• Cheryl Green Center Re-opens

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  • Hilton Unofficial Winner of Special Election

    Decisions on Council Vacancies Delayed

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    The unofficial election returns show Jawane Hilton, pastor of City on the Hill Church, has won the Carson City Council seat left vacant when Mike Gipson was elected to the state assembly.

    To fill the vacancy, the city hosted a special election on June 2, with six candidates on the ballot. However, the margin of votes between Hilton and second-place finisher Jesus Alex Cainglet was close.

    The city clerk is delaying the certification of the election and will announce the date of when the winner will be sworn in. Some provisional ballots still need to be counted. The clerk’s office made no further comment on the reason for the delay and the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder also refused to comment on why a count of provisional ballots might be subject to delay.

    Special Election Results

    The city clerk’s office gave this unofficial tally:

    • Jawane Hilton, 2135 votes, 36.7 percent

    • Jesus Alex Cainglet, 1994 votes, 34.2 percent

    • Rita Boggs, 799 votes, 13.7 percent

    • Stephen John Randle, 356 votes, 6.1 percent

    • Emanuel Chuma Obiora, 320 votes, 5.5 percent

    • Joseph Gordon, 221 votes, 3.8 percent

    Candidates’ Support and Finances

    Although Carson council elections are nonpartisan, Hilton received support from many Democratic leaders including Assemblyman Mike Gipson, Rep. Janice Hahn, Sen. Isadore Hall III and Council member Lula Davis-Holmes. His campaign was highly visible, well-financed and relied heavily on mailings and phone banks in the days immediately before the election.

    Campaign financial records show that labor organizations, along with two Democratic candidates’ organizations, supported Hilton, while mostly ignoring other candidates. Gipson for Assembly 2016 donated $10,000 and Steven Bradford for Senate 2016 contributed $1,500. Various labor organizations contributed a combined $6,000. In addition, Watson Land kicked in $2,500.

    Cainglet, the candidate with the second-best funding, also got $2,500 from Watson Land. However, the region’s Democratic leadership ignored him. The remaining candidates were self-funded or operated with much smaller contributions from individuals.

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  • THE 29TH ANNUAL LONG BEACH BAYOU FESTIVAL

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The Long Beach Bayou Festival is like a big’ole picnic with live music and line dancing. Between the authentic Cajun and Creole cuisine and the top notch blues, zydeco and Cajun artists on two stages, it’s hard tell which the greater draw is.

    This year, Grammy-nominated bands Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys and the Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie are performing.

    Also in the lineup is Grammy-winner Joel Savoy and Cajun-Hall-of-Famer, Jesse Legé backed by the band Cajun Country Revival,

    On the blues stage, the multiple award-winning Zac Harmon will hook up with the Stony B Blues Band. Harmon has crafted songs for the O’Jays, The Whispers and Karyn Hill, before returning to his blues roots in 2002.

    Stony B has played behind such legends as Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor and others.

    Corney Mim’s band The Knowitallz will also be there. Their famed bass player and leader has played with the likes of Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Natalie Cole, Snoop Dogg, George Michael and several others. Mims will bring Barbara Morrison & Rodz Kids from the Roderick D. Jones Foundation to the stage.

    Also on the blues lineup: soulful blues-rock singer Tracy Niles Seville, blues and jazz singer Charlie Jené and the finger poppin’ picking style of blues guitarist Bernie Pearl.

    Each day of the Bayou Festival, a costumed Mardi Gras parade will be led by the New Orleans Traditional Jazz Band.

    As for the food, a colorful French Quarter marketplace will be complete with gumbo, crawfish étouffée, jambalaya, hush puppies and other Cajun and Creole delicacies. As for desserts, there will be loads of sweet potato pie, beignets and an array of cobblers for as far as the eye can see.

    And, if you think you’re a champion eater, sign up for the popular crawfish and watermelon eating contests for a prize.

    The children aren’t forgotten. The festival’s Kids’ Corner will have extensive children’s activities including costume, masks and umbrella making for the Mardi Gras Parade and other arts and crafts. There will also be storytelling, magic demonstrations, sing-a-longs, and other shows.

    SCHEDULE

    FULL CHILDREN’S STAGE SCHEDULE

    11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 20

    Bayou Kids Fun Stage

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    GATES OPEN

    11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 20

    Main Gate

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    BERNIE PEARL

    12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

    The blues is life itself to Bernie Pearl. A guitarist with an upbeat, finger-poppin’ picking style he learned at the elbows of blues masters Sam ‘Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb, Mississippi Fred MacDowell, and others. Yet, Bernie Pearl is no hidebound traditionalist. As music critics and aficionados have said for years, he is a craftsman who packs his songs with melodic interpretations that are new and personal each time he picks up his vintage Martin or National. To hear him tell it…

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    FULL BLUES STAGE SCHEDULE

    12 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

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    DAVID SOUSA & THE ZYDECO MUDBUGS

    12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

    Since 1998, the Zydeco Mudbugs have been bringing the heat of Louisiana Zydeco music to the festivals, dance halls, clubs and parties all over So Cal and beyond. The Zydeco Mudbugs play authentic Zydeco, using the Cajun single row and triple row diatonic accordions, and with songs in Louisiana French and English. The Zydeco Mudbugs music features the best of Zydeco from the early Zydeco pioneers Boozoo Chavis and Clifton Chenier, up to the modern innovators such as Beau Jocque…

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    FULL ZYDECO STAGE SCHEDULE

    12 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

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    DANCE LESSON

    1:20 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

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    STONEY B BLUES BAND

    1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

    Stoney B is the real deal, a true Blues Man. He was born in Chicago. He grew up listening to his father, Lil’ Howlin’ Wolf, playing the Blues and his dad learnt his Blues from the Chicago Blues Legend, Howling Wolf. During Stoney B’s career he has played behind well-known Blues Musicians such as Buddy Guy, James Cotton, Junior Wells, Koko Taylor, Johnny Guitar Embry and the Blues Kings, Son Thomas, Homesick James, Lovie Lee, Roosevelt Boobie Barnes and Willie…

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    T-LOU & HIS SUPER HOT ZYDECO BAND

    1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

    A leading light of the Los Angeles Zydeco scene, singer and accordionist T-Lou was born Louis Joseph Eaglin in Grand Coteau, LA; the son of sharecroppers, he taught himself guitar at the age of 15 and later played bass in a high school rhythm and blues combo. Upon graduating high school, he relocated to Houston before settling in California; there T-Lou attended a Clifton Chenier concert and fell under Zydeco’s sway, soon learning accordion and forming the Los Angeles Zydeco Band. After issuing 1985’s T-Lou & His Los Angeles…

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    DANCE LESSON

    3:05 p.m. to 3:25 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

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    CHARLIE JENE’

