• Theatre House Openings are Turning San Pedro into a Destination

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    Isn’t it nice to be able to say “San Pedro’s second-newest theater company?”

    For more than 10 years, Little Fish Theatre on Centre Street was the only action in town: often imaginative, very successful and just a little lonely.

    Lonely? They could sell tickets without competition, except for the on-again, off-again productions at the Warner Grand. But ask any theater professional and they’ll tell you that loneliness is overrated. What you gain by having no competition you lose because the theater-going public (you know who you are) just doesn’t have a lot of choices.

    Now San Pedro has three theaters in regular production: Little Fish with a regular season every year (and Shakespeare by the Sea in the summer,) the San Pedro Theatre Club bringing its musical productions to Pacific Avenue and Theater Elysium San Pedro Repertory, which operates out of a former doctor’s office on Seventh Street, just an alley away from Little Fish.

    San Pedro Rep is not, quite, the newest show in town: San Pedro Theatre Club opened first. But if it isn’t the youngest, it certainly is the most imaginative. In four production this year it has won critical acclaim from the Daily Breeze, Broadway L.A., and the Huffington Post. Its production of Aeschylus’ Oedipus, which continues at San Pedro Rep through Dec. 21 is as spectacular and innovative as ever. (more…)

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  • RLn COMMUNITY Calendar: Nov. 19, 2014

    Nov. 26
    San Pedro Kiwanis Club
    The San Pedro Kiwanis Club meets, at 12:10 p.m. Nov. 26, at The Whale & Ale in San Pedro.
    Venue: The Whale & Ale
    Location: 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
     
    Nov. 28
    Farmers Market
    Attend San Pedro’s Farmers Market, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 28, on 6th Street between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street
    Venue: 6th Street
    Location: Between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street, San Pedro
     
    Nov. 29
    Waterfront Market
    Attend Waterfront Farmers Market, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 29, on Berth 84, at the foot of 6th Street and Harbor Boulevard.
    Venue: Berth 84
    Location: 6th Street at Harbor Boulevard., San Pedro
     
    Dec. 5
    The Universe Below: Explorations of Life in the Deep Sea
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites you to meet Dr. Shana Goffredi, professor of Biology at Occidental College, who will be speaking at the Discovery Lecture Series presented by AltaSea and the aquarium, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 5.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Dec. 6
    Tidepool Wonders
    Explore low tides on the rocky shore, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 6, at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.
    The area offers a home to a variety of local tidepool animals and seaweeds. Among the organisms are tidepool sculpin, sea urchins, sea hares, hermit crabs, feather-boa kelp, and an occasional octopus.  An accessible pathway leads to the edge of the tidepools.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro
     
    Dec. 6
    Handmade in South Bay Holiday Boutique
    Check out the handmade-only crafts from Harbor Area artisans, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Dec. 6, at Crafted at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro
    The event will include a DJ, raffle baskets for charity, demonstrations and an artists’ alley.
    Venue: CRAFTED at the Port of Los Angeles
    Location: 112 E. 22nd St., San Pedro
     
    Dec. 6
    A Civil War/Victorian Christmas
    Be part of a joint celebration, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 6 and 7, at the Banning Museum in Wilmington.
    The event will include Santa Claus, trolley ride, crafts, food and tours.
    Details: (310) 548-2005, www.thebanningmuseum.org
    Venue: Banning Museum
    Location: 401 E. M St., Wilmington
     
    Dec. 7
    Holiday Spirit of San Pedro
    Enjoy the 34th annual Holiday Spirit of San Pedro Parade, from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 7, in downtown along Pacific Avenue to 6th and Palos Verdes Streets. Details: (310) 832-7272; www.SanPedroChamber.com
    Venue:
    Downtown San Pedro
    Location:
    Along Pacific Avenue to 6th and Palos Verdes Streets
     
    Dec. 7
    The Living Landscapes of Terranea Walk
    Take a one-hour hike exploring the lush history of plants around the resort and why they were chosen for the property, starting at 10 a.m. Dec. 7, at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes.
    Details:
    (310) 265-2851; www.Terranea.com
    Venue:
    Terranea Resort
    Location:
    100 Terranea Way Drive, Rancho Palos Verdes
     
    Dec. 11
    Open Mic Nite
    Mike Rivero emcees an all talent music, poetry and comedy, from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 11, at Off The Vine in San Pedro.
    Venue:
    Off The Vine
    Location:
    491 W. 6th St. #103, San Pedro
     
    Dec. 11
    Literary L.A.
    Check out a readers salute to Lionel Rolfe’s book, Literary L.A., at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 11, at Warszawa Loft in Santa Monica.
    Details:
    (323) 762-6073
    Venue:
    Warszawa Loft
    Location:
    1414 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica
     

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  • Toulouse Engelhardt’s New CD Mind Gardens Comes Alive at Alvas

    Review by B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

    Twelve-string, finger-style guitarist Toulouse Engelhardt returns to Alvas Showroom Nov. 21 for a concert supporting his new CD Mind Gardens.

    Engelhardt’s Mind Gardens is a work of sublime beauty and grace. Each track takes one into the world of acidic neo-folk music. He subtitles this recording as “13 Novelettes of Space, Time and Contemplation” is not as odd as it may sound.  It is a musical story played with a dramatic whimsy of surrealist tone poems, which have a beginning, middle and end.

    His opening track, “Nierika,” is a textured piece that places the listener in a contemplative mood for a journey to your mind. Where in theTheme to The First Annual Bluebelly Lizard Roundup,” the 12-string maestropicks up the pace with a delightful frenzied round up of critters that one could only imagine.

    Track 10, “Lady of The Light” is about the tale of a lighthouse keeper’s wife who died or a woman who committed suicide along the cliff’s at the Point Vicente Lighthouse. There are various stories on the sightings of this woman in a white dress with long, wet, black hair. Here we have a song with emotion and wonder.

    Engelhardt as  “The Segovia of Surf” doesn’t fail us with his version of Dick Dale’s “The Wedge.” Its wild Gypsy rhythms cutting through the air like a surfer switching back and forth on the waves along the Palos Verdes coast. Totally bitchin’ bro!

    The closing track is a duet with an alto flute, “Dialogue With An English Rill” is a gorgeous song dedicated to his British bride.

     

    Mind Gardens  is a sonic treat for acoustic guitar lovers, Engelhardt will be bringing this album to life at Alvas Showroom on Nov. 21.

    Details:www.alvasshowroom.com

     

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  • 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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