• AS ONE @ Long Beach Opera

    Growing up as an unambiguously heterosexual cisgender male, I had the luxury of not being compelled to consider how I fit into any of these categories or how they set me up to fit into society. I did, however, wonder what it was like for others.

    The arts can be especially helpful for such imaginings. Art is an empathy factory, with its products being potential little empathy machines. Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed’s chamber opera As One is designed as just such a machine, trying to do for the transgender experience something like what Black Boy and The Feminine Mystique did for other marginalized experiences in the United States. Unfortunately, despite being a laudable attempt with a couple of particularly poignant moments, As One is probably too small for its subject.

    As One is not what you generally get at a night at the opera. For starters, this is a work for two voices and a string quartet, and the presentation is as minimal as the orchestration. The set is bare bones. There’s no costuming to speak of (unless you count that the singers are barefoot). Video projections and (good) lighting—that’s about all there is to see.

    The scope of story is similarly restrained, happening entirely inside the opera’s only character, Hannah, whom we meet a preadolescent boy (outwardly) with a paper route, pedaling from house to house with secret: underneath his shirt he wears a blouse stolen off a neighbor’s clothesline. At school his cursive is full of big, unmanly loops. When sex ed rolls around, he badly wants to be in the girls’ class. He tries to be a perfect boy, but when he first hears the term ‘transgender’ and learns that he is not alone in feeling he was born into the wrong sort of body, an internal transformation begins in earnest. Later, once Hannah crests adulthood, he/she begins hormone-replacement therapy and shuttles across the Bay Bridge, continuing life as male on one side but exploring her femininity on the other. The first time someone says, “Pardon me, miss” is thrilling (“Pretty dull as words go, but…”), as is a Christmas Day coffeehouse flirtation. She narrowly escapes a hate-based attack, takes a trip to Norway, then gains a sort of peace as just Hannah, having learned to relate to herself as an individual, no longer caught in the tension of the binary.

    With the story confined to Hannah’s mind, almost all of what we get is how she feels. But rather than creatively representing the profundity of Hannah’s psychical struggle (the human psyche certainly doesn’t lack for scope), we get only straightforward narrative of external events—the opposite of “show, don’t tell”—paired internal monolog that doesn’t venture far beneath the surface. Although there are a few clever lines (“I devise corporeal version of ‘A watched pot never boils,'” she says of waiting to see results from her course of hormone therapy), Mark Campbell and Kimberly Reed’s words are clunky (though not more so than the average libretto. For my sensibilities clunkiness seems to be an occupational hazard of the librettist).

    Musically, look, while my taste in music doesn’t automatically bar my enjoyment of the art form (I adored Long Beach Opera’s production of Philip Glass’s The Perfect American, for example), opera composers have an uphill battle with me. Unfortunately, Laura Kaminsky does not get over the hump, as she employs one of the opera conventions that I find most opaque: vocal lines that often are only tenuously attached to the music that’s happening beneath. At several points I quite appreciated the string parts in their own right, but the singing seemed just kind of there.

    That’s not casting aspersions on the work of baritone Lee Gregory and mezzo-soprano Danielle Marcelle Bond. Billed respectively as “Hannah Before” and “Hannah After” (which is misleading, since they’re completely co-present expressions of Hannah’s psyche for almost the entire opera), Gregory and Bond are well enmeshed, with Bond in particular doing some great work.

    As One‘s best moments come during its last one-third. By grounding the music of “A Christmas Story” on “The First Noel” and other traditional carols without simply parroting them, Kaminsky transports us to a particular day and place, and we feel that story rather than simply hearing it told (a sense undoubtedly helped by video projection of Hannah’s interlocutor). The subsequent hate crime against Hannah (“Out of Nowhere”) is even better, with Bond getting to deliver some powerfully compressed emotion over Gregory’s effective recitation of a list of transgender victims—their names, locations, and manner of their murder.

    But the last one-third also features As One‘s biggest misstep: the trip to Norway. Whether or not this is the longest song in the opera (I’m pretty sure it is), it definitely feels like it. Ostensibly Hannah goes to Norway to get as far away as possible from where she was attacked, but even in the context of the performance, director David Schweizer and Bond acknowledge that there’s something a bit ridiculous about suddenly shifting our ground to Scandinavia. (To be fair, so does Hannah.) It seems Kaminsky/Campbell/Reed felt the need to close with some sort of resolution (never mind that at this point Hannah is probably not yet 30 and only starting to get comfortable with herself), and so they took the easy route: girl goes to nature, girl has epiphany. Hannah even mocks the idea of looking for a metaphor in nature—then, boom, nature gets all metaphoric on us.

    Although two decades ago Terrence McNally’s Love! Valour! Compassion! was almost as decorated as Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, one of the reasons L!V!C! is proving to have nowhere near AiA‘s staying power is their difference in scope. McNally wasn’t wrong to explore the gay male experience in late 20th-century American by confining his story to a group of friends who meet up at a vacation home, but scope—including its characters enmeshment with society—is why Kushner’s masterwork will be forever felt as a far more definitive chronicle, even on an individual level.

    One day there may be an opera that takes on transgender issues with enough breadth to feel like more than a character study. Although As One isn’t that opera, it may be a step on the journey to normalizing the transgender experience. Normalization of otherness is a worthy goal for any work of art—and is really terribly little to ask of those of us lucky enough already to be normalized. After all, why should it be harder for transgender folk to get along in the world? “It just feels so right,” sings Hannah of wearing that hidden blouse as she bikes down suburban streets, “and the papers still get delivered.” One day people like Hannah will be able to wear their identity on their sleeves openly and proudly as they move through life, and society will get along just fine.

    AS ONE LONG BEACH OPERA • BEVERLY O’NEILL THEATER (300 E OCEAN BLVD) • LONG BEACH 90802 • 562.432.5934 LONGBEACHOPERA.ORG • SATURDAY–SUNDAY 2:30PM • $49–$150; STUDENTS $15 • MAY 20–21

    (Photo credit: Keith Ian Polakoff)

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  • Jazz Giants Deliver Musical Enlightenment

    • 05/12/2017
    • Melina Paris
    • Music
    • Comments are off

    By Melina Paris, Music Columnist

     

    When you go to see a performance by musicians whose very nature it is to play, it’s as though you’ve crossed a threshold. The seamless flow between their individual expressions, the continuity of harmony, the building of melody and bridges, and clean sound uplifts you.

    The Jazz Giants Sessions performance at the Grand Annex April 28, delivered a great show, as expected.

    Henry Franklin. File Photo

    Drummer Al Williams, bassist Henry Franklin and pianist Gary Matsumoto made it an intimate concert experience in this theater setting ideal for music lovers. With two extended sets of standards, they captured the audience.

    On Thelonious Monk’s Monk’s Dream, all heads were be bopping to the distinctly upbeat tune. Franklin’s bass leading started nice and easy. Matsumoto soon displayed his grace and vigor, as if Fred Astaire was tap dancing on the keys. Amid all of this,Williams transitioned into a solo, pounding out an echoing riff of giant beats on his drums. It was a powerful juxtaposition of light and rhythmic vibrations.

    From bebop to Latin tinged to straight ahead, many numbers they performed gravitated toward themes of love. On You and the Night and the Music, Williams, taking a long drum solo, resembled a scientist on behind his kit designing a complex array of phrases worthy of the many nuances of passion.