    3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

    Charlie grew up in Long Beach, CA and began singing at the early age of three. Her mother also had a beautiful voice & sang as a solo artist in the church. Charlie followed in her mother’s footsteps also as a solo artist. Charlie lost her sight in 1969, and moved to Cleveland, Ohio there she began her professional singing career in the early 70’s. She became the first blind jazz and blues singer in that region. Charlie met and…

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    JOEL SAVOY, JESSE LÉGE & THE CAJUN COUNTRY REVIVAL

    3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

    Joel Savoy is one of the most highly regarded Cajun musicians in Southwest Louisiana today. A GRAMMY winner for his production work with The Band Courtbouillon and a nine-time GRAMMY nominee, as well as a two-time winner of the coveted CFMA Fiddler of the Year Award, Joel represents his culture with an authority that few people his age can and his playing leaves no doubt that Cajun music is still very much alive. He has worked and played with the stars, including John Fogerty, Linda…

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    Corney Mims & The kNOW-IT-ALLz with special guests: Barbara Morrison and The Roderick D. Jones Foundation (Rodz Kids)

    5:15 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

    Cornelius “Corney” Mims is regarded as one of L.A.’s truly “elite” bass players and band leaders. As a producer, songwriter, musician and musical director he has performed live, in studio, and on television with well-known artists throughout the music industry. His list of credits reads like a who’s who of the music industry’s “A-List”.  Names like Michael Jackson, Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, LL Cool J, Smokey Robinson, Brandy, Phil Collins, Snoop Dogg and Natalie Cole only scratch the surface of his musical accomplishments.

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    CHUBBY CARRIER AND THE BAYOU SWAMP BAND

    5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

    “Ain’t no party like a Chubby party!” If you haven’t experienced the high energy, swamp funky zydeco sound of Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, it is high time that you join the legions of fans that have. Once the accordion-playing virtuoso grabs the mic and takes to the stage with his band mates, audiences are treated to a show like no other. Chubby’s sound is infectious – a concoction of blues, 70s funk, rock and roll, and good-ole…

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    DANCE LESSON

    7:05 p.m. to 7:25 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

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    STEVE RILEY AND THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS

    7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 20

    Zydeco Stage

    The band is called Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. The guy in the middle holds a button-box that squeezes like an accordion, but shouts hallelujah like a big brass band. The fiddle cracks wise and warm, the guitar falls off the edge of the earth, and the rhythm section is purring rumble like a Coupe DeVille of shark-fin vintage. It all flows as a liquid-smooth groove, topped with three heartfelt voices harmonizing in 17th-century French from the steamy sub-tropics.…

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    SEVILLE

    7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. June 20

    Blues Stage

    Unions that last 39 years are truly special. 39 years of sharing the joy of music is exceptional. Celebrating this unusual achievement is music history. Seville continues as strong now as in the beginning, 1975. Philemon Young Jr JB. Williams Jr, Larry Tate, Tony Williams and Michael Martin Sr. came together in 1975 as “Seville”.  Seville’s first sold out performance was 1979 at Dooto’s Music Center in Compton Ca.. It drew a crowd of over 1500 guests. “Seville’s first record was…

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    FULL CHILDREN’S STAGE SCHEDULE

    11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. June 21

    Bayou Kids Fun Stage

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    GATES OPEN

    11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. June 21

    Main Gate

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    BONNE MUSIQUE ZYDECO

    12 p.m. to 1 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

    Bonne Musique Zydeco (BMZ), literally “good zydeco music,” is a 6-member band specializing in the Creole music of Louisiana and east Texas. BMZ draws upon the style of traditional Cajun and Creole musicians, and the influences of the blues and New Orleans artists of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s to create a blend of music designed for dancing. Bervick J. Deculus, a native of Louisiana, bass player and leader of BMZ, founded the band in 1991. He is carrying on…

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    BILL MAGEE BLUES BAND

    12 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

    Voted the Best Blues Band in San Diego by the San Diego Music Association and Reader Magazine; one of the most sought after local bands in the city. He has also been featured in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews. Since his first CD, “Steppin’ Out”, he has just been tearin’ up the San Diego Blues Scene. His album “Low Down Dirty Blues” has received rave reviews in several publications such as “Blue Ink”. His latest work entitled “Good Morning…

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    FULL BLUES STAGE SCHEDULE

    12 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

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    FULL ZYDECO STAGE SCHEDULE

    June 21 at 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    Zydeco Stage

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    DANCE LESSON

    1:05 p.m. to 1:25 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

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    DANCE LESSON

    1:20 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

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    STEVE RILEY AND THE MAMOU PLAYBOYS

    1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

    The band is called Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys. The guy in the middle holds a button-box that squeezes like an accordion, but shouts hallelujah like a big brass band. The fiddle cracks wise and warm, the guitar falls off the edge of the earth, and the rhythm section is purring rumble like a Coupe DeVille of shark-fin vintage. It all flows as a liquid-smooth groove, topped with three heartfelt voices harmonizing in 17th-century French from the steamy sub-tropics.…

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    TRACY NILES

    1:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

    TRACY NILES is a brilliant song-writer, soulful blues-rock singer and an engaging performer who sings her original songs from her heart ranging from “guttural growls to falsetto highs.”  She catches every audience’s attention immediately!  Judges agreed at the 13th Annual L.A. Music Awards where she won “Female Vocalist of the Year” and performed her song “You’re My Way Home” with her Taylor guitar and a 20-piece orchestra. Niles’ new album is long overdue.  The clever title track “One Step Ahead”, should be renamed “One GIANT…

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    DANCE LESSON

    June 21 at 3:05 p.m. to 3:25 p.m.

    Blues Stage

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    CAFÉ R&B

    3:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

    CAFÉ R&B, featuring Vocalist Roach, and her guitar-slinging husband Byl Carruthers, has been wowing audiences throughout the U.S. and Europe for 15 years. They have released 4 Critically acclaimed Albums, including their most recent: “American Music” They are considered one of the most exciting live acts in the Blues, and beyond. The CAFÉ R&B sound is firmly rooted in electric Blues, but theirs is a tapestry of Blues, Rock, Jazz, R&B, and Americana.   Past Performances Include: Chicago Blues Festival…

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    CHUBBY CARRIER AND THE BAYOU SWAMP BAND

    3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

    “Ain’t no party like a Chubby party!” If you haven’t experienced the high energy, swamp funky zydeco sound of Chubby Carrier and the Bayou Swamp Band, it is high time that you join the legions of fans that have. Once the accordion-playing virtuoso grabs the mic and takes to the stage with his band mates, audiences are treated to a show like no other. Chubby’s sound is infectious – a concoction of blues, 70s funk, rock and roll, and good-ole…

