• RLn ENTERTAINMENT: Nov. 18, 2014

    Nov. 20
    Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé
    Izon Eden returns to San Pedro at 6:30 p.m. performing standards, pop, and everyone’s favorites at 5 p.m. at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro.
    Details: (310) 832-0363; www.WhaleAndAle.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale
    Location: 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 20
    Pinheads
    The Pinheads, will perform starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 20, at San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Details: (310) 831-5663; www.SanPedroBrewing.com
    Venue: San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Location: 331 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 21
    Toulouse Engelhardt “Segovia of Surf”
    Toulouse Engelhardt performs, at 8 p.m. Nov. 21, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 21
    Doin Time
    Doin Time, will perform starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 21, at San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Cover is $3.
    Details: (310) 831-5663; www.SanPedroBrewing.com
    Venue: San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Location: 331 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 22
    Dirk Hamilton
    Dirk Hamilton performs, at 8 p.m. Nov. 22, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 22
    King Wing, The Pickle Fiends, Under the Son
    King Wing, The Pickle Fiends and Under the Son, will perform starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 22, at the San Pedro Brewing Co. Cover is $3.
    Details: (310) 831-5663; www.SanPedroBrewing.com
    Venue: San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Location: 331 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 28
    Meredith Axelrod, Craig Ventresco
    Meredith Axelrod and Craig Ventresco will perform, at 8 p.m. Nov. 28, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 28
    Cranking Tunes
    Cranking Tunes performs, at 10 p.m. Nov. 28, at the San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Details: (310) 831-5663; www.SanPedroBrewing.com
    Venue: San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Location: 331 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 29
    Jeff Hamilton Trio
    The Jeff Hamilton Trio will perform, at 8 p.m. Nov. 29, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 29
    Markus Carlton
    Markus Carlton performs at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 29, at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro.
    The lifelong musician plays jazz guitar with new material as well as jazz and blues standards.
    Details: (310) 832-0363; www.WhaleAndAle.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale
    Location: 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 29
    DJ Renaissance
    DJ Renaissance plays the music, starting at 10 p.m. Nov. 29, at the San Pedro Brewing Co. Cover is $3.
    Details: (310) 831-5663; www.SanPedroBrewing.com
    Venue: San Pedro Brewing Co.
    Location: 331 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 30
    Benny Oke & Sound of Worship
    Benny Oke & Sound of Worship will perform, at 4 p.m. Nov. 30, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 4
    Arsenio Rodriguez Project
    An all-star ensemble of top LA musicians celebrating the memor of one of the most important figures in Cuban music history, starting at 8 p.m. Dec. 4, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
    Tickets are $20, $25 and $30.
    Details: (310) 833-4813; www.GrandVision.org.
    Venue: Grand Annex
    Location: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    Dec. 5
    Namhee Han, Rebecca Sjowall
    Organist  Namhee Han will be joined by Rebecca Sjöwall, at 12:15 p.m. Dec. 5, at First Lutheran Church of Torrance.
    Playing from the heart defines Namhee Han‘s approach to music making. Rebecca Sjöwall has been lauded for her dramatic power as an actress with a voice that is “luscious,” “beautifully crisp” and “a powerhouse.”
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.palosverdes.com/ClassicalCrossroads/BachsLunchtime.htm
    Venue: First Lutheran Church of Torrance
    Location: 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance
     
    Dec. 6
    Jimmy Branly, Otmaro Ruiz Quartet
    Jimmy Branly and the Otmaro Ruiz Quartet will perform, at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 7
    17th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert
    The 17th Annual Carlos Vega Memorial Birthday Concert will take place, at 4 p.m. Dec. 7, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 6
    Cliff Wagner & the Old #7 Bluegrass Holiday
    An annual tradition featuring hoppin’ bluegrass along with sing-along carols and hot cider will take place, at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
    Tickets are $20, $25 and $30.
    Details: (310) 833-4813; www.GrandVision.org.
    Venue: Grand Annex
    Location: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 6
    Something’s Funny at the Warner Grand
    Check out outstanding comics, at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, at the Warner Grand Theatre in San Pedro.  Cost is $10 and $15.
    Details: www.GrandVision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand
    Location: 479 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Dec. 11
    Lobby Bar
    Enjoy live music at the Lobby Bar, from 7 to 11 p.m. Dec. 11, at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.
    Details: (310) 265-2800; www.Terranea.com
    Venue: Terranea Resort
    Location:   100 Terranea Way Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes

