• Bring Musicals Back Into Your Life

    By John Farrell

    If you say “musical” you are probably thinking about, say, Jersey Boys playing up at the Pantages, with cheap seats running $40 or so.

    Or, maybe you are planning to visit Las Vegas, where you will include a stage show on your itinerary — say, oh, Jersey Boys — with tickets even pricier (but maybe, just maybe, you’ll win big on the slots).

    Then there’s Phantom, or Mary Poppins or The Book of Mormon — all spectacular and pricey. Seeing a musical is a once-a-year treat at those prices.

    But, if you are interested in musicals that are as good, or even better, than those big-ticket events, and you are willing to park your own car and forgo cocktails beforehand (hey, you could always visit a local tavern before or afterward) there are musicals around Southern California every week that are attractive, tuneful, professionally performed, don’t cost an arm and a leg, or even just a leg, and are as exciting as anything in more expensive venues.

    Two that are recommended here are at different ends of the musical time-line. Scary Musical the Musical is brand new. It continues through Nov. 9 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. Much older but still lovely is You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, originally written in 1967, in a revival at the Attic Theatre through Nov. 2 that is so effective, so well-performed, that you won’t even be aware that it is in a theater that must have once been a garage. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Update: Oct. 8, 2014

    POLB Team to Facilitate Congestion Relief
    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 8, the Port of Long Beach convened a congestion relief team to meet daily and seek solutions.
    In conjunction with the Congestion Relief Team, port field staff is meeting regularly with customers and stakeholders to listen to their concerns, collaborate on solutions and monitor performance. A surge of larger ships has taxed terminals at ports around the world to move cargo faster. Locally, POLB staff has already identified one of the challenges.
    The port team also is seeking a discussion agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to have substantive discussions with the Port of Los Angeles on common issues of concern – namely congestion.
    The Board of Harbor Commissioners, the governing body of the port, has also established a subcommittee chaired by Commission Vice President Rich Dines, working with Commissioner Lori Ann Farrell, to focus on port efficiency.

