• Hitting the Heart(beat)

    • 06/22/2017
    • Kym Cunningham
    • Music
    • Comments are off

    Louie Cruz Beltran Embodies the Last Soldier of Spirituality

    By Kym Cunningham, Contributing Writer

    Although many musicians speak of feeling the rhythm of their music, few embody it the way that percussionist, singer and all-around musician Louie Cruz Beltran does. He has a kind of natural corporeality to his auditory artistry.

    Beltran’s explanation of this was surprisingly simple.

    “When you’re around something all of the time, it’s natural,” said Beltran, who grew up around music. “It’s like breathing and eating…. It was in our blood since we were kids.”

    Beltran, who will perform at the 2017 Long Beach Bayou and Blues Festival, describes his percussion as an extension of his heartbeat. His varied harmonies surround him like skin and hair.

    “[My] textures of voice, I picked up from everyone — everyone from Elvis to Frank Sinatra to Lisa Fernandez to … the great Mexican operatic mariachi singers,” Beltran said.

    He is drawn to music born out of pain and suffering, the kind of naked beauty that only exists when music is stripped of its privilege.

    “Growing up, I didn’t gravitate too much towards the rock ’n’ roll,” Beltran said. “I was more into a cultural sound. I loved the Afro-Latin sound. That’s what I fell in love with.”

    It is this passion for music that has led Beltran to success, producing several hit singles and performing for crowds diverse as those at Dodger Stadium, the Playboy Jazz Festival and the Ronald Reagan Library. A regular headliner at the annual LA Vida Music festival, which celebrates the influence of Latino/a culture in the arts. Beltran has played alongside some of the most renowned artists of our time, including Tito Puente, Francisco Aguabella, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Poncho Sanchez and Santana.

    “The highlight of my career has been playing with some of these great musicians,” Beltran said. “I’ve done a lot of associative gigs with just about everybody in the business.”

    As demonstrated by the breadth of genres on his musical résumé, Beltran’s variety embodies California’s amalgamation of tastes and cultures. It is as though he has incorporated the heterogeneity of his home state into both his musical ethos and his very being.

    A Family of Entertainers

    Beltran comes by his musical talent honestly, originating from a long line of natural musicians.

    “Music has always been in our family,” Beltran said. “At one time, my mom’s family were migrant workers; they worked the fields throughout the Southwest of the United States —  Texas, California, Arizona. They followed the crops…. My grandfather and his brothers, they had acoustic guitars and they sang in the fields and during the evenings.”

    Beltran’s mother carried on the aural tradition with her sisters. Growing up, she was a part of a five-piece gospel group and this spiritual connection with music translated into a lifelong passion.

    But Beltran’s father — a great singer in his own right — also came from a lineage of musical performers.

    “On my father’s side … we had a famous flute player who actually played a mass for the Pope,” Beltran said.

    Louie Beltran’s brother, Robert, is also a renowned actor, famous for his role as Commander Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager.

    Beltran’s mother encouraged him and his brother to pursue their passion for the arts, while maintaining the importance of receiving a good education.

    Making It

    Even with the support of his mother, Beltran originally did not think that he wanted to pursue music professionally. In the 1970s, Beltran received his bachelor of arts in social work, while minoring in music. After he graduated, he got a 9-to-5 state job as a juvenile counselor, moonlighting musical gigs for fun. But then, Beltran was asked to audition for an rhythm and blues/Latin jazz ensemble, Starrfire. When he received a call-back from the band, he knew he had a life-altering decision to make.

    “To give up a secure job … it was a big step and I took it,” Beltran said. “I just plunged right in and I never looked back.”

    After touring the world with Starrfire, Beltran returned to the States to formulate his own band, which primarily plays gigs on the West Coast.

    Communal Inspiration

    Under his mother’s tutelage, Beltran grew up collaborating with other people in music. He remembered that his mother would refuse to allow him and his brothers to sing in unison.

    “She made us sing in harmony,” Beltran said.

    As such, it makes sense that Beltran looks to other members of his musical community for artistic inspiration.

    “I’m inspired by listening to music,” Beltran said. “I gather with other rumberos — that’s what we call guys who sit down and play congas. You pick up different rhythms and you pick up different styles…. You have to be open-minded.”

    Beltran said that listening to music is like window-shopping. These myriad influences and the versatility that lies beneath may be the key to Beltran’s success.

    A Stage Dynamo

    But more than his incredible versatility, Beltran is known throughout the music industry for his dynamic stage presence. Onstage, Beltran jumps from little humorous one-liners to brief insightful history to music lessons to thought-provoking commentary on social issues.

    “I try to make my audience know that we’re not just instruments on the stage playing; we have blood and skin; we have brains,”  Beltran said. “[It’s] important to communicate a sense of what we do and [to] talk about present issues a little bit …. But you can’t have a guy up there talking all day because you’re there for my music.”

    Beltran tailors each of his shows to his crowd, resulting in completely unique performances every single time.

    “You have to have a gauge and read your crowd,” Beltran said. “I check out what kind of music is being played, I check out how people are vibing … and I follow through the best that I can.”

