• Ports Approve Deeply Flawed CAAP

    • 11/09/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Wide-ranging public objections ignored

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On Nov. 2, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach approved an update to their Clean Air Action Plan in a public meeting that left many local residents deeply disappointed with the yawning gap between the lofty rhetoric and the grimy details.

    “Today really is a day to celebrate,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka proclaimed.

    But many public commentators disagreed.

    Laura Cortez of East Yards Communities for Environmental Justice, summed up the feelings of many.

    “When the new CAAP came out I was excited to see zero missions as a priority for this port complex,” Cortez said. “I now feel disappointed at the lack of follow-through with the excuse of technology neutrality and the expense of big business, and the feeling that this meeting is simply a formality, and that you have already made up your minds.”

    “We are not looking to have close to zero-emissions what we want is zero-emissions,” said Evangelina Ramirez, who works with the Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma.

    “This is supposed to be valid zero-emission plan that we’ve been waiting for,” said Morgan Wyen, of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But instead, it treats zero-emission trucks and near-zero exactly the same, until it is too late, basically the last year of the deadline, 2035. It does not even meet the most basic requirements of the mayors’ joint declaration for, I quote, ‘measurable milestones to help ensure progress.’”

    Instead of milestones, it offers only a range of projections. For trucks, these start with 1 to 14 percent zero-emission trucks in 2024, and conclude with 55 to 100 percent in 2036. Even then, the year after the stated goal date, non-zero-emission trucks will still be allowed at the ports, but will be charged a higher access rate.

    Another major flaw is the failure to protect port truck drivers, who bore the lion’s share of the first Clean Trucks Program’s cost, due to illegal misclassification as ‘independent owner-operators’ and diabolic lease agreements. As things stand, they could be forced to buy near-zero trucks in the next few years, followed by zero-emission trucks in the decade after that. “Why is it that we have to pay for the clean air?” port trucker Manuel Rias asked during public comment.

    He did not receive an answer.

    “A truck driver doesn’t properly stop at a sign in the ports and we are banned,” port trucker Seko Vaina said. “So, if companies doing business in the ports are to abide by local state and government law, then why are these companies not banned?”

    He, too, received no answer.

    Renée Florez is a port trucker who was fired after sharing his story with USA Today, losing all the equity in his truck — an arrangement based on violating both state and federal labor laws, yet it would still be allowed under the new CAAP.

    “For four-and-a-half years I had to pay for a truck which was supposed to be for clean-air,” Florez said. “Working 20 hours a day, six days a week. And even then I wasn’t able to pay the high cost for this clean air truck.”

    “I lost my house and health behind the first program,” trucker Tracy Ellis said. “You are getting away with murder.”

    While the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Eric Garcetti and Robert Garcia, were overwhelmingly upbeat in their assessments, delivered at the start of the meeting, mayors from two nearby cities struck a decidedly different tone, which was echoed in many public comments.

    “My constituents don’t want to wait 17 years for clean air, they expect clean air now,” Montebello Mayor Vivian Romero said.

    Her city is surrounded by four freeways.

    “I have three inhalers that I have to live with on a daily and a regular basis,” she said, holding up her inhalers for everyone to see. “It’s not the trucker’s fault, it’s the fuel that is the problem here. They need to bring the goods into the interior of the country, but it’s being subsidized by lungs like mine and the overall health of my residents, and all of our community’s residents.”

    South Gate Mayor Maria Davila struck a similar theme.

    “I represent a community with the highest level of asthma, diabetes and obesity,” she said. “I lost a husband from asthma and I have three kids with asthma. It’s very personal to me to be here and to ask you to please take action now to make this possible earlier than later…. We need clean air now.”

    Joe Lyou, a board member at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, was more measured, but also disappointed. He cited three significant failings in the plan. First, enforceable reductions in nitrogen oxide emissions.

    “That’s what we need at South Coast [Air Quality Management District] and that’s what we need to prove to the [Environmental Protection Agency] that we can provide,” he said. “I also would have preferred a set of detailed interim and credible milestones that would have put us on a path to your zero-emission goals…. Those are outstanding goals, but we really need to know how we’re going to get there. Unfortunately, these things aren’t in the plan.”

    Lyou acknowledged that the port board members “could think it would be a little too much to make those changes right now,” but did have a third missing piece that was easily fixed.

    “You can agree that you will set your heavy duty truck access rate in a way that will encourage and prioritize the replacement of the oldest trucks, the 2007 to 2009 trucks that are on the road today,” he said. By committing to this graduated rate — that is lower for the newer trucks and higher for the older trucks —you help get the oldest and most polluting trucks off the road sooner, rather than later.”

    The early testimony was dominated by paid industry representatives, most representing or supporting natural gas. But two such speakers disrupted things a bit.

    First, Tom Fulks from the Diesel Technology Forum spoke to “express our appreciation for your balanced approach to reducing emissions,” thus making a mockery of everyone else using the bogus “balanced approach” narrative. He then showed how twisted “balance” can become, saying, “The old diesel, we agree, needs to be cleaned up.” He also called “clean” diesel “the preferred technology for truckers,” even though almost all truckers have zero say about what sort of truck they drive.

    On the opposite extreme, Daniel Witt, from Tesla, said that their new heavy duty model would be “unveiled in a couple of weeks,” and that “Zero-emission technology is going to be here a lot sooner than people realize. It’s going to be a true economically viable alternative to the technologies that have the greatest market share today.”

    “You have a responsibility today, that for our children in our communities, this plan needs to go further,” said Sylvia Betancourt, Long Beach Alliance for Children With Asthma project director. “We know a lot of work went into it, but zero emissions technologies do exist…. You heard a lot of commentary from natural gas, but that is just the detour on our way to what we know is a viable technology.”

    “This is not the ‘Nearly Clean Air Action Plan,’ it is the Clean Air Action Plan and we need to get to electrification as soon as possible,” said Carrie Scoville, who represented Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council on the Port Community Advisory Committee for about a decade. “Transit agencies across [Los Angeles] County are already there. Foothill Transit already has electric buses. We have, in Southern California, Proterra, Kinkisharyo, BYD, Complete Coach Works. These are all companies that are building electric buses here, now, today to meet the demand of Los Angeles transit agencies. We also have Phoenix Cars that builds electric flatbed trucks. We have US Hybrid which builds semis, hybrids and fuel-cell trucks. It’s already here. Why are we talking about natural gas?”