    Find out more

    DANCE LESSON

    4:50 p.m. to 5:10 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

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    DANCE LESSON

    5:05 p.m. to 5:25 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

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    ZAC HARMON

    5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 21

    Blues Stage

    Born and raised in the heart of Jackson, Mississippi, Zac Harmon is a true disciple of the music that emanated from the city’s historic Farish Street district, universally recognized as the home of such great blues legends like the late, great Elmore James. While in high school and college, Harmon gigged as a guitarist for the likes of Z.Z. Hill, Dorothy Moore and Sam Myers. Relocating to L.A. in the early eighties, he worked as a studio musician and then…

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    GENO DELAFOSE

    5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 21

    Zydeco Stage

    Geno Delafose (born February 6, 1971 in Eunice, Louisiana) is a zydeco accordionist and singer. He is one of the younger generations of the genre who has created the sound known as the nouveau zydeco. His sound is deeply rooted in traditional Creole music with strong influences from Cajun music and also country and western. His father is the famous zydeco accordion player John Delafose. Delafose was born and raised in Eunice, Louisiana. At the age of eight, he joined his father’s band,…

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  • The Status-Shaming and Criminalization of Homeless People

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    On May 28, Random Lengths News followed up on a tip that homeless people were regularly being refused access to the public restrooms at the Anderson Park Senior Citizen’s Center on 9th and Mesa streets.

    On that day, we asked a man pushing a shopping cart near the center if he was allowed to use the bathroom there. It turned out he didn’t know the facility has restrooms.

    The man then parked his cart filled with blankets and boxes, and went inside. He asked the first person he saw in an administrative office about the restrooms.

    “I’m sorry, sir. The restrooms are out of order,” a silver-haired lady politely replied.

    The restrooms were only a few paces beyond the administrative offices and there was no sign indicating they were out of order.

    The park’s site manager, Art Jackson, told Random Lengths that he couldn’t speak to the press without permission from his supervisor, Serena Fiss-Ward.

    Fiss-Ward ultimately directed Random Lengths’ questions further up the bureaucratic food chain to the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Park’s director of public information.

    Rose Watson, the spokeswoman for the department, had not responded by presstime.

    Among the questions sent to the department:

    • How has Los Angeles Recreation and Parks staff been coping with complaints with homeless people on park grounds?

    • Is there an official policy that prohibits homeless people from using the restrooms at Anderson Senior Center?

    • How was the community notified about the formation of a park advisory board?

    Homeless_DoorLater, staff posted a notice that the restrooms were only for patrons of the senior center, though the word “patron” was left open for interpretation.

    This past April, the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council asked the department to form a park advisory board for Anderson Park. The application period ends June 30.

    On June 3, Random Lengths News asked Jackson about the application. He responded that it already closed.

    Recreation and Parks staff ultimately determines the board makeup after an applicant passes all fingerprinting and background checks. Applicants also must be stakeholders in the community of a park.

    At a June 9 Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meeting, a Recreation and Parks official, Craig Raines, noted that department staff members aren’t required to explain their decisions, but would do so if asked.

    The stream of anecdotal reports on staff attitudes toward the homeless and their use of public facilities worries homeless advocates, like Karen Ceaser, a member of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.

    “One gentleman who was homeless told me that…he used to go in there to charge his phone. He has since found housing, but a few weeks ago he sat down [in the center] and started charging his phone. The new director told him, ‘Get your stuff and get out here. You can’t be here.’ And, that’s how they’re treated,” she said.

    Ceaser,   speaking only for herself in the context of this story, said that the gentleman didn’t look like a homeless person.

    In many ways, the increasing amount of status-shaming of homeless people on social media aims to accomplish what local legislation can’t officially do: force homeless people out of town rather than solving the problem of homelessness.

    Social media chatter on homeless people has intensified in recent months as more homeless people have become increasingly more visible.

    This past May, Gerald Robinson and his comrades were livid after they were apparently forced to move from the park en masse one morning.

    Many in this group were expelled from the encampments at Plaza Park, Antes Restaurant and the Beacon Street Post Office by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Bureau of Street Services this past April.

    “I got two sides. They won’t like my bad side,” Robinson fumed. Stories abound of residents filming and taking pictures of homeless people and posting them on Facebook neighborhood watch pages.

    “I was here when boats were still ferrying people to Terminal Island,” said Robinson, a local San Pedran.

    Robinson was one of those featured in the Random Lengths story about the encampments in front of the closed Antes Restaurant this past April.

    Encampment residents were frequently ticketed at the park before signs prohibiting camping at the Plaza Park were put up, due to local outcries on Facebook.

    The UC Berkeley School of Law released a policy paper this past February that highlighted the growing number of anti-homeless laws in California. In Los Angeles alone, only 22 percent of homeless people had a shelter bed in 2013. That number grew to 30 percent in 2015, leaving nearly three-quarters of homeless people in Los Angeles County living outside full time.

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Los Angeles municipal law that prohibited sitting, lying or sleeping in public places, saying it violated homeless people’s Eighth Amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment.

    “When laws prohibiting sleeping or camping in public become an enforcement priority, the resulting arrest campaigns may restrict the right of homeless people to move freely,” the Berkeley report noted

    In November 2014, the Los Angeles City Council asked the city attorney’s office to draft an ordinance that would make it easier and faster for city workers to clean up and impound the belongings of homeless people.

    The proposal would reduce the time required to post notice requiring removal of bulky items from sidewalks from 72 to 24 hours.

    The belongings of homeless people that can fit into 60-gallon drums are taken to a facility in downtown Los Angeles and held for about 90 days or until retrieved by the owners. Depending on where the items were collected, those belongings are as good as gone. Sometimes they include documents needed to get into housing.

    That’s what happened to Robinson when his encampment was cleared in April. A day before the cleanup, Robinson had to be hospitalized for shortness of breath and other issues. He was released three days later.

    Fortunately, despite his belongings being taken 26 miles away, he has received his Section 8 housing voucher and is close to finding housing.

    Meanwhile, there are local efforts underway by homeless advocates to provide transitional housing for those with Section 8 vouchers looking for permanent housing.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • Bernie Sanders Is More Popular than Any Republican Candidate:

    Isn’t It Time to Take Him Seriously?

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    When Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his campaign for president, much of the media responded by downplaying, or ignoring it, or even treating it like a joke.

    They never stopped to consider that his positions—expanding Social Security, reforming Wall Street, raising wages, rebuilding infrastructure, free pre-K and public college for all, aggressively fighting climate change, and reversing excessive wealth and income inequality—are publicly quite popular, even with many Republicans. The democratic socialist, who is wildly popular in his home state, raised $1.5 million in the first day of his campaign. That’s twice as much as Rand Paul, and more than what any other candidate has reported.

