• RLn COMMUNITY calendar: May 23, 2014

    May 24
    Garden Tour
    Join an hour-long guided tour of the gardens of Rancho San Pedro, at 11 a.m. May 24.
    The Rancho San Pedro is inhabited by various flowers, cactus, succulents, and trees. Gregorio Del Amo, a horticulturist himself, enjoyed bringing plants from all over the world to the Rancho in the early 20th century.
    Come learn about the gardens’ historical relevance to the Rancho. Enjoy the opportunity to walk inside and explore the hidden grottos, explore the Rose Garden (it has more than 50 different rose species), see the exotic plants and orchards, and so much more!
    Details: (310) 603-0088
    Venue: Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum
    Location: 18127 S. Alameda St., Rancho Dominguez

    May 24
    Succulent Exchange
    Bring clippings of your favorite succulents to trade and share with Long Beach plant lovers, May 24, at Lincoln Park.
    Bring the whole family for a demonstration of how easy it is to snip and plant these unique and beautiful drought tolerant varieties that thrive in the arid coastal climate of Southern California.
    The remaining clippings can be planted at Lincoln Park and the Civic Center to beautify our common central plaza.
    Details: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECTl3rO7aVI
    Venue: Lincoln Park
    Location: Pacific Avenue at Broadway, Long Beach
     
    May 26
    Memorial Day at Battleship IOWA
    The 16-inch main guns of Battleship IOWA will be the backdrop of a stirring Memorial Day tribute to the soldiers, sailors and airmen who lost their lives in the uniform of America’s armed services.
    During the ceremony, slated to begin at 8:30 a.m. May 26, American flags aboard the historic naval ship museum will be flown at half mast, and a color guard will post the flags of the military branches.
    Rep.Janice Hahn, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino will offer remarks in remembrance of military men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while in service to their nation.
    Details:www.pacificbattleship.com
    Venue: Battleship IOWA
    Location: 250 S. Harbor Blvd., San Pedro

    May 30
    POLAHS Green Festival
    Students and community members are welcome to attend Port of Los Angeles High School’s 3rd annual Green Festival, from 12 to 3 p.m. May 30.
    Details: (310) 832-9201; rbruhnke@polahs.net
    Venue: POLAHS
    Location: 250 W. 5th St., San Pedro

     
    May 30
    Grunion Fish-tival at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Come in style to the “Grunion Fish-tival,” starting at 7 p.m. May 30 from 7 p.m., at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.
    Wear an aluminum hat to greet the grunion and shield yourself from the cosmic rays of the moon.
    Grunions are small sardine-size fish of the silversides family, which are among the few species of fish that risk the protection of the ocean to spawn. The females burrow into the sand to lay eggs as the males wrap around them in order to fertilize the eggs. Then both males and females ride a wave back to the ocean. The fertilized eggs incubate for about nine days in the sand until the next series of big waves during highest tide signals the eggs to hatch and carries baby grunions out to sea.
    The cost is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, students, and children.
     
    June 1
    Fashion Show
    The Silver Fox is hosting a fashion show to benefit the AIDS Food Store Long Beach at 5 p.m. June 1.
    The event will feature Designer Jomo Patterson of JP Designs.
    See the hottest summer fashions by JP Designs as swimwear, T-shirts and underwear by the local designer will be modeled by some of the area’s top models.
    For the past 5 years, the AIDS Food Store’s and the Silver Fox have joined together with local designers to present the season’s best fashions.
    Details: www.aidfoodstore.org
    Venue: Silver Fox
    Location: 411 Redondo Ave., Long Beach
     
    June 1
    First Sunday Speaker Series
    The San Pedro Historical Society presents Craig McDonald as part of their First Sunday Speaker Series, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. June 1, at the Muller House.
    The topic of the talk titled: “Yosemite’s Unknown Heroine”.
    Tours of the house will be given at 3 o’clock.
    Details: sanpedrobayhistoricalsociety.org
    Venue: The Muller House
    Location: 1542 S. Beacon St., San Pedro
     