    Education’s Undercover Ambassador

    Beltran’s passion onstage easily translates to his passion for championing social justice issues, while also addressing the dearth of fine arts in public education. In many ways, Beltran viewed passing on his musical knowledge as part of his duty as a musician, recognizing how many people have helped him succeed in his career.

    But more than just social responsibility, Beltran believes he can use music to connect to Californian students. Growing up Latino in California, Beltran remembered experiencing first-hand the prejudice that can derail a student of color’s educational pursuit. Beltran recalled that on the first day of school, his teacher had pointedly said, “‘No one here will speak Spanish.’”

    “I knew who she was talking to: she wasn’t talking to the white kids,” Beltran said. “I saw in school how things could cause a child to feel negative, subconsciously, about his environment.”

    Now, Beltran uses the positivity of his music to teach inclusive workshops at a variety of schools: he has worked with students at universities, private schools, farm labor camps and the under-resourced areas of South Central and East Los Angeles.

    Beltran doesn’t just teach music in these workshops. Rather, he uses music as a vehicle for other knowledge.

    During these workshops, Beltran will impart mini-history lessons, explaining that the rhythms in rap and rock ’n’ roll are derived from the beats of the conga drum, or that the music of coastal Mexico stems from the confluence of Aztec, Mayan and African cultures.

    “I am a diplomat of education, an ambassador,” Beltran said. “I go out and relate music because I think music helps people be creative, to use their imagination. It helps them in any field they go into…. It’s the last soldier of spirituality.”

    LB Bayou Festival

    Beltran intends to bring this spirituality to life at the 2017 Long Beach Bayou and Blues Festival, leaving each listener with a piece of his soul. Attendees can expect a crossover of music on the part of Beltran, who will implement elements of everything from salsa to R&B to classical and Latin jazz.

    “You got zydeco going all night and all day,” Beltran said. “Then Louie Beltran’s going to give you cake, but he’s also going to put a little bit of frosting and chocolate pudding on the top. They’re going to get chocolate with me, that’s for sure. I’m as brown as they come.”

    Louie Beltran will be performing on the New Orleans Stage at the Bayou Festival at 3:30 p.m. on June 25.

    Details: http://longbeachbayou.com

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  • China Shipping Move to Long Beach

    • 06/22/2017
    • Paul Rosenberg
    • News
    • Comments are off

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    China Shipping is moving its operations to the Port of Long Beach, leaving the Port of Los Angeles which was the subject of a landmark lawsuit settled in 2003. The lawsuit forever altered how environmental reviews are done under the California Environmental Quality Act.

    But the underlying lease agreement remains. POLA has just released a supplemental environmental impact report, or SEIR, to compensate for 11 mitigation measures that were never implemented from the original EIR approved in September 2009, along lines set out in the settlement.

    These two announcements were made almost simultaneously by POLA Executive Director Gene Seroka at the port’s board meeting on June 15; the announcements left a familiar air of distrust and confusion in their wake.

    “This project is a long-standing example of how the port undermines the trust of the community,” said Kathleen Woodfield, vice president of the San Pedro Peninsula Homeowner’s Coalition, a plaintiff in the original China Shipping lawsuit.

    “Does POLA and C[hina] S[hipping] skate out of doing the mandatory court case settlement mitigation?” asked Jesse Marquez, founder of Coalition for Safe Environment, in an email, citing signals of what was to come. “[The Natural Resources Defense Council] took the position of being patient and wait for the POLA to come with a plan to fix things. Now, we may get nothing.”

    Not so, NRDC senior attorney Melissa Lin Perella told Random Lengths News.

    “The CEQA document attaches to the permit or the lease,” she said. “It doesn’t move with the tenant.”

    Still, there are troubling unanswered questions. “What’s really going on with the move to begin with?” And “What are the consequences?”

    “China Shipping, and its future companies, including COSCO line have made a strategic decision to move cargo away from our Berth 100 at the Port of Los Angeles to their terminal in Long Beach, because they have less stringent mitigation measures at that facility,” Seroka told the Harbor Commissioners.

    “This is another example of businesses choosing the Port of Long Beach because of our outstanding customer service and unrivaled environmental record,” said  Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero, in contrast, via email.

    “With China Shipping merged with COSCO, COSCO’s previously approved POLB Final EIR did not include China Shipping and therefore the significant extra environmental impacts are not being mitigated in Long Beach and Eastside Wilmington,” Marquez noted, earlier.

    Things have been shifting for some time, POLA spokesman Phillip Sanfield told Random Lengths via email.

    “China Shipping has moved about 60 percent of its cargo away from their terminal since July 2016,” he wrote. “Since then, independent liner service operators have been calling at the terminal under China Shipping’s existing permit. POLA, at that specific terminal, has seen a net loss of approximately 200,000 TEUs since last July.”

    A spot check of daily records showed more Yang Ming ships than any other line but also Maersk, NYK and others.

    Another question is who actually holds the lease at Berth 100. This past year, China Shipping merged with COSCO, China’s other mega-shipper, as part of an industry-wide wave of consolidation in the face of massive losses in the wake of the Great Recession. But the lease remains in China Shipping’s name, Sanfield said.

