• Gina Experiments with Enchiladas:

    Aztec to Tex-Mex

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    For most of us, Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that we don’t really understand. We use it as an excuse to eat Mexican food, take shots of tequila and maybe call in sick from work the next day.

    Instead of getting completely sloshed, this year I’m taking on a culinary exploration of my own in the comfort of my kitchen: Mexican food, margaritas, followed by a serious nap on the couch.

    Read more on page 11 of the April 28 edition of Random Lengths News. Click here to find a location near your.

     

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  • Dining at Panxa Cocina

    Old World Meets New Mexican Cuisine

    Panxa Cocina’s Tom O’Brien. Photo by Phillip Cooke
    By Gina Ruccione, Restaurant and Cuisine Writer

    It takes serious balls to open a restaurant. Competition is fierce and customers are fickle. Answering to investors can be a total pain in the ass, but without them your next-best option is digging deeper into your own pockets to pay for just about everything under the sun. And, what restaurant owner doesn’t just love sifting through to toxic Yelp reviews by people who just don’t get it?

    When Chef Art Gonzales opened Panxa Cocina in Long Beach a year ago, he obviously knew what he was getting into, and thank God for that — the food is wonderful.  But let’s get one thing straight: It’s not Mexican food. I made the mistake of calling about their plans for Cinco de Mayo, and I want to spare you the same embarrassment.  While there are similarities between Mexican food and the food at Panxa, it is much more than that. Think fusion. Think Old World Mexico meets New Mexican Cuisine with a Santa Fe twist and some slight German components. I know, right? What does that even mean? If you’re confused, bear with me. I’m going to walk you through it and by the time I’m finished you’ll be on the phone booking your reservation.

    Gonzales does what I wish most chefs would do — he cooks with passion and from the heart. It’s more than preparing a dish. For him, it’s a form of self-expression. Each dish at Panxa is curated and reminiscent of something Gonzales experienced during pivotal moments in his life. As he walked me through his dishes, he recounted stories of his mother making German food while his grandmother would whip up some mole. His style of cooking has evolved from dishes he grew up with and flavors he fell in love with while working in New Mexico.

    It’s inventive, yet comforting. Though it may be inspired by mom and grandma, it’s obviously much more elevated.

    The atmosphere is hip, slightly modern and in no way over the top. The southwestern motifs aren’t kitschy— in fact, they’re stylish. Handmade Native American prayer beads hang over pieces of reclaimed wood and the hand-painted mural of the Native American woman in the dining room is stunning.

    The ceviche mixto is a must. It is clean, refreshing and incorporates several citrus elements topped with pico de gallo, shaved onion spirals and pepitas for an added crunch.

    Another favorite are the potato-cheddar pancakes. Gonzales channels his German side in this dish, but unlike most potato pancakes that tend to be underwhelming and only seasoned with salt, these proved to be the perfect vessel to transport the delicious hatch green chile and apple chutney topping straight to my mouth.

    Of course, the showstoppers on the menu are the stacked enchiladas. Unlike Mexican enchiladas that are rolled and fried, this dish incorporates layers of tortillas and slow-cooked, tender short-rib. It’s almost like lasagna — but somehow, quite different. Choice of meat varies in this dish from chicken, beef or pork and so does the chile (sauce) that accompanies it. The red chimayo chile is salty and smoky, but finishes with a heat that hits back of your throat. The hatch green chile is slightly tangy but definitely has a kick. I ordered the “Christmas” version, which comes with both. I say go both or go home. And, if you’re a real bad ass, add a fried egg on top for the win.

    I also had a chance to try the mole, which is more flavorful and complex than other moles that I’ve had in the past. In his version, Gonzales uses over seven different kinds of chiles, sesame seeds, pistachios and apricots.

    I’m going on record to say there wasn’t one plate that I didn’t completely devour.

    The desserts are phenomenal, and I don’t typically order dessert. Like every other dish at Panxa Cocina, everything was thoughtful and even incorporated different textural elements. I’m still dreaming about the strawberries that came out in yuzu citrus juxtaposed with dollops of cream and little crunchy meringue bites— it was heaven on a dish.  For you chocolate lovers, order the tort de chocolate. Just trust me.

    Dishes are between $12 to $28. Full bar.

    Panxa Cocina is at 3937 E. Broadway in Long Beach.

    Details: (562) 433-7999; www.panxacocina.com

    Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. She is also a member of the Southern California Restaurant Writers Association. You can visit her website at www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.

     

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  • A Walk in the Woods

    A WALK IN THE WOODS @ International City Theatre

    In the 1960s fear and ideology brought the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. perilously close to nuclear war. But rather than responding to such brinksmanship by backing away from the precipice, both countries responded by raising the stakes, building up their arsenals to the point of being able destroy the entire planet many times over.