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  • A First-Timer’s Firsthand Account from the Front Lines of the Public Healthcare Dole

    Growing up I grasped the logistics of healthcare and insurance only in the abstract. In my upper-middle-class childhood experience, things were simple. Whenever I needed medical care, I got it, and as far as I could tell it was good, without so much as a wasted day in a waiting room.

    I had seizures as a child, which could have been a lot scarier than it was. But because my parents were able to get me to people who knew what they were doing (Children’s Hospital of Orange County, or “CHOC”), ultimately it seemed not that big of a deal (which, in the spectrum of seizure disorders, it wasn’t).

    Otherwise, I wasn’t at the doctor’s much. Strep throat brought me there more than anything else. I broke a finger once, got mono, needed a few stitches a couple of times, was on antibiotics a few times when they were actually called for. And of course there were my annual check-ups.

    For the first few years when I was first out on my own, I remained covered under my parents’ insurance plans, so nothing changed, except that I required medical care even less frequently. And so when I no longer covered, considering that I couldn’t afford it anyway, I fell into the pool of relative paupers at the mercy of fortune and whatever help you get when you need medical care but can’t pay for it. Lucky for me, I never found out.

    Years went by without my becoming much more of an earner. Eventually my mother stepped in with some financial assistance, with the condition that I re-enter the world of the insured. Thus did I find myself a member of Blue Cross, which eventually became Anthem.

    My good health luck held, and rarely did I avail myself of my Anthem/Blue Cross coverage, which didn’t include preventive care—ironically, maybe the one bit of healthcare that absolutely everyone on Earth should be getting. Every two or three years I’d come up with some concern so I could get the equivalent of a physical without spending several hundreds of dollars out of pocket, but doing it annually was still cost-prohibitive.

    Then there were the jumps in premium, sometimes tied to age milestones, sometimes tied to market forces beyond my ken, often as high as 25% in a single step. And so early this year, with such a jump heading down the pike and the Affordable Care Act making things more favorable to my getting the government to pick up my healthcare tab, I kissed the world private insurers goodbye and entered the land of Medi-Cal, the California version of Medicaid.

    Elsewhere I’ve documented my struggles to sign up with Covered California—although it only got worse from there. The short version is that, while I have no opposition even to true socialized medicine in principle, my personal experience with “Obamacare” comports with the general opinion that it was implemented with impressive incompetence. Finally, though, after about nine months of perseverance, my State of California Benefits Identification Card arrived in the mail, eventually followed by an informational packet welcoming me to my health plan (administered through a local managed-care provider). From there, a phone call cleared up some final details, such as the primary-care physician to whom I was assigned (I hadn’t chosen one, since the doctor I’d seen through Anthem wasn’t an option), and I was off. I phoned up and made an appointment to get the first physical I’d had in years.

    “Are you fucking kidding me?” I said as I pulled into the dingy strip mall housing my primary-care physician’s (PCP, they call it in the trade) office. I felt like a cultural elitist as I said it, but this was the first time I was seeking medical care in a lot where a 7-Eleven would have been at home. For a few moments I considered blowing off the appointment entirely, but remembering what they say about how not to judge a book, I went inside.

    I was right on time, although while making the appointment I got the distinct impression that appointments were not the norm, and rather that my wait would be determined wholly by the number of people who happened to be there when I arrived. (I had phoned a doctor located a bit closer to home to see whether it might be worth changing my primary-care physician before my initial visit, but when they told me they didn’t take appointments, I decided to stick with what I had.) Fortunately the waiting room wasn’t crowded, so it seemed this would be a non-issue. Through the receptionist window that seemed more like what I expected at a medpot dispensary than a physician’s office I was handed a standard batch of intake forms, including one inquiring about my personal and family medical history.

