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Abraham Feldman, 76; Family Man and Friend

Pacific Palisades resident Abraham Feldman passed away on December 27. He was 76. Known for his blue hat, giggles, a keen fashion sense and his caring nature, Feldman was a loving husband, father, brother, grandpa and friend. He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Lenore; children David, Ellen and Jackie; grandchildren Walker, William and Ian; sister and brothers Doris, Ben and Eddie; and his dog Charlie. Memorial donations may be sent to Jewish Family Services of Los Angeles, 1424 Fourth Street, Suite 303, Santa Monica, CA. 90401.

Opening Young Eyes To Art

Author Susan Goldman Rubin
Author Susan Goldman Rubin
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

In anticipation of his friend Paul Gauguin’s arrival, Vincent van Gogh decorated the guest room with his freshly painted canvases depicting sunflowers. This is among the fun facts dispensed by author Susan Goldman Rubin in “The Yellow House” (2001), an engaging account of the two months these legendary artists lived together in the south of France. The book is designed for young readers, with the text richly brought to life with illustrations. “Any kid can relate to getting a room ready for a guest,” says Rubin, a longtime Malibu resident. “They also know the emotion of being desperately lonely and needing to have friends.” Such is the sensitive narrative skill of Rubin, an author who specializes in books about art and Jewish history for young people ages 10 to 14. Her books are never a simple recounting of an artist’s life or world events-libraries are already well-stocked with these publications-but are instead absorbing stories with a distinct theme. Her angle for “The Yellow House” became clear during a meeting with curators at The Art Institute of Chicago, the museum that published the book in association with Harry N. Abrams. “Van Gogh and Gauguin were the original odd couple,” says Rubin, whose sparkling eyes tell of her relish in crafting novel approaches. Rubin’s “Yellow House” not only illuminates the differing artistic ways of the two painters-Van Gogh favored painting what he saw, Gauguin preferred working from memory-but also takes a playful look at their disparate personalities: Van Gogh was messy and talkative, Gauguin neat and quiet. Ultimately what Rubin hopes to get across to young readers is that there’s no one right way when it comes to making art. “Art is about originality, seeing the world in a new way,” says Rubin, herself an artist who first came to the publishing world as an illustrator and writer of picture books. “I thought art history contained so many words about a process that thrives on wordlessness,” Rubin recalls, remembering her days as an art student at Oberlin College. “I’m determined to get across the joy and experience of art.” Early in her career, an editor recognized Rubin’s lively, straightforward writing style, one particularly well-suited for young audiences, and recommended she focus her work in that direction. “It’s so important to find ways to amuse and awake interest without going off on a scholarly tangent,” says the author, whose keen, forthright take on art and history attracts readers of all ages. Rubin’s far-ranging enthusiasm for the creative spirit has resulted in books about Frank Lloyd Wright and photojournalist Margaret Bourke-White, and even the only authorized biography of Steven Spielberg. Her cleverly titled “There Goes the Neighborhood” (Holiday House, 2001) introduces young readers to such once controversial architectural projects as the Eiffel Tower, Philip Johnson’s Glass House and the Pompidou Center. “Degas and the Dance: The Painter and the Petits Rats Perfecting Their Art” (Abrams, 2002) provocatively uses in its title the nickname given to young ballerinas, most of whom were poor, working-class girls, in 19th-century France. Rubin’s original narrative looks at Degas’ artistic process-one involving incessant drawing of dancers, a favorite subject throughout his career-as analogous to the training of ballerinas, who practice positions over and over again. “Both disciplines require the same kind of dedication and patience,” says Rubin, who could also be describing her own diligence as a storyteller. The author prides herself in being 100 percent accurate, while also making her stories both gripping and absorbing. Quotes are always real, never fictionalized, and first-person accounts are hotly pursued: she snagged an interview with architect Philip Johnson when he was 90. “She has a fantastic knack for research,” says fellow writer and friend Sonia Levitin. “She’ll go anywhere to get every nuance. And she’s so personable, she ends up being friends with everyone she interviews.” Among these friendships is one with Ela Steinov????-Weissberger, a survivor of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, whom Rubin met while doing research for her award-winning book “Fireflies in the Dark: The Story of Friedl Dicker-Brandeis and the Children of Terezin.” Steinov????-Weissberger was among the hundreds of children who studied art with Dicker-Brandeis while living in the appalling conditions of the camp. The book, filled with reproductions of the artwork created by Terezin children, most of whom later perished, serves as both a record of a remarkable teacher who provided a refuge for children in an unimaginably horrific situation as well as a message about the power of art and the resilience of human spirit. “Rubin reaches the hearts and souls of her audiences,” says friend and colleague Adaire Klein, director of library and archival services at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance, who admires Rubin’s ability to convey difficult historical subject matter in a way that’s meaningful to young people. “It’s important to tell the truth and teach lessons of tolerance,” says Rubin, adding, “it’s important to be honest without being horrific.” Rubin strikes just such a balance with the recently published “Searching for Anne Frank: Letters from Amsterdam to Iowa” (Abrams) that chronicles the little-known pen-pal relationship Frank had in 1939 with a 10-year-old girl in Danville, Iowa. Anne’s fate was never known to her pen-pal until the 1955 production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway. When Rubin traveled to Amsterdam to gather information, she was able to talk to one of Frank’s close childhood friends, a woman who had never before agreed to be interviewed. “I reassured her it would be a way of looking at history through the simple act of friendship,” says Rubin. “I used ‘The Yellow House’ book as my calling card to show how serious I am.” Among new titles in the works are “Art Against All Odds: From Slave Quilts to Prison Paintings,” “The Flag with 56 Stars: The Story of the Liberation of Manthausen Concentration Camp” and a still-to-be-titled book on the history of Jews in America. “She has a wonderful eye for what is possible,” says George Nicholson, her longtime New York agent. “It’s important to produce books accessible to kids,” he continues, “especially when everything about art appreciation in the schools has gone by the boards.” The passion for art Rubin hopes to ignite in children is best expressed by her own excitement. “When I leave a museum, I start to see the whole world like a photographer or artist I’ve been looking at,” she says. “That’s the magic of art.”