    “If there is a change in the permit, it will go through the Harbor Commission and a public process,” he said.

    Could this be yet another loophole for China Shipping to slip out of? It might seem farfetched, but after residents and environmentalists successfully sued the port for trying to build the terminal without an EIR, China Shipping turned around and successfully sued them for delaying the process. Then, China Shipping walked away from the 11 mitigation measures, which resulted in the latest SEIR. The port has a terrible record of failed relations with China Shipping. One more unexpected failure would surprise none of its critics in the community.

    When Random Lengths sought further clarification, we ran into a brick wall.

    “We are in the midst of the CEQA process for the SEIR,” Sanfield responded. “It’s not appropriate for the port to comment beyond what is in the document.”

    Perella had not yet seen the SEIR, but explained that NRDC would be seeking to discover whether the port discloses “how much excess pollution was born by the community based on the full failure to implement certain mitigation measures for ships, trucks and equipment … [and ] if it discloses what the health and environmental consequences are from that failure — increased cancer risk, childhood asthma, premature deaths, all the normal great stuff. And then what the port is going to do about its failure.”

    It will be interesting — but it starts off under decades-long cloud. None of the mess was created under the current leadership — from the mayor on down. In a sense, that’s exactly the problem. Even the best-intentioned individuals are only in place for a few years, while the projects they approve last for decades.

    “The governing boards at the ports will change, several times at least, over the life of the lease, but the community and those that are harmed remain the same,” Perella said. “The community that was harmed back in the late 90s, when the port first violated CEQA is the same community that believed the port in 2008, that they were going to implement 52 mitigation measures. And, that’s the same community in 2017, that is grappling with the fact that the port broke its promise.”

    “In my opinion, there was a concerted effort to keep the community in the dark, and that effort included terminating the PCAC, which was the strongest thread of consistent communication between the port and the community,” Woodfield said.

    PCAC, the Port Community Advisory Committee, was created by Mayor James Hahn in 2001 and was given explicit oversight responsibilities in the 2003 China Shipping settlement. The port was obligated to monitor compliance at least annually in the Mitigation Monitoring and Reporting Program, the last of which was produced in 2011, according to a Public Records Act request filed by Random Lengths. PCAC was disbanded at exactly the same time. With outside oversight gone, internal compliance stopped, too.

    PCAC’s co-chair at the time, June Smith, understands why its presence was resented. She knows how port staff tends to see them.

    “When it comes to the citizens, we’re always attacking them, we’re never supporting them,” Smith said. “We always want something that’s going to cost them money, or pain, or whatever. And so, that’s an immediate hurdle, as soon as you will walk in and talk to them.”

    Smith is still considering how to change that.

    “We as citizens have to learn to talk better to them, in terms of money, in terms of ultimate benefit,” she said. “The problem is that they might see that 20 years down the line, but they [have] a bottom line this year.”

    “This terminal has been an endless debacle, with mayors, port staff and harbor commissioners moving in and out of power, taking actions without accountability and leaving the community to live with the consequences,” Woodfield said.

    Perella agreed.

    “The port has a history, with respect to this terminal, of both mismanaging the CEQA process, and what seems to me the business relationship with China Shipping,” she said. “The port has a lot of excuses for why it hasn’t implemented the mitigation measures they say that they were going to back in 2008. But at the end of the day, everyone, including government agencies, are only as good as their word and now they have an even longer history of broken promises with respect to China shipping terminal, and both in terms of CEQA compliance and mitigation.”

    Everyone would like to believe the port has changed: the port’s stated goals certainly have. But the port continues to deny its history and the role played by community activists, dragging it kicking and screaming into its newfound “enlightened” state. To make this new reality really work, we have to re-learn how we got here, how not to repeat mistakes.

    The ongoing tensions Smith spoke of “aren’t going to be resolved in any easy way,” but they can be addressed much more diligently.

    “That’s what PCAC did,” she said. “It provided the forum for us to come together in comity and reasonableness when we had … to work things out. Now that that is gone, we’re back to the old ways of paranoia on both sides.”

    It would be good, she suggests, for Mayor Eric Garcetti to “consider reconstructing something that will provide a forum to allow us to continue to work both short-term and long-term interests for the community, for the immediate community as well as the greater LA community, and the nation.”

    Stakeholder working groups, which Garcetti has already committed to with respect to global warming goals, are a good idea. But they leave out the biggest stakeholders of all — the community as a whole, both current and future.

    “My son was in a baby stroller when I first got involved,” Woodfield said. “Now he is in college.”

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  • Buscaino Usurps Ken Malloy

    • 06/22/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    The symbolic swearing-in ceremony of Councilman Joe Buscaino took place simultaneously with the grand re-opening of the 290-acre Ken Malloy Harbor Regional Park at Machado Lake on June 17. The former home of Reggie the Alligator, Harbor Regional Park is the crown jewel of Proposition O-funded projects to improve the water quality across Los Angeles. The park renovation cost some $111 million and took 54 years from the time the city purchased the property in 1971 to the present. For most of those years, the regional park was mostly ignored except by one man — Ken Malloy ­— who spent those years inspiring new generations with his vision. Malloy died in 1991, across from the park at Kaiser Hospital, never seeing the end results of his efforts.

