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Soccer Squeezed by Orange Crush

The strategy the Chatsworth High girls soccer team used against Palisades in Friday’s City Section quarterfinal playoff game wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t tricky. At times, it bordered on illegal. But in the end, it worked. The Orange-clad Chancellors employed rough and aggressive tactics to throw the Dolphins off their game and just when it appeared the contest was headed for overtime, Shawna Williams scored on a turnaround shot and Chatsworth held on for a 1-0 victory. As the scoreboard clock at Stadium by the Sea ticked under three minutes left, Williams slipped into the penalty area with her back to the goal, corraled a pass from Lindsey Noah, warded off a defender, whirled, and booted a shot into the lower left corner of the net, just beyond the reach of Dolphins’ senior goalkeeper Laura Bailey. Although third-seeded Palisades (14-3-1) had several quality chances on corner kicks in the final two minutes of regulation and three minutes of ensuing injury time, it was unable to net the equalizer and suffered elimination at the hands of a West Valley League team for the third straight year. “It was a good shot,” Bailey said, describing the goal that brought her high school career to an end. “She put it in the spot that’s hardest for a goalie to get to. I saw the ball coming and I got half an inch or so of my fingers on it, but not enough to stop it.” Palisades hung tough with eventual City champion El Camino Real for a half before succumbing 6-0 two years ago and gave City runner-up Granada Hills fits last year despite losing 2-0. This time, the Dolphins generated the better chances against a less-skilled team. Seniors Kirsten Schluter and Nicole Angrisani and junior Alex Michael used nifty one-touch passing to keep the ball on Chatsworth’s half of the field and freshman sweeper Madison Glantz thwarted every Chancellors’ rush. The same teams had battled to a 1-1 tie in Pali’s season opener, with sophomore Lucy Miller scoring the Dolphins’ goal. Friday’s game was far more physical. And this time, the sixth-seeded Chancellors (11-7-4) had no intention of letting Palisades’ leading scorer do her damage. Miller was marked closely from the first whistle. She appeared to be fouled repeatedly and once was thrown to the ground in clear view of the referee, but he gave the motion to “play on.” Miller had to leave the game for 10 minutes to bandage several bleeding wounds she suffered on the play. “It’s sad, we’re like a family,” Bailey said. “I have no complaints. We all fought. We all tried. The goal was depressing but I give Chatsworth credit. They were more physical than us and they wanted to win. They had a few dirty players but every team does.” Palisades had plenty of momentum heading into its rematch with Chatsworth, having beaten 19th-seeded Banning 5-1 in the second round last Wednesday. Freshman Sara Newman scored two goals, including a one-timer inside the far post off of a pinpoint cross from Lucy Miller in the 19th minute. An own-goal following a corner kick in the 26th minute gave the Dolphins a 2-0 lead. Banning (10-5), which upset 14th-seeded Kennedy 1-0 in the first round, pulled to within a goal one minute later when Maria Estrada was left unguarded to the right of Pali’s goal and tucked a low shot behind Bailey. Implored by head coach Kim Smith to pick up the pace, the Dolphins broke the game open early in the second half on goals two minutes apart by Kirsten Schluter and Miller. With time winding down, Newman closed out the scoring with her second goal of the game and third of the playoffs.

Paly Swims Third at Y Champs

Paly swimmers (from left) Jessica Schem, Alison Merz and Jennifer Tartavull at last weekend's Y Champs Meet in Commerce. Photo: Gayle Kirkpatrick
Paly swimmers (from left) Jessica Schem, Alison Merz and Jennifer Tartavull at last weekend’s Y Champs Meet in Commerce. Photo: Gayle Kirkpatrick

