, trade wheels and lanes and go at it again. The time difference was recorded after the second race and whoever had a better accumulated time would advance. The switch was made to ensure a fair game. (more…)

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  • Residents Say, ‘Not So Fast’ to Road Diet at Town Hall

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Councilman Joe Buscaino hosted an informational town hall meeting on the Pacific Avenue Road Diet” Aug. 27 in a bid to squash rumors of San Pedro’s take over by the Bike Lane mafia.

    “This is not a bike lane project,” Buscaino reiterated almost at the start of the meeting.

    Whether he was successful or not remains to be seen, but a number of local residents are highly upset with the changes.

    Department of Transportation representative Michelle Mowery said that the bike lanes were never the focus of the road diet project, but were an added benefit that was tacked onto project later since it cost little in terms of space and money to implement.

    Buscaino attempted to cast the road diet as a safety issue. The term “Road Diet” is a Los Angeles Department of Transportation term describing the conversion of two lane streets into one lane streets in either direction. Buscaino noted this 1 mile stretch between O’Farrell and 22nd street as having the greatest number of pedestrian accidents in San Pedro.

    The former Los Angeles Police Department senior lead officer turned councilman cited statistics, such as the fact that there were three schools on Pacific Avenue, including Barton Hill and 15th Street Elementary school and Alliance College-Ready Public Schools, a recently opened charter high school. (more…)

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  • All is Now

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    A decade ago, author Ekhart Tolle brought the concept of ‘now’ into popular psychology with his book The Power of Now.

    Artist Jay McCafferty preceded Tolle with a practice of art that necessitates presence of spirit, focus and mindfulness that would test all but the most dedicated Zen practitioners.

    In September, curator and artist Ron Linden opens an exhibition of McCafferty’s work at Warschaw Gallery in San Pedro.

    The exhibition visits McCafferty’s new solar-burned, process driven paintings. Working outdoors, using a magnifying glass and the sun’s heat, he burns holes of various sizes into stacked sheets of vellum paper. Depending on the intensity of the sun and other atmospheric conditions, McCafferty can create a variety of effects. The burns in the paper leave behind a smoky residue that adds a painterly quality. The resulting works can be delicate and lace-like, or aggressive as detritus in the remains of destructive fire.

    McCafferty needs to be in the moment, let the work of art reveal itself through action. He sets the stage mentally and physically with preparation of the paper, then focuses on being present and lets the art unfold and develop.

    “These works have a certain passivity and tranquility to them,” Linden said. “He is masterful with what he does. There is no preordained design or composition in his work. He begins and works until the sun goes down and next day takes up where he left off.”

    McCafferty’s choice artwork can be described as ‘Process Art’ – art that emphasizes the process of its making. His interest in process and the properties of his materials are determining factors in his aesthetic and has precedence in the abstract expressionists use of unconventional methods such as dripping, pouring and staining.
    McCafferty has always followed his own intuition in his works.

    “My work originated in the early 70s,” McCafferty said. “The zeitgeist of the time was process oriented and that was primarily the time frame that I came out of. It is something that has been part of my work for most of my career. I have a strong theory that everything is ‘right now’. You can hypothesize about what happened before and fantasize about what is going to happen, but one thing I know for certain is right now is all that exists.”

    He also believes there are no accidents. The magnifying glass is a device that has become more mysterious to him over the years. He has learned, over many years of practice that he cannot use the method unless he is paying complete attention. The artist’s attention is ‘magnified’ by the lens. When we spoke recently, he had just spent six hours on one piece. A completed work can take as much as three months to finish.

    Sandy Ballatore in Art in America writes that the works are “the gridded, singed, skeletal remains of his own peculiar art-making ritual: sitting on his studio roof, magnifying lens in hand and sun overhead, he ignites papers, plastic, wood, cardboard … in a mechanical meditative rite.”

    McCafferty also is a pioneer in the field of video art. Eventually he became discouraged by the reluctance of galleries to show video in its early days and concentrated on painting. His art is now shown in museums and galleries across the United States and Europe.

    His trust in Linden is a primary reason that McCafferty is showing his art in San Pedro.

    “I was born in San Pedro,” McCafferty said. “I never thought there would be an art reality for me there. It wasn’t part of the tradition that I grew up in. The art world was always someplace else. The idea that there is somebody here [who] I like and respect is wonderful. I never thought San Pedro, or even Los Angeles, would ever be a distribution center. Even though most of the major sales [in the past] were in New York, most of the major ideas primarily came from the West Coast. We have less tradition hanging over our heads.”

    As a young artist in the 1970s, McCafferty developed a practice that became a groundbreaking trend in the 21st century. In 1972, he acquired a Sony Portapack camera and turned it on himself shaving in his bathroom mirror each day. He has been doing that for the past four decades. He has never stopped.

