• LB Supports ‘Sanctuary State’ Legislation

    • 02/09/2017
    • Zamná Ávila
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    On Feb. 7, the Long Beach City Council 7-0 voted, Councilwoman Stacy Mungo and Councilman Dee Andrew did not participate,  to support state bills that would essentially make California a “sanctuary state.”

    District 1 Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez moved for the proposal to support the bills. Prior to the city council meeting led a rally to the chambers. Long Beach limits immigration holds in jail as a way to foster trust between police and immigrant communities.

    Senate Bill 31 would prohibit state or local agencies from providing or disclosing identifiable information of a person’s beliefs, practices or affiliation to the federal government when it is sought for compiling a database on people based on religious belief, practice or affiliation, national origin, or ethnicity for law enforcement or immigration purposes.

    SB 54, the California Values Act, would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies and school police and security departments from using resources to investigate, interrogate, detain, detect or arrest person for immigration purposes.

    The state Senate and Assembly must approve the bills by at least two-thirds approval before they could be sent out to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

    Donald Trump has threatened to penalize “sanctuary cities” by stripping them of federal funding if they refuse to comply with his deportation boosting plans.

    One of his executive orders, which was neutralized for a second time by a three judge panel, was to institute a travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, excluding the Christian minorities.

    Going against Trump carries a risk of more than $200 million in federal funding. However, taking a stance for the city is important officials said.

    “As the vice chair of the State Legislative Committee, I believe it is imperative that Long Beach shows the rest of the state and the nation that we stand with our immigrant community and that we stand for religious freedom,” Gonzalez said in a released statement.

    About 10 percent of the nation’s 11.1 million undocumented immigrants live in Orange or Los Angeles counties, a recent Pew Research Center analysis reported. According to the U.S. Census more than a 25 percent of the population in Long Beach is foreign-born, about 40 percent of them are Latino. The city also has the largest population of Cambodians outside of Cambodia.

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  • Valentine’s Day Concert

    • 02/09/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off


    Feb. 10
    Adrian Marcel
    Adrian Marcel picks up the torch for Oakland and timeless rhythm and blues on his debut mixtape, 7 Days of Weak.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 10
    Cost: $20 to $200
    Details: www.solvenue.com/event/1395582-adrian-marcel-carson
    Venue: SOL Venue, 313 E. Carson St., Carson

    Feb. 11
    A Special Evening of Music for Friends and Lovers

    Treat someone special to a truly memorable Valentine’s Day. Enjoy a delicious dinner followed by a seductive concert experience featuring the smooth stylings of some of today’s top contemporary musicians.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 11
    Cost: $70 to $175
    Details: (562) 424-0013; www.rainbowpromotions.com
    Venue: Terrace Theater, Long Beach Performing Arts Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    Feb. 11
    Willie Watson
    Watson, formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show is a leading pioneer in the renaissance of traditional and old-time music.
    Time:  8 p.m. Feb. 11
    Cost: $25 to $60
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 12
    Stars of Tomorrow
    This top international ensemble of advanced students from the renowned USC Thornton School of Music was selected by Director of Chamber Music Karen Dreyfus and coached by Professor of Violin and Chamber Music Lina Bahn.
    Time: 2 p.m. Feb. 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

    Feb. 12
    Lockout Station
    Drawing upon flamenco and jazz-fusion influences as well as the avant-garde, Lockout Station uses complex harmonies, difficult grooves and winding melodies to evoke impressions of strange and other-worldliness.
    Time: 4 p.m. Feb. 12
    Cost: $20
    Details: http://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro


    Feb. 10
    Best of the Show
    The Best of the Best is an emotional journey through all production themes previously explored previously by Long Beach Community Theater. Themes included parenthood, childhood, the beauty of scars, love & heartbreak, motherhood, fatherhood and forgotten keepsakes and misplaced memories.
    Cost: $20
    Details: longbeachcommunitytheater.com, lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, Studio Theatre, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Feb. 10
    Musical Theatre West presents Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical masterpiece Evita.  The seven-time Tony Award-winning musical captivated audiences with Eva Peron’s passionate and unforgettable true story of her meteoric rise to become Argentina’s champion of the poor and most influential first lady.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 10 through 12, 17 and 18, and 23 through 25, 1 p.m. Feb. 12, 19 and 26, 2 p.m. Feb. 18 and 25, and 6 p.m. Feb. 19
    Cost: $20
    Details: (562) 856-1999, ext. 4; www.musical.org
    Venue: Carpenter Performing Arts Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach,

    Feb. 11
    A Murder is Announced
    The Long Beach Playhouse is pleased to present the Agatha Christie classic, A Murder is Announced in its Mainstage Theatre. In Christie style, the play takes place in a house with several occupants.
    Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through Feb. 11
    Cost: $14 to $20
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Romeo and Juliet Rehearsals
    You are invited to Elysium for each and every Romeo and Juliet rehearsal.
    Time:  6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturdays, until March 31
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.fearlessartists.org/box-office-1
    Venue: Elysium, 729 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro


    Feb. 11
    Oscar-Nominated Live Action Shorts
    Enjoy live action short films at your local theater.
    Time: 7 p.m. Feb. 11
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2714274
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 13
    Finding Joseph I

    Finding Joseph I is a feature documentary chronicling the eccentric life and struggles of punk rock reggae singer, Paul “HR” Hudson, a.k.a. Joseph I. The charismatic frontman’s energetic and explosive live performances helped pioneer hardcore punk rock with the Bad Brains, one of the most influential bands to rise out of the 1980’s.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 13
    Cost: $8.50 to $11.50
    Details: www.arttheatrelongbeach.org/our-films
    Venue:  Art Theatre Long Beach, 2025 E. 4th St., Long Beach


    Feb. 7
    Heated Exchange
    Heated Exchange, curated by artist Reni Gower, features the seductive surface, luminous color, and ethereal image layering unique to the encaustic medium. Each artist approaches the process from a distinct perspective that may incorporate scraping, burning, burnishing, incising, dipping, dyeing, or pouring, as well as painting, printmaking, drawing, collage, sculpture, or installation. The exhibit opens Feb. 7
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday, through March 9
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 243-3334
    Venue: CSU Dominguez Hills University Art Gallery, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    Feb. 12
    Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective

    A comprehensive retrospective exhibition of work by legendary Los Angeles artist Frank Romero, encompassing more than 50 years of the artist’s career. Dreamland: A Frank Romero Retrospective is the first solo exhibition of a Chicano artist at MOLAA.  It explores the confluence of American pop culture, Latin American heritage and the Chicano experience.
    Date: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, Feb. 12  through May 17
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    March 12
    Significant Otherness, Sea/Saw
    Experience Significant Otherness and Sea/Saw two interesting exhibits at Angels Gate Cultural Center.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 12 to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, through March 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 519-0936; www.angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    April 9
    Frank Brothers: The Store That Modernized Modern
    The exhibition relates the story of Southern California’s largest and most prominent mid-century retailer of modern furniture and design. Based in Long Beach from 1938–1982, Frank Bros. embodied the optimistic post-war ethos of the American consumer.
    Date: 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, through April 9
    Cost: Free
    Details: csulb.edu/org/uam
    Venue: California State University Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach


    Feb. 11
    Romantic Tours
    Since Rancho Los Cerritos was built in 1844, it has been the site of great love stories. Visitors will be able to hear these stories firsthand, as costumed interpreters portray former Rancho residents.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 11
    Cost: $20
    Details: (562) 206-2053
    Venue: Rancho Los Cerritos, 4600 Virginia Road, Long Beach

    Feb. 12<
    Designing Gardens for Succulents

    Panayoti Kelaidis program is “Designing Gardens for Succulents.” As Head Curator of the Denver Botanical Garden, Kelaidis is considered one of the premier practitioners of the art and science of alpine rock gardening. In this program he will describe how to build and maintain these works of art, especially crevice garden designs using drought-tolerant succulents.
    Time: 1 p.m. Feb. 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: southcoastcss.org
    Venue: South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula

    Feb. 18
    Why Native Plants?
    Come learn how San Pedro’s native plants support local biodiversity and deal with drought. Attendees may purchase native plants and walk through a demonstration garden.
    Time: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 18
    Cost: Free
    Details:  (310) 541-7613; www.pvplc.org/_events/WhitePointWorkshopRSVP.asp
    Venue: White Point Nature Preserve, 1600 W. Paseo del Mar, San Pedro

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  • Exploring Valentine’s Day Dining Traditions

    • 02/09/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Features
    • Comments are off

    By Richard Foss, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer
    It’s that time of year when you look at the calendar and suddenly realize you don’t have a restaurant reservation for Valentine’s Day.

