• South Side Slim Talks Old, New School Blues

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Within the first three months of his online radio program, Let’s Talk Blues, Henry Harris, aka South Side Slim, brought not only an engaging personality, but also the chops to showcase the entire timeline of the Los Angeles blues scene. This musician from the south side of Los Angeles regularly describes the balancing act that his radio show requires with his catchphrase, “Sponsored by Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Let’s Talk Blues is dedicated to old school blues and artists true to the blues with the inclination to play jazz and beyond.”

    It wasn’t long after the show’s inception, that Slim found its authentic voice. His goal is simple enough—he wants to create an open and diverse program to allow more people to participate.

    launched only one week after the owner of Roscoe’s Media Center recruited Slim as host. Slim had absolutely no previous experience in radio but by the time the show debuted he did have a co-host­: Carolyn Gaines, the daughter of the blues master Roy Gaines. “We pulled it together for that show,” he recalled. “Carolyn had one of B.B. King’s daughters call in. I had a blues singer and actor come in, Roy Jones Sr. The show was good.”

    Gaines did not continue with Let’s Talk Blues. But Slim carried on, learning to run a radio show from the same person who had taught him to play guitar—himself.

    Let’s Talk Blues with South Side Slim

    Slim covers all eras of the blues, pulling from the mid-1920s to the 1960s He’s showcased greats such as Furry Lewis and Billy Lyons, with their song Stackolee.

    “I’ve heard a lot about that song,” Slim said. “It’s like an old folk tale. Stackolee is the kind of guy you don’t want to mess with. If you’re playing dice with him, as the lyric said,

    When you lose your money, learn to lose (or you might get shot).

    “I also played Jimmy Jackson and Larry Core and females like Bertha Chippie Hill, with  Trouble on My Mind …. Of course, these artists are black, there weren’t many white blues men in 1927. Also Charlie Pickens, Lonnie Johnson and Petie Wheatstraw.”

    Covering records from 1940s to 1960s, Slim has played Big Joe Turner and his Fly Cats, Jay McShann, Walter Brown and Lewis Jordan and his Tympany Five. He also has played songs from the incomparable Dinah Washington, Muddy Waters and Larry Davis.

    Slim also tries to add a little of his own music into the mix.

    “It’s not about me,” he said. “It’s about spreading the word, but of course, I have to give myself some props too.”

    With the online radio platform Slim is focused on representing not only the players he’s worked with in South Central, but elsewhere also.

    “I’ve done so much extensive work with the blues and with my late friend Kari Fretham, including the documentary Hot Love On Me So Strong about the last few juke joints in South Central,” Slim said. “She did a great job chronicling the scene there. Many artists from South Central that are unknown played on the album. A few years back I did a CD called, South Side All Stars Doing Barnyard Hits, which has about 15 players from South Central on it. It’s all original and has players who should be known.”

    When his good friend, Fretham died this past December, she left so much documentation behind.

    “We were like a tag team,” Slim said. “After she left, everything was in my hands, the documentary, my biography, Sweetback Blues, The Twelve Bar Tale of South Side Slim and my CDs, including the ones I produced with Jerry Rosen. I was trying to figure out how to pull all of this together under one umbrella.”

    Out of nowhere, one day, Slim had a show at Roscoe’s Seabird Jazz Lounge in Long Beach and was talking to the owner of the club about how he worked with a lot of the artists that come through there to play.

    “So he told me he wanted me to do an interview on his radio show but when I got there, I was told, ‘No, he has different plans for you,’” Slim said. ‘He wants you to host an online blues radio show.’

    He was shocked but recognized an opportunity to pull all of his past work together.

    “It was a blessing and it’s nice to have a voice to speak on all my experiences over the last 25 years,” Slim said. “Los Angeles is a big county and a lot of people have the blues, Latinos, Asians, white people, we all have the blues. I want to diversify and respect the scene that I came up in.”

    Slim’s scene has been diverse. He started around 1990, through Babe’s and Ricki’s on 59th and Main streets. A lot of players of all ethnicities came through there. However, further on the south side, at the Pioneer Club and Pure Pleasure Lounge, for example, mostly black players performed. They mixed it up with rhythm and blues, and blues.

    “It wasn’t like Babe’s and Ricki’s, which was a melting pot,” Slim said. “That’s how I want my show to be, a melting pot, but I do want to dedicate it to old-school blues because there are just so many shows out there now that seem to have forgotten the traditional blues, in my opinion.”

    One of the goals for Roscoe’s is to eventually have monitors, broadcasting the radio station in all of its establishments as an entertainment feature.

    Never one for redundancy, Slim has presented an eclectic variety of guest artists on his show. Because he knows so many musicians, he was able to call friends such as Dr. Hank, a bluesman from the south side in his early shows. Recently, he had Mighty Mo Rodgers, a classic bluesman from Chicago, with his latest CD, Mud and Blood. He also hosted the local Lester Lands and Roy Goren, a 16-years-old, guitarist.

    On June 15, local legend Ray Brooks appeared. Brooks was nominated for the Blues Grammy in 1979 for his recording of Walk Out Like A Lady. Willie McNeil, a drummer and Hollywood legend who was the catalyst for South Side Slim’s contribution in the Paul McCartney, Early Days jam session video also showed up on June 21. Slim has an interview June 28, with a great guitar player from the east side of town, Joey Delgado with The Delgado Brothers.