    Back in the 1950s and 1960s, locals still referred to the area as Bixby Slough, named after the cattle rancher who once owned much of the surrounding area and grazed his cattle on the hills of Palos Verdes.

    It was mostly ignored by commuters driving off the hill heading to the aerospace factories in El Segundo and Hawthorne, before the Harbor Freeway was extended from Sepulveda Boulevard into San Pedro.

    The “slough” was one of the historic wanders of the Los Angeles River that led to the bay, down to what is now North Gaffey Street, an area where the water table still resides just below the asphalt.

    In the obituary that ran in 1991, Malloy was described, as the “San Pedro preservationist,” a retired longshoreman, one-time grocery store owner and early member of the California Conservation Corps. He was perhaps best known for leading the fight for the purchase of the 320-acre park by the City of Los Angeles. During his lifetime, Malloy not only spearheaded the development of the park’s overnight youth campground and wildlife sanctuary, “but also personally tended the grounds as meticulously as a gardener would care for a flowerbed.”

    In our story covering the 2014 ground breaking, we wrote:

    Ken Malloy’s love affair with Harbor Regional Park began before it was even considered a park. In 1937, when he bumped his car into some grazing cattle, it was pasture land bordered by oil wells to the south and east. According to a brief biography, written by his son Thomas, Malloy was a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist who loved the outdoors. Malloy was a member of several nature or environmental clubs, including the Izaak Walton League of America and the Sierra Club.

    Malloy couldn’t leave the park alone, returning again and again until he was moved to organize like-minded people to lobby the city to buy the land and turn it into a park. Malloy fought many battles over the years, such as leading the charge to prevent the military from taking the White Point Navy property back to build Air force housing for its officers. Malloy’s efforts and mentoring turned out to be seeds he planted along the way.

    Though they never met in life, Martin Byhower took up Malloy’s torch. He, along with his mentor and Audubon Society President Jess Morton, visionary and Park Advisory Board President Frank O’Brien and Park Advisory Board members JoAnn Valle, Joyce Fredericks, Greg Donnan and Roxy Lowe should have been celebrated for their volunteer efforts over the years to restore this park. Instead, the restoration of the park was used as one more “selfie” event to be posted on the councilman’s endless digital re-election campaign.

    Even so, this landmark environmental restoration project with all of its family-friendly amenities can, in the end, only be viewed as a flawed solution. As I will once again remind the citizens of this area, along with exorcising many of the invasive species from Machado Lake, the Recreation and Parks Department also evicted some 167 homeless souls onto the streets of the surrounding communities, exposing one of the city’s greatest hypocrisies: a rogue alligator received better treatment than people in need.

    Clearly, with any kind of forethought, the council office and the City of Los Angeles could have carved out one acre of the 290 for the purposes of creating an emergency shelter to address the homeless crisis. But they did not.  It is a sad commentary om our elected leaders and our agencies that they are be so myopically focused on solving one problem. Then, when they literally stumble across a much bigger one, they don’t stop and ask, How do we solve both problems with one solution?”

    Read more about Ken Malloy Park in the RLn archives at The 21st Century Johnny Appleseed, April 2014 RLn and see historic pictures of the area at http://www.utopianature.com/kmhrp/historical.html, and at http://tinyurl.com/Martin-Byhower.

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  • FRIDA @ Long Beach Opera

    When basing a work of art on historical figures or events, you should ask yourself: Would this be interesting if it were pure fiction? This must be an old adage, but it’s not popular enough, because too often such works seem to lean on the crutch of audience familiarity, as if the fact that we know/care about real-life such-and-such means the artist is halfway home before putting pen to paper or note to staff.

    Too often they’re right. You would not believe how many times I hear audience members make clearly audible sounds of appreciation (“Mmm”) at any reference they recognize. Stick a bunch of pop-culture references in a comedy, and no matter how bad your jokes are, half the audience is automatically rolling in the aisles.

    Without making any statement about her merits as a painter, Frida Kahlo is a pop icon. Everyone’s heard of her, and a lot of people love her and those well-deep eyes staring out beneath the world’s most famous unibrow. That fact alone means many people who otherwise would never go to the opera will come out for Robert Xavier Rodríguez’s Frida, and many who’d have no taste for it were it pure fiction will eat it up. I’m sorry to say that those are the only people to whom I can recommend this curiously conceived and poorly-fleshed-out work.

    We meet Frida (Laura Virella, who definitely looks the part) as a rather leftist prep-school student (they study Marx) just as the Mexican Revolution is coming to an end. They look forward to being a generation that will realize the promise of a people whose country that has suffocated the proletariat for so long. A couple of years later Frida’s own promise nearly meets a premature end, as she narrowly survives a horrific bus accident. She is damaged for life, but a new artistry is born as she lay convalescing, painting the first of those now-famous self-portraits. “I was full of life dancing in a world full of color,” she sings. “[…] I’m old in an instant. […] Death dances around my bed at night, but I refuse to die. […] I’ll create the Frida I want to be.”