    Garcia Selects 13 New Commissioners for Five Commissions
    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 8, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced the appointment of 13 new commissioners to five commissions this month.
    The non-charter appointments will come before the City Council on October 21 for approval, while the 4 appointments to the Planning Commissions will first come before the Civil Service Committee.
    The persons Garcia selected are:
    PLANNING COMMISSION
    Mike Logrande is the director of planning for the Los Angeles Planning Department. He has worked in the department for 15 years. He was a member of the steering committees for the Long Beach General Plan in 2006 and for the Central Redevelopment Project Area. Logrande earned political science and public administration degrees from Cal State Long Beach. He was chairman of the board of directors of the Long Beach Housing Development Co. He is an American Planning Association member.
    Andy Perez is employed in the public affairs bureau of Union Pacific Railroad, as Director of Port Affairs for Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. A graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, Perez has long served on the Boards of Directors for Long Beach Boys and Girls Clubs and the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and was a member of the mayor’s transition team.
    Jane Templin is vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the outreach director at the Electrical Training Institute. A certified general electrician, Templin has served on the executive board of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network, on the advisory committee of the Long Beach Job Corps, and as a mentor at the ACE Academy of Long Beach.
    Erick Verduzco-Vega is the president and CEO of the South Bay Latino Chamber of Commerce, and the South Bay Latino Community Development Corp. He also manages real estate and restaurant investments, and has served on the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board as its vice chairman.
    LONG BEACH TRANSPORTATION COMPANY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
    April Economides is the founder and president of Green Octopus Consulting, which promotes complete streets and green business. She earned a master’s in business administration from Presidio Graduate School and is a board member of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition. Economides was a member of the task force that created Claremont’s Sustainable City Plan. She also was a member of the Mayor’s Transition Team
    Sumire Gant is a former transportation planner for both Long Beach and Los Angeles County. She earned a master’s in business administration from UCLA. She secured millions of dollars of transportation and planning grants for Long Beach within a 10-year period. She was instrumental in planning and funding many portions of the city’s bicycle infrastructure.
    Nancy Pfeffer is the founder and president of Network Public Affairs, an environmental and transportation consulting firm. She has served for 7 years as director of regional planning for the Gateway Cities Council of Governments. She is a board member of Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network and City Fabrick. Pfeffer earned a master’s in public policy from USC. Her appointment would begin Jan. 1, 2015.
    Mary Zendejas is the director and founder of the DisABLED Professionals Association, and is chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Commission on Disabled, a position she will abdicate. She is the director of community relations for Accessible Connections Exchange. A former Ms. Wheelchair California and long-time outspoken advocate for disability rights, she also served on the mayor’s transition team. She earned a communications degree from Cal State Long Beach. Her appointment would begin Jan. 1, 2015.
    AIRPORT ADVISORY COMMISSION
    Jeff Anderson is CEO of the Anderson Real Estate Group and a former employee of the Long Beach Fire Department. He has served as the Rose Park Neighborhood Association president, and on the board of Pride Real Estate Association of America, Long Beach. Anderson is a graduate of Real Estate Institute and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. He is deeply involved in national and local LGBT issue advocacy, including work with the Human Rights Campaign, and is a Distinguished Rose Award winner and a recipient of the Steward of 7th Street award.
    MARINE ADVISORY COMMISSION
    Gerald Avila is the elected health benefits officer for the International Longshore Workers’ Union Local 13. A lifetime Long Beach resident with an extensive history of community involvement, Avila is an avid boater and moors his vessel at Shoreline Marina. A Longshore worker since 1997, he previously worked as joint chief dispatcher for ILWU 13.
    Peter Schnack is the director of information technology at Molina Healthcare. He has previously worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal Tech Pomona. He is an avid boater. Schnack is a volunteer coach and youth leader with the YMCA and AYSO soccer league and has been actively involved in the Naples Improvement Association.
    LONG BEACH COMMUNITY INVESTMENT COMPANY
    Russ Doyle is an associate vice president and investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisers and Morgan Stanley. He previously served as the director of strategic sourcing for Universal Studios and a procurement manager for the Vons Corp. Doyle also is the chairman of fundraising for Stillpoint Family Resources, a nonprofit that serves children with special needs.
    Sabrina Sanders works at California State University Office of the Chancellor supporting student academic programs at 23 campuses. She was selected as a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Fellow and has served as the president of the African American Faculty & Staff Association at California State University and is an alumnus of Leadership Long Beach. Sanders earned her master’s in business administration at California State University San Marcos and her doctorate in education leadership and management from Alliant International University. Sanders was a member of the mayor’s transition team. (more…)

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  • Pink Milk Looks at Alan Turing in Fantasy, Dance

    By John Farrell

    Alan Turing was, according to Winston Churchill, the man most responsible for the allied victory against the Nazis in World War II.

    He was the man who invented the theories that make the computer this is being written on possible. He was a surpassing genius who created the computer almost single-handedly and devised a way to read Nazi signals undetected.

    He also was a homosexual and in the 1950s’ Britain that was still a criminal offense. No matter what he had accomplished for the British nation, he was convicted as a homosexual and forced to take injections to be chemically castrated. He died two years later, perhaps as a suicide.

    You need to know all that to appreciate Pink Milk, the poetic, even dreamy treatment of Turing’s life, which had its West Coast premier recently at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach.

    Under the direction of Ashley Elizabeth Allen, with a stark white gazebo set designed by Yuri Okahana, the work is a loving look at Turing’s inner life and, finally, a searing indictment of the British government that used Turing and then callously caused his suicide. Turing’s intellectual prowess is barely noted in the play. You are presumed to know beforehand about him, enjoy and explore his inner life, non-scientific life. (more…)

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  • Wilmington YMCA Opens New Pool

    On Oct. 4, the Wilmington YMCA inaugurated its new heated pool.
    Laura Muñoz Humphreys, executive director from San Pedro YMCA oversaw much of the project. Large funding was given from the Port of Los Angeles and others including Philips 66 who reached out to USA Swimming for Olympic medalist and swimmer Jessica Hardy, who attended the ceremony. She hosted youth classes, worked with the YMCA lifeguards and signed autographs. The lap pool will host classes for all members including adult classes including water zumba, and aerobics.
    Photos by David Johnson
     

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  • The Troubling Failure of the Media to Report Accurately on the ISIL Hostage Videos

    When the Associated Press, CNN, the BBC, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Agence France-Presse, MSNBC, Fox News, and the Guardian all concur in their reportage of unambiguous, easily verifiable matters of fact, generally you’re safe in taking it on faith.