    Slim didn’t initially know if he would have a guest each week but it became a regular thing he wanted to keep up. Now he pre-books his shows.

    Jazz and gospel singer and director of The World Stage in Leimert Park, Dwight Trible is coming on the show in July, as well as Alexander Gershman from the jazz band Sasha’s Block. Gershman just released a single called Runaway Blues billed as a jazz, gospel and blues crossover. It also features the a cappella band that sings everything from gospel, to R&B to jazz, Take 6.

    “I do a segment of old school blues from 1927 to 1940 on each show and I’ve also received CD’s from friends that I play, like Lucky Lloyd to Mike Wheeler and up and coming Chicago blues man,” Slim said. “I like to play some that are famous and some not so famous. So I play some up to date stuff from friends and I try to make it authentic. That is the basic goal. It’s only an hour show and there’s a lot of blues shows out there playing most of the stuff people hear all the time. Not too many radio stations are playing the old school blues anymore. Most play what is happening right now.”

    Check out Let’s Talk Blues at www.rmconair.com.

    To learn more about South Side Slim at www.southsideslim.com

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  • Primary Election Victors Look Toward November

    Congressional, State Senate Elections Could Get Nasty

    Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
     
    In the Los Angeles Harbor Area, Sen. Bernie Sanders found broad swaths of support, particularly in Wilmington and San Pedro, though not enough to turn them into “Bernie-towns.”

    More specifically, Sanders and Hillary Clinton finished in dead heats in precincts covered by the Central, Coastal and Wilmington neighborhood council districts, while Clinton had a commanding majority in the Northwest San Pedro Neighborhood Council District.

    Los Angeles County Supervisors Race

    In the county supervisor’s race, Rep. Janice Hahn won the primaries by 27,000 votes.

    Wins in the Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbor Area, assured victory for the congresswoman. She also edged out her nearest rival, Steve Napolitano, in the beach cities but the margins were much narrower.

    Hahn garnered 55 percent of the vote in the neighborhood council districts of Wilmington and San Pedro, where she served three terms as Los Angeles City councilwoman.

    Hahn focused her campaign on Los Angeles County’s growing homeless and mentally ill populations, its transportation system and crime. She has frequently contended that with Congress locked in perpetual gridlock she believes she can get more done in local office.

    “My father, beloved County Supervisor Kenny Hahn, always stressed to me the importance of being a champion for the people,” said Hahn when she announced her candidacy in February 2015. “He instilled in me the values of courage, integrity and public service and, most importantly, the simple principle of always putting constituents and local neighborhoods first. With that philosophy in mind, I have decided not to run for re-election to Congress and instead enter the race for Los Angeles County Supervisor District 4.”

    Though the county supervisor’s seat is nonpartisan, Hahn is a Democrat and has been endorsed by fellow Democrats on the board, including Mark Ridley-Thomas, Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl

    The members of the dynasty opposing Hahn aren’t related by family blood, but by political philosophy and orderly tradition. Steve Napolitano, the former mayor of Manhattan Beach, has served as chief deputy on outgoing Supervisor Don Knabe’s staff since 2005. By pursuing his boss’s job—with his boss’s endorsement—Napolitano is also following in Knabe’s footprints.

    Knabe, a former mayor of Cerritos, was first elected to represent District 4 on the Board of Supervisors in 1996, when he succeeded his boss, Deane Dana, for whom he had served as chief of staff. Dana, who was retiring after 16 years as a supervisor, endorsed Knabe for the job.

    All three men are Republicans.

    Napolitano describes himself as a fiscal conservative but a social progressive. He and his family reside in Manhattan Beach, where he has lived all his life. While serving on that city’s council, he worked as a part-time teacher and put himself through Loyola Law School. He passed the bar in 2000.

    Napolitano’s three top priorities are fighting crime, homelessness, and addressing crumbling infrastructure and transportation.

    State Senate Election — District 35

    Warren Furutani came in second overall, after decisively winning nearly half the precincts in the Los Angeles Harbor Area and finishing second in Carson. Steve Bradford won overwhelming majorities in Carson, Compton, Inglewood, Gardena and the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Athens. Compton City Councilman Isaac Galvan also made strong showings in Athens, Inglewood, Long Beach and Compton, placing second behind Bradford in those areas, but a close third overall. Galvan was a couple of percentage points away from beating Furutani to make the runoff with Bradford.

    The close race may have resulted from  the  Galvan campaign’s misleading mailer to San Pedro residents trying to link former Assemblyman Furutani and Random Lengths News Publisher James Preston Allen to the tiny houses controversy that erupted in 2015.

    Galvan, the first Latino member of the Compton City Council, and also the youngest council member at 26, was investigated by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Office regarding his ties to Pyramid Printers and its owner Angel Gonzalez. Reportedly Galvan was employed by Pyramid but Gonzalez, who was convicted in 2002 of sending out misleading campaign mailers, was also recently hired as Galvan’s assistant.

    Galvan’s campaign site says he runs his own graphics and printing brokerage firm but nothing about Pyramid or Gonzalez.

