• Bringing the Dead Back to Life, — Musically

    By John Farrell, Curtain Call Writer

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is the story of a man brought back to life through a miracle of science, a body revived from the grave.

    Frankenstein, the Musical tells the same story, with music. So does Young Frankenstein, the movie and musical by Mel Brooks. The success of Brooks’ musical has overshadowed Frankenstein, the Musical, an off-Broadway show from 2007 that briefly toured the East Coast.

    Maybe it was time for Frankenstein, the Musical to be discovered on the West Coast. And who better to do that than a man who has been, for several years now, dead at least as a producer and director? Art often imitates life. If there isn’t the smell of ozone about Ray Buffer, once the director the Relevant Stage in San Pedro (he is best known, perhaps, for Kiss Me, Kate at the Warner Grand several years ago), there is a smell of greasepaint and of sweat as he and his partner and co-producer Jonas Sills get their production of Frankenstein, the Musical off the ground in a theater in Long Beach. The theater hasn’t been used much but seems perfect to bring Buffer and a musical back to life.

    That theater is on the second floor of the five-story Scottish Rite Cathedral at 8th and Elm in downtown Long Beach. The building, a large concrete structure built in the 1920s, is used by the Masons for fraternal events, and is also used for wedding receptions and other private gatherings. And, it has a theater. (more…)

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  • Grand Theft Auto Results in Stolen Bronze Heads

    “The Conversation” by Eugene Daub

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Theft tarnished the monthly San Pedro Art Walk this October.

    Artist Carole Hungerford, of the Loft Gallery at South Mesa Street, reported that she was the target of thieves who entered the gallery during the First Thursday Art Walk. The thieves took her car keys and made off with her 2003 White Dodge Caravan, license number: 5B1B780.

    “The Conversation,” internationally renowned artist Eugene Daub’s bronze sculpture, was in her car.
    Hungerford states that her keys were inside her Loft studio during the Art Walk on Oct. 2. She suspects the thief took the keys while she was speaking with a visitor and went into the parking lot to find the car that matched the keys.

    “The Conversation” was in her car because the piece was going on loan to an exhibition at Harbor College featuring Daub’s work. It is doubtful that the car thief realized the value of the artwork. Daub is noted for his recent sculpture of Rosa Parks that was installed in the U.S. capitol. The sculpture consists of four 3-inch by 6-inch busts cast in bronze, which was unmounted on its base that the artist still has in his possession.

    The monthly Art Walk is a community event attended by thousands of people from San Pedro and the surrounding areas. Artists open their galleries to the throngs during the monthly event, and food trucks and musicians attract a varied crowd.

    If anyone has information regarding the vehicle or the art stolen it is recommended that they contact the Los Angeles Police Department at (310) 732-3500.

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  • Film Noir Comes to San Pedro

    By Zamná Ávila, Assistant Editor

    There is something about the old black and white films that not only whisk you into a different era, but also expand your imagination and attention span. Add dark shadows, complex characters and a good crime story, you might find yourself in the middle of an exciting film noir.

    Film noir movies, or crime dramas focused on corruption, were popular in 40s and 50s, often filmed using dramatic lighting techniques.

    “It’s all about shadows, working with shadows of the black and white,” said Valente, a producer and casting director for major television networks who has developed four television shows: Throttle Junkies, Got 2 Go, and Cat Fight Club. “It’s a genre also where there are no cursing words, there are no visual scenes of violence, which means people die but you don’t see it. It’s all left to people’s imagination… Right now, everything is in your face, very violent, very sexual. People forget to think.”

    Filmmaker Cleo Valente is working to bring back the film noir to the Harbor Area. She is writing, producing and directing a series in the film noir spirit called, The Port of San Pedro. The story takes place in 1952 San Pedro.

    “I love the San Pedro and the history of San Pedro,” Valente said. “I wanted to involve what San Pedro was in the 50s and what LA is today, which multicultural. This is LA. In the 50s, in San Pedro, we had people, a lot of Latino and Asian(s) were here and they were in the canneries. They were working here.”