Pianist Von Oeyen to Play Liszt, Bartok, Ravel at St. Matthew’s

Andrew von Oeyen, frequent guest performer at St. Matthew’s, will present a solo recital as part of the “Music at St. Matthew’s” series on Friday, January 23, 8 p.m. Von Oeyen, who made his solo orchestral debut at 10 and has performed at St. Matthew’s, both in recital and with the Chamber Orchestra, since age 12, is now 23 and has already established himself as one of the most captivating young pianists of his generation. Von Oeyen has performed with the Seattle and Singapore symphonies as well as the Slovak State Philharmonic and was heard at last year’s Spoleto Festival and more recently at the festival “Piano en Vallois” in Angoulýme, France. He made his debut with Esa-Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic in 1998. His Pacific Palisades recital will include two of the “Petrarch Sonnets” of Liszt, Bartok’s suite “Out of Doors,” and music of Ravel and Mozart. When planning his programs, Von Oeyen begins the process with a large selection of composers and from there hones the program. “I usually don’t play any one piece that are longer than 70 minutes, but the real decisions come in the final stages of planning and depend on making the right connections with the works.” Von Oeyen, home-based in Manhattan, is concentrating on concertizing and has of late been playing Debussy, Ravel, Liszt and Chopin. He also enjoys modern composers such as Ligeti and Massenet and last season played a world premiere. Although one day he would like to compose, his current enthusiasm is conducting, and he will debut at the Spoleto Festival with Mozart’s Piano Concerto K 491 and Ravel’s “Le Tomba de Couperin”. Von Oeyen grew up in Malibu and graduated from Crossroads School. His father is an architect and his mother is a voice teacher and member of the Los Angeles Master Chorale. After graduating from Juilliard in Manhattan, Von Oeyen embarked on his professional career which finds him playing concerts around the world. He enjoys the experience, he says and has his favorite halls, including Powell Hall in St. Louis. While he has been in the audience while the L.A. Philharmonic played at Disney Hall-which fulfilled his high expectations-he has so far not been a performer. He is looking forward to debuting at Wigmore Hall in London this year. Happy and stimulated by life in New York, Von Oeyen nevertheless carves out time for visits west and even had time for some skiing while home for the holidays. Despite having won some prestigious competitions, including the Irving Gilmore International Keyboard Competition, Von Oeyen has cut down on his participation in such contests. “Competitions have lost some of their meaning because there are so many now,” he says. “Truly the most important career enabling factors are the maestros and the managers. If you can catch their attention, you are more likely to get concerts and to have a flourishing career.” The concert takes place at St. Matthew’s Church, 1031 Bienveneda Ave. Admission is $20. Tickets will be available at the door the night of the concert (no advance sales or reservations). For further information or a free 2003-2004 season brochure, contact 573-7787, ext. 2.