    June 6
    Sip Of Long Beach
    Sip of Long Beach will meet, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 6, at the House of Hayden in Long Beach.
    Mix, mingle, meet and greet.
    Details: BradPShore@earthlink.net
    Venue: House of Hayden
    Location:  421 E. 1st St., Long Beach
     
    June 7
    Ballet Recital
    The San Pedro Ballet School’s annual spring recital and San Pedro City Ballet’s showcase is at 2 p.m. June 7, at the historic Warner Grand Theatre.
    The performance is choreographed around the classic, “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” and will also feature new works by directors Patrick and Cindy Bradley, and exciting choreography by the San Pedro Ballet staff.
    Tickets are now available through Brown Paper Tickets through June 1. Tickets are $15 for general seating and $20 for premier seating. Tickets are also available the day of the show one hour prior to show time.
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre
    Location: 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro
     
    June 7 
    70th Anniversary of D-Day
    Commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day, from 1 to 4 p.m. June 7, aboard the S.S. Lane Victory in San Pedro.
    Details:lanevictory.org
    Venue: S.S. Lane Victory
    Location: Berth 46, San Pedro
     
    June 7
    Native Garden Workday
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium invites the public to participate in its monthly beach clean-up and Native Garden Workday, from 8 to 10 a.m. June 7, in San Pedro.
    Volunteers learn about shoreline habitats and the coastal sage scrub native plant community, while discovering the benefits of protecting these environments. The collective effort of volunteers who spend two hours removing beach debris and helping to maintain the native garden can make a real difference along our heavily impacted shoreline.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro.

    June 7
    Yard and Boutique Sale
    The San Pedro Historical Society is hosting its semi-annual Yard and Boutique Sale, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 7, at the Muller House Museum.
    Early Bird admission is $5, with the doors opening at 7:30 am.
    Details: sanpedrobayhistoricalsociety.org
    Venue: The Muller House
    Location: 1542 S. Beacon St., San Pedro

    June 8
    Explore The Shore
    Spend June 8 (World Ocean Day) exploring the shore at Cabrillo Beach, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
    Join the “Walk Cabrillo” guided tour of the Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park.
    This free activity will include guided interpretation of inner Cabrillo Beach, saltmarsh, outer wave-swept sandy beach, and the Cabrillo Beach tidepools.  Participants will learn about the cultural history as well as the natural history of the area.  All will experience an informative and invigorating afternoon.
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium
    Location: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro.
     
    June 11
    Seafood Feast Raises Funds for Scholarships

    The Propeller Club of Los Angeles-Long Beach, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Port of Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles will host the 27th Annual Seafood Feast and Memorial Scholarship Fundraising event, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. June 11, at the San Pedro Fish Market.
    The Seafood Feast and Memorial Scholarship Fund was established in 1987 to honor the memory of longshore workers who have lost their lives working on the waterfront and to assist local high school seniors entering college.

    Tickets are $40 per person.
    Details: (818) 951-2842; propellerclub.lalb@verizon.net
    Venue:  San Pedro Fish Marke
    Location:  1190 Nagoya Way, San Pedro
     
    June 12
    Business Awards, Installation Luncheon
    Join the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for the
    2014 Annual Business Awards and Installation Luncheon, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. June 12, at the Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel in San Pedro.
    Tickets start at $55.
    Details: (310) 832-7272
    Venue: Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel
    Location: 601 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

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  • RLn ENTERTAINMENT Calendar: May 23, 2014

    May 24
    Orquesta Charangoa
    Orquesta Charangoa is scheduled to perform, at 8 p.m. May 24, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
    Orquesta Charangoa is one Los Angeles’ most authentic Cuban dance bands, featuring one of the few women bandleaders in salsa, flutist Fay Roberts.
    Details: TICKETS
    Venue: Grand Annex
    Location: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    May 24
    Giacomo Fiore and Ryan Ayers
    Giacomo Fiore and Ryan Ayers are scheduled to perform, at 8 p.m. May 24, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447;
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
     
