• RL NEWS: April 3, 2015

    One Dead, 15 Injured in Wilmington Hotel Fire

    Wilmington — A man died and 15 other people were injured, April 2, after a fire broke out in a hotel in Wilmington.

    One of the people injured leaped out of a window in an attempt to escape the fire.

    The fire broke out at about 3 a.m. The Los Angeles Fire Department responded to a fire at the Wilmington Hotel, two-story 20-unit building, at 111 East C. St.

    More than 100 firefighters extinguished the blaze in about 50 minutes. There were 29 occupants in the hotel. LAFD arson investigators have deemed the incident “suspicious.”


    Seven Charged in Scheme to Pay Kickbacks to Boeing Official

    LOS ANGELES – Seven defendants have been charged in a scheme to pay kickbacks to a procurement official at a subsidiary of the Boeing Co. that supplies satellites and satellite parts to federal government entities, including NASA.

    A series of cases related to the kickback scheme were announced April 2, after prosecutors learned that a federal judge unsealed documents related to four of the defendants who previously pleaded guilty in under seal proceedings.

    At the center of the scheme is an executive at a San Gabriel Valley metal company that was a subcontractor to Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems, which supplies satellites and satellite parts to NASA, the Department of Defense, the National Reconnaissance Office and the United States Air Force.

    The executive, Alfred Henderson, was arrested on March 30. The 60-year-old Pico Rivera resident was arraigned on a 15-count grand jury indictment that was unsealed after his arrest. Henderson is the vice president of A&A Fabrication and Polishing Inc., which operates in Whittier and Montebello. A&A was also charged in the indictment.

    Henderson pleaded not guilty on March 30. He was released on a $25,000 bond and was ordered to stand trial on May 26. Representatives of A&A will appear on behalf of the company in federal court on April 13.

    The indictment alleges that Henderson and A&A paid kickbacks to Mark Allen, 60, of Fresno, who was a procurement officer at Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems in El Segundo. The kickbacks were paid to Allen through an outside sales representative, Raymond Joseph, 66, of Los Angeles, related to purchase orders to A&A for tooling parts used to manufacture of satellites that were sold to the U.S. government. The indictment alleges that Allen provided Henderson with confidential information that gave A&A an improper advantage in bidding and ensured that A&A would receive purchase orders from Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

    The indictment also alleges that, after Boeing decided to stop doing business with A&A due to work quality and performance issues, Henderson devised a scheme to do business through a “front” company, Nace Sheet Metal Company, which was owned and operated by Cesar Soto, 47, of Chino. The indictment against Henderson alleges that Soto and an A&A employee, Randy Mitchell, 62, of Whittier, misrepresented that A&A’s facility was actually operated by Nace and that Henderson unlawfully used Soto’s name on price quotes to Boeing.

    In a court order filed late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II, unsealed criminal cases against Mark Allen, Raymond Joseph, Cesar Soto and Randy Mitchell. All four previously pleaded guilty and are pending sentencing.


    Garcetti Unveils New Easy-To-Read Parking Signs
    LOS ANGELESOn April 3, Mayor Eric Garcetti installed the first of 100 new easy-to-read parking signs that use streamlined graphics and colors to explain confusing parking restrictions.

    The Los Angeles Department of Transportation will test the signs during a six-month pilot program on Spring and Main Streets between 2nd and 9th Streets in downtown Los Angeles.

    The LADOT Parking Signage Pilot Program makes Los Angeles the first city in the country to create grid-style parking signs. The signs use graphics in green and red to pictorially summarize parking restrictions. The new signs are being placed alongside existing signs, in accordance with state law. A web address on the sign solicits input from drivers about the signs during this initial phase of the program:  http://parkinginfo.lacity.org. In Phase II of the pilot program, LADOT will work with the California Traffic Control Devices Committee to gain final approval to completely replace existing parking signage with the new signs.
    In addition to the redesign, the new signs also feature attached Gimbal and BKON bluetooth low-energy beacons, donated to the city at no cost to taxpayers. The transmit-only beacons can send information readable by smartphones and connected vehicles and provides the foundation for developers to create apps that provide parking and other information. The signs’ QR code and web address also direct users to websites where they can find parking information: http://parkinginfo.lacity.org

    Future, opt-in uses for the beacons could also include payment options or neighborhood event notifications.  Developers interested in creating accompanying apps are encouraged to visit www.lamayor.org/beacons for more information.