    But while frantically scolling through photos of restaurant interiors to see if they fit your idea of romance you might start to wonder: “Just when did this tradition of going out for dinner on Feb. 14 start and why do we associate some atmospheres as romantic?”

    The whole topic is murky, starting with why St. Valentine would be associated with romance in the first place. Valentine was a third century Roman of whom nothing whatsoever is known except that he was executed and regarded as a martyr. There was confusion about what he had done that was noteworthy as early as 496 Common Era.

    Nevertheless, a pope named Gelasius declared him a saint in that year, while admitting that he was so obscure that “his acts are known only to God.”

    The first detailed stories about him appeared over 700 years later and none of them are particularly romantic.

    Whatever he did to become noteworthy, Valentine would probably be horrified to hear that his feast day is now associated with Cupid, a pagan fertility god whose name means “desire” in Latin. That association of Cupid and Valentine may have come about from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, a rite of spring that was celebrated on Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day.

    Valentine’s Day was associated with romance as early as the 1300s, when Geoffrey Chaucer stated in a poem that birds choose their mates then.  This did not mean that people sought out candlelit restaurants on that particular day. First of all, restaurants as we know them wouldn’t be invented for another 300 years. Since candles were all they had back then, there was no particular appeal to soft mood lighting. Through the centuries the holiday came to be celebrated with the exchange of poetic cards and with small gifts that often included sweet candies and cakes.

    The tradition of dining out for Valentine’s Day seems to be quite modern, and the earliest menus and restaurant ads I have found that mention doing so are from the 1930s. For help pinning that down I contacted culinary historian Charles Perry, who confirmed my suspicions.

    “The tradition probably arose during the Depression, when any meal out was a special occasion. Popular restaurants like Sardi’s had some tables with curtains so that couples could choose to see and be seen or to have an intimate meal while still enjoying the sounds of the orchestra.”

    At some of these restaurants the server would knock or ring a bell a moment or two before entering, which suggests that something more than dining might have been going on inside. (Keep this in mind the next time you go to a restaurant that includes heavy draperies – they were once functional rather than ornamental.) Many elegant restaurants also had a rear entrance that was not visible from the main room, which was handy if your valentine was someone else’s wife, rather than your own.

    As to the style of dining at these restaurants, it was “continental,” in which dishes had French names despite being primarily based on a mix of English and American ideas. Though Italian cuisine is now one of the most popular at Valentine’s Day, it was a latecomer to the table. As documented in the magnificent book, How Italian Food Conquered The World, by John Mariani, authentic Italian dining was long regarded as simple peasant cooking by everybody, including Italians.

    The first high style Italian restaurants in America didn’t open until well after World War II.

    The Valentine’s Day dining out tradition is certainly well-established now. Even humble restaurants offer specials and dress the place up as much as possible. As we have become a multicultural society, the variety of experiences has broadened, so that just within our coverage area you might have a romantic dinner for two in a sleek modern room or a reasonable facsimile of a Moroccan palace, English pub, Indonesian mansion, or a ship at sea.

    All this effort at décor aside, the most romantic dinner for many people is a return to the place where they first met, kissed, or realized that they were having a meal with someone who they just might want to spend the rest of their life with.

    Blu Restaurant and Lounge

    Upscale yet casual Blu Restaurant and lounge at San Pedro’s Crowne Plaza Hotel is the spot for great food and live jazz.  Dress up or not, a romantic moment is impossible to miss.
    Details: (310) 521-8080
    Venue: Crowne Plaza Los Angeles Harbor Hotel
    Location: 601 S. Palos Verdes St., San Pedro

    Baramee Thai Restaurant

    This quiet romantic gem of a restaurant in downtown San Pedro is warm cozy, and intimate, with great food at an affordable price. There are no special deals on this, just make sure you RSVP early. It’s a popular spot.
    Details: (310) 521-9400;www.barameethairestaurant.com
    Venue: Baramee Thai Restaurant
    Location: 354 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Ports O’ Call Restaurant

    Dining on waterfront at sunset is a special way to have a romantic meal. Their full bar and extensive wine list is a help too. Valentine’s Day specials will be served Feb. 10 through Feb. 14. Full bar and extensive wine list is available.
    Details: (310) 833-3553
    Venue: Ports O’ Call Restaurant
    Location: Berth 76 Nagoya way, San Pedro

    The Whale &  Ale

    You can’t miss in going to The Whale & Ale. On this evening, The Whale & Ale offers a choice of special entrees from sauteed Alaskan sand dabs to Chilean sea bass. There’s even live entertainment in this venerable pub.
    Details: (310) 832-0363
    Venue: The Whale & Ale
    Location: 327 W 7th St, San Pedro

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  • Aquarium of Pacific Expansion Breaks Ground

    • 02/07/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — On Feb. 2, the Aquarium of the Pacific hosted a ground-breaking ceremony for its Pacific Visions wing. The new wing of the aquarium is expected to be a 29,000-square-foot, biomorphic sustainable structure designed that the San Francisco-based architectural firm EHDD.

    The aquarium announced Clark Construction as the project contractor for the new wing, which will feature a glass panel façade that responds to changing light and climatic conditions with varying colors that mirror the effect of sunlight rippling on the ocean’s surface. The new wing will also house an immersive theater, expanded special exhibition and art galleries, and additional space for live animal exhibits slated to open to the public in late 2018. Cortina Productions is working with the aquarium to develop the technological components and storytelling. The estimated $38 million project is supported by donations.

    LA Council Decriminalizes Street Vending

    LOS ANGELES — On Jan. 31, the Los Angeles City Council voted to legalize street vending.

    Los Angeles is the only major city that prohibits vending of every type, 24 hours a day, throughout the entire city, for about 11,000 miles of sidewalks. This presents a huge enforcement problem because with thousands of vendors spread throughout 469 square-miles, it is impossible for enforcement to be consistent and effective.

    Selling food or goods on the sidewalk has lead to misdemeanor charges in Los Angeles. The new rules would do away with criminal penalties and allow the city to issue vending permits. However, this could take months to get in place.

    The vote came in response to Donald Trump’s election to the presidency of the country. Trump had promised an anti-immigrant crackdown. Los Angeles City Council members Joe Buscaino and Curren Price moved for the proposal.

    Meanwhile, street vendors could still be cited and fined for violating the municipal code, but they would not face criminal convictions.

    Lawyers are also supposed to report back on whether the city can offer amnesty to vendors already facing criminal charges. Such charges could jeopardize immigrants in the country illegally. Additionally, commercial corridors will have the opportunity to customize vending to fit their area.

