• A Delicious Stripe Appears at the Palos Verdes Art Center

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    The historic Palos Verdes Art Center has brought an exciting new addition to the culinary scene on the peninsula.

    Since its renovation two years ago, much has changed at the Art Center. The new executive director, Joe Baker, was there to oversee its redesign. For visitors to the art center, a new eating establishment Stripe Cafe was part of the revamp.

    Stripe Café Executive Chef Brett Hickey’s. The focus is on plant-based fare, with farm-to-table options highlighting his conscious cuisine.

    “We really see this as a place to bring the community together by using food,” Hickey said. “In a sense, going back in time, where food is fresh, organic and more natural. We want everything to be made here; we make everything in-house and we bring the seasons in, while having good, quality food and good prices.”

    The grilled vegetable tartine sandwich is a perfect example of Hickey’s commitment to highlighting vegetables on his menu. The sandwich, made with whole grain bread, features an avocado goat cheese smear nestled under fresh grilled vegetable, piquillo peppers and baba ghanoush.

    “It’s a sandwich that will make staunch meat eaters love vegetables” the chef said.

    Not to say that this is a vegetarian restaurant. The most popular item on the menu is the short-rib grilled cheese sandwich. The restaurant braises the ribs for 24 hours, adding caramelized onions and grated, fresh horseradish root to highlight the flavor.

    Every restaurant needs a hamburger on the menu. At Stripe, the hamburger patty is made with a mixture of short rib, chuck and hangar steak, ground fresh in-house to provide a unique flavor profile. Each burger is served with a house-made aioli on fresh-baked focaccia bread to absorb all the juices. Add duck fat potatoes and you just may glimpse culinary heaven.

    Hickey grew up in Long Beach and left when he was 18 to spend four years training at Johnson and Wales Culinary College in Denver. Upon completion, he traveled to Europe and spent time cooking in Italy and Croatia. Through his school he enrolled in a study-abroad program in Peru.

    “Because my mom worked for the airlines, I have had an opportunity to travel and sample many different cuisines,” he said. “California is the best place in the world for food and produce. I love going to the Long Beach farmers market each week and looking for what’s best.

    The cafe is open for lunch, but pop-up dinners have already become highly anticipated special events. The June dinner menu included salt-roasted pork and clams, grilled octopus and seared scallops.

    Hickey’s menu is full of delightful surprises: salmon smoked each day, Nutella latte, lavender-infused olive oil cake topped with lemon curd, and daily fresh soups. The chef’s favorite is tomato soup made with imported San Marzano tomato, roasted in-house with roasted garlic. A carrot–ginger soup made with miso and lemongrass is also a standout.

    Are you hungry yet? Well I am. So I think I will be going back for Gabriela’s tacos. Each morning Hickey makes a stop at a Long Beach tortilleria to pick up fresh masa for his handmade tortillas, and gives you a choice of delicious fillings: short rib, organic chicken or shrimp.

    I suggest you make this your next lunch date.

    Time: 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    Details: (310) 541.2479; pvartcenter.org
    Venue: Stripe Café at Palos Verdes Art Center, 5504 Crestridge Road, Rancho Palos Verdes


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  • Berlin Coffeehouse:

    A Unique Long Beach Café that Promotes Local Business

    By Gina Ruccione, Cuisine and Restaurant Writer

    You could ask anyone in Long Beach about the food at Berlin by Portfolio Coffeehouse and the answer is always the same: “the food is absolutely amazing.” Everything is organic, locally sourced, seasonal and served with a creative, fresh flare.

    Berlin is unique in many ways, but it also bears an air of nostalgia for me. It’s reminiscent of my high school days in Italy, where I would spend afternoons lingering in cafés, snacking and sipping coffee until late in the evening. So it comes as no surprise that the concept was inspired by European cafés. It’s meant to be a place to hang out, drink great coffee, snack and then stay a while. Beer and wine are also available, so that also helps the process.

    If there’s anything I like about living in Long Beach and the surrounding Harbor Area, it’s the sense of community. People have a tendency to eat local, shop local and there is a sense of pride with regard to supporting the community. As someone who has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County, I can tell you that it’s a rarity anywhere else in the county. Many of the places that I choose to frequent in Long Beach and San Pedro actually have owners who work side-by-side their employees. If there’s anyone who does it with more finesse than Kerstin Kastner at Berlin, please let me know. She’ll give anyone a run for their money.