By SUE PASCOE Special to the Palisadian-Post Showing their increasing strength as a team, the Palisades-Malibu YMCA swim team was a force to be reckoned with when it traveled to Y Champs at the Commerce Aquatorium in Commerce last weekend. As is Paly’s tradition, the 80-member team met in front of the YMCA on Via de la Paz at 6:30 Saturday morning to travel by bus to the competition that included 634 athletes representing 11 teams from all over Southern California. Older swimmers were paired with new swimmers to make sure everyone had a friend on the bus and an experienced guide once they reached the 10-lane indoor swimming pool. Coach Chappie DeHaven summed up the meet, “The kids swam really tough. The majority swam their best times. We couldn’t be more proud.” Nine-year-old Catherine Wang, MacKenzie Leake, 10, Alexandra Edel, 11, Samantha Brill, 14, and Katherine Quinn, 13, had times fast enough to qualify for Junior Olympics. David Nonberg, 17, qualified for Nationals, the first Paly male to do so in 10 years. Nonberg swam the 50 Freestyle in 28.5 seconds, his fastest time by far in that event, and will travel to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for the Nationals April 12-18. “Beforehand there was no possibility in my mind that I could do that,” Nonberg admitted later. “To improve by two seconds in one race is huge. That was a complete surprise to me and everyone else.” Only the top eight swimmers make it to the finals and each swimmer is allowed to enter a maximum of three individual events. In the 8 & Under division, Courtney Carswell placed second in the 25 Freestyle (16.66), third in the 50 Freestyle (37.59) and fifth in the 100 Individual Medley (1:38.66). Nicolas Edel won the 25 Freestyle (16.64), placed second in the 25 Backstroke (19.86) and was fourth in the 25 Breaststroke (23.12). Laura Lemoine placed sixth in the 25 Breaststroke (23.30), Alexander Landau was fourth in the 25 Butterfly (20.83), fourth in the 25 Breaststroke (23.51) and eighth in the 25 Backstroke (21.55). Madison Lyon was seventh in the 25 Breaststroke (23.52) and Morgan Reno swam fourth in the 25 Butterfly (19.63). Mackenzie Leake was the leader for points in the 9 & 10 year- old category. She placed first in the 50 Breaststroke (39.25) and 50 Backstroke (34.99) and second in the 100 Individual Medley (1:16.22). Catherine Wang took fifth in the 50 Freestyle (32.28) and seventh in the 50 Butterfly (35.81). Rachel Jaffe placed sixth in the 50 Breaststroke (45.28) and Olivia Kirkpatrick took fifth in the 50 Breaststroke (43.10). The Medley Relay team of Leake, Kirkpatrick, Pamela Soffer and Mara Silka took third (2:36.54) and the 200 Freestyle Relay of Soffer, Sarah Thorson, Jaffe, and Wang swam second in 2:29.03. The 11 & 12 age division saw Alexandra Edel take third in the 50 Breaststroke (35.04) and fourth in the 50 Backstroke (33.89). Alison Merz dropped 10 seconds off of her previous best time in the 200 Freestyle to take seventh (2:18.05) and also swam seventh in the 50 Butterfly (32.56). Danny Fujinaka placed seventh in the 50 Breaststroke (39.77). The girls’ 200 Medley Relay of Jessica Schem, Jennifer Tartavull, Merz and Hayley Lemoine took third (2:14.99). The boys’ Medley Relay team of Fujinaka, Nick Korody, Matthew Thorson and Jared Brown swam fourth while the Freestyle Relay of Thorson, Brown, Karody and John Cullen also took fourth. In the 13 & 14 group, Alex Fujinaka took a seventh in the 200 Freestyle (2:13.66) and eighth in the 50 Freestyle (28.02). Samantha Brill took third in the 100 Breaststroke (1:15.16), fourth in the 100 Backstroke (1:08.80) and eighth in the 100 Freestyle (1:00.65). Catherine Quinn was second in the 100 Breaststroke (1:13.37) and third in the 50 Freestyle (26.60). The Girls’ 200 Freestyle Relay of Quinn, Ashley Mink, Kathryn Cullen and Brill took second (1:51.81) while the Medley Relay of Cullen, Mink, Shelby Pascoe and Stephanie Boone took 3rd (2:21.21). The 15 & Older girls once again racked up points for Paly. Alexa Merz led the girls with first-place swims in the 50 Freestyle (23.56), 100 Freestyle (51.08) and 200 Individual Medley (2:07.29). Teammate Cara Davidoff took first in the 200 Freestyle (1:55.37) and the 100 Butterfly (59.61) and second in the 50 Freestyle (24.06). Chelsea Davidoff took seventh in the 100 Breaststroke (1:17.89) and 100 Freestyle (59.79). Sheri Dunner took eighth in the 100 Breaststroke (1:20.14). Katherine Smith took a first in the 100 Breaststroke (1:09.35), a second in the 100 Backstroke (1:02.76) and third in the 200 Individual Medley (2:19.22). Alison Piazza swam 7th in the 100 Back (1:13.93). The 200 Freestyle Relay of Merz, Ashley Jacobs, Piazza, and Davidoff took first place (1:46.74) and the 200 Medley Relay of Smith, Chelsea Davidoff, Hannah Haberfield, and Dunner took third (2:06.49). Paly’s senior boys once again ruled the waves with multiple placings, including a first-place in the 200 Freestyle Relay (Jones, Fishler, Nonberg and Hays) in 1:33.95. They took fourth in the Medley Relay (Johnson, Guze, Fox, and Boone) in 1:55.48. Peter Fishler took sixth in all three of his events, the 50 Freestyle (23.96), the 200 Freestyle (1:57.34) and the 100 Butterfly (59.88). Daniel Fox placed fourth in the 100 Butterfly (59.17) and seventh in the 200 Individual Medley (2:16.02). Evan Buze placed eighth in the 100 Breast (1:15.00). Paris Hays took fifth in three events, the 50 Freestyle (23.65), the 100 Backstroke (1:01.14) and the 100 Freestyle (52.71). Teammate Brian Johnson swam to a third in both the 200 Free (1:50.24) and the 200 I.M. (2:05.66) and a 4th in the 100 Back (58.09). Gavin Jones placed fourth in the 100 Freestyle (51.97), sixth in the 50 Freestyle (1:01.23) and seventh in the 100 Butterfly (1:00.37). David Nonberg took third in the 50 Freestyle (22.85), a fifth in the 100 Butterfly (59.87) and eighth in the 200 Freestyle (1:59.35). The Coaches Medley Relay team, always the last unofficial event of Y Champs, was won by Paly. Although Adam Blakis, Chappie DeHaven and Eric Butler deny that the newest coach Val Bagri, a former world class swimmer, was hired for relay purposes, many were voicing suspicions as Paly left the other coaches in their wake. Paly met that evening to hand out awards and honor its swimmers. The graduating seniors: Dan Fox, Cara Davidoff, Sheri Dunner and Alex Boone shared their thoughts about swimming. Fox said that when he’s up at 5:00 a.m., working on flexibility, weights, and doing splits, he sometimes wonders why he’s not in bed like everyone else. He credited Blakis with motivating him. Alex Boone, who started swimming three years ago because he needed P.E. credit, shared his remembrances of his first day of practice. He was on the pool deck with younger swimmers. “Eleven-year-olds were beating me, it wasn’t pretty,” he said. “Adam told me that day that the hardest thing is not going to be swimming, but staying motivated and sticking with it past the first few days.” Blakis, in his usual laidback style had nothing but praise for his team. “The kids swam really well. I’m proud of David [Nonberg] for making his first National cut. The team really came together and supported each other which resulted in a great meet.”