    Throughout the 1970s and into the 1980s, both nations regularly met to negotiate agreements, pacts, and treaties meant to curb their mad arms race. Or so went the talking points. A Walk in the Woods, Lee Blessing’s fictionalized account of four conversations between two lead negotiators early in the Gorbachev era, posits the possibility that it was all for show.

    John (David Nevell) is new to the negotiating table—at least on this level—and he is eager to dig right in and make progress where his predecessors have failed. But Andrey (Tony Abatemarco) has been there and done that, and he has brought his American counterpart to this Swiss copse to develop a friendship and admire the peaceful beauty that surrounds them. The difference is that John believe they can actually make changes that matter—he even bristles at the use of the word “diplomats” to describe them—whereas Andrey has been there and not done that. “Even if we agree,” he says, “do you think it will matter? [… Y] ou and I [may] die in mid-sentence […] right between the words ‘arms’ and ‘control.'”

    Unless you count talking, walking, and sitting (and ten seconds of Andrey chasing an unseen rabbit), A Walk in the Woods is devoid of action, so the dialog really needs to kill for the play to be compelling. More often than not, though, John and Andrey sound less like two flesh-and-blood humans than they do Blessing’s mouthpiece for the not exactly revelatory idea—which he belabors—that nuclear weapons are dangerous and the world would be better off if Americans and Soviets got serious about peace.

    This shortcoming is especially problematic because A Walk in the Woods is as much about the relationship between John and Andrey as it is about nuclear proliferation and its discontents. For the most part both characters lie there stiffly on the page rather than coming to life on the stage. At one point John comments on his own stiffness, almost as if Blessing is apologizing for it.

    While this condition is innate, unfortunately Nevell and Abatemarco do little—or are given little change by director John Henry Davis—to loosen its grip. Every line is given in the “I talk, you talk” style—even when they’re both het up—that is almost completely alien to real life. Once the actors accidentally talked over each other. It was perhaps the performance’s freshest moment.

    [NOTE: Spoiler alert.]

    As A Walk in the Woods comes to a close, John is angered to find that Andrey was right all along: the negotiations are little more than a means to give people hope that the two countries are more interested in peace than in maintaining their superpower status. “It is not always pleasing to discover what you are meant for,” Andrey consoles.

    But the ending of the play is more thought-provoking today than it was in 1987 when Blessing finished it. In the three decades since then the disintegration of the Soviet Union (whether or not Reagan was the real deal when it came to peacemaking, we know Gorbachev was) led to an easing of tensions between Washington and Moscow, tensions that have ramped back up in the Putin era.

    So here we are today, longing for the good old days of the 1990s when the world’s great nuclear powers had differences. We can only hope not only are statesmen like John and Andrey, but ones who actually have the power to preserve us from the madness.

    A WALK IN THE WOODS –BEVERLY O’NEIL THEATRE • 300 E OCEAN BLVD • LONG BEACH 90802 • 562.436.4610 • ICTLONGBEACH.ORG • THURS-SAT 8PM, SUN 2PM • $47-$49 • THROUGH MAY 22

    (Photo credit: Tracey Roman)

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  • Long Beach Takes to the Streets on May Day

    By Mike Botica, Editorial Intern

    Diverse issues and causes were at the forefront of the May Day March & Rally, May 1, which began at MacArthur Park in Long Beach.  

    The event highlighted wage theft, deportation and police brutality through a unified effort by 19 local organizations. The groups also sought to bring about awareness of workers’, immigrant and other marginalized community rights.

    “We’re here today for workers to unite to end wage theft, to struggle for their right to unionize, to organize for safer working conditions in our hotels, and to basically improve the lives of their families and the entire community,” said Nikole Cababa, community organizer for the Filipino Migrant Center.  “We’re here because we’re one of the most diverse cities in the entire country, with thousands of migrants and refugees, so we thought it was right to create a space for folks to honor International Worker’s Day together.”

    “More than 40 percent of workers in Long Beach have experienced wage theft, meaning that folks aren’t getting overtime pay, or when they’re paid, it’s in bounced checks,” said Celene Perez of the Long Beach Coalition.  “And less than 9 percent are even able to get their money back, so it’s a huge problem.

    “We’ve been pushing the city and the mayor, and they said that they’re in support, but they haven’t come out and passed an ordinance, and now they’re bringing up excuses of funding.”

    Victor Ortiz, the son of José Álvarez, an immigrant who was deported by Long Beach Police Department in March 2016 for a broken taillight, agreed. 

    “We’re here today in protest against this [injustice], and to change how the system works,” Ortiz said.

    Also speaking was Infa Ortíz, José’s wife.  She began tearing up while delivering her speech through an English translator.

