By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor and Benjamin Garcia, Reporter
Anyone attending the Pride at the Port of Los Angeles Festival on June 15 will find themselves living their best life dancing with Cher impersonator, Chad Michaels, to the liveliest music pumped out by the Southland’s top DJs. Just remember that this inaugural San Pedro Pride Festival was never a call for civility or even a call for acceptance for the LGBTQ community in this Port town. It was a call for solidarity against hate.
The Pride Festival is set to take place one year after the press conference where community leaders and Councilman Joe Buscaino stood in solidarity with Ryan Gierach, a gay Air Force veteran and former WeHo News publisher, who allegedly endured months of homophobic harassment and was physically assaulted by his neighbors.
At the time, Gierach said the abuse from his neighbors began as soon as he moved in two years prior.
“When I came here my neighbors directly across from me began calling me names — all of them revolving around gay epithets,” he said.
The harassment escalated when he hung a rainbow flag in front of his house for Pride Month. His neighbors slung anti-gay remarks and actual garbage at him, he recounted at the time.
He captured the episode on video, in which two women and a child are seen mocking him and one woman spits at him. In the video, one woman taunts him through his screen door, jeering at him before spitting on Gierach through the door.
Gierach told a television news outlet that before this, fliers were posted around the neighborhood that listed his home address and accused him of pedophilia.
When word of this initially got out, civic leaders Aiden Garcia-Sheffield, Allyson Vought, Leslie Jones and Mona Sutton offered Gierach their support — this is significant given that the four had just ended their stint as officers at the Central San Pedro Neighborhood Council.
At least one of his neighbors has said Gierach’s account isn’t all that it seems. That person painted Geriach as a bad neighbor at both his previous West Hollywood home and San Pedro.
Garcia-Sheffield founded the nonprofit, Bridge Cities Alliance, for the express purpose of promoting community inclusion through monthly outreach socials, community clean-ups and hosting annual Pride at the Port of Los Angeles event.
At first glance, choosing the USS Iowa as the venue for the festival would seem odd. When asked about how the nonprofit chose the venue, Garcia-Sheffield told Random Lengths News, “We had originally planned on the Harbor Cut but were told it would be under construction at the time of our festival.”
No one could have known that the Los Angeles Maritime Museum would have been given a two month renovation reprieve when a venue for the festival was first sought.
“This year, there will be no live bands,” Garcia-Sheffield explained, “It’s our first year and we want to be successful. Unfortunately, the complexities of live band sound requirements were placed on next year’s goal list.”
“Well we certainly gave priority to those who are generously giving their time,” said Garcia-Sheffield when asked about the process of choosing performers.
Garcia-Sheffield admitted that those who participate actively in the LGBT+ community and who are generously giving their time (i.e. performing damn near free) were made a priority. With those two thoughts in mind, he said they had more entertainment than they could fit into one day.
Chad Michaels will be performing in the VIP area aboard The USS Battleship Iowa. “All but two of our entertainers donated their time to the festival, including DJs,” Garcia-Sheffield said.
General admission is $15; VIP admission is $75. Voyage on the Fairy Ferry is $45.
Ticket purchase to the ferry includes entry into the main festival and light food on board, provided by Hamburger Mary’s. The cruise includes views of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports and will be hosted by Master of Ceremonies Jewels Long Beach. Passengers may also expect DJ Shane to perform, a dance floor and drinks.
The gates open at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m. The last call for alcohol will be at 9 p.m.
It’s Friday night on March 29th at PCW ULTRA’s Wrestle Summit and Jake Atlas has just stepped into the ring to defend his title against a challenger from Canada’s IMPACT! Wrestling Federation, Dezmond Xavier.
Atlas takes off his blue sequined blazer, shining under the stage lights and struts confidently in blue short shorts and white boots in front of a cheering crowd. He uses suggestive body language to taunt his opponent. He’s the very picture of the modern day “face” – or hero character – in professional wrestling: young and handsome and clean cut, but he’s also very L.A. – a true blue Latino hero who recently came out of the closet.
Fans line up for Wrestle Summit outside of the ILWU Memorial Hall while the sun begins to set. Photo by Adam R. Thomas.
Xavier lets his moves speak for him. He pretends to walk away into a corner before instantly committing to a panther like double back flip that culminates in a powerful aerial kick straight to the back of Atlas’ head – knocking the cocky star to the ground instantly. The audience of hundreds lets out a collective cry while Xavier goes for a pin on the stunned Atlas straight away, attempting to end the night’s Ultra-Light Championship bout before it’s really begun.
Atlas escapes of course. He’s a hometown favorite here at Wilmington’s International Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union Memorial Hall, and a rising star in the L.A. Indy wrestling scene. Though he struggles against Xavier, who chases him around the ring for much of the match in a stunning display of acrobatic prowess, Atlas eventually delivers his signature finisher – a modified backwards Tornado DDT from a handstand on the ropes – and pins Xavier. Atlas rises and grasps his belt, his title ably defended, before screaming to the crowd while they chant back, “Whose house? Jake’s House!”
“He’s just one of those up and coming kids,” says Joseph Cabibbo about Atlas. “I’ve seen a million of ‘em and he’s one of them. He’s just going to be a star.”
Josef Samael (Cabibbo) swings a folding chair at Danny Maff during Wrestle Summit. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
Cabibbo should know. While fans of Atlas may have been chanting that it was “Jake’s House” during Wrestle Summit, in reality it was Cabibbo’s. Because Cabibbo is one half of the duo that runs PCW ULTRA – the company that put on the night’s events, including Atlas’ match with Xavier. As the primary talent manager and “Booker,” – the wrestling slang for essentially, the Lead Writer – it was Cabibbo that ultimately decided that Atlas should win the night’s bout of pre-planned pugilism and flying physicality.
“You have to be a specialist to understand – not just the falls and the [maneuvers of] wrestling and all that – that’s one thing. But the way you put it all together and train an audience . . . It’s like no other business around,” says Cabibbo.
Cabibbo is a strikingly intimidating figure at first glance. His shaved head and wild, dark beard just starting to gray sit atop a bulky frame underneath. He looks like he might be Santa Claus’ evil twin brother. But Cabibbo isn’t a bad guy at all; he just plays one in the ring.
Happy Man poses and defends himself from Douglas James while Randy Myers looks on during the screwball comedy inspired Revolver Scramble Match. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
That’s because the 44-year old Cabibbo, in addition to being the creative force behind PCW ULTRA, also brings his talents to fans directly as a performer with 20 years of experience in the independent professional wrestling scene, best known for his now retired character The Almighty Sheik. Now he plays Josef Samael, an evil, guttural creature and part of a tag-team of violence loving baddies – known in the wrestling lingo as “heels” – called Warbeast with his teammate Jacob Fatu.
During the night’s performance at Wrestle Summit, Cabibbo, after spending all day working behind the scenes already, comes out in a classically styled wrestler’s leotard and demonstrates his trademark brutal, theatrical style with Fatu in a match against two other teams, and they’re all pairs of heels. The match starts in the ring but spills out into the crowd halfway through, with Cabibbo and Fatu swinging folding chairs at their opponents and driving them into tables, leaving a trail of carnage behind while half the audience chases them around the hall on foot, breaking the already thin fourth wall just that bit more, but obviously rapt in their attention.
Before the show and while eating a sandwich, Cabibbo waxes philosophically about his methods for playing a good heel, something he’s done for more years than many in the audience have been alive.
Fans cheer as the action heats up at Wrestle Summit. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
“It’s really easy to me because [after 20 years] I know how to work a room . . . you have to limit yourself as far as what you’re going to give the audience, because you don’t want them to react positively to you. But at the same time, you don’t want them to react negatively to you in a way that is cheap. Like you don’t want to look at a lady who is overweight and go ‘you big fat blah blah blah,’ that’s not cool. That lady’s going to feel like crap. So, you want to use yourself to represent everything bad in that audience’s life that they can identify with. If a boss doesn’t give you respect you look through somebody. If somebody cheats you in life you cheat the good guy. You do stuff that they can identify with and you get heat with the drama of it . . . I find that it’s best to emasculate a man and scare a woman. Those are two really foolproof ways to get under somebody’s skin.”
