• Embrace the Music of Friends and Lovers

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

    With Valentine’s Day soon upon us, what could be better than taking the one you love to a romantic concert and dinner? As the holiday for lovers approaches, it’s time for Rainbow Promotions Valentine’s Day Concert, Feb.13, at the Terrace Theater in Long Beach.

    This year’s show features BWB, the combined talents of three successful solo artists: guitarist Norman Brown, saxophonist Kirk Whalum and trumpeter Rick Braun.

    Brought together by Matt Pierson of Warner Brothers Jazz, the Brown-Whalum-Braun team up was conceived as a modern take on a lively ensemble vibe Pierson says.

    Indeed, as a guitarist, Grammy nominated Norman Brown’s dexterous playing has earned him praise as the George Benson and Wes Montgomery of his generation.

    Twelve-time Grammy nominee and winner for 2011’s Best Gospel Song, “It’s What I Do”, Kirk Whalum is one of the most influential sax men of his generation. To hear his playing is to truly hear the intonations of the human voice through his horn.

    Musician, songwriter and producer Rick Braun is a high energy and charismatic performer. A diverse player, he was named Billboard’s #1 Smooth Jazz Songs Artist of 2015 but also has a background in straight ahead jazz. His playing brings a passionate mix of R&B, jazz and funk.

    BWB has two highly rated releases: Groovin, 2002 and Human Nature, 2013, which features instrumental jazz re-interpretations of songs by Michael Jackson. Together BWB brings top notch entertainment.

    To add that extra dose of romance, also on the bill are vocalist, Kenny Lattimore and saxophonist Michael Lington.

    Lattimore, who was proclaimed “A Modern Soul Man” by the New York Times, has said that his musical purpose is speaking to the hearts of women and the minds of men. He has enjoyed multiple career successes from his debut album, Kenny Lattimore, which went gold to the critically acclaimed sophomore release, From the Soul of a Man, followed by two Top 10 duet albums with singer Chante Moore.

    As a teenager, Danish –American Michael Lington was captivated by the contemporary jazz of David Sanborn and Grover Washington, Jr. which led him to American soul music. Lington described when he heard the music of Jr. Walker, King Curtis, Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett.

    “This was the music that made me want to play the sax, all of that American R&B and instrumental funk becoming part of my soul in my mid-teens,” said Lington.

    Known for his musical talent and improvisation, Lington’s live performances offer a versatility with vibrant sax melodies, funky stylings, classic jazz riffs and romantic smooth jazz, and R&B.

    Create a memorable Valentine’s Day sharing an appetizing meal, followed by a captivating concert experience. With a VIP package comes a 3-course meal, a rose for each lady and preferred theater seating. Rainbow Promotions are the producers of the Long Beach Jazz Festival, one of the city’s most popular annual musical events. The event provides the perfect venue to relax, unwind and enjoy an enchanting night music for your Valentine’s celebration.

    “You never know who may show up,” said Kimberly Benoit of Rainbow Promotions. “Stevie Wonder attended last year and this year, actress Loretta Devine will be coming. Don’t miss the Smooth Jazz Concert For Friends and Lovers.”

    Details: (562) 424-0013; www.rainbowpromotions.com

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  • Restaurateurs Serve Up Minimum Wage Cost

    A member of the Restaurant Opportunity Center Los Angeles holds up a sign in Spanish that reads: “I Work Hard, I Deserve $15.” Photo courtesy of Raise the Wage Coalition
    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    By 2021, Los Angeles County and two of its largest cities are set to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour. Though the move is widely supported, business owners in the restaurant and hospitality industries continue to fret over the cost of doing business.

    “Across the board, this is devastating to all businesses in California,” claimed Scott DiDomenico, general manager at J. Trani’s Ristorante in San Pedro. “It’s based on good intention but the results are tragic.”

    Right off the bat, some restaurants are going to cut their staff to be able to maintain payroll, DiDomenico said.

    Most restaurants are operating below a 6 percent net, which doesn’t mean they are inefficient. That’s just the state of the industry, DiDomenico said.

    Rigoberto Pérez, who works as a server in Long Beach and in Orange County, does not believe that to be true. He said he’s worked as a manager, assistant manager and relief manager for different companies and he would notice the companies’ earnings.

    “It’s higher than a clothing store or cosmetics, because the earnings are at 300 percent,” Pérez, 34, said. “It’s one of the chains that grows more rapidly because the cost of labor is so low. They take the earnings. The state demands the minimum.”

    Higher wages will impact more than just the bottom line, DiDomenico said.

    “There are a lot of entry-level people in those positions and it’s hard to pay those people at that minimum wage ($15 an hour),” he said. “There’s got to be an incentive. Do a good job and you’ll transition.”

    Though businesses in the hospitality industry will have to make much greater adjustments, a 2013 Economic Roundtable study found that there would be a net increase in jobs with the minimum wage increase. Personal service establishments, hotels and restaurants will need to reallocate about 14 percent of their revenue to raise employee wages the study stated.