Jeff Taylor and Daughter Bayden, Beloved by Family and Friends

The 2003 family Christmas photo of the Taylor family: parents Colette and Jeff, children Bayden and Preston.
The 2003 family Christmas photo of the Taylor family: parents Colette and Jeff, children Bayden and Preston.

Jeff Taylor, 36, and his 2-1/2-year-old daughter Bayden, who died Monday are remembered as usually special people by a close family friend, Phil Pecsok. “Bayden was a wonderful little girl, a sweetheart who everybody loved,” said Pecsok, a Palisades resident who has two young children of his own. “She had a great disposition, and she enjoyed telling people that her mom was her best friend.” “Jeff was my best friend, absolutely-ever since we were boys playing baseball together at the park,” Pecsok continued. “I was the best man in his wedding 10 years ago in Coronado, and he worked for my company [NAXCOM] up until a few months ago. “Everyone loved him. He was charismatic, extremely bright, just a wonderful husband and a great dad. He also had a great sense of humor. Every time we got together, I laughed so hard my face hurt.” Almost 30 years later, Pecsok can still recall that Taylor was the first 8-year-old selected in the annual draft of new players by the Pacific Palisades Baseball Association. Pecsok was drafted by the same organization (the Phillies), in the third round. “Jeff was a big strong kid and a great athlete. He was our catcher and we played on the same teams for five years. At Palisades High, he was a catcher and outfielder and in his senior year they played at Dodger Stadium in the City finals. He then played at West L.A. College and the scouts said he had the best arm on the West Coast.” But after Taylor transferred to San Diego State, he gave up baseball and went on to graduate with a major in criminology. Taylor, whose parents bought a home on Via de la Paz in 1964, attended Palisades Elementary, Village School (for a year), Paul Revere and PaliHi, graduating in 1985. Along the way, he received his Eagle Scout rank in Troop 223 in July 1982. In September 1994, Taylor married Colette Cooley of San Diego, and about three years ago they moved back to his family home in the Palisades. Colette is finance director for the Western Los Angeles County Council, Boy Scouts of America. He came VP of business development at NAXCOM, while also directing the customer service department and day-to-day operations. In addition, he oversaw all Web-site enhancements and upgrades. Pecsok was a co-founder of NAXCOM (the National Automated Exchange Collectibles On-line Marketplace), a Century City-based company that offers sports cards and sports autograph memorabilia. Pecsok said Taylor was a loyal and thoughtful friend. “When it came to giving people gifts, he made a great effort to find something that was meaningful, something you could use or wanted. He loved making people feel good. On my last birthday, he gave me a bag with 10 items-gag gifts, yet each one had a story behind it. The amount of time and creativity that represented, most people just don’t do that.” In addition to his wife and his 4-1/2-year-old son Preston, Taylor is survived by his mother, Ann Taylor of Pacific Palisades and Cabo San Lucas; his sister, Cheryl Higgins of Washington, D.C.; two brothers, Bob Taylor of Fallbrook and Tim Taylor of Aspen. Bayden Taylor is also survived by her grandparents, Ken and Carol Cooley of San Diego, and great-grandmother Sally Cooley. Services will be held Friday, March 5 at 2 p.m. in the Methodist Church, 801 Via de la Paz. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations can be made to the Boy Scouts of America Western Los Angeles County Council or the Preston Tiger Taylor Education Fund, P.O. Box 1195, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272.