Still, Cabibbo warns that playing a good heel is a balancing act, talking about times when crowds have gone out of control with rage and having to fend off assaults in past shows.
“It’s a real strange thing,” says Cabibbo. “Everyone knows its entertainment, but everybody’s emotions can get the best of them. It’s weird. It’s like at first, they’re just playing along. Until they’re not.”
Taya Valkyrie taunts the crowd over a stunned Daga during the Mixed Sex match at Wrestle Summit. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
When he’s not playing a brooding bad-man though, Cabibbo’s talent truly shines as a creative who lives and breathes his craft, and he’s as nice as Mister Rogers off stage. If he isn’t regaling you with a story from his past days wrestling in Puerto Rico or Japan, he’s talking about his plans for the next show: how to make it better than the last, how to get bigger talent, how to grow PCW ULTRA – which in the wrestling world is a business arrangement known as a Federation, Fed, or Promotion interchangeably, essentially the equivalent of a theater troupe – into a bigger and better show for the audience.
Which is a good thing for Cabibbo’s business partner, Mike Sharnagl, the owner and founder of PCW ULTRA. Originally founded as Pacific Coast Wrestling in 2015, Sharnagl, who has a day job working in marketing, says he attended a local independent wrestling show and decided that he could do it better, fronting the money to start the business. He handles the logistical and marketing aspects of the enterprise, while Cabibbo handles the nitty gritty wrestling details like booking.
“No one was doing any kind of wrestling in the South Bay, and I live in the South Bay,” says Sharnagl, who lives in Lomita. “It turned out that he [Cabibbo] was my perfect, I dunno, my other being here. We work great together because we’re in completely separate channels, but working for the same goal. He’s like ‘I booked this guy and that guy and it’s going to be ridiculous. People’s minds are going to blow!’ and I’m like ‘I got a taco guy! So, people are going to be so stoked because now they can eat tacos!’”
With their first shows originally playing to a gym in Torrance in 2016, the pair’s new venture soon saw the venue filled to capacity once they were able to book the TV wrestling legend of the late 1990s and early 2000s, Rob Van Dam. Cabibbo felt that venues that would host roller derby matches would likely be good for wrestling, and they soon found the ILWU Memorial Hall in Wilmington, moving there in 2017. Since then they’ve been setting up a series of six to eight major shows a year, three years now.
It couldn’t have begun at a better time, too, since the previously extremely small, mostly underground, and often very amateur world of the independent wrestling scene has exploded nation-wide. All across the U.S. thanks to a distaste amongst fans for the McMahon machine that is the World Wrestling Entertainment behemoth, fandom culture on social media and a resurgent attendance in high quality wrestling schools (the Santino Brothers academy is the big one in L.A.).
According to Grecco Bray, who works for PCW ULTRA as a line producer, though the average person not following Indy wrestling on social media wouldn’t know it, these days there are often nine to twelve different wrestling shows running in California alone during any given week, and it’s diversifying.
“Wrestling became really limited thanks to Vince McMahon,” says Bray. “It was a monopoly. He was Caesar. He took over everything. He killed everything. Five years ago, you could have sworn wrestling was going to die. But then my generation came up and said ‘We’re old enough, we have an idea on how to do this, and we can do different styles.’ The Territories are coming back.”
Shane Strickland’s Swerve delivers a double stomping kick to Mil Muertes during the Championship Match at Wrestle Summit. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
“The Territories” are how the professional wrestling world in the U.S. was organized from the 1950s through the 1970s. It was a cartel-like system where different, wrestling federations and promotions divided the US into regions, generally keeping talent localized and making money from live shows, which allowed for different styles to develop in different regions. McMahon took over what would become the WWE in the 1980s and slowly but surely bought out smaller promotions and federations until he created a conglomerate that brought professional wrestling into the mainstream on cable TV, but also homogenized the industry.
“McMahon’s one size fits all notion has kind of gone away,” Bray says. “[The style of show in] Northern California is different from Southern California which is different from the Deep South. Because people are different and crowds have different needs.”
It’s in the mixing of these different styles where Cabibbo and Sharnagl’s PCW ULTRA finds its unique spin as a company. Some, like Atlas, come from a gymnastics background, others, like the pink spandex clad Japanese superhero caricature “Happy Man,” play at screwball comedy. Brutal weapon matches, mixed sex tag-team matches, and of course, it wouldn’t be SoCal if there weren’t Luchadors. The winner of the night’s championship match was Mil Muertes, who brought a pure luchador gimmick (albeit with an undead theme).
Combined, it’s as Cabibbo pitches, a “circus act,” where if you don’t find one matchup entertaining, you only have to wait a few minutes to see if the next might catch your eye. It’s a broad-based, vaudevillian approach that he and Sharnagl devised in order to try and appeal to more locals, especially families, looking for an alternative to a movie for a good Friday night out rather than only focus on bringing in hardcore Indy wrestling fans, who Cabibbo says have become more sophisticated due to social media.
Mil Muertes is stunned during his Championship Match on March 29 at ILWU Memorial Hall. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
“If for instance, somebody is going into the WWE [fans] know about it, thanks to the internet,” says Cabibbo. “They’re into the intricacies. They understand if two people are dating. They understand if two people have legitimate heat – what we call anger in the business. There’s also times where we work heat, and they think they’re smart to it but we’re able to get them in a different way!”
Talking about “working heat” – creating false anger between two performers that the audience believes is real – is the art of professional wrestling that the average person doesn’t see. It’s what bookers like Cabibbo are most in charge of creating by forming a fictional narrative around the actual lives of the performers. And it all plays out in real-time, all day, every day.
“The best way to describe wrestling is [it’s] kind of 24-hour live theater,” says Bray. “What I compare it to is it’s Shakespeare. At the end of Macbeth there’s a huge fight scene. Macbeth and MacDuff pull out their giant phallic symbols and beat the crap out of each other for like 15 minutes in most productions. [Wrestling], every match, hypothetically would be the last 15 minutes of Macbeth. Except you’re already geared up and you’re just ready to go and boom. That is theater.”
Like any good cultural product, wrestling, whether at the local level of Indy shows like Wrestle Summit or at the national level with the WWE, reflects the world around it, and this includes politics. Cabibbo retired his best known persona, The Almighty Sheik, because he felt an “evil Arab” might not be as appealing in a post-post-9/11 world. There’s also debate about the nature of one of the core tropes of the craft – faces and heels – when relativism is a major element of living in a digitally globalized world.
LA Indy Wrestling superstar Jake Atlas is about to take a flying blow from Dezmond Xavier during Wrestle Summit. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
“What we’re running into in the modern day is that one man’s heel is another man’s face,” says Bray. “The example I use is the political one: the president’s a professional wrestler. He cuts a really good gimmick, his crowds get excited, but they don’t believe he’s going to do these things. He never had to take the abuse, but he does everything else a professional wrestler does. Which is, ‘I’m the good guy, they’re the bad guy, watch me next Sunday rumble in the jungle with that person there, I’m upset.’ The reason I use him as an example, is that he’s a hero for a group of people. He’s also the biggest villain in the world. And there is no one size fits all. In some territories, he’s a face. In some territories, he’s a heel, and it’s the same thing for any of these guys.”
Two days after Wrestle Summit, John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO brought more politics regarding wrestling to public attention with a segment focusing on the abusive treatment of wrestlers in McMahon’s WWE. The segment highlighted many major issues that both Bray and Cabibbo spoke of in interviews with Random Lengths News, including how wrestlers are entering into an almost entirely unregulated industry of simulated combat that sees most dying young due to years of wear and tear on their bodies.
