Jolted in the night, San Francisco’s East Bay residents attempted to shield themselves from shattering windows as the sky blazed.  320 people were killed, 400 more were injured, and everything within a one mile radius was destroyed in a flash.  50 survivors were imprisoned for mutiny.  If you have not heard about the worst home front military disaster in our history, you will now know why.  If you had already known about it, you will find out that there is still much more to the story. The worst home front military disaster in US history has been one of our best kept secrets, until now.

After 6 decades (July 17, 2009 marks the 65th anniversary of the tragedy), the story known as the MUTINY AT PORT CHICAGO is finally brought to the stage in this WORLD PREMIERE production at Ruskin Group Theatre July 10-August 15, 2009.

Ruskin Group Theatre has been making an impact on the Los Angeles theatrical scene with an eclectic mix of thought provoking plays and programs.  Their ‘Fostering Imagination’ program sponsors foster kids in theatre & film classes that produce several original shows each year.  The CAFÉ PLAYS, created by RGT are produced monthly and are the culmination of writers, actors, and directors who meet at 9am, where they are given a theme.  They then write, produce, and perform a show by 7pm the same day.  Recently celebrating their 5th anniversary, RGT supporters Ed Asner, Dylan McDermott, Chris Malkey, Olivia d’Abo, and other industry celebrities joined to produce the Best of Café Plays (both shows sold out within hours).  Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Franciosa were some of the Ruskin School of Theatre’s first teachers.

Written and directed by: Paul Leaf. Produced by: Mike Myers and Dana Lynn Bennett

Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Road, Santa Monica, CA 90405. Tickets (310) 397-3244.  Running: Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm. Sundays at 2 pm. Closing performance: Saturday, August 15, 2009. All Seats are $20 ($15.00 for students, seniors, and guild members.)

With J. Teddy Garces, Maury Sterling, Josh Drennen, Cris DAnnunzio, Durant Fowler, Eric Bivens Bush.

For more information on the mutiny itself, go to http://www.portchicagomutiny.com.


J. Teddy Garces as Ed.



The calendar on the Venice Beach Drum Circle website hasn’t been updated since 2007 but I believe dancers and performers gather every Sunday. I walked along Venice Beach yesterday late afternoon and at 6:30pm the drum circle was well under way.

The web site is still a great place to get information about the history of the Drum Circle and the many controversies surrounding it since the year 2000 when the site was created, including the Boardwalk Lottery, which sadly resulted in the exodus of true artists selling their work and the arrival of junk arts and crafts. I hadn’t been to Venice Beach in a long time and was truly saddened by the mediocrity of the art and jewelry on display.

According to DrumsOnTheWeb.com, which lists Drum Circles in the US and around the world, the Venice Beach drum circle dates back to the 1960’s.

In the HBO movie “John Adams”, John Adams asks Thomas Jefferson to draft the Declaration of Independence. “Why me?” asks Jefferson.  “I have a great opinion of the elegance of your pen,” is John Adams’ third reason.

Benjamin Franklin (Tom Wilkinson) and John Adams (Paul Giamatti) review Jefferson’s draft.  Benjamin Franklin to Jefferson: “You lay the evils of slavery at the feet of the King but you say nothing of slavery itself sir.”



The following is an excerpt of a story written by AlDesmadre for the LA Eastside blog:

Most of us are sadly familiar with the present state of a former Eastside jewel, the Golden Gate Theater.

The property, including the remaining auditorium structure, are currently under ownership by a development company who appears inclined to possibly lease it to a commercial builder. I’ve heard of a proposed Walgreen’s drug store or something of that nature being mentioned. Over the past few years, I’ve undertaken a grassroots preservation effort by networking with local individuals and groups who unanimously agree that this former icon deserves a legacy worthy of the historical and cultural importance of our East Los Angeles community.

I now call out to anyone out there who agrees that this site of the Golden Gate Theater should house something of more significance and better use for the community than another drug store. And now, there’s a small glimmer of hope…

Based on my recent posts on the Golden Gate, I have recently been contacted by the Los Angeles Conservancy to share my efforts with them and present our case at a public hearing scheduled for next week. If you agree with us and would like to support our proposal for something better on that corner, now is the time that we need your emails and letters of support. Post your responses here, send an email, whatever way suits you, and I will compile the entire show of support and present it to the planning commission. And please do it soon! We’re also banking on our faith that Ms. Molina and the County board will also lend their support by reconsidering the current plans for the space.