    Franklin’s upright bass told the story on I Fall in Love Too Easily. He created harmonies manipulating his strings with deep tones as resonant as a whale’s call. In response, Williams ever so slightly let the sweep of his drums sound like waves hitting the shore. Matsumoto’s nimble fingers on keys played as elegantly as birds in descending flight skimming the water’s surface. The trio’s grace was remarkable in this interplay of oceanic sounds. The music they created sweet-talked listeners into letting their imaginations roam.

    These are the footsteps of jazz giants. In our complicated world these are just the type of sessions to prescribe deep peace.

    Look for Thin Man Entertainment’s next Jazz Giants Sessions May 27, at the Grand Annex.
    http://Thejazzgiantssessions.bpt.me

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  • Four Local Activists Take Their Place at Equality Plaza

    • 05/12/2017
    • RL Intern
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Equality Plaza has become Long Beach’s symbol of acceptance and growth. The first park named after slain civil rights activist and openly gay elected politician Harvey Milk, the Harvey Milk Promenade has for the past four years honored local leaders who carry out Milk’s spirit of activism.

    This year local leaders Pat Crosby of Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride, Ron Sylvester chairman emeritus of The Center, Denise Penn editor of BiMagazine, and posthumously former president of the Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club, Paul Self, will be honored on May 19.

    Ron Sylvester. File Photo

    “[The park] honors and recognizes the legacy of the LGBTQ movement in Long Beach … at a time when many in the LGBTQ community have felt like second class citizens,” said Sylvester, via email. “This park says that our hard work in the City of Long Beach is recognized and respected as equally as all the others.”

    Sylvester was on the board of directors of The Center Long Beach for seven years. He lead The Center through one its most transformative periods in its recent history. He has served on the board of directors for the Entertainment AIDS Alliance, an organization that raises funds for smaller AIDS organizations. These days, he serves on the board of directors for APLA Health and Wellness which operates The Long Beach Health Center, providing free and low cost primary care to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning or queer community.

    Penn agrees.

    “[Equality Plaza] is a reminder, that long beach is an inclusive place,” Penn said. “The park has a soap box replica used by Harvey Milk, it is an important part of what Harvey Milk inspired people to do, to get up and stand up locally for what they believe in.”

    Denise Penn. File Photo

    Penn is the editor of BiMagazine, a news outlet focused on advocating greater understanding and visibility of bisexuality, she was the producer and host for 12 years of the award-winning weekly live cable television program, The Gay & Lesbian News Magazine, which served the Long Beach LGBTQ community. She is also one of the original columnists for The Long Beach Post and as a journalist, her coverage on hate crimes became a part of congressional records.

    Crosby believes the induction to the park is in tandem with the times.

    “It means that the City of Long Beach recognizes Harvey [Milk] and what he signifies, which for me, he is very important because he was an alt person who broke barriers in politics much like is being done today throughout the country,” Crosby said. “There are a lot of criteria [to be honored] and [the park as well as the awards] recognize the life of Harvey Milk….  It is the first Harvey Milk Park in the state.”

    Pat Crosby. File Photo

    Crosby is president emeritus of Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride and a member for more than 20 years she has been involved with the Signal Hill Historical Society and Old Lesbians Organizing Change. A member of the selection committee, Crosby has been involved with the the establishment of the park as well as its outreach into the community.

    She proudly acknowledges her contributions.

    “I’ve made difference because everything I do has been to help other people be able to be who they are, all the time, 100 percent,” she said.

    She would like to continue working with The Center and the transgender community.

    The former president of Long Beach Lambda Democratic Club, Paul Self,  also is being honored posthumously for his political and social activism within the LGBTQ community of Long Beach.

    Honorees are commemorated on plaques upon a memorial wall alongside a replica of Milk’s soapbox, a 20-foot flagpole flying the LGBTQ pride flag, and a mosaic mural saved from destruction from the old Long Beach Municipal Auditorium.

    The ceremony will take place at 11 a.m. May 19 at Equality Plaza, on 3rd Street near Pine Avenue in Long Beach.

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  • The Baker Brothers Big Band

    • 05/12/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off

    ENTERTAINMENT

    May 13
    The Baker Brothers Big Band

    The ensemble will feature contemporary and classic instrumental and vocal charts from such arrangers and composers as Count Basie, Quincy Jones, Sammy Nestico, Neil Hefti, Dave Wolpe and others.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 13
    Cost: $20
    Details: alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 13
    Markus Carlton
    Enjoy the musical talents of a lifelong musician who has worn out many guitars playing gigs, writing and recording.
    Time: 6:30 p.m. May 13 and 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 832-0363
    Venue: The Whale & Ale, 327 W. 7th St, San Pedro

    May 14
    Second Sundays at Two
    Los Angeles Philharmonic concertmaster Martin Chalifour, Long Beach principal cellist Cécilia Tsan and pianist Steven Vanhauwaert return to Second Sundays at Two to share their passion for chamber music with the audience as they dive into the rich repertoire of romantic piano-trio masterpieces.
    Time: 2 p.m. May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: rhumc.org
    Venue: Rolling Hills United Methodist Church, 26438 Crenshaw Blvd., Rolling Hills Estates

    Rick Ruskin
    If you want to know why he’s earned the right to be called a “Fingerstyle Guitar Virtuoso,” come listen to Ruskin play a show comprised of originals, folk, pop, blues, R&B and humor, all with his unique signature.
    Time: 4 p.m. May 14
    Cost: $20
    Details: alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St, San Pedro

    May 20
    Trio Eclectic
    Trio Eclectic takes listeners on a sonic journey that fuses many different genres of music, which are augmented by loops and effects.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 20
    Cost: $20
    Details: alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St, San Pedro

    Flame Monroe

    May 20
    Flame Monroe
    Long Beach Lesbian & Gay Pride announced that Flame Monroe will be one of the featured artists on the Main Stage. The Long Beach resident is a loving and caring father by day and one of the fiercest drag queens by night.
    Time: 7 p.m. May 20
    Cost: $20
    Details: www.longbeachpride.com
    Venue: Rainbow Lagoon Park, 400 Shoreline Drive, Long Beach

    May 21
    Masters of the Vibes L.A. Book Release Concert
    A celebration of the Vibraphone and Anthony’s new book Masters of the Vibes, featuring Nick Mancini and Lolly Allen.
    Time: 4 p.m. May 21
    Cost: $20
    Details: alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St, San Pedro

    THEATER

    As One. Courtesy photo

    May 13
    As One
    As One is a story about identity, authenticity and compassion. Two voices — Hannah before and Hannah after — share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. The opera is based and inspired in part by the life experiences of acclaimed filmmaker Kimberly Reed.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 13, and 2:30 p.m. May 20 and 21
    Cost: $49 to $150
    Details: www.longbeachopera.org
    Venue: The Beverly O’Neill Theater, 300 E. Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    May 13
    Good Boys and True
    The privileged life of a high school senior at St. Joe’s School for Boys threatens to collapse when a disturbing video circulates around campus. Social class, abuse and sexuality simmer beneath the surface of the resulting scandal, taking an unexpected turn when the boy’s family is confronted with unsettling truths about their son.
    Time: 8 p.m. through May 13
    Cost: $17
    Details: csulb.edu
    Venue: Cal State Long Beach, Theatre Arts Building, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach

    May 13
    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, May 13 through June 18
    Cost: $30
    Details: http://boxoffice.printtixusa.com/friendsoftorrance/eventcalendar
    Venue: Torrance Theatre, 1316 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance

    May 20
    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, May 20 through June 17
    Cost: $20 to $24
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach

    May 20
    Laughter on the 23rd Floor
    Neil Simon takes us back to the golden age of television and behind the scenes of the hottest program on the air, The Max Prince Show. Simon’s side-splitting comedy follows the antics of the show’s star Max Prince, his ongoing battles with the Network executives, and the writing, fighting, and wacky antics that take place in the writers’ room of his weekly variety show.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 20
    Cost: $25 to $45
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Laughter-on-the-23rd-Floor
    Venue: Little Fish Theater, 777 Centre St., San Pedro

    May 21
    In King & Fools
    Sam and Mary Ellen are struggling to make sense of a son who has all but cut ties with them and another son who is quickly becoming the neighborhood outcast. They’ve invited them both to their annual Labor Day weekend barbecue.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 8 p.m. May 25, and 2 p.m. May 21 and 28
    Cost: $15 and $20
    Details: www.panndoraproductions.com
    Venue: The Garage Theatre, 251 E. 7th St., Long Beach

    May 27
    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is a story that starts with sibling rivalry and ends with reconciliation and redemption. In between the story flirts with voodoo, Disney and Chekhov.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sunday, through May 27
    Cost: $20 to $24
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St, Long Beach

    ARTS

    May 14
    Threesome
    The exhibition Threesome features multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 15
    A New View
    A New View features painter Susan Soffer Cohn, watercolor artist Parrish Nelson Hirasaki and jewelry artist Nancy Comaford.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 pm Monday to Saturday, and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; http://artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 20
    Artist/Mother
    Artist/Mother is a multi-media exhibition that presents the works of Calida Rawles, Mother Naturalist, Julia Barbee, Camilla Løhren Chmiel and Megan Schvaneveldt. These artists are confronted with the challenge: “What do my identities of both artist and mother mean for my practice?”
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. through May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429-0973; www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    May 20
    Painting with the Masters: Emerging Artists
    Parkhurst Galleries invites you to its Painting with the Masters art exhibit, featuring emerging artists.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.parkhurstgalleries.com
    Venue: Parkhurst Galleries, Inc, 439 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    May 20
    Riverrun
    Ray Carofano’s Riverrun is a suite of photographs capturing seldom seen images of the 51-mile storm drain that is still flatteringly called the Los Angeles River. Carofano turns his subject into narrator. The river narrates itself. It makes you want to look and, more importantly, look again.
    Time: 6 p.m. Saturday May 20, through July 8
    Cost: Free
    Details: artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 21
    Dreamland


    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero, in the exhibition titled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works — including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway — address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    May 22
    Knockdown Dash
    Two new exhibitions address distinct issues concerning housing and development in Southern California through a variety of mediums and visual strategies. In Knockdown Dash by Nicole Capps and James McCarthy as well as Broken Ground by John Hulsey and other collaborators, the artists draw on their personal experiences to explore structural concerns.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    Cost: Free
    Details: http://angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    May 28
    2017 PVAC Annual Student Art Exhibition
    This exhibition will highlight this year’s artistic creations from Palos Verdes Art Center school-based outreach program Art At Your Fingertips.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays, through May 28
    Cost: Free
    Details: pvartcenter.org
    Venue: 5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    Sept. 3
    Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray
    In May 1931, photographer Nickolas Muray (1892965) traveled to Mexico on vacation where he met Frida Kahlo (19071954), a woman he would never forget. The photographs, dating from 1937 to 1946, explore Muray’s unique perspective; in the 1930s and 1940s he was Frida Kahlo’s friend, lover and confidant. Muray’s photographs bring to light Kahlo’s deep interest in her Mexican heritage, her life and the people significant to her with whom she shared a close friendship.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, through Sept. 3
    Cost: $10
    Details: www.molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    COMMUNITY

    May 14
    South Coast Cactus & Succulent Society
    Most of you know about the medicinal qualities of Aloe vera and many of you have been marveling at the spectacular red and yellow blooms of the Aloes in gardens this winter and spring. But there is more to know. Ernesto Sandoval will return to the society to tell us about the variety of natural Aloes found throughout Southern Africa and the unusual hybrid Aloes that range from the tiny container plants to the huge landscape plants and how to grow them.
    Time: 1 p.m. May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: southcoastcss.org
    Venue: South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd., Palos Verdes Peninsula

    May 18
    The Luncheon Ari Seth Cohen
    Join the Palos Verdes Art Center for a special luncheon, talk, and book signing with Ari Seth Cohen, author of Advanced Style: Older and Wiser. Guests will be treated to a gourmet meal by Chef Brett of Stripe Café and are encouraged to dress up for this charming occasion.
    Time: 12 to 2 p.m. May 18
    Cost: $45
    Details: http://pvartcenter.org/
    Venue: Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 West Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes

    May 18
    A Celebration of Chicano Culture
    El Camino College will sponsor a series of lectures and concerts. Mujeres Indigenas Kichwas de Hoy y de Siempre: Today and Tomorrow’s Indigenous Kichwa Women” presented by UCLA professor Luz Maria De La Torre.
    Time: 9 a.m. May 18
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.elcamino.edu/docs/celebration-of-chicano-culture-2017-calendar-of-events.pdf.
    Venue: El Camino College, Humanities Building, Room 114, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd., Torrance

    Wilmington Rock the Vote Concert & Community Resource Fair
    All are welcomed to the 4th Annual Wilmington Rock the Vote Concert & Community Resource Fair  2017.
    Time: 2 to 6 p.m. May 19
    Details: http://tinyurl.com/Wilmington-Rock-the-Vote
    Venue: Phineas Banning Senior High, 1527 Lakme Ave, Wilmington

    May 20
    Endangered Species Act Turns 44
    Cabrillo Marine Aquarium celebrates the anniversary of the establishment of the Endangered Species Act in 1973.  Discover which ocean animals have been impacted by this act.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
    Venue: CMA, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

    May 20
    5th Annual Anaheim, Orange, Cherry and 7th Book Drive and Literacy Fair
    Come through to MacArthur Park for all the fun and festivities.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.facebook.com/AOC7LBC
    Venue: MacArthur Park, 1321 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    May 21
    Tidepool Wonders
    Explore an excellent low tide on the rocky shore. Bring family and friends to the aquarium’s John M. Olguin Auditorium for an informative slide show, followed by a walk led to the nearby Point Fermin tidepools.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. May 21
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 548-7562; www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org.
    Venue: Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, 3720 Stephen M. White Drive, San Pedro

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  • Civility in a Time of Confusion

    • 05/12/2017
    • James Preston Allen
    • At Length
    • Comments are off

    Resistance, Comey and No on Measure C

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    It’s starting to become a regular occurrence for me: being stopped by people who preface their remarks with, “You probably won’t agree with me, but…” and then they go on about giving Trump a chance or complaining about the lack of bi-partisanship or that the leftists should chose another word other than “resistance” in opposing #45.