    Decades of technical evolution forced him to adjust his video practice. A recent viewer commented that his work was akin to the Rosetta Stone of video work. He states he has owned eight or nine cameras, moving from the original Sony Portapack to digital as time progressed. During the process he also documented the decades long evolution of Gillette shaving equipment.

    Richard Linklater’s film, Boyhood, and Michael Apted’s film, Up, are examples of our fascination with documenting our lives throughout extended time periods. Our current access to video technology on the cell phone we carry in our pockets has made us the most highly documented generation in history. McCafferty was essentially a visionary in this field.

    He was the first video artist to be shown at the Long Beach Art Museum, which in the 70s established a reputation for exhibiting artists working in the experimental medium. Years later, the Long Beach Museum of Art realized they had neither the technology nor the staff to preserve the large video collection gathered.

    The Getty Museum acquired the collection in 2005. It is an important record of the early and continuing history of video art and a crucial component of the region’s cultural history. Containing numerous masterpieces in the medium, the collection comprises the largest gathering of video art works produced in Los Angeles and Southern California. Pioneers of the art form, such as John Baldessari, Bill Viola and Jay McCafferty, are represented.

    Jay McCafferty, Recent Works, opens at TransVagrant @Warschaw Gallery with an artist’s reception at 4 p.m. Sept. 13.

    Details: (310) 600-4873
    Venue: TransVagrant@Warschaw Gallery
    Location: 600 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

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  • Blackbird Takes an Honest Look on Being Black, Gay in the South

    A Long Beach QFilm Festival Feature

    By Viktor Kerney, Guest Columnist
    Being black and gay is truly living on a prayer.

    The pressures from family, friends and faith can stretch a closeted youth beyond their limits. That amount of burden on one’s shoulders can either come crashing down or eventually make that person stronger than before. These are the issues writer and director Patrik-Ian Polk addresses in his latest film, Blackbird, featured at this year’s Long Beach QFilm Festival.

    Like his groundbreaking projects Punks and Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom, Polk continues tackling topics within the black LGBT community. In Blackbird, Polk delivers an honest and passionate coming of age story about a young choirboy struggling with being gay in a small Southern town.

    This film follows Randy (Julian Walker), a young church boy who is beset by host of problems: the disappearance of his younger sister, the separation of his parents and his budding sexuality. (more…)

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  • Connecting the Harbor to LA

    Road Diets, Stop Signs, Traffic Solutions

    By James Preston Allen, publisher

    Councilman Joe Buscaino held a town hall forum on the Pacific Avenue Road Diet last week and got an ear-full from some unhappy residents about narrowing the roadway. The problem is that the Los Angeles Department of Transportation has already decided, for some very rational reasons, that this is the solution and has already budgeted the money to slow traffic on this roadway. The one small truth revealed by the DOT representatives at the meeting  is that the ATSAC traffic signal synchronization system that the city paid millions for hasn’t been working and there’s no estimate of when it will be fixed. So much for great plans and hi-tech solutions.

    The problem that the city is solving here is kind of like Councilman Buscaino’s predecessor Janice Hahn’s approach to traffic accidents, more stop signs and traffic signals. When taken individually, these incremental steps are reasonable solutions, until they are implemented with an overall plan.

    What is needed is a region-wide traffic and transportation plan that takes into consideration port cargo traffic, the impact of increasing commuter traffic on streets like Gaffey street and Pacific Coast Highway (both of which feeds into the 110 freeway) and the projected impacts of waterfront development from tourists visiting the harbor. (more…)

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  • Mike Watt: The Musical Sailor On Bass

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher of Random Lengths News

    It was First Thursday. The workday had ended and the nightlife at San Pedro’s artwalk was just beginning. Lumbering down South Pacific Avenue to Random Lengths in his white econo-van, Mike Watt, at 56, looks more like an old sailor than punk legend and frontman of the Minutemen. His van has probably tallied more road years touring than younger bands have been alive.

    Watt was dropping by to talk about his upcoming 53–stop tour, his new album and collaboration with Italian duo, il Sogno del Marinaio (The Sailor’s Dream).  However, after 35 years on the music scene, Watt is still Watt with his signature plaid shirt.

    As his latest album, Canto Secondo, shows, the past is never far from Watt’s mind. For Watt, the past forever rides with him in his econo-van (or “the boat” as he calls it) or hangs like his silver anchor around his neck. Canto Secondo (second song) is an exploratory expression of this boat of memories recorded with music collaborators Andrea Belfi and Stefano Pilla in Bologna, Italy in December 2013. Their 53–stop tour starts Sept. 10 at the Casbah in San Diego and the next night at the Echo, in Los Angeles. (more…)

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  • Missing a Beat: A Ten-Point Account of Long Beach Funk Fest

    For the last five years Long Beach Funk Fest has been such a consistent standout in the Summer And Music series (SAM) that this year it ventured away from downtown Long Beach proper and out on its own and into the welcoming arms of the corporation that operates the Queen Mary.