Imagine the possibilities, An East L.A. Cultural, Arts & Heritage Center, a place for our neighborhood students to rediscover their local history. A place to showcase the images, recordings, readings, history, literature & arts that the Eastside has contributed to the world. Or perhaps a local non-profit could find some wonderful use for it. I especially would like to see the stage and auditorium refurbished and reused again. I’d almost say: “Anything but another drug store!

Thanks to all in advance! Let’s do this. Below is a copy of the L.A. Conservancy’s position letter with the information on the hearing at the very bottom.

Click here for full story.

The web site Cinema Treasures is a great place to learn about the theater history and its impact on the community, like in this reader’s comment: “Growing up, I lived near Atlantic and Olympic and have many wonderful memories of days at the Golden Gate. What a classic, beautiful theater!! I would often just go and watch whatever was playing. I remember one afternoon when my mother gave me some money for the movies and I went there by myself and, as a 10 year-old, watched “Psycho”!! I also loved the set-up, where you would purchase the ticket at the booth at the sidewalk on Whittier Blvd., then walk down the covered courtyard, past the shops before entering the theater. On hot summer afternoons, there was no better place to be. Too bad it has not been restored. I would also love to see other photos of the place in its glory days.”


Betsy Kalin.

I wrote this story for the second issue of “Brooklyn & Boyle,” a monthly magazine about Art & Life in Boyle Heights and Beyond. It was originally published in December of 2008.

When Connecticut transplant Betsy Kalin was approached to make a documentary on Boyle Heights, nothing in her activist and filmmaking background had prepared her for the obstacles ahead: “Boyle Heights is the richest area that I’ve ever been in contact with,” Kalin confesses after two years of total immersion in the neighborhood’s history, past and current. “How do you choose one amongst the million great stories? That was the biggest struggle.”

Her starting point was photographer and entrepreneur Eric Waterman, who originated the project and produced it. “It has such resonance for him because his family is from Boyle Heights,” says Kalin. Even though Waterman’s parents left in the 1940’s and Eric was raised in the valley, his family would talk about Boyle Heights all the time and would often bring him back to visit. This is a story Kalin would hear time and again as she began researching the neighborhood. “People who lived in Boyle Heights in the 20’s are still going back and feel a strong attachment to it, and people who live there now share the same passion,” Kalin remarks. “I don’t hear people in my neighborhood say ‘I was raised in West Hollywood, what a great place!’ Why does Boyle Heights have this power that other neighborhoods don’t have?”

Kalin found answers in the friendships of 50 plus years featured in the film: Floyd Jeter, the first African American to receive a track USC scholarship in 1955, and his Russian Molokan neighbor Bill Novikoff; Marsha Vasquez, Momo Yoshima and Dian Harrison, three women activists who met at Belvedere Junior High School. Kalin even captures on camera 89 year-old Japanese American Cedrick Shimo‘s visit to his old home. Forced to leave their house after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Cedrick’s family was sent to internment camps never to return to Boyle Heights to live. Saul Ines, a 30-year old Mexican American Cal Arts student who now lives in the house with his parents, welcomes Cedrick home and the men instantly bond over their shared upbringing.


Cedrick and Saul’s first meeting. Photo by Martha Nakagawa.



“America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves: If our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.”

Click here for full transcript of Barack Obama’s victory speech, November 4, 2008.


This picture was found this morning on http://www.lataco.com.

Free Screenings of Four Los Angeles-Themed Documentaries at L.A. Archives Bazaar This Saturday

Archives Live posterFour Council-supported films, “The New Los Angeles,” documenting the city’s recent political and social history; “The Eastsiders,” about the historic Central Avenue area before 1965; “Chicano Rock,” Jon Wilkman’s film tracing the history or rock ‘n roll and Latino identities in East Los Angeles; and “Chinatown Remembered: Los Angeles During The 1930s And 1940s,” about the creation of first planned Chinese American community in the United States, will be screened at the L.A. Archives Bazaar this Saturday.

The Bazaar, an annual gathering to show off Los Angeles history and provide a clearinghouse of information, features exhibits by local historical collections, museums and archives as well as book signings and panels on such topics as family genealogy and digital archives. The Bazaar runs from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, October 25 at the USC Davidson Conference Center, 3415 South Figueroa Street (at Jefferson Boulevard). See Map

Admission is Free. Parking is available for $8 at USC Parking Structure D next to the Davidson Center.

Film Screenings Schedule
Location: Cardinal Room and Gold Room, 2nd floor

“The New Los Angeles”
10:30-11:45 am

“The Eastsiders”
12:30-1:30 pm

“Chicano Rock! The Sounds Of East Los Angeles”
2-3 pm

“Chinatown Remembered:
Los Angeles During The 1930s And 1940s”
3:30-4:30 pm

Click here for the festival’s brochure.

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