    “I don’t feel very good that they deported my husband just for a taillight,” Infa Ortíz said. “The police did not have the right to bring him to immigration…. It’s not okay what they did.  They didn’t even give him a chance to seek out a lawyer, to seek out bond; they just deported him.”

    After the event’s first hour, the protesters gathered their signs and megaphones, and took to the streets in peaceful protest.  The hundreds of protesters started marched towards city hall, from Anaheim Street through downtown Long Beach and onto Ocean Boulevard.

    The crowd booed heavily when marching by The Westin Long Beach Hotel, which has faced accusations of wage theft, racial discrimination and sexual assault by its employees.

    Cars drove by and honked in support. Some drivers even stopped to pull out their cameras and record the march.

    Among the protesters included members of the Black Lives Matter and the trans rights movements, as well as other social and environmental justice groups.

    “We stand in solidarity with the environmental movement; we also stand in support of the labor movement,” said Elliot Gonzales, of Stop Fracking Long Beach.  “We’re here to create a vision for a sustainable economy — a just economy, one based on social equity and the uplift of society.”

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  • Table Manners-Little Fish Theatre

    TABLE MANNERS @ Little Fish Theatre

    Although Annie is terribly fond of Tom, he seems to lack the courtship gene. As she confesses to sister-in-law Sarah during Table Manners‘s opening scene, her romantic frustrations with her would-be suitor led her to yield one night not so long ago to the dubious charms Norman, her sister Ruth’s husband. And now here she is, geared up for a weekend away with him. But Sarah, whose prudishness means she can’t have the television on at all these days, won’t have it, and so Sarah’s weekend will be spent here at the country house with her brother, Sarah, Norman…and, as it happens, Tom and Ruth. Not exactly the risqué getaway she had in mind.

    If the set-up makes it sound like this is Sarah’s play, it isn’t: it’s Norman’s. What to call Norman? A self-pitying, whiny wannabe Casanova (Don Schlossman plays him just about right), Norman’s neither a proper protagonist nor an anti-hero, but he is the titular character of Alan Ayckbourn’s trilogy The Norman Conquests, of which Table Manners is Part I. The three plays tell the tale of the weekend by collectively documenting what happens in three different rooms, with Table Manners confined to the drawing room.

    What you need to know mainly, though, is that Table Manners is drawing-room farce, so if you don’t like that kind of thing, pass this one by. It’s all repartee and slapstick—no depth, no character development, no subtlety.

    If you like that sort of thing, well, fair warning: The Importance of Being Earnest this ain’t. But the Little Fish folk know how to bring the energy. Table Manners‘s most enjoyable moments are when all six actors are onstage together, playing off and talking over each other in scenes that feel, if not authentically fly-on-the-wall, at least like you’re peering into a black box with a perpetual-motion machine of farce churning away at its center.

    Because Ayckbourn’s script is basically one note and has only one speed, there’s not a lot to say about the acting. Either the cast has the energy or they don’t—and this cast surely does. The rhythms are all there, and (to reiterate my favorite element) they show great skill at keeping the dialog intelligible even when multiple people are speaking at once. The only real flaw here is Scottish brogue that sounds a bit Bulgarian. But it couldn’t matter less.

    Directors David Graham and Stephanie A. Coltrin obviously have the cast on the same page, and the proceedings come off seamlessly. One of the treats of attending the Little Fish Theatre is seeing how they’re going to utilize a performance space that is an unusual combination of lengthy and intimate. You’ll spend a decent amount of energy turning your head to follow all of the action, but that’s half the fun.

    The other half depends on you. Are you hungry for something lite?

    TABLE MANNERS LITTLE FISH THEATRE • 777 CENTRE ST • SAN PEDRO 90731 • 310.512.6030 • LITTLEFISHTHEATRE.ORG • FRI-SAT 8PM • $25-27; WITH DINNER $38-48 • THROUGH MAY 21

    (Photo credit: Mickey Elliott)

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  • Tale of Two Ports: What’s Wrong with LA

    This story was updated to correct an error on the part of staff transcribing Mr. Pulido’s columns.

    By Ricardo Pulido, Executive Director of Community Dreams

    This is the story of two ports with very different approaches in addressing the largest pollution problem in our basin: the large ocean going cargo vessels.

    I have long been a critic of the Port of Los Angeles due to it being a significant source of industrial pollution and it having negative impacts on the surrounding Harbor Area communities. For the port, it seems that asthma, cardiovascular disease and death is just the cost of doing business.

    But it doesn’t need to be.