Guitar Virtuoso Opens Local Chamber Music Series on January 20

Internationally acclaimed guitarist Scott Tennant will join three members of the original Angeles String Quartet, violinist Roger Wilkie, violist Brian Dembow and cellist Steven Erdody in concert on Tuesday, January 20 at 8 p.m. in the sanctuary at St. Matthew’s, 1031 Bienveneda. In addition the world premiere of a work by Los Angeles-based composer Jane Brockman commissioned by Chamber Music Palisades (CMP) will debut. The program includes the Concerto for Guitar and Strings by Vivaldi, the Sonatina op. 205 for Flute and Guitar by Castelnuovo-Tedesco and Dvorak’s Piano Quintet, op. 81 in addition to the new Trio for Flute, Cello and Piano by Brockman. Scott Tennant is one of the world’s most recognized American guitarists. His performances both as a soloist and with the L.A. Guitar Quartet, which he is a founding member, have taken him around the world. He is the author of the best-selling book and video “Pumping Nylon” on guitar technique and is in the process of recording the complete solo guitar works of Joaquin Rodrigo for the Belgian label GHA, including the concertos with Leo Brouwer conducting. Violinist Roger Wilkie’s playing has been described by the Los Angeles Times as having “surpassing virtuosity, a thrilling legato tone and a sense of full emotional engagement.” Concertmaster of the Long Beach Symphony, he has also served in that capacity with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Los Angeles Music Center Opera Orchestra and the Real Philharmonia de Galicia (Spain) under Helmuth Rilling. As a member of the first New York String Quartet, violist Brian Dembow then joined the Sequoia Quartet followed by 12 years with the Angeles String Quartet. At age 11 he was admitted to The Juilliard School and later won the Eduard Dethier Award and was twice awarded the Michael Rabin Award. Stephen Erdody has served as principal cellist for the Pacific Symphony, the Joffrey Ballet, the American Ballet Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem and Opera Pacific and he was cellist with the New York String Quartet. He has formed a new ensemble, Chamber Music Los Angeles, to perform benefit concerts supporting non-profits that enrich children’s lives through the performing arts, particularly disadvantaged children. Composer Jane Brockman has served on the boards of directors of New York’s Composers Concordance, Women in Film, the Society of Composers and Lyricists and also served three years on review panels for the NEA. She was the first woman to earn a doctorate in music composition at the University of Michigan. She studied with Max Deutsch in Paris and worked in Ireland and Vienna. She has won honors and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Fulbright-Hays/Alliance-Francaise, Rackham School, the State of Connecticut, Meet the Composer, The Composers Conference and the Sigvald Thompson Prize for orchestral composition. Completing the player roster for the evening will be violinist Sarah Thornblade and CMP co-artistic directors and co-founders flutist Susan Greenberg and pianist Delores Stevens. Now in its seventh consecutive season, Chamber Music Palisades includes local school concerts in each season’s programming and has commissioned five new works since the inception of the series in 1997. Tickets will be available at the door at 1031 Bienveneda Avenue in Pacific Palisades at $20 for single admission. Students with ID will be admitted free of charge.

Theater Review

Good Stock in “Other People’s Money”