    In June 2015, the Los Angeles City Council voted to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by July 2020. In September 2015, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors mirrored the city’s vote for workers in unincorporated areas and county employees. Employers with fewer than 25 employees have an additional year to reach the $15 an hour raise. This past January, the Long Beach City Council followed with a minimum wage increase path of its own. The city would require most workers to earn at least $13 by 2019, with the option of raising wages to $15 by 2021. Nonprofits and businesses with fewer than 25 employees would have a one-year delay.

    As far as restaurants are concerned, they “would not be treated differently than any other business,” said Long Beach City Attorney Charles Parkin. “They would be required to pay the local minimum wage.

    Some restaurants have looked into options that would make the wage increase more digestible, such as lobbying for a “tip credit.” A tip credit would create a lower minimum wage for tipped employees, where tips would be counted toward the minimum wage requirement.

    However, California Labor Code 351 clearly states:

    No employer or agent shall collect, take, or receive any gratuity or a part thereof that is paid, given to, or left for an employee by a patron, or deduct any amount from wages due an employee on account of a gratuity, or require an employee to credit the amount, or any part thereof, of a gratuity against and as a part of the wages due the employee from the employer. Every gratuity is hereby declared to be the sole property of the employee or employees to whom it was paid, given, or left for.

    “Tips do not make part of your wages,” said Manuel Villanueva of the Restaurant Opportunity Center. “This is illegal. You cannot touch people’s hard earned money. This is a profession we learn out of necessity and we do our jobs with pride. We want to bring dignity and respect to the profession we serve.”

    While some people question why a waiter should get paid equally or more (including tips) than a sous chef, Pérez, who is married, has a daughter and a mortgage, believes he not only deserves a living minimum wage but his tips. He says he considers his job to be profession for which he has prepared for and is no less valuable than that of a chef or an office worker.

    “I am a professional waiter,” said Pérez, listing specialties in culinary, drinks and banquets. “What makes you think that what I do has less value? I have 15 years experience as a waiter and I’ve prepared myself for what I have.”

    What people don’t consider is how much waiters are taxed by the government, how waiters hardly ever get benefits such vacations and how some don’t even get paid a minimum wage. Moreover, after the Obamacare passed companies reduced the amount of hours allowed for waiters and bartenders, so that employers would be exempt from providing benefits, Pérez said

    “I bet you there isn’t any company that has full time servers or front staff,” Pérez said.

    In the end, what he calls, “front house” employees only supplement their income with their tips, which varies from customer to customer.

    “Sometimes people will deprive you by not giving you tips that you deserve because they think that you are getting rich,” Pérez said.

    Yet, he continues doing this job because he enjoys his profession, he said.

    “Like an elementary teacher who is not paid sufficiently but fights for his or her profession,” Pérez said. “I love what I do.”

    An all-inclusive pricing model is another option restaurant owners are considering. Restaurants would eliminate tipping and the entire cost of dining would be incorporated into the menu.

    Service charges are another other option restaurant employers are exploring. In this case, a service charge would be added to the tab for the total due. Instead of the customer gifting a tip based on their discretion and the server’s earned service, the customer would be paying a service charge that belongs to the employer, not the employee, and would be managed directly by the employer. Moreover, implementing a service charge runs the risk of doing away with good service, because it takes away the incentive value for a tip.

    “You start guaranteeing … they might not provide that [same] level of service,” DiDomenico said.

    For now, J. Trani’s is not considering service charges or doing away with tips, but DiDomenico warns nothing is set in stone.

    “Where one goes, the industry goes,” he said. “There is some who are doing away with tips and they are getting a lot of negative [feedback].”

    Pérez agrees that taking tips out of the equation would be detrimental to the industry as a whole.

    “By taking out tips they are taking [away] the essence of service,” he said. “You are practically destroying the history of the industry…. For those people who do it, it will be counterproductive.”

    At this point education is the best solution, said Elise Swanson, president and CEO of the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce.

    “We took an opposed position to [Mayor Eric Garcetti’s] minimum wage policy, but it passed,” she said. “Now, what we are doing is making sure our members are educated.”

    Several calls to the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce, the California Restaurant Association, the Downtown Long Beach Associates and other local restaurant owners were made without response by the time of production.


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  • Crime, Harbor Division Jail

    Badges, Pistachios, More Excuses

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    A few weeks ago, a 14-year-old suspect carjacked a black SUV in San Pedro at gunpoint. Within hours, the police had spotted the stolen vehicle and a chase ensued into my neighborhood. The teenager panicked, abandoned the car and ran into a family member’s home.

    The residence was eventually surrounded, while the streets covering several blocks around 11th and Mesa streets were cordoned off with yellow police tape. Police officers stopped and inspected cars traversing through the area at gunpoint in search of the suspect.

    Within those first few hours of this live crime drama, I saw more police officers on the block than I ever imagined were available.

    There were at least 15 patrol cars, if not more. There was a canine unit, a helicopter hovering overhead, and an armored vehicle carrying a squad of SWAT officers. Plain clothes detectives, Port Police and the Los Angeles Fire Department assisted.

    By the end of the standoff, several hours later, the Los Angeles Police Department captain in charge estimated that there were something close to 100 officers involved. To the credit of the police officers on the scene, that 14 year-old carjacker was arrested without being shot. The Jan. 30 “No Excuses” rally calling for “more police” outside of LAPD Harbor Division reminded me of this incident.