    On Labor Day the needle dropped on the Sixth Annual Long Beach Funk Fest. How’d they do? Let me break it down for you, sugar.

    1. Website. If you wanted to get a good sense of Funk Fest going in, you were pretty much out of luck. The links to Festival Guide/Directions and Vendors never worked, and neither the Website nor the Facebook event clarified what could and couldn’t be brought inside. “Can’t seem to find a FAQ on what items are allowed into this event anywhere,” wrote someone on Facebook event page. “Chairs? Blankets? Umbrellas? Coolers? Dogs? Does anyone know where I can find this info?” No official reply ever came.

    2. Entry. If first impressions are important, the Queen Mary folks did not start patrons on the good foot, as it would have taken quite a bit of creativity to design a less efficient entry. At the front gate patrons were greeted with three lines leading up to a security check (see #3). The line to the left (call it A) was rather long, while the lines in the middle and to the right (B and C, respectively) were usually devoid of people, save for employees idly waiting to be put to some purpose. No signage indicated the difference between the lines. Finally, a young man not especially well chosen to do so attempted to communicate that A was for men (to be searched by men), B for women (to be searched by women), and C was for VIPs (to be searched by VIPs?). Women and men who arrived together were actively disallowed from queuing in A together, with women shuffled off into the much shorter B, then forced to wait inside for the 10-15 minutes it often took for their male companions to get inside. One male visitor from Australia, eyeballing the unpeopled B as he sweltered in A (for the shade issue, see #5), wondered aloud whether the question of splitting up the searches by gender ought to be about whether the person being searched had a preference (and since he didn’t, why couldn’t he go to B). I was wondering whether C might be opened up to a couple of Aers at a time when no VIPs were in sight. I don’t know what the other men were wondering, but it was fairly evident how they were feeling.

    3. Search. As a civil libertarian, I’m not crazy about searches. But when there’s a legitimate safety concern, I get it. To be sure, I did not get what was going on at Funk Fest. After the frustration of the entry lines, patrons were required to empty their pockets and subjected to a thorough pat-down of their persons and having whatever bags or backpacks explored in a manner more consistent with what one experiences at Customs than at concerts. Not all searches were equally invasive, but some patrons even had their wallets searched. Not sure what weapon was being looked for there. Among the items the searchers wouldn’t let people bring in was water (see #6). “I will NEVER come to another funk fest, again,” wrote one attendee the day after. “Who heard of no chairs or water at an outdoor concert. Violating people’s privacy. Hell TSA doesn’t even go through your wallet and makeup bag. Not to mention pat downs! WTH!!!! ‪#‎angryconcertgoer‬ ‪#‎kissmyass‬.” The Hollywood Bowl manages to get people inside with picnic baskets and without anyone’s feeling violated. Maybe that’s an organization worth talking to between now and next summer?

    4. Aesthetic. “This is like the Renn Faire for funk,” remarked my companion not long after we were inside. A better comparison would have been to the Orange County Fair, except on a drastically diminished scale. A few crafts booths, a terribly small selection of food and beverage vendors, and such a thrust of corporate sponsorship that if Coca-Cola had a hint of green in its color scheme, its advertising presence would have combined with Heineken’s as a sort of yin-yang. Clearly, the organic communal authenticity of previous Funk Fests had been bled away in favor of prefabricating the funk.

    5. Shade. Originally we had planned arriving not long after the fest’s noontime beginning. Thankfully, we didn’t show up until around 3, because a fairly brutal sun was shining down on a Queen Mary Events Park that was nearly devoid of shade. For reasons passing understanding, aside from a giant inflatable Heineken can off to the left and a giant inflatable Heineken gazebo for VIPs to the right, event organizers had decided against erecting any tarps or E-Z Ups to protect us from sunshine that wasn’t exactly a surprise to weather forecasters. Thus were many of the people milling about vendor trucks not waiting for food but hiding from the heat. The lovely dance floor off to the left might have had many people grooving to what the DJ was laying down had it been in the shade. As it was, on occasion two or three people would hit the floor but last no more than 10 minutes. You could tell it was going to be lovely as the sun set, but just then it wasn’t much fun standing there exposed, and I beelined for the shady area behind the big can. Was I just poo-pooing corporate sponsorship?