“In the WWE they’ll fix you if you’re broke, but they don’t have to,” says Cabibbo. “You’re an independent contractor, so it’s basically – they protect you in a way that they’re protecting their contracted race horses. This is a business that’s infamous for chewing people up and spitting them out . . . pro wrestling is ‘enter at your own risk.’ Everyone knows and no one is surprised by it. That is the way it is. I recommend that anyone who wrestles, whether it’s for a living or not, that they have insurance. If they choose to wrestle without insurance that’s on them – I don’t recommend it at all. I don’t.”
Healthcare is a major issue for wrestling at its highest levels in the WWE, but it’s even more precarious at the “minor league” level of the independent wrestling world. Shane Strickland, a ten-year veteran (in both wrestling and the military) who represented PCW ULTRA as their champion Swerve against Muertes during Wrestle Summit, agreed that a lack of performer protection was the most critical issue in the industry today.
Taya Valkyrie kisses Johnny Ultra over a defeated Daga during the Mixed Sex Tag Match on March 29 at the ILWU Union Hall. Photo provided by PCW ULTRA.
“We’re pretty much all on our own,” says Strickland. “I’d say 80 to 85 percent of independent wrestlers don’t have health insurance. So every night we’re in the ring it’s a gamble.”
While the economic realities of smaller shows make healthcare a sore spot in the Indy scene, other once common problems are improving according to Strickland.
“Smaller promotions, there’s times when there are shady workings in the back and performers don’t get paid,” says Strickland. “Those guys are getting weeded out more, those promotions, because of the internet age. Once one bad thing happens everybody hears about it.”
In general, Strickland is positive about the internet’s influence on the industry beyond just its effect on preventing abuse. Saying that he sees more and more crossover between Indy wrestling and mainstream entertainment, especially music, due to social media and in turn, success in terms of both fame and fortune.
“It’s starting to become the cool thing, to like wrestling, when it wasn’t [before],” Strickland says. “It was taboo to be a wrestling fan, like ‘oh you like that fake crap?’ But nowadays that’s changed, wrestlers are more relatable. We’re just like you, we were nerds too. I wouldn’t even just say it’s wrestling, but entertainment [in general]. There’s independent rock shows in bars, and there’s independent wrestling shows in clubs.”_
Fans react with excitement as the fight spills into the crowd during the 3-Way “Winner Take All” match at Wrestle Summit. Photo by Adam R. Thomas.
The comparison to Indie music scenes is apt. During Wrestle Summit, while plenty of attendees are families with small children, and more traditional wrestling fans are decked out in WCW or WWE branded clothing, there is a major presence of young adults and teenagers dressed like they were ready for a punk rock show. All spiky hair and denim jackets covered in band pins like a military uniform is covered in medals.
“It’s like a punk scene or anything like that,” says Derek Lounsbury, a fan who drove down from Tacoma, Washington to see his local wrestlers appearing at Wrestle Summit from the DEFY promotion. “It’s not super mainstream, the independent wrestling scene, but it has a high retention rate, right? It’s different from what I think people are used to. It’s more inclusive. It’s more open. It’s more welcoming, I think, to more people than it’s ever been.”
Cleanup begins after Wrestle Summit at the ILWU Memorial Hall. Photo by Adam R. Thomas.
Ultimately, the presence of both dedicated fans like Lounsbury and a families at the ILWU Memorial Hall for Wrestle Summit means Cabibbo’s booking and Sharnagl’s marketing efforts are working. By the time the lights dimmed and the first bell was rung, every seat in the 800-person capacity hall was filled, ready to watch the spectacle of grown men and women flinging themselves at each other in coordinated epic battles of good versus evil, and evil versus other evil, all complete with burlesque costumes and campy stereotypes.
For Scharnagl, the next step is to connect with more South Bay businesses to fill vendor space at shows, and neither he nor Cabibbo are settling for their current plateau of success. Sharnagl is setting his sights on potentially moving to an even larger venue such as California State University Long Beach’s Walter Pyramid or the Grand Chapiteau in San Pedro.
“The whole goal is to build this area,” Sharnagl says. “I want everyone [in the South Bay] to be like, ‘this is mine.’”
So if you find yourself hankering for an old-fashioned show of testosterone and tights covered spectacle, then perhaps seeking out a local independent show might be right up your alley. If you’re in the South Bay, PCW ULTRA is planning for their next show, Mind Crawler, to take place at the ILWU Memorial Hall at 231 W. C Street in Wilmington on June 14, with ticket prices varying. More information is at http://www.pcwultra.com/.
In some ways it seems Rosalind Franklin never cracked the code. She was regarded as brilliant and beautiful, yet she had no close friends and perhaps no romance in her life. She was greatly respected for talent, yet peers did not generally like working with her. She produced the x-ray diffraction photograph that was the basis for intuiting the shape and replicational mode of the DNA molecule, yet she was unable to correctly interpret her own data. Then, at 37, she was gone, a victim of cancer perhaps caused by the work that is her legacy.
It’s a hella sad story, but playwright Anna Ziegler mostly avoids overt sentimentality in her dramatization of Franklin’s working life during the two years leading up to the discovery that would garner a Nobel Prize for three of her colleagues.
As soon as Franklin (Helen Sadler) arrives at King’s College London and meets Maurice Wilkens (George Ketsios), things start to go wrong. Through no fault of their own, they are under different impressions about what her role will be in Wilkens’s lab. But while Wilkens does his level best to smooth things over, Franklin can’t be bothered. Or doesn’t know how. And when he genuinely warms up to her, we witness the aloofness that will later keep her off the Nobel pantheon.
Far more than a work of biography, Photograph 51 is a consideration of how we connect ― or fail to connect ― with our fellow humans in this thing called life. And although Ziegler misses the chance to explicitly delve into the question of how each of us comes to a person who can or cannot make the connections that will most behoove us, it takes only a slightly metaphorical faculty on the part of the audience to go there. Going there is what makes Photograph 51 most rewarding, because Franklin herself neither knows the answer nor can do anything about it, and it’s quietly heartbreaking.
Wilkens is not her only missed opportunity. When young, enthusiastic James Watson (Giovanni Adams) visits to compare notes with this fellow scientist of whom he is a great admirer, she won’t give the time of day. Then there’s Don Caspar (Josh Odessa-Rubin), whom she sees socially and genuinely fancies. But in one of Ziegler’s best moments, when Caspar asks her what she wants, we are privy to a speech she gives only within the confines of her mind:
So many things: to wake up without the weight of the day pressing down, to fall asleep more easily, without wondering what it is that’s keeping me awake, […] to be kissed, to feel important, to learn how to be okay being with other people, and also to be alone. To be a child again, held up and admired, the world full of endless future. To see my father looking at me with uncomplicated pride. To be kissed. To feel every day what it would be to stand at the summit of a mountain in Wales, or Switzerland, or America, looking out over the world on a late afternoon with this man sitting across from me. Or to feel it once.
Then we hear what she actually tells him: “I don’t know.” Sad, sad.
Sadler plays all this with proper reserve, inviting you close if you really want to know Rosalind Franklin, rather than projecting to the cheap seats. There was, however, an affecting emotional display during the performance I saw. As the play wound to its conclusion, Franklin told us of her ovarian cancer, and a few members of the audience gasped. Apparently this got to Sadler, creating a little catch in her voice during her next lines. Perhaps this was an actor deeply sympathizing with her character. Perhaps it was that character’s experiencing the self-pity that empathy sometimes invokes. Doesn’t matter. It was a powerful moment, beyond conscious choice, emanating from the mysterious source of all the best acting. Sadler is in tune with Franklin, no doubt.
The rest of the cast is solid, but considering that it is only Watson whose personality truly diverges from good old-fashioned postwar British reserve, there are not a lot places for anyone to go. Their heaviest lifting may be in talking to the audience. Ziegler constantly breaks the fourth wall, a convention director Kimberly Senior pushes even further by keeping all of the supporting characters onstage throughout, taking in the action upstage, then coming off their seats to deliver narrative like NBA reserves coming off the bench. This is Alienation Effect 101, and it won’t work unless all hands on deck can give it an organic flow. They do.
