• Loft Gallery Displays San Pedro Treasures

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Treasures are found everywhere in the part of Los Angeles known as San Pedro.

    The tide pools, at the bottom of the rocky cliffs and hidden inlets, provide endless adventure for treasure hunters. Sunsets viewed from the top of Angels Gate Park can guide you to a state of bliss.

    But local residents also realize that some of the most valuable treasures found in San Pedro are our internationally renowned artists. Beginning April 3, the venerable Loft Gallery presents a new exhibition featuring two of our most treasured artists, Muriel Olguin and Eugene Daub.

    The show is an inspired pairing of two completely dissimilar artists. Each of the artists has brought note and honor to San Pedro. Each has received attention and accolades from across the nation for their work.

    Most recently, Daub distinguished himself as the only San Pedro artist to have a work of art in the statuary hall of the Congress. His noble statue of Rosa Parks was the first to be commissioned for Congress since the statue of Ulysses S. Grant in 1922.

    Muriel Olguin is known as the matriarch of the San Pedro arts. The 90-year-old artist creates fantastical figurative work of animals that reflect her connection to the earth and the ocean, which she developed during her rich life in San Pedro. (more…)

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  • B. Franklin

     

     

    By John Farrell

    If he hadn’t been 84 and afflicted by gout and kidney stones, Benjamin Franklin might well have been the first president of the United States.

    Oh yes, and if the people of the new nation could have forgiven his many dalliances with beautiful women, especially in France where he lived for many years. There, he succeeded in getting the upstart American colonies French military assistance when it mattered most.

    Mind you, he’s not apologizing.

    Robert Lesko is B. Franklin, in a one-man show currently at the Stephanie Feury Theatre in Hollywood. He delights in telling the audience, in some detail, of his amours, his “love of the ladies,” all the while taking care of both his gouty leg and his reputation, which he cares about a great deal.

    Lesko looks the part of the 82-year-old Franklin, near the end of his life but still to serve as a part of the convention that brought about the U.S. Constitution. He is in his room, talking to the audience as though they were visitors (and as he notes he loves visitors). (more…)

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  • CORRECTION: Youth Employment Preparation Fair

    The wrong date for Youth Employment Preparation Fair was published on page 2 of the April 4 edition of Random Lengths News.

    The correct date for the event was April 5. We apologize to our readers.

    Random Lengths News continues to strive to bring accurate news and independent journalism to the Harbor Area for more than 30 years.

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  • Ladies Shook the Earth, and then There Was Jazz

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    At about 9 p.m. March 28, the stage at the Seabird Jazz lounge rocked. Then, it rolled, it shook and it moved smoothly.

    The female quartet Lady Jazz was just into their first set, stirring the room with their soulful take on jazz standard, “Autumn Leaves” when an earthquake struck, as if it was an afterthought.

    The audience joined in with jovial commentary on how their music moved this room. The best part, aside from being safe, was we got to hear the song again, happy recipients of a live replay. Not missing a beat they picked it up with gusto.

    This evening the Lady Jazz lineup was comprised of Lindsey Hundley on piano and electronic keys, Sherry Luchette on upright and electric bass, Lauren Kosty on vibes and percussion, and Rivkah Ross on drums.

    With “Autumn Leaves,” they peeled back complex layers of this number. Luchette’s bass was noticeably clear. I took special note of that, as it can sometimes be difficult to hear bass players consistently amidst a quartet. This was a refreshing change. Hundley’s soulful playing alongside the funky bass, a nice touch of congas and softly-tumbling drums made this number speak out loud. At one point Hundley played classical tones on her piano, the number was well paced and elegant. (more…)

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  • Otto Runs on Plan, Vision

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    Courtesy of Doug Otto for MayorLawyer Doug Otto does not consider himself a politician, though he’s been involved in city government for about 30 years.

    While he has a stronghold within the District 3, where he lives, he believes that he can bring people together more collaboratively as a mayor to develop a new vision for the city, rather than a district councilman.  To him, the mayor has a bully pulpit to offer ideas and lead people in particular directions.

    “The right kind of mayor can have a great influence on people who live in this city,” he said. “I have a long history of running collaborative processes, of bringing people together, working toward a result and achieving that goal.”

    The 65-year-old Long Beach Peninsula resident’s family moved to the city when he was six weeks old.

    After earning his law degree from the University of Chicago, Otto came back to Long Beach, where helped found historic preservation groups.