    This brought to mind one of my initial concerns. When I had set up the appointment, there was no inquiry about acquiring my existing medical records from my prior doctor. And while I knew they didn’t document anything my new doctor needed to know, he couldn’t know that. And in any case, even when a patient is in perfect health, shouldn’t a doctor want to see, for example, the results of the patient’s most recent blood work so that any subtle trends might be revealed before they manifest as not-so-subtle problems?

    Worse yet, the receptionist told me that I didn’t need to fill out anything on the forms, save the highlighted places calling for my signature or initials. “You don’t need me to fill out even the medical history?” I asked with incredulity. Nope. I resumed my seat and filled it out, anyway.

    As a television in a high corner of the room pixilated the way TVs do nowadays when the digital signal is insufficient, offering abstract blocks of color and bursts of incomprehensible sound, I noticed on one of the forms I was being asked to sign a waiver “consent[ing] to the photographing, filming or videotaping of [my] treatment or procedure.” That’s weird, right?

    Before long I was ushered into an examining room, where the chatty assistant taking my blood pressure embarked upon an unsolicited, friendly rant about how busy they had been since Covered California had shuffled off a percentage of their newly insured to Medi-Cal. “All day new customer,” she said with a harried smile. “So many don’t know how to fill out form. We have to spend hours just helping fill out form.”

    I was left alone to take in the dingy walls, the standard-issue informational posters about immunization and HPV. Among them was an “IMPORTANT PRIVACY NOTICE[:] Our exam rooms have open ceiling walls. Please notify our staff if you wish to discuss private and confidential matters so that we can do so inside the doctor’s office or another private location.” As if on cue, I heard the doctor enter the exam room next to mine, where a woman told the doctor the story of her recent hospitalization for a psychotic episode.

    Presently the doctor entered my room. Two problems. The first, while not his fault, was a deal-breaker: his English, while far better than my non-existent Vietnamese, was quite limited. If there’s one person with whom you don’t want a language gap, it’s your doctor.

    But even if my native and only language tripped off his tongue like it does off Tom Stoppard’s, the second problem—which was very much his fault—would have driven me to a new PCP for good. While he seemed like a friendly fellow, he did not spend even five minutes with me. He asked me why I was there, listened to my heart and/or lungs, and then handed me an order for what I presume was a standard blood panel.

    I’m no doctor, I don’t even play one on TV, but I’ve had enough physicals in my life to know that they involve more than a stethoscope to the thorax for ten seconds. I get that I’m apparently healthy and that perhaps anything wrong with me may be more likely to show up in lab results than in the examining room. But doc, don’t you even want to have a look?

    Back at home, I found myself poring over the small list of PCPs in my area, about none of whom I knew the slightest thing. What to do? Then I had what seemed like kind of a stupid idea. Considering that the exterior of the office in which my last PCP had in fact been a perfect representation of what I found inside, why not have a look via Google Street View at the exteriors of the other potential PCPs?

    Seeing an office that looked like, well, the sort of doctor’s office to which I’d become accustomed, I contacted my insurance plan and switched PCPs. The worst thing that could happen, I figured, was that I’d want to switch again—an annoying possibility, but not exactly life-and-death.

    What I learned during that phone call was that switching PCPs is easy. The closest thing to a wrinkle is that you can only see one per calendar month, and so if I saw my new one and didn’t like him, either, I wouldn’t be able to see a new one until the month expired.

    But as it turned out, the difference here was like that between the old and the new was night and day, although that wasn’t clear at first (even if the office was nicer), since this time I wasn’t even presented with a medical-history questionnaire. But it turned out that this doctor liked to ask the questions himself, filling out the information himself as he gave me a thorough interview prior to the thorough physical (after which he scheduled the standard blood panel, which was done quite proficiently in the same office complex). Plus, there was no language barrier.