    Her business optimizes the “localism” mantra that other restaurants strive to achieve. She partners with several other businesses in Long Beach and has formed synergistic and collaborative relationship that I have yet to see anywhere else. They have partnerships with five different local coffee roasters and seven different pastry vendors. They Also feature local artists’ work on their art on the walls. Adjacent to Berlin is Fingerprints, a funky, retro record store that sometimes hosts musicians and features free concerts. Of course, Berlin has collaborated with Fingerprints to accommodate the crowds that swarm in the evenings to watch the live music. Quickly adapted into dinner and a show, it truly boasts a community effort.

    Perhaps the most interesting partnership is that with Farm Lot 59, a local, sustainable garden in Long Beach that grows fresh produce and flowers. When I first learned of the relationship between the two businesses, I was intrigued. I met Kastner at the garden one morning to scope out the scene.

    Berlin sources as much produce as possible from Farm Lot 59, which is probably why its food tastes so wonderful. Farm Lot 59 was founded in 2010 and is tucked away in a somewhat industrial area in Long Beach. The urban, one-acre farm grows its produce and flowers the old-fashioned way, without all of the horrible pesticides. Best known for its rare items like micro greens, herbs and tomatoes, Farm Lot 59 also grows many other items and even has farm fresh eggs from its hens.

    Much of the produce that is sourced from Farm Lot 59 has piqued an interest in the community and, as Kastner explained, it has adapted into a somewhat educational process for those who eat at Berlin, because many of the items can’t be found anywhere else in Long Beach. Farm Lot 59 also inspires Berlin to create different daily specials and allows it to get very creative with menu items. The morning I spent with Kastner at Farm Lot 59, I watched in awe as she sorted through different kinds of rare heirloom tomatoes. I’m incredibly picky about tomatoes and most of the time they don’t taste right. These were incredible. However, I was most intrigued by the sprouts, which are grown from corn kernels. I’d never seen anything like it and the sprouts are sweet and crunchy, not bitter in the slightest.

    A couple of days later, I went back to Berlin to check out some of the new specials. I was pleased to see grilled halibut on the menu featured with the same heirloom tomatoes and corn sprouts I sampled earlier. That was truly my first farm-to-table experience.

    I’ve never had a bad meal at Berlin. And, I do mean never. Aside from the daily specials, popular menu items include the Earth salad and Halibut in ginger broth. The salad incorporates interesting sprouts and radishes, which adds just the right color and crunch. Dressings are all made in-house and I typically add the steak, which comes from grass-fed and antibiotic-free beef (as if you had to ask). The halibut is beautifully executed, pan-seared and served in a ginger broth. It’s light and full of flavor. If you just want a light snack, I would recommend the smoked salmon flat bread. The combination of the red onion, dill-­cream cheese, capers and lemon oil really compliments the salmon.

    Berlin is open for breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.

    Time: 6 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 7 to 9 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays
    Details: (562) 435-0600; http://berlincoffeehouse.com
    Venue: Berlin Bistro, 420 E. 4th St., Long Beach

    Gina Ruccione has traveled all over Europe and Asia and has lived in almost every nook of Los Angeles County. You can visit her website at http://www.foodfashionfoolishfornication.com.


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  • San Pedro Homelessness Forum at the Warner Grand Theatre

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  • Anatomy of a Facebook Uprising

    The Neighborhood Council Motion that Sparks Citywide Reaction

    By James Preston Allen, Publisher

    Disclaimer­—Nothing in this editorial or in the pages of this newspaper should be taken as the official position of the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council to which I was elected president in 2014. Nor does it reflect the opinions of any of its board members. The opinions expressed here are solely my own, which I will defend as follows.

    It began with the addition of a motion supporting the idea of building “tiny shelters” for the homeless on Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council’s formal agenda on the Friday before the Aug. 8 meeting.

    By Saturday, a disgruntled former board member was ringing a three-alarm fire bell on Facebook about the item.

    By Monday, Daily Breeze reporter, Donna Littlejohn picked up the scent and posted a story with the screaming headline  “‘Tiny houses’ for the homeless create backlash in San Pedro.” On Aug. 10, Littlejohn said the meeting was “sparking an uproar among critics who charge that the wooden ‘shacks’ are not only eyesores but will quickly become a haven for crime.” (more…)

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  • Hall Aims to Prove He Can Serve Port, People

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor and Lyn Jensen, Reporter

     Although Isadore Hall III has only recently begun representing Senate District 35, which encompasses a group of diverse South Bay communities ranging from Carson to San Pedro, he is already campaigning to succeed Janice Hahn in Congressional District 44 in November 2016.  How Hall handles port issues in San Pedro will play an important role in whether he can win the District 44 seat.