    I am, however, encouraged by the city’s and the Port of Long Beach’s efforts to mitigate these costs. (more…)

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  • Senate District 35 Candidate’s Forum

    By Lyn Jensen, Carson Reporter

    On April 20, Steve Bradford and Warren Furutani, Democrats, former assembly members, and candidates for the 35th Senate District, participated in a debate at California State University Dominguez Hills.

    California’s 35th Senate District includes San Pedro, Wilmington, North and West Long Beach, Harbor City, the Harbor Gateway, Carson and West Carson, Torrance, Gardena, Compton, Lawndale, Lennox, Inglewood and Hawthorne.

    Current election law dictates that, for state legislative seats, the two candidates receiving the most votes in the primary compete in the general election. Unless the upcoming June 7 primary takes an unpredicted turn, these men look to be around for the Nov. 7 election. One of them will probably be Carson’s next representative in the state senate.

    Two other Senate District 35 candidates, Compton council member Isaac Galvan, a Democrat, and Torrance school teacher Charlotte Svolos, a Republican, are not campaigning at the same level as Furutani and Bradford. Neither participated in the debate.

    Education was the dominant topic, perhaps because the debate was sponsored by two universities — CSUDH and UCLA. Over about two hours, the candidates and panelists traded facts and figures. The candidates expressed similar views — that education, particularly technical education, is a solution to many other issues including unemployment, homelessness, poverty, hunger, racism and the economy.

    The men also agreed they supported bringing back redevelopment agencies as a way to develop affordable housing and address homelessness, even though they originally voted to eliminate them several years ago.

    “One vote I truly regret,” Bradford said. “We never saw one cent of that money.” He was referring to the money that was supposed to be saved by eliminating the agencies.

    Furutani said that although the agencies did have “bad actors … people getting contracts they shouldn’t,” the solution should’ve been, “mend it, not end it.”

    Both candidates also suggested legalizing marijuana, such as an initiative on the November ballot proposes, could be one solution to prison overcrowding.

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  • A New Climate Of Responsibility: New Developments Undermine Old Assumptions

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    The climate is changing. March marked the 11th straight month in which a global average temperature measure was set. But the climate of opinion is changing as well. Dramatic shifts are under way in how to grapple with the climate change threat.

    In April, more evidence emerged about the oil industry’s early knowledge that global warming was real, before it switched into public denial mode.

    We now know that warning signs were seen as early as the 1950s. Such evidence that has already lead to the opening of an FBI investigation, as well as state-level investigations announced by a coalition of 17 attorneys general in late March.

    Also, in April, a federal judge allowed a landmark lawsuit to proceed against the federal government for discriminatory violations of the rights of youth and future generations by permitting and enabling fossil fuel use, leading to climate change.

    The suit alleges that “failure to prevent the present and looming climate crisis constitutes a breach in the government’s basic duty of care to protect plaintiffs’ fundamental constitutional rights.”

    It, too, relies on early knowledge, dating back to a 1965 White House report warning of “irreversible climate change.”

    “We need a paradigm shift,” said Julia Olson, co-counsel on the suit. “We can no longer continue with a fossil fuel-based energy system and protect the fundamental rights of young people and future generations.

    “Fifty years ago, the U.S. government warned that apocalyptic change would result from continuing to burn fossil fuels. Twenty-five years ago, an office of Congress and the U.S. EPA called for decarbonizing our economy and quickly transitioning off of fossil fuels. These warnings and plans have been largely ignored.

    “Instead, the U.S. government has acted in collusion with the fossil fuel industry to continue promoting, subsidizing and approving a fossil fuel-based energy system. By endangering these young plaintiffs, they are infringing on their fundamental constitutional rights.”

    The suit, organized by Our Children’s Trust, which Olson heads, was filed on behalf of 21 plaintiffs, ages 8 to 19, on August 12, 2015, International Youth Day. Leading climate scientist James Hansen was also party to suit, as guardian for future generations.

    “The federal government has known for decades that CO2 pollution from burning fossil fuels was causing global warming and dangerous climate change,” said Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh Martinez, a 15-year-old plaintiff from Boulder, Colo., and youth director of Earth Guardians, another party to the suit.

    “Despite knowing these dangers, Defendants did nothing to prevent this harm. In fact, my Government increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere to levels it knew were unsafe.”

    “The 21 plaintiffs have sued the federal government for violating their constitutional rights to life, liberty, property and public trust resources,” Olson explained. “Their claims are rooted in ancient legal traditions and the historical traditions of our nation. For instance, the founders of our nation wrote about the need to protect the land not just for present generations, but for future generations. The Preamble of the Constitution establishes its purpose to secure the blessings of liberty for our posterity, not just one generation of Americans.”