A night at the theater does not always translate to an entertaining escape from present-day realities. Sometimes a play or production evokes, or brings to light, current controversies plaguing our society. This is okay, as long as satire is the main ingredient and the characters are finely portrayed. Thankfully, Theatre Palisades’ production of Jerry Sterner’s “Other People’s Money” covers the necessary bases to make this “black comedy” worth seeing. Directed by Michael Macready and produced by Nikita Bezrukiy and Cindy Dellinger, the show runs through February 8 at Pierson Playhouse. You don’t have to understand stock talk, or the corporate world for that matter, to recognize a bad egg when you see one. In “Other People’s Money,” he comes all suited up, in the arrogant, vulgar form of Lawrence Garfinkle (Steve Larkin), a Wall Street shark whose ego isn’t the only thing that’s bloated. Between donuts, Garfinkle settles on his prey-a Rhode Island company called New England Wire and Cable, run on the traditional values and pride of Andrew Jorgenson (Lance Johnson). Helping Jorgenson manage the company is William Coles (Liam Tuohy), who also acts as the play’s narrator, and Jorgenson’s secretary/companion, Bea Sullivan (Pamela Murphy). Garfinkle, aka “Larry the Liquidator,” intends to buy the company right out from under them, and starts by buying a few shares. When the shareholders become concerned, they bring in Kate Sullivan (Tina Arning)-the sleek and sexy New York attorney who also happens to be Bea’s daughter. Will she be the one who gets Garfinkle to drop his donut…and his interest in the company? “Lawyers are like taxicab drivers stuck in traffic-they don’t do anything and their meters are always ticking,” says Jorgenson, whose shaky relationship with Kate arouses pent-up family conflict. Some of the best scenes are played out between Kate and Garfinkle, who heat up Garfinkle’s swanky New York office with their sexual banter/power trip dynamic. Larkin portrays the ultimate womanizing swindler with unrestrained vulgarity, while Arning captures her character’s sassy, femme fatale attitude to a T-these two have serious chemistry in their roles. The smart, detailed set design-Jorgenson’s office and Garfinkle’s pad each allotted one half of the stage-allows the audience to view the dichotomy between the big shot and the small-town businessman with perception and ease. Garfinkle’s black-and-white-tiled, retro-style office looks out on the city, in perfect opposition to Jorgenson’s wood-paneled, park-ranger-style headquarters, which Garfinkle compares to the Bronx. From the shiny trophies on the file cabinet to the glass jar of gumballs and the painted black and silver walls, the set (by Sherman Wayne) is really a piece of work. More impressive is the interplay between the two offices during scene transitions. For example, after Coles visits Garfinkle regarding the inheritance of New England Wire and Cable, Garfinkle pushes him across the stage and he stumbles into Jorgenson’s office-and literally into the next scene. At another point, Kate tells Jorgy not to go away, and she marches across the stage into Garfinkle’s office. This creative direction-the dismissal of using the door as the only way in and out-enhances the dramatic experience for the audience. Furthermore, the way the characters-particularly Garfinkle-offer commentary during scenes in which they are absent is humorous and engaging. They also speak directly to the audience on several occassions. “All of you, you’re destroying the capitalist system,” Garfinkle tells the audience, after being grilled by Kate. “The first thing the Commies will do is kill all the lawyers.” Matching the sharp delivery of lines is the costume design (by Sherry Coon), especially the way certain colors appear-and stand out-simultaneously in several characters’ outfits. For instance, Garfinkle wears a shiny magenta-colored tie with his black-striped suit while Kate sports a light, lime-green skirt suit with a light pink scarf. Simultaneously, Bea appears in a dull pink sweater. The coordinated costumes thus present an aesthetically pleasing dimension to the interaction between characters and their movement across the stage. With the production staff’s exemplary work, the five actors pull off an entertaining and thought-provoking drama. The show opens with Cabaret’s “Money, Money, Money!” which speaks volumes about the values that too often win out when the lights go down. “Other People’s Money” runs Friday and Saturday evenings at 8 p.m. and Sundays 2 p.m. Tickets are $13 for general admission and $15 on Saturdays; discounts for seniors and students. For reservations, call 454-1970.