    Random Lengths recently covered Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka’s efforts to redevelop Ports O’ Call Village, providing for congestion relief in Seroka’s vision of the port’s future.  Bill Orton, a rival Democratic candidate for District 44, suggested that Hall had “logrolled” port-related legislation to get Los Angeles Councilman Joe Buscaino’s endorsement. (more…)

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  • Facing San Pedro’s Homeless Crisis

    By Nora Vela, founder and director of Helping The Homeless In Need—San Pedro

    Daily Breeze reporter, Donna Littlejohn, reported correctly in her Sept. 2 story that we have suspended building the temporary transitional shelters, also known as tiny homes.

    Littlejohn, however, was incorrect to call our organization a “business.” We are not, and never were a business.

    Our funding exists mostly off of Fernando Escobedo’s paycheck; he works more than 60 hours a week.  We also get help from private donations as well as the proceeds from selling my artwork.

    We are honest people. We pay taxes. We pay rent and are not wealthy by any means. We are just people who care.

    Our goal was to educate, connect and give hope to people working their way through Los Angeles County’s Coordinated Entry System.

    The way we see it, if someone is drowning in the ocean, we throw them a life preserver instead of just encouraging them to hang on.

    When we formed Helping the Homeless In Need, we saw a void and attempted to fill it. (more…)

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  • The Man Who Didn’t Die

    Executed by Firing Squad 100 Years Ago, Joe Hill’s Spirit Still Lives

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor


    Nov. 19 marks the centennial of Joe Hill’s execution by firing squad in the state of Utah. The state said he was guilty of a double murder. But, he was actually killed because he was a Wobbly. The authorities of that era would throw all sorts of charges at the Wobblies to see which ones would stick.

    I was thinking about Joe Hill partially because a group of San Pedro artists, labor historians and volunteers, called the Joe Hill Memorial Committee, are organizing a commemorative event in November to celebrate Hill’s life and work. As a labor icon, Hill’s legend has only grown since his death.

    Another reason Joe Hill and the Wobblies have been on my mind these past few weeks is the ongoing debate about homelessness in San Pedro and the level of incivility accompanying this debate. Social media has become a platform for throwing proverbial smoke signals for the natives to gather rocks, clubs and lynching ropes both in a real and in a figurative sense. At least that’s the impression that’s been made in preparation for the Sept. 3, San Pedro forum on homelessness. (more…)

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  • Activists Want to See New Zero Emissions Plan Strengthened

    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor

    In mid-July, the Port of Los Angeles released its draft Zero Emission White Paper, soliciting comments before consideration by POLA’s board, originally scheduled for Aug. 20, but now postponed until September.

    “While we’ve made great strides in reducing emissions and greenhouse gas emissions over the last decade, the Port of Los Angeles continues to look for new opportunities to further cut pollutants, especially greenhouse gas,” said Chris Cannon, POLA’s chief sustainability officer and director of environmental management, in a press release. “We think zero-emission technology in key operational sectors has strong potential to help us achieve these reductions.”

    According to the white paper, POLA “is committed to expanded development and testing of zero emission technologies, identification of new strategic funding opportunities to support these expanded activities, and new planning for long-term infrastructure development.” (more…)

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    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    It may seem as if the United States has reached an unprecedented level of equality, now that it is moving toward a society that no longer struggles for marriage equality, but the battle is far from over. The Long Beach QFilm Festival, which takes place Sept. 10 through 13, reminds us that there are still intersectional struggles that remain, such as wealth inequality, racism and sexism—not to mention acceptance of transgender identities.

    Among the plethora of QFilms being showcased, there are three that make this point in particular: How to Win at Checkers (Every Time) from Thailand; While You Weren’t Looking from South Africa; and Liz in September from Venezuela.

    Each of these films grapples with intersectional themes of privilege, race and sexual fluidity—issues that the American LGBT community must continue to address.

    The Josh Kim-written and directed film, How to Win at Checkers (Every Time), stands out as one of the best selections at the festival.