    The second half of Act II is so centered on Diego Rivera (Bernardo Bermudez) that you start to wonder who this is really about. Diego has a falling out with the communists. Diego wants to move to America. Diego is the toast of New York. Diego gets a commission from Rockefeller. When Frida opens her mouth, it’s Diego, Diego, Diego. By the time she has a miscarriage just before intermission, she’s become as a supporting character in her own story.

    To be fair, in real-life she was pretty damn into Diego back then, and he was definitely a big deal, so okay. Plus, Frida’s back at the center of things in Act II. Unfortunately, the plot here is so thin that if I tell you that Frida has a hard time with Diego’s philandering, Frida start philandering on her own, Frida paints, and Frida’s health deteriorates, I’ve given everything away but Trotsky. And while such a dearth of plot points is not necessarily a death sentence, Rodríguez and co-writers Hilary Blecher (book) and Migdalia Cruz (lyrics/monologues) committed a far less venial sin: they skimp on depth. Emotional exchanges between characters are expressed at a telenovela level, while expositional monologs (a lot in Frida is spoken rather than sung) are often so unadorned that it feels like this is workshop narrative holding the place for the eventual finished lines. A full scene of monolog that is Frida talking to her photographer lover (not even a character in the opera) adds nothing to the plot and brings the proceedings—which were weak on momentum, anyway—to an awkward halt. This exemplifies how most of Frida—and almost everything after the bus crash—simply skims the surface of Kahlo’s life, landing momentarily on a well-known plot point, then skipping on to the next.

    All might be forgiven were Frida musically compelling, but I really don’t know what Rodríguez is trying to accomplish. His hodgepodge technique of drawing upon the Gershwin-esque, vaudeville (!), and a host of incongruent elements in unsatisfying short bursts (way too frequently concluded with a cymbal choke) left me cold and left no-one with a single melodic memory we could carry away with us. Just as puzzling is why Mexico is not more present in the score. Considering how fiercely Mexican Frida Kahlo was and how much of Frida takes place in Mexico, the statelessness of the music makes me wonder whether Rodríguez tried too hard play against perceived expectations of a Mexican-American composer writing about a Mexican woman.

    Because Rodríguez’s style here is so momentum-averse, Frida‘s best musical moments never last long. There probably aren’t four songs—good or bad—that go three minutes without a drastic shift—and often such shifts come every 10 or 20 seconds. I was hoping the lovely flugelhorn-themed, marimba-backed opener of Act II would develop into an aria. Nope. I also would have loved more of the Greek chorus of Calaveras (Alejandra Martinez, Joanna Ceja, Jonathan Lacayo, and David Castillo, all of whom also play several other roles). They first appear during Frida’s bus crash, jumping in with a whiny warble of high-pitched monotone (a distinctly Mexican style of singing for which obviously I lack the proper term) that, along with a dramatic shift to red lighting, immediately transports us to another headspace. It’s an inspired move, but Rodríguez gives them only 15 seconds here and comes back to them maybe three more times in the entire opera (and only once at length). It was interesting and effective every time, and every time it put me in mind of the opera I wish Rodríguez had written.

    Because Rodríguez gives his soloists so few opportunities to stretch their vocal legs, it’s hard to judge their performances. Clearly Virella is a solid mezzo-soprano, Bermudez’s baritone always rings out clear and true, and they are always within their comfort zones; we just never get to hear them explore or expose themselves at length, nor do we get to hear much interesting back-and-forth between them. The closest we get are a couple of all-cast numbers, but because of Rodríguez’s hodgepodge style, what is most compelling sonically is how the physical separation of the voices create auditory horizontal breadth.

    Frida Kahlo is not going to lack for fans anytime soon. But considering that Frida gives us less insight into her life—and her soul, I’m afraid—than does her Wikipedia article, with as little as the music gives audience’s to hold on to, I doubt she’ll garner any new ones from the opera bearing her name. But if you’re already a fan, hey, it’s fun to see history brought to life, right?

    FRIDA LONG BEACH OPERA • 562.432.5934 LONGBEACHOPERA.ORG • fridaY–SUNDAY 8PM • $29–$150; STUDENT RUSH TIX $15 • JUNE 23 @ Grand Performances (350 S. Grand Ave., Los Angeles, 90071; JUNE 24–25 @ Museum of Latin American Art (628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach 90802)

    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

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  • Desmond Bridge Closures

    The Gerald Desmond Bridge will be closed eastbound through June 19 to continue with the construction of the new bridge, which will eventually connect to the Vincent Thomas Bridge.

    The bridge will be closed westbound from June 23 to June 26.. Motorists are advised to avoid the area entirely during the weekend-long closures.

    Detours will be in place, but motorists who do not need to access certain piers in the Port of Long Beach should use alternate routes: Anaheim Street, Pacific Coast Highway or the 405 Freeway.

    The closure is at the Pier T on-ramp. Motorists will be detoured to exit at Pier S/State Route 47 and take SR-47 north to eastbound Anaheim Street, which connects to the 710 Freeway.