Practice Makes Par-fect

Ron Mann’s Book “The Yoga of Golf” Lowers Scores and Blood Pressure

Palisadian Ron Mann, Ph.D. convinces even the novice golfer that clubs need not be broken through frustration in “The Yoga of Golf.”
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Perhaps Tiger Woods should consider hiring Ph.D. Ron Mann to coach him at next month’s Nissan Open. The world’s No. 1 golfer has conquered just about every course he’s ever played–except Riviera Country Club, where he has yet to win in six tries. At the very least, Tiger should read Mann’s recently-published book, “The Yoga of Golf” for the mental edge he has so far lacked at Riviera’s hallowed greens. Mann offers a powerful and profound approach to peak performance both on and off the course in an easy-to-read guide that will not only change one’s approach to golf, but life as well. “I hope Tiger reads this and gives me a call,” Mann joked. “The techniques I teach are valuable to players on any level, pros included, because so much of the game is mental.” Though he has yet to land a player as high-profile as Tiger on his resume, Mann’s clientele include the UCLA women’s golf team and Woman’s World Long Drive champion Lee Brandon. “I’ve been working with Lee for about a year and she drove the ball 332 yards,” said Mann, who aspires to work with PGA Tour players. “I happened to know the head coach at UCLA [Carrie Leary] and she had me come out and teach my focusing and breathing techniques to the team. They went to nationals for the first time since 1977 and finished fifth.” Mann grew up in Santa Monica, but has lived in the Muskingum neighborhood of the Palisades for eight years, mostly to be close to the Self-Realization Fellowship temple, where he is an active member. It took him only two months to write the book because it combines his two passions: golf and yoga. He started playing golf 40 years ago at the age of 16 and played on the Santa Monica High team. A disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, Mann is a certified hatha yoga instructor and has practiced Kriya Yoga since 1979. His first book, “Sacred Healing: Integrating Spirituality with Psychotherapy,” reached the Los Angeles Times’ Healthy Bestseller list in 1998. “My first job was as a caddie at Brentwood Country Club, so I got to play for free,” Mann remembers. “It started off as a secondary sport to baseball, but I always loved the pretty environment and as I got older, it became a great tool for establishing business connections.” Off the course, 2003 was trying for Mann because both of his parents died. On the links, however, he hit the only two holes in one he’s ever hit–both on par 3s at MountainGate Country Club, where he is a longtime member. His lowest round ever is a 74, also at MountainGate. In addition to the book, Mann has released an audio CD, “Find the Zone: Master the Mental Game of Golf,” which has garnered positive reviews in Golf Magazine and is being sold worldwide. “It just made sense to put the two disciplines together,” Mann says. “I recently did a presentation for the teaching staff at Riviera and I’ll be a keynote speaker at the Southern California Golf Show [February 27-29] in Long Beach. All of the feedback I’ve gotten so far has been positive.” A licensed clinical psychologist, Mann worked in private practice from 1976 until 2002 before shifting his focus to writing. His devotion to Self Realization has given him an inner peace he had always longed for. “Paramahansa Yogananda’s teachings are crystal clear, profound and life-changing,” Mann says. “I just know this is right for me. There’s a real spiritual presence that is available to all of us and I’m wiser because of it.” Asked what golfers he admires most, Mann cited several: “I like Ernie Els’ rhythm and style. He really takes his time. Tiger, of course, because of his strong competitive spirit. I also enjoy watching Jesper Parnevik and Fred Couples. I generally try to emulate guys who have good timing and a good rhythm to their swing.” “The Yoga of Golf” provides a means to move past the limitations of the mind and open the doorway to what athletes frequently refer to as “the zone.” In 10 short chapters, the book provides practical techniques to quiet the mind through meditation, yoga postures for greater strength and flexibility and ancient wisdom for a more enlightened perspective on golf. “It’s unlikely that one’s body will do more than one’s mind believes is possible,” Mann says. “When one’s belief system opens, then greater achievements are possible. Here in America, when we think of yoga, we think of just the physical stretching. The fact is, though, yoga involves mental techniques that will change lives well beyond your golf game.” Whether you’re a PGA Tour pro sizing up a 10-foot putt that could be worth millions or a weekend duffer who simply wants to lower his score and enjoy the game more, Mann’s book is a drive straight down the fairway. The book was self-published and copies are available at www.ronmann.com.

