• News

    RL NEWS Briefs/Updates: June 28, 2016

    Man Killed in Drive-By Shooting

    SAN PEDRO — A man, believed to be in his 20s, was killed on June 23 at 2 a.m., while walking near the intersection of Palos Verdes Street and 9th Street in San Pedro. The man’s name is being withheld pending notification of his next of kin.
    Los Angeles Police Department officials said that a maroon vehicle drove up to the man and someone opened fire. The man tried running but collapsed and died, officials said.
    Investigators do not believe the shooting was gang related.

    Best Western Plus Comes to San Pedro

    SAN PEDRO — San Diego-based hotel management and consulting company, RAR Hospitality, recently announced the addition of Best Western Plus San Pedro Hotel & Suites to the Harbor Area.
    The boutique 60-room Best Western Plus San Pedro Hotel & Suites is a Victorian-style hotel attracting both business and leisure guests, accommodating from one-night to extended stays.
    San Pedro provides complimentary shuttle service to cruise terminals at San Pedro World Cruise Terminal and is near Long Beach Convention Center, Catalina Island, and Port of Los Angeles. The hotel features a renovated 2,000 square-foot meeting and conference space, exercise facility with panoramic bay views, outdoor pool and jacuzzi, 24-hour business center and multilingual staff fluent in English, Spanish and French.
    Best Western Plus San Pedro Hotel & Suites is at 111 S Gaffey Street in San Pedro, 90731. Details: (858) 239-1800; www.RARHospitality.com

    Homeless Update

    SAN PEDRO — In April, the Emergency Response Team met with 145 homeless people, 85 percent of whom are from the Harbor Area. A common narrative is that many people lost their homes during the recession and have been homeless since. In April, six shelter placements were made including one family (three of the placements were from Wilmington and three from San Pedro).
    In May, the Emergency Response Team participated in a four day consecutive joint outreach with Harbor Interfaith, Veteran Resources and the County Department of Mental Health SB-82 team. The ERT met with 61 people and took them to the Department of Motor Vehicles and Social Security offices. For the entire month of May the team met with 170 people, 88 percent of whom were from the Harbor area. The team also made seven housing placements including three permanent housing and four shelter placements.

    Three People Charged with the Murder of Teenager

    LONG BEACH — On June 27, the Long Beach Police Department announced it has arrested three people in connection with the murder of 16-year-old Geron Lacy of Long Beach.
    Police arrested Maria Martha Macias, Tryone Devonte and Marvin Tyree Lard in connection to a May 3 shooting that resulted in Geron’s death.
    The incident took place at about 7 p.m. in the 3300 block of 65th Street in Long Beach. Officers found Geron with a gunshot to the upper torso. Geron was declared dead at the scene. Investigators determined that Geron was involved in a physical fight with the suspects. The incident is being investigated as gang related and the investigation remains ongoing.
    Macias, 23, is a resident of Long Beach. She was arrested on June 17, arraigned on June 20 and charged with murder. She is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail with a bail set at $3 million.
    Devonte, 19, is a resident of Los Angeles. He was arrested June 22, arraigned June 24 and charged with murder as an ex-felon with a gun. He is being held at the Los Angeles County Jail with bail set at $3.035 million.
    Lard, 19, is a resident of Bellflower. He was arrested June 25, arraigned June 27 and was charged with murder. He is being held at Los Angeles County Jail with bail set at $3 million.
    Anyone with information regarding the incident is urged to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

    Two Cars Hit Woman

    LONG BEACH — On June 26, a woman died after crossing the street near the intersection of Anaheim Street and Ohio Avenue.
    Police officials said that a white or beige Ford Expedition was traveling west on Anaheim Street, and hit her while she walked through an unmarked crosswalk. The vehicle then reversed and made a right turn on Ohio Avenue, hitting the woman again before leaving the scene. A second car, a 2006 Cadillac, later hit the woman, but the driver remained.
    Long Beach Fire Department personnel pronounced the woman dead at the scene. The woman’s name is being withheld next of kin notification.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7355 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Pearce Names Chief of Staff