    POLB Announces New FMC Chairman

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 30, Michael A. Khouri was appointed to lead the five-member Federal Maritime.

    The commission is charged with regulating the nation’s maritime industry.

    The appointment came as a result of Donald Trump’s election as president.

    Khouri, a Republican, has served on the commission since 2009.  He is replacing Mario Cordero, a former Port of Long Beach harbor commissioner, who was forced out a week prior. Cordero plans to continue being part of the federal commission.

    ­Teenager Killed on Wilmore Neighborhood

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 28, 17-year-old Jose De Jesus Flores was shot in the 900 block of Maine Avenue.

    When officers arrived, they found the Long Beach resident with multiple gunshot wounds, in the alley. Long Beach Fire Department personnel took him to a local hospital where he was pronounced deceased.

    Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or anonymously visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    NALEO Mourns Former Rep. Robert Garcia

    WASHINGTON, D.C. Former U.S. Rep. Robert Garcia, died Jan. 26.

    Garcia was a trailblazer for the Latino community, and a transformational leader who worked with the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ first president and founder Edward R. Roybal to help set the organization on the course it is on today.

    Born in New York, Garcia began his career in public service early in life, joining the Army’s Third Infantry Division after graduating from high school.  Elected to the New York State Assembly in 1966, Garcia went on to represent parts of the Bronx and Harlem in New York state government for 12 years.  He prevailed against six competitors to win a seat in Congress in a 1978 special election

    “Garcia created a lasting legacy in Congress, taking on challenging causes including establishment of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as a national holiday, and opposition to federal aid to guerrilla fighters in Nicaragua whose methods he felt were inconsistent with American values,” said NALEO Executive Director Arturo Vargas in a released statement. “He became one of the longest-serving chairmen of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, helping to pave the way for the men and women who followed in his footsteps.

    “NALEO will always be incredibly grateful for the pivotal role U.S. Rep. Garcia played in the development of the organization in its formative years.  Our hearts and thoughts are with the family, friends and colleagues of U.S. Rep. Garcia at this difficult time.”

    No International Flights in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 24, after years of discussions, a $350,000 feasibility study and more than three hours of public comment, the Long Beach City Council voted 8-1, Councilman Dee Andrews in favor, to reject a proposal to allow international flights at the Long Beach Airport. Andrew said the benefits and potential job creation of an international airport could help curb crime in the city.

    New York-based airline, Jet Blue, tried to create a 15,000-square-foot Customs and Border Protection station that would have processed no more than two international flights at a time during a shift. The airline had expressed a need to tap into a growing international travel market with possible flights to Mexico and South America. Now, company officials are reconsidering how to move forward in the city.

    Long Beach’s noise ordinance limits flight at its airport to operate between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. at a maximum of 50 daily, except when they are due to mechanical or weather issues. Fines are imposed on airlines with arrivals from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

    While a study commissioned to Jacobs Engineering released this past October did not reveal significant impacts to quality of life through the introduction of international flights, hundreds of residents concerned with noise pollution begged to differ.

    The financial impact to the decision is about $3 million for the Customs facility out of an estimated $10 million because the airport collects $4.50 on each ticket for construction.


    POLB Offers Parking Lot for Sale

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 18, the Port of Long Beach announce the sale of the 5.6-acre parking lot behind One World Trade Center and the Hilton Hotel in downtown Long Beach.

    The parcel was acquired by the port in 2011 during discussions to buy One World Trade Center for use as a headquarters. Because the property is owned by a government agency, there is no assessed value. However, the last sale before the port bought the property was $18 million in 2005.

    With the next port headquarters being built at the new Long Beach Civic Center, Commissioners determined it was the right time to test the market for a sale of the World Trade Center lot.

    Proceeds from a sale would go into the port’s general fund.

    Development of the property is governed by the Downtown Plan and allowable uses include residential, office and retail. Under an existing easement, any parking spaces displaced by development are required to be replaced by a parking structure.

    View the listing at www.loopnet.com/lid/20048549.

    POLB Trade Dips to 6.8 Million TEUs in 2016

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 11, the Port of Long Beach announced that overall cargo declined 5.8 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, as the port was impacted by new ocean carrier alliances and the August bankruptcy of Hanjin Shipping, a South Korean company and former majority stakeholder at the 381-acre Pier T container terminal — Long Beach’s largest.

    By year’s end, the Harbor Commission had approved an agreement for a subsidiary of Mediterranean Shipping Co., one of the world’s largest container ship operators, to take sole control of the long-term lease at Pier T.

    Cargo was 8 percent lower in December compared to the same month in 2015. Imports decreased 8.2 percent to 271,599 twenty-foot equivalent units, or TEUs. Exports fell 2.5 percent to 122,933 TEUs, while empties declined 11.4 percent to 154,397 TEUs.

    A total of 6,775,171 TEUs moved through docks in 2016. Imports totaled 3,442,575 TEUs, down 5 percent, and exports were up 0.3 percent to 1,529,497. Empty containers were down 11.7 percent to 1,803,098.

    Details: www.polb.com/stats.

    Garcia Joined Metro Board

    LONG BEACH — On Jan. 6, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia joined the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors.

    Garcia’s membership on the Metro board provides Long Beach a seat at the table regarding decisions of rider safety, infrastructure and police patrolling on Metro rail routes.

    The board is comprised of 13 elected and appointed officials from throughout the county, including all five Los Angeles County supervisors and the mayor of Los Angeles. Garcia was elected to serve a four-year term, replacing Lakewood Vice Mayor Diane DuBois.

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  • MOBY DICK @ South Coast Repertory

    Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is a novel everyone knows and almost no-one you know has read. But that doesn’t stop us from thinking we know what it’s about: obsession. Captain Ahab wants to get that big white whale to whom he lost a leg; but literature’s most famous albino cetacean stands in for pretty much whatever you want too much and how such desire can be your undoing. It’s a powerful theme, but for many Herman Melville’s extensive anatomical discourses and sundry other digressions do not help that theme strike home.

    Enter Lookingglass Theatre Company, who distill Moby Dick to its dramatic and thematic essence, delivering the goods with about as much minimalist splendor as you’ll find anywhere in this watery world.

    Call him Ishmael (Jamie Abelson), a malcontented, penniless young man who signs on for a three-year whaling expedition aboard the Pequod with his new friend Queequeg (Anthony Fleming III). They are long at sea before they actually meet Ahab (Christopher Donahue) and come to know of their captain’s single-minded purpose.

    Just as the action of Moby-Dick is but the skeleton of the fleshy leviathan that is Melville’s magnum opus, director David Catlin adapts its text as framework for erecting a gentle spectacle of mood and movement. Bathed in William C. Kirkham’s impressive lighting, his nimble cast glides not only all over the stage but also above it, taking full advantage of the Isaac Schoepp’s rigging and Courtney O’Neill’s high-curving spars that suggest ribs of the biggest beasts of the deep. As with all of the best movement elements found in plays, none of Sylvia Hernandez-DiStasi’s beautiful aerial and acrobatic choreography is self-serving; rather, it always augments the textual action and emotion, functioning as an organic part of theatrical whole.

    The cast is fine from top to bottom. The closest thing to a complaint I can come up with is that perhaps Abelson sounds like he’s at the final stage of a table-reading, nailing his lines perfectly but leaving a little room to loosen up onstage. Fleming’s Queequeg is always dignified and funny (his entrance scene is the play’s one bit of hilarity); Donahue conjures Ahab with the proper proportions of callous, oblivious obsession and buried humanity; and with only a few lines to do the job, Walter Owen Briggs effectively communicates Starbuck’s pragmatism and compassion.