The production’s major shorting coming is the lack of variety in the presentation. Photograph 51 is 100 uninterrupted minutes of minimal aesthetic ― no sets (other than a sloped floor), no props, only the occasional touch of ambient music and a few minor shifts in lighting. It’s really just a half-dozen actors standing still or walking (mostly in circles) and talking, with no breaks in mood or mode. It’s going too far to say things get boring, but even a single decisive break from the same-same would go a long, long way to enlivening the overall experience.
Despite this failing, Photograph 51 is worthy, speculative examination of both Rosalind Franklin and our (in)ability to connect. We already knew she did not share in the Nobel Prize that went to Wilkens, Watson, and Francis Crick, and we can learn about her work from science and history books. But this play is a chance to meditate on what she may have been beyond the margins of such texts and what else she may have missed out on. And in so doing, we might take away a new picture of how we play out our own stories. After all, the secret of living is not confined to our DNA.
Photograph 51 at South Coast Repertory
Times: Tuesday–Sunday 7:45 p.m. (except March 24) + Saturday–Sunday 2:00 p.m. The show runs through March 24 Cost: $23 to $86 Details: (714) 708.5555; scr.org Venue: South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa 92626
The line about following your ambition from the 1989 film classic, Field of Dreams, is ”If you build it, they will come.” But in Los Angeles, where novelty is key to getting an edge on entrepreneurial ventures, perhaps the line should be, “If you bring goats, they will come.”
On the chilly San Pedro morning of Feb. 9, almost 50 people showed up at Brouwerij West to partake in the trendiest new way to exercise: Goat Yoga. That’s right, goats and yoga in a brewery. It unfolded pretty much as might be expected — attendees assumed their positions, let a Billy goat walk on their backs, then enjoyed a beer or two afterwards, all for $40 a ticket.
“This is more [people] than normal,” said Raziq “Raz” Rauf, founder and owner of an Los Angeles-based yoga business called Downward Grog. “But the goats are very attractive.”
Rauf is a realist that way.
“This is not even real yoga,” he allowed. “It’s more a goat exhibition. But if the idea is to spread happiness, then everyone is grinning at the end.”
Rauf’s not wrong. As his employee instructor, Lisa Saubert, led attendees through traditional yoga poses accompanied by soft meditative music played over the brewery loudspeakers, handlers led Spanky and Pippen, a pair of male goats with rainbow-covered horns, onto the top of the posers’ backsides to unanimous delight. As the goats were walked up and down the rows and onto arched back after arched back, neighboring yoga posers would invariably break form and take pictures of the barnyard animals with their phones and beaming smiles on their faces.
“It’s like a knuckle massage,” said Mary Arzuman, a San Pedro resident who attended with her family. “I really liked it because of the animal interaction. What’s nice is that [the goats] were surprisingly very clean. So, for people wondering, you do get shed — you get some hair [on you] — but even with dog encounters you get some hair.”
Goat Yoga attracted folks like Arzuman through a collaboration among three local businesses— Downward Grog, which specializes in “Doing Yoga in Breweries,” Brouwerij West, which provided the venue and the beer, and Party Goats LA, which brought the goats.
“This was my side hustle that I started when I was on break from Rick and Morty Season 3,” said Scout Raskin, an animation producer and the owner of Party Goats LA. “If you had asked me five years ago what I thought my life was going to be like, I could never have imagined that I would be running a goat business, but here I am. I just love sharing these animals with people.”
Raskin, a spritely woman with bright blue hair, prefaced the day’s activity with a warning to the assembled crowd about Spanky’s digestive problems, which led to him being paraded around in a diaper.
“He’s wearing a diaper for you guys,” Raskin said to crowd as they responded with laughter. “Normally it’s not a problem, but if a goat does happen to go near you, please consider that a compliment that they’re that comfortable around you!”
While the goats did bring the earthy smell familiar to anyone who’s been to a petting zoo, they issued no “compliments” during the two-hour yoga session. After the primary exercise routine was finished, attendees divided into two camps, some sauntering over to the tasting tables to partake in a beverage or two, others coming to Raskin and her employee, master goat handler Orsolya Dunai, to take pictures in front of the brewing vats.
“The photos are a big part of [the experience],” said Dunai, while groups of women posed with Pippen. “As much as yoga is a big part of it, at the end of the day I think everyone’s main thing is they want the pictures. They want the proof. They want the fun. They want the, ‘Hey, look what I just did!’”
For the pair of women from Party Goats LA, it was just the latest in a long series of goat-wrangling jobs. Immediately after yoga, they had to bring Spanky and Pippen to a party. Dunai stated that business had been booming, especially after Saturday Night Live made a joke about it during a Weekend Update segment this past October.
“That was kind of a thing,” said Dunai, who explained that many celebrities, from Charlize Theron to James Vanderbeek, had employed Party Goats LA’s services for private Goat Yoga sessions of their own. Television exposure has certainly been good for the business, and it has grown since its inception two years ago, now employing four women in an all-female goat-wrangling team, with two more young goats on the way.
But for Rauf, themed exercise sessions like Goat Yoga are just one service he offers. He also hosts Pug Yoga, Rooftop Yoga and Yoga for Runners events, but his real niche is the pairing of breweries with the ancient Indian exercise.
“I’d been doing yoga for over 10 years, anyway, and I really like beer,” said Rauf, explaining the source of his inspiration. “LA has all these breweries in the greater Los Angeles area, and they all have these unused spaces. [They] are perfect for yoga because yoga can be done anywhere.”
Rauf, originally from London, has recently added a bit of activism to his lineup of events with a session called “Downdogs for Democracy,” in order to bring some immigration politics into the mix as well.
“I’m an immigrant to this country and a person of color,” Rauf said. “All of the things happening in America right now resonate strongly.”
Rauf’s drive definitely appears to be working. While he started Downward Grog at the end of 2017, he says he was able to soon start turning a profit over the past year, and now books breweries regularly.
Brouwerij West relies on events like Goat Yoga to draw in customers during the slower, non-summer season, company president Dave Holop said. The company does as much business with patrons coming to their in-house tasting room as it does with distributing suds all across Southern California.
“A brewery tasting room, especially a large one like ours, becomes a kind of community gathering place,” Holop said. “We try to program a variety of fun events to bring people down. We’re trying to attract new customers and returning customers by coming up with fun new ideas like Goat Yoga to get them to come down.”
It all goes to show that in the often-cutthroat world of small business, a catchy idea — and a little teamwork — goes a long way. The challenge is to keep local business thriving in San Pedro while waiting for certain redevelopments to finally finish.
“We need things like this to keep people in the downtown area,” Arzuman said. “Hopefully, Ports O’Call’s [redevelopment finishes soon], but we have this right now.”
Witnessing a sunset with your significant other before eating a gourmet meal aboard a tall ship is not an everyday experience. The Los Angeles Maritime Institute is offering that very opportunity aboard the twin brigantines, the Exy and Irving Johnson.
It’s part of its efforts to raise funds for the TopSail Youth program. The goal is to help at-risk and educationally-disadvantaged youth develop the problem-solving skills and attitudes difficult to teach in a classroom, yet necessary to stay in school and become healthy, productive adults.
The Exy and Irving Johnson were designed by renowned German yacht designer Henry Gruberin the 1930s, but were not built until long after his death. Passengers who manage to snag a reservation will get to experience the twin brigantines rare elegance, nostalgic of an earlier era. Passengers will get to board the Exy Johnson on Feb. 10 and the Irving Johnson on Feb. 14 for two sails around the harbor.