    Not always, though, as can be seen from reports on videos released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). All of these sources—and many more—have stated on numerous occasions that these videos show the beheadings of hostages. But this is simply untrue.

    This is not to say ISIL did not behead these people. The videos do show what appears to be the beheaded bodies of James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines, and most recently Alan Henning. But the question here is not what ISIL has done, but whether the media has accurately reported the facts.

    Those facts are clearly on display for anyone to see. In each video, after giving a speech a masked, British-accented spokesperson for ISIL takes a knife and motions as if he is starting to saw away at the necks of his bound, orange-clad captives. But only in the Henning video does the act appear to be genuine, and in all of them the picture fades to black before so much as a drop of blood is visible, fading back in only once the deed has been completed off-camera.

    ISIL’s willingness to take and murder hostages—including via beheadings—is not in dispute. But does that truth justify fabricating details for the stories?

    Only two possibilities exist for how these fabrications came about, especially considering that they have been oft repeated by each of the media outlets involved: either the authors of the reports didn’t see the videos on which they are reporting, or they did and are choosing to report falsely on what the videos show.

    If the reporters didn’t actually see the videos, this is simply (which is not to say excusably) a form of bad journalism that has become ever more common in the age of the World Wide Web and its 24-hour news cycle. With media outlets tripping all over themselves to stay current, there is a temptation to report that which is being reported elsewhere without taking the time to independently verify the purported facts.

    This practice may not be inherently unethical, so long as the writer admits that the information in question is secondhand and cites the source of the information (especially easy to do online, where one can hyperlink directly to any source). However, more often than not journalists like their reportage to appear as if all of it is firsthand—not to mention the fact that presumably many media outlets are loath to direct traffic to a “competing” outlet. As a result, sometimes media outlets don’t reveal the origin of the information they are passing along.

    Fox News, in reporting on the video featuring Alan Henning, provides an example of how major media outlets sometimes simply crib from others. A side-by-side comparison between the Fox News article, and the Associated Press story on the same subject shows Fox News to have lifted almost all of the AP copy verbatim to construct its own article. For example, where the AP story reads, “This is the fourth such video released by the Islamic State group. The full beheadings are not shown in the videos, but the British-accented, English-speaking militant holds a long knife and appears to begin cutting his victims, who include American reporter James Foley, American-Israeli journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker David Haines and now Henning,” the Fox News story echoes the confirmation that the ISIL videos do not show beheadings, despite Fox News’ having published claims to the contary (see, for example, here): “This is the fourth such video released by the Islamic State group. The full beheadings are not shown in the videos, but the British-accented, English-speaking militant holds a long knife and appears to begin cutting the three men, American reporters James Foley and Steven Sotloff and British aid worker David Haines.” (Note that in changing end of the AP article’s sentence, Fox News mistakenly implies that there have been only three videos.)

    While some of the outlets reporting on the content of the ISIL videos may be piggybacking on the misinformation of others, presumably at least some of their writers did indeed view the videos and then consciously chose to misreport what they show. While it may be hard to tell which is the case in blatantly false proclamations like CNN’s “ISIS video shows beheading of Steven Sotloff” and the New York Times“ISIS Video Shows Execution of David Cawthorne Haines, British Aid Worker,” slightly more circumspect phrasings seem to indicate that the latter is in play.

    Consider, for example, the Guardian‘s reportage on the third ISIL “beheading” video. “Militants with the Islamic State jihadi group have released a video that appears to show the beheading of a British hostage, David Haines,” says the article. The use of “appears” appears to be a hedge against the obvious fact that the video does not actually show Haines’s beheading. The irony is that it we know the video doesn’t show Haines’s beheading because the only thing it appears to show vis-à-vis his execution (aside from what seems to be the very real result) is the beginning of a beheading (or perhaps a pantomime of such).

    Other more subtle fabrications can be found in the articles themselves. “In the moments before his death, the 44-year-old Mr. Haines is forced to read a script, in which he blames his country’s leaders for his killing,” reports the New York Times, even though a) there is no telling from the video whether Haines was killed moments, hours, or days later; and b) though it is almost certainly the case that Haines was indeed compelled to read from a script, this is not a verifiable (i.e., from the video) matter of fact.