    LONG BEACH — Councilwoman-elect Jeannine Pearce announced Devin Cotter as her choice for chief of staff. Pearce is preparing to take office in the second district on the Long Beach City Council.
    Cotter has worked in Mayor Robert Garcia’s office since 2014, and served as campaign manager for both Garcia and Measure A and B. Prior to working in Long Beach, Cotter worked in public policy on the local and state level. He also consulted on numerous political campaigns.
    As chief of staff, Cotter will be responsible for advising Pearce on district staff selection and implementing policy agendas. He will also oversee the district’s budget and manage community engagement initiatives.

    Man Dies After Apartment Fire in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — On June 22, a man was killed in a residential structure fire in the 500 block of West 7th Street.
    The man was pronounced deceased at the hospital. He had suspicious injuries. The Long Beach Homicide Detective is conducting an investigation into the cause of the fire as well as the man’s death.
    The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office will identify the victim and the cause of death pending next of kin notification.
    Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7244 or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

    Long Beach to Pay $3 Million to Family of Tyler Woods

    LONG BEACH — On June 22, a federal jury in Los Angeles awarded $1.05 million to the family of Tyler Woods.
    Woods, 19, was shot by Long Beach Police in 2013, after fleeing from officers at a traffic stop. Woods was wanted in connection to a carjacking in Los Angeles. Woods fled to the rooftop of an apartment building along the 500 block of Nebraska, where he was shot at least 19 times by police, despite being unarmed and holding up his hands to surrender.
    His parents, Trevor and Tyra Woods, filed a $10 million lawsuit alleging excessive force against the Long Beach Police Department.
    Long Beach also agreed to pay an additional $1.9 million to Woods’ son.

    Motorcyclist Killed in Traffic Collision

    LONG BEACH — On June 20, a motorcyclist was killed after a collision with a pick-up truck at 7th Street and Newport Avenue. Despite the attempts of officers, the man was pronounced dead at the scene.
    The preliminary investigation revealed that a 2000 Toyota Tacoma, driven by a 70-year-old man, tried to turn left on Newport Avenue before hitting a 2008 Harley Davidson Sportster. A 33-year-old man who was a resident of the City of Commerce was driving the motorcycle.
    The motorcyclist’s identification is being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
    Anyone who may have information regarding this incident is asked to call (562) 570-7355.

    LB Council Votes on Med-pot Alternative

    LONG BEACH — On June 22, the Long Beach City Council voted 7-1 to allow a petition-driven initiative for medical marijuana dispensaries to be on the November ballot.
    In early June, a group led by Bob Kelton, turned in about 35,000 signatures proposing an ordinance that would allow numerous medical marijuana dispensaries in Long Beach, with some operating restrictions and a 6 percent tax level.
    The city clerk is still verifying that enough of the signatures are from legally registered voters.
    Councilwoman Suzie Price offered a delivery-only proposal before expanding to storefronts. But, she wanted to postpone a vote until the July 5 meeting because Mayor Robert Garcia and Councilman Al Austin were absent. She asked the city manager and city attorney to start preparing an impact analysis if the ballot initiative were to pass.
    Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson said he couldn’t support Price’s alternative, but that a study might make sense. Then Uranga said that the council had turned down Price’s proposal once and didn’t need to address it again. He made a motion to receive and file Price’s request.
    Price’s motion failed 6-2, with Councilwoman Stacy Mungo voting in Price’s favor.