George Pardee, Jr.; Past Resident, Prominent Builder and Benefactor

George Magill Pardee, Jr., an influential home builder in Pacific Palisades and beyond, passed away peacefully at his home in San Diego on February 23 at the age of 87. He was a man of many parts: a tremendously successful businessman; a leader in local and national community and youth organizations; a patron of the arts; a bon vivant and lover of people and fine things; and a loving husband, father and grandfather. George Jr. formed Pardee Construction Company in 1946 with his father and his brother Hoyt. His brother, J. Douglas Pardee, joined the company two years later. When George retired from Pardee Construction Company on his 65th birthday, the company had built and sold more than 27,000 homes in California and Nevada. As a result of George’s work in the early 1950s as a vestryman at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church in the Palisades, and the church’s need for a location to build a new church and parish school, a partnership was organized consisting of the church, Gifford Phillips (as the financial backer) and Pardee Construction Company. The partnership purchased a 70-acre estate in the area of what is now Bienveneda Avenue. The church’s portion was 30 acres and an existing large house on the property. The partnership developed houses on the balance of the property. This was Pardee’s first venture into for-sale housing. George was a longtime resident of the Palisades before he moved to Marina del Rey in the late 1960s. His brothers Hoyt and J. Douglas both lived in the Palisades until more recently. George loved boats and the sea. He spent time at Catalina Island almost every summer of his life, and had owned boats since he built a 15-foot sailboat at age 18. His last yacht was an 85-foot power cruiser. He was a member of the San Diego Yacht Club, the California Yacht Club, and the Catalina Island Yacht Club. The Boy Scouts of America was one of the strongest influences on George’s life and character. He joined the Boy Scouts on his 12th birthday, in 1928, and remained a registered scout for the rest of his life. As an adult, George was active for many years in the Western Los Angeles County Council and was president of the council for eight years. In the early 1970s, he donated the funds to construct the Pardee Sea Scout Base, located at Marina del Rey. He also generously contributed to the Emerald Bay scout camp on Catalina, which is now known as the George and Katherine Pardee Camp Emerald Bay. George contributed expertise and funds to many other nonprofit organizations over the years. These included American Humanics (an organization promoting educational programs for professionals wanting to go into youth leadership careers); the San Diego Museum of Art; the Mingei Museum; Scripps Clinic; Eisenhower Medical Center; St. Vincent de Paul; and the University of San Diego, whose campus houses the Katherine and George Pardee Legal Research Center. In 1967, George married Katherine Mae Newton; they shared a great romance for 35 years. Kathy was a member of the Catholic Church, and in 1978 George also became a Catholic. As with every other organization with which he was affiliated during his lifetime, George took a leadership role in the church, joining the Knights of the Holy Sepulcher, a Catholic organization dedicated to preserving Christian sites in the Holy Land. Kathy and George traveled widely, once circumnavigating the globe in 30 days. They had many friends, and often entertained at their houses in La Jolla and Indian Wells. Sadly, however, Kathy passed away in February 2002. While George was devastated by this loss, he managed to maintain his native optimism, and continued to enjoy life right up to the time of his final illness, two weeks before his death. George Pardee will be remembered for his honesty and integrity. He ran his whole life according to the Boy Scout oath. Although he was quiet and soft-spoken, his words were persuasive because his trustworthiness and good intentions were always evident to others. He loved people, particularly young people, as his involvement with so many youth-oriented organizations attests. He inspired others to do their best in their endeavors and to join him in giving back to their communities. In addition to his brothers Hoyt and J. Douglas Pardee, George is survived by his children from his first marriage to Marian Andrews: Anne Koch, Carolyn Beahrs, John Pardee and Neal Pardee, and nine grandchildren. A memorial service was held on February 28 at UC San Diego. The family requests that, instead of flowers, donations be sent to the University of San Diego in memory of George Pardee, or to a favorite charity.