    The lesson here is simple: even on the public dole, don’t settle. In a perfect world the medical care to which you’re assigned would be top-notch. In the world we live in, it ain’t necessarily so. But that doesn’t mean you have to grin and bear it. There are good and bad doctors in every tax bracket. If you’re not happy with what you get, get something better. It’s your life.

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  • Are We Really the Smartest Creatures on Earth?

    By Lionel Rolfe
    More than 40 years ago, my then-wife Nigey Lennon and I were on our way home to Echo Park when, suddenly, she said to stop.

    I thought it was because she’d spotted a garage sale. Instead it was a woman who had set up a bunch of cages with cockatiels for sale. Some were in the cages and some stood on top of the edge of the cages.

    “Oh, hell,” I said. “I don’t want birds. They’re messy and they’re, well, bird-brained. Stupid.”

    Nigey prevailed, of course, and as we approached the birds, I was amazed to discover that, as we were looking them over, they were giving us the once-over. That unnerved me. And it began a process whereby I came to realize we share this Earth with a lot of creatures who are every bit as sentient as we are.

    Over the next few years, other birds impinged on my life and took me into their soap-opera lives. The bird we bought that day was named Mo. Gurly came next because we walked into a bird store on Melrose Avenue, near my old alma mater, Fairfax High School, in Los Angeles. As we walked around the cage, one rather drab gray bird was intently following us with her eyes and body.

    She peeped and squawked, obviously saying, “I’m here. Look at me. I want to be with you guys.” (more…)

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  • Breaking News! Suspect Staked Out at Numero Uno

    [portfolio_slideshow]

    By Assistant Editor Zamná Ávila and Contributor Phillip Cooke

    Authorities are looking for an armed suspect who ran into the Numero Uno market in San Pedro. Harbor Division Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Gerald Woodyard said that the suspect may be responsible for a number of theft-related crimes in the area in the past couple of weeks. Officers blocked off Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street between 6th Street and 4th Street.

    Officials said the officers and the suspect saw each other, and the suspect ran off and into the market, where he barricaded himself. Police were not sure whether the suspect was armed at the time.

    “There was some detectives who chased a robbery suspect,” Police Officer II Paul Ulmer said.

    “He fled through the allies and ended up inside a Numero Uno market. That was evacuated and now he’s barricaded in there, most likely armed. He’s been seen in the past with a semi-automatic handgun…. He was seen pulling his waistband, so he’s believed to be armed.”

    About 20 employees and several customers were evacuated from the business. “There is always a possibility of a hostage situation,” Ulmer said. “So, SWAT is taking over and they may treat as such, since we are not 110 percent sure that it is completely evacuated.”

    Employees said the suspect entered the business at about 9:30 a.m. Nov. 14.

    “[Police told us] only to get out because he was armed,” said Nelly Lopez, a cashier. “I left the lady there (her customer) [and evacuated].” Lopez said she saw someone running but was not able to get a description.

    “I was there when they evacuated us,” said meat manager Jesús Garcia, in Spanish.

    “[The police told us) that they were following him because he was hiding from the police. Everyone was evacuated.”

    “My partner and I actually saw him pop out of a side door,” Ulmer said. “I think he popped out to check the area to see where our positions were so he could try to get an advantage. At one time he was seen on the roof running around. He got onto the roof. He appeared as he was going to jump over ….  He went back inside.”

    The suspect was apprehended without a shooting incident and the perimeter was taken down by about 3 p.m. Officials described the suspect as a male, Hispanic, in his early to mid-20s, between 5 feet 5 inches tall to 5 feet 6 inches tall, weighing about 120 pounds. Customers at the nearby Farmers Market on 6th Street seemed unaffected by the situation a block away.

    “I don’t know what’s going on,” said Emilia Lafiguera, a 21-year-old military student who was there with her friend for the first time. “We’re in the military. So, I’m used hearing helicopters around.

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  • Ray Buffer Gains New Life in Long Beach

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    On stage he is a monster.