    Perhaps the production’s most beguiling element is the trio of Kelley Abell, Cordelia Dewdney, and Kasey Foster, who by turns embody (in addition to a few minor characters) fate, lightning, and the sea itself. Their moody vocal intonations—and even a bit of foley—provide the show’s most arresting audio, while the only reason their hoop-skirted gliding at the beginning of Act Two is not clearly the most beautiful onstage image is because Catlin and company give us so many other worthy candidates, including a parachute dress of an ocean so gorgeous that we’re delighted to see it twice.

    Two particularly affecting moments come when the trio go to work as whales. Catlin (with a major assist from costume designer Sully Ratke) has come up with clever ways to both humanize the Pequod‘s more mundane prey (the slaughter and subsequent rendering of a non-eponymous whale is especially poignant, playing upon how today’s Westerners generally regard whales as too close to human to be hunted) and present the fearsomeness of Ahab’s ultimate target.

    The show’s only real misfires come in regard to the trio. While most of their vocalizing is live, during a couple of scenes Catlin has opted for piping in pre-recorded tracks, which both breaks with the methodology of the rest of the show and compromises the atmosphere, as the pre-recorded tracks are louder than the trio’s live vocals. The other misfires come during the climactic confrontation with the big Dick himself. The orchestration of this scene, including its choreography and lighting, are so breathtaking that a couple of short stretches that just lie there may have simply been missed lighting cues at this particular performance, standing out all the more because the show in general—and the majority of this scene in particular—is so technically spot-on.

    Deserving of special mention is the production’s pacing. Moby Dick has not a few lyrical and poetic passages, with transitions that instantaneously shift gears from meditative to high action. Catlin conceives the show’s macro-movement to perfection, and his cast seems to enact the microcosmic angular changes of speed and direction as if it’s the most natural flow in the world.

    Many novels readily offer themselves up for visual adaptation; Moby-Dick isn’t one of them. Nonetheless, Lookingglass Theatre Company manages to deliver the broad strokes of the plot and spirit of Melville’s masterpiece while translating many of its most evocative moments into visual language that communicates with articulateness worthy of the finest prose. It was a perilous quest they undertook, but with this crew the audience is in safe, beautiful waters.


    (Photo credit: Liz Lauren)

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  • The Real Scandal

    • 02/03/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Trump- Russia  Scandal is  a Smoking Gun in a Smoke-Filled Room

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    On Jan. 10, Buzzfeed published an explosive series of memos (misleadingly called a “dossier”) from a former British spy, later revealed to be Christopher Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia desk, with a network of sources there.

    The first memo, dated June 2015, alleged the “Russian regime has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for at least 5 years… to encourage splits and divisions in western alliance … [and that Russian intelligence] has compromised Trump through his activities in Moscow sufficiently to be able to blackmail him.”

    “The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors,” BuzzFeed warned. “CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President [Barack] Obama and [president-elect Donald] Trump.

    “Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the U.S. government.”

    From other reports, it immediately became obvious that the memos had circulated widely for months. The author had repeatedly updated the FBI, hoping to spur an investigation, which seems to have languished, for reasons unknown, even as FBI Director James Comey sparked a last-minute public wild-goose chase after Clinton emails in the last two weeks of the campaign.  In late October, while the phony Clinton email scandal again dominated the news, Mother Jones correspondent David Corn published a story based on the FBI information, but no one had published any of the actual content before. At the same time,  the story was consistent with recent Russian political activity working to undermine other western democracies—with Trump’s Russian ties (praising Putin at least since 2007), and with Trump’s long, sordid personal history. All three actions were severely under-reported during the campaign.

    The Real Scandal

    Maybe there wasn’t a smoking gun in the memos, but there was a smoke-filled room full of unanswered, even unasked questions.

    “Maybe we ought instead to abandon our obsession with ‘secrets’ and ‘spies’ and look at what is sitting in front of us,” Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum wrote on Jan. 13.

    She went on to cite Trump’s reliance on Russian money (the exact quantity is unknown), his political ties to Russia through former campaign manager Paul Manafort, his altering the Republican Platform by softening language on Ukraine, his repetition of “slogans and conspiracy theories — ‘Obama invented ISIS,’ ‘Hillary will start World War III’ — lifted from Sputnik, the Russian propaganda website,” and his dogged fealty to Putin, never speaking ill of him, no matter what.

    The most telling of the sources Applebaum links to is a Dec. 19, 2016 story in the American Interest, by investigative economist and journalist Jim Henry.

    “A few of Donald Trump’s connections to oligarchs and assorted thugs have already received sporadic press attention,” Henry writes. “But no one has pulled the connections together, used them to identify still more relationships and developed an image of the overall patterns.”

    “Nor has anyone related these cases to one of the most central facts about modern Russia: its emergence since the 1990s as a world-class kleptocracy, second only to China as a source of illicit capital and criminal loot, with more than $1.3 trillion of net offshore ‘flight wealth’ as of 2016,” said Henry, which is important for understanding the political big picture.

    That kleptocracy was created by the way Russia reorganized after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. American neoliberals played a central role in that process.

    “From 1992 to the Russian debt crisis of August 1998, the West in general — and the U.S. Treasury, USAID, the State Department, the International Monetary Fund/World Bank, the EBRD and many leading economists in particular—actively promoted and, indeed, helped to finance one of the most massive transfers of public wealth into private hands that the world has ever seen,” he wrote. “For example, Russia’s 1992 ‘voucher privatization’ program permitted a tiny elite of former state-owned company managers and party apparatchiks to acquire control over a vast number of public enterprises, often with the help of outright mobsters.”

    This program turned out to be enormously unpopular.

    Boris Yelstin began his 1996 re-election campaign with just 8 percent support. But, with help from U.S. political consultants, massive new IMF loans worth $10.1 billion, and campaign cash from newly-wealthy oligarchs, Yeltsin managed to get re-elected over the Communist Party candidate. From then on, the kleptocrats were fully in charge, it was only a question of which ones landed on top. But the cash they looted had to go somewhere. Trump was a prime beneficiary. Henry quotes Donald Trump Jr. from a 2008 conference presentation:

    [I]n terms of high-end product influx into the United States, Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets; say in Dubai, and certainly with our project in SoHo and anywhere in New York. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia.

    The big picture bottom line Henry points to is this:

    [N]either Trump nor Putin is an “uncaused cause.” They are not evil twins, exactly, but they are both byproducts of the same neoliberal policy scams that were peddled to Russia’s struggling new democracy.

    This is precisely the essence of what Trump pretended to run against: the neoliberal global elites running the whole world. Far from fighting against it, he and Putin are its most outrageous examples.  This is the big-picture crime scene. This is what’s in the smoke-filled room. It’s a story that some in the media have told — pieces of it, at least — but that the media as a whole has proven incapable of grasping as a whole, much less communicating to the public.

    Distraction Central

    Telling big, complicated stories is hard, a lot harder than having scoops handed to you, or covering hot he said/she said controversies. And no one knows this better than Trump.

    So, naturally, when BuzzFeed published the memos, Trump hit back hard, in his usual scatter-shot, wild way.

    “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public,” he tweeted. “One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?”

    But BuzzFeed didn’t get the documents from the intelligence agencies, they’d been circulating among journalists for months, journalists who also didn’t leak what was in the documents to the public. It was Trump’s version of events in his tweet that was actually fake news, underscored by his ludicrous invocation of Nazi Germany. In the real world, it’s Trump’s own repeated attacks on the press that have experts worried about totalitarian rule. “Lying press” was a Nazi epithet used to delegitimate the German mainstream media that opposed Hitler’s rise and accurately reported on his movement’s bigotry, paranoia and violent tendencies.