    On Nov. 12, the fossil fuel industry asked to intervene in the case, calling the lawsuit “a direct threat to [their] businesses,” and they were added as defendants on Jan. 14. On March 9, Judge Thomas Coffin of the federal district court in Eugene, Ore. heard oral arguments on the motions to dismiss by the government and the fossil fuel industry. And on April 8, he handed down the ruling denying those motions and allowing the case to proceed to trial.

    “If the allegations in the complaint are to be believed, the failure to regulate the emissions has resulted in a danger of constitutional proportions to the public health,” Coffin wrote in his opinion.

    At the same time, new information about early oil industry climate change knowledge further erodes their pretense of innocence and reveals striking parallels with their ongoing resistance smog regulation, which has contributed to the premature deaths of thousands in the Harbor Area alone.

    This past September, Inside Climate News broke the story that Exxon’s own research had confirmed the role of fossil fuels in global warming going back to the late 1970s, a decade before it reversed course and began leading the attack against the science and against taking action to prevent global warming.

    In late December, Inside Climate News revealed that others in industry knew as well, collaborating in task force with the American Petroleum Institute to monitor and share climate research between 1979 and 1983.

    Then, just this month Inside Climate News reported on documents uncovered by the Center for International Environmental Law, which pushed the dawn of insider oil-industry knowledge back into the 1950s and 60s. The documents also show oil industry blame-shifting and reality-denying response patterns dating back to the 1940s, when smog first emerged as a public health crisis, with similar responses to both types of pollution problems.

    The story about Exxon was most dramatic. Beginning in July 1977, and more broadly the next year, Exxon senior scientist James F. Black alerted the company’s top management to the threat posed by global warming, about which there was “general scientific agreement.”

    He warned of average global temperatures increasing by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius and up to 10 degrees Celsius at the poles.

    In a written summary he said that “man has a time window of five to ten years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

    In August 1979, Exxon custom outfitted a supertanker to sample carbon dioxide in the air and ocean along a route from the Gulf of Mexico to the Persian Gulf, budgeting more than $1 million in three years for the project. The next year, it assembled a team of climate modelers to investigate fundamental questions of climate sensitivity to the carbon buildup it knew was underway, even hiring some team members from academia, who saw Exxon as doing cutting-edge work.

    “By 1981, Exxon scientists were no longer questioning whether the buildup of CO2 would cause the world to heat up,” Inside Climate News reported. “Company researchers had concluded that rising CO2 levels could create catastrophic impacts within the first half of the 21st century if the burning of oil, gas and coal wasn’t contained.”

    The researchers were not alone.

    “At the outset of its climate investigations almost four decades ago, many Exxon executives, middle managers and scientists armed themselves with a sense of urgency and mission,” Inside Climate News noted.

    But that sense of urgency and mission did not survive the Reagan era, especially after an global oil glut depressed revenues and lead to deep cut-backs, including the research department. By the time Congress was ready to have serious hearings in 1988, Exxon was ready to lead the opposition.

    The broader industry-wide story, published in December, focused on a task force set up by the American Petroleum Institute, along with the nation’s largest oil companies, which was set up to “to monitor and share climate research between 1979 and 1983, indicating that the oil industry, not just Exxon alone, was aware of its possible impact on the world’s climate far earlier than previously known,” Inside Climate News reported.

    “It was a fact-finding task force,” the former Director James J. Nelson told Inside Climate News. “We wanted to look at emerging science, the implications of it and where improvements could be made, if possible, to reduce emissions.”

    Like Exxon, they even went so far as to contemplate shifting to new non-carbon energy sources. But after Nelson left the American Petroleum Institute, “They took the environmental unit and put it into the political department, which was primarily lobbyists,” he said.

    Thus, the American Petroleum Institute’s shift toward political opposition apparently preceded Exxon’s by a few years.

    The most recent revelations, contained in a collection of documents spanning half a century at smokeandfumes.org (a website connected to the Center for International Environmental Law)  pushed industry awareness back even further.

    As explained on the website, the documents “offer compelling evidence that oil executives were actively debating climate science in the 1950s, and were explicitly warned about climate risks a decade later (meaning 10 and 20 years earlier than Exxon and American Petroleum Institute’s activities previously reported.

    “Just as importantly, they offer glimpses into why the industry undertook this research, and how it used the results to show scientific uncertainty and public skepticism,” the website noted.

    But there’s another very important story here as well, especially for Los Angeles area residents. The documents also reveal how closely the industry response to global warming followed a pattern of earlier responses to the emergence of smog as a public health concern. Indeed, the term “Smoke and Fumes” was the name of a committee formed in late 1946 by executives from the Western Oil and Gas Association, in response to a front-page story on the industry’s role in creating smog — a problem that had been virtually unknown prior to World War II. Several years later, the Smoke and Fumes Committee was taken over by the American Petroleum Institute, and the earliest industry global warming research was one of the topics it dealt with. From early on, there was a close relationship between the American Petroleum Institute and the Stanford Research Institute, which conducted much of the early research into air pollution.