    “Within days of announcing, he raised almost $5 million and he did it with an average contribution of $43,” said Diane Middleton, local labor lawyer, philanthropist and a strong Sanders supporter. “That shows that people are going to get behind him.”

    Sanders followed that up with a series of campaign events that brought out much larger crowds than expected. National polls show more support for him than for any of the GOP candidates, which indicates the sustained disconnect between media elites and the people. So it wasn’t surprising when Sanders told a conference call of activists on June 4, “The campaign is going well beyond our best expectations. What we have been doing in a kind of old-fashioned way—nothing fancy about it—is just laying out an agenda that speaks to the needs of working Americans.”

    This involves some very basic but often overlooked questions, which Sanders never shies away from. “The American people want to know how it happened that, despite an explosion of technology and increased worker productivity, millions of workers are working longer hours for lower wages, unable to afford to send their kids to college, deeply worried about what happens to them when they get old or when they retire,” Sanders said. “And, they understand that something is profoundly wrong when we have more wealth and income inequality today than at any time since 1929, and worse than any other major industrial country on Earth… No one can defend the fact that 99 percent of all new income generated today goes to the top 1 percent, and no one can defend the fact that the top 1 out of 10 of 1 percent now owns as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.”

    The Sanders kick-off campaign event in Burlington, Vt. May 26, drew 5,500 people to the waterfront park that Sanders helped to create while he was mayor in the 1980s. He spoke about a broad range of issues, all within the framework of a bold call to action:

    Today, we stand here and say loudly and clearly that: “Enough is enough. This great nation and its government belong to all of the people, and not to a handful of billionaires, their Super-PACs and their lobbyists.” Brothers and sisters, now is not the time for thinking small. Now is not the time for the same-old-same-old establishment politics and stale inside-the-beltway ideas.

    Sanders went on to say:

    Here is my promise to you for this campaign: Not only will I fight to protect the working families of this country, but we’re going to build a movement of millions of Americans who are prepared to stand up and fight back.

    The days that followed showed that he’d already begun. The next day, Sanders spoke to three overflow crowds in New Hampshire, topped by 700 in Portsmouth, before flying to Iowa, where he drew another 700 people in Davenport the next day.

    “He became a serious player in the Iowa caucus last night,” Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba told reporters after that event.

    Two days later, Sanders drew 1,100 in Iowa City—400 more than the venue could hold. The next day, an event in Minneapolis originally scheduled as “almost an afterthought” for about 200 people, instead drew 3,700 to the rescheduled venue—leaving hundreds outside who couldn’t get in.

    A late May Quinnipiac poll found five Republicans tied at the top of the Republican field with 10 percent: Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. Other media favorites fared even worse: Rand Paul (7 percent), Ted Cruz (6 percent), and Carly Fiorina (2 percent). Bernie Sanders lead them all easily with 15 percent. He was far behind Hillary Clinton’s 57 percent, but was still the second most popular candidate by a 50 percent margin, and had yet to become well-known to many potential voters.

    Then, this past weekend, Sanders scored 41 percent in a straw poll vote at the Wisconsin Democratic Party convention, holding Hillary Clinton below a majority with 49 percent. Both Vice President Joe Biden and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who announced his candidacy late this past month, trailed far behind, each receiving 3 percent of the vote.

    In his kick-off speech, Sanders drew a sharp contrast between his agenda and that of the GOP. At a time when millions of Americans are struggling desperately, the Republican budget proposal would only make things worse, he said:

    If you can believe it, the Republican budget throws 27 million Americans off health insurance, makes drastic cuts in Medicare, throws millions of low-income Americans, including pregnant women, off of nutrition programs, and makes it harder for working-class families to afford college or put their kids in the Head Start program. And then, to add insult to injury, they provide huge tax breaks for the very wealthiest families in this country while they raise taxes on working families.

    Sanders then said that he respectfully disagrees with their approach and offered the following alternative:

    Instead of cutting Social Security, we’re going to expand Social Security benefits. Instead of cutting Head Start and child care, we are going to move to a universal pre-K system for all the children of this country. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt reminded us, a nation’s greatness is judged not by what it provides to the most well-off, but how it treats the people most in need. And, that’s the kind of nation we must become.

    On the subject of college for all, Sanders called it, “insane and counter-productive to the best interests of our country that hundreds of thousands of bright young people cannot afford to go to college, and that millions of others leave school with a mountain of debt that burdens them for decades.”

    His solution: free tuition in public colleges and universities, along with substantially lower interest rates on student loans.

    “The minimum wage must become a living wage, which means raising it to $15 an hour over the next few years­—which is exactly what Los Angeles recently did—and I applaud them for doing that.”

    He went on to say, “We must establish pay equity for women workers,” calling it “unconscionable” that women earn just 78 cents on the dollar compared to men doing the same work.

    He also addressed other anti-family aspects of how workers are commonly exploited.

    “We must also end the scandal in which millions of American employees, often earning less than $30,000 a year, work 50 or 60 hours a week—and earn no overtime,” Sanders said. “And we need paid sick leave and guaranteed vacation time for all,” which are enjoyed by workers in every other advanced industrial nation.

    “The reason I’m supporting Bernie Sanders is because of his program. He stands for principles that I’ve supported all my life,” said Diane Middleton, the local labor lawyer. “One of the things he’s saying is he wants to end government for the billionaires. And, that’s what I think we need to do… Name any issue and Sanders has an answer that’s much better than anything we’re doing now…He’s been in favor of universal health care for years… Everything he stands for will benefit the majority of people in America, including San Pedro: put more people to work, get better health care, stop killing our young people in senseless capitalist wars for oil, educate people, clean up the environment—all of these issues. Why wouldn’t we vote for him?”

    In his Burlington speech, Sanders not only questioned basic Beltway consensus on issues, he also called into question the process:

    Let’s be clear. This campaign is not about Bernie Sanders. It is not about Hillary Clinton. It is not about Jeb Bush or anyone else. This campaign is about the needs of the American people, and the ideas and proposals that effectively address those needs. As someone who has never run a negative political ad in his life, my campaign will be driven by issues and serious debate; not political gossip, not reckless personal attacks or character assassination. This is what I believe the American people want and deserve. I hope other candidates agree and I hope the media allows that to happen. Politics in a democratic society should not be treated like a baseball game, a game show or a soap opera. The times are too serious for that.

    Since that speech, Sanders has suggested that presidential primary debates should include candidates of both parties in the same forum, a further step toward more serious engagement with the issues.

    As he moved toward the end of his Burlington speech, Sanders addressed those who felt despair about restoring the promise of America, which Sanders said was reflected in his own life story.