    All of this becomes more confusing when #45 fires FBI Director James Comey with no warning. Comey learns of his firing from a news report that flashed on a television screen while he was in Los Angeles speaking to employees at an FBI field office. This happened while the investigation into Russian interference in our national elections was just beginning to pick up traction. It makes one wonder if Trump protests too much?

    One older gentleman who recently stopped me said, “I just don’t think that these people who are protesting should be calling it ‘resistance.’”

    “And just what would you call it?” I asked. There was a pause.

    From what I could tell by his age and the fact he was having drinks in an upscale restaurant on a Monday night, he was likely a retiree living off of Social Security and a pension. He was likely more financially secure than those out protesting.

    So I ask him, “What if it was your health care that was being threatened? What if it was your family at risk of being deported?”

    The questions could go on because the list of threats keeps growing.

    “Resistance,” I conclude, “is the natural response to acts of oppression by a tyrant.”

    On another occasion, a different older guy, a political insider and a lobbyist who has worked with all levels of government, complained about how there’s no bipartisan collaboration anymore.

    “I just don’t understand it,” he said, “I’ve worked with Republicans my entire career and always found common ground. But now…?”

    “Those were different times,” I replied. “We haven’t ever had a real fascist in the White House before. When there is this kind of repression going, on people resisted.”

    “Do you remember the opposition to the Richard Nixon presidency and the Vietnam War?” I asked. “How much collaboration would you propose if you were living in pre-WWII Germany?”

    “What we have here and now is much more than a disagreement on policy. It’s literally an existential threat to our republic by a man and a caucus within the ruling party who are intent on eroding our rights, denigrating public institutions, destroying long-accepted protections and gutting public benefits. This would be like attempting to find common ground with Hitler,” I concluded.

    This country stands divided, much like it was in the 1960s over civil rights and the Vietnam War. Even though those wounds have healed, they left lasting legacies, scarring our country and our democracy. Trump doesn’t even seem to know why the American Civil War was fought. His tweet about Andrew Jackson was the ultimate display of his ignorance.

    The last older guy to interrupt my day admitted that he actually voted for Trump, but only because he couldn’t vote for Hillary.

    “So you would have been OK with voting for a social democrat like Bernie Sanders?” I asked.

    “Oh no. I grew up in Vermont back when it was a conservative state,” he replied.

    “So you are all right with Trump firing the FBI director?” I pressed.

    “I don’t agree with much that he’s said or done,” the man said.

    All of these conversations were in public places and were quite civil and polite in tone — not like much of the acrimony coming out of Washington, D.C. these days where incivility is tweeted, repeated and made news-worthy as the topic du jour.

    Comey’s firing from the FBI can be considered a distraction from the investigation into Trump’s Russian connections. Wouldn’t someone with the power to subpoena his tax records think that there might be some relevant details included in those returns?

    What seems increasingly evident is that the American public is continually being played and  manipulated through false or misleading accusations and propaganda. This drama rises to the level of a Shakespearean tragedy.

    However, out here in La La Land, the city blithely moves forward with its well-intentioned liberalism, while violating the rights of the homeless, curtailing free speech at city hall and pressing for a misguided Measure C charter amendment which has been criticized by the groups who have historically lobbied for police reform.

    It is an imperfect solution to the intractable problem of Los Angeles Police Department oversight. It should be voted down. The real solution is to set up civilian review boards in each of the police divisions, with members appointed by the locally elected neighborhood councils who then send their decisions to the police commission for confirmation. It is doubtful whether either the police or the city council would share this kind of power with the neighborhood councils, but the time will come when neighborhood empowerment actually means something more than a few words on a website.

     

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  • Cultivating a Rose Amongst the Concrete

    • 05/12/2017
    • Kym Cunningham
    • Art
    • Comments are off

    Machine Community Arts Studio Provides Refuge for Young Graffiti Writers

    Mike Machin runs Machine Art Studio in San Pedro. Photo by Terelle Jerricks

    By Kym Cunningham, Contributing Writer

    .Every day, teenagers, still in their uniforms, head from school down to the Machine Community Arts Studio. The studio is a free public art space that hosts informal “blackbook sessions” where local graffiti writers or taggers get together and practice their art. It is run by 43-year-old Mike Machin, a Los Angeles area native who moved to San Pedro more than two years ago.

    “We’re not here promoting vandalism, but at the same time I’m not going to bullshit anybody and say that I’m telling these kids what to do,” Machin said. “That’s not what we’re about. We’re just trying to influence them to do something more productive.”

    Machin designed the studio as a safe place where local graffiti artists could go to responsibly practice their art.

    Artists were at work during a recent First Thursday Artwalk at Machine Art Studio in San Pedro. Photo courtesy of Mike Machin

    “If you want to be here, you have to be drawing,” Machin said. “You have to be doing something. You can’t be scribbling on stuff. It’s providing a place for at-risk youth to come and be creative and be exposed to different types of art. At the very least, while they’re in here they’re not fighting. They’re not doing drugs. They’re just listening to music and drawing and hanging out with their friends. We try to make it so that they have to be productive while they’re here.”

    Himself a graffiti artist, Machin sees the community studio as a his way of giving back to the graffiti community.

    “I went on to do graphic design and I pretty much stepped completely away from the culture for a number of years,” Machin said. “I feel partially responsible for the rules not being passed along.”

    Rebellious Youth

    Machin remembered being drawn to graffiti even as a child. When he was young, the town he lived in only had one piece of graffiti. Machin would look at it every time his family drove past the freeway.

    “I remember what it looked like: it had this movement,” Machin said. “I identified with that piece. Then it got painted over one day and I was just so disappointed.”

    Machin also remembered when graffiti made its way from New York to Los Angeles in the 1980s, when he started seeing it on the sides of buildings as he drove with his dad to watch the Raiders play at the Coliseum. But it was not until the 1990s that graffiti made it to his town.

    “Kids were tagging on buildings and … scribing the mirrors,” Machin said. “I was kind of a troublemaker when I was young so I was kind of drawn to it on that level.”

    Even so, Machin found this so-called new art form something to rebel against.

    The Unseen Art

    Machin found what are referred to as landmark walls — the backs of businesses or industrial buildings that people don’t seem to care about, where graffiti artists do not have to worry about their work getting painted over.

    In order to have “street cred” in the graffiti culture, every artist has to do some work that would be considered vandalism by mainstream society.

    Machin got into graffiti through his involvement with the Los Angeles punk scene in the 1990s.

    One of his bandmates talked him into applying to CalArts for graphic design, and from there, Machin’s career as an artist began. Machin branched out into several mediums. He works with drawing and acrylic painting as well as has several business ventures in commercial art doing motion graphics and graphic design.

    Unwritten Rules

    Now, Machin spends his time attempting to influence up-and-coming graffiti writers, teaching these teenagers the unwritten rules of the culture that he was taught long ago, like not to “burn the spot.”

    “A place like this, where graffiti writers want to hang out — they come in and they draw and listen to hip-hop music,” Machin said. “It’s a bad idea to walk out of here and go write on all the businesses.”

    Much like landmark walls, there are what are referred to as yards within the graffiti community — mostly abandoned places that the public never sees — where graffiti writers can complete more artistic work.