    May 25
    Suzie Glaze and The Highlonesome Band
    Suzie Glaze and the Highlonesome Band is scheduled to perform, at 4 p.m. May 25, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Susie Glaze & The Hilonesome Band has been likened to the classic British bands Pentangle and Fairport Convention in that they blend classic folk music with rough-edged stories of tragedy and fate, all with orchestral arrangements sounding like chamber music gone folk. Admission is $20.
    Details: (800) 403-3447; www.susieglaze.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
     
    May 25
    Long Beach Soccer Club
    Come out and play with The Long Beach Soccer Club, starting at 9 p.m. May 25, at The Mineshaft Bar in Long Beach.
    Jocks will be selling Jell-O shots to raise money for new uniforms and equipment.
    Details: (562) 436-2433
    Venue: Mineshaft
    Location: 1720 E. Broadway, Long Beach

    May 31
    Laboriel, Zottoli, Reed, Montero & Tedesco
    Laboriel, Zottoli, Reed, Montero & Tedesco are performing, at 8 p.m. May 31, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447;
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    June 1
    Richard Sherman Trio
    Richard Sherman Trio will perform with Bili Redd, at 12 p.m. June 1, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447;
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    June 6
    Hawaiian Slack Key & Finger-Style Guitar Night
    Hawaiian Slack Key & Finger-Style Guitar Night perform, at 8 p.m. June 6, Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447;
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    June 7
    John Kraus & The Goers
    John Kraus & The Goers perform, at 8 p.m. June 7, at the Grand Annex in San Pedro.
    John Kraus & The Goers deliver tunes and ballads with Celtic rock and vintage sea-shanty swagger.
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex
    Location: 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    June 7
    Tri-Fecta Blues
    Tri-Fecta Blues performs, at 8 p.m. June 7, at Alvas Showroom in San Pedro.
    Details: (800) 403-3447;
    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    June 8
    Robert Thies
    Pianist Robert Thies performs, at 2 p.m. June 8, at Rolling Hills United Methodist Church in Rolling Hills Estates.
    Robert Thies is an artist renowned for his consummate musicianship and poetic temperament. Admission is free.
    Details: http://rhumc.org/robert-thies-pianist
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church
    Location: 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

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  • RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS: May 23, 2013

    May 24
    Weekend Closure to Affect 710 Route to Queen Mary Area

    A short-term closure Memorial Day weekend of southbound Harbor Scenic Drive at the southbound Interstate 710 Freeway will require travelers headed to Queen Mary-area destinations, including the Carnival cruise terminal, south waterfront hotels and the Port of Long Beach Piers F-J, to take alternate routes.
    Southbound Harbor Scenic Drive at the southbound 710 Freeway is scheduled to close at 6 p.m. May 23, and reopen by 6 a.m. May 27, for construction related to the Port’s Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project.
    Access to downtown Long Beach via the 710 Freeway at 6th Street, Broadway and Shoreline Drive will not be affected by the closure.
    To access Piers F-J during the Memorial Day weekend, the detour route is the 710 Freeway onto southbound Pico Avenue to Harbor Plaza West. Long Beach visitors heading via the 710 Freeway to the Queen Mary, cruise terminal and hotels are encouraged to use the “Downtown Long Beach” exit and Shoreline Drive to Queensway.
    The closure is necessary during a freeway connector demolition over southbound Harbor Scenic Drive. Demolition of the 710 Freeway/Ocean Boulevard connector ramp is necessary to clear the way for the construction of the foundations of the new bridge replacing the existing Gerald Desmond, and to build a new southbound 710 Freeway connector ramp. The new bridge will be constructed just north of the existing structure.
    Demolition of the connector began May 12 and is scheduled to continue through mid-July. A few other localized road closures will occur during the demolition. The public is encouraged to sign up at www.newgdbridge.com for weekly traffic alerts and download the “LB Bridge” mobile app from the App Store, Google Play or the Windows Store. The alerts and app inform motorists about construction-related detours and provide project updates.
    The closure of the connector will take 30 months. Southbound 710 traffic heading to Terminal Island and the San Pedro area is being diverted briefly onto southbound Pico Avenue, then to an on-ramp that joins westbound Ocean Boulevard to cross the Gerald Desmond Bridge.  Road improvements along the detour route have helped to accommodate traffic in the area.
    Details: Downtown Long Beach detour, Port traffic detour
     