    In the fall of 2013, after years serving as a Community College Board trustee and several committees within the city such as the Long Beach Planning Commission, Downtown Business and Development Advisory Committee, and the founding board of the Aquarium of the Pacific,Otto decided to run for mayor. (more…)

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  • RLn NEWS of the Week

    Parents Arrested on Suspicion of Infant Murder
    LONG BEACH — On March 31, Long Beach Homicide Detectives, with the assistance of the Fresno Police Department, arrested 32 year-old Nereyda Licon and 28 year-old Joshua Licon, both residents of Fresno.
    The couple was arrested on suspected of murdering 1-month-old infant May 30, 2013.
    Back then, the Long Beach Police Department responded to the 200 block of Pine Avenue because the baby was not breathing.
    The infant was transported to a local hospital and pronounced dead. The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office investigated the case as a suspicious death.
    The results of the coroner’s investigation revealed the parents were responsible for the death of the infant. On March 27, 2014, The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office issued arrest warrants for both parents, who were at an apartment in Fresno.
    Long Beach detectives transported the Licons to the Long Beach Jail, April 1. They are both being held on $1 million bail.
     
    New Power Rates Will Save Terminals Millions
    LONG BEACH — A new long-term agreement between the Port of Long Beach and Southern California Edison is expected to save maritime electricity users within the port’s jurisdiction more than $350 million with the 24 years that follow. (more…)

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  • Mayoral Election Fronts Dynasty versus Golden Boy

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    At a recent mayoral forum, District 5 Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who is running for mayor, quipped about her campaign strategy.

    “Actually, I have two secret weapons: One, I’m No. 1 on the ballot and two, I’m changing my name to Gerrie Schipske-Lowenthal,” she said, nonchalantly. “Someone asked the other day… how I was going to do it. By Marriage, so….”

    The joke resonated with the audience.

    For the most part, there has been a Lowenthal — whether by blood or marriage — on the Long Beach City Council since 1992, when now-Rep. Alan Lowenthal sat on the council for six years. Since then, the Lowenthal name has been undefeated in the council and many people assert it now is synonymous with the Democratic establishment. Bonnie Lowenthal now is vying for the city’s mayoral seat.

    While District 70 Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, former wife of Rep. Alan Lowenthal, says that, “The important thing is that someone with the experience and vision needed to lead Long Beach is elected,” and that, “The last name doesn’t matter, but my experience and dedication to the city does,” there might be some validity to the Schipske’s loaded words. (more…)

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  • RLn Upcoming COMMUNITY Events

    April 6
    Henrietta E. Mosely
    The San Pedro Historical Society presents Henrietta E. Mosely as part of their First Sunday Speaker Series. The topic of the talk titled: “History Through a Lighthouse Lens.” Henrietta E. Mosely is the author of the book Point Fermin Lighthouse Families, 1874-1927. The event will take place, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. April 6, at the San Pedro Library’s Community Room.
    Details: sanpedrobayhistoricalsociety.org 
    Venue: San Pedro Library
    Location: 931 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    April 8
    David Gerrold Delivers Pat Eliet Memorial Lecture
    The Department of English at California State University, Dominguez Hills will host the annual Patricia Eliet Memorial Lecture featuring science fiction author David Gerrold as the guest speaker, April 8, at 7 p.m. in the Loker Student Union Ballroom.
    The lecture is free and open to the public. (more…)

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS

    March 29
    Workshops Announced For Bixby Park
    Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine announced dates and times for three workshops where participants will re-imagine Bixby Park, its community center and playground.
    Starting at 9 a.m. March 29, at the Bixby Park Community Center, attendees will work with architects and parks staff to update the existing park master plan, redesign the playground and prioritize more than $1.2 million in one-time funding set aside for high priority park and playground projects.
    After generating ideas at the first workshop, participants will develop those ideas further in the second and third workshops.
    Whether residents attend or not, they can lend their voice by taking the park survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/BixbyParkUpdate.
    Funding for the master plan update, playground design and priority capital improvements is coming from one-time Uplands Oil funds that the Long Beach City Council and Management for Fiscal Year 2014 set aside. One million dollars was set aside for Bixby Park and $230,000 was set aside for playground improvements in each council district.
    Melendrez Landscape Architecture, Planning and Urban Design will be facilitating the workshops with support from Parks, Recreation & Marine, Public Works and the Second Council District.
    The first workshop is from 9 to 11 a.m. March 29.
    The second workshop is from 9 to 11 a.m. April 12.
    The third workshop is from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 3.
    All workshops will take place at the Bixby Park Community Center.
    A park master plan for Bixby Park was developed in 1991 and updated in 1998. The playground was renovated around 1996 with new equipment that meets federal Americans with Disabilities Act changed requirements for accessibility, and playground safety. In 1998 the Los Angeles County Safe Neighborhood Parks Bond Act of 1992 funded a shade shelter. (more…)

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  • Staring Straight in the Face of a Homelessness Scam

    On the last day of 2009 a man on the street asked me for money. It’s not unusual in Long Beach, but I recall this encounter vividly because immediately afterwards I wrote about it for the Long Beach Post, wrestling with the question in light of our encounter, in which the man presented himself as regretful and humiliated at being a victims of circumstances that forced him to beg for a few dollars so he could take some food to his wife and young child, with whom he was holed up in a local motel because a fire had devastated their home, and effusively thanked me for the three dollars I handed him.