    “I disagree with the statement that the CAAP is technology neutral,” said Sherry Lear, co-organizer of 350 South Bay Los Angeles, a climate action group that also works on environmental justice issues. “The CAAP should not be technology neutral… You should be advancing and promoting the cleanest energy technology that we have to get zero-emissions as quickly as possible. We can electrify the port from its rail system, to its crane operations, to — as we heard from Tesla — electric big rigs…. We have this technology.

    “The City of LA, the County of LA are going to have 100 percent electric buses here in the next few years. There’s no reason we can’t be doing this with technology across the board, including the big rig trucks.”

    Richard Havenick, a key San Pedro activist who relentless pushed the transition to low-sulfur ship fuel, raised the issue of inaction with regard to ships.

    Existing ships can be modified to achieve Tier 3 reductions [far below Tier 2 levels]. Ships remain the top contributor — particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, hydrocarbon — those are the top contributors,” he said. “Work with [California Air Resource Board], ARB is your friend. That’s not in your plan.”

    Peter Warren, with the San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners Coalition, echoed others’ call for zero-emission milestones, but pointed to deeper methodological and governance problems as well.

    “The ports must change reporting in the CAAP with regard to air quality,” Warren said. “Repeated comparisons to and use of the 2005 baseline is deceptive…. This decade-old baseline allows the ports today to report major percentage declines in nitrogen oxide and particulates, but that progress ended in 2010. Since 2011 air quality measures have been static, according to the ports’ own annual survey. Air quality has not improved in the past seven years. We need honest reporting.

    “Most importantly, the CAAP fails to create a vigorous and transparent monitoring of compliance. The China shipping scandal shows the ports can and will provide to industry secret waivers to mitigation rules and agreements — in the case of China Shipping, even a court-approved settlement was secretly violated for years. We need compliance monitoring…. The ship plan has gone backwards in the CAAP process. The ships are the largest sources of nitrogen oxide and particulate matter, technology exists today to reduce at-dock pollution, either through AMP [electric power] or bonneting [capturing emissions]. We need funding to support this. It should be deployed now.”

    In the end, Laura Cortez appeared to proven correct, that the meeting was simply a formality, and that commissioners had made up their minds. Perhaps most tellingly, an unfazed Commissioner Anthony Pirozzi returned to two key problematic themes that much of the testimony had challenged — “balance” and “technological neutrality.” He mentioned the first only briefly, before saying, “One of the elements of this CAAP that I believe is important to reiterate and that is that it’s technology neutral. You don’t want to pick one over the other, because something new may come around.”

    He then gave a brief Wikipedia-style history lesson. In the late 1800s, when lamps were gas-powered, “Thomas Edison came along, he created DC or direct current, which was made the standard at that time, and imagine if it was the standard today,” Pirozzi said. “Who changed that standard? Nikola Tesla. He came here as an immigrant from Europe and created an alternate current. So, today who did we hear from on a technology that’s coming in the future? The company name Tesla. Now you know why they’re called ‘Tesla.’ It’s a great story.”

    A great story? Yes. But Pirozzi was quite literally using it to argue for the continued use of gas. You know—the light source before the source from Tesla. It’s a perfect illustration of just how muddled the port’s thinking continues to be on the most important issue of our time.

    The plan was approved unanimously.


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  • Beyond the Shock, the House Resistance Forms

    • 11/09/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Shortly after it was announced that a grand jury handed down a 12-count indictment against former Donald Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and another campaign official, Rick Gates, Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA 33rd District, called upon Speaker of the House Paul Ryan to protect Robert Mueller’s investigation.

    “We’ve been down this road before,” Lieu wrote in an emailed message to supporters. “Trump fired then-FBI Director James Comey in order to “relieve pressure” from the investigation into Russia’s involvement with electing Trump. If Trump attempts to fire Robert Mueller or otherwise interfere with the investigation, Congress must step in. I am working on legislation to protect the Special Counsel from being fired.”

    We were not able to get Rep. Lieu’s recollection of his reaction on election  night in time for inclusion in this story, but he’s on record as saying he was as shocked as anyone, but gave Trump the benefit of the doubt. At an April 2017 town hall meeting, Lieu said that benefit ended not long after Trump’s inauguration.

    Rep. Nanette Barragan has bittersweet memories of the night she was elected to congress in the 44th District, succeeding Janice Hahn, who’s now a  Los Angeles County supervisor

    “I remember getting into my car; I had the radio on and I remember the commentator saying Trump has won another state and it looks like he’s going to become the next president of the United States, and I said to myself, ‘Did they make a mistake? What’s going on here?’” Barragan recounted. “Then I got to my campaign office and by then, as the reports were coming in, it was pretty much he was going to win. But they hadn’t called it yet. My office … there was just complete silence. I was in shock. A lot of people were really sad. By the time they called it, people were crying. We were in a state of disbelief and shock.

    “It was bittersweet in that sense. When our numbers first started coming out, we were down by, like, 16 points. It was still kind of a downer night. It wasn’t until a couple of hours later when we took the lead that there was some sense of celebration but the shock of what was happening to the presidency was still there. We were all still celebrating my outcome but we were all wondering what [Trump’s victory] meant for the country and what it would mean for me coming into Congress with a Trump presidency.

    “Under Trump, this country has changed for the worse. He has been a disaster. The reality is everything he has been doing has been to undo progress that we have made over the past several years. He has turned this country into a divisive one. He has negatively impacted people’s lives.”

    Barragan, noted that the 44th District is 70 percent Latino and that people are living in fear.

    “They are worried that their families would be split up,” Barragan said.  “There are families being split up because they are at the wrong place at the wrong time.

    “If he has his way, we will see cuts in the Environmental Protection Agency that will dramatically impact the districts that rely on the EPA to help curb air pollution. And we need that. We already live in a district that is one of the most heavily polluted. He’s proposing cuts to homeless programs and community block grants that’s aimed at curbing homelessness. And in Pedro, we’ve seen an explosion in the homeless problem. They are not investing in the things that we need and Trump is behind that…. He is devastating not only to the country but the 44th Congressional District in particular.”

    Rep. Alan Lowenthal, 47th District, described the Trump presidency of the past year as an undoing of all the progressive politics of the past 30 years, and noted that that, too, was a shock.

    “When Mr. Trump was first elected, I thought he was taking us in the wrong direction,” he said. “And now, I’m convinced that he is.”

    Lowenthal went on to say that whereas, the United States used to be a beacon of hope throughout the world, he believes it has lost that ability to lead and inspire people.