    “You can go and spend hours in a yard,” said Machin. “But if you leave the yard and start writing on shit outside, people will notice that spot and then it will burn the spot. You won’t be able to go there anymore.”

    Machin said that the most important unwritten rule in the graffiti community was one of mutual respect.

    “If you go into a yard and you see something and you can’t do something better than that, then you shouldn’t go over it,” Machin said. “But if you’re going to go over someone, cover their whole piece.”

    Although to many outsiders it may look the same, there is a hierarchy to graffiti within the culture.

    “Tags are the scribbly things,” Machin said. “Throwies go over tags — throwies are simple letters that you can draw that are filled in — and pieces go over throwies.”

    Even though these rules may seem like common sense, Machin maintains that young graffiti writers need to be taught them.

    A Dangerous Calling

    Machin is not trying to stop kids from practicing graffiti. Rather, he wants to provide a safe place — away from gangs and the eyes of authority figures — for these kids to hone their art.

    Graffiti artists risk felony charges and even death in the practice of their art. Machin told a story about an up-and-coming 18-year-old graffiti artist, Tie, who was shot and killed in the late 90s by someone who thought he was a burglar. Unfortunately, this story is all too common in the graffiti world.

    Not only do graffiti artists face danger in the form of overzealous homeowners, but they also face the risk of accidentally running into a gang’s territory.

    This is what Machin’s goal is with the Machine Community Arts Studio. He wants to provide young graffiti artists with a safe place to unleash their creativity.

    Cleaning Up the Streets

    Machin also runs another side project called the C.U.T.S. Crew — short for Clean Up the Streets. Run like a traditional graffiti crew, the C.U.T.S. Crew focuses on doing free community-based, graffiti-style artwork and cleanup projects. Through his contacts in the community, which extend to mainstream foundations like the San Pedro Art Association, Machin attempts to locate edifices that have, as he calls it, “a graffiti problem” — walls around the community that people notice are constantly getting tagged.

    Machin said that the C.U.T.S. Crew is all about bridging the gaps within the community — between business owners and graffiti artists, as well as between the older guys and the young up-and-comers within the graffiti culture. But Machin admitted that these gaps are often difficult to cross, especially in regards to getting the youth to hear his message of responsibility.

    A Lasting Impression

    Machin’s long-term goal is to open an outside venue or cutty spot — a large, often abandoned building or group of buildings with diverse surface textures: trash cans, corrugated metal fences and brick walls.

    “People have been writing on walls for tens of thousands of years,” Machin said. “The oldest art that we know of is a cave painting. There’s something in our species that makes us want to do this.”

    For now, Machin uses his commercial arts ventures to fund the C.U.T.S. Crew and the Machine Community Arts Studio, a place where all artists are welcome to show their work as long as they put in the effort. The result is an eclectic mixture of a variety of methods and mediums: everything from incredibly detailed etched mirrors to minimalist paintings of birds on telephone wires to sculpted mash-ups of partially reclaimed materials. Machin’s studio is a place to get your work seen, something incredibly important for new and emerging artists.

    A Safe Place

    Although Machin doesn’t see himself as doing anything special, it is important to realize that he is giving these young artists, specifically graffiti writers, a place to express themselves in a society that does not necessarily value self-expression, especially in the wake of the Trump administration’s proposed art cuts. In many ways, our society criminalizes youth artistic expression, outlining what is and is not socially acceptable, what is or is not art, often through a racialized lens.

    Perhaps Machin has forgotten what it is like to grow up young in California, in America, that feeling that you never really belong which defines teen angst. In that sense, giving them a place where their culture is accepted — a venue free from the constant surveillance of adult authority figures, where their art is encouraged — is perhaps the biggest gift Machin can hope to give the young graffiti writers of San Pedro.

    The Machine Community Arts Studio features hip-hop events every First Thursday, as well as DJs and other live performances. If you are interested in having your work shown or helping with the C.U.T.S. Crew, call (424) 224-5372. The studio is open to the public seven days a week, on weekdays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on weekends from 4 to 8 p.m.

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  • Paseo del Mar Restoration Clears Major Hurdle

    • 05/11/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    BOE Releases Draft EIR

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    A little more than 50 residents came out for the May 3public comment meeting on the recently released draft environmental impact report to restore Paseo del Mar roadway.

    It’s been 5 1/2 years since heavy rains abruptly helped turn one of California’s scenic routes into a cul de sac following a 2011 slide.

    Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering Environmental Supervisor II William Jones explained the draft EIR in a 10-minute summary. The 50 minutes that followed was spent on public comment.

    Residents were critical of the 30-day public comment period for the Notice of Preparation, believing it gave the public insufficient time to evaluate the preparation of the draft EIR.

    “We protested and requested a 90 day comment period. What’s the hurry?” asked former Coastal San Pedro Neighborhood Council member Peter Warren.

    Another area of concern was the baseline conditions on which the project was based. The Bureau of Engineering elected to set baselines conditions to 2011, after the slide, rather than at the time of the release of the notice of preparation, which was released in 2016.

    The Bureau of Engineering said in the draft EIR that the baseline conditions for the proposed project consider the pre-landslide conditions as well as the emergency stabilization measures taken since then. This wasn’t a satisfying answer for many residents.

    In the days and weeks following the slide, residents fell into one camp or another. The divisions that existed then over whether to restore Paseo del Mar are the same divisions that exist today.

    Neighbors who complained of traffic spoiling ocean views and quiet benefitted from an act of God were one camp. Motorists who leave the peninsula for work experienced heavier traffic than they were accustomed. They mostly fell into the camp which favored restoring the road. This was especially true as traffic got heavier with the introduction of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiatives and the advent of bike lanes.

    Following the 2011 slide, the city initiated studies, cleanup and stabilization measures and built a street turn-around near the intersection of Paseo Del Mar and Weymouth Avenue while the western end of the project site was fenced off.

    Initially, there were three options on what to do about the slide:

    1. Construct a bridge of some sort,
    2. Cut into the White Point Nature Preserve to build a roadway that circumvented the slide, or 3. Leave well enough alone.

    Cutting into the White Point Nature preserve has since been nixed from the discussion following vociferous outcry from the Preserve’s supporters over the years.

    The Bureau of Engineering is considering three alternatives for Paseo del Mar’s permanent restoration, plus a no project alternative.

    Alternative 1 aims to limit major earthwork and remediation of the slide area by constructing a single long-span bridge supported on stable ground outside the limits of the landslide area. A cast-in-place concrete box girder or double box girder bridge superstructure would be utilized supported by seat abutments. The bridge span would be about 400 feet long and 63 feet 5 inches wide. The bridge proposed under Alternative 1 would be about 130 feet above the beach level.

    Alternative 2 aims to build a roadway that sits atop a single row of large diameter, cast-in-drilled holes with a buttress. The cast-in-drilled holes would be at the edge of the existing slope. Landslide debris will be removed to about 75 feet above the beach. The piles would be connected with a reinforced concrete grade beam and tied back with soil anchors. A reinforced earth buttress above the piles would stabilize the head scarp and support the new roadway. The Bureau of Engineering said the slope below the 75-foot elevation level would be relatively undisturbed by the construction of the pile supports. A lot of residents at the May 3 meeting didn’t buy it.