Robert E. Thompson, TV Producer, Screenwriter

Robert E. Thompson, a screenwriter, producer and longtime Palisades resident who helped shape television as we know it today, died of pneumonia on February 11 at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica. He was 79. Known to many as Red, Thompson was born and grew up in Los Angeles. After serving with distinction in the Pacific and in Europe during World War II, he graduated from Yale University, where he began his career writing plays and short stories, including two O’Henry award-winning stories. While pursuing graduate studies at Stanford, he worked as a journalist for such publications as the San Francisco Examiner, Time-Life and the Wall Street Journal. In the mid-1950s he returned to Los Angeles and entered the newly emerging field of live television, writing for “Studio One” and “Matinee Theatre.” Over the next 35 years, he went on to write and produce such seminal shows as “Have Gun Will Travel,” “Rawhide,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Mission Impossible” (for which he received an Emmy nomination), and “Harry O.” In the 1970s, as theatrical movies became more and more driven by the blockbuster mentality and television became the place for content and character-driven stories, Thompson emerged as a leading figure in the new genre known as TV movies. Through them he explored issues of social and political injustice, often from a woman’s point of view. The Emmy-nominated “A Case of Rape” broke all ratings records for two-hour movies in 1974 (and is still in the TV movie Top 10 today). Even more impressive, “A Case of Rape” was instrumental in changing California state law, making it illegal for lawyers to question rape victims about their previous sexual history-a once-routine practice discouraged many women from reporting rapes. In “The $5.20 an Hour Dream” (1980) Thompson attacked the issue of unequal pay for women; among the kudos garnered by that movie was a Feminist Achievement Award from the National Organization for Women. In addition, Thompson was one of the creators of the docudrama miniseries form, to which he contributed such works as “Francis Gary Powers: The True Story of the U-2 Spy Incident” and “The Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald.” His many literary adaptations included a miniseries version of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.” In 1969, Thompson received an Oscar nomination for his adaptation of Horace McCoy’s Depression-era novella “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?” This darkly poetic theatrical feature, directed by Sydney Pollack and starring Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin and Gig Young, is one of the landmark films of its era. In addition to his wife of 54 years, Joanna, a poet whose work has appeared in literary journals, including “The American Scholar,” Thompson is survived by his daughter Stacia, currently a television documentary producer working in New York, and his grandson, Jordan Thompson-DeSon, who is attending USC. A son, Kevin, died in 1962. Robert E. Thompson was a strong supporter of the political rights of writers. Donations in his name can be made to the PEN American Center, 568 Broadway Suite 401, New York, NY 10012, which defends free expression around the world (212-334-1660, or visit pen@pen.org) and to the library of Columbia College Hollywood, an institution which trains aspiring writers and filmmakers (818-401-1031)

The Making of an Idol

The 11 finalists, from left to right, Ari Coco, Gilli Messer, Jasmine Daghighian, Justin Jones, Treasure Davis, Charles Hinshaw, Kiera Wells, Kiyanna Epps, Taylor Fisher, Annie Tippe and Charmagne Land.
The 11 finalists, from left to right, Ari Coco, Gilli Messer, Jasmine Daghighian, Justin Jones, Treasure Davis, Charles Hinshaw, Kiera Wells, Kiyanna Epps, Taylor Fisher, Annie Tippe and Charmagne Land.
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Simon Cowell was nowhere in sight when Palisades High School named its very own Pali Idol Friday night. In fact, all the judges had nothing but positive comments to say to the talented group of singers in the ‘American Idol’-style competition. Palisades High School sophomore Annie Tippe won the title of Pali Idol 2004 singing a soulful, bluesy rendition of ‘Proud Mary’ accompanied by her father Ron on guitar. Annie was the evening’s winner, but all 11 finalists got their star turn in the second annual contest’ belting out songs in a variety of genres in front of a panel of four entertainment industry judges and an audience of over 250 people at Mercer Hall. As each finalist performed, the judges’ vote counted for 75 percent of the score and the audience vote counted for 25 percent. Along with Tippe, seniors Treasure Davis, who sang a soulful ‘A Voice Within,’ and Kiyanna Epps, who sang a jazz/blues ballad, ‘I’m Going Down,’ moved on to the second round. The judges made comments, but only the audience’s votes counted in the second round. ‘I wanted to tell the other two girls Treasure and Kiyanna, I would have loved to share the title with them,’ Tippe said. ‘I think they both have careers in music, they were both my idols that night.’ The event was organized by the PaliHi Leadership class, whose teacher, Chris Lee, started the event last year based on the popular TV show ‘American Idol.’ A music lover, Lee felt that in addition to the theater department’s musical, students should have a chance to show their vocal skills. ‘I thought it would be nice to have a talent show, to give kids who just want to sing the opportunity.’ Just like ‘American Idol’s’ contestants, who all have gone on tour together, the 11 finalists will perform together at PaliHi’s Casino Night on March 12. Tippe took the title and $200 cash, while runners-up Davis and Epps each won $50, and each of the other finalists, Ari Coco, Charmagne Land, Charles Hinshaw, Jasmine Daghighian, Gilli Messer, Justin Jones, Taylor Fisher and Kiera Wells, received a $20 gift certificate to Blockbuster. Tippe, a Brentwood resident, already knows what she’s spending her winnings on: some in savings and the rest towards a record player and ‘an Amoeba Records shopping spree’ for old jazz albums. ‘I’ve been listening to a lot of records lately, and I like the scratchy, rugged quality. CDs are more processed,’ said Tippe, who hopes to have a career as a record producer and whose dream is to sing in small jazz clubs. The competition started two weeks ago with over 70 contestants, who each sang a 30-second tidbit from any song they wanted. From these, three teacher judges selected the top 20 who were winnowed down based on their talent, ability, presence and personality. The judges were Diane Feldman Turen, the founder of Children’s Civic Light Opera and a director and producer for that company; Mareo, a singer, songwriter, actor and clothing designer, who also teaches hip hop and jazz dance at Fancy Feet Dance Studio and toured as a backup vocalist with the former ‘American Idol’ Kelly Clarkson; Phil Margaziotis, a PaliHi graduate, music producer and engineer; and Barbara Passolt, a singer and musical theater actress. The judges were impressed with the students’ comfort on the stage and passion for the music. ‘The judges were all really positive,’ said Tippe. ‘I thought the contest was so much better than the TV show [known for the judge’s harsh comments].’ The music ran the gamut from oldies to R&B to country. Some sang a capella, others had friends play instruments or used karaoke soundtracks. Many were accompanied, quietly from backstage by their fellow contestants who sang along. Leadership’s Lee and senior Amy Gumenick were the co-emcees. ‘My favorite part was how supportive the contestants were of one another,’ said Lee. ‘They were so proud of one another and had an utter joy in the music.’ (Additional Reporting by Courtney Schmitt)