    Actor Jesús Guevara likes the diversity of on the set.

    “It’s really important to have diversity on screen as we see it on the streets,” Guevara said. “We see accents, we see people from all over the world. I love that…. We need to evolve to that because it’s what is happening in the world. We cannot deny it.

    Guevara plays Augustine Quintero, a morally ambiguous man who stands in the way of an investigation. Undercover detective Nick de Salvo, and corruptible police Capt. Sebastian Montenero team up to investigate the beautiful, and mysterious Luli-May Tang, a Chinese woman running an illegal currency forgery operation in Macau, China.

    She comes to the port because her uncle is in San Pedro and decides to start another business doing same thing did she did in Macau. But the rules are different.

    “I thought a femme fatale from China…. She is beautiful and mysterious and she’s going to attract a lot of interest by men,” Valente said. “She does what the godfather does and in the 50s. It’s very daring. No woman was the godfather. It was a man’s job to be the head of illegal activity.”

    Valente said the port at San Pedro was a perfect setting for her storyline because it is the entry to many seeking fame and fortune, and often a hub of illegal activity.

    “I wrote it with a lot of humor,” she said. “Everybody is crooked. No one is really what (he or she) seems to be.”

    Augustine Quintero is one of those characters.

    “He would do anything for a buck,” Guevara said. “He will always be the friendly guy…. He’s a charmer.”

    Guevara said his character’s motivations are rooted in a rough childhood.

    “So, he is determined to have a good life,” Guevara said. “Everyone is always serious and he is always having fun…. He’s also sleazy and … you know he’s going to pay for it sooner or later.”

    For the Guevara the character development and film style made the script even more attractive.

    “It’s an amazing gift,” he said. “It’s going to the basis of cinema, how everything was not so in your face.”

    That’s the beauty of black and white film noir, Valente said.

    “It’s real cinema for me… You focus on the character not on the scene,” she said. “So everything is based on the character: facial expression, body languages, noises, shadows on the wall. You are not distracted by anything in color.”

    But good cinema takes good money. After all, people don’t work for free. She estimates that each episode will cost between $150,000 and $250,000. Networks these day don’t buy a show on specs. She has to produce the pilot before it airs anywhere.

    With six episodes written, she has already started rehearsals and is fundraising to get the ball rolling.

    Valente is planning to do in San Pedro a pre-party, where she wants to cast some extras, provide information and raise funds for the project to make the community part of the process.

    “I love a good story,” she said. “I’m a storyteller.”

    Details: avantifilmproductions@gmail.comwww.facebook.com/theportofsanpedrowww.theportofsanpedro.com


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  • Don’t Kill the Messenger

    The USS Iowa, ILWU/TraPac Dispute and the Tale of Gary Webb

    James Preston Allen, Publisher

    In the almost 35 years that I have been publishing this newspaper for our community, there’s one question I’ve always had to navigate: How much of what we know do we actually print?

    As you can probably guess, we are told much more than we ever use and we face the consequences of printing the truth as we know it. Our story on the Pacific Battleship Center, the nonprofit organization charged with operating the USS Iowa naval museum, is a case in point.

    Some may take exception to us reporting on the problems of this important naval monument  and the non-profit that manages it. Regardless of the perceived impact of our reporting, the intent is not personal. Our hope is that with our reporting we can get the best out of our cultural assets.

    This newspaper has long defended workers on the waterfront. We believe that the allegations of mistreatment of both volunteers and workers at the Pacific Battleship Center should be treated with no less scrutiny than the workers at the TraPac terminal–workers who despite millions of dollars invested in automation still do not work in a safer workplace. I take quite seriously our role in reporting on what we discover in our harbor area community. As I see it, my staff and I have a duty to deliver to you, our readers, what is not revealed by other less courageous entities. (more…)

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  • San Pedro Sculptors Featured at Local Colleges

    “Doomsday Clock”, 2014 Plywood, neon paint, digital print, plexiglass by Michael Davis

    By Andrea Serna, Arts and Culture Writer

    Contrasting styles are celebrating the art of sculpture at two of area colleges this month.