    For those who attended the rally, rising crime stats along with the still shuttered jail was the focal point of their collective anxiety and frustration.

    This mixed bag of concerned citizens included representatives of not one, but two groups using the moniker of “Saving San Pedro” (one that has been most vocal against the homeless and the other, older group, of anti-Rancho LPG activists). Then, there were the opponents of the current waterfront development at Ports O’Call and some representatives of the newly reorganized NAACP.

    What was not generally recognized in this unique pro-police-open-our-jail demonstration is that it was conceived by members of the Community-Police Advisory Board, a public outreach initiative created by the LAPD, managed by the senior lead officers of Harbor Division with pro-police community members as advisors.

    The CPAB does not have elected community membership nor does it have any formally elected representatives from the Harbor Area neighborhood councils or authority to do much more than “advise” the police.

    To the point of the jail being closed, for more than two years the Harbor Area neighborhood councils have lobbied, passed motions and written to Chief Charlie Beck, Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Joe Buscaino about staffing this jail, but to no avail.

    The argument is that with the jail closed, every year some 4,000-plus arrestees have to be driven from this area up to the 77th Division, the closest jail in this part of the city, at a loss of 3 to 4 hours for two officers. This equates to the annual loss of some 32,000 patrol hours for what amounts to chauffeuring criminals to a distant location for booking. Perhaps LAPD could use an Uber app or a bus?

    Like most everything in the City of Los Angeles, solutions are never simple and this one involves the city’s budget process, two human resource departments and the hiring and training of more than 29 detention officers before the jail can be opened.

    According to LAPD Assistant Chief Jorge A. Villages, head of operations, of the 24 people who were recently in the detention academy, only 13 passed the training. And, the priority for placing those who did pass is to put them at the 77th Division to replace the badged officers who are working there because of the shortage of lessor paid detention officers. However, the Harbor Division jail is the next in line of priorities for staffing as it is the largest of the five LAPD jails that still remain closed.

    The frustration is that after spending $42 million to build a new jail eight years ago, we still have a pristine facility waiting to be used. This, joined with the fact that of the 21 LAPD divisions, the Harbor Area has one of the lowest crime rates in the entire city. Even with the recent rise in crime, Harbor Division is a “low priority” for an increase in officer deployment in the eyes of LAPD command. The demonstrators decry the transfer of some 40 officers out of this division some years ago.

    What few of the “No Excuses” demonstrators at Harbor Division understand is that in the Greater Los Angeles Harbor Area we have no fewer than 16 badged and/or armed police agencies.

    If you start counting, we have more police protection than almost any place except maybe the White House, and yet if you call 911 for anything less than a naked man with a gun shooting his neighbor you’re bound to wait 45 minutes to an hour for a response. This is a customer service issue complicated only by invisible jurisdiction. The LAUSD police, park rangers or Port Police aren’t going to respond to a bicycle theft on 24th Street.

    As aggravating as small property crimes are and as connected they may be to high unemployment among certain age groups and drug use by others, the Harbor historically has been a magnet for much larger crimes.

    For instance, take the nearly a-half million dollars in pistachios that were stolen from Horizon Nut Co. based in Tulare County during the past holiday season. This company learned that the theft could be the work of a sophisticated network of thieves as part of a bigger scheme.

    Who knew that a container full of nuts was worth half a million dollars? It did however end up at the Port of Los Angeles. Half of the nuts had already been shipped to the Persian Gulf before U.S. Customs and the FBI found the remainder.

    Excuse the pun, but nobody around here is going nuts over property crimes. However, in the Central Valley agriculture theft is big business. The question still remains whether the Los Angeles City Council has the nuts to keep the promise made to the Harbor Area residents and pass a budget that will allow them to open the Harbor Division jail.

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  • Activists Ask Garcetti and Beck:

    Are You Listening?

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
    Photo by Phillip Cooke
    The Los Angeles Forum on Crime at the Warner Grand Theatre on Feb. 4 was not just intended to be an opportunity for San Pedro to sound off on opening the Harbor Division jail or getting more police officers on the streets. It was also intended as an opportunity for Chief Charlie Beck to burnish the image of the Los Angeles Police Department in a context in which both the image of his leadership and the image of police as public servants have been taking a beating.

    This was made abundantly clear at the “No Excuses” rally in the parking lot of LAPD’s Harbor Division on Jan. 30.

    Cmdr. Phillip Tingirides of the LAPD South Bureau and Sgt. Catherine Plows spoke directly to public relations problem police officers face both locally and nationally even as they were effusive in the praise of the community for coming together in support of their police officers.

    “This is a cop’s dream,” Tingirides said at the rally. “Think about it…every time you turn on the TV all you see is cop bashing.”

    Plows sounded a similar note.

    “When you look at the different rallies that are held across the country right now, how many are out there for police support?” Plows asked rhetorically. “Not many. This is really a phenomenon, at least here in California.”

    The Los Angeles Police Protective league attended in support of the rally, but also to push its most recent attack against Beck, calling him out on the alleged dismantlement of the department’s Parole Compliance Unit—“alleged” because the LAPD media relations department, and by extension Beck. would neither confirm or deny that he dismantled the unit as of press time Feb. 3.