This year’s Sunday, on Feb. 10, excursion is Sweets for the Sweet Sail, which will feature sweet and savory desserts along with hot chocolate, coffee and tea. If you’re in the mood to inbib Valentine spirits with your significant other, the Sweets for the Sweet Sail excursion is bring your own. Tickets: $75 for adults, $25 for children under 12 (LAMI member discount applies).
Feb. 14 is the Valentine’s Day Adventure Dining Sunset Sail, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., where you and yours can enjoy a magical early evening aboard a tall ship. Price includes a delicious dinner, dessert, beverage and a commemorative gift. Wine is not included, but again, it’s BYO aboard.
The tall ships are docked at Berth 84 at the foot of 6th Street near the LA Maritime Museum in San Pedro.
It is recommended that you wear closed-toe, soft-soled shoes as well as layered clothing given that the wind tends to kick up on the water.
Tickets are non-refundable and in the event you are unable to sail, your ticket will be considered a tax-deductible donation to the TopSail Youth Program.
On Dec. 11, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recognized Random Lengths News for its 40 years of service to the Los Angeles Harbor Area and free speech. Publisher James Preston Allen, Managing Editor Terelle Jerricks and the publisher’s brother, Fred Allen were in attendance. Supervisor Janice Hahn, who has been supported by the paper through her runs for city council, congress and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took time to speak on the news papers longevity:
“[Random Lengths is] committed to promoting an open dialogue on important issues and questions concerning the community. They publish every other Thursday and reach 63,000 readers in seven cities.
“Random Lengths News encourages direct community action and urges its readers to discover their own political power by making changes in their own neighborhoods.
“In the worst of times a vigilant press is essential to the freedom of thought and expression in a free society. In the best of times, it is informative, entertaining and thought provoking. Random Lengthsprovides news for all times.
“Thank you to the men and women of Random Lengths News for your 40 years of dedicated service and commitment to readers throughout Los Angeles County.”
Fifty years later, America still struggles with the truth and 40 years of indy news
By James Preston Allen, Publisher
We are approaching the end of 2018, a largely troubled year, whose dwindling days perhaps fittingly conclude the 50th anniversary of the year that changed this country — 1968 — a time not unlike today with its darkening sense of disenfranchisement, resistance and political demonstrations.
It was also a time of violence, racial injustice and an enlightening awareness for a young generation whose ideals and values were not represented by their national leaders.
The Vietnam War and the Civil Rights movement were the bookends of this chapter, while the bullets of political assassination became as important to the course of a national election as the ballot box. The pages of the hundreds of books, articles and films that have attempted to explain the impacts of 1968 are far too many to cite here, but their reverberations continue to make our path unsteady, even for those who too young to remember who were not yet born.
Motivations for 40 years at the Masthead of RLnews
I was just 17 in the beginning of 1968. Over the past 40 years as publisher of this newspaper I have often been asked, “What has most motivated you in doing what you do?” Much of it started there in the beginning of 1968. I cannot say for certain that one particular moment struck a match in me, as there was a calamity of events in 1968 that coincided with my coming of age.
On Jan. 15, at age 87, Jeannette Rankin, who as a congresswoman from Montana voted against U.S. participation in both world wars, led some 5,000 women on a march in Washington, D.C. to protest the Vietnam War. The event highlighted generational, political and class differences among the marchers but gave the growing women’s movement a motto: “Sisterhood Is Powerful.”
On Jan. 30, North Vietnamese communists launched the Tet Offensive. The assault contradicted the Johnson administration’s claims that the communist forces were weak and the U.S.-backed south was winning the war.
On Feb. 27, Walter Cronkite, in a CBS-TV special on his recent tour of Vietnam, said the U.S. war effort was “mired in stalemate” and amplified public skepticism of the war. President Lyndon Johnson privately admitted that if he has lost Cronkite he’s lost the nation.
Previously in 1965, I witnessed LAPD officers use billy clubs and tear-gas canisters on 5,000 marching anti-war demonstrators in Century City as President Johnson escalated the war. It was later investigated and called “a police riot,” much to the chagrin of the city fathers. It was precursor of things to come.
However, in 1968 my father, understanding my interest in politics and government, decided to send me on a trip to the United Nations and Washington, D.C. with the Friends Field Service, a Quaker organization. This group of teenage suburban kids from all over the county (all white), flew into New York to ostensibly learn “how our government worked.”
We toured the U.N. headquarters in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Manhattan on the grounds overlooking the East River. A full-sized tapestry copy of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, by Jacqueline de la Baume Dürrbach, hung on the wall of the U.N. building at the entrance to the Security Council Room. It famously illustrates the violence of the German bombing the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. We got to see the General Assembly, and of course the grand plaza flags of the member states, arranged in alphabetical order and the Dag Hammarskjöld Library, named after the second Secretary General of the United Nations.
It was then on to Washington, D.C. to visit the United States Congress and to see how American governance operated. We arrived on the fateful day of April 4, got settled in our hotel and were scheduled to have an interracial party with some inner city teens at a local community center. As I recall, we were just beginning to get acquainted, the music started to play, and we were just trying to figure out the dance moves of these young black kids from D.C.
We weren’t more than an hour into this party when someone switched on a black and white TV to the shocking news that Martin Luther King Jr., who was in Memphis for the sanitation workers’ strike, was fatally shot on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel.
The adults in the room were clearly devastated by the news, but attempted to proceed with one of the saddest parties I’ve ever attended. Only slightly later, when news of rioting broke out in the neighborhoods surrounding the National Mall was the party canceled. Everyone went home. We to our safe hotel rooms and the black kids back to those neighborhoods.
All night long the sounds of sirens, gunshots and alarms went off; the National Guard was called out to protect the capital and we got very little sleep. We were on lockdown and told not to go outside. In the morning, I got up early and slipped out to see for myself. And, there in the early dawn with smoke rising from the fires and the smell of smoke in the air, I saw the soldiers set up on the steps of the Supreme Court and Congress with concertina wire, machine guns and armored vehicles. It was a spectacle that I captured on my Kodak camera.
Over the next week, riots in more than 100 cities nationwide would leave 39 people dead, more than 2,600 injured and 21,000 arrested according to a report on Smithsonian.com. I don’t believe we actually got to see inside the capital on that trip but I remember thinking that if my father really wanted me to see how our government worked this was a prime example and he got more than his money’s worth!
The Assassination of Hope
Back in Los Angeles, the primary presidential campaign heating up between senators Eugene McCarthy, Robert Kennedy and Vice-President Hubert Humphrey on the democratic side, the issue was the war in Vietnam with former Vice-President Richard Nixon on the Republican side. McCarthy was clearly the Bernie Sanders kind of candidate and the one I would have voted for if I could vote.
But on June 4, Bobby Kennedy won the California primary. After a short acceptance speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, he was assassinated. Sirhan B. Sirhan, a man of Palestinian descent, was captured at the scene and remains in prison to this day.
The nation was once again in mourning for another Kennedy, some say a visionary, who is often quoted, “There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” And this, along with his pledge to end the war, to bring an end to racial injustice and to lead with courage made him a martyr to a generation.
Yet on June 19, back in D.C., the Poor People’s Campaign, inspired by King, climaxed in the Solidarity Day Rally for Jobs, Peace and Freedom. Fifty thousand people joined the 3,000 participants living at Resurrection City on the National Mall to rally around the demands of the Poor People’s Campaign. Hope did not die.
Nominations, conflict and music
On Aug. 5 through Aug. 8, Richard Nixon was nominated at the Miami Beach, Florida Republican convention to run for president. It came as a shock since his loss against John F. Kennedy in 1960, and subsequent loss in his run for governor of California a few years later against the current Gov. Jerry Brown’s father Pat; Democrats clearly underestimated him. Helen Gahagan Douglass coined the name “Tricky Dick” during their 1950 senate race. It came into common use later, but he was no favorite of the press nor my family. Only later when the Watergate scandal exploded in Congress did everyone seem to understand his treachery and the true meaning of his nickname.