    Eugene Daub, Sculpture/Drawings/Photos is on display at Los Angeles Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery and Michael Davis, No Place to Hide is the exhibition at the El Camino Art Gallery.

    The juxtaposition of these two nationally recognized sculptors, shown in such close proximity, present an exceptional opportunity. Art lovers can view a range of public art created in the United States. Each artist has achieved prominence through works commissioned for national parks, universities, transit stations, courthouses and even the U.S. capitol. Both of these artists reside right in San Pedro.

    The long history of public art has its roots in the cultures of the great empires. Greeks and Romans constructed art that was meant to symbolize the culture and the leaders of great society. In recent times, monuments such as the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty have become icons of nation states.

    In recent years, public art has increasingly expanded in scope and application, both into wider and more challenging areas of the art form. And also, across a much broader range of what might be called our public realm. Such cultural interventions have often been realized in response to creatively engaging a community’s sense of ‘place’ or ‘well-being’ in society.

    Michael Davis and Eugene Daub employ completely contrasting aesthetics, but both create public art that engages their audience through site-specific installations. Daub, through his heroic, humanistic monuments of historical figures, and Davis through a minimalist theory that he equates with political consciousness.

    Michael Davis: No Place to Hide
    This exhibition represents about 34 years of work for artist Michael Davis. Davis titled his art business “M.A.D. Art” (mutually assured destruction) in response to the genuine peril of nuclear annihilation.

    “The body of work goes back to the mid-80s” Davis said. “At that particular time, I was doing some research on nuclear energy. I was interested in the proliferation of it and how it relates to my own life. I picked up the book No Place to Hide by David Bradley. It was a book that influenced me especially when I realized that he had written the book in the year of my birth, 1948.”

    The best-selling book, a memoir of the Bikini Islands atomic bomb tests in the late 40s and early 50s, alerted the world to the dangers of radioactive fallout from nuclear testing.

    The artist found himself struck by pivotal moments in history. Moments that occurred in his own life, such as the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination and the moon landing.

    He realized, as he compiled the exhibition, that he had created a lifelong theme to his work.

    One of the first pieces to greet visitors to the exhibit is Davis’s version of the “Doomsday Clock,” a plywood, neon paint, digital print, on plexiglass. The familiar image is known to warn the world of the dangers of an imminent nuclear war. Davis’ piece is based on a photo of the actual first atomic bomb detonated at Alamogordo, N.M. He updated his piece with fluorescent colors that convey the effect of irradiation. According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, our clock is currently set at 5 minutes to midnight.

    ”The symbology of the 1950s was embedded in my consciousness early on and remains relevant today” Davis said. “Industrial refuse, the excess of Cold War industry, is included in my art materials. But I also look to science and astronomy, the infinitesimally small and infinitely large to seek connections that bind us together in spirit, if not ideology.”

    Davis’ analytic conceptual style, based on moral and social issues, utilizing fabricated materials, may seem diametrically opposed to the warm classical bronze work of Eugene Daub. However, each artist addresses the challenges of mankind in today’s world.

    Eugene Daub, Sculpture / Drawings / Photos
    Eugene Daub’s work documents many of the greatest struggles in American history.
    Among his themes are the crossing of the American west through the Lewis and Clark expedition and the ultimate success of the civil rights movement.

    The artist has completed more than 40 public arts commissions nationwide. He has artwork in three U.S. capitols and collections in the Smithsonian Museum and the British Art Museum.

    His most famous work is his statue of Rosa Parks, installed in the U.S. capitol. The statue of Mrs. Parks captures her waiting to be arrested on Dec. 1, 1955, after she refused to give up her seat for a white passenger on a crowded segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. She is seated, dressed in a heavy wool coat and clutching her purse as she looks out of an unseen window, waiting for the police.