    At his first press conference in six months, Trump repeatedly refused to take a question from CNN reporter Jim Acosta, specifically calling CNN “fake news,” an obvious lie on Trump’s part. The memos surely contain errors, but CNN merely reported on the synopsis being presented to the president and president-elect, a straightforward matter of fact.

    “CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than BuzzFeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos,” CNN wrote the next day. “The Trump team knows this. They are using BuzzFeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations.”

    But even the memos themselves weren’t fake news. They were presented as intelligence, in need of further investigation.  Fake news stories are objectively false, while purporting to be true.

    Still, there was widespread press reaction against what BuzzFeed did. Columbia Journalism Review took a dim view of complaints. While the most typical style of investigative reporting involves months of gathering documents and cultivating sources, Managing Editor Vanessa M. Gezari observed,

    BuzzFeed took a different but still well-established approach: release what you can when you have it and see what new leads it generates,” Gezari said.

    There’s nothing unethical in the approach — provided you don’t misrepresent raw information as confirmed fact. Sometimes it may be the only way to get the information you need.

    “Some critics seem to be saying that unless the information in an intelligence briefing or other leaked document can be independently verified by reporters, it shouldn’t be published,” Gezari continued. “But did reporters independently verify all the allegations against Hillary Clinton and her allies contained in the emails released by WikiLeaks?”

    Obviously, they didn’t. Clinton has been the subject of similar recklessness for a quarter century now. After the election, voters were even quoted citing Clinton’s supposed involvement in the “murder of Vincent Foster” as a reason she’s more untrustworthy than Trump. Foster committed suicide in 1993, but anti-Clinton conspiracists have insisted he was murdered for decades. Fake news stories have kept such claims alive and Trump revived the charges during his campaign, falsely describing theories of possible foul play in his death is “very serious” in a May 2016 interview with the Washington Post. He falsely claimed that the circumstances of his death were “very fishy.”

    But in reality, as Vox reported at the time, “few if any suicides have been investigated as thoroughly—or repeatedly—as Foster’s, and it’s very clear what happened to him. It was a tragic suicide, not a murder to further a cover-up.”

    While it was almost trivial compared to Trump’s lengthy involvement in promoting birtherism, it reflected the same basic mindset and modus operandi on Trump’s part: a habitual reliance on discredited make-believe, gossip and fake news to attack whomever stands in his way, matched with an instant reflex to play the victim whenever anything critical is said about him, as a way to preemptively shut down further inquiries.

    A Roadmap from the Past

    All this is a highly amplified echo of what happened in the 2004 campaign. On the one hand, John Kerry, a decorated war hero, was savagely and effectively attacked with a fake news operation decades in the making — the so-called “Swiftboat Veterans for Truth” — based on the absurd notion that Kerry had not really earned a Purple Heart, but had somehow conned the Navy into giving it to him — or perhaps, he simply pinned the medal on himself? On the other hand, there was an extensive, highly detailed record showing that George W. Bush had not fulfilled his military obligation, and had been flat-out absent without official leave for a period of months. Evidence of Bush’s dereliction of duty had been uncovered by the Boston Globe during the 2000 campaign, but Bush’s full military records were successfully blocked from public view, until 2004, when two separate researchers, Paul Lukasiak and Col. Gerald Lechliter, put together detailed analysis proving that Bush had failed to fulfill his requirements and that he had benefited from some sort of coverup. But their work, which Random Lengths explored at length in October 2004, was dense and complicated. It was not made for sensationalist TV.

    What would make a sensationalist scoop would be one single “smoking gun” document that could prove the existence of a conspiracy and cover up, rather than patiently putting all the pieces together, so that a clear, undeniable picture emerged. That picture was one of the smoke-filled backroom, from which Bush was protected by his father’s friends. That smoking gun is what Dan Rather and 60 Minutes went after, shortly before we ran our story. The result was a disaster. By all appearances, the memos in question — from Lt. Col. Jerry B. Killian, Bush’s superior at one point — were apparently accurate, Killian’s secretary, Marian Carr Knox, said.

    “I know that I didn’t type them,” she said in a followup broadcast interview, “However, the information in those is correct.”

    An accurate forged document is consistent with “Bush’s Brain,” Karl Rove’s modus operandi, and suggests it was intentional disinformation designed to discredit any and all questioning of Bush’s record — whether it was or not, it worked.

    The Steele memos are similar smoking gun material, and the fact they can’t — or at least haven’t been — confirmed is now being used to discourage further questioning, just as happened with Bush military service. But as much as the core dynamic is similar, the surrounding political environment is radically different today. There are not just two dedicated researchers who’ve put together a big-picture view of the smoke-filled room, there are scores of them. And the focus is not on a tightly circumscribed military/bureaucratic cover up of an AWOL junior officer decades in the past. The focus is on the global financial and political forces that are reshaping our world and  have been doing so in their current form, at least since the fall of the Soviet Union.  It’s a very big smoke-filled room, indeed.  And we’re going to stumble around in it for a good long time — at least if we keep getting distracted by looking for smoking guns, rather than simply examining what’s right in front of our eyes.


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  • Zero-Emission Cargo Truck Technology Tested in Carson

    • 02/03/2017
    • Christian Guzman
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Christian L. Guzman, Community Reporter

    Electric trolleys are icons in San Francisco. Although they are viewed by some as a quaint relics, the basic technology behind them is not. If you’ve been to Frisco recently, you’ve probably seen modern buses that are propelled by electricity from a maze of overhead electric lines.

    The same technology, called an overhead catenary system, is going to be tested on full-size cargo trucks in Carson. If the experiment goes well, it could lead to a notable decrease in the emissions of local cargo transport.

    Field tests will be conducted this winter and spring. Siemens, an international research and development company, is running the tests, but the project was initiated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD).

    “With goods movement contributing to local air pollution, we thought a catenary system was a good option to test out,” said Naveen Berry, planning and rules manager at the SCAQMD.

    The district funds projects through its Advanced Technology Goods Movement and Clean Fuels funds.

    For this project, the SCAQMD allocated $4 million; an additional $12 million was provided by the California Energy Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, Los Angeles Metropolitan Authority and the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Four million dollars came from the China Shipping Settlement in 2003. The settlement between the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Port of Los Angeles allowed the China Shipping port terminal to expand but required environmental mitigations, including funding of projects like the one in Carson.

    Three different types of cargo trucks are being tested on the catenary: a battery-powered electric, a compressed natural gas hybrid and a diesel hybrid. The battery-powered truck has a range of 20 miles and was designed by local technology company, Transpower. Two distinct natural gas hybrids are being tested, one from TransPower and the other from a partnership between BAE Systems and Kenworth. The diesel hybrid was designed by Volvo.

    “We’ve had previous experience working with these companies, so we were able to leverage that for this project,” Berry said. “These trucks can match the horsepower and torque of a Class 8 diesel with [a] full[y] load[ed cargo].”

    Now Siemens and the SCAQMD will be investigating how these trucks interact with the catenary system Siemens built. The pantographs were designed to connect and disconnect from the truck’s overhead wires automatically or manually. Once connected, a truck’s battery or engine will turn off, and the electrical current from the wire will power the truck’s motor.

    Current, voltage and other data will be monitored in real-time via Wi-Fi. Data will be collected for six to 12 months.