    If you are like me, watching subtitled films can be a task, but How to Win at Checkers definitely merits your time. Set in modern Bangkok, the film takes an endearing look at the love between two orphaned brothers. What’s fascinating about the film is that, while there are gay-themed elements to the film, the storyline is universal and the cinematography is superb. Based on the short stories Draft Day and At the Café Lovely by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, the characters can speak to many peoples’ experience of struggle in the confines of familial devotion.

    Most of the film takes place in the past, when Oat (played by Ingkarat Damrongsakkul), the main character, is only 11 years old. His older brother, Ek (played by (Thira Chutikul), has stepped up to the plate to help their aunt rear him.

    Because Thailand decriminalized homosexuality in 1956 and ended the ban on gays in the military in 2005, homophobia doesn’t play a large role in this film. Instead, the lens is focused on the social stratification–wealth in equality and corruption–that leads to the climax of the story in a world where you do what you have to do to survive.

    Ek, who just happens to be gay, has reached the eligibility age to be drafted by the military. He must submit to Thailand’s annual military draft lottery. As with many other countries that utilize the draft system, whether one is drafted or not has more to do with privilege than luck. Oat inadvertently learns this lesson when tries to save his brother from the draft. Checkers, like the red and black lottery balls that determine whether someone is drafted or not, are symbolic. In the game of checkers, someone has to lose when someone jumps ahead. So, the game of checkers are what open Oat’s eyes to learn that sometimes you must “do everything you need to win, even if it means someone else loses.”

    The essence of family, struggle and social inequity also takes center stage in While You Weren’t Looking, directed by Catherine Stewart. The film looks at modern South African society’s haves and have-nots.

    Through two separate but related storylines, While You Weren’t Looking challenges its audience to look beyond marriage as the pinnacle of equality.

    My only criticism is the realism of the film’s un-ending. As it is in real life, there is no clear conclusion that resolves the issues. The ending is abrupt and I like conclusions, even if they aren’t happy endings. However, this might be purposeful to show how things tend to stay the same, and people, for one reason or another, stay in their own bubbles.

    Callous, “legally” gentrifying, real estate developer Dez (Sandi Schultz) and Terri (Camilla Lilly Waldman) are living the life of wealth, complete with a beautiful home and a maid. Their wealth even shields them from discrimination. While their marriage includes a beautiful 18-year-old daughter and a steamy sexual relationship, Dez’s eye still wanders, and she philanders.

    Asanda (Petronella Tshuma) has the world at her feet: two loving mothers, a protective maid, a clingy boyfriend and an interesting, gender-bending, queer studies course that she takes. That is, until she meets Shado (Thishiwe Ziqubu), an androgynous woman who “packs” objects in her pants so that people believe she is a man.

    “For protection, you know how hard it is to be a woman around here,” Shado explains to her grandmother.

    Her point is proven when, later in the film, a man threatens to rape her and Asanda.

    A careful observation of the relationships among Dez and Terri—a middle-aged, mixed race couple—their daughter, Asanda and Shado —Asanda’s love interest—shows viewers that when it’s said and done, patriarchy and privilege are still issues that need to be tackled.

    While many elements have moved the equality pendulum forward, classism remains. There are many examples that prove that Asanda and Shado are from two different worlds. When Shado visits Asanda’s home in the city, she is greeted by a maid who tells her she does not belong in there. In fact, the maid later tells Terri that people “like her” are not welcome members of the community she is from. When Terri correctly assumes that the maid is referring to Shado’s sexuality, the maid tells her that Terri is different, because of her social status.

    When Shado takes Asanda to Khayalitsha, the town where she lives, Asanda also is confronted with culture shock. She doesn’t know the dialect and she is viewed as a rich outsider by people of the same skin tone but totally different culture.

    Their differences are even underscored by their own interactions during moments of intimacy.

    “Have you ever been on an airplane,” asks Asana, who plans to study abroad.

    “No, but I’ve been to an airport,” Shado responds.

    This film could easily be staged as a multi-faceted play that tackles both socioeconomic issues and sexuality. As I mentioned earlier, Asanda had a boyfriend at the beginning of the film, but on her 18th birthday she meets Shado and kisses her, thinking Shado was a man.

    Parts of the film take place in a class Asanda is taking. The instructor challenges the class to think beyond social confines. For example, he makes reference to a 2010 statement from the minister of culture, who decries “social cohesion and nation-building.”