    Bradford has been endorsed by Rep. Janice Hahn and Isadore Hall to fill the open Senate District 35 seat.

    He was the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council, where he served for 12 years. He was then elected to represent Assembly District 51 in a 2009 special election. That followed a fullterm beginning in 2010. After redistricting, he was elected in 2012 to the Assembly District 62.  He helped pass 42 bills during that time. He served as chairman of the Select Committee on the Status of Boys and Men of Color.

    In a Feb. 10 interview Bradford told Random Lengths he’s running because of his commitment to public service, especially in regards to unresolved issues and unfinished business he left in Sacramento.

    He said that the most important issues are employment—“making sure we go back to work”— quality of education, and reform of the criminal justice system.

    Charlotte Svolos, a Republican schoolteacher and former Torrance commissioner, polled strongly in the precincts covered by Northwest and Coastal neighborhood council districts and won Torrance.

    This past April, Svolos explained that although Senate District 35 isn’t a Republican district, she considers herself a moderate.

    “I don’t take a hard line on traditional values,” she said. “I’m more a fiscal conservative, more libertarian.”

    Furutani, who served on the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees and three terms in the state assembly, may be the best situated to pick up votes in the areas Galvan won.

    Congressional Race — District 44

    Isadore Hall III won the primary by a healthy margin—33 percent to Nanette Barragan’s 19 percent—but well short of the 51 percent needed to avoid the runoff in the general election in November.

    The time, effort and local endorsements paid off with a win in San Pedro for Hall. The state senator also won Compton, Carson, Long Beach and Lynwood.

    Barragan won Wilmington, Harbor Gateway, South Gate, and trailed Hall by only a few percentage points in San Pedro.

    The former Hermosa Beach Mayor Pro Tem garnered enough votes to compete in the general election, but probably has more than a fighting chance of winning the seat as a real estate brouhaha exploded at Hall’s victory party on election night.

    Hall was served a subpoena by tenants of the Alameda Court condominium in Compton who are involved in a legal fight with the building’s owners to stay in their homes. In court documents—made available by the Barragan campaign—the plaintiffs alleged that Hall, also a tenant in the building, received preferential treatment. This was allegedly because of his role in getting the project approved almost 10 years ago, while he was a Compton city councilman.

    Interestingly enough, Hall was served an eviction notice in 2015 for nonpayment of rent and utilities by the owners of Alameda Court—documents also publicly released by the Barragan campaign.

    The tenants’ case is scheduled to be in court in October, just before the general election Nov. 8.

     

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  • Project SEARCH Builds Job Bridges

    By Adriana Catanzarite, Editorial Intern

    Finding a job is challenging for most people. But people with intellectual developmental disabilities often have a harder time with their search than the average Joe.

    Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center’s Project SEARCH is helping people like 21-year-old Michelle Rojas circumvent those challenges.

    “My teachers helped with my interview portion,” said Rojas, who has a speech impairment.

    “They’re taking me to a job fair to help me find work. I want to work at Target or Walmart, because I think I’d really like it there, and I’d be good at it.”

    Her communication skills have greatly improved.

    On June 8, Rojas and six of her peers graduated from the Project SEARCH class of 2016. Three of those graduates have already found jobs. The program provides job training and education via strategically designed internships for people with intellectual developmental disabilities.

    About Project SEARCH

    Kaiser Permanente South Bay is in its fourth year of  Project SEARCH, which began in 1996. It’s the only site in the South Bay offering the program. Kaiser Permanente partnered with Best Buddies, the Los Angeles Unified School District and the Harbor Regional Center to provide this internship. The program provides education and job training in three 10-week rotations. When students graduate, Best Buddies helps get them a job matching their skills and qualifications from participating employers like Trader Joe’s or Madame Tussauds.

    San Pedro resident Tyler Zuieback recently graduated from Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center's Project SEARCH, an internship program for people with intellectual developmental disabilities.

    San Pedro resident Tyler Zuieback recently graduated from Kaiser Permanente South Bay Medical Center’s Project SEARCH, an internship program for people with intellectual developmental disabilities.

    Each week, students are given onsite job training in various departments throughout Kaiser. They try to find a match for each student. If the student has an interest in medical health or pharmaceuticals, the program gives them the opportunity to work in that department. One of the graduates dreamt of being a chef, for example. Now, he works as a cook at Kaiser Permanente’s food services division.

    Kaiser Chief Administrative Officer Ozzie Martinez said it’s exciting to be a part of something that has such a huge impact on the community.

    “When we started this program we thought we were going to come out with this internship and provide an opportunity for young adults so they can be successful,” Martinez said. “Very quickly we learned we were receiving a bigger gift. The impact our interns have on our culture is incredible. They bring an incredible energy and dedication to the job.”

    Living with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

    According to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, an intellectual disability affects intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior. Basically a person with an intellectual disability learns at a slower rate. The Special Olympics estimates that about 6.5 million people in the United States are living with an intellectual disability.

    Though employers are not allowed to discriminate against applicants with disabilities, the unemployment rate for people with intellectual disabilities is 85 percent, according to National Core Indicators. But programs such as Project SEARCH may steadily change that statistic.