    In some case the vagaries of the misreportage has led to individual media outlets promulgating conflicting information. On September 2, for example, the New York Times published a story claiming ISIL had posted a video “showing the second beheading of an American hostage in two weeks.” But five days later Times columnist David Carr, in reviewing the same video, notes that “only the beginning is shown and then there is a fade to black.”

    Why such apparently conscious deviations from fact? The cynic would guess that it’s all about selling papers (or whatever is the equivalent in this journalistic epoch). Claiming that the videos actually show beheadings is more sensational—and thereby likelier to attract readers—than being confined to the slightly less lurid reality.

    That the videos do not depict the actual murders has been discussed online, though almost never by any mainstream media outlet. One exception is the Times of London. Within a week of the release of the Foley video, the Times published an article claiming that “forensic analysis” indicates that Foley’s murder “was probably staged, with the actual murder taking place off-camera.”

    The Arabic version of Al Jazeera went further, claiming (as reported by Al Arabiya) not only that the supposed executions were staged, but that Foley likely fabricated his video himself. (Al Jazeera later retracted its “inaccurate article.”)

    While baseless speculation that Foley masterminded the video is not only irresponsible but also despicable, Al Jazeera was correct in pointing out that, as with the other videos in question, the video of Foley does not show his murder, only a staging of it. There seems vanishingly little doubt that Foley, Sotloff, Haines, and Henning were beheaded by ISIL. What is beyond all doubt is that, contrary to what has been widely reported, ISIL has not posted videos showing these beheadings.

    In considering the media’s failure to report accurately on the content of the videos, the media apologist might offer a motivation contrary to the cynic’s. The misreporting may not be mercenary at all (says the apologist): it may simply be the case that, like the rest of us, the media in general revile ISIL and their acts of barbarism—and so why should we bother with scrupulous attention to detail? Does ISIL really deserve that level of care in how we report on them? The bottom line is that they’re murdering people, so who cares whether these videos actually show the murders of the hostages?

    We should all care, and so we should all be disturbed by the media’s nearly universal failure to get the details right. The level of accuracy in reportage should not waver according to subject matter. Distorting details and claiming inferences as facts is work for propagandists and unscrupulous advertisers. Journalists should hold themselves to higher standards, even—and perhaps especially—in cases where our fellow journalists are so unanimously failing to do so that we could easily step over the bar without anyone’s noticing how low it’s been set.

    (Note: The New York Times, Fox News, the Guardian, and CNN were all invited to comment for this article, but none responded.)

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  • 39 Steps is Mysterious Hilarity

     

    By John Farrell

    Any way you look at it, The 39 Steps is a big production.

    Alfred Hitchcock made the film — one of his best — in 1936. It involved everything from the Firth of Forth Bridge (a Scottish landmark) to the London Palladium.

    As a play it is still huge: there are only four actors, and one plays only one role, but as for the others … there are more than one hundred lightning quick costumes changes. (The count is 100, or 120, or 139. Nobody seems to agree.)

    At the Long Beach Playhouse’s mainstage, it is even a bit more complicated, since that theater has a stage in which the audience sits on three sides of the action. So, when the Playhouse announced that it was going to present The 39 Steps as the opening performance of their 86thseason in Long Beach, it raised a question: How would the play be adapted to the theater’s thrust stage, with the action and the stage tricks 10 feet away?

    Director Dale Jones had to solve those problems.

    He had to figure out how to get from London to Scotland and back again convincingly, or at least comically, on what could be an awkward space. Rather than limiting his options, he expanded them with chase scenes run through and around the audience, with delightful comic moments played as close to the audience as possible and with the brilliant assistance of his four co-conspirators. These are comprised of Jeremy Bear, as the unflappable Richard Hannay, Madeleine Heil, as Margaret, Pamela and Annabella, and the two clowns (that’s in the program. It is not a disparagement) who do most of the heavy lifting, Mark Davidson and Michael Chiboucas.