    “The nation is heterosexual,” the instructor declares as he presents his students with queer and gender identities. “If we can queer gender, we can queer identity, culture, nature and subject. And, that’s freedom.”

    By contrast, Liz in September (based on the classic lesbian play, Last Summer at Bluefish Cove) is more of a classic romance with a solemn but happy ending.

    The story takes place in lesbian resort, where Eva (Eloísa Maturén) shows up after being stranded when her car breaks down. Eva is on her way to meet her husband in Carracas. You can assume that her marriage has been rocky since the death of her son, who died of cancer.

    Like While You Weren’t Looking, Liz in September explores sexual fluidity through the eyes of Eva and Liz. Liz is a womanizer losing her fight against cancer, and Eva is a grieving mother, hungry for love. “Death is the betrayal of God,” but one that help these two women find love and comfort in each other’s arms.

    While many people maintain that sexuality is rigid the bond between two people often transcends those assertions.

    “There are shades of gray but nobody takes them in consideration.”

    At the beginning of the film, Liz (played by the beautiful supermodel and activist, Patricia Velasquez), states she was born gay.

    “Without any doubt, and then when I started having experiences with girls I became even more gay,” said Liz at the beginning of the film. “I like women very much.”

    When Eva arrives her friends dare Liz to seduce her but Eva is the won that ends up winning Liz’s heart, despite attempts by another character to seduce her. Other films to keep an eye out for at the QFilm Festival are the documentary Upstairs Inferno, Velociraptor, a low-budget apocalyptic film, and Those People, a feature about a tight-knit group of friends confronting adulthood.

    Check out the full schedule of features and shorts at http://qfilmslongbeach.com.

    Venue: The Art Theater of Long Beach, 2025 E. 4th St., Long Beach.


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  • Homicide Detectives Investigate Shooting Death: RL NEWS Briefs Aug. 28, 2015

    Homicide Detectives Investigate Shooting Death

    CARSON — Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Homicide Bureau detectives are responding to the 23800 block of Avalon Boulevard in Carson to investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting death of man.

    The incident took place at about 10 p.m. Aug. 25. The man was taken to a local hospital at the time of the shooting and was pronounced dead at about 10 p.m. Aug. 26.

    There is no suspect information at this time. The investigation is still ongoing. Anyone with information about this incident is encouraged to call (323) 890-5500 or visit http://lacrimestoppers.org.


    Port Outlines Safety Protocols in Wake of China Tragedy

    SAN PEDRO — After the Aug. 12, tragedy near the Port of Tianjin involving hazardous materials, Acting Port Police Chief Tom Gazsi reported to the Harbor Commission on a wide range of safety, inspection and storage protocols for hazardous materials at the Port of Los Angeles.  He said that all explosives and Class 7 radioactive materials entering and leaving the port are inspected by several government agencies. Highly explosive materials are allowed on port property for a maximum of five hours. Additionally, all dangerous cargo that passes through the Port requires a permit.

    View Chief Gazsi’s full presentation here.



    Another Power Outage in Long Beach

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 27, a vault fire shut down power for about 2,739 Southern California Edison customers in Long Beach.

    This is the fourth incident of its kind in two months. The outage, which took place at about 2:40 p.m., extended from Pacific Coast Highway to Magnolia and Hill Street to 16th Street. The heat wave may have had something to do with the fire. However, SCE officials have not confirmed the reason for the incident and say that the other incidents have no relation to yesterday’s outage.


    POLB Names Human Resources Managing Director

    LONG BEACH — On Aug. 24, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners selected veteran human resources executive Louis Gutierrez as the port’s managing director of human resources and team development.

    Gutierrez, an attorney and former Fortune 500 company executive, will lead a new bureau dedicated to supporting recruitment, hiring and training of Harbor Department personnel.

    In his current position as vice president of Human Resources for the Lewis Group of Companies, one of the nation’s largest privately held real estate development companies, Gutierrez heads the Human Resources Division, serving more than 500 employees, and overseeing the Lewis Group’s talent acquisition, benefits/compensation, succession, learning, executive development and employee relations functions.

    He previously served as an executive managing human resources at Cox Enterprises and divisions of Time Warner, The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom.

    Gutierrez earned a bachelor’s degree in communications studies and a law degree from UCLA.

    In this key executive role, Gutierrez will focus on enhancing the strategic alignment of the Human Resources and Team Development Divisions with the ongoing business of the Harbor Department, which runs the second-busiest container port in the United States.

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