    Daub’s exhibit embodies the deeply felt humanity in his works.

    “Eugene is uniquely qualified in the world” said curator Ron Linden. “There just aren’t that many people who can do that anymore. His work is about portraiture and it is driven by history. His works are all public works. Once they are commissioned and installed, they are kind of like gone. He doesn’t really have any control over where and how they are installed. The realm of public art is a whole different game.”

    Daub utilizes the lost wax casting method, which is a lost art in itself. The exhibition at Harbor College displays not only finished works, but sketches and molds used to transform clay figures into bronze sculpture.
    Included in this exhibit are full-sized statues and maquettes of the Lewis and Clark monument, the Rosa Parks statue, the “Japanese Internment Monument” and many more.

    Each of these exhibits presents an opportunity for students and the public to study the process and finished works of sculptors working in the elite field of public art.

    Eugene Daub, Sculpture / Drawings / Photos is showing at Harbor College Fine Arts Gallery, 1111 Figueroa Place in Wilmington. The show runs through Dec. 4. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. through 4 p.m.

    Michael Davis, No Place to Hide is showing at El Camino College Art Gallery, 16007 Crenshaw Blvd. in Torrance. The show runs through Oct. 30. Gallery hours are Monday through Thursday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Wednesday through Thursday 12 to 8 p.m. It is closed weekends.

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  • Trouble on the Iowa Part II

    A Story of Betrayal and the Alias of Robert Kent

    By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor

    In the previous edition, Random Lengths [Oct. 2, 2014 edition] reported on the contents of an exchange of emails between the Pacific Battleship Center’s former vice president of development, Patrick Salazar and the Port of Los Angeles community affairs director Theresa Adams Lopez.

    The exchange highlighted a number of allegations including environmental abuses, possible lease violations with the port and turmoil within the ranks of the Pacific Battleship Center’s volunteers and hourly workers.  Those emails did not just reflect the experience of a single individual, but multiple individuals who documented their own personal experiences aboard the USS Iowa. (more…)

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  • TTSI Violates LNG Truck Subsidy Agreement

    POLA Uncertain of What To Do
    By Paul Rosenberg, Senior Editor
    Total Transportation Services Inc., or TTSI, one of three companies workers struck in July, touts itself as an environmental leader, but the claim is largely an illusion. TTSI is apparently in violation of the subsidy agreement which underwrote about 90 percent of the cost of one of its initial LNG truck purchases.

    Not only does TTSI owe most of its “green” image to government subsidies, ranging anywhere from $5.8 million to $13.2 million— a different kind of green— but it also may have perpetrated fraud by signing a 2008 subsidy agreement in bad faith. In addition, TTSI also received subsidies for more trucks than its fleet originally had, implying that it relied on truckers not previously driving for it to trade in their rigs for some of the trucks TTSI added to its fleet.

    Random Lengths is still investigating the full extent of the subsidies involved, as well as the wording of related agreements. However, language from the Port of Los Angeles’ first round of funding shows that TTSI has violated at least some of its agreements. POLA’s agreements with TTSI and other nine companies state that companies will not “sell, lease, encumber, or dispose of” the trucks. Yet, this is precisely what TTSI has done, and apparently intended to do all along. The agreements also include a requirement for workers’ compensation or self-insurance, yet failure to provide workers’ compensation has been one of the key issues involved in the truckers’ strike. More broadly, the agreements also require companies to comply with “all applicable laws, statutes, ordinances, rules and regulations, and with the reasonable request and directions of Executive Director,” which certainly includes the state and federal labor laws that TTSI, among other companies, has been violating. (more…)

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  • Bring Musicals Back Into Your Life

    By John Farrell

    If you say “musical” you are probably thinking about, say, Jersey Boys playing up at the Pantages, with cheap seats running $40 or so.