Historical Society to Trek to Historic Sierra Madre

The Pacific Palisades Historical Society is planning a bus tour on Sunday, March 14 for members and other interested Palisadians to see a famous wisteria vine planted in 1871 and browse Sierra Madre’s arts and crafts fair. Sierra Madre is a quiet town at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, planned originally as a utopian community by Nathaniel Carter on land purchased in 1881 from Lucky Baldwin. Famous for its tree-lined streets and homes ranging in style from Victorian and Craftsman to California bungalow, Sierra Madre is a town distinct from all others in Southern California. It is well-known as a haven for artists, poets and creative people. Streets and homes are shaded by native oaks, sycamores and other trees. The most famous living thing in town is the more than century-old wisteria vine, listed as the world’s largest blossoming plant in the 1993 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. This plant now covers nearly an acre of private property between two homes at the northern edge of town. The bus will leave from Los Liones and Tramonto Drive at 11:30 a.m. sharp and will return before 5:30 p.m. The cost of $15 includes the bus trip, driver tip and ticket to the festival. It does not include lunch; a brown bag lunch or snack at the festival is recommended. To register, send a check to Pacific Palisades Historical Society, Box 1299, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272 before March 9. Contact: 454-2101 or 454-8468.

Rogers & Hillman Unite In Palm Springs Wedding

Sarah Elizabeth Rogers, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Hamilton Rogers III of Houston, and Robert Dunlap Hillman Jr., son of Mr. Robert Hillman of La Jolla and Ms. Barbara Bidwell Hillman of Pacific Palisades, were married by Reverend Erika O. Gara on January 3. The wedding took place at Estrella, a hotel and spa in Palm Springs. The bride, 31, is keeping her name. She is an MFA student in fiction writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She also has an MBA from Stanford and graduated cum laude from Princeton with a degree in philosophy. She worked in New York and San Francisco for Goldman Sachs before business school, and at a technology startup and at a consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area afterward. The bridegroom, 33, is currently an MBA student at the University of Iowa. He graduated from St. Matthew’s School and Harvard High School. He played volleyball on Palisades Club teams at the Junior Olympics and starred in volleyball in high school and at Stanford. Until this fall, he was a full-time singer-songwriter who lived in New York for eight years and who was part of the Songwriters’ Exchange, a weekly meeting started by Jack Hardy. Bob toured extensively as the opening act for Suzanne Vega and others, and put out two albums produced by Tommy West, Jim Croce’s producer. He has a BA in English and an MA in organizational behavior from Stanford. The couple met at a wedding in Santa Barbara on New Year’s Eve 2000/2001, when they were seated next to one another at dinner by the matchmaking bride. Bob lived in Brooklyn at the time but moved to San Francisco that summer (and then, quite sportingly, to Iowa City). Bob’s mother, Ms. Hillman, is a 30-year Palisades resident. She is currently an independent management consultant and a retired adjunct professor of Organizational Theory at Pepperdine University.