    For more information about the Parking Signage Pilot Program, see the attached fact sheet.  For more information about the beacons, visit www.gimbal.com and www.bkon.com

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  • Robles Appointed Carson Mayor

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Contributor

    Albert Robles was appointed mayor of Carson at a special city council meeting April 1. Robles and his fellow council members, Elito Santarina and Lula Davis-Holmes, voted 3-0 to make the appointment instead of calling a special election.

    Robles will serve out the remainder of Jim Dear’s unexpired four-year term as mayor, which began in March 2013. The mayor’s position has been vacant since March 24, following his resignation to become the city’s new city clerk.

    Because of Dear’ resignation and Mike Gipson’s move to the assembly this past fall, the city council is operating with three members. A special election will take place June 2 to fill Gipson’s seat. How the fifth council seat will be filled has not yet been determined.

    Robles is scheduled to take his oath to office as the mayor at the regular council meeting on April 21. Robles must run in March 2017, if he chooses to continue to serve as mayor.

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  • KKJZ Leaves CSULB Campus

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    For decades, 88.1 KKJZ harmonized and jazzed up the Cal State University Long Beach campus. But on March 14, it all came down to a yard sale.

    Jazz, blues, Latin jazz and swing, CDs, vinyl and DVDs, books and merchandise from Sinatra to Fitzgerald to Coltrane were all available for sale.

    The nonprofit station has moved from the Chuck Niles Studio to Westwood, where Global Jazz–the company that runs it–is headquartered. The move was finalized March 7, after a December vote by the CSULB Foundation, the station’s license holder. Stephanie Levine, KKJZ’s station manager and general counsel, described the stations relocation as a cost saving measure. She said that operating the station will be less expensive, more efficient and have a professional studio for use because KKJZ is not having to keep an office in Long Beach.

    “Our most important plan is that we keep Kjazz … the only full time jazz and blues station in the country,” Levine said. “It’s a decision that made sense and continues to make sense. The most important thing is that we are keeping the music alive in the station.”

    Global Jazz has stated its intent to maintain its student internship program with the university. Student’s seeking experience interning at the radio station will have to fight through a traffic congested 405 Freeway. However, students are expected to have access to a full staff and a fully functioning office.

    Cal State Long Beach brought in the Mt Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. affiliate, to take over management of the radio station in 2007, following several years of financial difficulty. Under the contract, the station was supposed to provide four $5,000 scholarships to CSULB students and offer paid internships to four students. The format continued to be blues and jazz.

    Originally KLON, the station was founded in 1951 and licensed to the Long Beach Unified School District. The state bought the station from the school district in 1981 and the license was transferred to CSULB. In 2002, KLON changed its call letters to KKJZ to reflect its content, and nicknamed K-JAZZ. In time, it became the No. 1 jazz station in the United States.

    “It was a long-term process to become a full-time jazz station,” said David Grudt, a former employee who worked at the station during its early years. “It didn’t all happen overnight.”

    For some years, the station would put on the Long Beach Blues Festival, bringing about 30,000 people to the campus’ athletic field.

    “We were the big cheese as far as jazz in the town,” said Grudt, who left the station in 1992. Grudt described KKJZ as “the little station that could,” when the station initially opened, operating on 1,200 watts off Signal Hill.

    By 1991 the power increased to 8,000 watts. The station took the slogan “American Jazz Station.” With 30,000 watts these days, the 88.1 KKJZ is considered a boutique station.

    “Unfortunately, it’s an audience that is shrinking,” he said. “It’s not a mass audience anymore.”

    The station has maintained its jazz and blues format throughout the years. But it has gone from disc jockeys selecting music to a mix in which a preset playlist is used for some programs.

    Global Jazz renewed its contract for another five years in 2013.

    Like Grudt, many people understood the move as a business decision. “But from an emotional standpoint, I don’t like it.”

    No matter what, it’s a challenge, Levine said. The station has plenty of listeners but not as many contributors.

    “I don’t anticipate it will get any easier,” Levine said. “It’s incumbent on us to be creative and to keep the station going.”

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  • Trippin’ the Sixties Returns to Alvas

    Featuring Barry McGuire and John York with Special Guest P.F. Sloan
    By B. Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

    I went off to Altadena to catch the Trippin’ The Sixties performance by Barry McGuire and John York  with P.F. Sloan at The Coffee Gallery Backstage. My mission was to preview the act before they come to San Pedro on April 11 at Alvas Showroom.