    Berry already expects the catenary to provide at least enough power to enable trucks to haul a full load of cargo. He is excited to discover how much extra power the wire can deliver to the trucks.

    “Excess power means that the system could recharge a truck’s batteries,” Berry said. “This could extend a truck’s zero emission range.”

    As it stands, the battery truck has a relatively short range. It will be used to make short-haul trips between the ports, rail yards and container yards. If it can connect to the catenary system during a particular trip, and receive excess power, it won’t have to charge as long at a charging station.

    The trucks are being tested on a one-mile long stretch of wires along Alameda Street. (Sepulveda Boulevard passes over the track at about the midpoint.) There are two sets of wires, one for northbound travel and the other for southbound travel. The current for the wires comes from a substation Siemens built and manages.

    The experiment should have been underway this past year, but engineers had to redesign some of the project’s infrastructure. They initially planned the poles to support the catenary wires be anchored underground.

    “We had maps of gas and utility lines and we thought we addressed everything,”  Berry said. “Then after we started digging we found an unidentified pipe.”

    Carson, which owns the land, provided the maps to the district. City permits were already completed, so the project continued at that site. Engineers eventually brought in and anchored the support poles on 5- by 5- by 6-feet concrete blocks.

    Although the redesign caused a yearlong delay, none of the funders backed out. In that time, the California Department of Transportation, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and Southern California Edison—which provides electricity for the project’s substation—expressed interest in the project. Berry said that these organizations want to know how this technology can be adapted for their own needs.

    Edison is particularly interested in the results of the project.

    “Edison recognizes that in order to meet state goals for greenhouse gas and air quality, electrification of all transportation sectors is needed,” said Paul Griffo, corporate communications officer at Southern California Edison.

    To help analyze the catenary experiment’s data, Edison provided resources from its Advanced Technology Laboratory in Pomona.

    “[We] helped assess their grid impact … [future] catenaries could be constructed in a way that would not affect Edison’s existing infrastructure,” Griffo said.

    This is good news because for a catenary system to make a significant impact on reducing local emissions, hundreds of trucks will have to use it daily.

    “I’m optimistic about the technology,” Berry said. “It looks good from a review and design perspective. Now we’ve got to document it in reality.”

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  • Joe Hill’s Requiem

    • 02/02/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • Feature
    • Comments are off

    By Slobodan Dimitrov, Guest Columnist

    Blindfolded, Joe Hill sits in a chair with his wrists tied to its arms. Riflemen, apprehensively peering through slits at Hill from behind a barricade, hold their weapons knuckle-white tight. Blindfolded, Hill starts rocking his chair and yelling “I want to see.” He rocks his chair until it tilts back, leaning against a structure behind him. He rubs his face against it, sliding off the blindfold. Hill stares at the slits behind which the rifle nest is hid. Some of the rifles are loaded with dum-dum bullets — expandable bullets that are designed to inflict greater damage than the rifle’s caliber would suggest. Murmuring several words, Hill stares at the wall of anonymity in front of him. Finally, after a deep look, in a pique of defiance, Hill utters “fire.” The firing squad reflexively does so. So dies Joe Hill, according to the scene painted in a 1971 Swedish biopic, directed by Bo Widerberg (of Elvira Madigan fame, 1967).

    Renowned sculptor Eugene Daub and graphic artist Suzanne Matsumiya designed the Joe Hill Memorial plaque, installed at Liberty Hill in San Pedro. Photo by Phillip Cooke

    It is also this scene of martyrdom that community members, folk singers and labor leaders paid tribute to during a Jan. 28 dedication ceremony of the Joe Hill Memorial Plaque—a work by graphic artist Suzanne Matsumiya and nationally renowned sculptor, Eugene Daub.

    More than 100 people gathered at Liberty Hill Plaza at the foot of 5th Street on Harbor Boulevard to celebrate San Pedro’s adopted son and sing Joe Hill’s IWW songs about the struggles of the working man.

    Art Almeida, the noted historian of San Pedro’s occupational culture who spearheaded the project to make the memorial possible, followed the performance by explaining the symbols embedded in the plaque.

    He began by identifying the location of old Beacon Street, which had been torn down and restructured over the past three decades of redevelopment efforts. He continued by explaining the location of the hill upon which Upton Sinclair was arrested for reading the Bill of Rights in 1924 (he only made it part-way through the first). Almeida then explained the location of the jail in which Hill sat for his organizing activities in San Pedro, more than 10 years prior to the emergence of Sinclair.

    “Upton Sinclair was not a Wobbly,” Almeida said “The fact is, he had some funny ideas about organizing, but the one thing he liked about the Wobblies was their songs, their themes and their freedom of speech.”

    Joe Hill died Nov. 19, 1915. Some say he was murdered by official fiat, others say he got his comeuppance. In either case, Joe Hill very quickly became an icon of labor’s struggle to improve worker conditions. His martyrdom became a symbol of the inviolate individual, braving the forces of the robber barons who reigned unchecked. Joe Hill became the archetypal image of defiance in the face of adversity.

    While the circumstances surrounding his last days are clouded with assumptions, William M. Adler’s 2011 biography on Hill, The Man Who Never Died, reveals evidence that Hill’s charges and conviction were the result of a love triangle gone wrong—specifically, he was shot by a close friend and rival for the affections of Hilda Erickson. The young woman was a member of the family with whom both men were lodging.

    Subsequent events used the wound that Hill sustained as proof for another set of circumstances: the 1914 killing of John G. Morrison, a Salt Lake City grocer and former policeman, and his son, L. Arling Morrison, by two men. The Erickson alibi was never presented in court, according to Adler, setting in motion a train of events that would culminate in the execution of an obscure labor activist.

    Obscurity was never going to be the platter upon which Joe Hill’s ashes would rest. His ashes were placed in 600 envelopes and distributed throughout the world. More pointedly, Hill’s last act of defiance would be a note that resonated through generations to come—a heraldic voice of the struggle for justice, an acknowledgment of the contribution that a person can make to occupational and national culture. It should be noted that many died at the hands of extra-judicial methods prevalent during the turn of that century. A few have stood out, such as the 1886 Haymarket Affair; the Triangle Shirtwaist fire in 1911; and the execution of Sacco and Vanzetti in 1927. None, however, have captured the imagination like Joe Hill.

    While a simple man, Hill left a copious amount of literary work. By the standards of the day for someone involved in the labor movement, Hill was prodigious.  The letters, songs, and cartoons, allow us today to know him in a manner that resonates. As a symbol of the labor movement, Joe Hill projects the “good fight” with a natural grace and unaffected directness that is seldom seen nowadays.

    Labor culture is split into two courses of action: one which reaches into the trenches of the “good fight;” and the other which mimics a corporate style used to engage and dialogue with Management. Both are valid and comingle, as historic national events show. Joe Hill is a product of the “good fight” from inside our economic steerage.

    Born Oct. 7, 1879 as Joel Emmanuel Hägglund in Gävle, Sweden, Hill was also attributed another name, Joseph Hillström, on his Industrial Workers of the World documents, which was shortened to Hill. The “future troubadour of discontent” emigrated to the United States in 1902, with his brother Paul, after their father died. They worked across the country at various jobs—often menial and underpaid.

    According to the AFL-CIO, “The record finds him … in San Pedro, Calif., in 1910. There he joined the IWW, served for several years as the secretary for the San Pedro local and wrote many of his most famous songs, including  The Preacher and the Slave and  Casey Jones—A Union Scab.  His songs, appearing in the IWW’s Little Red Song Book, addressed the experience of virtually every major IWW group from immigrant factory workers to homeless migratory workers to railway shopcraft workers.