Teaching Physical and Mental Self-Defense

Pacific Palisades is an insulated, unique community, but one which is not immune to big-city problems. ‘We love the Palisades. The bad news is a lot of people here live like ostriches: they see horrible things in the news, but think ‘that can’t happen here,” said Max Impact self-defense instructor James Gavsie at a women’s self-defense workshop here January 31. ‘Things do happen here. We live in that kind of society.’ Along with the other women in the class, I learned not only physical but mental ‘self-protection’ from instructors Gavsie and Fred Cerrato, who both have a background in martial arts and now teach their classes at Gerry Blanck’s Martial Arts Center in the 881 Alma Real building. In addition to practicing punches to the face, getting out of a wrist grab and escaping a body hug, the women learned about different thinking processes in everyday situations. For example, although the conventional safety advice is to avoid using cell phones while driving, Gavsie also warned against using them while walking down the street, as it makes callers distracted and not as aware of what’s going on around them. ‘Cell phones are one of the biggest distractions,’ said Gavsie, who believes that ‘realistic self-defense’ incorporates learning how to be attentive and not be an easy victim. The instructors also warn women to use their senses at all times, noting that some criminals use two-on-one distractions, with one person distracting the victim while the other commits the crime. Listening to our instincts and expanding our sense of awareness was also emphasized. ‘If you don’t feel comfortable with someone in an elevator, don’t get inside,’ Gavsie said. ‘An elevator is a soundproof steel chamber.’ He also warned about being aware of a place where an attacker could hide when walking into a parking garage or entering your car. The class combined physical combat with suggestions about how to deal with certain situations’mostly reminders to keep our eyes open. Gavsie, 250 lbs. and 6’3′, said to the women in the class, ‘Everyone here is capable of doing physical damage to me.’ Long-time martial arts instructors, Gavsie and Cerrato have been teaching out of Gerry Blanck’s Center since December and, prior to that, taught the Max Impact Self-Defense classes in Atlanta. ‘I hardly ever get into a physical confrontation, but I use mental martial arts every day,’ Gavsie explained. The teachers had us pair up and practice out the moves with one another. To work on our mentality, Gavsie had each of us think of five motivating reasons why we would fight back. The focus of the class was avoiding any kind of attack, but in case it’s unavoidable, the teachers cited reports that a victim who fights back is better off than one who doesn’t. ‘If an attacker says ‘Come with me and I won’t hurt you,’ don’t believe him,’ Gavsie warned. We paired up and practiced our one-two punch, aiming for the face or nose. The instructors came around and urged us to put our full weight into it, stopping just short of the nose of our partner. They also assured us that adrenaline would add to our power when needed. To get away from an attacker grabbing us by the wrist, we practiced with a partner, jerking our forearm towards our opposite shoulder to break the connection of the attacker’s grip. The exercises mostly focused on putting our full body weight behind the movements to be more effective. As for using a groin attack, the instructors say to use your shin to kick someone in the groin, and don’t count on it as your only line of defense. Each woman had a different reason for wanting to come to the class. For Amy Fee, it was confidence. ‘I live in Santa Monica, I like to park on the street and there’s no street lighting,’ she said. Palisades travel writer and marketing expert Beverley Auerbach wanted to learn some safety skills to use during her frequent travels. The seminar was valuable for Palisadian Sharon Shaw, whose husband, a Max Impact martial arts student, suggested it to her. ‘The mental part of their course was information we know but don’t think about’awareness,’ she said later. ‘I already shared with friends and family and I feel good about showing them a few important moves and awarenesses that they can now use to protect themselves.’ The instructors’ four survival rules, all of which apply to men as well as women, are: 1. React immediately. Don’t let someone follow you somewhere; go immediately to a fire station, public place, etc. 2. Resist, do not comply (except for giving money and car keys or possessions). 3. Don’t go to ‘crime scene number two,’ which could be an adjacent room at a party, in his car, or anywhere someone wants to take you. 4. Never give up. They also discourage weapon use without extensive training, because weapons can be used by the attacker against the victim. For a stalker’someone who calls several times a day, doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and doesn’t care about your feelings’the instructors advocated a direct approach: address the stalker immediately and in no uncertain terms. ‘Shut them down right away’tell them you have no desire to be with them,’ Gavsie said. For example, if someone is harassing you in a store or market, be very direct and say something like: ‘You’re bothering me, I’m about to call security.’ In general, an effective verbal response to any kind of harassment is saying ‘back off’ in a strong voice. For break-ins’call 911 and get out of the house if you can. Two other tips for this situation: keep your cell phone close by at night, in case a thief cuts off the phone line, and practice a family escape drill, just like a fire drill. Max Impact offers ongoing kickboxing, martial arts and self-defense classes at Gerry Blanck’s Center. Contact: 456-0233 or go to www.themaximpact.com.

Go! Go! Nanette!

Actress Nanette Fabray at her home under construction on Swarthmore, which is within walking distance of the village.
Actress Nanette Fabray at her home under construction on Swarthmore, which is within walking distance of the village.
Photo by Rich Schmitt, Staff Photographer