    Or, maybe you are planning to visit Las Vegas, where you will include a stage show on your itinerary — say, oh, Jersey Boys — with tickets even pricier (but maybe, just maybe, you’ll win big on the slots).

    Then there’s Phantom, or Mary Poppins or The Book of Mormon — all spectacular and pricey. Seeing a musical is a once-a-year treat at those prices.

    But, if you are interested in musicals that are as good, or even better, than those big-ticket events, and you are willing to park your own car and forgo cocktails beforehand (hey, you could always visit a local tavern before or afterward) there are musicals around Southern California every week that are attractive, tuneful, professionally performed, don’t cost an arm and a leg, or even just a leg, and are as exciting as anything in more expensive venues.

    Two that are recommended here are at different ends of the musical time-line. Scary Musical the Musical is brand new. It continues through Nov. 9 at the NoHo Arts Center in North Hollywood. Much older but still lovely is You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, originally written in 1967, in a revival at the Attic Theatre through Nov. 2 that is so effective, so well-performed, that you won’t even be aware that it is in a theater that must have once been a garage. (more…)

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  • RL NEWS Update: Oct. 8, 2014

    POLB Team to Facilitate Congestion Relief
    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 8, the Port of Long Beach convened a congestion relief team to meet daily and seek solutions.
    In conjunction with the Congestion Relief Team, port field staff is meeting regularly with customers and stakeholders to listen to their concerns, collaborate on solutions and monitor performance. A surge of larger ships has taxed terminals at ports around the world to move cargo faster. Locally, POLB staff has already identified one of the challenges.
    The port team also is seeking a discussion agreement with the Federal Maritime Commission to have substantive discussions with the Port of Los Angeles on common issues of concern – namely congestion.
    The Board of Harbor Commissioners, the governing body of the port, has also established a subcommittee chaired by Commission Vice President Rich Dines, working with Commissioner Lori Ann Farrell, to focus on port efficiency.