    May 27
    Veteran Opportunity
    Pacific Gateway invites Veterans for an opportunity to learn, participate and connect, May 27 through 29, at the Career Transition Center in Long Beach.
    Details:  (562) 570-3673; roxana.gomez@edd.ca.gov
    Venue: Career Transition Center
    Location: 3447 Atlantic Ave., Long Beach
     
    May 27
    Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners Meeting
    The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners meeting will take place, at 6 p.m. May 27, at the Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices.
    The board will consider authorizing the executive director to execute Change Order No. 5 for more than $2.29 million, authorize addition spending of $2.3 million and approve an adjusted project budget of $35.9 million for Pier T Berths T132 to T140, Shore to Ship Power Retrofit Project and The Ryan Co.
    Details: Legislation Text, Change Order No. 5, TTI Agreement
    Venue: Harbor Department Interim Administrative Offices
    Location: 4801 Airport Plaza Drive, Long Beach

    May 27
    Trauma Awareness Month Safety Celebration
    Learn how to make your home safer, how to prevent burns, and how to make your own disaster kit to have on hand in case of a disaster.
    A free Safety Summit will be take at the Health Enhancement Center at St. Mary Medical Center, 1050 Linden Ave., on May 27 from 9 to 11:30 a.m.
    The first 75 people who check in will receive a free gift pack with emergency supplies. After checking in, participants will receive complimentary flashlights and be entered into a drawing for door prizes that include: dual carbon dioxide/smoke detector alarms, and various other emergency supplies.
    Details: (888) 478-6279
     
    May 28
    Happy Hats
    Join a fun workshop and make a difference in the lives of hospitalized children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses in 50 hospitals throughout the United States. Sew, cut patterns or decorate Happy Hats, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. May 28.
    Details: (310) 787-0970
    Location: 923 Van Ness Ave., Torrance
     
    May 29
    Toberman Neighborhood Center Families Honored
    The National Center for Families Learning and Toyota will honor families at the Toberman Neighborhood Center’s promotion event, from 7 to 8 p.m. May 29.
    The first 34 participant in a ground-breaking family learning program will be honored.
    Projects to connect to the San Pedro community included: college and career readiness activities, packaging food and hygiene kits for the homeless, visiting local senior centers and mentoring other families to do the same.
    Toberman Neighborhood Centeris among the first recipients of the prestigious Toyota Family Learning grant, awarded by the NCFL and Toyota for innovation in engaging families in learning. The three-year, $175,000 funding grant is a part of Toyota Family Learning’s pioneering movement to bridge the gap between the classroom and home to lead to family success and lifelong learning. Toberman Neighborhood Center’s Toyota Family Learning Program focuses on families learning with each other, from other families and by serving their communities through instruction, service learning, mentoring and technology use.
    Details: www.familieslearning.org
    Venue: Toberman Neighborhood Center
    Location: 131 N. Grand Ave., San Pedro
    June 1
    Grupo de Español Conversacional
    Join the Long Beach Time Exchange for a conversational Spanish group, from 3 to 5 p.m. June 1, at the Building Healthy Communities Building.
    The session will start with a short cultural movie and a discussion among people who are fluent in Spanish, followed by small group sessions with people who speak Spanish at an intermediate level. Participants also will practice speaking Spanish in life scenarios that could take place as part of a time exchange.
    Participants can gain time credits for bringing something to eat. Fluent Spanish speakers can gain two time credits for their participation. People who speak Spanish at an intermediary or beginning level can spend two credits for attending.
    The event is free.
    Details: (562) 346-4617; lbtimeexchange@gmail.com
    Venue: Building Healthy Communities: Long Beach
    Location: 920 Atlantic Ave, Ste 102, Long Beach

    June 2
    Green Long Beach
    Monthly Green Long Beach Community meetings, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. every first Monday of the month, at Rebel Bites.
    Details: greenlb@gocatalyst.org
    Venue: Rebel Bites
    Location: 649 E. Broadway, Long Beach