    Owner of the Altadena venue, Bob Stane was gracious to allow me to get in at the last minute for this date. The venue holds 50 listeners, in very homey space.  After having fought my way through heavy L.A. traffic, I met some very friendly staff who helped me out a lot. Relaxed after meeting with friends, the show began.

    Making their way on to the stage were Barry McGuire and John York who tore into a rousing version of  “Green Green”. This song that made The New Christy Minstrels and singer Barry McGuire very famous. McGuire, who grew up in San Pedro, is quite the raconteur, his stories which are hilarious and poignant come from the heart of a life well lived.

    The show features the music and the vibe of the sixties, giving a nod to the songwriters of that era. McGuire’s deep voice began describing a small skinny kid, a songwriter  who was making his way around Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village. That person, Bob Dylan.

    John York began filling the air with a vibrant twelve string guitar  as McGuire began with his renditions of Dylan’s “Blowin in The Wind” and “The Times They Are a Changin”. After which John York (one time member of The Byrds) performed “The Chimes of Freedom”, a song that stirs me everytime I hear it.

    At this point in the set, P.F. Sloan was brought to the stage with stories of how he and McGuire met. In this setting you are being a fly on the wall in folk and rock history.

    P.F. Sloan, in a three year span had charted on  Billboard Magazine’s Top 200 on 40 different recordings, as songwriter, producer, and performer. The man was one of the hot young music makers of his time. Working with not only McGuire, but as well as the talents of the Mama’s and Papa’s, Johnny Rivers, The Searchers, The Grass Roots and many others.

    McGuire said, “We had leftover time in the studio and Phil had this box of songs, he ripped one out of a binder.” Sloan chimes at this point describing the scene. “Drummer, Hal Blaine (premier session musician of the 60’s) heard this song and began the track with a roll on the snare drum.”

    The guitar comes in and McGuire begins to sing, “The western world it is explodin’ violence flarin’, bullets loadin’….” the song  “Eve of Destruction” was born. When you listen to this mid-sixties musical commentary on the world and society, you can help but think how little has changed.

    The show continued with more anecdotes and songs. The story of Johnny River’s hit single “Secret Agent”  and some backstories on The Mama’s and Papa’s  filled out the evening, with a song to go with each one. In the end McGuire and company ended quite appropriately with song he had recorded many years before, “Try To Remember”

    Showtime for Trippin’ The Sixties is 8 p.m. April 11, 2015

    Venue: Alvas Showroom
    Location: 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

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  • Seatbelt at The Eldorado

    By B.Noel Barr, Music Writer Dude

    On March 20, I had the opportunity to see one of my favorite, local, rockabilly bands perform.

    I have known Seatbelt for quite a while. I watched its progress through two CDs: Modern Sounds in Pagan Love Songs and Pour Me A Traveler. To say that I’m a fan is an understatement.

    Last summer, I premiered on my old Internet radio program Lunch at the Barr, a wicked cool tune titled, “My Ship Came In… But I Sank Her.” It’s part of an upcoming collection of Seatbelt songs, but the release date is yet to be determined.

    The leader and main songwriter, Scott McLean, plays a mean rockabilly-country guitar, with a vocal style to match a classic 1950s sound. His songwriting is always tongue-in-cheek. McLean loves infectious, rhythmic, 2- to 3-minute ditties that get you up and dancing.

    Playing upright bass is Jim “the Kid” Matkovich, who also sings lead on occasion, but acts as backing vocalist. Laying down the beats is John “Lenny” Lenkeit on drums and percussion.

    I caught the first set of their show at the Eldorado Bar and Grill in Long Beach, Seatbelt had the full house percolating from the first note to the last. To be honest, the band reached so many high spots during the show, it would be impossible to name everything they played.

    Here are some highlights:

    After the first song, “Lonesome Tears,” they had the crowd roaring with “Five O’Clock” (an anthem for hard drinking). A little later, McLean led the band into the aforementioned “My Ship Came In…”, which is a brilliant standalone hit. Another fan favorite, “Up in Your Grille,” from Pour Me A Traveler, kept the fire stoked. From the group’s first album, they performed a song called “Catfight,” followed by a country favorite originally recorded by “Cherokee Cowboy” Ray Price, titled, “Crazy Arms.”

    Some of the other covers I want to mention are Bobby Fuller’s  “I Fought the Law,” which segued into a medley of surf classics, like “Pipeline,” “Walk Don’t Run,” “The Munster’s Theme,” “Misirlou,” and several others whose titles I could not remember at the time.