    No, that isn’t a negative criticism. He actually is a monster in his current role, the creation of Victor Frankenstein: tall, threatening, with an unhealed wound on his head, a steam punk monocle and dressed in an almost floor length leather duster that, with his muscular bare arms, makes him intimidating and ferocious, a man whose life has been revived by Frankenstein’s science and who is confused and helpless, frightened and frightening all at once. His monster is no Boris Karloff, speaking in guttural mutters. After all, he has to sing..

    In Frankenstein the Musical Ray Buffer, as actor and director, is just where he wants to be: on stage performing in a musical. You can’t tell he is happy: that is what acting is all about after all, creating a character. But Buffer is in the middle of the world he loves and he wants to keep that world alive.

    The West Coast premier of Frankenstein the Musical recently ran at the Ernest Borgnine Theatre at the Scottish Rite Temple in Long Beach. This was Buffer’s first appearance on stage in several years. He has been in Los Angeles since 1999, trying to make a career as an actor and director. Frankenstein, in partnership with Jonas Sills, is his latest attempt to catch the trophy of success. (more…)

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  • We Don’t Even Teach Democracy in Our Schools

    The failure of teaching by example and how it has affected education

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The founding fathers of this country all knew the value of education. Fifty-six of them were graduates of the first public school founded in Boston in 1635.  Since then, especially after the American Revolution, the federal government has supported and passed laws to support free public education.  Literacy is, after all, the foundation upon which a free people can remain free of tyrants, dictators and imbeciles. Thomas Jefferson understood this when he help to establish the University of Virginia, saying that, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite to our survival as a free people.”

    Democracy is not perfect nor is it immune from electing imbeciles to public office on all levels, but it is better than inheriting them from a line of inbred monarchs. History has proved this to be true. Yet, here we are, in the early decades of the 21st century arguing about funding of public education versus creating some hybrid public-private charter school model of education. In California, the downhill slide began with the conflict between escalating property taxes (think Proposition 13) and a California Supreme Court decision that disallowed the use of State Tidelands oil revenues being used to fund education. (more…)

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  • ILWU, Employers Take Off Gloves

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Negotiations are turning nasty for the first time since the July 1 expiration of the ILWU contract with the Pacific Maritime Association. Both sides have been trading blame through the media for the work layoffs and container backups, which took place on the weekend of Nov. 1.

    “[The] Tacoma [ports] ordered for the night-side [to come to work] but let everybody go at lunch,” said one longshore worker who asked for anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the media. “The PMA is short ordering the cranes, — six guys for five machines. The usual order is two guys per machine. Steady hammerhead operators ordering two guys per machine.”

    His comments were in reference to Nov. 4.

    On Nov. 3, the Pacific Maritime Association, in turn, issued a press release accusing the ILWU of orchestrating work slowdowns in an effort to cripple the ports in the Pacific Northwest. The PMA took the opportunity to frame the narrative by explaining that the two sides initially agreed to have an agreement by July 1 and that when that failed to materialized, the two sides agreed to “continue negotiating in good faith.”

    “The ILWU has reneged on that agreement,” said Wade Gates, a spokesperson for the PMA. (more…)

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  • Port Truckers Resume Strike

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    After four months of intransigent hostility, and continuing labor law violations, truckers working for three port drayage companies—TTSI, Pac9 and Green Fleet Systems—announced they were going back out on strike, starting Nov. 13. However, there have been rumors that one company might settle in advance, because all three have come under increased legal pressure related to their illegal practices.

    What’s more, truckers from seven different companies—the three already mentioned, plus QTS, Laca,Win Win and Pacer cartage—approved a set of demands the previous Saturday in a meeting at the Teamsters headquarters in Long Beach. The set of demands included an end to misclassification, wage theft and paycheck deductions for business expenses, removal of obstacles to labor law protections (health and safety, disability, workers compensation and unemployment insurance) and of obstacle to unionization (misclassification, retaliation, harassment and union busters), and payment of a fair wage for every hour worked, including all wait times.