    Details: www.newgdbridge.com

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  • LB City Council Moves to Prepare Ordinance to Ban RVs

    • 06/15/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Briefs
    • Comments are off

    LONG BEACH — On June 13, the Long Beach City Council voted 8-0, District 6 Councilman Dee Andrew was not present, to update the Municipal Code Section 10.24.078 to prohibit parking of oversized and recreational vehicles on City rights-of-way within residential neighborhoods.

    The ban would apply to vehicles that are more than 22 feet long. It would require RV owners to park their vehicles in driveways or apply for a 72-hour parking permit.

    Residents will be able to apply for free permits up to 20 times, allowing residents to park their oversized vehicles in front of their house. The cost for signage is estimated to be about $18,000.

    District 3 Councilwoman introduced the item this past October to reduce vehicle posing traffic visibility and blight issues.

    In a press release Josh Butler, executive director for Housing Long Beach said he believes that banning oversized vehicles from city streets is “akin to treating a gunshot wound with a gauze.”

    “Everyday people are coming into our office because they are losing their apartment because it has been sold or the rent has been jacked up,” Butler said. “The fact that people have resorted to sleeping in camper vans is sad, the fact that they are being kicked out is even sadder.”

    Price and the other council members said the ordinance is not a form to criminalize homeless people who are sleeping their vehicles.

    “I did not intend, nor am I prepared to discuss and have received zero notice that we were going to be speaking on ordinances involving people sleeping in their vehicles and the legal parameters of such,” said Price, responding to concerns from District 2 Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce. “That’s not on the agenda, and in my opinion I think we’re talking about two very different issues.”

    Pearce wanted the amendments to the ordinance to remove parts referring to people sleeping in their cars because the policy is not being enforced and puts the city in danger of litigation.

    Assistant City Attorney Tom Modica said that the council was speaking of “two separate populations,” noting that most people who live in RVs do not consider themselves homeless.

    However,  they are counted in homeless counts. .

    Pearce is working to introduce a Safe/Transitional Parking Pilot Program that will take people who are living in their cars off the streets and into designated lots (e.g. faith-based agencies) at night where they will be connected to services within a Continuum of Care, and a path to permanent housing.

    “While this pilot will not apply to RVs/oversized vehicles, it’s an important part of the equation towards ending homelessness—especially while we continue to identify and develop more permanent housing stock in Long Beach,” said Pearce in her newsletter.

    After the ordinance is drafted, the city council would need to adopt it and then go to the California Coastal Commission.

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  • Free Legal Clinic for Veterans

    Veterans with legal questions will be able to attend a free workshop. The workshop is open to any veteran in need of help with minor offenses tickets and failure to appear charges. They also will get information regarding about how to get certain convictions expunged. Registration is required
    Time: 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 21
    Details: (213) 896-6537; www.lacba.org/veterans
    Venue: Bob Hope Patriotic Hall, 1816 S. Figueroa St., Los Angeles

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  • Jackson’s Place: The New South Comes to Old San Pedro

    • 06/15/2017
    • Richard Foss
    • Cuisine
    • Comments are off

    The newest restaurateur in San Pedro is serving Louisiana cooking, but not in the surroundings you might expect. Kevin Faciane knows that most Southern eateries feature the rustic cabin look, but that’s not his vision at the new Jackson’s Place.

    “The sawdust-on-the-floor thing is fine for a certain style of place, but it’s not what I want to do,”  Faciane said. “It’s more on the Creole side than the Cajun side, a more contemporary and urbane Cajun. That would be a nice name for a restaurant, Urbane Cajun.”

    Kevin Faciane is bringing the New South to Old San Pedro at Jackson’s Place, an urban Cajun restaurant. Photo by Richard Foss.

    There haven’t been many changes to the art-filled room that used to be a wine bar serving simple sandwiches, but the menu has been transformed. Faciane is cooking the food that is part of his heritage — though he grew up in Los Angeles, both parents were from Louisiana.

    “Mom was used to cooking what her mother made and she was busy raising four boys and stuck with what she knew,” he said. “Home cooking was Cajun. Monday night was always red beans and rice; there was fried chicken, smothered pork chops — all the traditional items. That’s the culture she passed on to us.”

    Kevin learned that cuisine and kept cooking it for friends after he became an aerospace and technology engineer. The idea of opening a restaurant came to him gradually.

    “My family is really big,” he said. “So, any time we got them all together we were cooking for almost 50 people anyway. My brothers and I started doing Mardi Gras parties about 15 years ago, and the parties got bigger and bigger. Then we added a Fourth of July party, tailgate parties for the [U]SC-Notre Dame game. After doing all those parties and always having people over for food, we started thinking, maybe we should look for a restaurant.”

    He started the project with an engineer’s attitude to research and got a job at a now-closed Ports O’ Call Village restaurant to see if he liked the business.

    “I was working at Northrop by day and doing banquets at Nizitich’s so I could learn how a restaurant operates. I saw for myself what goes on in a restaurant and even after that, I still wanted to do it. I decided you could run a restaurant and have a life at the same time if you do it right. I’m not there yet, but I’m working on it.”

    After deciding to go forward, the San Pedro resident considered a location in Belmont Shore, but a chance interaction led him to consider a place closer to home.

    There was one problem with the restaurant he took over: it had a tiny kitchen.