    A 1954 document, “The Petroleum Industry Sponsors Air Pollution Research,” exemplifies many of the early questionable attitudes that continue to this day. It paints a picture of the average citizen unaware of the gradual build-up of smog, suddenly realizing things have changed. “And when he does, the chances are that he is inclined to place the responsibility for the change solely on industry or its management.”

    But management “is merely a group of men … basically no different than the average person … they, even as you and I, like to live in pleasant surroundings which have adequate supplies of clean, clear, water for drinking, sanitary and recreational purposes and lots of good old-fashioned clean, clear, country air for breathing.”

    So how can they be to blame? In fact, as the title suggests, these men have been on the job protecting us for decades, as it goes on to explain. Smog? It can’t possibly be their fault.

    A section titled Panicky People began by stating “The worst thing that can happen, in many instances, is the hasty passage of a law or laws for the control of a given air pollution situation,” and went on to state that “passing a law is, in many cases, the wrong way to start about solving an air pollution problem.”

    In particular, the paper went on to argue that it was mistaken to regulate oil refinery pollution, as the newly created Los Angeles County Air Pollution Control District was set up to do, because it’s smog-formation theory was unproven and auto exhaust was more likely the culprit, according to work done at Stanford Research Institute.

    Of course, the smog-formation theory was sound, and auto exhaust was but another source of smog, which also originated from the fossil fuel industry. In short, the oil industry pattern of denial and blame-shifting was well established, buttressed by a false presumption of superior scientific understanding—a pattern that persists to this day, in regard to everything from global warming, to smog, to specific site hazards like Rancho LPG.

    Shifting back to the subject of global warming, the industry was similarly at odds with developing science in the 1950s. The theory of global warming, first proposed by Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius in 1896, had received additional support from the work of British engineer Guy Stewart Callendar in the 1930s and 40s, documenting a decades-long increase in global temperatures, correlated with rising fossil fuel use. However, there was widespread skepticism, particularly given the possibility of rapid oceanic absorption of carbon dioxide. Advances in radiocarbon dating helped make more accurate modeling possible by the 1950s, which lead to contrasting published views from Roger Revelle and Hans Suess of the Scripps Institute, who foresaw significant increases in atmospheric carbon, and H. Ray Brannon, of Humble Oil (now ExxonMobil).

    A landmark 1957 paper by Revelle and Suess found that oceanic absorption was significantly limited, and thus, “human beings are now carrying out a large scale geophysical experiment of a kind that could not have happened in the past” by rapidly “returning to the atmosphere and oceans the concentrated carbon stored in sedimentary rocks over hundreds of millions of years,” so that “in coming decades we conclude that a total increase of 20 to 40% in atmospheric CO2 can be anticipated.”

    However, Brannon believed that rate of carbon cycling was much slower. Explaining the points of agreement and disagreement, the Smoke and Fumes website says:

    [T]he Brannon paper provides the earliest indisputable evidence we have yet found of oil company knowledge of climate science and climate risk. Significantly, the Brannon report acknowledges not only rising levels of atmospheric CO2, but also the evident contribution of fossil fuels to that increase. In acknowledged disagreement with Revelle, however, the Brannon paper suggests that CO2 would be retained in the oceans much longer before returning to the atmosphere, which would delay by decades or centuries the impact of fossil fuel emissions.

    By 1968, however, Stanford Research Institute scientists Elmer Robinson and R.C. Robbins produced a final report to the American Petroleum on Stanford Research Institute’s research in the sources, abundance, and fate of gaseous pollutants in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide.

    In it, they warned that “there seems to be no doubt that the potential damage to our environment could be severe,” including “the melting of the Antarctic ice cap” and “a rise in sea levels.”

    More specifically, “If 1,000 years were required to melt the Antarctic ice cap, the resulting 400 foot rise in sea level would occur at a rate of 4 feet per 10 years. This is 100 times greater than presently observed changes.”

    The report was, in effect, a complete vindication of existent global warming science, as the Smoke and Fumes website sums up:

    Not only does the report acknowledge the link between rising atmospheric CO2, the risk of climate change, and that fossil fuels are the most likely culprit, it affirms that the underlying science is sound, and that the most important research needs were in technologies to reduce CO2 emissions.

    Yet, the industry managed to find a way around it, playing up the uncertainties, which the report had noted, but not dwelled on, and even hastily commissioning a “Supplemental” report from Robinson to conform to the industry’s desired line.

    These are just some of the highlights, and there are more documents yet to be discovered and fully explored.