    Alternative 3 is similar to Alternative 2, except rather than being at the face of the existing slope, a row of large diameter piles and a grid of smaller diameter piles would be constructed below the proposed roadway. The piles would handle the vertical loading of a mechanically stabilized embankment wall, or MSE, and mitigate lateral forces on the existing slope. Due to the height of the wall required, traditional cantilever-type walls would not be as stable. The MSE-type wall utilizes a reinforcement strap tied to a segment of wall panel. The self-weight and friction of the compacted earth would keep the face panels in place. The slope below the 75-foot elevation would be relatively undisturbed by the construction of the pile supports. A concrete wall would be constructed above the 75-foot elevation.

    The comment period on these options ends on June 6, if the Bureau of Engineers does not extend it for another 30 days.

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  • Pin Up , Don’t Shut Up

    • 05/11/2017
    • RL Intern
    • News
    • Comments are off

    Public High School Art for the Scapegoats of Humanity

    By Arlo Tinsman-Kongshaug, Editorial Intern

    Activist-historian Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States, famously said, “You can’t stay neutral on a moving train.”

    As we move into the new administration’s crackdown on immigrants and its determined rollback of Barack Obama administration policies — particularly those protecting transgender, lesbian and gay communities — two San Pedro High School teachers have chosen to use art to help students create a safe, yet committed, environment to resist and express solidarity with disenfranchised communities.

    English teacher David Crowley and photography teacher Amy Dean have teamed up to spearhead the political art project Crowley has dubbed Safety Pinups. The project is a series of student-taken political photographs that show support for San Pedro High School students who are targeted by the Donald Trump administration. It promotes solidarity and understanding between different groups within the school.

    Crowley, who conceived this San Pedro High School-based project, was inspired by the World War II Safety Pin Movement in the Netherlands, when Adolf Hitler was persecuting Jews, the gay community and even the disabled. Crowley explained that women would wear safety pins on the hem of their skirts and men would wear them under their collar, symbolizing, “you’re safe with us.”

    “When Trump was elected this movement started to reappear and people started to wear safety pins again,” Crowley explained. “When I was reading about this, I was like, ‘Well, my GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) kids are going to be hurt under this new administration,’ and they were scared,” Crowley said. “What could we do? So I taught the kids about the Safety Pin Movement and I was like ‘Hey, we could wear pins.’ So that’s what I had them do.”

    Crowley has been the faculty sponsor for the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance since its founding 16 years ago.

    Black Lives Matter, self portrait photo by Vernon Williams

    Since Trump took office, schools throughout Los Angeles conducted walkouts in protest of Trump’s policies and marching to downtown. San Pedro High School students wanted to do the same, but the distance between the Harbor Area and downtown Los Angeles made a march a difficult proposition. To bridge the gap, Crowley thought of another way for students to make their opinions known.

    “I’ve always been a big fan of art as protest and I figured we could find a way to keep the kids in school, which is important, but still give them a way to express themselves. I was sitting there thinking of the words ‘safety pins’ and suddenly it came to me: ‘Safety Pin Ups!’ You remember those old pin ups from World War II that soldiers would put up in their lockers and stuff? They’d have Betty Grable and all those pin up girls. I was like, ‘Well, a pin up doesn’t just have to be a beautiful woman, it doesn’t have to be a centerfold, as it were; it could be art, specifically photos, that you just pin up.”

    Crowley pitched the idea to Dean, requesting that she collaborate by having her class take these proposed “Safety Pin Ups.” Dean loved the idea.

    “It’s really a way for the students to express themselves in a creative way and show support to our students who may feel they are in a compromising position in our current political climate,” said Dean. “They’re collaborating to promote a safe campus, striving for the acceptance of differences … so really a way kids can learn to show solidarity towards each other.”

    Photo by Joshua Lopez

    Dean began her photography lessons by showing how different photographers,  historically, have staked out political positions in their work. Dean cited Dorothea Lange’s work featuring the internment of Japanese Americans as an example for her class to parallel  photography in connection to Trump’s immigration policies. She explained the approach as “comparing what other people have done in the past and how they [the students] can make an effect.”

    Dean’s class has since taken the initiative by shooting their own concept photos in addition to those suggested by other students. Dean said the student reaction has been mostly positive. Crowley agreed, pointing out the participation of many unlikely students as well as several of the high school’s star baseball and football players.

    Members of the Gay-Straight Alliance [known to its members as Pride Club] have been active participants as the subjects of many of the photo shoots done by Dean’s class.

    Photo by Erin Hoback

    Erin Hoback, a photography student and an ally (a heterosexual person who advocates for LGBTQ rights) talked about the photo she took for the project. Her photo depicted students holding hands, their hands painted to resemble the Gay Pride flag.

    “I knew I wanted to show unity through hands and the colors of the gay pride flag,” said Hoback.

    “I honestly thought this photo wouldn’t work because it would get messy, but with the help of Ms. Dean and the students that painted their hands for the picture the photo came to life and turned out exactly how I wanted…. I was happy to know that the Pride Club wanted to be involved in making the school a better place for those who feel marginalized due to the election or just disrespect[ed] from peers who don’t understand being different is OK.”

    Photo by Rebecca Logan

    While some of San Pedro High School’s students still aren’t very accepting of those with sexual differences, Crowley believes the school has come a long way in the 16 years he’s been there, mainly through the GSA’s efforts. “[But] we still have a long way to go,” Crowley said.

    The Safety Pin Up movement is by no means solely focused on LGBTQ issues. Students have put heavy emphasis on immigration issues as well.

    As a majority Latino school, there are a significant number of undocumented students and many more with undocumented family members. As such, many members of the student body are very concerned about how their futures may be affected by Trump’s promise to increase deportations.

    Crowley and Dean have both noticed the effect these new policies are having on many of their students.

    “I’m seeing a lot of anxiety right now,” Dean remarked. “There’s a lot of uncertainty. At home, I’m sure their parents have a lot of anxiety and I see the kids bring that anxiety to school…. Sending your kid to school shouldn’t have to cause you anxiety.”

    “I think them putting their faces on (the pin ups) is a very courageous act,” said Crowley. “Some haven’t, some have wanted to participate and we’re figuring out ways for them to do that, because there’s definite fear out there and it’s horrible, horrible when you’re worried about your family being torn apart…. I don’t care if you’re here legally or not, if your parents brought you over here, I’m sorry, you have a right to an education.”

    Dean pointed out that the school has been doing its best to help make families feel safe.

    “We have our counselors here that are willing to talk to parents that might have concerns about their status and I think the school has let it be known that you can send your kids to school, you don’t have to worry,” Dean said. “Although, how can you tell somebody that they don’t have to worry with the climate the way it is?”

    With its  rousing success at San Pedro High School, Crowley would like the movement to expand to other schools and perhaps spread nationwide.

    “The idea is for the movement to take on a life of its own,” Crowley said.  “I have very high hopes for this. My ultimate goal would be for it to go from social media to a gallery. Having a gallery show here in LA and in New York and in Chicago and maybe other places throughout the country and maybe even have it move around so we have kids sending in their art from all over the country.”

    For now though, the safety pin ups are posted in the main office of San Pedro High School and are being uploaded onto Facebook through the page Safety Pin-Ups.

    Crowley alluded to Adorno’s famous statement that “all art is an uncommitted crime.”