Who would have thought that actress Nanette Fabray has been moonlighting all these years as a real estate entrepreneur? Yes, the award-winning former Broadway and television star, who has won three Tonys and three Emmys, has been buying, fixing and flipping property in the Palisades for more than 40 years. We found her sweeping sawdust off the floor of her latest project, a 3,100-sq.-ft. house two blocks from the village. ‘This house is for when I’m no longer able to get around easily,’ says the 83-year-old star, who last week was supervising the installation of the hardwood floors (oak) and the kitchen cabinets (natural maple). ‘There’s everything I need right here on the main floor, including a bedroom and a bathroom, which is wheelchair-accessible, in case there’s ever a need for that.’ Fabray, a former honorary mayor of the Palisades (1967-69), started her stage career at age 3 at the old Million Dollar Theatre in downtown Los Angeles. Her greatest success came in the 1960s when she worked on “Your Show of Shows” starring Sid Caesar, which was broadcast live. ‘Those were wonderful, magical years working with Sid and writers like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Neil Simon, Mike Nichols, and Woody Allen,’ she says, ‘One thing I learned from them is you can’t learn funny. You either are or you aren’t.’ Not so funny was Fabray discovering in her 20s that she had a genetic ear defect, which led to her involvement in the passing of the American Disabilities Act. She also worked to bring sign language and captioning to television and in the last year has made dozens of appearances on behalf of the disabled. These days, however, Fabray is busy completing the two-story contemporary home on Swarthmore that is being built to her exact specifications, right down to where her pool table will go in the open living/dining/kitchen area, which features a fireplace that opens to the back patio. The house, located at the corner of Hampton, is environmentally friendly, with skylights, retractable screens, and solar panels that will eventually provide 60 to 70 percent of the house’s electricity needs. There is also a fire sprinkler system indoors. ‘This house is ‘beyond’ code,’ jokes Fabray, who bought the lot two years ago, tore down the existing structure and has been involved in every aspect of construction. ‘Seriously, this being a corner lot it did present some challenges. For example, the entry to the two-car garage, which was on Hampton, is now on Swarthmore, which requires a new curb cut. It all takes time.’ While the project is taking longer than expected to complete (occupancy is now projected for June) and ‘cost at least a third over the original estimate,’ Fabray is pleased with the results, from the custom-made stained-glass front entry doors featuring a leaf-and-vine motif, to the wrap-around balcony on three sides of the second floor, to the extra storage space in the attic. ‘Nanette is very hands-on,’ says her contractor Danny Giagni, owner of Distinctive Builders. ‘She is always making lists and walks around with a measuring tape in her hand. We have a tough time keeping her off the scaffolding!’ Six years ago Giagni and Fabray tackled a property on Northfield, which presented an even bigger challenge. It was only after tearing down the existing house on the irregularly shaped lot that the foundation was found to be unstable. ‘It was a huge lot with such beautiful trees, but then I had to spend $80,000 just to shore it up before we could even think of building,’ Fabray says. When the house was complete ‘I had the good fortune of renting it out to the German Embassy for four years before selling it last April. It was an excellent investment.’ Fabray says she became involved in developing real estate after her husband, screenwriter Randy MacDougall (‘Mildred Pierce,’ ‘Cleopatra’), passed away in 1973 and she was left to raise their young son Jamie, who was 14 at the time. The couple had bought their first house together in 1952 in Beverly Hills, which was part of the former Mary Pickford estate. When they needed more space they bought Dinah Shore’s house, also in Beverly Hills, which they renovated extensively. Then, in 1963, on a Sunday afternoon drive along Sunset, they discovered an old ranch house sitting on half an acre on the edge of Rustic Canyon. ‘It was once a real working ranch, so it had a great iron stove and a drying room for the workers’ clothes,’ recalls Fabray, who promptly renovated the dilapidated house, adding on an Art Deco-style bathroom worthy of a star. ‘My idea for this bathroom started when I found this gorgeous Persian marble somewhere in downtown L.A. I purchased all they had, which wasn’t much, and then had the bathroom built around that.’ In the ’90s, Fabray subdivided the lot, selling off the main house and keeping the guest quarters for herself. By this time her son had moved to Manhattan Beach, and wanting to see him and his growing family more, she purchased a derelict three-story beach house, a block from the Strand. ‘It needed a lot of work. Not only was it ugly and smelly, but there was a fireplace blocking the ocean view. Now it’s stunning. Because the living area is on the top floor, I added a small elevator which is very convenient.’ Fabray then went to work looking for a suitable commercial property with enough parking for her son’s growing dermatology practice. She found exactly what she was looking for on Manhattan Beach Boulevard. ‘I just walked in and made a deal directly with the owner. He even agreed to carry back the mortgage!’ Fabray had the one-story building torn down and a new facility built to Jamie’s specifications. The actress currently divides her time between the Rustic Lane property and Manhattan Beach, where she enjoys visiting with her two grandchildren, Kylie, 8, and Ryan, 5. Asked when she plans to move into the Swarthmore house, she says she doesn’t know. ‘My plan right now is to rent it out for a while and get some income. It’s definitely not for sale.’ Fabray says there is no secret to her real estate success. ‘Really, it’s location, location, location. I guess I have a good eye and I’m willing to pay a fair price. In fact, I can’t understood people losing a property over a few thousand dollars, which is exactly how I came to own Swarthmore. The owner was tired of haggling with another buyer, who had already made an offer, so he sold it to me instead.’ Asked what her next real estate purchase will be, Fabray says she’s not sure. “But I’m always looking. Let me know if you hear of anything.’