    “The San Pedro dockworkers’ strike led to Hill’s first recorded encounter with the police, who arrested him in June 1913 and held him for 30 days on a charge of vagrancy because, he said later, he was ‘a little too active to suit the chief of the burg’ during the strike.”

    During his time in San Pedro he wrote the majority of his songs and drew cartoons for the IWW. Many would be taken up by folk singers. Hill was chiefly popularized through the following song, I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night, written by Alfred Hays and Earl Robinson, circa 1936. It was often sung by the likes of Pete Seeger, Paul Robeson, Joan Baez, and Phil Ochs. From 1911 to 1915, Hill wrote 24 songs.


    The role of the song can’t be underscored enough. It was a new organizing technology for its day. Along with radio, it could advance the call to action among the workers. The IWW was known as the singing union, and Joe Hill’s songs were auditory demonstration signs. Wobblies would often sing them, in prisons, while under arrest for civil disobedience.

    Joe Hill was no stranger to singing. According to his biography on the AFL-CIO site, “Both his parents enjoyed music and often led the family in song. As a young man, Hill composed songs about members of his family, attended concerts at the workers’ association hall in Gävle, Sweden, and played piano in a local café.”

    During the IWW strike in San Pedro, 1923, a labor journalist, Louis Adamic also worked on the docks in San Pedro.

    “While the strike was thus being broken, the Wobblies—rough, strong men; native-born and foreigners—sang their songs,” Adamic said.  “They sang in the prison stockade in San Pedro and on the way to the trains, in the trains and finally in jail… ‘God!’ another young newspaper man remarked to me, ‘One feels like singing with them. They got guts!’”

    IWW song books during the 1910s sold anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 per printing. The songs, as one goes through Hill’s repertoire were an education, a morality journey to effect a change. They were meant to stir the individual to action by provoking thought and heart. By providing examples and ironies of what it meant to work for a near-living, while grasping for that elusive pie in the sky.

    Many of the songs reached into the native cultures of the workers, adding a connectivity that touched deeply into the hearts of the working class.  Hill’s song, The Preacher and the Slave was one of those songs.

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  • Yes Sally, There Are Still Patriots

    • 02/02/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    You just won’t find them in the White House

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    “These are the times that try men’s souls.”
    —from Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis


    It is one thing to pledge allegiance to the flag in the security of a neighborhood council or chamber of commerce board meeting. It is quite another to stand up to the newly-elected president of the United States and tell him that his latest executive order on immigration is indefensible and probably unconstitutional. I call that true patriotism. That’s what the now former-acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates did the other day when she directed the Department of Justice lawyers to disobey the executive order. The executive order bans entry to the United States from 7 Muslim-majority countries. Christians are exempt from the order.

    “In litigation, DOJ Civil Division lawyers are charged with advancing reasonable legal arguments that can be made supporting an Executive Order. But my role as leader of this institution is different and broader,” Yates said regarding her decision. “My responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible, but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts…. I am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution’s solemn obligation to always seek justice and stand for what is right. At present, I am not convinced that the defense of the Executive Order is consistent with these responsibilities nor am I convinced that the Executive Order is lawful.”

    Ol’ President No. 45 fired Yates. Or, just as likely, the newly-elected’s alt-right-ego and former  white nationalist news blog Breitbart editor-turned-“chief strategist” and newly- minted member of the National Security Council, Stephen Bannon, fired Yates. This only added more confusion to Trump’s executive order on immigration, which has been protested by thousands and challenged in federal court by the American Civil Liberties Union. A temporary stay has been issued by the U.S. District Court judge for the Eastern District of New York on Jan. 25. Now, instead of protecting America from foreign enemies, Trump has become one of the “bad hombres” that he warned us about.  So much for those who have been saying, “just give the new president a chance to prove himself”.

    Nyet! I say hurrah for those many thousands who are protesting, chanting, standing up shouting, “No Trump! No KKK! No fascist USA!” and who are now suing this administration.

    Ms. Yates heroically upheld her oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

    To many Americans, the current occupant of the Oval Office is ignorant of the Constitution he swore to uphold and is driving the nation into a direct collision with the fundamentals of our very liberties. The chaos emanating from the bloviator-in-chief would be amusing if it weren’t so tragic.

    In just his first 10 days on the job, Trump has already signed more executive actions than any previous president, including Barack Obama. Trump has issued two proclamations, seven executive orders and seven presidential memoranda.

    He’s even invented a new form of presidential directive — the national security presidential memorandum — and signed three of those.

    For those who thought Trump’s antics were just campaign rhetoric, it is clear now that his campaign rhetoric was his real agenda — an agenda supported by “alternative facts,” his alt-right interpretation and his non-existent understanding of the Bill of Rights.

    Reince Priebus signed the Memorandum to the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, freezing all new regulations; it is clear that this regime is on the warpath to overturn, dismantle or destroy as much of the Obama agenda as it can by executive fiat before Congress can act in the first 100 days.

    Trump’s Executive Order 13767 and his Executive Order to “Protect the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” are just a two of 19 objectionable executive actions. The other messes he’s started includes creating diplomatic rifts with Mexico over his Great Wall; lobbing the opening salvo in dismantling the Affordable Care Act; restarting the Dakota Access Pipeline; and threatening sanctuary cities. (See pg. 10 to read the whole list of Trump’s executive orders thus far.) Trump has cancelled the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement, but his penchant for alienating U.S. allies and rivals alike could have real effects on import industry jobs in the Los Angeles Harbor and consumer price inflation nationwide. In the end, will Trump actually create more jobs?

    That the mainstream media should now seem shocked by any of this after promoting his celebrity status and profiting from the TV ratings that Trump generated during the bizarre 2016 campaign is a sad irony.

    Even more disconcerting is mainstream media’s late arrival on fact checking and investigating his relationship to Russian President Vladimir Putin or even demanding the release of his taxes. Only now are some mainstream media outlets beginning to use the “L” word when reporting on Trump’s or his subordinate’s lies.

    He is just a brand name like Coca-Cola or Twitter: empty of substance and short on communication.  That he is now slamming and abusing the White House press corps is just trumpish exploitation of the way things are in these great post-factual United States of America. Bannon said the other day that the press should, “Just shut up and listen.” As if journalists should be obedient stenographers rather than professional skeptics of the Fourth Estate.

    This conflict has been coming to a head for some time as corporate public relation firms have been spoon-feeding journalists “alternative facts.”

    The rest of us should not be shocked at the political confrontation now  in play. From the very birth of this nation—beginning with the Boston Tea Party through the Civil War and emancipation of the slaves and every decade and era since—the conflict has been between the rights of the people versus the tyranny of money, property and privilege. Liberty sometimes gets confused with ownership, depending on who owns what or whom.

    That Trump is held up as a champion of the neo-Tea Party, neo-fascists and others only confuses both our American sensibilities and our American linguistics, such as they are. Trump is nothing more than an empty Coke bottle full of fizzy colored politics with no moral values.

    Making America Great is a slogan, not a course of action or a cure for what ails this country. His inauguration was not much more than an insulting reiteration of his empty sloganeering soaked in sugar water.

    However, from this chaos there will rise true patriots and heroes who, like many before Sally Yates, will stand up to speak truth to power and demand libe

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  • This is NOT a Moment

    • 02/02/2017
    • Kym Cunningham
    • Feature, News
    • Comments are off

    This Is A Movement

    By Kym Cunningham, Contributing Writer

    On Jan. 21, an estimated 750,000 demonstrators converged on downtown Los Angeles for a local contingent of the world-wide Women’s March.