Still the Democrats were divided, the war was divisive and it was nowhere more evident than at the their convention at the end of August 1968. At the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, police and Illinois National Guardsmen went on a rampage, clubbing and tear-gassing hundreds of antiwar demonstrators, news reporters and even bystanders, with much of the violence broadcast on live national TV. The next day, Vice President Hubert Humphrey, perceived as the heir of Johnson’s war policies, wins the Democratic nomination, mostly through delegates controlled by party bosses.
And Hey Jude, the first Beatles single issued on their Apple label, is released in the U.S. It becomes the longest song to hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot 100. In fact most of the rock music now known as “classic” comes from this time inspired by the events of the time, like Street Fighting Man or Jumpin’ Jack Flash by the Rolling Stones or Say it Loud —I’m Black and I’m Proud by James Brown. All promoted on FM radio that wasn’t completely corporate owned back then. DJ’s actually chose the music they played.
The secret plan to end the war: Treason or conspiracy theory
The issue of the time and the campaigns was still the Vietnam War and racism. Nixon came on strong with a message that only he “had a secret plan to end the war.” Actually, “secret plan” wasn’t Nixon’s term; a reporter on deadline used it as he covered Nixon’s speech promising quick victory in that vastly unpopular war. Fifteen years later, in The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House, Seymour Hersh revealed that Nixon, “alerted by Kissinger to the impending success of the peace talks,” had engaged in secret negotiations with South Vietnam to prolong the war until after the 1968 election. And Nixon actually escalated the war by bombing Cambodia after his election, causing more demonstration at home, more American casualties with a reaction of hundreds of thousands of students shutting down colleges nationwide.
An article in Common Dreams by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman reported, none other than right-wing columnist George Will revealed that Nixon actually violated the Logan Act.
“Nixon’s newly revealed records show for certain that in 1968, as a presidential candidate, he ordered Anna Chennault, his liaison to the South Vietnam government, to persuade them to refuse a cease-fire being brokered by President Lyndon Johnson. Nixon’s interference with these negotiations violated President John Adams’s 1797 Logan Act, banning private citizens from intruding into official government negotiations with a foreign nation.”
Since this time it has been revealed that President Lyndon Johnson also knew of this treason, had the evidence of it and called it that but said nothing publicly. This might have only been a footnote in the history of 1968 and the Vietnam War, except that 12 years later in the Carter vs. Reagan election the same type of Logan Act violation took place in the “October Surprise,” a long-neglected precursor of the more famous Iran-Contra scandal. And oddly enough this is what now will probably be proved in the allegation against Russian collusion to support Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
It seems abundantly clear at this point that the past is precedent for the future and that the sins of our forefathers are once again being visited upon us. Democracy, our republic, and what it stands for or against are still being contested in much the same way it was in 1968. It is perhaps only now with the perspective of the last 50 years, the history of deceits and our continued involvement in wars for questionable gain — Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Yemen, that any of us can understand the long shadow that is still being cast by this era and its influence on our nation today.
We are still living with the results of bringing those wars coming home, especially the ghosts of Vietnam.
And to some extent why an independent press is necessary and vital.
When the drumbeat of progress drowns out the voiceless
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor
Where are the residents of Harbor View House?
That was what Linda Martino and Jane Ferrari wanted to talk about when they visited the office of Random Lengths News Nov. 19 — that and the real reasons they had to leave, besides a broken elevator. If the women’s mood seemed urgent, it’s because they were among the 140 residents of Harbor View House who had been given one week to move out, and only two days remained until the Nov. 21 deadline.
But this was a week in which everybody was hurrying against a deadline — the Thanksgiving holiday. At RLn, they left their contact information, took our advice to focus on finding shelter and moved on while we wondered if there was a plan in place for when that deadline came.
Four days later — two after the deadline — a chance meeting with Ferrari near Harbor View House provided a clue. She was standing outside the historic structure on Beacon Street, but the doors weren’t locked and it didn’t look as though she’d spent the night outside. Inside, tables were stacked and staffers were bustling about. She explained that she’d chosen to sleep in the post office.
“I was given the option to go to a [residential] facility located off Sunset Boulevard near downtown Los Angeles,” Ferrari said. “It was too far from my family. Being up in the hills … is too far from public transportation.”
Ferrari’s family, including two grown children, live in Westchester.
Ferrari also reasoned taking the place in Hollywood, she would have left her without easy access to her personal belongings, which were in San Pedro. But this morning she was without many of them, anyway, and her plans for the day involved retrieving them and putting them in storage.
“I was told my paintings were left out because they couldn’t fit the moving boxes and they had no answer to what happened to my jewelry,” Ferrari explained.
It hasn’t always been like this for Ferrari. “I used to have a car before I came to Harbor View House,” she said, but residents without the means to stay in a board-and-care facility like Harbor View House often have to reduce their income and assets to a level that would qualify them for Social Security (a fixed income) and be charged a monthly rate set by the State of California.
Ferrari said that before she entered Harbor View House, she worked as a U.S. customs broker — custom brokers are licensed, regulated, and empowered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to assist importers and exporters in meeting federal requirements governing imports and exports. According to the US Bureau of Statistics, custom brokers earned on average of $65,000 a year.
Ferrari came to Harbor View House three years ago when her sister died. She’d been working hard, seemingly non-stop, she recalled, and saw Harbor View House as an opportunity to take a break from life.
“I came here on my own account,” Ferrari said. “I was told Harbor View House wasn’t necessarily a rehabilitation center, but it was close to the beach.”
Five Days After the Deadline
Harbor View House had been home to Linda Martino for 10 years when she suddenly learned that she had seven days to leave. She never expected to live there forever. The building had been sold last summer, but residents had been told they would not have to be relocated and rehoused until June 2019.
Now, on Nov. 26, Martino returned to Random Lengths News to report that, five days after everyone was supposed to be out, seven people were still living at Harbor View House. She brought the memos from the administration of HealthView Inc., that informed residents that because the elevator had broken down, they would have to be relocated and rehoused much sooner than next summer. This memo was, in effect, their 30-day notice giving them until Dec. 13.
The memo was dated Nov. 13 — the same day the Daily Breeze published a story about the irreparable elevator. But the story said residents had to be relocated in a week’s time, by Nov. 21.
After Martino passed along her documents she noted Harbor View House staff would no longer allow Ferrari inside. The women now believed that Ferrari had been manipulated into signing the discharge papers with a storage unit for her belongings dangled in front of her as bait.
“Jane [Ferrari] was on a contract, when that contract was up, she was no longer paying rent,” Martino said.
“All residents have to sign a release form to be discharged,” Martino explained. Martino noted that many of the residents didn’t have the mental wherewithal to make decisions for themselves.
“Most of the residents there aren’t able capable of understanding that. Most of the residents aren’t capable of defending their rights,” Martino said. “I saw on a daily basis the residents’ rights being violated.”
Martino estimated that about 70 percent of the residents at Harbor View were pushed out of the building after a couple of days.
Martino believes a significant number were sent to Grandview Retirement home near downtown Los Angeles, a facility down the street from MacArthur Park. This is only rumor given that the information is difficult to verify due to HIPPA privacy rules. What we do know is that downtown Los Angeles wasn’t among the destinations that Harbor View House officials mentioned in stories reported by the Daily Breeze.
Martino charged that the counseling and the transition that was supposed to happen didn’t happen because the process was so fast.
“The interviews conducted by other facilities asked questions like, ‘Do you do [illicit] drugs?’ and couple of other questions,” Martino explained, drawing on her experience. “We didn’t have a choice. They didn’t tell us what our options were.”
Unlike a lot of Harbor View House residents, Martino said she had a few options other than moving to another facility, including moving in with her daughter in Orange County, or her siblings in Apple Valley.
She chose not to go that route due to a list of health issues, including high blood pressure. She said she suffered a stroke in 2010, about two years after she moved to Harbor View House. Martino said she didn’t want to leave because all of her doctors were in San Pedro. She decided to rent an apartment in Long Beach once she gets Harbor View House to refund monies she paid earlier in the month.