    New Disaster Preparedness Website
    Long Beach released a new Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications website for residents to have a quicker and simpler way to get information on how to keep themselves and their family safe at home and at work in the event of a disaster or major emergency.
    The new website is available at www.longbeach.gov/disasterpreparedness.
    Information available at the website includes:
    A comprehensive guide to personal and family preparedness; links to Federal Emergency Management Agency and other state and federal preparedness websites; how to “be informed and stay connected” to get up-to-date information before, during and after a disaster; how to volunteer and donate responsibly to those impacted by a disaster; and best practices for families with infants, seniors, special needs, and pets
    Details: www.longbeach.gov/disasterpreparedness, www.longbeach.gov/fire/cert.

    Summer Youth Jobs Program
    On May 20, the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network kicked off its summer Youth Jobs Program.
    This year’s program includes resources to help businesses hire a youth employee at no cost to them. Pacific Gateway will provide an average of 100 hours of paid work experience at $9.00 an hour.
    A key component of the program is the completion of Personal Enrichment Training, which provides up to 20 hours of paid training to the youth in the following categories: financial literacy; work ethic; career exploration; and life skills.
    Pacific Gateway’s goal is to place 500 youth this summer in jobs.
    Businesses that are interested in reaping the benefits of the Youth Jobs Program are encouraged to get more information by visiting www.pacific-gateway.org or calling (562) 570-3681.

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  • RL NEWS: May 23, 2013

    Arrest, Charges Filed in 2013 Shooting Case
    LONG BEACH — Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple charges in a 2013 shooting case against 23-year-old Raymond Rene Rodriguez of Long Beach. Rodriguez was arrested May 18 on an outstanding warrant.

    Through the course of their investigation, detectives learned of Rodriguez’s connection to a March 2013 shooting. Detectives believe the incident took place March 22, 2013, on a Long Beach Transit bus with a dispute between Rodriquez, a minor companion and another man. All three people exited the bus and a physical fight ensued between the three. During the altercation, a fourth man came to assist in fighting with Rodriguez and the minor companion.  Rodriguez pulled out a firearm and fired two rounds at the second man. The victim sustained a gunshot wound to the lower body and transported himself to a local hospital.

    A second victim was also injured. During the gunfight, a round entered a family’s vehicle which was parked at the gas station, striking a 10-year-old boy who was seated in the back seat. Once the father realized his son had been wounded, he rushed the family to the nearby police station to summon help. Long Beach Police officers then transported the child in critical condition to the hospital. On May 21, detectives presented the case to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office who filed charges of attempted murder, gang allegations and weapon violations against Rodriguez, a documented Long Beach gang member.

    Rodriguez is being held at the Long Beach City Jail on $2.21 million bail. Anyone with information regarding this investigation is asked to call (562) 570-7370 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org. (more…)

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  • Midsummer Night’s Scream

    By John Farrell

    The view from the Reef Restaurant across Queensway Bay to downtown Long Beach is fantastic.

    The dinner served is elegant and delicious.

    But when the curtain is pulled across the view and one of the cast of A Midsummer Night’s Scream is poisoned before your eyes (and carried out quickly: no CSI action here) you realize, if you didn’t know it when you were buying your ticket, that the evening is centered on murder.

    Unless you have already absorbed six or seven glasses of wine, of course you know where you are and you know that A Midsummer Night’s Scream is the latest in comic dinner theater presented by Act Out Mystery Theatre. They’re back for their 20th production, leaving audiences with a good dinner and dying, as they say, of laughter. Performances are scheduled for May 31.

    A Midsummer’s Night Scream is written and directed by Paul Vander Roest and is much, much more about jokes and satire than it is murder.