    St. Mary’s Foundation Raised $220,000

    LONG BEACH – St. Mary Medical Center announced June 27 that it has exceeded its goal to raise $175,000 through this year’s Hospital Family Campaign with a grand total of $220,680.
    About 664 St. Mary Medical Center employees donated money to support vital programs and services at the hospital, including the areas of greatest need at the Low Vision Center, the Bazzeni Wellness Center and the healthcare access program, Families in Good Health.
    The Hospital Family Campaign set a new record for St. Mary, both in revenue generated and employee participation with having exceeded 60 percent.
    The Campaign was comprised of 85 team captains representing various departments throughout St. Mary. About 160 employees joined the Foundation 21 Society (donors of $500 or more) and 49 Champion Leaders (donors of $1,000 or more.
    St. Mary relies on charitable donations from community friends, private foundations, grateful patients, physicians and other supporters.
    “Donations from employees directly impact patient care while demonstrating that charitable support of St. Mary starts with our own employees,” Foundation President Drew Gagner said.
    Details: dignityhealth.org/stmarymedical

    Trump Protest No. 3

    Photo courtesy of Rachel BruhnkeRancho Palos Verdes — On June 22, members of Berners Against Militarism and San Pedro Neighbors for Peace and Justice protested outside Trump “National” Golf Course.
    Participants called for an end to the U.S. promotion of violence at home and abroad, and a focus on human and planetary needs as the only means to peace, justice and sustainability.
    Trump private security was called on the participants. Later the local sheriff’s department also showed up. The demonstrators were told that the sheriff’s department said they were not allowed to take pictures of the “Trump National Golf Course” sign. The group replied that they were within their First Amendment rights, not only to protest on public property, but to take pictures of the Trump sign. The golf course, they said, was not-as of yet-a military installation, and that they therefore had a First Amendment Right to photograph it, and to promote their political opposition to Donald Trump and to U.S. militarism through the press, social media outlets and in peaceful assembly. The group freely left their demonstration as planned.

    Tanaka Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison

    LOS ANGELES – Paul Tanaka, who was the second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, was sentenced June 27 to 60 months in federal prison for his conviction on obstruction of justice charges stemming from him leading the LASD’s efforts to derail a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations by sheriff’s deputies at two downtown jail complexes.
    Tanaka, 57, a resident of Gardena, left the LASD in 2013 when he was the undersheriff. In addition to the five-year prison term, which Tanaka was ordered to begin serving on Aug. 1, he was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine.
    A federal jury on April 6 found Tanaka guilty of two felony offenses – conspiring to obstruct justice and a substantive count of obstructing justice. After a 10-day trial, a federal jury deliberated for only a few hours before convicting Tanaka of being the head of a broad conspiracy to obstruct the federal investigation, a scheme that started when the LASD learned that an inmate at the Men’s Central Jail was an FBI informant. Tanaka directed a conspiracy that has resulted in the conviction of other former LASD officials who received sentences of up to 41 months in prison.
    Tanaka ran an unsuccessful campaign for sheriff in 2014. As he rose through ranks during a 31-year career with the LASD, Tanaka became well aware of problems with deputies at the jails, allegations of rampant abuse of inmates and insufficient internal investigations into deputy misconduct.
    “During his time as an executive, defendant threatened to discipline
    supervisors who frequently referred deputies to Internal Affairs, transferred captains who tried to reduce deputy abuse and break up cliques, instructed deputies to work in the ‘gray area’ of law enforcement, and expressed his desire to gut Internal Affairs,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
    The scheme to disrupt the federal investigation started in August 2011 when deputies recovered a mobile phone from an inmate in Men’s Central Jail, linked the phone to the FBI, and determined that the inmate was an informant in the FBI’s corruption and civil rights investigation. The phone was given to the inmate as part of an undercover investigation by a corrupt deputy, who subsequently pleaded guilty to a federal bribery charge and was recently sentenced to federal prison.
    In response to the federal investigation, members of the Tanaka-led conspiracy took steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which was attempting to bring the inmate to testify before a federal grand jury. The evidence presented during Tanaka’s trial showed that the deputies altered records to make it appear that the cooperator had been released from jail, when in fact he had been re-booked into custody under a fake name and moved to an LASD patrol station. Members of the conspiracy prohibited FBI access to the informant, and then told the cooperator that he had been abandoned by the FBI.
    Over the course of several weeks, members of the conspiracy sought an order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to compel the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to the LASD. After the judge refused to issue the order because he had no jurisdiction over the federal law enforcement agency – and even though it was clear that the FBI was acting legally – two LASD sergeants confronted the lead FBI agent at her residence in an attempt to intimidate her. The sergeants threatened the agent with arrest and later reiterated this threat to her supervisor, stating that the agent’s arrest was imminent.
    Tanaka oversaw co-conspirators who told fellow deputies not to cooperate in the federal investigation. Members of the conspiracy engaged in witness tampering by ordering fellow deputies not to speak to the federal government and telling them that the FBI would lie, threaten, manipulate and blackmail them to obtain information about the Sheriff’s Department.
    Tanaka was indicted this past year along with William Thomas Carey, a former LASD Captain who headed the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau. Carey pleaded guilty last year and is pending sentencing. A total of 10 members of the department – including former Sheriff Leroy Baca – have been convicted in relation to the scheme to obstruct justice. Baca, who pleaded guilty in February pursuant to a plea agreement, is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11.
    Six other defendants, including former Sheriff Leroy Baca, are scheduled for sentencing later this year.