    “Was I being had?” I wrote. “I have no idea. I don’t pride myself on being a great reader of people. Whatever the case, I once again found myself wrestling with the question that overarches any situation of this type: When to give, and how much?

    Today I no longer wonder whether I was being had, because now I know that I was. And I know because last month, just a mile away from our 2009 meeting, the same man approached me with exactly the same story—the fire, the motel, the wife and child, the desire only for food.

    Initially I didn’t recognize him, but as soon as he started in on the story, there was no room for doubt. As I let him take me through the sad tale, welling up with tears exactly as he had four years earlier and presumably has done thousands of times since, my heart raced. I did my best to repress a smile as he handed me a Veterans Administration ID card to backup part of his story. “CULLEN, BOBBY JR,” it read, a deep crease in the plastic obscuring the pictured face. The VA stuff I recalled; the card was a new touch.

    Any second now, I thought, he’s going to be on to me that I’m on to him. But I had the advantage: I’d been told this story only once, and only by him (and written about it, of course), whereas he had given this performance to thousands of people over the ensuing four years. Besides, what were the odds?

    In tears he made his plea, and I handed back the card. “You know, it’s funny,” I began. “It was December 31st three or four years ago—I don’t remember exactly—when you stopped over by the Library Coffeehouse over on Broadway.” “Is that in California?” he asked. That stopped me for a moment. I almost said, “Nice touch,” but I wanted to get to where I was going.

    “Yes,” I smirked. “And you know that. Because you told me exactly the same story, with all the same details—the fire, your wife and kid, being a veteran, asking for food.”

    “That’s impossible, sir,” he said. “We came to town 11 days ago.”

    “Look,” I said, smiling now, “you can do this performance all you want, but you know and I know what this is.”

    “You must have me confused with someone else,” he said, beginning to walk away but seemingly unable to let the act go. “Have a nice day.”

    “Hey, man,” I said, almost gloating, “I see you. You can’t fool me, and you can’t fool yourself.”

    The mask was starting to slip at this point, his combination of artificial indignance and genuine embarrassment almost palpable. “Not all Black people look alike,” he said, backing off down 4th Street.

    “That’s true,” I laughed. “But I’m talking about you, a shameless guy trying to scam people out of money with a bullshit sob story. Bobby Cullen, Jr.—if that is your real name.”

    “That’s not what the card says,” he barked, reminded me very much of myself as a mendacious child desperately trying to deflect my interlocutor away from a lie in which I’d been caught. “That’s not what the card says. Want to look at it again?”

    “That’s okay, ‘Bobby.’ I see you. See you around, pal.”

    “Yeah,” he said, now simply angry. “Keep smiling. That’s a pretty good smile for a White guy.”

    He turned on his heel, and I laughed and watched him, then turned away to sit for a bit on a nearby bench. But I was up a minute later, annoyed at myself for not snapping a picture. I guess during the exchange it would have felt too brazen. Plus, how often in life do you live out telling someone off exactly as you would have hoped? I couldn’t chance ruining the moment. But now I wanted a visual keepsake. I walked back to the site of our encounter and cast my eyes up 4th Street: he was nowhere to be seen.

    I read the words painted on the building at the site of my second meeting with “Bobby”: Raise us above the differences and distinctions that divide us. Lots of ways to take that if you believe the universe talks to you. I’m more of a non-believer, myself. But I’m all for the haves and the have-nots finding the common root. I’m a big fan of transcending all those bad binary relationships: rich-poor, giver-taker, scammer-scammed. Humans on both sides of these divides would be better off if humankind managed to dissolve them.

    Probably we can’t, not completely, but that doesn’t mean we as individuals can’t raise the net level of humanity by playing our small parts: working to minimize both avarice and abject poverty, giving where we can and taking only by informed consent, not running scams on others and exposing those who do.

    Attention all human units: Be on the lookout for man, African-American, late 40s, 5’10”, lean/healthy, neat in appearance, completely bald (head most likely shaved), possibly carrying a Walgreens bad, cries on command, telling a sad tale of a house fire and a wife and child back the motel, he really hates to ask, he’s a working man, he’s never asked for anything in his life, but if you could help him—in any way—get some food for his family. Answers to the name “Bobby,” though there is reason to believe this is not his real name.

    Also be on the lookout for genuine opportunities to help—in any way—those less fortunate than you, those truly in need. When we are raised above the differences and distinctions that divide, there will be no looking down on anyone.

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