    Councilman Joe Buscaino, who recalled staffing the jail when it was briefly opened while he was an officer, suggested that the jail was going to be soon opened anyway. He believes that some things could be done now to put more officers on the street.

    “This was one of the reasons I ran for this office,” Buscaino said. “These are the frustrations that we hear today.”

    Buscaino said opening the jail has been his main priority every year he has served on the council.

    “My main priority for each budget year was opening this jail and staffing it with detention officers,” Buscaino said. “We have created a pathway to ensure that this jail is staffed … that’s a major success in the last couple of years.”

    Buscaino explained that the jail hasn’t opened sooner because of the length of time it takes to attract and train new detention officers.

    “When you staff and hire detention officers you have to advertise the positions and they have to go through the academy,” Buscaino said. “The department tells me that they first have to move the sworn officers out of the metropolitan jail, which numbers 70 or so. Once they move the sworn officers out of the metropolitan jail, I was told that the Harbor jail is their priority.”

    There were also those who are livid at the perceived deterioration in the quality of life due to the presence of homeless encampments and homeless people and their perceived connection to the increase in crime in the Harbor Division.

    For better or for worse, the link among these ideas is a belief that city government has neglected its seaside community.

    Saving San Pedro member, George Palaziol, said as much during the rally. “We need to show our local politicians that this is something we hold near and dear to our hearts,” Palaziol said. “We need to come together and show that we mean business. If there are some people in office not willing to provide that for us then we will put somebody in there that will.”

    Saving San Pedro started off as Facebook hashtag following after the emergence of homeless encampments around the old Ante’s restaurant and the short-lived Tiny Homes San Pedro project last summer. But aside from Palaziol’s heated rhetoric, the issue of homelessness or rather the high visibility of homelessness was negligible compared to the general sense of neglect by city government—past and current elected included.

    Other contingents at the rally included activists who have fighting to shut down the Rancho LPG tanks for the past decade and the local realtor backed group, the Los Angeles Waterfront Access and Redevelopment Coalition, which is frustrated by the direction of Waterfront Development.

    This is a cascade of interests for the same thing which is the betterment of the community across the board,” said Janet Gunter, member of the San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United, the original Saving San Pedro group that began challenging Rancho LPG more than a decade ago.

    “We may not interpret everything in exactly the same way, it shows that everybody is concerned about what’s going on in the community, and they see [the community] as being on the decline in multiple ways.”

    She noted that the Porter Ranch gas leak has really drawn a lot of attention and local residents are now wondering what’s inside Rancho LPG’s tanks.

    “That’s good,” Gunter said. “We’ve got elevation in crime. That’s significant and has been publicized. So, people are saying, ‘what’s up with that and why?’ When you start to look around, you see the reasons why. It’s basic neglect. So this year, we’re all on the same page and that’s a good thing.”

    The vice president of the San Pedro-Wilmington NAACP Branch 1069, Joe Gatlin, echoed similar sentiments.

    “The exciting thing about this is [that] this is an issue the whole community believes in,” Gatlin said. “When I was the president of the neighborhood council 10 or 15 years ago, this was the same issue. It hasn’t changed.”

    Gatlin served as the president of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood council during the mid-2000s.

    “We lost officers 15 years ago because crime had [gone] down,” Gatlin said. “Then we have a homeless situation and we have a lot of businesses shuttered down and it’s getting worse.

    “But when big budgets are made and they see that crime is going down in the Harbor, they take everything from us. Now crime is going up again.”

    Community leader and restaurateur John Papadakis blames unions and city government.

    “We must maximize public access and maximize commercial opportunity,” Papadakis said. “We have no commercial businesses here. It breeds crime.”

    Papadakis recalled driving down Gaffey, one of the busiest streets in town, and noted that on both sides of the street that there were homeless people just waking up in the doorways of shuttered businesses.

    “Commercial businesses ensure safety because people take care of their businesses and won’t allow the criminal element around it,” Papadakis said. “San Pedro has given itself over to the criminal element and the homelessness due to the fact that businesses are dying and going elsewhere. They let them die because they won’t create a seaside, they won’t create a people-friendly seaside.”

    Papadakis was referring to local government and the ILWU in his all encompassing “they.”

    “The union’s misjudged this whole matter,” Papadakis said. “They tried to pit union officials against people who want development by saying their jobs would suffer if the port invests in public use infrastructure and what would turn this area around…i.e. public access, businesses along the waterline, grand public attractions.”

    Papadakis noted we only need to look to Long Beach for an example of a skyline that matches the crane-line.

    “We see a port that competes with us in cargo movement but it’s also a great destination,” Papadakis said. “We need to follow that, but we don’t want to because the people with power… big government and big unions don’t want to give it up. And they punish us economically to keep us on our knees. That’s what breeds this problem of crime and lack of police.”

    Speakers at the rally made repeated calls to stay united in spirit and purpose as they move forward in holding elected officials accountable. The Saving San Pedro social media hub started off as a severe reaction by a subset of the community to the homeless encampments sprouting out of nowhere in town.