    A great deal of internal documentation is being sought by various attorney generals. Exxon is fighting them every step of the way. But the existing record is already utterly damning: the oil companies knew of the civilizational threat they were courting, at least possibly as far back as the late 1950s, and as a virtual certainty by late 1960s.

    The size and scope of this historical record is staggering, given that published documents are only the tip of the iceberg. Which is why the joint efforts of multiple state attorneys general are such welcome news.

    “Every attorney general does work on fraud cases and we are pursuing this as we would any other fraud matter,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on March 29, announcing the multi-state alliance. “You have to tell the truth, you can’t make misrepresentations of the kinds we’ve seen here…. The scope of the problem we are facing, the size of the corporate entities and their alliances, the trade associations and other groups, is massive and it requires a multistate effort.”

    Exxon has pushed back, claiming that the investigations are politically-motivated violations of its First Amendment rights, but Schneiderman dismissed the claim brusquely.

    “The First Amendment, ladies and gentlemen, does not give you the right to commit fraud,” he said.

    Yet, while Exxon, along with its industry allies, is prepared to go to war with the government on one front, the industry has joined with the government in fighting the Our Children’s Trust lawsuit, for the obvious reason that government inaction has been benefiting it for decades.

    Even as Stanford Research Institute’s 1968 final report is an early smoking gun on the industry side, a 1965 report of President Lyndon Johnson’s Scientific Advisers, Restoring the Quality of Our Environment, is an early smoking gun on the government side.

    It contained an extensive discussion of the problem of global warming, and warned that anthropogenic pollutants, including carbon dioxide, threaten, “the health, longevity, livelihood, recreation, cleanliness and happiness of citizens who have no direct stake in their production, but cannot escape their influence.”

    The failure of government action on climate change echoes similar failures to protect against environmental harm that Harbor Area residents have been fighting against for decades. And, the grounds for action are similar as well—the public trust doctrine.

    “The public trust doctrine, rooted in Roman law, is prevalent in legal systems across the globe,” Olson said. “It provides that one of the most central purposes of government is to safeguard those resources vital for human life, so that they may not be impaired by one generation at later generations’ expense. And as trustee, government must be loyal to all generations, and citizen beneficiaries, not just a few monied interests.”

    Back in the late 1970s, Exxon researchers believed that they had to do excellent scientific work in order to have credibility in public policy debates. A decade later, that assumption was gone. All that mattered was the money to push whatever argument the oil lobbyists wanted to make. But that climate of opinion has finally begun to change and not a moment too soon for the fate of us all.

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  • Candidates Vie for SD 35 Seat

    Compiled by Lyn Jensen, Reporter

    California’s 35th Senate District includes San Pedro, Wilmington, North and West Long Beach, Harbor City, Harbor Gateway, the west side of Carson, Torrance, Gardena, Compton, Lawndale, Lennox, Inglewood and Hawthorne.

    All eligible voters are encouraged to inform themselves about the candidates and remember to vote in the upcoming June 7 primary.

    Steve Bradford

    Steve Bradford, Democrat, Former Assembly

    I’m not a politician, I’m a public servant,” Steve Bradford likes to say. He’s received Rep. Janice Hahn’s and Isadore Hall III’s endorsement to fill the open Senate District 35 seat.

    He was the first African American elected to the Gardena City Council, where he served 12 years. He was then elected to represent Assembly District 51 in a 2009 special election, which followed a full term beginning in 2010. After redistricting, he was elected in 2012 to AD 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 the most important issues are employment (“making sure we go back to work”), quality of education and reform of the criminal justice system.

    Details: www.stevenbradfordforsenate.com

    Warren Furutani

    Warren Furutani, Democrat, Former Assemblyman

    In 1987, Warren Furutani became the first Asian American elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education. In 1999, he was elected to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees. He went on to serve three terms in the state assembly.

    Born in San Pedro and reared in Gardena, he is a fourth-generation Japanese American.

    On a Feb. 8, during an interview with Random Lengths News, Furutani said he’s running because he has “unfinished business” in Sacramento. Primarily he’d like to do more to restore technical and vocational education, which he sees as a way to rebuild middle-class jobs. He’d also like to do more to address services for the poor and elderly—especially homelessness—and the environment.

    During his time in the assembly he played a major role in preserving public pension reform. “I believe in public employee pensions,” he said.

    His campaign office is at 610 S. Centre St., San Pedro.

    Details: www.warrenfurutani.com

    Isaac Galvan

    Isaac Galvan, Democrat, Compton City Council

    Isaac Galvan is the first Latino member of the Compton City Council, serving District 2. At 26, he’s also the youngest Compton council member.

    He graduated from Garfield High School and then studied business at Santa Monica Community College,” his website states. “Since elected in 2013, Isaac has made great progress in helping create thousands of new jobs by bringing in new housing and commercial developments, as well as refurbishing streets, parks and public facilities.”