    Unemployment among those with intellectual disability is so high because society is largely misinformed about what they think people with an intellectual disability can accomplish, Martinez said. He’s also noticed that many incoming interns also lacked confidence in their abilities. By providing a support system, the majority of students were able to become more independent and follow their passions.

    “The level of professionalism in our interns is incredible,” Martinez said. “They show up, they are present; they’re dedicated and they have ownership and responsibility. They really become examples of the type of employees that we want to see.”

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  • Buscaino Discovers the Homeless are his Own

    Emergency Response Team meets with 145 homeless people, 85% call the Harbor Area home

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    It has been more than 10 months since Councilman Joe Buscaino held his San Pedro Forum on Homelessness at the Warner Grand Theatre, where  he reiterated the commonly held belief that neighboring cities were busing their homeless to the San Pedro area.

    He vowed he would stop this practice and called for greater cooperation amongst local cities to curb the importation of homeless people. Then he appointed a special task force to deal with the issue. The San Pedro Homeless Taskforce still hasn’t reported its findings. The homeless problem persists. Only it’s not what Buscaino expected.

    In Buscaino’s weekly e-news bulletin, he reports that, “In April, the Emergency Response Team met with 145 homeless individuals, 85 percent of whom are from the Harbor Area.”

    The report continues on about the reported results in the month of May that, “the team met with 170 individuals, 88 percent of whom were from the Harbor Area.”

    These reports from his trusted sources are similar to, but higher than national statistics, that show that most people who are homeless live in places in which they were reared and lived in a home.

    The reality is that the people whom we have come to call “homeless” in our neighborhoods (at least some 85 to 88 percent) are in fact right at home because this is where they came from. They just don’t have a roof over their heads with a permanent address.

    This fact flies in the face of tightly held prejudices that perceive the homeless in our communities as outsiders. The councilman now must recognize them as his constituents.

    The Cost of Sweeping Homeless

    This is a hard fact to swallow for the indignant Saving San Pedro crowd after shaming the homeless on social media and having consistently called for more encampment sweeps to the tune of $30,000 per action.

    It was reported at one of the recent Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council meetings that there have been 27 such sweeps in the Harbor Area since the end of last summer, possibly more by now. By my estimation, the sweeps have cost the taxpayers of Los Angeles somewhere around $810,000.

    In addition to this expense, the police routinely issue tickets for infractions for any of the 24 municipal codes of which the homeless could be in violation, just by existing in a public space. Most of these tickets go to warrant for failure to appear. This only adds to the public expense and burden to the superior courts­, not to mention the cost to the homeless themselves. This criminalization of the poor has become a revolving door with a downward spiral. It’s part of what keeps the homeless, homeless. None other than the U.S. Department of Justice has recognized this vicious cycle for what it is: a civil rights violation that jeopardizes federal housing grants to our city. Enforcement actions such as the ones this city has used do nothing but make city officials look responsive.

    In response to the Los Angeles Police Department’s growing awareness that we can’t arrest our way out of homelessness. Los Angeles Police commission and the Los Angeles police chief, Charlie Beck, issued new policy guidelines this week that change  how officers approach the mentally ill and homeless populations. This policy change comes after two officer involved shootings of homeless people in the past few years. One of those shootings was judged “out of policy” and the officer is being criminally prosecuted.

    Clearly there must be more creative and effective ways to spend $810,000 in Council District 15 and the rest of Los Angeles. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the estimated $80 million spent on police and fire department to react to the homeless crisis isn’t working either.

    Homelessness itself is not a crime. We as neighbors and as citizens of this city and nation must not continue down this misconceived path. The homeless are our neighbors without shelter.  If this were any other kind of crisis that left 46,000 residents countywide without shelter for even a day, someone would call for the Red Cross and the National Guard to step in.

    In Los Angeles, we talk the issue to death at city council meetings. Then propose three different bond or tax measures, one of which will be voted on in November. Yet, not one new emergency shelter or new low-income housing unit will be opened or built before then.

    If this is how Los Angeles handles a crisis, I’d hate to see how the city would respond to the next major earthquake.

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  • CYMBELINE @ Shakespeare by the Sea

    Back when I was heavily into Shakespeare, I considered Othello one of the Bard’s best. It’s a classic tale of deceit and jealousy that may be (along with Hamlet) the most compelling examination of the human psyche until Dostoyevsky’s Notes from Underground a quarter of a millennium later. On the other hand, Cymbeline seemed like a Shakespearean afterthought, odd and obscure and completely forgettable.

    So when I heard that this year Shakespeare by the Sea is alternating productions of these two plays over the course of the summer and that I would be reviewing only one, it was a no-brainer which I wanted to do. But wouldn’t you know it? With the scheduling such as it is, I got stuck with Cymbeline. Lucky me.

    No, really: lucky me. Thanks to Shakespeare by the Sea’s ability to magnify the comedic side of Cymbeline (one of Shakespeare’s four “romances,” so-called “problem plays” that critics have traditionally had a tougher time categorizing than his other 33), I was reminded once again that first impressions are often wrong. Well, sort of. Let’s just thank our lucky stars for George Bernard Shaw. But we’ll get to that.