    Back then, their vision was small and limited to questions of who belonged and who didn’t and social media pages a space for harassment as exemplified by online attacks on Helping Those In Need founder, Nora Hilda-Vela and homeless people who have committed no crime other than simply being visible in public spaces. An exacting of a reactionary San Pedro brand of justice.

    The “No Excuses” Rally looked like an unveiling of a new coalition of interest groups—a coalition with subtly differing views on addressing homelessness, but on the same page, that quality of life in this town has deteriorated.

    The featured speakers at the forum include Beck, Police Commission president Matthew Johnson and Tingirides. But the real question is whether City Hall and every layer of government governing the Los Angeles Harbor Area are listening.

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  • Lights Transcend at the Museum of Neon Art

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    The grand opening exhibition Illuminations, at the Museum of Neon Art, brings together a group of contemporary artists displaying glass, and light and animation art. The artists address issues from indigenous culture to social media emojis.

    Although the museum has been in existence for more than 30 years, the Glendale location is its first permanent home. A grand opening is scheduled for from 7 to 10 p.m. Feb. 6.

    San Pedro artist Candice Gawne has served on the advisory board at Museum of Neon Art almost since the museum’s inception.

    “It has been an epic journey” said Gawne. “Finally the city of Glendale welcomed us and gave us this building. It’s really a wonderful facility.”

    She is represented in the group show with two pieces of her incandescent art. Gawne began her career as a painter, creating works reflecting her passion for light and color. In 1982, she began to experiment in sculpting with glass and light. Light serves as a literal and metaphorical medium to communicate transformation for the artist.

    A rare visit to her cathedral-like studio, overlooking downtown San Pedro, will find you surrounded by luminous pulsing anemones, starfish and shimmering lunar beams. Gawne resides in a home exploding with color over the cliffs of Point Fermin. Much of her glass work reflects a fascination with botanical and marine life. Gawne said her passion started with a love for jellyfish but it has moved far beyond towards iridescent dragons, and finally, a neon doorway, — perhaps a threshold leading to the eternal light.

    Abstract artist Lisa Schulte created A Conversation, a 10- by 20-foot wall of emojis, following a distinct conversation using only hugs, smiles, hearts and many more symbols that seem to have replaced conversation as we knew it, before social media.

    “One could say that working in neon is akin to bringing sky to touch ground, harnessing the spiritual to the earth,” stated Schulte on her website.

    Schulte began her affair with neon as a traditional neon sign maker. Eventually she expanded towards more personal work that has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art commissioned one of her pieces for their permanent collection and her art has been published in science books.

    Today’s neon has moved away from the concept of highway advertisement and into the world of fine art. It has become multi-dimensional alchemy. Neon is a gateway between scientific principles and artistic expression.

    The “Boulevard of Cars” on Brand Avenue in Glendale used to be lined with dazzling, animated, bright neon signs advertising the wild love affair Americans were having with automobiles during the mid 20th century.

    Now, on Brand Avenue, you can once again find vibrant signs, as well as contemporary neon art,  but it is inside the newly opened home of the Museum of Neon Art. The small building across the street from The American Center can be easily found by looking for the curvaceous figure of the Neon Diver on the roof.

    Neon DiverThe Neon Diver was created in 1950 for the Virginia Court Motel along U.S. Highway 80, the historical Dixie Overland Highway, in Meridian, Miss.  Museum of Neon Art Vice President Eric Evavold explained the importance of neon during the creation of the great American highways system. Evavold, a neon preservationist, is known as Los Angeles’s ‘neon archeologist’ and devotes much of his time to rescuing abandoned neon signs.

    “Neon is one of America’s cultural threads that hold us together in the blanket of history,” said Evavold, explaining that the birth of the automobile came in the early 1920s.

    The Los Angeles Packard automobile dealer brought the first neon sign to America from the Paris Art Deco Fair.

    The museum mission is divided between conserving the history of neon and development of the art form.

    Bringing together historical preservation and contemporary art forms the Museum of Neon Art has just begun to build their future. The new building boasts a workshop to train the next generation weaving light and glass.

    If you are feeling nostalgic for the beautiful neon signs of old Hollywood try the Neon Cruise, a double-decker tour bus. Coming up for Valentine’s Day, the Museum of Neon Art will take you from downtown  Los Angeles to tour neon signs, movie marquees and permanent installations of contemporary neon art through downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.

    Tours meet at 7 p.m. and the bus departs at 7.30 p.m. sharp for the three-hour tour. Evavold will lead the February tour and you can depend on receiving an in-depth history of Hollywood landmarks, plus he has promised a few surprises. Tours fill up quickly every year, so call the museum or purchase tickets online.

    The future is definitely bright.