    “My parents would have never dreamed that their son would be a U.S. senator, let alone run for president,” he said. “And, to those who say we cannot restore the dream, I say just look where we are standing. This beautiful place was once an unsightly rail yard that served no public purpose and was an eyesore. As mayor, I worked with the people of Burlington to help turn this waterfront into the beautiful people-oriented public space it is today. We took the fight to the courts, to the legislature and to the people. And, we won.

    “The lesson to be learned is that when people stand together and are prepared to fight back, there is nothing that can’t be accomplished.”

    That’s not an idle boast. Before becoming the longest-serving independent in the history of Congress, Sanders served four terms as Burlington’s mayor, catalyzing a dramatic transformation of the city, which was summarized in a recent article in The Nation by Peter Dreier and Pierre Clavel. Sanders’s approach to governing was multifaceted.

    “[H]e encouraged grassroots organizing, adopted local laws to protect the vulnerable, challenged the city’s business power brokers and worked collaboratively with other politicians to create a more livable city,” The Nation reported.

    The results were impressive:

    Thanks to the enduring influence of the progressive climate that Sanders and his allies helped to create in Burlington, the city’s largest housing development is now resident-owned, its largest supermarket is a consumer-owned cooperative, one of its largest private employers is worker-owned, and most of its people-oriented waterfront is publicly owned. Its publicly owned utility, the Burlington Electric Department, recently announced that Burlington is the first American city of any decent size to run entirely on renewable electricity.

    “Bernie wanted to make sure that it was a place with plenty of open space and public access, where ordinary people could rent a rowboat and buy a hot dog,” explained local planner Michael Monte, regarding the waterfront. “That wasn’t just for the elite. It was Bernie who set the tone that the waterfront wasn’t for sale.”

    The results were community-friendly in the extreme.

    Thanks to Sanders, the Burlington waterfront now has a community boathouse and other facilities for small boats. There’s also a sailing center and science center, a fishing pier, an 8-mile bike path, acres of parkland and public beaches. The commercial development is modest and small-scale.

    There’s another important facet to the story Dreier and Clavel tell: the evolving relationship between Sanders and Tony Pomerleau, a wealthy local developer, whose upscale commercial waterfront development plan Sanders ran against and blocked. The day after Sanders won, Pomerleau knocked on his door.

    “I said, ‘You’re the mayor, but it’s still my town,’” he recalled. But Pomerleau ended up voting for Sanders the next three times he ran for mayor, and for 35 years now, Sanders has never missed the annual Christmas party for underprivileged children that Pomerleau throws. This thread of the story concludes:

    “If more rich people were like me,” Pomerleau said, “Bernie would feel better about the wealthy.”

    But like Franklin Delano Roosevelt before him, what Sanders is really up to is encouraging more rich people to be like that—to be like most working-class people imagine they would be, if they ever became wealthy themselves. There’s a fundamental decency and lack of personal animosity at Bernie Sanders’ core that’s a key part of his appeal as a candidate, as well as a key part of his long-time success in building unlikely and enduring coalitions. It’s an unjust system he’s making war against and everyone is welcome to become an ally.

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  • New Fort MacArthur Discovery a Bittersweet Find

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, Army troops in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego were on heightened alert, afraid the Japanese would strike again. The military carved into the hillside as part of a defense system in case of another attack.

    The hillside trenches and tunnels were designed by Robert Rose, an enlistee who volunteered for service during World War II when the war broke out, according to a Fort MacArthur Museum newsletter published in 2000.

    Steve Nelson, the executive director of the museum, knew the military had secrets—he just didn’t know where to dig them up. This past May, amid work to make the Gaffey Street Pool compliant with the American Disabilities Act, the trench was discovered. Nelson says the discovery is bittersweet, considering there is no way to preserve the findings and also renovate the pool.

    “We knew we were going to discover stuff,” Nelson said. “We didn’t know we were going to discover this. This is a victory and tragedy all combined into one.”

    Originally from Syracuse, Ind., Rose’s pre-Army experience included work at a lumber mill. When the Army learned of his time there, they assigned him to work on an underground bomb shelter, known today as the earthen tunnel system through the upper reservation system.

    Rose cut wood pilings for use as supports in the tunnel system. He also helped install the supports at its Paseo del Mar entrance.

    Nelson is saving much of the wood piles with the hope of someday creating a replica of the trenches.

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  • The Changing of the Guard

    Change is inevitable but does it really mean we’re moving forward?

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    It seems the more citizens clamor and agitate for more transparency in government and other civic institutions, the more opaque things become. Legal employee protection rules shield nonprofit officials from accountability. Real estate transactions of institutions working for the public benefit are hidden from prying eyes. All of the above works toward preventing leaders of these nonprofits from being held publicly accountable.

    The most blatant examples can be seen in the hiring and firing of executive directors—a significant number of which we have seen in past two years. Shall I list a few ?

    • Debra Lewis, director of Angels Gate Cultural Center, left barely waving goodbye;

    • Betsy Cheek, president and CEO of the San Pedro Chamber, resigned and was replaced by Elise Swanson, formerly the district director of Rep. Janice Hahn’s office (under curious circumstance);

    • Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz resigned after a $200 million cost overrun of a project to fully automate the TraPac terminal came under Mayor Eric Garcetti’s scrutiny. And I won’t forget to mention the expensive price tag on the port’s upgraded environment-friendly yacht, The Angelina;

    Of course, all of these changes in management are never fully explained publicly.

    More recently, the resignations of Port of Los Angeles High School Executive Director, Jim Cross, and Executive Director Rachel Etherington of AltaSea (a marine science nonprofit organization that is backed by POLA and the Annenberg Foundation) caught many by surprise. What led to the change in leadership was far from transparent.

    I recently interviewed Camilla Townsend who was involved in the creation of both of these organizations. Though she is now chairwoman of AltaSea’s board of directors and is a POLAHS trustee, there was little that she could reveal about the dismissal of either of these popular directors.

    In Cross’ case, he left amid allegations that he misspent funds following an internal investigation. However, I was told the money that was misspent was a relatively small amount. That called for him to simply reimbursed the school, and for the school to reimbursed Cross for purchases he made for the school from his own personal funds. This canceled out the debt.

    In both cases, Townsend wasconsidered the only one with the skill to act as a first responder for a nonprofit in crisis and “fix” the situation. My interview with her will be in an upcoming issue of this paper.

    The most recent resignation to make the news is that of Dr. Michael Brophy, the president of Marymount College. He was invited by some visionary local leaders to bring that campus into the downtown San Pedro area, and was convinced of its importance to the community and business leaders.

    By all appearances, he succeeded. Yet along the way, grumblings have grown louder about the slow pace of opening the Klaus Art Center and soundness of Brophy’s strategy of opening a remote Northern California satellite campus in Lake County. His resignation comes on the heels of his being reelected to the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and the San Pedro Business Improvement District, both of which will have to find replacements come August.