    Widowed King Cymbeline (Steve Humphreys) has a daughter, Imogen (Stacy Snyder), who married her childhood playmate Posthumous (Christopher Dietrick). This vexes the Queen (Andria Kozica), “a mother hourly coining plots,” because she wants Imogen for her son Cloten (Bryson “B.J.” Allman) so that eventually he will be king of Britain. That’s enough for Cymbeline to banish Posthumous, who goes to Rome to reside with a friend of his father. Once in Rome, his high praise of Imogen rankles Iachimo (Dorian Tayler), who bets Posthumous that he will be able to seduce Imogen and then immediately leaves for Britain, where his conniving to win the wager sets in motion a series of misadventures for all concerned.

    Let’s not kid ourselves: frequently Shakespeare’s plots are ridiculous, and his writing can be as bloated as it is dazzling. In response to the popular (mis)conception that Shakespeare’s works came out fully formed, without his having to blot out a single line, Ben Johnson famously wrote, “Would he had blotted out a thousand.” It’s not that Johnson didn’t recognize Shakespeare’s genius, but he also recognized his fallibility.

    So did Shaw. Although he ranked Cymbeline as among the best of Shakespeare’s later plays, “[it] goes to pieces in the last act,” he said, becoming “a tedious string of unsurprising dénouements sugared with insincere sentimentality after a ludicrous stage battle.” So Shaw did what many purists consider anathema: he fixed it, sifting Shakespeare’s bad last act to write a better one.

    I had no knowledge of this as I watched Shakespeare by the Sea’s Cymbeline wind its way toward conclusion. All I knew was it was a hell of a lot funnier and cleverer than I’d remembered, and that the last scene made the meat of the play pay off spectacularly. Shakespeare had never seemed quite this funny.

    Due credit goes not only to Shaw but also to director Cylan Brown, who had the good sense not only to use Shaw’s ending, but to make severe cuts throughout. (The entire performance runs under two hours including the intermission, which is nearly unheard of for Shakespeare.) For the duration Brown focuses the text and his cast on the humor in Cymbeline. It’s a bit slow going early on, but hang in there. Brown’s cast comes alive as the comedy kicks in. Especially strong is Bryson “B.J.” Allman as Cloten. His preening ignorance is most of what brings the funny before Shaw gets to work.

    Shakespeare by the Sea does a nice job utilizing the wilds of Point Fermin Park. When Posthumous arrives in Rome, he comes calling from way behind the audience. With all that sky and ocean in the background, just about the only way to achieve greater verisimilitude would be to have him sail up on the beach and hop ashore. As for the challenges that come with staging theatre in a park, Shakespeare by the Sea has rigged up a sound system that makes it generally easy to hear the actors from far away and yet doesn’t blow you out if you’re sitting closer.

    If you’re going to see Cymbeline, Shakespeare by the Sea’s production is the one to see. And if their Othello (a play that doesn’t need Shaw’s help) is as good, see that one, too.

    CYMBELINE SHAKESPEARE BY THE SEA • POINT FERMIN PARK: 807 W PASEO DEL MAR • SAN PEDRO 90731 • 310.217.7596 • SHAKESPEAREBYTHESEA.ORG • JUN 30; JUL 2 & 8; AUG 19 • FREE (SUGGESTED $10 DONATION) • OTHELLO JUN 23–25; JUL 1, 2, & 9; AUG 19 • SEE WEBSITE FOR PERFORMANCES IN LONG BEACH, SEAL BEACH, PALOS VERDES, & OTHER AREA CITIES

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  • Community Celebrates the Life of Democratic Party Stalwart

    Photos and story by Diana Lejins, Contributing Writer

    LONG BEACH — On June 21, about 150 people celebrated the life of longtime Democratic champion Eric Thomas Sean Bradley. The ceremony took place at the Long Beach Terrace Theater.

    Bradley died unexpectedly this past May in his Long Beach home. Celebrants focused on his community activism.

    A Southern California native, Bradley grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, graduated from Arcadia High School in 1982 and studied political science at the University of California Santa Barbara. He met Gail Schuster on a school trip to Europe and married her in 1992.  They moved to Long Beach in 1995, and in 1997 their son Anders Patrick was born.

    Bradley began his political involvement as an aide to Sen. Alan Cranston in the 1980s.  He later played a critical part in the successful elections of Rep. Alan Lowenthal,  State Sen. Ted Lieu, Gov. Jerry Brown and other Democratic candidates.  Bradley held a number of positions in the California Democratic Party from 2001 to 2016.

    Notable guests included Rep. Alan Lowenthal, California Treasurer John Chaing, former Long Beach Mayor Robert Foster and Long Beach Prosecutor Doug Haubert.  Former California Assemblyman Hector De La Torre served as master of ceremonies.

    “Eric’s dedication to  the Democratic Party is well known,” said De La Torre. “He would help out anytime there was a just cause…. He was a friend and mentor to so many.”

    Recently-elected Democratic Central Committee member Joan Greenwood reminisced about her friendship with Bradley.

    “I will always remember Eric as one of the outstanding gardeners of our time—someone whose deeds and memory will continue to make great things blossom,” she said.

    Eric’s wife Gail and son Anders remained pensive as Bradley’s friends spoke of his life and achievements.

    “Eric Bradley passed away doing what he loved—organizing for candidates and causes he cared passionately about,” said California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon in a recent Facebook post.