    But one of the biggest kicks of that set was when McLean introduced a song that was like something the late Slim Whitman would have done. I grew up on country and Western music, listening to KFOX out of Long Beach with my dad. So when I heard that song, I tried but couldn’t pin it down. Midway through it, the arranger in my head was saying, “This song needs some legs, to push it along.” Then: BAM! The tempo changed, and it became Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid.”

    The room was in hysterics and erupted as the group played this metal classic, true and hard, everyone loved it. This was followed by an inspired version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”

    Seatbelt rocked the joint, and everybody at the Eldorado was having lots of fun. By 10:45 p.m. the room was still packed.

    One other note: I had not been to the Eldorado in northeast Long Beach in quite a while. The room is very nice now and well-appointed for a restaurant-bar-concert venue. The food is spectacular and the drinks are served in healthy portions. The sound and lighting are very good–what you should expect in a venue like this.

    Seatbelt will have a standalone performance April 25 at Godmothers Saloon. Showtime is 9 p.m. The group will return the following month on May 8, opening with Lazy Lance and the Longhorns for Deke Dickerson at Godmothers, with the downbeat kicking off at 7 p.m.

    Also, Seatbelt will be playing the Port Nationals Car Show July 18 and also the New Blues Festival II over Labor Day Weekend. Sept. 5 and 6.

    Band Details: seatbeltrockabilly.com

    Venue Details: The Eldorado Bar and Grill, , Ste C, 3014 Studebaker Rd, Long Beach, (562) 421-4590; the-eldorado.net

    Venue Details: Godmothers Saloon, 302 W 7th St, San Pedro (310) 833-1589; godmotherssaloon.com

    Venue Details: The Port National Kustoms and Bobbers Show, portnationals.com, facebook.com/PortNationals

    Venue Details: The New Blues Festival, newbluesfestival.com, facebook.com.theNewBluesFestival



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  • San Pedro Bluesman Dave Widow Headlines Fundraiser

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Popular San Pedro musician Dave Widow will be headlining a fundraiser for radio station KKJZ April 19 at St. Rocke in Hermosa Beach. A regular at such venues as B.B. King’s Blues Club, the House of Blues, the Mint and the Lighthouse, Widow and his Line up delivers a hot night of rhythm and blues.

    The concert is the first in a series of three organized by DJ Gary “the Wagman” Wagner, in support of the nonprofit radio station. Wagner, a recent recipient of the “Keeping the Blues Alive Award” from the Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tenn., is host of Nothin’ But the Blues. The show broadcasts from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays and from 2 to 7 p.m. Sundays on 88.1 KKJZ.

    Widow, raised in Cincinnati, has spent practically his entire life immersed in music. He came to California and plugged into the local blues rock scene. His musical style is influenced by musicians with whom he had longstanding relationships, such as Buddy Miles, Bill Champlin of the band Chicago, and his mentor and collaborator, the late Roger “Jelly Roll” Troy from the Mike Bloomfield Band. Widow credits legendary guitar player Lonnie Mack with inspiring him to turn professional.

    In February Dave had a packed house in a sold-out show at the Grand Annex in San Pedro. The intimate theater provided the crowd with a wild night of R&B music.

    Widow’s music was eventually noticed by Wagner, and he has been a regular on the radio ever since. Old Dogs Records, a blues label out of Georgia, also took note of Widow’s distinctive style and signed him to their label.

    “I really appreciate Gary Wagner for inviting me to perform” Widow said. “[He] and K-JAZZ have been very supportive of my music for several years, and I am in their debt.”

    The plush environment at St. Rocke provides a high-energy venue for music fans to enjoy a full evening of rock and blues.

    “I personally selected each of the indie bands being featured during this series of three shows,” Wagner said. “If you listen to my radio show and you like what I play, come to these shows. You will not be disappointed.”

    Also in the lineup is South Side Slim, originally from Oakland and a recent recipient of L.A. Weekly’s award for best contemporary blues and R&B artist.

    Rounding out the bill will be Jumpin’ Jack Benny, one of the most entertaining acts in music. Upcoming fundraising concerts are scheduled for May 3 with Barry Levenson and June 7 with the Other Mules. More information is available at jazzandblues.org.

    Tickets for two are available for a pledge of $60 at the website and include annual membership to KKJZ. A $165 donation gets you a pair of tickets to all three shows.