    The story begins in London, where Hannay has recently moved from Canada. He is bored. But soon he is running for his life, with a secret from a dying woman named Annabella about something called, “The 39 Steps,” and a murder charge against him. His only clues leading him to Scotland. Bear is the perfect English gentleman, of course, with his pipe and size 36 suit, his blazing blue eyes (a minor plot point) and the British (but French named) sang-froid that lets him keep his cool even when he is shot. (He survives, of course, or there would be no second act.)

    Heil is perfectly alluring as Annabella, the soon-to-be-murdered international agent and remarkably charming as Margaret, the wife of a Scots farmer, but she is best as Pamela, the woman who Hannay has handcuffed to him for a good part of the second act. She plays tough, but she can be friendly, too, and never descends into hysterics (a perfect example of the Hitchcock blond, which he invented in the film of The 39 Steps. And, she interacts with the audience in a way that is never seen on a regular stage, getting help from the audience when she can’t get her stocking down, drying in front of a movie-screen fire.

    The two clowns are delightful. Davidson is the tall one, and his very thick Scots (and at time un-understandable) accent is hilarious. Chiboucas is the short one, and his face has a fright wig. His performance as Mr. Memory is unforgettable. Together, they portray everything from a hotel-keeper and his wife to the mysterious professor and his wife (it helps to be short). They manage all the set changes, from the train car to the attack with an airplane, with speed and comic dexterity.

    Jones uses a movie screen to keep things running smoothly, with film clips and music provided, along with Hitchcock’s distinctive voice, which is provided by Scott Rattner. While you don’t have to be a Hitchcock fan to appreciate the play, if you are a fan, you’ll notice not too subtle references to other films (“Rear Window” is just one) along the way.

    Hitchcock fan or not, you’ll enjoy every minute of “The 39 Steps,” one delightful laugh after another.

    Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors, and $14 for students. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and at 2 p.m. Sundays, through Oct.25.

    Details: (562)494-1014www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage Theater
    Location: 5021 E. Anaheim, Long Beach

     

     

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  • Educating Rita is Life, Literature, a Smash

     

    By John Farrell

    Educating Rita was written by playwright Willie Russell more than three decades ago and turned into a movie.

    You might expect it to be a bit stale, but in the hands of director James Rice and the two brilliant actors he has cast for the production at Little Fish Theatre, it is a delight. It is both a story about human aspirations and expectations. It is about life that is lived in the mind as well as in the pub.

    Frank, the grizzled and alcoholic college professor who is slowly drinking his life away and Rita, the 25-year-old would-be student who wants to learn everything to get out of her uncultured life. 

    David Graham is Frank, a slightly paunchy, slightly graying man in sweater vests who keeps bottles of alcohol hidden behind the books in his extensive library. His British accent is perfect; his defeated life is evident from the alcohol and the fact, slowly revealed in the play, that he is a minor, very minor, poet who has resigned himself to academic suicide of a sort. He grades papers and gives lectures and tutorials, lives with a woman who took him in after his wife left him and pretty much has given up on life, — though his mind is still sharp and his tongue witty and even occasionally biting.

    Into his office comes Rita (the astonishing, dynamic and exciting Rebecca Reaney) a young woman who loves a book by Rita Mae Brown, Rubyfruit Jungle, and has decided she wants more from her life than working as a hairdresser and spending nights at the pub. Reaney is dynamic, exceptionally attractive and she has no trouble with the British accent — she is British. But it is more than just the accent that keeps your attention and it’s more than just her slow climb out of her limited life to academic success that captivates. Reaney dominates the stage with her personality from the moment she arrives in Frank’s bookish office, trying to change her life when all her friends and family, even her husband. She wants no more for her or themselves than a few pints and a familiar song.

    Reaney’s delightful Rita might well have overpowered a lesser Frank, an actor unwilling or unable to handle her power in the role, but Graham has no trouble with Rita. She has tremendous energy and enthusiasm; he is a bit burned out, but when it comes to talking about life, about literature, he is every bit as articulate as she. Reaney is the power of young life trying to fulfill itself, Graham, a Little Fish veteran, may be playing a character always a little drunk, but he matches her excitement with his own at finding a student who actually wants to learn, who experiences Shakespeare for the first time and transmits her enthusiasm to him when he has little enthusiasm left.

    This is a play to savor. Performances are delightful, even thrilling, close up and about as personal as the theater can be. See it once, even twice. Learn something about life.