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  • Their Story: Jewish Latinos Share their Experiences

    By Michelle Siebert, Editorial Intern

    Despite not having much money, sharing her home with her large Mexican family made Tila Carrol’s childhood a happy one. While her upbringing was monolingual (only Spanish was spoken at home), her faith was dichotomous. Her home was Lutheran and Catholic.

    But neither religion seemed to satisfy her curiosity about life’s most complicated questions, such those related to creation and life after death. So, when she turned 18, she began exploring other faiths, most of which did not offer much room for free thinking or expression.

    It took her about 12 years to find a faith that helped her find some answers: Reform Judaism.  Carrol was attracted to Judaism because she could learn about it, but the answers aren’t all scripted and pat, such as, “there aren’t answers in life sometimes.” Judaism fit into her way of thinking about life and her philosophy. Her family didn’t oppose her very much, besides a few questions about why she was converting at the time.

    “Judaism didn’t have all the answers, but it allowed me to be a person that could question, which wasn’t allowed much where I was brought up,” said Carrol, a member of Temple Israel in Long Beach.

    She is a panelist for The Jewish Story, a conversation about the experience of modern-day Latinos, who also happen to be Jewish. These intersecting identities are often less visible. Most people assume that Latinos, by the mere fact that many trace their ancestry to traditional Spain or Portugal, are universally Catholic.

    “People should expect to hear stories that are very different than the dominant narrative of the American Jewish experience,” said KPCC reporter Adolfo Guzmán-López, a congregant moderating the panel.

    The modern Jewish experience in the United States is largely perceived as an experience of European and Eastern European Jews.

    Being Jewish Latino/a

    “It’s important because … [there are] many types of diversity there is in this country,” Guzmán-López said. “Diversity also exists within religions. It’s important to understand that Latino immigrants — while they’re mostly working class and Catholic — come in other shapes and sizes.”

    The panelists will discuss how they navigate between the different worlds of being Jewish and Spanish speakers from Spanish-speaking countries, said Guzmán-López. He said they will talk about how they combined these two cultures into their daily and family lives.

    Jewish Latino heritage is unique in the community because of the Jewish experience in Spain hundreds of years ago and the important and influential Jewish population that emerged out of Spain, Rabbi Steven Moskowitz said.

    “The Hispanic and Latino population is such a significant part of the diversity that is both Long Beach and California as a whole, so it’s important for us to appreciate that our congregational community is a reflection of that wonderful reality,” Moskowitz said.

    Long Beach is also one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the United States. Over the past few years, there have been an increasing number of members of Temple Israel congregation with Latino or Hispanic heritage. Exploring Jewish Latino heritage is part of an overall exploration of the cultural diversity within the Jewish congregation, Moskowitz said.

    Temple Israel has a yearly series of events called Joys of Jewish Learning Program, which explores current Jewish thought, history and aspects of Jewish culture. The program has previously focused on the Persian-Jewish Americans’ and Cuban-Jewish Americans’ experiences.

    Two other panelists will discuss The Jewish Story through their lens. Cuban-born Ross González, who traces his roots to Turkey and Spain, will discuss how his family ended up in Turkey because of the Spanish Inquisition.  And, Mexican-born Gabriel Lopez, who traces his roots to Mexico and Eastern Europe, is the ritual chair at Temple Ner Tamid in Downey.

    The event will take place at 7 p.m. June 23 at Temple Israel, 269 Loma Ave., Long Beach. The cost, which includes dinner, is $12.

    Details: (562) 434-0996; www.tilb.org

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  • THE NEWS @ Long Beach Opera

    One-trick ponies are a curious species. If they have a good trick and perform it well, their lives may not—may not—be in vain. Otherwise, best to take them out back and put them down.

    There’s no getting around the fact that The News is a one-trick pony. Composer JacobTV recognizes what we all recognize: mainstream TV news reportage has largely morphed into infotainment. The most impactful events and gut-wrenching tragedies are deep-fried and served up as sound bites and video clips by anchorpersons who spend more effort making sure their outfits and makeup are just right than educating themselves.

    With The News, JacobTV has packaged this idea as plotless operatic spectacle (could there be a more fitting frame for today’s world?) conflating actual news coverage with music and movement meant to highlight the absurdly trivialized distillation of world events by a never-ending network news cycle that pauses only to hawk products such as hamburgers and artificial tears.

    It’s a good trick, and for the first half of The News it’s generally well executed. But one-trick ponies often keep the stage too long, and for the last third of the show we feel like we’ve been there and done that.

    Several elements of The News are good for the duration. Front and center are the two “anchors,” “rhythm vocalist” Loire Cotler and soprano Maeve Höglund. There isn’t a single vocal misstep between them. Höglund makes her sometimes soaring vocal flights seem easy, and Cotler alternates between machine-gun syllabification and tuneful warbles with mechanistic precision. Together they effectively skewer the reportage we see/hear onscreen, their individual efforts perfectly complementing each other. The only failing here is the sound mix. While the music (effectively performed by a nontet including two horns, electric guitar and bass, and digital beats) is passably balanced, Cotler and Höglund are too quiet, not so much layered in with everything else as a slightly buried.