    Obviously, this wasn’t a planned changing of the guard, even though Brophy announced he’ll be assuming the leadership of Benedictine University in Illinois after serving 10 years at Marymount.

    These changes may just be coincidental. Or I may just be reading something more into this. Regardless of what these changes mean for each of these institutions individually, I think the resignations and new hires collectively hold a greater meaning.

    This period of change in San Pedro’s civic life relates directly to the work of crafting our future. I read into this a faltering of the collective vision of that future, or rather, of us collectively questioning the direction we have taken.

    This moment is one of trepidation and reassessment of whether something more fundamental has changed.

    This comes in part because of the changes in political leadership that loom on the horizon. Rep. Hahn is running for Los Angeles County Supervisor in 2016 and State Sen. Isadore Hall will run to replace her in Congress. Add to that the challenge offered by Hermosa Beach Councilwoman Nanette Barragan running as an anti-corporate, pro-environment alternative, who’s arguably much more in tune with the district’s needs and values.

    This moment also has to do with the challenges of dealing with the global trade at our two ports as Harbor Commissioner Dave Arian spoke about recently–a development that foretells the fate of tens of thousands of jobs in the goods movement industry.

    More importantly, it speaks to the Harbor Area leadership’s lack of a cohesive vision.

    In other words, there is no single leader or group that has taken up the visionary silver chalice to explain where all of this is heading and who has enough buy-in from the institutions involved to lead anywhere except in circles.

    This is odd, since many of the seats on the boards of directors of these nonprofit groups are occupied by the same people. The cross- board membership connections between many of the institutions listed above reflects a certain narrowing of leadership. I question the wisdom of such self-serving and limited decision making.

    Clearly, in the case of most nonprofits, board leadership equates to the amount of their contributions based on dollars rather than vision, wisdom or sense for the collective good. From my perspective, the changing guard of executive directors will make about as much difference as changing one’s shirt. What’s needed is some new blood on these boards and leaders who can actually envision a future that benefits the many, not just the few.

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  • Bo Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap:

    A Hot Spot for Happy Hour in Long Beach
    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine Writer
    Photos by Tommy Kishimoto
    The restaurant scene in downtown Long Beach is competitive. You can find yourself walking into one restaurant, giving it the once-over, and, if it doesn’t suit your fancy, there’s another establishment right next door, ready and waiting for your business.

    I appreciate this sort of healthy competition; it keeps people on their toes. BO Beaux Kitchen + Roof Tap in Long Beach thrives off of that sort of competitive edge.

    Open just a little over a year, they have already gained quite a notable reputation for being the new “It” place in downtown Long Beach. They’ve certainly earned it.

    Here’s what you need to know about Bo Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap:

    The service is unparalleled, the ambiance is killer and their happy hour game is on point. The Cohn Restaurant Group, responsible for this relatively new jaunt, has been family-owned and operated for more than 33 years. They now own 21 restaurants that span from Southern California to Maui. Much of their success can be attributed to their “obsession with hospitality,” and let me tell you – it shows. The entire staff was so friendly and accommodating that I felt compelled to call the operations manager, James Stephenson and tell him about my experience. The service was probably the best I’ve had in Long Beach in a while.

    Bo Beau Kitchen + Roof Tap is essentially two restaurants in one; it’s a fine dining restaurant and a rooftop bar.

    The downstairs restaurant features a massive open-air kitchen that gives patrons the chance to witness the artful precision and finesse that goes into crafting fine entrees and appetizers. All restaurant kitchens should be open to curious onlookers. Don’t shy away from the good stuff — I want to see what you’re working with in there. And truth be told, presentation is everything. We eat first with our eyes.

    Adjacent to the kitchen is the expansive dining room, providing the perfect ambiance for a night out. The juxtaposition of rustic metalwork pairs nicely with the luxurious, plush red sofas, adding a sort of erotic elegance that one might find in the French Quarter or an old parlor.

    Roof Tap, the upstairs bar, is an open-air patio, with incredible views of Long Beach and a more relaxed atmosphere, and communal-style seating.

    Happy hour at the Roof Tap is everything I want after a long day. I want to sit outside, watch the sunset, drink perfectly crafted cocktails and maybe even play pingpong—yes, there is a table in the back and also an incredible stash of nostalgic board games to play at your leisure. With 50 craft beers on draft and a martini bar with more than 100 different vodkas, there is seriously a beverage for any and all. They will even craft you something off the menu.

    Bar snacks are an intricate part of the happy hour process. After about 30 minutes of sipping on a cocktail, I want snacks—not crackers—nuts, or the ubiquitous cheese plate. I want good food. BO serves sophisticated California-French comfort food, and they do it well. The roasted Brussels sprouts are served sprawling over a wooden chopping block, covered with shaved Parmesan and thick chunks of bacon. For those of you who don’t eat Brussels sprouts, this dish will make you a believer.

    After happy hour, you should probably try the other menu items that Roof Tap has to offer. I typically shy away from anything called, “Sausage Fest,” as it just doesn’t roll off the tongue nicely, but that is one of the more popular dishes. It came highly recommended. The Leek Fondue Mac ‘n’ Cheese is also a fan favorite and comes with pancetta or lobster.

    In the downstairs restaurant, I would suggest ordering any of the steaming pots of mussels; it is a French restaurant after all. I particularly liked the Mussels Molina, severed in a piping hot tomato broth with fragrant fennel and saffron. Of the bistro plates, try the braised beef short rib, which is served with gnocchi and garnished with a couple of onion rings. I know that sounds like an indulgent carb-on-carb crime, but it was oddly comforting.

    Lastly, save room for dessert. They make all of their desserts in-house. Even the ice cream is made from scratch.

    Gina Ruccione is a self-proclaimed food critic, who has traveled all over Europe and Asia, and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. Visit her blog at http://www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.

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  • Exposing the South LA Blues

    Photo by Phillip Cooke

    By Melina Paris, Contributing Writer and Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    _____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    This story was updated to include the corrections regarding South Side Slim’s place of birth and a correct information to reflect that his father helped him complete trucking school and employed him in his trucking company.
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    A stage, an open-mic and a willing ear are the most important elements to developing talent — particularly when it comes to the blues.

    It is in these settings that experienced players pass on to younger players what they’ve learned, and younger players pay homage to the ones that preceded them.

    An interview with bluesman South Side Slim is reminiscent of this exchange. During that interview he often referenced the blues artists that mentored, guided and played with him, particularly at the Barnyard Juke Joint and Babe’s and Ricky’s in South Los Angeles.