    “You know when it comes to the presidency, I always want, regardless of who the person is, someone who my kids and my grandkids could really look up to and say, “That’s the president.” I just cannot say that about Mr. Trump,” Lowenthal said. “All he does is belittle people and attack people, and if you don’t agree with him—he puts you down.”

    Barragan recounted the Democratic struggles of pushing their own agenda while keeping track of Trump’s actions, noting that he’s governing in such a way where he’s asking Congress to save him and the country from himself. Barragan notes that this has created an additional strain, forcing Congress to determine if his actions are even constitutional rather than focus on their agenda.

    Barragan quickly noted there are a number of congressional Republicans, who are willing to work with Democrats … just as long as they are not seen doing it.

    “The fascinating thing is in Congress, there are actually a number of members across the aisle on the Republican side who don’t even agree with the president and don’t like the president,” she said. “So there are opportunities for us to actually work together with members across the aisle and we have to find those members. Some of them have been vocal and you don’t have to look very far.”

    Barragan pointed out Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker as an example. Unfortunately, vocal Republicans like these have limited time in Congress; they are either retiring, or in Arizona Sen. John McCain’s case dealing with a potentially terminal illness. Basically they have nothing to lose.

    Lowenthal described a similar experience of disappointment.

    He was at a Long Beach restaurant with some of his campaign staff, friends and family, watching the returns come in.

    “We started off with such great excitement and anticipation that Hillary Clinton would be our next president,” Lowenthal said.

    “Early on, I thought we were going to do OK, we were ahead in Pennsylvania — remember we came out of Philadelphia ahead … and we ultimately did win in Virginia, but it was close at that time. Even then, it was a real squeaker.”

    Lowenthal still thought Clinton was going to win.

    “Then the returns from Pennsylvania — as it got towards western Pennsylvania, I thought ‘Oh my God!’” he remembered. “And then we got through the Midwest and I thought, ‘Oh no!’ These were states we were just counting on. By the time it got to California, I was desperately hoping that we would win those contested states. I think we lost Michigan by just 50,000 votes. I was hoping that we’d win that. It was just a feeling of depression that grew stronger and stronger as the night went on. It was just such a shocker.

    “By the time we heard the final results coming in—it was a major depression. I could not believe it. I just didn’t — I had no words to describe it. Of all the things that I anticipated might happen that day — Mr. Trump being president was not one of them. It was just such a shock.”

    While Southern California’s Democratic representatives have uniformly opposed Trump’s agenda, none have been quite as vocal and active as Rep. Ted Lieu.

    Lieu, who his running for reelection in 2018, formed a political action committee he called the Leadership, Integrity, Engagement, Unity PAC — whose initials spell out his last name.

    The committee has worked on defeating Trumpcare, supporting the effort to flip 14 incumbent Republican districts while retaining Democratic incumbents such as Sacramento Reps. Doris Matsui, Pete Aguilar, Raul Ruiz and Scott Peters.

    “As the saying goes, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,’” concluded Lieu in his letter to his supporters. “And now, we have a raging five-alarm fire!”

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  • How Soon? How Much?

    • 11/09/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    The missing pieces of the 50-year environmental battle

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    On Nov. 2, the joint commissions at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach voted unanimously to approve the Clean Air Action Plan 2.0. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti  called this a visionary action that would affect the lives of millions and those of generations to come. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia  mostly agreed. But this document was signed despite vocal criticism from the community advocates who have been pushing for policy changes for decades.

    The Clean Air Action Plan is in direct line with a growing policy shift that has been taking place for the past 20 years here in the San Pedro Bay. It is also in direct line with the climate change initiatives of Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Legislature, for example, the extension of California’s cap and trade program and the policies of multiple agencies from the California Air Resources Board to the South Coast Air Quality Management District. The problems with the visions of zero-emissions future is the strategy on how to get there and the $14 billion cost. This is where the community, environmental groups and some labor activists part ways with the ports. Yet the accomplishments of the existing clean air action plans and the activism from the local area have been recognized around the world.

    This division might appear to be a difference between tactics and strategy, but it belies a deeper rift in the state and city governments: Blue Democratic leaders confronted by more progressive, vocal and organized Bernie-crat activists demanding action now, not more promises on zero-emmission later.

    The interim step seems to be the promotion of natural gas vehicles as the port claims truly emission-free trucks are not ready for prime time. Yet other agencies, like the transit authority, are almost 100 percent emission-free now (See front page story in this issue for more on this).

    However, the truth of this claim could be easily ascertained when the two ports issue a joint request for proposals calling for the cleanest technologies available to replace diesel trucks and other mobile yard equipment for a pilot project. Either the zero-emission technology exists now or it doesn’t.

    With all of the current buzz about promoting blue tech solutions and STEM education, it would seem to be incumbent upon the two ports, the two cities and the State of California to host a clean tech convention just to see who shows up and see what works.

    What has been left out?

    What was also left out of the Clean Air Action Plan meeting was any kind of official recognition of the community activists from the San Pedro Bay communities that have fought with the ports for decades on environmental issues.

    Yet, at the Moving Forward Conference in Carson recently, Christine Loh, former undersecretary for the environment in Hong Kong said, “The inspiration for us [was] in looking at ships started in Long Beach.”

    Dennis McLerran, the Environmental Protection Agency’s regional administrator for Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho during the Barack Obama administration, told similar stories of how [community] actions in Southern California helped initiate change all along the West Coast. The actions of local environmental justice groups have spread far and wide since the clean air issues being addressed here have  global implications. Everyone knows this, but little credit is given to community leaders who pressed our governments to change.

    For the past 20 years leading all the way to the Clean Air Action Plan update meeting in 2017, the entire focus has been on cargo movement. From the Alameda Corridor to China Shipping, to the Green Omni Terminal and to the 2006 Clean Air Action Plan, everything was about global trade. Not much was said about human mobility in the greater San Pedro Bay region. The priority placed on goods movement above environmental impacts is the core conflict facing the ports or more precisely, profits before people. This is similar to the dilemma we faced a decade ago when the issue was good jobs versus green solutions. At the time, it was incomprehensible that blue collar unions would ever embrace environmental goals. Yet they now have. The solution to this current dilemma should not be an either/or proposition, but a both people and profits proposition.

    The missing piece of the Clean Air Action Plan 2.0 is a comprehensive human mobility plan that takes a look at how the ports take cargo off the streets, how people move into and out of the harbor region, like the million passengers coming from LAX to the cruise ships each year, or the 800,000 tourists that visit our waterfront. This is going to take more than bike lanes and road diets to solve as the cities continue push for higher density housing to address yet another crisis.