    Holly Baker-Kreiswirth, familiar from San Pedro’s Little Fish Theatre, is Mona Desmond (yes, that name is familiar) and when she dies in the first act and then reappears as Lady MacDeath, the detective, you know what’s in store. It’s delightful fun and it doesn’t require much deduction in the process. Bill Wolski, also a Little Fish alumnus, is dead serious as Peter Squints the Butler and, when he comes on again as the very bearded Snitch, the Witch, his transformation from icy stare to melting comedy is complete. (more…)

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  • Baseline for the Department of Cultural Affairs

    By Adolfo Nodal

    I am aware that Mayor Eric Garcetti is currently grappling with the Cultural Affairs Department and what kind of leader he should tap to bring energy and dynamism to the City’s cultural programs. As a seventeen year veteran of the City’s cultural programs including service as a former general manager of Department of Cultural Affairs, past President of the Cultural Affairs Commission, recent president of the L.A. Sister City Association and current festival producer in the City I have an insight from what I have learned from those jobs.

    Obviously the city needs an Arts Pied Piper of category 5 proportions. But that leader has to be the mayor. In Garcetti, we have a leader that cares deeply about the health of the creative community and, by extension, the economic health of the city. As a council member and as council president he did a lot to support the arts and the film community in Hollywood. The Arts Community will not forget his leadership in unison with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to save minimal funding and maintaining that department when several bureaus and departments were merged in 2008 and 2009 and 2010 when the great recession forced severe budget cuts. Today, by definition, he is the mayor for the Arts. His leadership is primary and can’t be delegated but the Mayor and the city council both need high quality help in this area of City Government. (more…)

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  • Night Train To Shanghai

    By Lionel Rolfe

    Night Train to Shanghai And Other Memories Of China 

    Gerald Nicosia

    Grizzly Peak Press

    Gerald Nicosia is probably better known for his non-fiction — Memory Babe is still the major work on Jack Kerouac and his Home To War is a major opus on the Vietnam War — but he also is a real poet.

    Nicosia is very much in the San Francisco tradition of Ferlinghetti, Patchen, Rexroth and Ginsberg — except those guys are now mostly gone.

    I was amazed at how viscerally I reacted to the cover of Night Train to Shanghai and Other Memories of China. He showed a train track running within inches of worker’s hovels, in a place that looked like all the other dreary places on Earth from Camden, New Jersey to Downey, Calif.

    Of course, looking to the East was the hallmark of the Beats in the 50s. They thought the wisdom from the other side of the globe much surpassed our own. For many of us children from that era, China was the land at the other end of the hole we sometimes tried to dig in our suburban front yards. Nicosia looks at China through those eyes he might have had climbing out the other end of the tunnel for the first time. This slim book of poems is better than a thousand long-winded pieces of journalism — he makes the East scrutable and real, with all its anomalies. (more…)

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  • Creating Long Beach Organic’s Latest Community Garden

    Photo by Nate Lubben

    By Mick Haven, Contributing Writer

    Joe Corso looks around, then stoops down and grabs a dirt clod. Standing, he says, “This soil’s hardpan.”

    The pale dirt crumbles and slips through Corso’s fingers. “But we start adding compost, lots of it,” he points at a sloping mound in the corner of the garden. A cantaloupe rind smiles a pale grin on the side of the dark heap, until it gets dark, almost black. “One of many benefits of organic gardening [is that] we enrich the soil,” he laughs.

    The garden director for Long Beach Organic Inc. stands in the middle of their latest addition unofficially dubbed, “Garden Number Nine,” at its inception two years ago. The addition is the nonprofit’s ninth garden. It’s now officially christened the 7th and Chestnut Garden. Around him are neatly arranged planter boxes divided in two: one plot for each gardener and a new water spigot sprout from the ground. Redolent with the piney smell of fresh-cut lumber from the planters, the air also has a cool morning dampness, but the golden rays of the winter, Southern California sun already promise another day in the 80s. It’s the first Saturday of the month, a work day.

    “A city and port gives Long Beach two strikes,” Corso says. “The port deserves lots of credit. It’s one of the greenest in the world, but all that means is the trucking and shipping they do releases the least amount of air pollution compared to other ports. So it’s less negative.”

    Corso’s already organized a few gardeners, a couple of women and a man. They work in the background, wheel-barrowing loads of wood chips from a pickup parked on the street. Using pitchforks, they spread the chips over the walkways between the planter boxes.