    He performed at the Seabird Lounge, playing a variety of songs from his discography, including his 2008 album South Side All Stars Doing Barnyard Hits and his 2009 follow-up, Life Under Pressure.

    “I think it’s a historic CD [South Side All Stars] because it’s got all those guys on it that have never been documented,” South Side Slim said. “They are blues legacies. If I’m lucky to live long enough, it would be a miracle if someone could take everything in my head and materialize it.”

    South Side Slim, who has been steadily recording and releasing music since 1999, plays a Chicago-style brand of blues. His electric guitar play is reminiscent of other greats like Guitar Shorty and Bo Diddley. As a vocalist, he’s like Johnny Guitar Watson, only smoother.

    He was a regular at Babe’s and Ricky’s on 53rd and Central, which he calls “Mama Laura’s place” (for Laura May Gross). He called it, “the last real blues club on Central Avenue.”

    “That is where all the blues players came, black and white, to get the real deal,” he said. “It was like a portal because I met everyone through there.”

    South Side Slim has a knack for connecting with people and it has opened doors for him. It’s because of this ability that his fortune as an artist has been trending upward over the past couple of years.

    In 2013, South Side Slim’s friend, Willie McNeil, recommended him to audition to play in Paul McCartney’s music video for Early Days, a single from McCartney’s album New. Slim was ultimately hired, along with other Los Angeles-based artists Roy Gaines, Dale Atkins, Motown Maurice, Lil’ Poochie, Misha Lindes and Al Williams.

    Williams, who is a founder of the Jazz Safari, Birdland West and Long Beach Jazz Festival, hired South Side Slim to perform at the 2014 Long Beach Bayou Festival.

    This past April, Harris performed at the KJazz Indie Blues Showcase with Gary Wagman at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach.

    South Side Slim even published his memoir, called, Sweetback Blues: The Twelve Bar Tale of South Side Slim, with the help of local blues enthusiast Kari Fretham. Written in seven stanzas in a 12-bar musical structure, the book recalls his childhood, his introduction to drugs, both as a consumer and a seller, brushes with love, death and homelessness.

    In addition to the narrative nonfiction, Fretham produced the documentary film, Hot Love on Me So Strong: The Blues of South L.A.

    “South Side Slim impressed me the first time I heard him with the emotional authenticity of his original lyrics, his confident, yet humble, stage presence and his stellar guitar playing,” Fretham said. “I was delighted when he invited me to accompany him to the treasure trove of blues juke joints in South Los Angeles. The result of the documentary on his namesake’s blues culture makes it possible for anyone to experience the heartfelt blues for which South Side Slim dedicates his life.”

    South Side Slim brought Fretham to the blues scene and introduced her to everyone. He had a lot of input on the film and much of Slims’ music is included in it. After his story came out, Slim started gaining recognition and gigs.


    The Beginning

    Born in Mer Rouge, Louisiana and reared in Oakland, California during the 1960s and ‘70s, South Side Slim’s early musical tastes didn’t include the blues. His musical palate ranged from rock to soul music, and from classical music to jazz.

    “I was digging Jeff Beck, John Coltrane, Jon Luc Ponte and Parliament Funkadelic,” South Side Slim said. “It still wasn’t blues yet.

    “Then, I heard Jimmy Hendrix and it just freaked me out, Hendrix inspired me because he was a great guitar player and he was outspoken.”

    South Side Slim got his first guitar when he turned 18, as a gift from his father. Sheer love for music and determination to learn is how he mastered the instrument. He played the chords he found in music books for beginners, and queried musicians in his neighborhood. But never had a teacher or formal lessons yet, after learning a lot of bits and pieces on guitar, he realized he had talent.

    After a while, Slim was able to play the music of his favorite artists. In his memoir, he noted that family and friends didn’t initially take him seriously when he spoke of becoming a serious artist.

    South Side Slim came to Los Angeles in the mid-1980s to pursue his dreams in music. He frequented the blues spots in town playing his guitar. But by 1990, he had gotten completely turned around, with no job or placed to go. His father, who owned a trucking company, helped Slim complete trucking school and hired him to work at his company. Slim, one day experiencing a moment of self-doubt, asked his father if trucking was for him. His father told him no.

    “I told him, ‘Just leave me alone, dad. Let me stay here and just let me practice and I won’t bother anyone,’” Slim said.

    He practiced five hours a day and sought the mentorship of local blues musicians. He credits his perseverance to his faith as a Christian.

    “No one was looking for me; no one gave a damn about me,” Slim said. “I practiced and was able to let the spirit come and do that work with my life. My inspiration was the fact God gave me a gift and I loved music. I was never able to get that [gift] nourished. It was all these years later before I came around. I was 40 by the time I started getting recognition.

    “It was hard, but it was kind of the best time. You would think it was depressing, but no, I wasn’t really homeless. I was living on my dad’s property which was basically mine and I loved it.

    “My biggest inspiration was belief in myself and that the spirit had a different reason for me to be there,” he said. “I didn’t consider myself as this great guitar player. I had an idea that was nourished by my belief and hope that eventually I end up in the right places and here I am.”

    South Side Slim will perform June 26 at the Seabird Lounge in Long Beach.

    Details: www.southsideslim.com/

     

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  • MADE in Long Beach: What Can Happen When a Landlord Cuts the Community a Break

    For a city supposedly on the rise for the last decade, Long Beach has consistently been full of prime property that sits vacant for months or even years. While there may be many factors in play, the most common theme is a landlord more interested in the idea of getting the rent a particular spot is “supposed” to generate than in keeping the space active and helping the community to grow.

    Dev Mavi, owner of the Pine Avenue building housing the Starbucks south of 3rd Street, is an exception, and not because of the Starbucks, a store that does brisk business for a corporation that can afford to pay “fair market value.” But what’s happening next door is a model for what can happen when capitalism is applied with a long view.

    Walk into 236 Pine Ave., a large space that was a Crate & Barrel Outlet at the turn of millennium and went through a couple of iterations as a discount bookstore between extended periods of vacancy, and you are greeted by a quiet spectacle that is unique to and uniquely of Long Beach: MADE in Long Beach, a consignment store selling a redoubtable variety of goods—jewelry, ceramics, books*, records, clothing, cold-brew coffee, kombucha, balsamic vinegar, food, soap, furniture—all of which are made by (you guessed it) Long Beach residents.

    This wasn’t the original idea. Originally Mavi and Scott Hamilton of DOMA Properties looked into subdividing the 12,500 sq. ft. space into parcels of a few hundred square feet to be rented as independent stall spaces. But the more they investigated that possibility, the more unwieldy it seemed.