    Global impacts as Brown takes the global lead

    No one seems more attuned to this global impact than California’s Gov. Jerry Brown, who traveled this past week to meet with religious leaders at the Vatican before pushing for greater climate collaboration between California and the European Union amid hundreds of members of the European Parliament and European Commission in Brussels, Belgium on Nov. 7. as part of a 10-day European tour. Later on his tour, in Stuttgart, Germany, Brown worked to further strengthen California’s ties with the German state of Baden-Württemberg, co-founder of the Under2 Coalition.

    In comments while on this trip, Brown noted that “California has carved out a unique path,” despite it being a subsidiary of the federal system in the United States.

    Local port authorities, charged with carrying the state along that path, don’t address the human impact that’s here right now. That is the concern regarding the Clean Air Action Plan 2.0; as passed, it comes down to now versus later and how it gets monitored.

    The bigger question of course is where will Los Angeles and Long Beach get the $14 billion to pay for any of this while the Trump regime slashes the federal EPA’s budget as it follows the path of climate change denial?

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  • Raya Yarbough

    • 11/09/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off


    Nov. 10
    Raya Yarbough
    Raya Yarbough is an acclaimed blues-soul vocalist most recognized as the voice of the opening credits of the Outlander series, and for the shimmering vocals featured throughout the Sci-fi hit Battlestar Galactica.
    Time: 8 p.m. Nov. 10
    Cost: $20 to $30
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 12
    Fabio Bidini, Andrew Shulman
    Italian pianist Fabio Bidini is among the world’s leading pianists. A favorite on Second Sundays at Two, Andrew Shulman is principal cellist of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.
    Time: 2 p.m. Nov. 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

    Nov. 11
    Slow Burning Car
    Local band Slow Burning Car is an eclectic mix of garage, space, and hard rock. Melodic vocals, stellar virtuosity, with a passionate delivery make this an act not to be missed.
    Time: 8 p.m. Nov. 11
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3114450
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 11
    Judy Wexler, Josh Nelson Trio
    A touring and recording artist, Judy Wexler has headlined at jazz festivals, performing arts centers, and major jazz clubs both nationally and internationally. Born and raised in Southern California, keyboardist-composer-bandleader Josh Nelson has performed with some of the most respected names in jazz, including Kurt Elling, John Pizzarelli and Benny Golson.
    Time: 8 p.m. Nov. 11
    Cost: $20
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/event/judy-wexler-with-the-josh-nelson-trio
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 12
    Frank Fontaine 4-Tet
    Since his return to Los Angeles after years of playing in New York City, Fontaine has increasingly become one of the most exciting and increasingly active woodwind artist in town.
    Time: 5 p.m. Nov. 12
    Cost: $15
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/event/frank-fontaine-4-tet
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 18
    Gabbie Ratchet
    Gabble Ratchet has been the West Coast’s premier Genesis Tribute band since 1999 performing material mainly from the early Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins eras of the 1970s.
    Time: 8 p.m. Nov. 18
    Cost: $25
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/event/gabble-ratchet-a-tribute-to-genesis-2
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 20
    Brand X
    Heralded as the innovators of the original jam and jazz-rock-fusion scene, there is only one Brand X. This is the fIrst time in more than 20 years that they will play together.
    Time: 8 p.m. Nov. 20
    Cost: $39
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/event/brand-x-an-evening-with-brand-x
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 21
    Richard Thompson
    Richard Thompson, the pioneer of British folk rock, who was voted one of the best guitarists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, will be dropping by to mark the release of Richard Thompson: Live at Rockpalast, a 3-CD and 2-DVD collection focused on his two live performances for the German television show Rockpalast. Cost is free with the RSVP purchase of CD of $24.99
    Time: 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Nov. 21
    Cost: $24.99
    Details: (562) 433-4996
    Venue: Fingerprints Music, 420 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Nov. 25
    Dawes will release a limited-edition double LP pressing of We’re All Gonna Live, the first official live concert recording from the band, via their own HUB Records.
    Time: 4 to 6 p.m Nov. 25
    Cost: $12.99
    Details: (562) 433-4996
    Venue: Fingerprints Music, 420 E. 4th St., Long Beach


    The Night Before the Night Before Christmas
    Lou has wrestled with a big ball of tangled Christmas lights for the last time. Christmas is cancelled. Escaping New Jersey, the freezing cold, his nutty family and most of all the holidays, is exactly what Lou plans to do. Will a couple of unlikely characters help restore Lou and Carol’s Christmas spirit in the St. Nick of time?
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Nov. 10 through Dec. 16
    Cost: $27
    Details: www.littlefishtheatre.org/wp/the-night-before-the-night-before-christmas
    Venue: Little Fish Theatre, 777 S. Centre St., San Pedro

    Nov. 18
    Twisted Nutcracker
    This is not the Nutcracker you grew up with!” Elite Dance Studio of Palos Verdes presents student dance members in a variety of styles, from ballet to contemporary to hip-hop, tap and jazz.
    Time: 1 p.m. Nov. 18
    Cost: $12 to $18
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro


    From the enigmatic Emcee, to the wounded Sally Bowles, to a mature couple dealing with the difficulties of the anti-semitism that flourishes around them, these familiar characters will reignite the sense of despair and danger so commonly found in fascist regimes.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 18
    Cost: $20 to $24
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Arsenic and Old Lace
    If you are a lonely, elderly gentleman, steer clear of the old Victorian rooming house that Abby and Martha Brewster run. It may be your last room on Earth! When these two sweet old sisters feel the need to release a worthy roomer of his lonely suffering, just a sip of their homemade elderberry wine will do the trick.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 2
    Cost: $10 to $27
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org/show/arsenic-and-old-lace
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach


    Nov. 10
    Moon Over San Pedro
    Ann Weber’s large biomorphic sculptures have been described as bizarre characters from a story, hanging on the wall or sitting in the middle of the gallery like strange and evocative outcroppings of nature or outer space.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursdays,  and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays through Sundays, through Feb. 4, 2018
    Cost: $6 to $7
    Details: lbma.org
    Venue: Long Beach Museum of Art, 2300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Nov. 18
    This exhibit acts as a performance bringing together melanated artists working in Los Angeles, Haiti, Ghana, the Caribbean and West Africa.
    Drawing from the groundbreaking film Moonlight—a timeless story of human connection and self-discovery, the curator appropriates, amends and recontextualizes the juxtaposition of art,
    race and gender. A free artist’s panel discussion will take place with June Edmonds, Cole James and Duane Paul on Nov. 18.
    Time: 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 400-0544; www.michaelstearnsstudio.com
    Venue: Gallery 347, 347 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    TransVagrant Projects and Gallery 478 are pleased to present blink•point, recent work by Ellwood T. Risk.
    Risk is a self-taught artist who has been living and working in Los Angeles since 1992. Risk appropriates, alters, re-contextualizes, shoots (here and there) and re-presents the ordinary in unanticipated iterations. An artist’s reception is scheduled 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 9.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, through Nov. 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 600-4873; (310) 732-2150
    Venue: TransVagrant Projects and Gallery 478, 478 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    Exene Cervenka in Collage
    Exene Cervenka: Lipstick Sunset combines the pieces on display combine handwork and appropriated images, written words and found text that present a perplexing and highly personal world.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 26
    Cost:  Free
    Details: (310) 541-2479; www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road. Rancho Palos Verdes

    rebidishu III
    Los Angeles Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to present rebidishu III, Recent Paintings by Katy Crowe.
    Abstract art is often seen as carrying a moral dimension, in that it can be interpreted to stand for virtues ranging from order and purity, to simplicity and spirituality. In the case of Crowe, virtue is obtained by process and intuition.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, through Nov. 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 233-4411
    Venue: Los Angeles Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington

    Rino Gonzalez
    Rino Gonzalez has attracted an impressive following for his works of realism during the almost 40 years since his immigration from the Philippines at age 16. Much of the joy of these painting comes purely from studying technical achievement in the reproduction of such aspects as fine lacework, polished and textured surfaces, worn books and tattered pages, fruit and roses.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m Tuesday through Saturday, through Dec. 2
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 547-3158; parkhurstgalleries.com
    Venue: Parkhurst Galleries, 439 W 6th St, San Pedro


    Nov. 11
    Guided Nature Walk
    Celebrate Veteran’s Day viewing a former gun emplacement to learn about the military history of the area.  Don’t miss the Nature Education Center with activities for the whole family. This is a moderate walk that’s free and open to the public.
    Time: 9 a.m. Nov 11
    Cost:  Free
    Details: (310) 541-7613 ext. 201,  www.pvplc.org/_events/NatureWalkRSVP.asp.
    Venue: White Point Park, 1801 Paseo Del Mar, San Pedro

    Nov. 15
    Healthy Latin Food, Life Stories
    Gloria Colazo teaches how to create healthy and flavorful vegetarian meals to help prevent or control diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. As a stroke survivor she’s realized that lifestyle is important. RSVP is required for address.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. Nov. 15
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 786-6081

    Nov. 17
    Black Business Women Rock! Conference & Expo 2017

    This event is for established and aspiring women in business, executives, entrepreneurs, creatives and anyone seeking growth and access to resources and business opportunities.
    This conference will bring together more than 1,000 women and men of all ages, who have a passion for business, entrepreneurship, growth and empowerment.
    Time: 9 a.m. Nov 17 to 11 p.m. Nov 18
    Cost: $25 to $99
    Details: www.blackbusinesswomenrock.com
    Venue: Torrance Marriott Redondo Beach, 3635 Fashion Way, Torrance

    Nov. 17
    Parade of Trees
    Toberman Neighborhood and Auxilary presents The Parade of Trees Holiday Event. The event will include a fashion show, and a tree and silent auction. RSVP.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 17
    Cost: $50
    Details: (310) 832-1145; www.toberman.org
    Venue: Toberman Neighborhood Center’s Gymnasium, 131 N. Grand Ave., San Pedro

    Nov. 18
    Book Reading & Signing with Marcy M. Madden
    Join an exclusive book reading and signing with author, Marcy M. Madden. Marcy’s side of the story explores the day her husband came out to her as transgender.
    Time: 4 to 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 434-4455; www.centerlb.org
    Venue: The Center Long Beach, 2017 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Nov. 19
    The Central Park Effect
    Join the Palos Verdes Peninsula Land Conservancy for the conclusion of the series with a documentary that transports the viewer to the dazzling, hidden world of America’s most famous city park.  Youth 18 and younger can attend for free.
    Time: 4:30 p.m. Nov. 19
    Cost: $10
    Details: pvplc.org.
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Nov. 23
    Long Beach Turkey Trot

    Run or walk a 5K or 10K on Thanksgiving morning on the scenic, very flat beach path to help raise money for Jusitn Rudd’s nonprofit Community Action Team.
    Time: 7 to 11 a.m., Nov. 23
    Details: www.justinrudd.com
    Cost: $25 to $40
    Venue: Alamitos Beach, 1 Granada Ave., Long Beach

    Nov. 30
    The Lego Batman Movie
    Join in  to see The Lego Batman Movie, a  cooler-than-ever Bruce Wayne must deal with the usual suspects as they plan to rule Gotham City, while discovering that he has accidentally adopted a teenage orphan who wishes to become his sidekick.
    Time: 7:45 p.m. Nov. 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 732-4515
    Venue: Harbor City Recreation Center, 24901 Frampton Ave., Harbor City

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  • The Chowder Barge: A See-Worthy Meal

    • 11/02/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Culture Writer

    “I’m not sure you’re going to love the food, but I know you’re going to love the place,” said my friend Annette when I picked her up to visit The Chowder Barge in east Wilmington.

    She is a professional chef and the places she recommends are usually heavy on style, but she let me know that this was not a day to dress up.

    Sure enough, the Wilmington marina where The Chowder Barge is docked is not the kind of place where one is expected to come in a jacket and tie. A T-shirt, jeans and sneakers are formal enough, no one will fault you for not wearing socks. The Chowder Barge looks like the building where just about everybody had their first apartment, but with water under it. The sides are unevenly stuccoed, there’s only a faint memory of paint on some of the trim and once you get aboard you may notice that the whole thing is listing slightly.

    Inside there’s a nautical clutter that is oddly multicultural. Yes, that’s a carving of an Indonesian mermaid next to the tacky New England fisherman statue and there are antique fish gaffs alongside the incongruous Mayan heads hanging near the fireplace. All sorts of pirate-themed toys, mugs and other memorabilia festoon the place, adding to a collection reminiscent of an eccentric uncle’s study. There is an unmistakable patina of age, which is appropriate since this barge was built in 1934 as a support vessel for the movie Mutiny on the Bounty, starring Charles Laughton, Franchot Tone, Clark Gable and other actors that nobody but serious film buffs remember. Some genuine matinee idols dined here and you can too, if you’re willing to go well off the beaten track to a scruffy marina.