    Time: 12 to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 12 to 5 p.m. Sunday
    Cost: $8
    Details: www.new-neonmona.org
    Venue: Museum of Neon Art, 216 S. Brand Blvd., Glendale

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  • Wild Land: ARTS Calendar: Jan. 29, 2016

    Wild Land
    Wild Land: Thomas Cole and the Birth of American Landscape Painting, a traveling exhibition exploring Cole’s role as an artistic and cultural pioneer, runs through March 14 at the University Art Gallery at California State University Dominguez Hills.
    Time: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. through March 14
    (310) 243-3334; kzimmerer@csudh.edu
    University Art Gallery, CSUDH, 1000 E. Victoria St., Carson

    Nathaniel Galka: Wanderland beckons the viewer to enter a new land, filled with trees, mists, and solitude.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays through March 6
    (310) 541-2479; www.pvartcenter.org
    Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    An Aesthetic Realist
    On exhibit will be about 28 oils and pastels by Theodore N. Lukits highlighting his atmospheric plein air landscapes and captivating Orientalist paintings.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 to 4 p.m. Sundays until March 6
    (310) 541-2479; www.pvartcenter.org
    Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 W. Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

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  • Memories: THEATER Calendar Jan. 29, 2016

    Feb. 5
    Memories: A Performance Art Work in Progress
    Robert Dilworth’s Memories of Inhabited Spaces exhibition is brought to life through the presentation of this performance art piece.
    Time: 4 to 5 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.marymountcalifornia.edu
    Venue: Klaus Center for the Arts, 430 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 6
    Academy Award Nominees for Best Live Action Shorts
    Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see all of the Academy Award nominees in the category of Best Live Action Shorts, including Bis Gleich directed by Benjamin Wolff which screened at San Pedro International Film Festival in 2014.
    Time: 7 p.m. Feb. 6
    Cost: $13.75
    Details: http://spiffest.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 6
    Staff and Friends Cabaret
    Come have fun with the staff of the Long Beach Playhouse and watch them perform for your amusement.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 6
    Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    Feb. 12
    Saving Hartopia
    This devised work is an attempt to tell the stories of the youth of Long Beach using theatre, movement, poetry, and music.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 12 and 13, and 2 p.m. Feb. 14
    Cost: $15
    Details: (562) 494-1014; www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

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  • Healthy Communities Challenge: RLn ANNOUNCEMENTS Jan. 29, 2016

    Jan. 30
    Healthy Communities Challenge Enrollment Drive
    The event is part of local efforts to enroll as many people as possible in response to President Obama’s “Healthy Communities Challenge,” which is targeting 20 major cities nationwide to increase health coverage.
    Time: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 30
    (562) 570-7979
    Venue: 2525 Grand Ave., Suite 210, Long Beach

    Jan. 30
    Neighborhood Meet Greet
    Nanette Barragan, who is running for the 44th Congressional District, will host a meet and greet with San Pedro Neighbors.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Jan. 30
    (424) 206-3963; Nanette@barraganforcongress.com
    1906 El Rey Road, San Pedro

    Feb. 1
    NWSPNC Port Committee Meeting
    Full agendas are available on the NWSPNC website.
    Time: 5:30 p.m. Feb. 1
    Details: nwsanpedro.org
    Venue: San Pedro City Hall, 638 S. Beacon Street, Room 452, San Pedro

    Feb. 1
    Advance Press Briefing on Climate Resiliency Report
    Mayor Robert Garcia and Aquarium of the Pacific President Jerry Schubel will preview a climate resiliency report advance of a full report to Feb. 2 Long Beach City Council meeting.
    Time: 12 p.m. Feb. 1
    (562) 570-5027
    Venue: Mayor Garcia’s Conference Room, City Hall, 333 W. Ocean Blvd, 14th Floor, Long Beach

    Feb. 4
    Los Angeles Forum on Crime
    Joe Buscaino will be presenting the Los Angeles Forum on Crime. The featured speakers will be LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, LAPD Police Commission president Matthew Johnson, and Assistant Commanding Officer of South Bureau Phillip Tingirides.
    Time: 6 p.m to 8 p.m. Feb. 4
    Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/1545673539079366/
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 5
    GDB Construction
    Northbound Harbor Scenic Drive at Ocean Boulevard will be reduced to one lane.
    Time: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. through 5

    Feb. 6
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Beach Clean-Up and Native Garden Workday
    Volunteers learn about shoreline habitats and the coastal sage scrub native plant community, while discovering the benefits of protecting these environments. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are welcome.
    Time: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Feb. 6
    Details: www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Feb. 7
    NUDA’s February Workshop
    Demonstration and sampling.  Infusing raw tempered cacao with essential oils workshop.
    Time: 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 7
    Details: nudajuiceshop@gmail.com
    Venue: 407 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 9
    Gerald Desmond Bridge Construction
    The on-ramp westbound on Ocean Boulevard will be closed to traffic from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Feb. 9. Exit at Anaheim Street. Head west to use State Route 103/State Route 47 south to rejoin Ocean Boulevard from the southbound Interstate 710 to reach San Pedro. From Pico Avenue take northbound Pico Avenue to 9th Street west, continue to I Street. Take SR-103/SR-47 south to rejoin Ocean Boulevard to reach San Pedro.
    Time: 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Feb. 9

    Feb. 10
    Free Health Lecture: Help! I Am Not Getting Any Younger!
    Learn what is happening to the body as it ages. Find out what you can do to control aches and pains with the help of Dr. Romina Ghassemi.
    Time: 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 10
    Details: (310) 548-5656
    San Pedro Chiropractic and Posture, 1534 25th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 13
    City of Long Beach Sandbag Sundays
    As part of the Long Beach City El Niño preparedness efforts, Long Beach CERT will be hosting Sandbag Saturdays. Come and fill your own sand bags with assistance from CERT & Search and Rescue personnel. Both sand and sandbags will be available free on site.
    Time: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 13
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/zyfxbfp
    Venue: Fire Station 11, 150 E. Market St., Long