    Drivers at the first three companies went out on strike in July, but agreed to a cooling off period brokered by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the terms of which the companies have repeatedly violated.   (more…)

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  • Arts District Puts Focus on Art In The Streets

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Dialog is taking place in the monthly meetings of the San Pedro Arts Culture and Entertainment group. The dialog centers on the funding and implementation of public art projects to move the group toward the next level of arts advocacy.

    In 2007, the district received generous funding of $100,000 a year, for a period of five years, from the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles. The Agency was disbanded following the 2010 election of Gov. Jerry Brown.The Arts District group now is on a deadline to meet the requirements of the grant. Much of their vision was laid out in a 2008 plan that included developing the successful First Thursday Art Walk, create artist live work spaces and the planning of the newly completed artist resident building on 4th St. and Pacific Ave.
    Now the group is working to fulfill the plan to assign the remainder of funds before the end of 2015.

    Arts District
    The arts district is home to more than 90 visual artists as well as performing arts venues and art galleries. This wealth of creativity is not always discernable to the casual visitor. The group wants to make downtown San Pedro a recognizable center of art for all visitors.

    The Warner Grand Theatre, Little Fish Theatre and The Loft Studios anchor the district. Warner Grand Theatre is a 1,500-seat, historic art deco movie palace, Little Fish Theatre is a community theater and The Loft Studios is a 3-story warehouse where a concentration of fine artists do their work. The district’s streets are lined with artist live work spaces.

    Studios come alive on the First Thursday Art Walk every month, with gallery receptions, artist open houses, food trucks and live music. But during the remainder of the month it can be hard to find art and artists because the streets seem deserted. Only a few galleries stay open during the week, and some open only during the art walk.
    The San Pedro Arts Culture and Entertainment group is hoping to bring a new generation of mural art to the downtown area by commissioning a $15,000 project that will be announced before the end of the year. The goal is to follow in the footsteps of the great Los Angeles mural projects that had their zenith in the 1970s and 80s. The group called upon advisors from the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy to direct and advise on the upcoming project.

    Linda Grimes, co-chairwoman of the district group is searching for a location for the mural and plans to send out a call to artists for a design that the design review board will approve.

    Utility Box Project
    Locals are beginning to take note of the most recent project, the painting of downtown San Pedro electric utility boxes. The boxes, recently completed, enliven the district with the colorful designs of local artists. Artists were asked to submit designs to the district review committee, staffed by some of the most experienced gallerists and artists working in San Pedro.

    The five utility boxes are all on Pacific Avenue between 5th and 9th streets. You may have observed the artists working on their creations while you drove around town. Zahra Bejune, Casey Courey-Pickering, Miriam Jackson, Monte Thrasher and Adrienne Wade have all recently completed their projects. Information about the artists can be obtained by researching their websites through the QR code imprinted on each box or by visiting http://www.sanpedrowaterfrontartsdistrict.com/.

    The theme for the first stage of this project was “Unexpected Pedro.” However, art in San Pedro is rarely unexpected. The public art projects, now in the planning stages, will add to the many existing public arts projects residing in the downtown area.

    Tour of Public Art in San Pedro
    Out at Point Fermin artists placed their stamp years ago. Beginning at the furthest end of the point, the controversial Sunken City ruins lay covered with graffiti, or street art —depending on your opinion.
    Much to the dismay of some residents, Sunken City — “where the ghetto meets the sea” — has gained worldwide attention with tourists from as far away as Europe and Asia, trekking to the cliffs above the water. Drunken all-night parties, accidents and fights have also added to the colorful reputation of the spot. But the juxtaposition of the wild undisciplined art, along with the breathtaking ocean scenery have driven one neighborhood council to appeal to the City of Los Angeles to open the fenced off area to visitors.

    As you begin to head towards the business district, the beloved Three Eyed Fish and his cousin, the Giant Squid on Gaffey Street stand as historical examples of early street art.

    Street art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned, is executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980s and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations.