    Matinee idols of that era weren’t noted as gourmets, so I can’t say for sure whether the food was more sophisticated then or now. The Chowder Barge’s menu is pretty basic: burgers, seafood platters and, of course, its namesake, chowder. There is one novel item, the “Double Chowder Burger,” which consists of a cheeseburger topped with clam chowder, topped with fried clam strips.

    You might want to read that last sentence again, because it actually does say what you thought it said. With the possible exception of the Seattle-area barbecue joint that offered “weasel on a stick,”  it’s easily the weirdest house special I have ever seen. (And before you ask, of course I ordered the weasel on a stick, but they were out that day. They’re out every day, because it’s a joke.)

    I seriously considered whether to order that house special for about 30 seconds. I have had a lot of strange and scary items in my travels — Bulgarian kidney stew, Taiwanese stinky tofu, haggis, Greek sheep eyeballs, natto, Korean pig intestine stew, Marc MacYoung’s homemade chili and fugu, to name just a few. It was a surprise to be offered something that ranked in that league aboard a barge in Wilmington.

    I didn’t actually order the burger, but did the next best thing: I ordered a starter of fried clams, a cup of chowder and a burger so I could try them all separately and then together. Annette called me a chicken, then ordered a salad and a grilled ham and cheese on sourdough with onion rings.

    The clams and salad arrived first and they were about what I expected. All of the seafood here is frozen. Fried frozen clam strips are the kind of thing that is hard to screw up. Annette’s salad was a bit better than expected, with some beets and cheese topping the standard lettuce and cucumber. The chowder was somewhat better: thick, a bit peppery and heavily scented with thyme. It’s not the best chowder I have ever had, but it went down just fine and would be great on a cool, damp day.

    The sandwiches and onion rings arrived after a few minutes and all were good examples of traditional diner cooking. I’d have preferred the flavor of freshly breaded onion rings, but it was all decent and wholesome and I’d have them again.

    What I wouldn’t do again is repeat the experiment of dipping my burger in the clam chowder, topping it with fried clams, and having a bite, all in order to replicate the Chowder Burger. It wasn’t completely revolting, but I think that if I just pulled random items from my refrigerator and layered them, most combinations would have been better. No matter how much you like them individually, these things really don’t go well together. When I asked a server who had come up with this combination, they shrugged and replied, “Someone who smokes a lot of pot.” That had actually been my guess.

    I don’t think there’s enough pot in the world to give me the munchies for a double chowder burger, but I’m highly likely to return to The Chowder Barge again and bring friends, just so they can savor the character of the place. I’ll want to see their faces when they step into that environment and experience the delight I did in finding a quirky hangout like this in such an unlikely setting.

    The Chowder Barge is at 611 Henry Ford Ave. in Wilmington, down the road in the Leeward Bay Marina. It is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays and Tuesdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays through Saturdays. Beer and wine is served. There is a parking lot.

    Details: (310) 830-7937; chowderbarge.com.

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  • CSU Employees Union, CSU Reach Tentative Agreement

    • 11/02/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 27, the California State University Employees Union, comprised of staff employees, and California State University announced that they had reached a three-year tentative successor contract agreement.

    The workers include registered nurses, police dispatchers and custodians.

    Among some of the changes, the more than 16,000 union employees will get 3 percent salary retroactive salary increases, including July 1, 2017, July 1, 2018 and July 1, 2019.

    The three-year collective bargaining agreement will be presented to the CSU Board of Trustees in January and will run through June 30, 2020.

    Other changes to the agreement include that full-time employees will get one-time bonuses of $650 and non-full time employees will get proportional benefits. Employees with salaries below $2,600 per month will get increases beginning July 1, 2017. Union employees will get full benefits when retiring at 52, with a decade of service credit, starting on July 1, 2018. Right now, employees many retire with full benefits with five years of service credit.

    Click here to read the tentative agreement.

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  • Trump’s Lawyers Scrambled

    • 10/31/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Trump Watch
    • Comments are off

    By Vickiie Oliphant, Express

    Donald Trump’s lawyers have been scrambled into action after it was revealed the probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election could see the first charges announced  Oct. 31.

    The investigation will enter a new phase as prosecutors led by Robert Mueller obtained a grand jury indictment against at least one person who will be charged and taken into custody, it has been revealed.

    Click here to read more at Express.


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  • “Cabaret” Comes Up Musically Short

    By Greggory Moore, Contributing Writer

    I’m not easily won over by musicals, which certainly didn’t dispose me to love Long Beach Playhouse’s production of Cabaret. On the other hand, I’d never seen any version of this Kander and Ebb classic, which means Long Beach’s longest-running theatre company was not going to have to suffer a comparison with Bob Fosse’s Oscar-winning film adaptation and Liza Minelli’s career-defining performance.

    That said, I came away from Cabaret feeling that, although it’s clever, it’s not on par with Kander and Ebb’s other megahit, Chicago; and that, although Long Beach Playhouse does yeoman’s work in staging such a big work in such a small space, ultimately they haven’t assembled the musical talent to really make it sing.

    Cliff (Austin James) is a wannabe writer with a yen for more life experience in order to (what else?) write a great novel. So what can such a poor boy do in 1929 ‘cept go to Paris? But he’s been there and done that, and now he’s on his way to Berlin just in time for New Year’s Eve.

    On the train he meets Ernst (William Ardelean), who is nothing if not well connected. And before you can say “Heil Hitler!” Cliff has secured a nice room for himself and his Remington.

    From there, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the seamy, steamy Kit Kat Klub, where he catches the eye of sexy chanteuse Sally Bowles (Courtney Riel Owens), who immediately insinuates herself as Cliff’s roomie. (The plot doesn’t earn this sudden turn of events, but being overly concerned with plot could be considered nitpicking when talking about musicals.)

    Cabaret is framed through Cliff’s eyes. But for the show’s exposition of Berlin’s high life to be authentic, it’s gotta have a strong Sally. She’s the emotional center, the dynamo, the epitome of a wonderful party that’s coming to an ignoble end. She wants so badly to be bigger than life, and she almost makes it. Owens does well with that “almost,” always letting Sally’s insecurity and fatigue show from beneath that bon vivant façade.