    Tickets are also available by phone during regular business hours. Call (310) 478-5540, press 0 for the operator and ask for the membership department.
    Details: (310) 478-5540
    Venue: St. Rocke
    Location: 142 Pacific Coast Highway, Hermosa Beach
    photo credit: Steve Jost

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  • Hyung Mo Lee – A Witness to Change

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    On a windy bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Hyung Mo Lee works diligently, experimenting with materials found on the hills outside his studio.

    The artist’s work is on display at the Los Angeles Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery in an exhibition titled Lessons Learned. Curated by gallery director Ron Linden, it is on view through April 24.

    “Much of my work is about the act of making, with improvisations and the surprises that arise during the making of the work,” said Lee in his artist statement. “I like to view it as an open-ended process where one action influences the next, step by step leading into new directions. In my work there is a continual change and a willingness to let go so that change can occur. Eventually, the work evolves and transforms into something unpredicted, and I’m sort of like a witness to these multiple changes during the making of the work.”

    Lee’s drawings, sculptures and installations are notable for their radical choice of materials and emphasis on laborious, time-consuming process. His sumi ink drawings, both delicate and dynamic, are meditations on geologic time–strata rendered brush-stroke by brush-stroke–while his sculptural works expand on lessons learned from drawing.

    “These things are not unlike Jay McCafferty’s obsessive solar burning of little pinholes,” Linden said during a recent walk-through of his gallery.

    Linden was referring to Jay McCafferty, an artist of international renown for his pioneering of the “process art” movement that emerged in the late 1960s. He’s primarily known for his solar burn compositions created with a magnifying lens on a variety of surfaces along plotted grid intersections.

    The quality of Lee’s work emphasizes clarity, simplification, reduced means and reduction of things like form and composition. A juxtaposition of elements is created from mud, spackle and glue. When exhibited alongside laboriously-created works of fine ink on paper, it provides an insight into a deeply creative process.

    The central piece of the exhibition is a 6-foot long sculpture called “Substitute.” It consists of long flowing thread, hanging from a metal frame, held together with mud and glue, and left out in the Hollywood Hills to be weathered by the elements. The piece is both muscular and tender. It seems determined to face what may come, but is showing the effects of time.

    Our first glimpse of Lee’s work was in 2013 at Angel’s Ink Gallery in downtown San Pedro. The artist is known to create a thousand strokes with a brush trimmed down to a single goat’s hair. Curator Robin Hinchliffe remembers the response from viewers as “Whoa, look at this!”

    “That response came as well from many sophisticated artists and gallerists looking in the windows before the show opened and from groups of otherwise casual visitors exploring downtown on First Thursday openings,” she said. “It is at once compelling and serene, awe-inspiring and immediately accessible.”

    Lee spends his days surrounded by art at the Orange County Museum of Art. As an art installer and occasional security guard, he finds inspiration within the walls of the museum.

    “It’s nice to be around the art and to be able to look at art all day,” Lee said. “I think [when you are] spending time with it, day by day, it filters in. Returning to a certain work of art and coming back again each day, it is inspiring–but it just doesn’t pay well.”

    Lee grew up in Southern California with parents who inspired him to read, write and express his creativity. His father is a writer and Lee has fond memories of spending weekends with him digging through crates of books at swap meets in search of paperback novels that sold for 25 cents each. Today, Lee also devotes time to writing poetry and participating in local poetry readings.

    As a relief from the ink drawings, which sometimes take as much as six months to complete, Lee “makes gunk” from mud in the hills near his studio at Angels Gate Cultural Center.
    He mixes glue, paint, plaster and spackle to produce work that is almost diametrically opposed to the ink drawings. Sometimes he molds the muddy gunk on cardboard or newspaper. A heat gun helps to hold the gunk together.

    For those interested in learning about Lee’s process, the fine art gallery at Harbor College is hosting a Q & A with the artist April 15 at 1 p.m.

    Lee’s work is also on view at LA Artcore Brewery Annex in downtown Los Angeles. The three-person exhibit, Black and White, runs through April 8.

    You will also have a chance to visit Lee’s small, muddy studio on the windy bluff, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, during the Angels Gate Open Studios Day on April 26. The Angels Gate Cultural Center is at 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro.

    Details: (310) 600-4873
    Venue: LAHC Fine Arts Gallery
    Location: 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington

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  • Cambodian Community Shifts Focus

    Cambodian Community Shifts Focus
    By Eric Fujimori, Editorial Intern

    Jenny Tae was only a teenager when she and her family left Cambodia in the 1980s. Without much money or steady plans for the future, they settled in California and started a new life.