LAPD Captain Faces Irate Crowd; Offers A ‘Dedicated’ Car

“Why can’t this town, with a population of 25,000, have at least one dedicated police car?” That question, posed by one frustrated resident, was asked over and over again at last Thursday night’s Community Council meeting, which drew nearly 100 concerned citizens. “Where are the police when we need them?” asked another resident. “The LAPD is supposed to be there to serve and protect. But they aren’t doing that here in the Palisades.” The comment drew applause. After a heated two-hour exchange, which included testimonials from several victims of local crime, the council passed a motion to do whatever it takes to provide a police presence “24/7” in the Palisades, from pressuring the L.A. City Council to hire more police officers to paying for a private patrol car. The motion was put forward by Norm Kulla, the council’s Highlands representative, after Captain Mike Chambers of the LAPD’s West L.A. Division told the crowd that the best he could do was to insure a “dedicated” patrol car for Pacific Palisades, but only up to “four days a week” to start. While Chambers’ offer is an improvement over the amount of police protection Palisadians have now (one patrol car, on a daily basis, which is regularly called out of the area, often leaving the Palisades with no police presence at all) it did not satisfy resident Kevin Bird, a recent victim of an attempted robbery. “I was walking with my son on my shoulders near where I live [in the El Medio bluffs area] when I was held up by these two guys, one of whom held a semi-automatic gun at my stomach,” Bird said. “Why did it take the police 45 minutes to respond? That is just not good enough. In fact, it’s ridiculous for a town of this size.” Bird’s remarks were met with applause, as were Peter Carr’s. “We’re just kind of naked here,” said Carr, a recent burglary victim. “We’re sitting ducks is what it comes to. The fact is, I was burglarized in mid-November and I’m still waiting for a call from the LAPD to find out what’s happening to my case. ” Carr recounted how he came home one evening to discover his house in the Alphabet streets was being burglarized. “I saw my son’s piggy bank on the front porch and the burglar, who had broken into the side door, was busy stealing my wife’s bike while I waited outside for the police to come. About 25 minutes later a patrol car arrived, and somehow the burglar got away. I don’t blame the LAPD, which is so understaffed, but something has got to be done. We don’t feel safe here anymore.” Chambers assured Carr he would personally look into his case and explained the LAPD’s dilemma to the crowd. “The issue is deployment. There are currently only 9,300 police officers in the whole force. Do we need more cops? Absolutely. The West L.A. area is 64 square miles, the largest jurisdiction in Los Angeles County. And we only have seven cars, which can be called out at any time to deal with crime in other areas. Is that fair? No. But I do believe that West L.A. is getting its fair share, compared to other areas. The good news is that the Palisades is the safest place in the whole West L.A. division. In December there were a total of 37 crimes committed here. Compare that to areas where there are that many committed in a day.” Chambers said while statistically the Palisades does not warrant a full-time dedicated patrol, he would do what he could to improve the situation, given the “isolated nature” of the Palisades, and the perceived notion that crime here is on the rise. “This is a terrible frustration,” said the council’s Area 4 representative Larry Jacobs just before Kulla’s motion was passed. “The police just can’t do what we are asking them to do. The fact is, we have a homeland security problem right here in the Palisades and there’s no way for the police to solve it.” Talk then shifted to the possibility of hiring private patrols, which council advisor Paul Glasgall pointed out has been done very successfully in the Highlands (as well as in the Huntington Palisades). Another proposed solution was for Palisades residents to pay the city to hire off-duty and retired policemen to provide additional protection, as is done by Hollywood studios for movie and television production sites. “You can’t pay for your own cop,” noted one resident. “That would be considered unfair to all the other communities that can’t afford one.” Another option discussed briefly at the meeting was the proposed-and controversial- Asilomar gate. The electronically controlled gate, which would be installed across Asilomar at El Medio, would block vehicle access to the cul-de-sac on the bluffs. Discussion on the proposal, spearheaded by Asilomar resident Dr. Mark Kelly, resulted in a heated exchange between Kelly and El Medio resident Diana Mack, who is among those opposed to the gate. “I don’t think its right for anyone to try and privatize a public space,” said Mack, whose sentiment was shared by others in the crowd, including one man who yelled out “Go home” to Kelly, which prompted council chairman George Wolfberg to call the room to order. This also brought an end to the discussion. Later asked his reaction to Capt. Chambers’ commitment to increase patrols in the Palisades, Wolfberg called it “a stunning development. It’s better than what we have now.” On Monday night, Chambers returned to speak at an El Medio neighborhood meeting at Palisades High, organized by crime victim Kevin Bird. Chambers reiterated his commitment to increase patrol-car presence in the community. “Even though the Palisades is the safest place to live in West L.A., one crime is one crime too many, as far as I am concerned,” said Chambers, who expects a dedicated car to be in service by early February.