By her estimate, Martino believed only a few of Harbor View House’s residents were capable of living independently.
“But still, we were all under [Harbor View House’s] care.”
Martino has been a California resident since 1987. She left New York and followed her children, parents, and siblings to the Golden State after splitting from her husband of 12 years. She still speaks with a strong New York accent.
“I come from a very close-knit family,” Martino explained. “I really didn’t have any immediate family out there [New York]. So I came out here.”
Martino has worked many jobs in her adult life. She said her last occupation was that of a drug and alcohol counselor at the Tarzana Treatment Center, a residential program for women and children in Long Beach. She worked there for six years. She said that when her mental-health issue started interfering with her ability to do her job, she resigned. She said she was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia, and started receiving help from the Long Beach Mental Health Services.
“It started taking over certain parts of my life so I had to turn in my resignation, so I could get treatment,” Martino said.
Martino opened up a series of sober living homes with a partner in Long Beach, called “Quality of Life.”
“I had a good network. A lot people were involved. A lot of people in Long Beach know me and we were doing that for 10 years,” Martino said.
Martino said it all came to an end when her business partner betrayed her by taking all the money out of the accounts for a year. The banks foreclosed on the houses one after the other, and she ultimately lost the business.
She moved to Orange County and lived with her daughter after her business failed. She returned after a few years and continued her care under Long Beach Mental Health Services. A fight with one of the male residents there resulted in her arrest. A social worker was sent to interview her, and she was transferred to Harbor View House. Then, before she knew it, as she said, 10 years had gone by.
“It was the most horrible 10 years of my life because of all the stuff that went on there,” Martino said.
“I got harassed [by staff] a lot because I advocate a lot and get staff members written up a lot for things they shouldn’t be doing,” she said. “I told on them all the time. So I got harassed.”
The building was sold and closed escrow in June 2018. In Martino’s event timeline, Harbor View House’s parent company, HealthView, Inc.’s Chief Financial Officer, Jeffrey Smith informed residents at the time and told them they had a year.
“He said not to worry about anything. Everyone that was still in the building could move to the new place HealthView, Inc. was purchasing.
The Official Narrative
“That’s the thing. We were only given one week,” HealthView, Inc.’s chief financial officer said. Smith was explaining the particulars of the order to comply issued by the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to repair the elevator in one week.
Smith noted that the comply order included the code section for which HealthView, Inc. was in violation and noted that the order covered all occupied levels regardless of the number of stories the elevator serviced.
When the Hillcrest Company, the buyers of Harbor View House, closed escrow in June 2018, Smith explained HealthView, Inc. had started to look at other properties in which to purchase and relocate.
Smith took great pains to explain how the city and county stepped up to offer assistance if he needed it.
“We were able to relocate [the residents] on our own, with them [Councilman Joe Buscaino’s and Supervisor Janice Hahn’s offices] on standby,” Smith said.
Relocating and rehousing 140 residents with special needs in a week sounds daunting. But by Thanksgiving, all but seven were found suitable places, Smith said. The administrator admitted that four to five of these residents were hard cases. They couldn’t comprehend what was going on, Smith said.
The administrator explained that the Los Angeles County of Mental Health was called in to assess these four to five patients to determine if they qualified to be placed in 5150-hold—the Welfare and Institutions Code, which allows a person with a mental illness to be involuntarily detained for a 72-hour psychiatric hospitalization. These clinicians evaluate clients to determine whether they are at risk of harming themselves or others or are unable to provide food, clothing, or shelter as a result of a mental disorder. If the client is deemed to be at-risk, they are detained, then sent to a licensed facility.
Smith also noted that HealthView, Inc. had the help of family members in relocating clients. Families were notified of what was transpiring and were included in the relocation effort, Smith explained.
It was only after arrangements were made either with family members or destination care facilities that residents were asked to sign discharge papers. Smith denied allegations of manipulation and coercion to get those discharge papers signed.
My goal was to lessen the impact for the residents by relocating them with their friend groups and family members, Smith said.
Smith admitted that some residents wanted to remain in San Pedro, but only a small percentage ended up staying in San Pedro.
Smith says he understands why residents would fixate on him as the reason why they are being relocated, [or dislocated, depending on your perspective]. But this wasn’t a decision made by him. HealthView is a corporation. This was a decision that came from the top.
In answer to an allegation that residents belongings were still at Harbor View House and being thrown away, Smith said all but a couple of clients have their belongings with them. He said none of them required storage.
In regard to questions about staff still working at Harbor View House, he pointed out they are subject to the The WARN Act, the 1988 law aimed at preventing mass firing of workers without notice of at least 60 days.
“We had all hands on deck working through the weekend,” Smith explained of the days before the Nov. 21 deadline. “We were dealing with over 20 different facilities. Everyone had a choice.”
ERASING The Distinction Between The Sheltered And The Unsheltered
In law enforcement and guard work circles the California Welfare and Institutions Code is shorthand for a person suffering from mental illness and that meaning was interchangeable with “homeless person.”
When institutionalized, persons experiencing homelessness or mental illness, all distinctions separating the sheltered and the unsheltered are erased in the eyes of our judicial system, law enforcement, the news media and the public’s imagination.
Irrefutable evidence is unlikely to emerge showing the irreparable breakdown of Harbor View House’s elevator was simply cover for a business decision made midstream. We won’t know if all of these residents were truly displaced throughout Los Angeles County. We’ll just wonder if the next 5150 we see on our streets were a former resident of Harbor View House.
Winter Wonderland has become a fixture in Wilmington over the past 11 years. The Banning Museum transports guests to Christmas in the Victorian era, back when Los Angeles was smaller and its thoroughfares were filled with horses and buggies, and women were wearing big hoop skirts, and men actually practiced gentlemanly manners.
For more than a decade, the Port of Los Angeles has trucked in 20 tons of snow to Bayview Park, then the Wilmington Waterfront Park for children, mostly younger than 12, to play in.
Visitors are treated to period entertainment, museum tours and decorated holiday splendor. In years past, a Queen Victoria era reenactor would receive guests for the two days and Jolly St. Nick would pose for photos with the children. This year, nearly 4,000 visitors enjoyed a walk through of the decorated mansion, trolley rides to the Drum Barracks, children’s crafts and more.
Then there’s the Wilmington Christmas parade with locally constructed floats and participants drawn from the immediate civic community such as schools, faith communities, social service organizations, civic groups and local businesses.
The degree of participation of local businesses and civic organizations goes a long way in community building, Lines of communication and understanding are opened when community members give of themselves to each other.
The non-profit organization, A Needy Wilmington, has exemplified that spirit for about as long as there has been a Winter Wonderland in Wilmington.
This past year, A Needy Wilmington has spearheaded efforts to support students and their families in need at Phineas Banning High School.
A Needy Wilmington launched the campaign, Operation Pilot Wheel/Adopt a Pilot three years ago. It collects clothing, food, toiletries, blankets, sheets, pillowcases and bath towels. A Needy Wilmington became a 501 (c)3 nonprofit and is able to accept monetary donations.
Each of the past three years, Los Angeles Homeless Services has counted fewer unsheltered people in Wilmington. In response, Wilmington’s civic community, local businesses, faith communities, students, families and individuals are banding together to give a hand up people living in cars, motels or circumstances that have them crammed into a single dwelling with multiple families.
There are students with families from Banning High School who are in need of assistance to get through this difficult voyage. They are all in need of help of anything you can give. Monetary donations, gift cards are welcomed. Donations will be accepted through Dec. 15. The drop off location is:
When making inquiries, be sure to mention Operation Pilot Wheel/ Adopt A Pilot. Only items that have been gently used, laundered and are size specific will be accepted. They cannot accept closet or cupboard, pantry items due to their size, disposal, ability to store and/or health safety and liability issues.