    The video element of The News is excellent. JacobTV has not only collected just the right news clips to make his case, his edits and effects (often reminiscent of Max Headroom) bring out the best angles. There’s most always something compelling onscreen. Some of the show’s most affecting moments, in fact, are when the subjects of field interviews in calamity areas are allowed to speak for themselves, with JacobTV’s music providing fitting ambiance. It’s inspired counterpoint to the kind of coverage these crises typically get from network infotainment. “I just want to know: why is [Assad] shelling us?” asks an 8-year-old boy standing after describing the gory deaths of relatives and neighbors from Syrian barrel bombs. “For the law of the powerful over the weak? Just for that?”

    Where The News fails is where JacobTV seemingly runs out of ideas. The show opens with “You Know What?”, featuring Cotler and Höglund behind their anchor desk satirizing the Fox News-style of topical chatter that doesn’t actually tell you anything. The third song, “Stock Market”, executes a staccato rhythm reminiscent of a ticker-tape machine as we’re bombarded with visuals of NYSE numbers and financial analysis that is little more than excited speculation. Before long we’re into our first commercial (no less a song than the rest but cleverly timed at almost exactly 30 seconds), then “Si Wang” immediately changes the pace, with stately music and red-flashing Chinese characters blended into news coverage of a terrible earthquake.

    Little by little, though, JacobTV seems to lose the thread. His anchors increasingly forsake their anchor roles, becoming generic frontwomen with minimal, uninspired choreography. Perhaps the point is that infotainment anchors are more showbiz folk than news reporters; however, that point was better made while the show stayed true to its central conceit.

    Musically, the problem is that JacobTV starts repeating himself, and the score becomes a bit stale. By the last two songs the problem is so pronounced that the video themes are also recirculating. This is not a true bookending (there is no plot arc, and the only structure of any import is the flow), so bringing in a second round of Donald Trump—from what appears to be the same speech, no less—feels like killing time.

    JacobTV has a good ear for speech grooves, a good eye for arresting images, a good sense of timing, and a good idea. If this 75-minute show had come in at under an hour, it might have been great. But while less may never be more when it comes to true news coverage, the arts are a different story.

    Still, there’s something nice about The News. It may not leave you wanting more, but a strong start and several affecting and charming sections open a better window on our world than your average nightly newscast.

    THE NEWS LONG BEACH OPERA • THE ELI & EDYTHE BROAD STAGE @ SANTA MONICA COLLEGE (1310 11th ST) • SANTA MONICA 90401 • 562.432.5934 LONGBEACHOPERA.ORG • SAT 4PM, SUN 2:30PM • $29–$137.25 • THROUGH JUNE 26

    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

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  • RL NEWS Briefs: June 17, 2016

    Long Beach Ranked No. 1 Port in North America

    LONG BEACH — The Port of Long Beach has again been recognized as the Best North American Seaport at the Asian Freight, Logistics and Supply Chain Awards, June 16, in Shanghai.
    The shipping trade publication Asia Cargo News hosted the event.

    The award is bestowed by importers, exporters, and logistics and supply chain professionals. Ports are judged based on service quality, innovation, customer relations and reliability, among other factors. The other finalists were the ports of Seattle, Houston and New York/New Jersey.

    This is the second consecutive year and the 18th time in the last 21 years that the Port of Long Beach has won the title “Best North American Seaport” from Asia Cargo News and the previous event organizer, CargoNews Asia.

    “This award speaks volumes about the satisfaction our customers have with our Port,” said Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners President Lori Ann Guzmán. “We’re always working hard to improve our services, and we’re pleased to be recognized for our efforts.”

    More than 15,000 industry professionals who read Asia Cargo News were invited to participate in the nomination and selection process for the awards presented June 14. Awards were also given in many other categories, including shipping lines, container terminals, air cargo carriers and road haulers.

    Lieu Says ‘Enough is Enough’

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  • Soy Africano Explores Diasporic Musical Connections

    By, Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    Most Latin and Afro-Cuban beats are based around the clave, which means “key” in Spanish. The clave is the key to Latin music and Africa holds that key.

    Producer, music director and multi-instrumentalist Dexter Story, along with disc jockeys, Sonny Abegaze and Rani de Leon of Radio Afrique, present the show Soy Africano (I Am African), June 18, at the Grand Performances in Los Angeles. The concert will explore the musical diasporic connections between east and west that have never before been highlighted by way of the clave.

    Soy Africano Origins

    There is an overlooked musical history and connection between West Africa and The Caribbean, specifically Cuba. Abegaze and de Leon said there has been much research on the African influence on Latin music and Afro-Latin culture in the Caribbean and in Mexico, but not much research on the way Latin music came back to and influenced Africa.

    Soy Africano will present West African trademark sounds of lilting guitars and joyful rhythms, blended with well-known Latin sounds as they cover the widespread influence of Latin music in West Africa. Most of the music will be from West African countries. There will be about 15 musicians and vocalists. Like many of Story’s Grand Performance shows, visual elements will be incorporated.

    Most of the vocalists don’t speak Spanish, Abegaze said, but they attempted to pronounce it the best they could or sing it in their own dialect and sometimes mixed it up. There is an element of making the music interpretive.

    Similarly, Radio Afrique will bring what they call, “an LA filter” to the music, a spirit of creatively adapting it to make it relevant to Los Angeles in this day and time.