    Los Cerritos News recently reported that shortly after Galvan was elected in June 2013, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Public Integrity Office investigated 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. Galvan did not respond to requests for comment before deadline.

    Details: www.galvanforsenate.com

    Charlotte Svolos

    Charlotte Svolos, Republican, Schoolteacher and Former Torrance Commissioner

    California Senate District 35

    Interviewed by Random Lengths News in early April, Charlotte Svolos explained that although SD 35 isn’t a Republican district, she considers herself more of a moderate.

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

    Although she’s not held elected office, she said she’s run for the Torrance City Council and served as a Torrance social services commissioner.

    My appeal is to people of both parties,” She added. “I’m for representing smaller government and small businesses. California is not a very business-friendly state.

    Torrance does an excellent job of getting money directly to the classroom,” she also said, arguing that her experience as a Torrance Unified School District special education teacher gives her the background to realistically cut administrative costs in education.

    Details: www.svolosforsenate.com

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  • SPHS Students Show their Stuff

    Lady in the Hat  By Jack Paramore-Kemph. Courtesy Photo
    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    Good art can be found anywhere: museums and empty lots, high-end hipster joints and concrete pavement, even the San Pedro High School gym. That was the site of the 2016 San Pedro Art Show on April 28.

    Student Joshua Lopez, one of the artists in the school’s annual art show tried to describe one of his photos.

    “One of the best photos I’ve taken was in a desert,” Joshua said. “I was at the top of a hill near dusk. When these racers, the quads or whatever, came by. I would leave the shutter speed [on the camera] open for a while as they went and the lights would go into these streaks. They’re like cars basically. And, by leaving the shutter speed on it exposes more light, so when you get the picture out it looks like it’s day but [with] these streaks of light through it … it just looked like a giant river of light inside the desert.”

    Joshua’s thought-provoking and inspiring description rather captures the essence of the San Pedro Art Show. It’s a higher caliber of art, perhaps [more] than many people might be expecting from a teenager in an urban public school.

    LopezJoshuaPhotoCubism

    “Photo Cubism” By Joshua Lopez. Courtesy photo.

    Jack Paramore-Kemph, another student, described his work.

    “I was at Catalina Island over spring break and I met this girl on the express boat,” Jack said. “It was her birthday and I took her portrait over at Emerald Bay. I took it in black and white, reflecting her glasses and a very large hat. Seeing it all, it was very inspiring.”

    In that same vein the works they produce don’t always feel safe. Sofia Seria-Hernandez, known by most as Ash, is yet another artist in the show who tends to epitomize it.

    “My favorite piece would probably have to be The Face of Rage,” Ash said. “I haven’t even finished it yet, but it’s a sketch in pencil that shows the face of rage of a man…. Growing up I didn’t understand people’s emotions and I still don’t. I don’t understand how people feel about things, so drawing what I see people feel is how I understand things.”

    Joshua, Jack and Ash shared their thoughts about people who underestimate their work because they are high school students.

    “A high school art show is a good way for students to represent their artwork and to represent San Pedro High School because our student work represents the students as people and our future generation on this community,” Jack said.

    Ash believes the art show is a vehicle to understand youth expression.

    “You can actually express so much through art because you don’t have to use words, so it’s easy because it comes from you,” Ash said. “Everything we are is put into that art show. So, when you go to the art show you’re really seeing the pieces of the different kids. That’s all them, right there.”

    Of course, being underestimated is not the only obstacle young artists face in reaching people. Due to the process of gentrification in this area, many people have come to see art as being a byproduct of hipsters moving into the community, and thus tend to associate it with the forces that are steadily driving them from their homes. As such, it is not surprising that many people in the community tend to treat art with some disdain, even seeing it as an enemy.

    “Well, both in the community and our culture, the image of art has kind of been filtered into this idea of a very posh, high-end museum,” Jack said. “This just isn’t true … I embrace being the enemy or the outlier or the outlaw. I just keep doing what I’m doing. I do it for myself and it’s just a byproduct if people like my work or are inspired by it.”

    Ash elaborated on art’s usefulness.
    “I’d say that anything anyone is good at is practical, no matter what it is,” she said. “Artwork is actually very difficult to do and a lot of work goes into it, just like any other job.”

    There is another reason why people should attend the show.

    “Well, you never know how good art is until you see it,” Joshua said. “From my personal view, art is objective and you never know whose art is going to be good or bad, not that any art is bad. You should give it a try and go to the art show and show support to the arts we do have here at Pedro. It kind of means a lot to some of us and it helps us get a couple critiques on our artwork and it just helps us grow as teenagers and young adults.”

     

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