    Where Owens comes up a bit short is on the “bigger than life” score. Even without Minelli’s performance as a reference point, it’s obvious what a huge character Sally is and how clearly she is the play’s pivot point. But Owens isn’t expansive enough for the part, dialing back the role so it’s on par with Cliff and the Kit Kat Klub’s Emcee.

    In fact, in this production it’s the Emcee, played by Noah Wagner, who’s at center stage. Wagner is a fearless performer, and he imbues the Emcee with all the wit, charm, and salaciousness needed to glue Cabaret together—no small task, considering that the Emcee’s athletic musical numbers (such as Money and  If You Could See Her) stray from the plot to comment on German society.

    Generally, though, the musical performances are not this production’s strong suit. There are some highlights: Sally’s  Maybe This Time —to my taste, Cabaret’s best bit of songwriting—has the requisite yearning; and  Tomorrow Belongs to Me,  which starts out as an idyllic ballad but ends as a paean to the coming Third Reich, is absolutely chilling. Too often, though, the singers don’t quite have it. Unfortunately, the band doesn’t help matters, never quite gelling (and during the performance I saw, playing with one particular instrument that had to be out of tune).

    Director Sean F. Gray, with an assist from choreographer Halley Hardy, probably does just about all he can within these limitations. He keeps things interesting with fluid blocking (the entire cast gets kudos for smooth execution), and his modal shifts always work. Especially good is everything involving the Nazis, insidiously coming to dominate the show much as they came to dominate Germany, right through to the play’s darker-than-dark finale (a clever, bold, powerful choice by Kander and Ebb).

    Speaking of making the most of limitations, the mise en scène deserves special mention. Although Cabaret is a musical of interiors, it was designed for the likes of Broadway (where it debuted in 1966). The Playhouse’s Studio Theatre is so small (98 seats) that during Cabaret’s opening number you can literally feel the line of chorus girls stomping through their can-can kicks. But the combination of Spencer Richardson’s thoughtful set design and Donny Jackson’s pitch-perfect, moment-to-moment lighting is good enough to immerse us not only in the Kit Kat Klub, but also in the Götterdämmerung that was Berlin in 1930.

    No-one can say the Long Beach Playhouse peeps don’t have guts — for years now they have been willing to mount productions that outsize their resources. But inherent to that willingness is the risk of overextending themselves. So come to this Cabaret, old chum, and take the good with the bad.

    Time: 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; 2 p.m., Sunday. Runs through Nov.18
    Cost: $14 / $24
    Details: (562) 494-1014, LBPlayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach 90804

    Cabaret - "Money" - Liza Minnelli, Joel Grey

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  • An Open Letter to the President

    • 10/30/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Letters
    • Comments are off

    I am merely an obscure novelist who exited a major political party, after 25 years servicing as a press secretary, district director, or personal deputy to five state lawmakers in California, and to candidates in three election cycles, and organized labor.

    The personal letter went in today’s mail, and since all correspondence to the White House is appropriately sifted through by layers of staff, I know that the loss of life in Las Vegas may be but a sorrowful slice across the human heart of our nation.

    And since the friends of the President act vigorously to shut down debate on social media, I could not convey these words to the President, in the groups that love him, and others who hate him.  Facebook is simply at the epicenter of the political battle that this President seems devoted to jam down every throat, so it’s not a surprise that the 500K people on the groups I’ve belonged to most of this year will not be able to see this open letter for weeks.

    Because a commentary in the NY Times dealing with the President’s harsh march to reelection, I send this to both the Las Vegas paper and the NY Times.  I know that my list is based on outreach I’ve made in contexts other than raw politics, so once again I ask for the graciousness of transmitting it to the appropriate person.

    Bill Orton
    Long Beach

    Gun Control

    The second amendment of the United States Constitution states:

    “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    Obviously the need for a state militia has been replaced by the National Guard and Coast Guard whereby trained military personnel are entrusted with the defense of this country against domestic enemies. Their weapons are tightly controlled and safeguarded.

    The only two reasons for a citizen to own a firearm are for hunting or defense of the household from intruders.  In either case, ownership of a handgun, shotgun or rifle is more than adequate to satisfy these purposes.

    There is absolutely no need for any U.S. civilian to own any weapon more powerful or sophisticated than these.

    Accordingly, all handguns, shotguns and rifles must be licensed and registered to the degree necessary to match weapon to owner at the click of a computer key. Furthermore, we must guarantee that the mentally ill do not gain access to them under any circumstances.  Finally, if we had prohibited the purchase of more sophisticated weapons several innocent  victims would not have died or been harmed at shopping malls, college campuses, Congressional meetings, churches and now concerts.   We as a country must deal with this issue immediately lest our society fall back to the days when everyone carried a holster.

    Joe Bialek
    Cleveland, OH

    Illegal Business in San Pedro

    I hope that someone who reads this can help me spread the word about this place. A few months ago I needed some merchandise shipped to Central America and I found this business at 1104 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro, called Daniela’s Variedades. I spoke to the gentleman who claimed he was the owner and would ship my products thru boat (he rents containers and fills them out with customers like me sending items to Central America) and promised me my goods would arrive in a month—this was a year ago.

    Months passed and I got worried because I had no news of my product and my business in Guatemala was needing the merchandise.  I went in person, spoke to the guy but he always had an excuse and tried to charge me $100 extra to speed up the process because [my merchadise] was held in customs.

    Then offered me to purchase the hair salon that is next to his business.  He told me he owned that place and [would] sell it to me for $10,000. I called the business next door and asked the lady who owned it and she said that this guy was lying. That’s when I felt something was wrong … my merchandise sent thru him was $5,000 worth of cosmetics for a store I was hoping to open in Guatemala.

    I took this matter to small claims court and he did not show up, the judge said “good luck collecting  your money from this guy.”

    I went [back to see him] and took my 3 year old toddler who was screaming and running around his store. I was trying to control her as I was speaking to him and he said “I am going to kidnap your little girl and sell her.”

    The business next to his knows this man for years and say he’s undocumented so I reported him to ICE.  I have a list about 8 people with the same problem, mainly Spanish speaking who are asking me for help. I am terrified of this man after he said he would kidnap my daughter and sell her. Also very angry that no one is doing anything to stop this evil undocumented man running a business in San Pedro.

    Someone needs to spread the word and warn residents not to do business there. I have asked for help. I called LAPD and they can’t do anything, I have gone to court and this man did not show, but he happens to be at this business daily or opens randomly now because he’s too afraid of all these angry customers coming to ask for their money back. PLEASE HELP. SPREAD THE NEWS, WARN OTHER SAN PEDRO RESIDENTS.