    Assembly Committee Passes Bill for Traffic Amnesty

    SACRAMENTO — On June 20, the Assembly Transportation Committee voted 8-4 in favor of legislation preventing automatic suspension of driver’s licenses for those who fail to appear in court or pay fines for minor traffic offenses. The legislation has already passed in the Senate, and will go on to the Assembly Public Safety Committee for consideration.
    Sen. Bob Hertzberg, D-Van Nuys, said that the bill would end an overly harsh punishment.
    “The truth of the matter is we have created the modern equivalent of debtor’s prison by taking away people’s driver’s licenses or throwing them in jail simply because they are too poor to pay a fine,” Hertzberg said. “We must restore common sense to our justice system, treat the poor with decency and fairness and give working Californians a chance to make amends without jeopardizing their jobs or families.”
    The legislation does not apply to offenses involving reckless driving or driving under the influence.

    Congress Members Calls for Action on Gun Violence

    Washington, D.C. — On June 22, Georgia Rep. John Lewis and Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark led member of the House Democratic Caucus in sit-in protest.
    The representatives declared their intention to remain on the floor until Republican Speaker Paul Ryan allowed for votes on gun safety legislation.
    About 60 legislators, including Rep. Janice Hahn, joined the sit in, which came on the heels of the June 12, mass-shooting in Orlando, Fla.

    “The American people are sick of silence,” Hahn said. “They are demanding that Congress take action and protect their families. This nation has just witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in history and more people are dying every day. If we do not take action now, when will we? Inaction is tantamount to being complicit in the next attack. I cannot stand for that.
    “I am proud to join this sit-in with Congressman John Lewis (who knows a thing or two about sit-ins). We will not yield the floor until we get a vote on gun reform.”
    Two days prior to the sit in, on June 20, four gun control measures failed to pass in the Senate.
    Speaker pro tempore Dan Webster, ordered a recess in an attempt to circumvent media coverage. C-SPAN shut off. However, Democrats refused to leave the floor during this recess. Instead, they used their own cell phones to stream their speeches using Facebook and other social media tool.
    “No Bill, No Break!” legislators chanted.
    Ryan reconvened the House at about 10 p.m. June 22, and again at 2:30 am. June. He adjourned the House until July 5.
    Democrats remained on the floor. The sit-in ended at around noon on June 23.