    Tae needed to work right away to help support her family. Since she didn’t speak English or have a formal education, her options were limited to low-paying jobs that required arduous labor. She first found work in a sewing factory before her father opened a small donut shop in Los Angeles. At Sammy Goodie’s Donuts, Tae worked tirelessly, often up to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. Since profits were low, her family couldn’t afford to hire any outside employees. Despite the difficult circumstances, she persevered.

    Tae now lives in Long Beach, home to the largest Cambodian population in the United States.

    Like Tae, many Cambodian immigrants in Long Beach rely on their proven work ethic and business-savvy tactics to make a life for themselves. As more businesses continue to open, competition is getting stiffer. Inevitably, this means less money for the owners. This dilemma has inspired the younger Cambodian-American generations to pursue success with an approach more focused on education than entrepreneurship.


    Reasons for Immigration

    Large numbers of Cambodians started immigrating to Long Beach in the 1970s. Most of them were uneducated. This trend can be directly traced back to Cambodia’s dark era of persecution under the Khmer Rouge, a radical communist regime that aimed to establish an agrarian utopia.

    During its reign, the Khmer Rouge turned Cambodia into a prison state, holding people in work camps and orchestrating large-scale massacres in the so-called “killing fields.”

    “In the killing fields, they took everyone who was educated and murdered them,” said Kiry Kravanh, prevention coordinator at the Cambodian Association of America in Long Beach, the largest and oldest nonprofit Cambodian organization in the United States.

    Kravanh, a second generation Cambodian-American, said his parents were well educated before the Khmer Rouge came into power. However, they had to pretend not to be in order to survive.


    Progress in America

    To compensate for their lack of education, Cambodian immigrants relied on their perseverance to obtain jobs that required strenuous labor and extremely long hours. In time, they began to open their own businesses.

    Since her days of working at the family donut shop, Tae has owned several of her own. By the time she was 22, she opened the first of three donut shops in the Los Angeles area. She’s also owned a Vietnamese restaurant, a meat market and a discount store. During this run of business endeavors, Tae also found time to raise her children and earn a college degree from the University of Phoenix.

    Tae said that her children, as well as future generations of Cambodian-Americans, are the reason she’s always worked so hard.

    “I don’t want my children to have the same life I did,” Tae said.

    To make sure that doesn’t happen, Tae pushes her children to focus on getting a good education. She wants them to be able to choose what they want to pursue in their lives, instead of being confined to working at the family business for long hours and little pay.

    This shift from a business-minded to education-based mentality is becoming increasingly apparent among second and third generation Cambodian-Americans.

    “Now that Cambodians are more educated, more outgoing, more ambitious, we’re starting to put ourselves out there,” said Keo Uy, youth coordinator at the United Cambodian Community in Long Beach.

    Uy, a second generation Cambodian-American, is inspired by the progress being made.

    “We’ve come a long way from being just immigrant refugees with no education, to being doctors, lawyers, leaders and people who aren’t afraid to have pride in their culture,” Uy said.


    Maintaining Cultural Ties

    Why is this shift in mindset happening now? Victory Heng, a first generation Cambodian-American, has pinpointed one of the major reasons.

    “The second generation grew up going to school where the primary language is English,” Heng said.

    As the mental health coordinator at the United Cambodian Community, Heng has seen how language barriers make it difficult for Cambodian immigrants to ease into American society. He often serves as a translator for Cambodian members of the community, helping them go through their mail and fill out forms.

    While he’s glad that the younger generations are able to speak English and communicate well, Heng thinks it’s important for Cambodian-Americans to stay in touch with their culture.

    “You try to assimilate because that’s what made this country great,”  Heng said. “But at the same time you don’t want to completely erase your background or where you came from.”

    This doesn’t seem to be a problem.

    In Long Beach, Cambodian culture is present all around. It’s found in authentic restaurants like PhnomPenh Noodle and grocery stores like KH Supermarket. But perhaps more than anything, it’s found in the people.

    Every year, organizations and individuals from the Cambodian community come together to present several events, such as parades and culture festivals during the time of the Cambodian New Year.

    Sandy Nou, who is one of the main organizers for this year’s Cambodia Town Culture Festival on April 12, said these events help develop strong connections between young Cambodian-Americans and their heritage.

    “It’s really uplifting for our culture because younger generations are getting involved,” Nou said. “We even have high school students who will be displaying projects from their Cambodian class for everyone to see.”

    Whether it’s the old family businesses or the young educated activists, there’s a humble sense of pride among the Cambodian community.