    “Living next to a port city increases all kinds of health risks — cancers, like lung, and respiratory illnesses, like asthma,” he said. “Plants take CO2 out of the air and put O2 back — pure positive. All this talk about carbon cap and trade, plant a tree for every plane ride you take, or probably a small forest, it’s hard to measure.”

    He smiles. Another pickup — so full of wood chips it’s sagging on its springs — arrives and Corso helps them find a parking spot. That is tricky in this Willmore City Historic District neighborhood of mostly apartment buildings and a smattering of houses. Now there’s a crew of eight or 10 workers, consisting of gardeners with a plot here, as well as a gardener from another Long Beach Organic garden, and several interns from Cal State Long Beach getting college credit for majors ranging from Human Geography to Environmental Science and Policy.

    “What’s not hard to measure are the direct benefits to the city, community and neighborhood when LBO comes in,” Corso said. They take an abandoned lot and transform it. “There was an overgrown bougainvillea here,” he points at the middle of a six foot wooden fence on the side of the property abutting an apartment building.

    “That we ripped out, — and weeds and garbage. “Homeless people used the bougainvillea to stash their bedrolls, clothes, belongings. The lot was getting used as a bathroom, too. You know, human feces. We came in, cleaned it all up. “When the owner sells the lot, whatever’s built and whoever lives there will have great soil for their yard. “And we do our best to give plots to people [who] can walk or bike to them, so it really is a neighborhood garden, and gardeners are growing their own vegetables and sharing produce with others, saving on transport from far away farms nationally or internationally.”

    He tells one man forking bark onto a path, “Go all the way to the top of the planters because it compresses a lot as we walk on it.” Nodding, the gardener says OK and redoubles his effort. He dips his chin at the man. “Tied up with that — and it’s beyond measure, but it’s there, and I’ve seen it — people are digging in the dirt, growing their own food, sometimes for the first time, and it can be transformative,” he said. “What I always hear from a gardener harvesting their plot the first time is, ‘Wow, tomatoes from the store don’t taste like this!’ Or fill in peas, carrots, squash … nothing from the store tastes as good, — not even organics from Whole Foods because it’s business to those organic farmers. They’re making a living. And this (he holds up his arms and looks around the garden), this isn’t about business.

    “LBO’s community gardens are micro. A labor of love not profit. We can’t sell any of what’s produced from our gardens. You can give it away; you can donate it; but nothing can be sold. It’s illegal. LBO’s not licensed for it. We’re not farmers. We’re gardeners. “And community garden, that’s the best of my job, as far as I’m concerned. Seeing people meet their neighbors. Folks from different generations and ethnicities get to know each other because they’ve joined a garden. It’s about enjoying their neighborhood, which contributes so much to quality of life.”

    Corso turns his talk to 7th and Chestnut’s genesis.

    “The Pacific and 6th plot had a really long waiting list, a backlog from Pacific Towers Retirement Center and MHA [Mental Health America] Village. LBO’s been partners with both for a long time and loves the relationship, so the only option was to find another lot for a new garden, which was what I decided to do three years ago, and I started to look around.

    “I talked to Lena Gonzalez, field deputy for Vice Mayor Robert Garcia, first district’s representative. I’d scouted a couple lots. She suggested another, 7th and Chestnut, and gave me the info for all the owners.

    “After I mailed the three letters, about two years ago, the only owner that responded was Eric Bueno from 7th and Chestnut. “I met with Eric, showed him around some of LBO’s gardens, and he got interested. When we met, I explained what LBO offers property owners: we cover the insurance for the lot and maintain the property, and when the lease is up, we move on, no questions asked if the owner doesn’t want to renew it.

    “About 18 months ago, Eric agreed. LBO took a big leap of faith because we accepted a three-year lease. I wanted five. In the beginning we had a couple of rough learning experiences. “For instance, in the ‘90s, before I was involved [with] LBO, [I] found a plot on Anaheim, east of Cherry, and got it all ready: fence, water, planters. Just before it was about to open, the owner got an offer he couldn’t refuse and sold the property. Now we lock in a lease — minimum three years.