    Flor Magana- Butler
    San Pedro

    It Costs Money to Die

    The cost of an average funeral with burial services today is $7,000 to $10,000. Even the least expensive casket costs almost $2,000. Naturally, I wondered what would happen if someone didn’t have the money. If a person is too poor to die, what then….

    I will tell you a true story. My deceased grandfather knocked at my door one day.

    “Grandpa, you’re still alive!”

    “Honey, I couldn’t afford to die. You know we never had much money. I’m living in that ol’ shack up on the ridge.”

    “Well, why didn’t you tell me?”

    “They make you sign a paper sayin’ you won’t tell anyone. Then they let you walk out of the hospital.”

    It seems that when my grandfather was about to die some gentleman came into his hospital room.

    “Mr. Madison, we have reviewed your financial status and we see that you are unable to affor any of our burial plans. Are you sure that your family can’t help you?”

    “No  sir, my grand-daughter ain’t got no money either.”

    “Mr. Madison, would you please sign this paper?”

    They helped my grandfather sign the paper. He was very weak, lying in bed, so they had to hold it in front of him on a clipboard. They placed a pen in his hand.

    “Thank you, Mr. Madison. You are free to go.”

    So, he got up and walked out the door.

    Since God loves the poor, that must be the new life that Jesus talks about.

    A group of the same gentlemen who talked to my grandfather in the hospital visited my neighbor in her home one day.

    “Mrs. Cluney, you just can’t afford to die. You have to say alive until you can pay for one of our burial services. But we do have a lay-away plan. Pay just $50 a month and when your account has accumulated sufficient funds we will let you die.”

    “No thank you, I would just as soon stay alive, if you please.”

    Now you can see what a worthy cause an Impoverished Persons Burial Fund would be. So many good people are willing to die. We ought to help them out.

    All of those poor people must be living somewhere. There are supposed to be cities in a “hollow earth” and maybe that is where they go. That might be what Jesus meant when he said that the poor will inherit the earth. But the rich people who can afford to die, die and go somewhere else. I have heard that they go to Planet Midas. On Planet Midas, since everybody has already touched almost everything, there is very little to eat. That is why they are so fashionably thin. But they get all the gold they want.

     Lorin Jenis
    San Pedro

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  • Wilmington Celebrates Culture through Pozole

    • 10/30/2017
    • Christian Guzman
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    By Christian L. Guzman, Community Writer

    Wilmington has a longstanding relationship with pozole. I have fond childhood memories, dunking corn tortillas into the rich hominy soup flavored with chiles and slurping them up, almost like noodles. But pozole has been more than a meal in Wilmington’s homes, it has been part of the local economy.

    The Latino soup company, Juanita’s Foods, has been making pozole in the neighborhood and shipping it to stores nationwide for decades.

    So, it was appropriate for a pozole contest to be featured at the United Wilmington Youth Foundation’s Latino LA Festival on the first Saturday of October. The festival also featured music and dancing, a car show and booths with community resources. But since these types of festivals happen regularly sans pozole, this festival seemed to have a more authentic connection to Latino culture.

    “Pozole! It’s so easy to cook,” said Sylvia Arredondo, former volunteer with the UWYF and current President of the Wilmington Neighborhood Council. “You can load a pot with everything for a hearty meal and then enjoy it with family and friends.”

    Judges and onlookers approached the contest with similar excitement. Nine cooks participated in the contest; each prepared pozole according to personal preference and several different styles emerged. Some were deep red with big chunks of pork, others were green with shredded chicken, most contestants shared one humorous commonality their inexperience with soup from a Juanita’s can.

    “I’ve always had homemade pozole,” said Maria Elena Amezcua. Both her grandmothers made pozole for her and family growing up. They were both tasty, yet the flavors were distinct. “My dad’s mom was from Michoacan and my mom’s mom was from New Mexico. When I started making pozole I mixed the styles and made my own recipe.”

    Another contestant elaborated on the difference between New Mexican and Mexican pozole.

    “The chile makes it killer,” said Luis Venegas, who made a green pozole with Hatch chiles. “In New Mexico they have hot, extra hot, XX and XXX. And they make salsas from different stages of the chili, each with its own use.”

    Venegas is of Mexican descent and grew up eating that cuisine.

    “[But] my wife and her family are from New Mexico,” Venegas said. “She revolutionized my taste for life through cooking.”

    Venegas is not just saying that either. Every summer he and his wife, Roberta, make a pilgrimage to a farm in New Mexico, where her father used to do business; on the return trip the car is strained by 400 pounds of chile.

    Venegas made a green pozole; the color of the soup comes from tomatillos and fresh hatch chiles. Roberta went with her own recipe for a red pork pozole. Both prefer the red variety, made with aged and roasted chile. But the couple were showcasing the versatility of the New Mexican chile.

    A fun aspect to eating pozole is choosing the soup’s topping. The most common are cabbage, cilantro, chopped onion and lemon or lime wedges — and if you’re lucky, radishes too. Most contestants at the festival offered the cabbage, citrus and onion. I spotted a couple of bowls of sliced radishes. Caesar Gallardo, a green pozole entrant, offered avocado slices as well. He thought they paired well with the tang of the tomatillos. Vanegas and his wife had bowls of fresh green and roasted red chile for anyone who wanted more kick.

    Curiously, Roberta offered bolios (small savory loaves of bread) for dunking, rather than the tortillas I grew up with. She attributed her choice to her Southwestern roots as well.

    To the envy of all festival attendees, only the judges got to sample each pozole. They judged each on flavor, presentation, piquancy and hominy-to-meat ratio. Amezcua’s red pork pozole won first place; perhaps the judges appreciated the combination of familiar Mexican flavors and the New Mexican chiles. She received $300.

    Vanegas won second place and $200. He was grateful to his wife and a little boastful for his soup being chosen over hers.

    The cooks took pride in their distinct chiles, cuts of meat, amounts of garlic and simmering times. But almost all of them had one more thing in common that’s worth noting: a connection to family. Most participated because they had served their pozole to their loved ones and were praised for it. Many entrants also had children at their sides, watching their parents serve and then helping to clean up — the next generation of pozole masters.

    Gallardo was particularly proud to pass on his knowledge.

    “My son didn’t cook a lot with me when he was growing up,” Gallardo said. “But he’s in college now and I’ll get a call from him and he’ll say, ‘Hey, how do you make that guisado with the curry or how do you make the green chile pork.’”

    Gallardo looks forward to the pozole call.

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