    The Ninth Annual Cambodian New Year Parade will take place from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. April 12. The parade will take place along Anaheim Street in Long Beach, starting at Junipero Avenue and ending at Warren Avenue. The Cambodia Town Culture Festival will immediately follow the parade at MacArthur Park.

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    Restaurants Off The Beaten Path
    By Gina Ruccione, Food Writer & Blogger

    If you like culinary adventures, consider looking for restaurants that are off the beaten path. The Harbor Area is home to a few, and you’ll be rewarded well if you make the effort.

    The Chowder Barge, tucked away in the somewhat obscure Leeward Marina, happens to be the only floating restaurant in Los Angeles. At first glance, it begs judgment, but the second you step through the door, that quickly subsides.

    Originally built in 1934 to accommodate the movie crew filming Mutiny on the Bounty, the Chowder Barge has exchanged hands many times and has earned its reputation as an eclectic piece of the Harbor’s history. It has been a floating brothel, a machine repair shop and an art studio. It’s now a restaurant and dive bar known among locals for some of the best hearty, home-style breakfasts and clam chowder.

    The ambience and décor are totally funky– think swashbuckler meets old biker. This place should not be missed, especially by those who shy away from weekend breakfast crowds, or who just want to grab a beer and watch the sunset. It’s the kind of hole-in-the-wall where I’ll actually go back to buy a T-shirt and wear it proudly. I’ll also go back for the friendly staff, the excellent service, and of course, the New England clam chowder.

    The Chowder Barge | Location: 611 N. Henry Ford Ave., Wilmington


    If you haven’t heard of Isaac Cafe in Wilmington, I don’t blame you. There’s no website, not even a fax number. The only way you would know about this miraculous find is if you know someone who appreciates great Mexican food and is willing to bequeath their knowledge upon you.

    To the untrained eye, the cafe seems somewhat underwhelming. It’s in a gritty, industrial area in Wilmington. It’s not fancy. There are no flashy frills–just a clean, plain dining area. But they don’t mess around when it comes to food.

    Known for their burritos, Isaac Cafe has been around since the 1980s. It has been family owned and operated since its inception. All they care about is their food, and it shows. Don’t expect to find industrial-sized, pre-made cans of salsa or anything else for that matter, just quality ingredients and authentic, homemade recipes.

    I watched as they pumped out burritos to a hungry lunch crowd. Longshoremen flock to Isaac, as the ILWU Hall is right around the corner.

    The most popular burritos include the Jones and the carne asada, but as one patron commented while waiting in line, “I would eat the chili Colorado every day for the rest of my life.” That’s a pretty bold statement for any foodie, but then I’ve said some pretty bold things in my day.

    Isaac Cafe | Location: 632 N. Fries Ave., Wilmington


    If you’re looking for a great seafood experience with a very laid-back attitude, look no further than Berth 55 Fish Market and Seafood Deli.

    In the Port of Long Beach on Pico Avenue, Berth 55 has been serving some of the best seafood in the Harbor for decades. Completely unassuming and unpretentious from the outside, the restaurant looks like a warehouse, but it’s the fresh food at fair prices that make this place such a great find.

    Dockworkers and businessmen alike can be found waiting in line during lunch hour and consider it a great place to grub on fish tacos and quickly escape from the work week grind.

    Family owned and operated since 1988, Berth 55 provides an alternative for those looking for that fresh fish market feel, but with a more personal touch. It’s a unique experience to pick fresh crab out of the tank and, only minutes later, have it served on a plate in front of you.

    This place has a tendency to get really crowded, especially around lunch and on the weekends. The picnic-style seating outside has a casual feel and a nice view of the berth. Expect to pick out amazing, quality seafood right from the case and have it prepared to order.

    The halibut plate is phenomenal; it’s seasoned and grilled, so it’s light and flaky. The New England clam chowder is excellent – creamy and comforting. The barbecue salmon and barbecue shrimp are also popular menu items.

    Berth 55 Fish Market and Seafood Deli | Location: 555 Pico Ave., Long Beach.

    So, the next time you’re up for a unique dining experience, consider trying one of these hidden gems. I promise they won’t disappoint.


    Gina Ruccione is a fearless blogger and self-proclaimed food critic. She has traveled all over Europe and Asia, lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County and worked in finance and fashion. When she’s not rummaging through recipes, she spends her days working for a nonprofit in Orange County. You can visit her blog at http://foodfashionfoolishfornication.blogspot.com.