Friendship Keeps Them Kicking

Karate Kids Shigematsu and Rogers Earn Blackbelts Together

Even the best of childhood friends are bound to have fights every now and then. Palisadians Stephen Shigematsu and Nick Rogers certainly have their share. But for them, each and every confrontation is born of discipline and ends with a respectful bow. Their art is Yoshukai Karate and each of them earned his blackbelt in August after more than four years of dedicated training at Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts Center. Perhaps just as important as receiving their certificates, which finally arrived from Japan three weeks ago, the two have become even stronger friends as they have trained side by side. “Nick started doing it first and he told me how much he liked it, so I started a few weeks later and we’ve done it together ever since,” said Shigematsu, who turned 12 in November. “I’m glad I’ve learned karate in case I ever need to it. But they really stress using it as self-defense only.” Rogers was still 10 when he passed his test in August but has since turned 11: “I started in first grade when I was six. My mom thought it was a good idea and I was into Ninja Turtles then so I liked it. The best thing it has taught us is discipline. You shouldn’t do your moves to show off or bully people if you’re in a fight.” Testing for their blackbelts consisted of a written test (in which they had to memorize and recite words in Japanese), sparring, breaking boards (both admitted they were scared to try at first), weapons proficiency and performing as many as 20 different “katas”–routines used to demonstrate various moves and stances. Gerry Blanck, who has been teaching Yoshukai Karate in the Palisades for 20 years and served as the pair’s sensei for their blackbelt training, is not surprised his two prized pupils passed with flying colors. “Stephen and Nick are both great kids and very fast learners,” Blanck said. “They are two of the most dedicated students we have at the studio. I think they’ve tested for every belt together. I try to discourage people from testing before they are ready but there was never any doubt with those two. I knew they would pass no problem. What makes it even more cool is that they are best friends.” Not surprisingly, both boys enjoy weapons training most, though each has his preferred choice. “I like the sai swords,” said Shigematsu, who lives on Sunset. “They are pretty sharp so you have to be careful.” Rogers, on the other hand, favors nunchuks: “They are fun to look at. It was hard to use them at at first, but you get the hang of it.” In between sleepovers at each other’s houses, playing ball, doing homework and studying for tests (the two share all but an elective class together at Calvary Christian School), Shigematsu and Rogers spar with each other at least once a week. “We’re pretty equal,” Shigematsu says. “We know each other’s moves pretty well, but we’ll pull some tricky stuff on each other.” A tornado kick is each boy’s favorite move. Shigematsu described the maneuver as a “round kick with a spin” and Rogers admitted his friend “can do higher kicks because he’s more flexible than me.” Rogers, who lives in the Highlands, is currently taking a break from karate to concentrate on basketball and soccer. His AYSO U-12 team, the Red Devils, won the Region 69 championship and Rogers will now play center midfield on the regional All-Star team. When not at the dojo, Shigematsu plays pitcher, shortstop and first base in the Palisades Pony Baseball Association (his Bronco Phillies team reached the second round of the playoffs last season). He also golfs every weekend with his dad (his low score is 46 for nine holes), and snowboards in Mammoth. Training at the Martial Arts Center two days a week requires a level of commitment and dedication unique among boys their age. “It’s mostly fun, but there have been times when one of us has wanted to quit and the other one kept us going,” Rogers said. “It’s been fun training with Stephen.” Shigematsu’s goal is to achieve his second degree, called nidan, by the time he gets to high school. Rogers, too, wants to achieve nidan and also wants to teach other kids. He said, “It’s always more fun when you have someone there to do things with.”

Newman’s Birthday Goal Keys Pali Win

Freshman forward Sara Newman scored her first high school goal on her birthday Monday as the Palisades High women’s soccer team showed little rust in beating Westchester 6-0. Newman one-timed an accurate cross from winger Nicole Angrisani into the lower left corner of the net to highlight a dominating second half by the Dolphins, who improved to 5-1-1 overall and 2-0 in Western League play. The host Comets crossed midfield only five times in the final 40 minutes and were outshot 14-3 in the game. “I was really hoping to score today,” said Newman, who celebrated her 15th birthday in style. “Nicole [Angrisani] really set me up well. We’ve played better but overall this was a good game for us.” Newman, who lives in the Highlands, joined the Palisades team after a successful season on her 16-and-under Santa Monica United club team. “Club soccer is a lot different because the teams are more equally balanced. Here the players are all different levels. But I like high school, it’s fun.” Palisades led 2-0 at halftime but scored two quick goals at the start of the second half to end any hope of a Westchester comeback. Alex Michael manuevered through a crowded penalty area to scored on an outside-of-the-foot shot midway through the half. Sophomore forward Lucy Miller, the Dolphins’ leading scorer last season, provided the exclamation point on Pali’s victory with a well-placed turnaround shot from 20 yards away just before the final whistle. Pali moved into first-place in league with its victory and Fairfax’s 3-2 win over Hamilton

Palisadians Dogged in Park Quest

Nine members of PaliDog toured the proposed off-leash dog park site, located adjacent to PCH near the mouth of Potrero Canyon, with their dogs Tuesday afternoon.
Nine members of PaliDog toured the proposed off-leash dog park site, located adjacent to PCH near the mouth of Potrero Canyon, with their dogs Tuesday afternoon.
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