    Stencil graffiti or sticker art, and street installation or sculpture, are common forms of modern street art. The amiable San Pedro Cat has appeared surreptitiously in spots around town, only to be removed by unappreciative property owners. In the past few weeks the San Pedro Cat made a surprise appearance on the side of the recently vacated courthouse building. She has also been the target of vandals who tore down a small sculpture of the cat in Point Fermin Park. It appears the popular cat has a growing fan base that has launched a Facebook page to express their appreciation of the cat and her anonymous creator.

    This past summer the port discovered the impact of public art, when they brought in what was billed as “The World’s Largest Rubber Duck,” a creation of artist Florentijn Hofman of the Netherlands. Two-hundred-seventy-seven-thousand people swarmed the Port of Los Angeles and posted selfies online in an unexpected demonstration of what can be accomplished with a yellow rubber duckie.

    San Pedro already has several outdoor and indoor murals that have taken residence in our fair town for many decades. Historic New Deal era Works Progress Administration murals, funded in the depth of the great depression, grace the walls of the Beacon Street U.S. Post Office and San Pedro High School. The school has 9 murals by artist Tom Tyrone Comfort in a series titled, Industrial Life in San Pedro. The subject of the murals beautifully represent the the goal of the Works Project Administration, which was to get people back to work.

    Across Pacific Avenue, the outside of the Random Lengths News office is home to a 1995 mural titled “The Spirit of the Sage,”created by Roberto Salas. The mural is a tribute to early inhabitants of the area, the Gabrielino tribe. At the dedication of this mural a sage ceremony was led by Manuel Rocha, spiritual leader of the tribe. During the installation of the mural, a tragic accident at the intersection of Pacific Avenue at 13th Street took the lives of three members of a local family. The mural is dedicated to their memory.

    Our newest resident artist, John Van Hammersveld recently completed a fluorescent colored pop-art mural for the interior of the Topaz building on 6th St. His work joins the work of other resident artists such as Eugene Daub, who sculpted the bust of Harry Bridges on the San Pedro waterfront. Public artist Michael Davis has also contributed his modern aesthetic with a nautically influenced concrete and glass landscape and sun dial tower at the Pacific Place Plaza.

    Hidden from sight, in the alley behind the Warner Annex, between 5th and 6th streets, is an unsung gem. “Last Night All My Friends Had the Same Dream” by Earon White, is a whimsical mural depicting the nonsensical dreams of San Pedrans, with images of Bukowski and Richard Pryor dancing in their heads. Due to the unfortunate location, this mural is enjoyed primarily by drug addicts and the homeless population.

    According to the Mural Conservancy website, proponents of public art believe:

    That art is for everyone regardless of their status in society
    That the distinctions between high and low art, fine art and folk art are false
    That art should not dwell only in rarefied halls but in the places where people live and work
    That all Americans could be participants in the making of art and that collaborations work
    And last… That the arts can have significant transformative impact on the most significant social problems
    of our time

    Several hidden treasures, too many to list here, are waiting for those curious enough to search the streets of San Pedro. We look forward to even more in the months and years to come.
    For more information about the Arts District, go to www.spacedistrict.org.

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  • POLAHS Principal Scotti Returns

    School Turmoil Offers Lessons for a Private-Public Partnership

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    An air of calm rested upon the Port of Los Angeles High School campus on Monday Nov. 10, following the reinstatement of the beloved Principal Tom Scotti who was brought back after resigning over a dust up with Jim Cross the executive director.

    It was a welcome change from the heated two-week conflict between parents, teachers and students, and the school’s board of trustees. Scotti received a hero’s welcome after an emotionally charged Friday. Students wearing yellow shirts chanted his name as he returned to the job, some unspecified new powers and an unspecified pay package.

    It won’t be business as usual anymore, considering that the schools woes were about more than Scotti’s resignation, or even the continued presence and employment of board President Jayme Wilson and Executive Director Jim Cross—though some think that their days in those positions are numbered.

    The groundswell of community activism to bring Scotti back was but a platform to address long festering issues that the board of trustees was too slow to address.
    (more…)

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