    “It was a wine bar that served snacks, but didn’t have a cooking line — they had a panini press and convection oven, and they made cheese plates. People stopped by on their way to dinner or after an event, but it wasn’t a food destination. We’re going to extend the building with a cargo container right outside the backdoor; it will be fitted out in advance with the other items we need. ”

    That new kitchen is still under construction but the menu has already expanded. A barbecue in the back is turning out pulled pork, jambalaya, gumbo, seafood etoufée and other delights. These are made with attention to tradition.

    “Cajun cuisine involves sauces that take hours that are put on items that take minutes,” he said. “The seafood doesn’t touch heat until it’s almost ready to be served, so the customer always gets everything fresh. We think you can tell the difference even if you’re not really familiar with this food.”

    He is ready for the day when that kitchen is finished and will add a jazz brunch, fried chicken, steaks, and grilled seafood. The big plans involve a big investment and raised the question of why he would locate his restaurant in a town with no obvious cultural link to the American South.

    “The future is bright here in downtown San Pedro, despite the fact that there’s not a big Cajun community locally,” he said. “A lot more people know about this food than you’d expect, because they’ve tried it elsewhere and are excited about getting it near their homes. Many of my customers have Southern roots and there’s an underserved African-American community in San Pedro that appreciates this cuisine. Our target audience is San Pedrans and there is nothing like us here.”

    He also cites demographic changes as a reason for optimism.

    “The downtown core is very urban, and younger people today — the ones between 25 and 40 — they like urban,” he said. “They’re not afraid of it; they embrace the history and the authenticity and character. There are projects that are coming in that will bring in new tenants and workers, and that’s not including whatever impact we get from the San Pedro Public Market renovation. That will become a magnet for people from outside and will also give locals more reasons to come downtown instead of thinking of other places for dining and nightlife. There are plans to make this a pedestrian-friendly area, which worked very well in South Pasadena, and people are going to want to come and walk around.”

    “People who love this cuisine will travel to find it, and they like to try them all – people come in and tell me they’ve been to Little Jewel downtown, Ragin’ Cajun in Redondo, Uncle Darrow’s in Carson, they list them all,” he said. “We’re now part of that conversation. ”

    The engineer-turned restaurateur has done a remarkable job of transitioning from an orderly business to one that is unpredictable under the best of circumstances.

    “An engineer can go into their office and close the door and tweak something until it’s perfected, but here every day I’m judged on every minute of the experience,” he said. “Someone asked me what the business is like and I asked them if they had ever hosted a family Christmas. You know how you have to run around all day and get things ready, work for hours serving and then at the end of the night everybody goes home? At the end of that you have a year to get ready to do it again. I have to do that tomorrow, so for me it’s Christmas every day. It’s harder than that, because when you have people over for Christmas you know how many you invited and when they’re coming — I don’t.”

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  • Sharon Marie Cline’s Summer of Love

    ENTERTAINMENT

    June 17
    Sharon Marie
    Join Sharon’s 2017 kickoff of her Summer Love Concert schedule, and enjoy intimate jazz with Sharon Marie Cline and The Bad Boyz of Jazz.
    Time: 8 p.m. June 17
    Cost: $20
    Details: https://alvasshowroom.com/event/sharon-marie-cline-summer-of-love
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    June 17
    Firebird Quintet
    This concert series present is presented by the Beverly Hills National Auditions winner, Firebird Balalaika Ensemble.
    Time: 3 p.m. June 17
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.palosverdes.com
    Venue: First Lutheran Church and School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    June 18
    Music on the Meadows
    Kick off summer and celebrate Father’s Day weekend with Terranea Resort’s annual oceanfront concert Music on the Meadows! Enjoy an afternoon filled with music from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and other headliners, Farm-to-Terranea barbecue and local breweries.
    Time:12 to 7 p.m. June 18
    Cost: $65 to $85
    Details: ticketfly.com/purchase/event/1487893
    Venue: Terranea Resort, 100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes

    June 18
    Rhythmic Relations 2017
    Taikoproject ain’t your mama’s taiko, but it may be your hip younger cousin’s. This two-hour concert will also feature sister groups Kitsune Taiko and Bombu Taiko and guest performers from Los Angeles-based Cirque Berzerk.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. June 18
    Cost: $22 to $28
    Details: www.TAIKOPROJECT.com
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    June 18
    The Swinging Whalers
    The Swinging Whalers perform on Third Thursdays, from a quartet of tenor saxophone, guitar and drums.
    Time: 7 to 9 p.m. June 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 832-0363
    Venue: The Whale & Ale, 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro

    THEATER

    June 16
    Long Beach Playhouse Radio Hour
    Long Beach Playhouse will present the seventh annual Long Beach Playhouse Radio Hour. It’s performed by Long Beach political players, who this year are: Mayor Robert Garcia, Suzie Price, Rex Richardson, Marcelle Epley, Shirley Wild, Porter Gilberg, Mari Hooper, Steve Keesal and Mike Murray, with Art Levine on sound and Mitchell Nunn as master of ceremonies.
    Time: 6 to 8 p.m. June 16
    Cost: $5
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: The Offices of Keesal Young & Logan, 400 Oceangate, Suite 1400, Long Beach