Monetary donations can be made to A Needy Wilmington (ANW). It’s a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. That means your donation is tax deductible. The California Entity number is: C3957955 and their Federal Tax ID is 82-355-1385.
Place a check in an envelope with your name on it, or give as a secret donor and drop the envelope off at Maya Mexican Restaurant.
Editor’s note: In the past few weeks, Random Lengths News received a group of Letters to the Editor from the students of San Pedro High School English teacher Michael Kurdyla. Students commented on stories from the past few months. Reading through the letters, the students did an admirable job following their teacher’s instruction to read and critique stories that piqued their interest. The end result was more than 10,000 words from high school students engaging the most topical issues being discussed today. In the interest of space, we will be select a few of the letters for print while posting the remainder online.
RE: Democrats Must Retake the House to Put the Brakes on Trump
In Peter Olney and Rand Wilson’s article “Democrats Must Retake the House to Put the Brakes on Trump”, they state the vile things Trump has done to corrupt our government.
As a freshman at San Pedro High School, Trump’s actions are mentioned in many of my peers’ discussions and conversations. Some of his actions including his remarks about North Korea, building the wall, and his relation to Putin. This shows the impact that Trump has made in our society, an impact so big that citizens who aren’t even at the age to vote are talking about this topic.
In this article, I believe that the authors overuse pathos, and not enough and ethos. This is due to the fact that the authors inserted quite a bit of charged language, such as “erratic”, “racist”, “misogynist”, and an “anti-labor monster” when describing Trump. Such strong vocabulary is used, yet there is no explanation for it. This makes this article not very credible, as no evidence is used in the first place. The authors speak as if the Democratic Party has no faults compared to the Republican Party, which was twisted to be seen as appalling and untrustworthy. Because of this, the article turns into a sea of propaganda that advertises the Democratic party.
Personally, I am not for or against either party, because of the fact that I am not very knowledgeable when it comes to politics and topics around this subject. What I do agree with, however, is that Trump is not a good person. The topic of Trump’s faults hits deeply for me, since I had once been a victim of racism, and it definitely was not a good experience for me. However, this does not make me believe that this article is a reliable source, because of the lack of evidence.
San Pedro Magnet High School
Re: Carson Golf Course
I live in the city of Carson and I occasionally go to Carson park just to have fun and walk around. When I go to the park I usually go on the swings and walk around to observe nature. Citizens of Carson join our society at Carson Park by just going to the park and experiencing the fun. I never had any complaints about any park. This new change had happened in Victoria County Regional Park in the city of Carson. In the article, it points out that there are proposals to reconstruct the golf course into something new so the whole community can use. The construction of this new project is going to be using 87 acres of land. They are going to use it to build a recreation center and multipurpose room. The main purpose of this project is building very high-quality sports, training, instruction, competition activities, and education to help people in need of help so the whole city can use it. The new multipurpose room community recreation center is called Carol Kimmelman Sports and Academic Campus but I think the city of Carson does not care about this project it might be a waste of money.
The Los Angeles County Supervisor Ridley-Thomas has led efforts to consider the golf course as alternative uses. This decision the county of supervisors are going to make will be crucial. In November 2017 the county board of supervisors had passed a motion to reconstruct the golf course into a multipurpose room and recreation center. During the motion, they had a negotiating agreement with another foundation that was approved called Kimmelman Foundation to help with the project. The supervisor Ridley-Thomas complained that the course underperformed compared to the county’s other courses and called for exploring alternative recreational uses. Ridley-Thomas opinion of the plans on the golf course is controversial against the other members of the county board of supervisors. The reconstruction of the golf course was impromptu. I believe it should be an alternative use of the property because the 87 acres of land should go to a good cause. The good cause is controversial but it can be helpful to the whole city of Carson and the citizens. I think the author has left something on purpose and created this article for a reason because to know the opportunities we have in our community and take an advantage of it. To conclude, whatever we believe in is good for our community we should do something to obtain that so our citizens in our community can share it and believe in it.
In the article, Homelessness it states that, “ Nothing gets done unless you have a study or a report.” Which is true because no one is going to take time out of their day to research something. I also agree with you that many people think the homeless population consists of “drug addicts, sex offenders, and psychos invading their neighborhoods.” Over 100,000 people are homeless, so 100,000 people are those things. I am a student at San Pedro High: Olguin Campus and I am familiar with the San Pedro protest that was on Gaffey St. Though I go to San Pedro High, I live in the City of Carson and when I go with my family places I always see homeless people on every street and nothing is being done about it. The main thing we can do about about this is what the people of San Pedro did which is protest for the homelessness to end and/or help the homeless people by giving them water or even sanded . That can improve their lives because the homeless would feel like someone cares for them and that someone is trying to help them. The real question is, what will the government will do to fix this problem?
San Pedro High School
Education is very important in my life, not just for me but for other too.Having a good education can lead you to get a good and a nice collage. But in the LAUSD District there isn’t enough resources to go around schools. My name is Daniel Lopez and I attended San Pedro High School, I do see little resources like staff, textbooks, etc.
Teachers often complain about having not the right resources because the district doesn’t want to give them to our schools. This is why teachers protest. To me the district doesn’t care about the education of young men and women. In my classes, I see a lack of resources in the classroom like calculators, computers, and more. Even if we have resources not every student gets one. This is because the students get put into a room that’s already full. When this happens it becomes very crucial for teachers.
There’s nothing teachers could do about this issue. Even LAUSD’s superintendent Austin Beutner said “on a number of issues, we need to build on that.
Being a high school student, i see this in my Biology class. One day we needed computers, even through we had them there wasn’t enough. Most of the computers were working, there wasn’t enough computers because we had a lot of kids in that class.
We need teachers to have all the resources they can get, so students get the best education. If there’s little resources then my generation and the next will not get the best education.
San Pedro Magnet High School
Re: Arts Festival Goes to the USS Lowa
Hi my name is Condoleezza Bryant and I go to San Pedro High School. When I finished reading, “SP Arts Festival Goes to the USS Lowa” by: Terelle Jerrick talking about how the SP Festival is back for the first time in its six-year incarnation and how tango San Pedro was founded by tango instructor Silvia Askenazi. She was born in Buena, Aires and migrated to LA in 2004. Different dance companies are not the only exciting troupes to perform at this years festival. People’s Place Pacers specialize in line dancing even while Kains Peoples’ Palace Dance Studio practice a variety of dance tradition including swing in the name of physical fitness. This article involves pathos because their talking about the arts like dancing. The dancers use their body to express how they feel.
San Pedro Magnet High School
The Hardships of Being in A Band
My name is Madeleine Toledo and I am a high school student in San Pedro High Schools Olguin Campus. Ever since I was a little kid I have dreamt of being in a band, with the influence of people in tv shows like Hannah Montana or One Direction. And growing up I also listened to a lot of variations of R & B music because my dad wanted to introduce us to old style music, for example; “Earth, Wind, and Fire”. And me being an innocent and immature kid I idolized the idea of being in a band because of what they displayed on tv. But as I got older I learned things that, as a kid, I would’ve never thought of.
In only 6th grade did I learn about the slave contracts that the bands have to sign in order to stay a band. That’s when I realized that being in a band was just funning games it’s hard work and sugars for keeping your job and as a fan of earth wind and fire I now know the hardships they want to for instance two members from the band had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. And one of the members who had been diagnosed wanted to keep the legacy going without the Parkinson’s part. But as time went on he realize the disease hasn’t affected him since he still plays and sings the same. As White (one of the members) had told him, “If you’re gonna take the groove, you’re gonna take the whole groove.”
Being a band will never be easy so if you don’t plan on dedicating your whole life to music I suggest you not being one because sure it made it look easy and super fun but that’s not what it’s about. Being in a van is being dedicated to your fans, the stage, the people you love, to your music, and most importantly the relationship with your band mates because without each other it won’t be around at all.