    “With Eric on board, we raised funds and signed the lease October 2013.”

    Corso looks at the fence: a cool sea-foam green and graceful Victorian-inspired steel affair topped in ornate spear heads. “Our biggest delay was the fence — totally unanticipated. LBO’s never gone for a lot in a historic district before — had to get a Certificate of Appropriateness. When I picked up the forms, I was told three feet was maximum height, so I thought that was the end. We’ve got to have security. I know it sounds like a contradiction, community garden and security, but people will come and take the food grown or vandalize the plots, grounds or structures. And our gardening equipment is locked in a shed, but the extra security of a fence provides another safeguard.

    “Luckily, I was told we could get an exception. More forms we had to send through zoning for a zoning modification. We got two more feet, although I’d asked for three. After considering it, I decided five was enough.

    “The process took nine months. Like giving birth (he smiles), which explains why we’re opening about a year behind. “After the fence, we took the funds we’d raised and put them to work. I’d gone for a Grant thinking I’d never get it. It was an online form. I filled it out and got it, $16,000. That’s huge to us.

    “The city had already given us a Neighborhood Improvement Grant through the Neighborhood Partners Program. That’s where Long Beach matches labor and money up to $5,000. We managed to nearly max that one. Timothy Collier, The Green Plumber, donated the labor; the city picked up the tab for materials. We needed a water source and meter.”

    Corso holds up his arms.

    “It’s a lot of work,” he smiles. “The board is all volunteers except for the garden director; the only paid position. So, we’re going to take a break and enjoy the fruits of our labor. No more new gardens for a while. Not until we get another paid position.”

    Long Beach Organic Inc.: www.longbeachorganic.org The Green Plumber: www.callthegreenplumber.com

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  • Hamilton Street Widening

    Divisions over the Hamilton Avenue street widening project immediately bubbled to the surface at the May 19, Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting.

    Former board member Doug Epperhart preemptively called communities proposals to make the thoroughfare a one way street a “stupid idea.”

    The city is moving to widen and install a sidewalk on this partly undeveloped thoroughfare to mitigate the air quality impacts caused by vehicles kicking up dust on the northerly unpaved side of the street. Another reason the city is moving to fix Hamilton Avenue is to address erosion and mudflow issues during rainstorms, which impacts water quality of storm water runoff and catch basins downstream.

    Epperhart told Random Lengths after the meeting that residents should take advantage of whatever monies the city does give to mitigate traffic issues, especially since the broken Paseo del Mar thoroughfare isn’t going to be fixed until the city finds $50 million.

    Coastal resident Christopher Cole was one of those who opposes the project argues that the project places an unfair burden on adjacent homeowners in terms of access to their homes on Hamilton Street (The project is slated to take six months to complete) and homeowners situated downhill on Hamilton will likely have to deal with excess runoff that could cause water related damage on their properties.

    Cole also noted with the widening of the street, there will be increased traffic, thereby making the neighborhood a less quiet place, robbing residents one of the reasons residents moved there.

    Public hearings on the project are going to take place at 12:30 p.m. at the San Pedro Public Library.

    http://empowerla.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Notice-of-Public-Hearing-Signed-2.pdf

     

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  • District 44 Student Artists Honored

    On May 17, winners of the 44th Congressional District Art Competition were honored at Crafted at Port of Los Angeles. This year, Rep. Janice Hahn’s office received submissions from more than 100 high school students from across the district.

    The winners included Angelica Macias, a Compton High School senior who won the competition with her silk portrait titled “My Friend Mirna.” Her work will be displayed in the United States Capitol for the next year beside the winning works from every district in the nation. Angelica also won a trip to Washington, D.C. to attend the installation ceremony for her work.

    Lynwood High School student Gabriela Gonzalez placed second and Compton High School student Geovanny Juarez from Compton High School placed third in the competition.

    The winners were selected by a panel of judges made up of various renowned artists from across Los Angeles and Long Beach. The student art work will remain up at Crafted until June 8.

    Details: http://hahn.house.gov/press-release/congresswoman-hahn-announces-congressional-art-competition-winners-0

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