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  • Downtown Farmer’s Market: COMMUNITY Calendar Jan. 28, 2016

    Jan. 29
    Downtown Farmer’s Market
    Enjoy fresh fruits vegetables, flowers, crafts and food stalls.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Jan. 29
    Cost: Free
    Venue: 6th Street between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street, San Pedro
    Feb. 4
    Farmer’s Market
    Enjoy fresh fruits vegetables, flowers and crafts.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Venue: Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, 1300 W. 7th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 4
    Heart of the Harbor Local Harvest Farmers Market
    Enjoy fresh fruits vegetables, flowers and crafts.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Venue: L Street between Avalon Boulevard and Marine Avenue, Wilmington

    Feb. 4
    First Thursday Art Walk
    Check out San Pedro’s art night out. Enjoy galleries and studios, and restaurant specials in the restaurants.
    Time: 6 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.1stThursday.com
    Venue: Downtown San Pedro

    Feb. 5
    Downtown Farmer’s Market
    Enjoy fresh fruits vegetables, flowers, crafts and food stalls.
    Time: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: Free
    Venue: 6th Street between Pacific Avenue and Mesa Street, San Pedro

    Feb. 5
    Alumni Reunion
    Former Marymount students are invited to join with faculty and staff for an evening of fun, friendship and memories. RSVP.
    Time: 5 to 8 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: Free
    Details: Alumni@MarymountCalifornia.edu
    Venue: Ports O’ Call Waterfront Dining, 1200 Nagoya Way, Berth 76, San Pedro

    Feb. 6
    Lunar New Year Festival
    The Port of Los Angeles’ 2nd Annual Lunar New Year Festival Year returns honoring the year of the fire monkey. This free event offers activities for everyone to enjoy with traditional hanging and floating lanterns, face painting, Los Angeles Public Library Book Bike, crafts by CRAFTED, food trucks (Asian inspired and American) and traditional brush artistry and live entertainment.
    Time: 2 to 7 p.m. Feb. 6
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.portoflosangeles.org
    Venue: LA Waterfront, 6th Street at Harbor Boulevard, San Pedro

    Feb. 6
    Friend Fest
    The Friendship Neighborhood invites you to join them at the next Friend Fest. Join them for live music, open mic time, icebreaker games, raffle prizes, food and new friends.
    Time: 1 to 4 p.m. Feb. 6
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.facebook.com/events/1659017264361851
    Venue: Drake Park, 951 Maine Ave., Long Beach

    Feb. 6
    Long Beach Mardi Grass Parade, Festival
    Thousands of revelers of all ages will once again descend on Shoreline Village, and neighboring Rainbow Harbor and Aquarium of the Pacific, for the largest annual parade event to hit the Long Beach coastline.
    Celebrated for its focus on offering a family-friendly alternative to the more traditionally risqué and adult-oriented annual tradition, Long Beach Mardi Gras has quickly become embraced as one of Long Beach’s signature annual events.
    Time: 6 to 12 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.longbeachmardigras.com
    Venue: Long Beach Shoreline, 401 Shoreline Village Drive, Long Beach

    Feb. 7
    Tidepool Wonders
    Explore low tides on the rocky shore with Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. Bring family and friends to the aquarium’s John M. Olguin Auditorium for an informative slide show, followed by a Cabrillo Marine Aquarium Education staff led walk to the nearby Point Fermin Tidepools.
    Time: 2 to 3:30 Feb. 7
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Feb. 8
    Artists Talks
    Finding the Singing Voice that Sells Records/Songwriting Techniques will be taught by celebrity songwriter and former band member of the group Oingo Boingo, John Avila. Master classes are a series of artist development workshops created for visual and performance-based artists.
    Time: 7 to 8 p.m. Feb. 8
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 303-7223; www.MarymountCalifornia.edu
    Venue: The Klaus Center, 430 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 12
    Networking at Noon
    Promote your business and exchange ideas with other San Pedro Chamber of Commerce members.  Networking at Noon highlights different locations throughout San Pedro.  Be prepared to provide a commercial about your business or organization, and share materials with other attendees.  Seating is limited to 20 and is open to members only. Call for reservations
    Time: 11:45 to 1:15 p.m. Feb. 12
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 832-7272
    Venue: Marymount California University, Waterfront Campus, 222 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 13
    Cultural Conversations
    Long Beach is known as the “international city” and this program at North Branch Public Library aims to embrace the cultures residing in the surrounding neighborhood. Cultural Conversations is a program that highlights different countries and cultures each month. The focus of the program is to bring patrons and community organizations together so we can share our stories to give insight as to what it was like living in another country. Come and learn about the traditions, food and folklore while forming new friendships and learn about different cultures in our community. The focus will be on Samoa.
    Time: 3 to 4:30 p.m. Feb. 13 and 27
    Cost: Free
    Details: (562) 570-1047
    Venue: North Neighborhood Library, 5571 Orange Ave., Long Beach
    Feb. 13
    Salt Marsh Open House
    Step out into nature and discover the hidden world of the Salinas de San Pedro Salt Marsh.
    Join Cabrillo Marine Aquarium educators and Coastal Park naturalists as they help uncover the world of mud and water that is our local wetland.
    Time: 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 13
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    Feb. 14
    South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society
    Join Marquita Ellias, author of Botanical Names Decoded, on a delightful journey of discovery as we learn why we use those Latin names, what they mean, and how really simple it is.
    Time: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: southcoastcss.org
    Venue: South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula
    Feb. 18
    Munch and Learn
    Enjoy an interactive luncheon featuring social media expert, Branimir Kvartuc, communications director for Councilman Buscaino.  Space is limited. Call to reserve your seat.
    Time: 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 18
    Cost: $15 and $20
    Details: (310) 832-7272
    Venue: San Pedro Chamber of Commerce, 390 W. 7th St., San Pedro