    “Art challenges the status quo by its very nature,” he continued. “So, if this is the new status quo, if the Trump administration and those who support them are going to be the new normal, then we need to challenge the status quo, right? And to me, all art is political. It’s in a public space. It socially engages people …while people come to it with their ideologies already in place, it can change those ideologies.”

     

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  • Anne Walsh Quartet

    • 05/04/2017
    • Reporters Desk
    • Calendar
    • Comments are off

    ENTERTAINMENT

    May 6
    Anne Walsh Quartet

    The Joker from Anne Walsh on Vimeo.
    The Anne Walsh Quartet delivers an eclectic soundscape of contemporary and Brazilian jazz influences.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 6
    Cost: $20
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 6
    Rumbankete
    Rumbankete reigns supreme in the greater Los Angeles area salsa scene. This 14-piece line-up is putting contemporary Cuban dance music (timba) on the map.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 6
    Cost: $20 to $120
    Details: www.grandvision.org
    Venue: Grand Annex, 434 W. 6th St., San Pedro

    May 7
    The History of Surf Music
    Paul Johnson from the Belairs (Mr.Moto) will be presenting a storytelling about surf music from the South Bay, including Palos Verdes. He and The Halibuts will also perform.
    Time: 4 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $1
    Details: (310) 833-7538; https://alvasshowroom.com
    Venue: Alvas Showroom, 1417 W. 8th St., San Pedro

    May 7
    Jane Monheit
    Celebrate Ella Fitzgerald’s Centennial with Jane Monheit at the Symphonic Jazz Orchestra’s 15th Anniversary Concert.
    Time: 6 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $35 to $65
    Details: http://sjomusic.org
    Venue: Carpenter Center, 6200 E. Atherton St., Long Beach

    May 12
    Los Angeles Harbor College
    The Los Angeles Harbor College Music Department will present a concert of music by Anita Chang and Rodney Oakes for piano, sackbut, trombones and video. Together, they will perform new works by Oakes, including the premiere of his The Children of Aleppo.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 233-4429
    Venue:  Los Angeles Harbor College, 1111 Figueroa Place, Wilmington

    THEATER

    May 6
    Seaward Ho!
    Long Beach Playhouse presents Treasure Island, the beloved classic by Robert Louis Stevenson. For many of us, most of what we know about pirates, buried treasure and adventure came from Stevenson’s novel.
    Time: 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 6
    Cost: $14 to $24
    Details: (562) 494-1014
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach

    .

    May 7
    Uncanny Valley
    Drawing on current research in artificial intelligence and robotics, Uncanny Valley charts the relationship between Claire, a neuroscientist, and Julian, a non-biological human. As Julian is “born” a few body parts at a time over the course of the play, Claire teaches him how to be as human as possible. Uncanny Valley explores the painful divide between creator and creation, and how we are redefining what it means to be human in the 21st century.
    Time: 8 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 7
    Cost: $25 to $35
    Details: http://ictlongbeach.org/
    Venue: International City Theatre, 330 E. Seaside Way, Long Beach

    May 13
    As One
    As One is a story about identity, authenticity and compassion. Two voices — Hannah before and Hannah after — share the part of a sole transgender protagonist. The opera is based and inspired in part by the life experiences of acclaimed filmmaker Kimberly Reed.
    Time: 8 p.m. May 13, and 2:30 p.m. May 20 and 21
    Cost: $49 to $150
    Details: www.longbeachopera.org
    Venue: The Beverly O’Neill Theater, 300 E Ocean Blvd., Long Beach

    May 27
    Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    A collection of hilariously complex characters brings light to the shallowness of ambition, regret and the cultural decay of American life.
    Time: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, through May 27
    Cost: $24.00
    Details: www.lbplayhouse.org/show/vanya-sonia-masha-spike
    Venue: Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim Street Long Beach

    ARTS

    May 14
    Threesome
    The exhibition Threesome features multimedia artist Brian Bernhard, ceramic artist Nora Chen and mixed media and digital artist Miyuki Sena opens at the Artists’ Studio Gallery at the Promenade on the Peninsula. The exhibition continues until May 14.
    There will be an opening reception from 4 to 8 p.m. on April 8.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, through May 14
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 265-2592; artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 15
    A New View
    A New View features painter Susan Soffer Cohn, watercolor artist Parrish Nelson Hirasaki and jewelry artist Nancy Comaford.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 7 pm Monday to Saturday, and Sunday 12 to 6 p.m.
    Details: http://artists-studio-pvac.com
    Venue: Promenade on the Peninsula, 550 Deep Valley Drive, #159, Rolling Hills Estates

    May 20
    Artist/Mother
    Artist/Mother is a multi-media exhibition that presents the works of Calida Rawles, Mother Naturalist, Julia Barbee, Camilla Løhren Chmiel and Megan Schvaneveldt. These artists are confronted with the challenge: “What do my identities of both artist and mother mean for my practice?”
    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. through May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: (310) 429 0973; www.southbaycontemporary.org
    Venue: South Bay Contemporary at the Loft, 401 S. Mesa St., 3rd Floor, San Pedro

    May 20
    Painting with the Masters: Emerging Artists
    Parkhurst Galleries invites you to its Painting with the Masters art exhibit, featuring emerging artists.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 20
    Cost: Free
    Details: www.parkhurstgalleries.com
    Venue: Park Hurst Galleries, Inc, 439 W. 6th Street San Pedro

    May 21
    Dreamland
    The Museum of Latin American Art presents a retrospective of the work of one of the original Los Four founders, Frank Romero, in the exhibition titled Dreamland. Romero’s most iconic works — including his mural work, such as Driving to the Olympics on the Hollywood Freeway — address life in the barrios of Los Angeles.
    Time: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, through May 21
    Cost: $7 to $10
    Details: (562) 437-1689; molaa.org
    Venue: Museum of Latin American Art, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach

    May 22
    Knockdown Dash
    Two new exhibitions address distinct issues concerning housing and development in Southern California through a variety of mediums and visual strategies. In Knockdown Dash by Nicole Capps, James McCarthy and Broken Ground by John Hulsey and collaborators, the artists draw on their personal experiences to explore structural concerns.
    Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 12 to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
    Details: http://angelsgateart.org
    Venue: Angels Gate Cultural Center, 3601 S. Gaffey St., San Pedro

    COMMUNITY

    May 5
    Food for Soul: Cooking is a Call to Act
    Featuring Massimo Bottura, Osteria Francescana, Mario Batali, Roy Choi, Dominique Crenn and Chef Mary Sue Milliken. Hosted by Jonathan Gold. The panel discussion will be followed by an exclusive screening of Theater of Life. This film explores the story behind the Refettorio Ambrosiano, a soup kitchen conceived by chef Massimo Bottura for the Milan 2015 World’s Fair to turn food waste into meals for those in need. Donations will go to Food Forward, a Los Angeles nonprofit that rescues local produce that would otherwise go to waste.
    Time: 7 p.m. May 5
    Cost: $5
    Details: (213) 623-3233
    Venue: The Theatre at Ace Hotel DTLA,  929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles

    May 7
    Tortoise in Peril
    Small actions have a large impact on species from the deserts to Antarctica. There will be a Q-and-A with filmmaker Tim Branning. Live tortoises will be exhibited.
    Time: 5 p.m. May 7
    Cost: $10
    Details: pvplc.org
    Venue: John Olguin Auditorium, 3720 Stephen M White Drive, San Pedro