    “We really tried to pull together an eclectic, dynamic group of musicians who embody the spirit of Soy Africano, and those connections that exist between our peoples in an attempt to celebrate those similarities that don’t get acknowledged,” Abegaze said.

    To the Radio Afrique DJs this seems like the next bounce back from the time when clave based music came back to Africa. An interesting epiphany may happen when we start to accept how much the Latin influences were embraced and reinterpreted. They influenced Africa.

    Clave-based music including New York Salsa, led to thriving “Latin Afro” scenes in Senegal, Benin, Guinea and the Congo. This exciting sound had no specific name but it was a phenomenon with musicians in West Africa in the 1960s and 70s. Many of them even changed their names to reflect a more Latin feel and changed the scope of their entire music career trajectories to take on this new Latin vibe.

    Something interesting about the history of African music has gotten lost, they explained. It’s been highlighted through various compilations. Music collectors and historians are aware of it but these musicians and sounds do not get singled out. That is why it’s important to put this music out there on a larger scale.

    “We’ve learned a lot of this music through obscure compilations and it’s come to us through these niche ways, but it hasn’t been presented on a larger scale,” de Leon said.

    Radio Afrique surmises that people see the identity that these musicians were playing within West Africa and believe it will open up conversations around what does it mean to be African, what does it mean to be Latino and what does it mean to be in America? It opens possibilities and it’s often much more complex and multilayered than we think.

    “Part of the concept is not just the one way influence from the Caribbean to Africa,” de Leon said. “We wanted to highlight that boomerang. This is West African traditions and ancestry to Cuban music returning home. It’s not just a one way trip, it’s a round trip and a one way back to LA. Now we’re going to reinterpret over here.”

    Story and Radio Afrique came together through a project with the Los Angeles-based Ethiopian jazz band, Ethio-Cali, of which Story is a member of. Their relationship developed around different show concepts. Abegaze and de Leon noted that Story is equally like them, another person who is all about researching, new knowledge, making connections and drawing parallels when it comes to music.

    “One day we had been learning about the music and there were certain songs Rani and I play with Radio Afrique,” Abegaze said. “Highlighting that history and finding a venue and personnel, those seeds for the Soy Africano show were planted a year-and-a-half earlier. It came together through Dexter’s long relationship with Grand Performances and producing shows for them. He presented it to them and it happened from there.”

    Radio Afrique’s first event was a DJ night they started at Hyperion Tavern in March 2014. It was a way to celebrate and highlight the diversity of music from Africa specifically, which came from the love both DJ’s have for African music. After about a year they expanded, organizing and hosting film screenings from various African filmmakers and have done live performances. It has evolved but always kept the main focus of highlighting the music and culture from Africa.

    Abegaze’s parents are Ethiopian and he was exposed to that region of music while growing up. Then, as a junior in college, he lived in Ghana and became immersed in the music there, where he had his own radio show.

    “It was a pretty formative time,” Abegaze said. “Before that, I was playing electronica house music that referenced Fela (Kuti) and African funk, but recently I’ve gotten back to the roots and folkloric music. It’s an expression of the type of music I’m into.

    De Leon grew up on music and attended University of California Berkeley as a music major.

    “My journey with music has always been led by finding connections between music, culture and spirituality,” de Leon said. “Going through and moving beyond American music like jazz, soul and hip-hop and trying to move around the world, I went to Brazil, Cuba and the next location for me was Africa, in terms of drawing certain connections I was looking for. All the genres that I’ve played from stem from that area. It’s one of the main roots of all the styles I play.

    “When we had our DJ nights at Radio Afrique with Latin-influenced music from Africa … because we live in LA it was easy for the audience to tune into that sound. It wasn’t what you would expect from African music with more of an Afro-beat feel. This music definitely came off as Latin style and, for many people in LA, it was easy for them to dance to. Seeing the potential behind this sound in LA, it was a subconscious thing that we were probably observing over the course of our DJ nights and it made sense to highlight this genre.”

    “Because the original tunes are from Cuba, that hooks them in,” Abegaze said. “But there’s another part that people have never heard and it’s a catalyst for people to open up and have a conversation around how that music has been transformed by going through those passages.”

    They feel like this show is part of a larger narrative of a spirit.  The music is travelling and being reinterpreted. Story has been transcribing and arranging music in a language that he does not speak. He’s doing his best to write the words out phonetically and that’s what he’s passing along to the musicians and the vocalists. He’s researching the lyrics to understand them and reaching out to musicians from those countries to translate lyrics and get references to what the songs relate to.

    “That is in the tradition of where this Cuban music came from, where even the African musicians don’t understand Spanish but are singing it the best they can with all the feeling they can,” de Leon said. “Hopefully this show is one of many things that attempts to highlight this history…. This isn’t just one genre that hasn’t been highlighted. There are many out there equally worthy of investigating. It inspires all of us to continue to research and dig and find those stories that highlight a different narrative that isn’t necessarily always acknowledged. It makes us look at ourselves and each other differently. In the best case scenario that is what this show is part of.

    Time:
    8 p.m., June 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.grandperformances.org/soy-africano
    Venue: Two California Plaza, 350 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles

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