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  • Bird Dogs: RLn ENTERTAINMENT Calendar Jan. 27, 2016

    Jan. 30
    Bird Dogs
    Zachary and Dylan Zmed deliver a tribute to the luminous harmonies of the Everly Brothers.
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 30
    Cost: $25
    Details: Tickets and Info
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Jan. 30
    Ric Fierabracci, Ray Brinker and Steve Fister form TriFecta
    Time: 8 p.m. Jan. 30
    Cost: $20
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Trifecta-Alvas
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Jan. 31
    Get ready for an afternoon of Cuban and African influenced jazz.
    Time: 4 p.m. Jan. 31
    Cost: $10
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/HomenajeAtAlvas
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 5
    Andy & Renee, Hard Rain
    Local folk-rock sweethearts return with their soulful and high-energy show with full band.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: $25
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Andy-Renee-Hard-Rain
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 5
    First Fridays at First
    Classical Crossroads’ presents 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition
    Junior Division gold medalists violinist Geneva Lewis, violist Emma Wernig and pianist Nathan Lewis.
    Time: 12:15 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574; www.palosverdes.com/ClassicalCrossroads/FirstFridays.htm
    Venue: First Lutheran Church and School, 2900 W. Carson St., Torrance

    Feb. 5
    Johnny Boyd Live
    Long-acclaimed as one of the most versatile vocal performers today, Boyd seamlessly blends swing, jazz, pop, country, gospel and rock.
    Time: 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5 and 6
    Cost: $33
    Details: https://itkt.choicecrm.net/templates/TORR/
    Venue: George Nakano Theater, 3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance

    Feb. 5
    Godspeed You! Black Emperor
    Live nation presents Godspeed You! Black Emperor, a Canadian post-rock, cult-favorite.
    Time: 9 p.m. Feb. 5
    Cost: $35
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    Feb. 6
    Robert Sarzo: A Salute To Santana
    Robert Sarzo, nicknamed The VuDu Man is a Cuban-American guitarist. His career has spanned 40 years. He has worked with an array of notable and iconic people in the entertainment industry.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 6
    Cost: $30
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.randomlengthsnews.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 12

    FAT-Fabulous Austrian Trio
    The amazing Alex Machacek has done it again. Combining mindboggling fluidity, daredevil string-skipping technique and audacious intervallic leaps on the guitar
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 12
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.randomlengthsnews.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 13
    Dale Fielder Quartet
    Enjoy an evening of cutting-edge jazz originals and classic jazz standards.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 13
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 519-1314; www.randomlengthsnews.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 13
    Markus Carlton
    Markus Carlton brings new material as well as jazz and blues standards.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 13
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 832-0363; www.WhaleAndAle.com
    Venue: The Whale & Ale British Restaurant and Gastropub, 327 W. 7th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 13
    Dennis G & the Zydeco Riderz
    It’s Mardi Gras at the Annex with zydeco, Cajun and swamp pop. Dennis G & the Zydeco Trail Riderz rev up the stage with a delicious taste of Louisiana.
    Time: 8 p.m. Feb. 13
    Cost: $20 and $25
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro
    Feb. 14
    Stars of Tomorrow
    Rolling Hills United Methodist Church’s Second Sundays at Two concert series presents Stars of Tomorrow from USC Thornton School of Music. These talented top students are from the USC Thornton graduate program under the direction of renowned violist and USC Thornton Director of Chamber Music Karen Dreyfus.
    Time: 2 p.m. Feb. 4
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 316-5574
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

    Feb. 14
    Vintage Valentine
    Make your Valentine’s Day historic at the Queen Mary’s first-ever Burlesque Supper Club – Vintage Valentine. Feb. 14 will be a sultry evening of burlesque, live jazz and a mouth-watering 4-course dinner featuring vocals by Broadway and television star Jenna Leigh Green, best know for her roles as Nessarose and Elphaba in the original cast of Broadway’s Wicked and Libby on Sabrina.
    Time: 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14
    Cost: $99 and $129
    Details: (877) 342-0738; www.queenmary.com/events/vintage-valentine
    Venue: The Queen Mary, Grand and Windsor Salon, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

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