    Garcia Selects 13 New Commissioners for Five Commissions
    LONG BEACH — On Oct. 8, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia announced the appointment of 13 new commissioners to five commissions this month.
    The non-charter appointments will come before the City Council on October 21 for approval, while the 4 appointments to the Planning Commissions will first come before the Civil Service Committee.
    The persons Garcia selected are:
    Mike Logrande is the director of planning for the Los Angeles Planning Department. He has worked in the department for 15 years. He was a member of the steering committees for the Long Beach General Plan in 2006 and for the Central Redevelopment Project Area. Logrande earned political science and public administration degrees from Cal State Long Beach. He was chairman of the board of directors of the Long Beach Housing Development Co. He is an American Planning Association member.
    Andy Perez is employed in the public affairs bureau of Union Pacific Railroad, as Director of Port Affairs for Long Beach, Los Angeles, Oakland and San Francisco. A graduate of Cal State Dominguez Hills, Perez has long served on the Boards of Directors for Long Beach Boys and Girls Clubs and the Regional Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and was a member of the mayor’s transition team.
    Jane Templin is vice president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 and the outreach director at the Electrical Training Institute. A certified general electrician, Templin has served on the executive board of the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network, on the advisory committee of the Long Beach Job Corps, and as a mentor at the ACE Academy of Long Beach.
    Erick Verduzco-Vega is the president and CEO of the South Bay Latino Chamber of Commerce, and the South Bay Latino Community Development Corp. He also manages real estate and restaurant investments, and has served on the Los Angeles County Workforce Investment Board as its vice chairman.
    April Economides is the founder and president of Green Octopus Consulting, which promotes complete streets and green business. She earned a master’s in business administration from Presidio Graduate School and is a board member of the Los Angeles Bicycle Coalition. Economides was a member of the task force that created Claremont’s Sustainable City Plan. She also was a member of the Mayor’s Transition Team
    Sumire Gant is a former transportation planner for both Long Beach and Los Angeles County. She earned a master’s in business administration from UCLA. She secured millions of dollars of transportation and planning grants for Long Beach within a 10-year period. She was instrumental in planning and funding many portions of the city’s bicycle infrastructure.
    Nancy Pfeffer is the founder and president of Network Public Affairs, an environmental and transportation consulting firm. She has served for 7 years as director of regional planning for the Gateway Cities Council of Governments. She is a board member of Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network and City Fabrick. Pfeffer earned a master’s in public policy from USC. Her appointment would begin Jan. 1, 2015.
    Mary Zendejas is the director and founder of the DisABLED Professionals Association, and is chairwoman of the Citizens Advisory Commission on Disabled, a position she will abdicate. She is the director of community relations for Accessible Connections Exchange. A former Ms. Wheelchair California and long-time outspoken advocate for disability rights, she also served on the mayor’s transition team. She earned a communications degree from Cal State Long Beach. Her appointment would begin Jan. 1, 2015.
    Jeff Anderson is CEO of the Anderson Real Estate Group and a former employee of the Long Beach Fire Department. He has served as the Rose Park Neighborhood Association president, and on the board of Pride Real Estate Association of America, Long Beach. Anderson is a graduate of Real Estate Institute and is a Certified Distressed Property Expert. He is deeply involved in national and local LGBT issue advocacy, including work with the Human Rights Campaign, and is a Distinguished Rose Award winner and a recipient of the Steward of 7th Street award.
    Gerald Avila is the elected health benefits officer for the International Longshore Workers’ Union Local 13. A lifetime Long Beach resident with an extensive history of community involvement, Avila is an avid boater and moors his vessel at Shoreline Marina. A Longshore worker since 1997, he previously worked as joint chief dispatcher for ILWU 13.
    Peter Schnack is the director of information technology at Molina Healthcare. He has previously worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Cal Tech Pomona. He is an avid boater. Schnack is a volunteer coach and youth leader with the YMCA and AYSO soccer league and has been actively involved in the Naples Improvement Association.
    Russ Doyle is an associate vice president and investment officer at Wells Fargo Advisers and Morgan Stanley. He previously served as the director of strategic sourcing for Universal Studios and a procurement manager for the Vons Corp. Doyle also is the chairman of fundraising for Stillpoint Family Resources, a nonprofit that serves children with special needs.
    Sabrina Sanders works at California State University Office of the Chancellor supporting student academic programs at 23 campuses. She was selected as a National Association of Student Personnel Administrators Fellow and has served as the president of the African American Faculty & Staff Association at California State University and is an alumnus of Leadership Long Beach. Sanders earned her master’s in business administration at California State University San Marcos and her doctorate in education leadership and management from Alliant International University. Sanders was a member of the mayor’s transition team. (more…)

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  • Pink Milk Looks at Alan Turing in Fantasy, Dance

    By John Farrell

    Alan Turing was, according to Winston Churchill, the man most responsible for the allied victory against the Nazis in World War II.

    He was the man who invented the theories that make the computer this is being written on possible. He was a surpassing genius who created the computer almost single-handedly and devised a way to read Nazi signals undetected.

    He also was a homosexual and in the 1950s’ Britain that was still a criminal offense. No matter what he had accomplished for the British nation, he was convicted as a homosexual and forced to take injections to be chemically castrated. He died two years later, perhaps as a suicide.

    You need to know all that to appreciate Pink Milk, the poetic, even dreamy treatment of Turing’s life, which had its West Coast premier recently at the Garage Theatre in Long Beach.

    Under the direction of Ashley Elizabeth Allen, with a stark white gazebo set designed by Yuri Okahana, the work is a loving look at Turing’s inner life and, finally, a searing indictment of the British government that used Turing and then callously caused his suicide. Turing’s intellectual prowess is barely noted in the play. You are presumed to know beforehand about him, enjoy and explore his inner life, non-scientific life. (more…)

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