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  • Workers, Business Owners Discuss Mayor’s Proposal to Raise Minimum Wage

    Workers Want Enforcement, While Businesses Want to Include Tips as Wages
    By Crystal Niebla, Editorial Intern

    With six children to care for, car wash employee Fausto Hernández García hopes Los Angeles officials will raise the minimum wage and enforce it, so that he and his family can live better.

    On March 26, minimum wage workers and businesses owners came together in the Watts district of Los Angeles for the second, out of four, special meetings. The Economic Development Committee hosted meetings to discuss Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposal to raise the minimum wage citywide.

    Led by Los Angeles City Councilman Curren D. Price Jr., members of the council gathered at Phoenix Hall that evening with more than 250 attendees to hear public comments. Those in favor of the pay increase also urged city officials to enforce it due to the ongoing issue of “wage theft.”

    García, 55, said he has been paid for as little as three hours when he actually worked 10.

    “With the increase, one can pay rent completely,” he said. “And, this would be great for our children because we are limited with [the little] that is paid [now].”

    Los Angeles’ current minimum wage is $9 per hour, which follows state law, and is slated to rise to $10 in 2016.

    This past year on Labor Day, Garcetti announced he would like to raise the wage to $13.25 by 2017. The increase would take place in three steps, first to $10.25, then to $11.75 and finally to $13.25. His proposal also ensures future increases will match inflation rates.

    Labor groups such as the CLEAN Carwash Campaign and Community Coalition attended the March 26 meeting, advocating for an increase to $15. The labor groups are following the campaign of #LARaisetheWage, which asks for $15.25 an hour, with paid sick leave and enforcement.

    The advocacy came weeks after the Los Angeles City Council voted to set wages at $15.37 for workers at larger hotels, and for Los Angeles school workers.

    “This is a fight for equity in our city—to make sure that those who have often been ignored [and] get paid the least get the dignity and respect that they deserve,” said Alberto Retana, executive vice president at Community Coalition. “For far too long, the wage gap between LA’s richest folks and LA’s poorest is far too wide.”

    Few of the business owners who were against the minimum wage increase said the increase would be unfair for their businesses. Many of them urged the city council to increase minimum wage with conditions, such as including the tip money restaurant workers receive.

    Consequences of the increase to business owners are projected by some to include cuts to workers’ hours and benefits, layoffs and relocation of businesses outside of the city.

    In a University of California, Berkeley study requested by the mayor’s office, researchers found that the proposed minimum wage law “would have a modest impact on business operating costs and consumer prices.”

    According to the report, about half of all affected workers “are employed in four industries: restaurants (17.4 percent); retail trade (13.9 percent); health services (11.7 percent); and administrative and waste management services (9.5 percent). Operating costs would increase by 0.6 percent for retailers, by 4.7 percent for restaurants, and by 0.4 percent in the manufacturing sector by the time the proposed law is fully implemented in 2017.”

    The report adds that restaurant prices would increase by 4.1 percent by the time the minimum wage increase is in full effect.

    “A $10 meal would increase by 41 cents, to a total of $10.41,” the report states as an example. As for retail and the local economy as a whole, the report states that the price increases would be “negligible.”

    The report predicts that the restaurant industry might experience 560 fewer jobs a year over the three-year phase-in of the minimum wage increase and that some apparel manufacturing jobs might relocate outside the city.

    Some business owners said they like the minimum wage increase proposal but that there can be better solutions.

    A representative of the Los Angeles County Business Federation said at the meeting that even if workers earned $15 an hour, they would still be below the poverty line. Instead, he suggested that the city enable conditions that would create middle class jobs, which “would actually lift people out of poverty.”

    Sherry Lear, a San Pedro lawyer who operates a small firm, said that the country and its economy is struggling because it’s losing its middle class. Lear, who pays employees more than $15 an hour with paid sick days and vacation, argued that raising the working poor will stimulate the economy and help businesses.

    “I understand that some businesses may need to phase in to paying higher wages… but what I’m seeing among people who work for businesses… is that their bosses are building big houses and yet their wages are getting cut and their vacation pay is getting cut,” Lear said.

    “So, while I’m not going to dispute the veracity of the people who came here today to talk, I do know that [there are] a lot of businesses out there [that] are making more profits than ever and paying their workers less, and that’s not how you build up an economy.”

    García, who has washed cars for a living for 8 years, said the forum is helpful because it will create solidarity of workers like him to illuminate how business owners often mistreat their workers.

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