    The demonstrators shattered organizers’ expectations with a crowd of 80,000 people. By official count, attendance of the Los Angeles ‘sister march’ dwarfed the central march in Washington, D.C. The estimated crowd there topped out at 500,000.

    Individual motivations for marching varied from general anti-Trump sentiment to specific criticisms targeting the “predator-in-chief’s” platforms on health care, immigration, the Dakota Access Pipeline and reproductive rights. Many marchers reported feeling frustrated at the proposed policy implementations. They viewed this march as a way to voice their dissent on issues.

    Marie Rios, a Long Beach public school employee, discussed the hostility generated from Donald Trump’s policies on immigrants, or, as he has renamed them, “removable aliens.”

    “I work at a school and we did have issues with some of the kids at the school [asking], ‘Am I going to be deported?’” Rios said. “The kids were scared.”

    Due to the atmosphere of fear perpetuated by the Trump administration, many sources declined to give their names during interviews. Even those who did give their names were wary, knowing that cell phones and social media have been used to target protesters, including those at Standing Rock.

    “[It’s] very scary,” said Gilberto Ruiz-Ortega, a supporter at the Women’s March in Los Angeles. “My mom is a software engineer…. The way these systems are built people have access to this information.”

    Many protesters, including 48-year-old Long Beach resident Laura Butler, turned off their phones to prevent being targeted by law enforcement. The marchers’ wariness illustrates that the president’s actions have resulted in genuine distrust by the American people. In order to protect them, Random Lengths News complied with requests for anonymity.

    However, other protesters had moved past fear to anger, especially regarding policy decisions that they felt targeted women.

    “I’m sick of women being treated as second-class citizens when we’re the majority population,” said 30-year-old Long Beach resident Ashley Giaimo-Dolan. “We created the entire population.”

    “I’m not ready to go backwards in rights,” a fellow protester, who asked for anonymity simplified.

    Instead of feeling isolated from one another as a result of political or ideological differences, marchers found strength.

    “We are here in solidarity,” confirmed activist actress Gina Belafonte. “Women are the answer.”

    This was true. However, before the march even began, it faced public criticism for a lack of diversity amongst its predominantly white organizers and speakers.

    “It probably got organized by white women because they get listened to a little bit more,” said Liz Leigh, one of the protesters who shared that sentiment. “They’ve got the power.”

    Other marchers found the leadership’s lack of diversity much more troubling as it signaled a continued lack of intersectionality in feminist politics.

    The privilege given to white feminists was, of course, one of the major criticisms of feminism’s second wave in the 1960s and 70s. Fearing that the mainstream feminist movement remained mired in the second wave’s white privilege, many demonstrators struggled with whether or not they should even attend the event.

    “I’m still struggling,” said one woman,  smiling reluctantly. “But for me, this morning I felt that it was still important to show up … vaginas are not always black or white. Now what happens, surrounding that and the politics of it may become black and white but today, we just have to show up and we have to fight the best way we can.”

    Protester Andrea Martinez agreed.

    “Feminism does have a long way to go in terms of intersectionality, but I don’t think that anything is solved by boycotting events that might have been organized by white feminists just because we’re saying these aren’t our issues,” Martinez said. “It’s resolved by having a dialogue. We won’t create representation for ourselves in these spaces by staying away by not showing up and having that open conversation.”

    Some demonstrators felt that Trump’s unilateral oppression of women and minority groups strengthened the movement instead of fragmenting it.

    “Everybody has been attacked,” said one demonstrator shaking her head. “[This is a protest for] anybody who has been marginalized in any type of way. I’m a child of immigrants; my mom’s gay, like, ‘What the fuck?’ I need to be heard and to have my life matter.”

    More than anything, it seemed that marchers wanted a voice, a voice they felt was not being properly represented or heard in the White House.

    “We’ve been being silent and nice for the past eight years and look at where we’re at now,” the same woman said. “[It h]asn’t really worked.”

    Although many marchers felt that peaceful protest was the best way to voice their dissent, others were not sure how effective nonviolent protest could be in combatting the violence that lay in the language used by Trump.

    “You don’t want to see violence being used to get your point across but sometimes it is necessary,” another demonstrator said. “Silence isn’t always heard.”

    She was referring to the more aggressive protests that had taken place during and after the inauguration, in which a limousine was set on fire and alt-right pundit Richard Spencer was punched in the face.

    Similarly, Monessa Overbey, 84, remained skeptical about the positivity of the march.

    “We had a political revolution and the next step is a violent one,” she warned.

    A UC Riverside student thought that any violence would come from conservative backlash to the march.

    “There’s always going to be someone who is against what we are doing, someone who is here with bad intentions … but I think that’s the people who are going to be against us.”

    Demonstrator Dannah Perez added her own thoughts to the conversation.

    “I was prepared today,” Perez said. “I brought goggles and I brought things to cover my face because I am fighting for freedom.”

    Organizers sensed the tension of the crowd, repeatedly urging attendees to “stay peaceful; stay positive” over the loudspeakers. To lighten the gravity of the issues, organizers joked with attendees as they waited patiently for the police to clear a path from Pershing Square to City Hall that would accommodate the unexpected turnout.

    “We’re going to change the name [from ‘march’] to a ‘stand,’” one organizer laughed, nervously, as helicopters buzzed overhead.

    Despite fears of attendees and organizers alike, the Women’s March remained peaceful, leading media outlets to tout its success via such self-congratulatory headlines as Millions of Marchers, Zero Arrests.

    Perhaps the march’s ability to peacefully unite millions without police resistance makes it a success.

    This has not been the case with other recent peaceful demonstrations. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, more than 16 Dakota Access Pipeline protesters were arrested during a ‘prayer walk’ on charges of trespassing, inciting a riot and resisting arrest. Two days before the inauguration, another 21 pipeline protesters were arrested, putting the total number of arrests since August to more than 600. Most media outlets failed to report on the arrests in the days before the inauguration.

    “I hadn’t even heard about it,” was one Long Beach resident’s response to the pipeline arrests, an ignorance she shared with the vast majority of people interviewed

    “I wish someone would intervene on their behalf,” added Paul Ceron, 39.

    But many marchers found the idea of intervention to be unlikely, viewing the media’s lack of coverage on the Dakota Access Pipeline arrests as symptomatic of a more systemic and more malignant problem.

    “Erasure is step one,” Ruiz-Ortega said.

    Unfortunately, the prophecy of erasure became all-too apparent in the days following the Women’s March. On Jan. 24, Trump signed an order allowing Dakota Access Pipeline’s completion. A slew of similarly regressive orders followed on Jan. 25, including the plans to begin construction of (another) wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and an order that targeted undocumented immigrants and stripped sanctuary cities of federal grant money. The Trump administration also suspended refugee migration from and visa programs with “Muslim countries,” requiring “extreme vetting” to allow persons from these countries into the United States. Such measures add ominous tension to the promise of the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation, whose web slogan reads: “This is just the beginning.”

    As a result of the increasingly repressive measures undertaken by the Trump administration, protesters cautioned continued vigilance to combat the rise of impending fascism.

    If protesters have learned anything from previous movements, like Occupy Wall Street, it is that this infuriated solidarity must continue. More than that, this movement needs intersectional leadership who understand what feminism’s second wave failed to accomplish; it needs a coherent set of demands that listens to marginalized voices that scream:

    “We are not just going to disappear; we are not just going to be silent.”

    “Resistance is always necessary.”

    “There is nothing more American than dissent.”

    In the words of the millennial generation: “Stay woke.”

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