    June 17
    Fences
    The Long Beach Playhouse presents August Wilson’s Fences, which observes the African American experience across several decades.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through June 17
    Cost: $20 to $24
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach

    June 18
    The Last Five Years
    An emotionally powerful and intimate musical about two New Yorkers in their 20s who fall in and out of love over the course of five years.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through June 18
    Cost: $30
    Details: http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/friendsoftorrance/eventcalendar
    Venue: Torrance Theatre, 1316 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance

    July 8
    Dead Man’s Cellphone
    This work about how we memorialize the dead, and how that remembering changes us, is the odyssey of a woman confronting her own assumptions about morality, redemption, and the need to connect in a technologically obsessed world.
    Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through July 8.
    Cost: $20 to $24
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach

    ARTS

    June 25
    A New View
    A New View features new member artist Susan Soffer Cohn,  jewelry artist Nancy Comaford and painter Parrish Nelson Hirasaki.
    Time: 4 to 7 p.m. through June 25
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592
    Venue: Artists’ Studio Gallery at Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    June 26
    URBANO
    Marymount California University Arts & Media Presents URBANO By Dario Gonzalo Tavoni.
    URBANO by Dario Gonzalo Tavoni is a series of physical and digital paintings, which adapt characteristics of graffiti art to depict feelings and concerns toward judgment and society.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, through June 26
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 303-7311
    Venue: MCU Klaus Center for the Arts, 430 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    July 8
    Riverrun
    Ray Carofano’s Riverrun is a suite of photographs capturing seldom seen images of the 51-mile storm drain still flatteringly called the Los Angeles River. Carofano turns his subject into the narrator. The river narrates itself as it makes you want to look and, more importantly, look again.
    The exhibition runs through July 8.
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 315-3551 or office@dnjgallery.net
    Venue: DNJ Gallery, 2525 Michigan Ave. Suite J1, Santa Monica

    July 9
    Justin Favela: Gracias, Gracias, Thank You, Thank You!
    Following a tradition of social commentary practiced by notable Latino artists such as Coco Fusco, John Jota Leaños, and Alejandro Diaz, Justin Favela’s pinata-shaped sculptures meld memory with humor to reveal difficult to communicate experiences of identity and place. His exhibition at Palos Verdes Art Center presents pieces from his current body of work that has recently been exhibited at many venues in his home state of Nevada.
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. June 10, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays, through July 9
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    July 30
    From The Desert to The Sea: The Desolation Center Experience
    Before the era of Burning Man, Lollapalooza, and Coachella, Desolation Center drew punk and industrial music fans to the far reaches of the Mojave Desert for the first of five events, “Mojave Exodus,” in April of 1983. Cornelius Projects pays tribute to Desolation Center’s pioneering vision with an exhibition featuring painting, photography, sculpture, video and ephemera.
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. June 17, and 12 to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, through July 30
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 266-9216
    Venue: Cornelius Projects Gallery, 1417 S. Pacific Ave., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    June 17
    Elite Dance Studio June Showcase
    Join the students and faculty of PV’S Elite Dance Studio as they present their current crop of young performers and award-winning competition teams.
    Time: 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. June 17
    Cost: $12 to $18
    Details: elitedancerhe.com
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    June 18
    Father’s Day Bowl Skate
    Dew Tour is offering the chance to participate in an open skate session on the pro bowl course and the public skate park before the venue is open to the public by purchasing a special pass. Entry also includes a pro skater meet and greet, coffee and pastries during the Father’s Day Bowl Skate and VIP passes to Sunday’s day of competition. Skaters must be intermediate to advanced level bowl skaters.
    Time: 9 to 11 a.m. June 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: DewTour.com/CommunityDay
    Venue: Long Beach Convention Center, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

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  • St. Mary’s Gets Grant to Help Homeless

    • 06/14/2017
    • RL Intern
    • Briefs
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    By Gabriel Islas, Editorial Intern

    LONG BEACH — On June 13, Dignity Health at St. Mary Medical Center announced that it will soon be able to help homeless people with case management, housing resources and financial.

    The medical center will provide this assistance thanks to a grant from the UniHealth Foundation, a philanthropic organization whose mission it is to support and improve the health and well-being of communities, to implement the Healthlink Project. St. Mary’s is partnering with Mental Health America to identify and provide emergency patients with services.

    The two-year/$500,000 grant will help the multi-disciplinary team from HealthLink, including a case manager and a licensed clinical social worker, to assist patients with mental illness, unstable housing, one or more chronic conditions, primary care provider, and/or insurance.

    While the homeless population in Long Beach has decreased by 20 percent, the population still is greater than 1,800 people, according to a recent statement from city officials. The HealthLink project seeks to reduce this number and provide these people with affordable housing.

    “The HealthLink Project will have a tremendous impact on St. Mary Medical Center’s ability to provide comprehensive services by recognizing and addressing the needs of our patients who suffer from mental health disorders and homelessness,” stated Pamela Fair, a registered nurse and director of critical care and emergency services. “We also anticipate that it will help reduce our ER utilizations.”

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