    SCOTUS Deadlocks on Immigration Plan

    WASHINGTON D.C. — On June 23, the Supreme Court ruled 4-4 on the case United States v. Texas. The case is related to the Deferred Action for Parents of American and Lawful Permanent Residents plan, which would give certain illegal immigrants an exemption from deportation, as well as a three-year, renewable work permit.
    The decision allows a lower court’s ruling against President Obama’s immigration policy to stand.
    The split decision is a consequence of Republican refusal to consider Judge Merrick B. Garland to fill the space left when Justice Antonin Scalia died earlier this year.
    The ruling also means a congressional compromise must take place to change immigration laws.

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  • THE CLEAN HOUSE @ Little Fish Theatre

    There are no rules in theatre. Sure, you can say there must be characters (although Samuel Beckett’s Breath, what?) or that there’s got to be some sort of stage/frame where the play takes place, but you’d be missing the point. In spirit, there may be conventions, but there are no rules.

    So why does Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House—a not especially unconventional play—feel like it’s breaking a rule it should have followed? That imaginary rule would be something about having an emotional center. The Clean House doesn’t have one, and as a result it elicits only traces of feelings, like a pulse so thready that we can’t trace it back to a beating heart.

    Lane (Amanda Karr) hasn’t seen much of her husband Charles (Stephen Alan Carver) lately. They’re both doctors, but it seems he’s had a sudden surge of surgeries. What she doesn’t know is that he’s found his soulmate in Ana (Susie McCarthy), on whom he’s just performed a double mastectomy. The person’s Lane is seeing the most of these days is Matilde (Lucia Estevao Lopes), the couple’s housecleaner who gets depressed by cleaning houses. Matilde wants to be a comedian, while Lane’s sister Virginia (Deb Snyder) just wants a purpose. She just so happens to love cleaning, so she secretly takes over Matilde’s workload, leaving the latter free to attempt to craft the perfect joke.

    Usually the term ensemble piece is reserved for big casts, but it fits here because not only doesn’t The Clean House center on any of these characters, it never zooms in for an emotional close-up on any of them. The only one who has any sort of character arc is Lane; the rest remain exactly the people we first meet (even if neat-freak Virginia does get angry and make a mess), people we never really get to know. Even as Lane comes to forgive and even love Ana, for example, we never really know why, because we don’t really know that much about either of them. One day on Ana’s balcony Lane just gushes about how Ana glows, as if a magic spell has been cast on her.

    Magic may really have something to do with it. The Clean House seems to at least make a head fake in the direction of magical realism, an angle that Little Fish’s production seems to play up (for example, when apples thrown off Ana and Charles’s balcony are seen by Lane as she lay on her sofa). But like the emotional substance of the play, this feels vague and ungrounded.

    There’s nothing wrong with the acting. Lopes is doing a Lucille Ball-meets-Yakov Smirnoff thing that seems about right for Matilde. The antagonism and eventual thawing between Lane and Virginia feels properly sororal. And although Charles and Ana aren’t speaking characters until after intermission, Carver and McCarthy immediately put as much flesh on their roles as Ruhl has written. But with so little happening at the subterranean level of the dramatis personae, a cast can go only so deep.

    If the script has a strength, it’s Ruhl’s take on living or not living fully, whether in the face of death or in the midst of health. “Life is about context,” says Lane, who on the surface seems to have everything going for her but has probably never faced how ill equipped she is to embrace life. Meanwhile, Virginia is brave enough to admit to herself that her life has gone downhill since she was 22 and is flailing away to find a purpose. There’s a desperation about her, but desperation is living, right? Then there’s Ana, who is at the peak of living even as her body is fatally betraying her. “Everyone’s always dying lying down,” she says. “I want to die standing up.”

    The Clean House was a Pulitzer finalist that the New York Times calls “[f]resh, funny [and] imbued with a melancholy but somehow comforting philosophy.” For me, there’s just not enough to these characters to feel their joy and pain. But hey, within the last month I’ve been less than thrilled with two Tony winners for Best Play, so what do I know?


    (Photo credit: Mickey Elliott)

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  • 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.


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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.


    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

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