    Tickets are $22 and $20 for seniors. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 8 p.m., with one Sunday matinee Oct. 19 at 2 p.m.

    Details: (310) 512-6030; www.littlefishtheatre.org

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  • Ghost in the Meadow is Just Not Scary Enough

    By John Farrell

    Ghost in the Meadow is Little Fish Theatre’s Halloween special this year, but it just isn’t scary.

    Despite the best effort of the actors the play is about as frightening as a flu shot: something to get and get over. The premise: a haunted house in the country with two sisters, one of whom sees ghosts. The other is an unbeliever. This has been done to death in the movies and is too predictable to be scary.

    Add to that that Joe Simonelli’s play, directed by Paul Vander Roest, can’t seem to decide if it is a thriller or a romantic comedy. Perhaps it is because it is just written that way, perhaps it is because director Vander Roest didn’t make up his mind about it.

    Two sisters, Sheila and Kylie Roberts (Sylvia Loehndorf and Jocelyn Christiensen) have bought an old house in the country three hours from Manhattan and are just moving in as the play begins. Sheila wants time to paint, and time to find a new life without her boyfriend Julian Shaw (John Haegele). Kylie is excited, too, but apparently not as sensitive to the atmosphere as Sheila.  She sees a boy in the meadow. The boy suddenly vanishes. The door to the attic mysteriously locks. When Julian, a police officer, shows up to try to rekindle his romance with Sheila, he suggests bringing in a psychic, who has helped the police before.

    That psychic is Antoinette, played with a cheerful understatement by Madeleine Drake. She can sense what is going on, at least with the ghosts, and proceeds after a few more locked doors to lay the spirit with Roman Catholic holy water and Protestant prayer. But what she and the rest of the cast can’t do is make the play mysterious. The ghost story should be prominent, but the romantic story comes to the forefront. The ghosts are spooky enough for a Halloween haunted house — perhaps — but hardly frightening. There are just too many laughs and not enough scary bits for the play to work.

    Tickets are $24. Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. through Oct. 25, with one matinee Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.

    Details: (310) 512-6030www.littlefishtheatre.org

    Venue: Little Fish Theatre

    Location: 777 Centre St., San Pedro

     

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  • Trouble on the Iowa

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    That the USS Iowa is open for the third consecutive year in the Los Angeles Harbor is a victory in itself.

    The floating museum exceeded the Port of Los Angeles’ expectations of 188,000 visitors per year in its first two years, drawing more than 200,000 visitors each year. In 2013, it topped out at 244,000.

    This year, the downtown plaza watercut opened just ahead of the festival of TallShips lead by a giant rubber duck. That  festival drew more than 270,000 visitors during the last three weeks of this summer.

    However, this year’s numbers for the battleship museum are down from the first two years. Despite the summer activity on the waterfront those numbers are still within the expectations of Jonathan Williams, the Pacific Battleship Center’s president and CEO.

    “We are going into our third full year of operations and as expected we are slightly down on year two,” Williams replied in an email correspondence to Random Lengths. “I estimate we will see approximately plus or minus 200,000 [visitors] in year three, which is still above the original market study projections. As mentioned, we have seen a big uptick in group sales and event inquiries the past month, so it is possible that we are plateauing earlier than expected.” (more…)

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  • ILWU Contract May Hinge on TraPac Automation

    How far will new technologies go in replacing the workforce?

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The American flag barely flaps in the breeze, when the sun risesbehind the Vincent Thomas Bridge, as seen from Eastview Little League baseball fields atop

    TraPac’s new automated OCR cranes at berths 134-139 can be seen idle with little movement on the docks from that vantage point.

    TraPac recently has  installed and begun testing the new cranes which utilizes a complete optical character recognition (OCR) solution for every entry and exit point of their terminal. The technology would make the terminal fully automated.

    A source told me that the automated cranes there hasn’t been operating for the past two weeks following a health and safety grievance filing by the ILWU. The union claimed that TraPac’s new technology is dangerous following a dozen accidents on that terminal since the automated part of the facility was finished.

    The new automated cranes even showed problems on its inaugural launch, with all the executives on site. An accident was avoided only by the quick use of the override switch by a union crane driver. (more…)

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