    Enter DW Ferrell, whose Localism has for the last three years been on a mission to “enable a more connected community, influence people to choose locally owned merchants, local growers, and other local organizations.” Hamilton met Ferrell four years ago when Ferrell wandered into DOMA Properties from an office next door. As Ferrell tells it, “I couldn’t find a printer, and I asked [Hamilton] whether I could use his printer. And he took a look at [what would become Localism’s] business plan, and we started a conversation from there. [Localism] wasn’t even called anything at that point; it was called the ‘Here’s what I want do’ business plan.”

    Hamilton had already been looking to create pipelines between downtown Long Beach residents and all the local goods, services, and events available just outside their front doors, so the two connected over their overlapping visions. Fast-forward to 2014, and it was natural for Hamilton to see about bringing Ferrell into the Mavi mix. The timing was perfect, because by then Ferrell was on the hunt for a permanent physical space to reify his concept.

    “When I founded Localism, I was just thinking about encouraging people to think about where things are made,” Ferrell says. “Separately I was talking about doing a space for Localism. Then those ideas lined up, and I started looking for property owners who would be interested in doing something like this. So I was ready go, and then [Hamilton] called me. […] Localism had already built up a network of makers and merchants, so we were able to get [MADE in Long Beach] going right away. […] This kind of pulls together all that we’ve been doing behind the scenes the whole time.”

    MADE in Long Beach, which opened its doors on Black Friday 2014, never could have happened if Mavi had not been willing to forsake doing business as usual in the real-estate game, because there was zero chance that a consignment store of any sort—never mind one whose raison d’être is to hock the wares of local, independent artists and artisans for no up-front costs—could have come up with the rent typically expected for a storefront in the very heart of downtown, which Mavi says is between $1.50 and $1.60 per square foot.

    Mavi accepted was what Ferrell labels a “very gracious stair-step leasing agreement,” which has Mavi getting only a fraction of fair market value, with the understanding that rent will increase with the growth of the business.

    “We want to make sure we get to a point where he’s able to get market value for the lease, so I’ve been transparent with him about what we’re making and how we’ll get there, and bringing on partners to help us get there,” Ferrell says. “His upside is going to be down the road. When it’s flourishing, he’ll be able to get full market value for the rent. He’s hasn’t reached that yet, so he’s still taking a risk.”

    There is, of course, some present-tense upside for Mavi, as right now he’s setting something in the way of rent rather than the nothing that would be coming in were the space sitting idle waiting for a renter who might not materialize for years, an unfortunate condition that has plagued local real estate for decades.

    Why Long Beach landlords have persisted in such behavior is a mystery even to Hamilton, whose business is the business of downtown real estate.

    “It’s a good question,” Hamilton laughs. “I wouldn’t do it. In the Walker Building [i.e., the Pine Ave. building where DOMA is located], we just lowered our rent [for prospective tenants], and we sucked it up. We had the ability to do that. Some landlords really don’t—like, if they don’t get the rent they’re asking, they won’t be able to service their debt. But I don’t think that was really the case for most of the stuff on Pine and in Long Beach. At one time I think there was 60,000 square feet of vacant space [on Pine Ave.], and it was very difficult to get landlords to understand that they couldn’t get the rents that they were asking. And it honestly doesn’t make any sense to me why they wouldn’t just lower their price and get some rent as opposed to no rent. But some landlords are like that. They figure they’re just not going to lower their price, and they’ll just wait it out. They’d rather not deal with a tenant, and they’ll have it vacant. It does not make sense, so….” He laughs again. “If you’re looking for me to make sense out of it, I can’t.”

    Obviously, Mavi is a different breed of landlord, although he labels MADE in Long Beach an experiment and that eventually he will need to get rent that’s in line with fair market value. So far, so good, he says, partly because of MADE’s own progress, and partly because he likes the way the city’s business climate is trending.

    “If I see that there is something happening, I’m interested to keep [MADE in Long Beach] going,” he says. “[…] The City may be [being] a bit more proactive about bringing people into the city, more residents and making the city a little more lively. In the past people were here, but they went [outside of Long Beach] for shopping, to the malls and things like that. There was hardly anything here.”

    Ferrell is even more optimistic.

    “We started with 20 local makers and merchants, and now we have over a hundred, which is kind of crazy,” he reports. “I think what’s remarkable is that we didn’t take out a loan to start, and we’ve been in the black from Day 1, and we keep reinvesting in our capacity.”

    Jessica Reyes has seen that growth first-hand from behind the counter, where she has worked since MADE opened its doors. Community members regularly patronize the space, she says, as do visitors staying at nearby hotels, including a steady stream of flight attendants.

    “The community’s always here,” she says. “We get a lot of support from locals. A lot of people want to see [MADE] succeed. It’s good to see the focus on locally=made products. Long Beach needed something like this.”

    The upside of MADE’s success for the city as a whole is self-evident, as not only does downtown’s main drag have one more draw—not to mention one of the few retail spaces amid a cluster of restaurants—but it’s got one fewer empty storefront, which helps with the perception of downtown Long Beach as a place where things are happening.

    And that perception is a reality, with MADE additionally activating the area as an event space. In December, for example, MADE hosted the 6th Annual Secret Santa Toy Drive, which featured four bands local bands and attracted donations of over 150 new toys for needy kids.

    Ferrell says the hope is to grow MADE in Long Beach by adding a “tech incubator” in the currently unused upstairs space, hopefully within nine months. After that, Ferrell foresees adding a “culinary incubator.”

    “Think of [the tech incubator] like a fabrication lab, [with] 3D printing, laser cutting, and other prototyping facilities,” he explains. “For the culinary incubator, specialty food-makers and caterers will be able to rent out full kitchen facilities in four-hour blocks. Maybe a better term is ‘commercial kitchen accelerator.’ It’s for culinary artisans who already know what they’re doing and are trying to scale up.”

    In the meantime, Ferrell says just about everyone who walks in from Pine Ave. is enthusiastic about what she sees—so much so that he is in discussion with at least three developers “who are looking to us to find local makers and merchants to fill up their retail space.” And MADE’s already got a little shelf space in the gift shop at the Renaissance Hotel on Ocean Boulevard.

    “Every day we have somebody coming in who says, ‘I had an idea like this! Wow, you made it happen,'” Ferrell says. “And that’s what tells me that we’ve really hit on something. […] This a community-coming-together kind of thing. […] That’s our true equity. The equity of the incubator concept is community equity, not financial.”

    MADE in Long Beach is located at 236 Pine Ave., Long Beach, CA 90802. Hours: 10-6 Tuesday through Saturday, noon-6 Sunday. But swing by beginning at 8pm Thursday, June 11, for an after-party linked to Renaissance Hotels’ “Global Day of Discovery.”

    (Full disclosure: The author’s novel is among the books for sale, and on July 25 he’s putting on a bitchen event there.)

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