    Impressions Workshop
    Enjoy a naturalist-guided coastal hike and family friendly activities along Discovery Trail to Terranea Resort for a children’s art workshop. All ages are welcome.
    Time:  9 to 11 a.m. May 7
    Details: www.pvplc.org
    Cost:  $25
    Venue: Terranea Resort, 31300 Palos Verdes Drive South, Rancho Palos Verdes (Meet in front of the statue at Pelican Cove Parking)

    May 8
    Ships & Giggles

    Join in every second Monday of the month for our all new stand-up comedy series Ships & Giggles featuring up-and-coming local comedians performing in the Observation Bar and Art Deco Lounge.
    Time: 8 to 10 p.m. May 8
    Cost: $15
    Details: http://bit.ly/QMComedy
    Venue: The Queen Mary, 1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

    May 12
    Movie Under the Guns
    Battleship IOWA invites you to a free screening of Zootopia. The movie will be shown on board the fantail of Battleship IOWA, as you sit under the stars, overlooking the beautiful LA Waterfront. Seating is first come first served.
    Time: 7:30 to 10 p.m. May 12
    Cost: Free
    Details: (877) 446-9261
    Venue: Battleship USS Iowa, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., Berth 87, San Pedro

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  • Central SPNC Board Members Abandon Ship When Mutiny Fails

    • 05/04/2017
    • Terelle Jerricks
    • News
    • Comments are off

    The Central Neighborhood Council in Disarray Following Resignations

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    The April 18 Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council Stakeholder Meeting looked more like a mutiny than the democratic workings of a local board. Stakeholders called for Mona Sutton to step down as board president, but not from the board.

    Board member Joanne Rallo announced her resignation, effective after the meeting, following in the footsteps of board members James Dimon and John Stammreich, who had resigned after the March stakeholder meeting. The resignations underscore ongoing tensions on the board that had burst into public view during the March Stakeholder Meeting.

    In June of 2016, there was a near complete takeover of the board by Saving San Pedro emerged at the height of the anti-homeless fervor of 2015. Ever since Saving San Pedro wound up in the position of governing, as opposed to activism, they have struggled.

    Some of the struggles stem from lack of experience on a governing body that uses Robert’s Rules of Order. Other struggles stem from community advocates unaccustomed to having their every decision checked by an overseeing authority, such as the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment.

    This past year, Barton Hill residents rallied against the attempted placement of a navigation center designed to serve and store the belongings of homeless people. Photos by Terelle Jerricks.

    Then there is the emergence of parts of San Pedro that have not traditionally been heard but are now finding their voices, like the primarily working-class Latino residents of Barton Hill, they successfully organized and rallied against the attempted placement of a Navigation Center designed to serve and store the belongings of homeless people. Another emerging group is an LGBT voting block comprised of Mona Sutton, Leslie Jones, Aidan Garcia-Sheffield and Allyson Vought.

    These interest groups have inserted a level of identity politics not seen in recent memory at the neighborhood council level.

    Some of Donald Galaz’s posters were torn down during his write-in candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council.

    Resignations and sniping on social media over the past couple of months have taken place amidst calls for Sutton to step down as board president. This follows a March stakeholder meeting in which she called for the resignation of board Vice President Donald Galaz. Sutton called for Galaz’s resignation because of a Facebook post that he published regarding the tearing down of his posters during his write-in candidacy for the Los Angeles City Council. In that post, Galaz wrote:

    [Mine are] not the only posters/signs being torn down and thrown away … running has brought out people’s true colors. Don’t look now but the person you may be sitting next to smiling in a neighborhood council meeting or at the beach clean up could be easing a Cutco knife in your back while asking for a neighborhood purpose grant…

    Galaz mentioned no names, but Sutton’s outburst identified her as the object of the post. It also opened a Pandora’s box that no one has been able to close.

    Tension on the board can be traced to a few separate points of conflict.

    One is the friction between the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment or DONE, and the council. This was on display when DONE forced the council to postpone and reschedule its April 11 meeting because it fell on the Seder of Passover, a Jewish holiday.

    Another was when DONE stepped in and told the board they couldn’t remove Sutton as president following the March stakeholder meeting, after the board voted 8 to 3 to place that motion on the April agenda.

    Another source of tension arose because the March stakeholder meeting outburst was not fully captured word-for-word in the council’s minutes.

    Linda Alexander, who has operated as the board’s informal parliamentarian and institutional memory since leaving the board in 2015, said this was not unusual.

    “Every word said at these meetings is never written down,” Alexander said. “You don’t write every word except if it’s a written motion that’s come before the board. Because otherwise you’d have ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’ throughout the meeting minutes.”

    Others countered that in the interest of transparency, a full transcript should be included with the minutes.

    Barton Hill community stakeholder member Maria Couch agreed that it was in the interest of transparency that a near full transcription should be included with the minutes, minus the “oohs” and “ahs.”

    The April council meeting began with general public comment that was actually used as an opportunity to blast the council president by a couple of board members, each of whom had filled out a few time cards to ensure that they had enough time relieve all of their grievances.

    Board member Mike Collins was one of the first to speak during public comment and challenged Sutton to step down.

    Collins cited Aiden Garcia-Sheffield’s ascension to the board as an example of the divisiveness Sutton had sown into the board. Collins noted that he liked Garcia-Sheffield and voted for him to join the board and even voted in favor of Garcia-Sheffield’s proposal to establish an LGBT committee.

    Collins alleged that Sutton would speak negatively about board members Donald Galaz and Danielle Sandoval in private conversations with him and accused her of referring to Rancho San Pedro residents as “those people,” suggesting racial or classist animus towards the Latino residents of Rancho San Pedro public housing. Collins said he particularly objected to Sutton’s advocacy of Garcia-Sheffield at the expense of two Barton Hill community residents. He explained that he voted for Garcia-Sheffield anyway because he spoke before the board and initially liked him.

    Collins said he soured on Garcia-Sheffield after at least two incidents in which Garcia-Sheffield questioned the nonprofit status of Clean San Pedro when a funding request arose.

    Collins charged that leadership has been lacking on the board under Sutton and what did exist was provided by the recently resigned board member John Stammreich.

    Rallo directly talked about how she was not happy with the neighborhood council and how things changed from six to eight months ago. She also was unhappy with Sutton’s leadership.

    The council bylaws give each commenter two minutes. They can’t extend that time by filling out multiple time cards. Sutton, who chaired the meeting, did not cut them off.

    The board addressed and voted on a funding request for Music by the Sea, which went on hiatus in 2016. After voting in favor of the request, the board heard a report from the Port of Los Angeles police, voted on a few funding measures, and discussed the council’s audio/visual needs. At this point, one by one, several members left the meeting. Some thought it was just a couple of board members leaving for a restroom break. But a majority left and never returned, resulting in a loss of quorum. The meeting ended rather ignominiously. The departed members included board members Galaz, Sandoval, Collins, Terry Bonich, Rallo and Jose Guerrero. Sutton made no response to either the board or the public about resigning her position. Although there are now four vacancies on the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council, they have yet to call for the vacancies to be filled as prescribed in the bylaws.

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