    6. Water. When attending Funk Fests of yore, I did what I do pretty much whenever I go: bring my purple canteen full of water to ensure that my hydration needs are met. But this year not only was that impossible, but, as a Facebook post from Funk Fest organizers made clear (at least if you could find it), even sealed water bottles would not be allowed inside. And while empty containers were permitted, organizers did not see fit to set up a water-refilling station. Therefore, the only option for acquiring dihydrogen monoxide was to stand in one of the food vendors’ lines either to have your canteen filled or to spend $2.50 to $3 on a 16 oz. bottle. The net result was longer food lines than necessary and needless plastic waste—the latter pretty much giving the lie to the Website’s claim that this year’s Funk Fest was a “green-driven festival, involving green sponsors and educating in ways to live with less impact on our environment.” What it did mean was more money for the event, and that’s what the funk is about, right? Perhaps there’s a special irony here, considering that all previous iterations of Funk Fests were free, while this one cost $15 to $20 (VIP tix $75).

    7. Vibe. Funk Fest draws a wide enough demographic that it seemed like there might be a little tension—which is not to say actual trouble—between those whose relation to the funk comes from a gentler place and those who come from a harder-edged milieu. But ultimately that tension never really materialized, resulting in a rather easygoing vibe that was good for everyone. That includes children, of whom there were a few, running about and screaming and enjoying themselves so thoroughly that you wished more were there to get in on the fun(k).

    8. Police. There was a visible police presence, though nothing excessive. There wasn’t much for them to do, and they didn’t busy themselves looking to create something.

    9. Location. There are two sides to this coin. Heads says this was a good use of the Queen Mary Events Park, whose grass was great for dancing or lying around, and whose trees provided effective shade once the sun descended to an angle that endowed them with long shadows. And that’s to say nothing of the natural advantages of being by the seaside. But tails points to what a missed opportunity it was to segregate a great event out of a city center and into a closed-off area, making it less about the community and more about a single corporation pulling the strings. Not to mention how the move deprived downtown businesses of what surely would have been a nice infusion of cash. Let’s see, would I rather drink Beachwood BBQ’s beer and see them reap the rewards, or give to and get Heineken? Hmmm.

    10. Music. The main draw was, of course, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, who did it right (even if the wildest days of P-Funk are long past). But all those acts with whom most patrons were unfamiliar held it down all day. That includes the Sea Funk Brass Band, who created some of the fest’s most special moments by walking through the crowd between main acts until finding a location that felt fine, then drawing people in with some solid funk jams with a Dixieland flair. The DJs, too, were on point. The main acts might have been blasted too loudly—something to be considered seriously if you truly want this to be a kid-friendly event—and the sound engineers wrestled with some feedback problems now and again, but I doubt anyone walked away unsatisfied with the funk itself.

    ******

    Unfortunately, the overall impression left by the Long Beach Funk Festival was that this year was a step backward for a lovely Long Beach tradition. “Show management and security sucked!” says a message left on Facebook for the organizers to ponder. “They put a damper on the whole festival. They wouldn’t allow lawn chairs! It was a 9 hour show with very few places to sit. Many people had their cigarettes confiscated at the door even though nothing said you couldn’t have them. The food sucked too. The music was great but I won’t go back next year. Too much oppression.”

    No-one I surveyed at the festival didn’t voice similar gripes. And while I suspect many of us will be back next year, we’ll be hoping that either Funk Fest returns to its previous location and form, or that the Queen Mary peeps go back to the drawing board. Because while the funk made us shake our asses, just about everything else made us shake our heads. Peace.

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  • RLn ARTS: Aug. 28, 2014

    Aug. 31
    10th Annual GLAMFA Exhibit
    An artists’ reception for the 10th Annual Greater Los Angeles Master of Fine Arts Exhibit will take place, from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 31, Cal State Long Beach Student Art Galleries.
    The exhibition is a representation of the next wave of contemporary artists.
    The exhibition features the works of masters in fine arts and masters of arts students from the Greater Los Angeles area. The exhibits will be on display through Sept. 4.
    Venue: CSULB Student Art Galleries
    Location: 1250 E. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach
     
    Sept. 6
    Light and Dark: Photographs From Germany
    An opening reception for Barbara Klemm’s Light and Dark: Photographs From Germany is scheduled, for 5 p.m. Sept. 6, at the University Art Museum at Cal State Long Beach.
    This solo exhibition presents photographs by one of Germany’s most distinguished woman photographers. Spanning forty years, Barbara Klemm’s works bear witness to Germany’s recent history, in a country that was divided for decades. Many of her pictures have become ‘icons of contemporary history,’ shaping the cultural memory of several generations. She has created a body of photographs which combine the documentary and the artistic in a manner seldom encountered in German press photography.
    The event is free and open to the public.
    Venue: University Art Museum
    Location: 1250 E. Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

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