The preferred site for the first dedicated off-leash dog park in Pacific Palisades is noisy and filled with debris, but that didn’t deter the nine PaliDog members who toured the area for the second time on Tuesday afternoon with their pets in tow. Never mind that the group could not find the exact location of the proposed site or that they could barely hear each other over the roar of traffic along Pacific Coast Highway. Neither could curb their enthusiasm. “I think it’s perfect,” said Palisadian Linda Rosetti, who walked the site (located on the north side of PCH between Potrero Canyon and Temescal Canyon Road) with her Labrador retriever, Pearl. So does Judith Collas, the proud owner of two rescues from the pound, Penny and Tess. “But I recognize it’s going to be a long haul,” she said. The two-acre site, where proposed drilling by Occidental Petroleum was defeated by a No Oil coalition in the late 1980s, is owned by L.A.’s Department of Recreation and Parks which already supports seven off-leash dog parks elsewhere in the city. However, it is landlocked on three sides by property under state jurisdiction, including Caltrans which apparently controls access to the site. Joining PaliDog members on the tour was Laurie Newman, senior deputy to state Senator Sheila Kuehl, who has dealt with Caltrans in the past. The group has enlisted Newman’s help to negotiate the use of what has come to be known as “the former Oxy site.” Palisades Community Council representative Norm Kulla, a Highlands resident who led the tour, told Newman that his group is seeking the use of less than four acres from Caltrans, which currently uses the site for storage (including industrial sewer pipes, concrete road barriers, and cement sand). “We are not asking Caltrans to vacate the site,” Kulla told the Palisadian-Post. “We are merely asking them to share it. What we need, actually, is three acres for large dogs and three-quarters of an acre for smaller dogs. Ideally, people would be able to access the site on foot from Temescal Canyon, the top of Potrero Canyon and the bluffs at Via de las Olas. There would also be car access from PCH. Right now, this area is an eyesore.” Collas, who has done research on the site for PaliDog, agreed. “In 1991, when Occidental offered the land to the City of L.A., it was to be put to the best possible use for the enjoyment of the citizens,” Collas said. “But since then nothing has been done and it’s been used as a dump.” While there was apparently a request in 1993 by Rec and Parks to Caltrans to provide access to the property, Collas said she found no further documents related to the issue when she researched city records. However, Monique Ford, a deputy in Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski’s office who was on the field trip, informed the group that there is indeed a land swap in the works between Caltrans and Rec and Parks, although she could not provide any details. Ford’s news stopped the group in its tracks. “It gets complicated when you’re talking about land swaps and easements,” Newman said. “Caltrans is not going to give up land adjacent to PCH very easily, but that doesn’t mean they won’t agree to some kind of long-term lease or something.” The group agreed that the next step is to have a land survey done to pinpoint the proposed site. “I think it’s a great use of the land,” Newman said. “It’s just a question of access and available resources.” She promised to make some phone calls and get back to the group. Wil Sharpe, who went on the field trip with Itza, his 4-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever, felt encouraged by Newman’s involvement. “Anytime we can get a government representative to support our cause, I think it brings us a step closer to actually making it happen,” he said. Sharpe’s sentiment was shared by Joseph Beauchamp, who went on the outing with his four standard poodles. Having lived in the Palisades for 11 years, he wants a local dog park because he now has to travel several times a day from his home in Castellammare to Sullivan Canyon to walk his dogs. Bill Kravitz, who lives on Lachman Lane, walks his dog Greasy on the Asilomar bluffs and in Rustic Canyon. Rosetti admits to currently walking her dog, off-leash, in Potrero Canyon. As she watched her dog frolic in a pond on the Oxy site, she said: “I don’t see why we can’t start using it now. All we need is to install a chain-link fence to protect the dogs. The noise [from PCH] doesn’t seem to bother them.” Following the field trip, the Post contacted local historian Randy Young about the prospects of the former Oxy site and negotiating access from Caltrans. He did not see this as a problem. “That’s their job, to provide public access,” he said, “and through their mitigation fund to make it possible for just this kind of project. Caltrans provided almost 90 percent of the funds to build Los Liones Gateway park so I don’t see why they wouldn’t support this project.” Young sees any development on the site as a “wonderful opportunity for both the state and the city to work together to come up with a larger plan for the whole area instead of leaving it as a dump site, which it is now.”