David Stafford, a graduate student in Santa Barbara, was visiting his parents on Christmas day when a towering eucalyptus tree at the corner of Earlham and Mt. Holyoke (left), was knocked down in the high winds and rain at 2:30 p.m., pulling up the grassy area of the parkway and a bit of the sidewalk. The tree narrowly missed Stafford’s parked car, and did not cause any damage. A city crew came out at about 3 a.m. and cut off the edge of the tree so that one car at a time could get by. Two days later, a chainsaw crew came out and cut the tree into little pieces. Then the chipper crew came Monday to discard the wood. As of Tuesday, residents were still waiting for crews to take away the stump and repair the sidewalk. On Tuesday morning, the stump of the tree and several logs were still in the street, surrounded by orange-and-white barriers and some yellow police tape. A platform used as a tree fort, that Stafford and other neighborhood children had played in over a decade ago, was lying next to the stump. Photo: David Stafford
Last Sunday, December 28, Daniel Leff was interrupted from his carwashing business by two men in their 20s, who accosted him while he was walking from a customer’s house in the 700 block of Haverford. According to the LAPD report, the armed robbery occurred at 3 p.m. Leff has several customers in the 600 to 700 blocks of Haverford. He washed cars at their homes and was walking from one house to another, carrying his bucket of tools, when two African-American men accosted him two doors north of Carthage on the west side of Haverford. One of the suspects asked Leff for the time and then told him that he was robbing him. The other suspect produced what appeared to be the barrel of a gun from under his clothing. Leff handed over $125 in cash and the suspects fled on foot. According to Haverford resident Warren Cereghino, Leff lamented that “what really hurts is that I’m poor.” The remark inspired Cereghino to go door to door to raise money to help out. Nine Haverford residents collected $140 to cover Leff’s loss. An LAPD car from Hollywood Division arrived an hour after the incident to complete the report,” said Senior Lead Officer Chris Ragsdale, adding that the car assigned to Pacific Palisades and Brentwood was unavailable. “We believe it is an isolated, random incident,” said Ragsdale, who added that the incident had no connection to the armed robbery in the lower El Medio area last month, nor any other reported street crimes.
Crime and the proposed gate across Asilomar highlight the Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting on Thursday, January 8 at 7 p.m. in the Palisades Branch Library community room, 861 Alma Real. The public is invited. Senior lead officer Chris Ragsdale will give a report on a neighborhood meeting held at Palisades High on December 15 where over 100 concerned residents showed up. Moderated by the town’s official honorary sheriff Rich Wilken, the meeting was called in direct response to an attempted armed robbery on December 9 of Palisades resident Kevin Bird. Bird told the crowd how two suspects (whom he described as male, Hispanic, approximately 5’6″ to 5’7″ in height, weighing 165 to 175 lbs.) approached him while he was walking his two-and-a-half-year-old son on Miami Way, between Erskine and El Medio, at around 5:25 p.m. “I was taking my son Alex, who was on my shoulders, for a walk, like I do every night after work,” said Bird. Next thing he knew there was a gun pointed at his stomach and the perpetrators were demanding money. They ran away when a car happened to approach, but not before hitting Bird in the face. He told the crowd that since the incident several neighbors had reported other problems in the neighborhood and he argued that the LAPD provides “zero protection” in the Palisades. Bird’s outburst came after Ragsdale gave a summary of crime and police protection, or more specifically, the lack of it, in the Palisades. “There are approximately 30 crimes committed every month in the Palisades, which is about one per day,” Ragsdale noted. “A serious crime includes burglaries, robberies, battery, car theft and rape. Believe it or not, you [the Palisades) experience an extremely low crime rate compared with most of the rest of L.A. County.” Also scheduled to speak at next week’s council meeting is Dr. Mark Kelly, who wants to install a gate across Asilomar at El Medio that would block access to the cul-de-sac on the bluffs. For several months Kelly has been meeting with neighbors to discuss the viability of installing an electronically-controlled gate that would restrict vehicle entry from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. He wants the gate because he believes it will deter crime in the area. “The five families east of El Medio, on Asilomar, have to deal with a constant onslaught of illegal, disrespectful and lewd behavior,” Kelly wrote in a letter to the Palisadian-Post in December. “Arrests have been made for sales of “crystal meth,” a highly addictive and destructive drug now available in the Palisades. Public drinking is commonplace most weekend evenings. Trash is strewn along the park and over the bluffs. Condoms and beer bottles are tossed out of departing vehicles.” Crucial to Kelly’s application for the gate is a recommendation by the LAPD detailing known crime activity in the area. The Post discussed Kelly’s concerns with Senior Lead Officer Ragsdale. “As part of the proposed gate project for the Asilomar Blvd and El Medio bluffs area, the Los Angeles Police Department conducted a crime analysis search for all crimes related to the bluffs and the surrounding area,” Ragsdale reported to the Post. “After conducting a search covering a period of the last six months, the crime search indicated no crimes for the bluffs and surrounding areas. The search was then expanded to a year prior and no crimes relating to the bluffs and surrounding areas was shown. “The reality is there is not a crime problem on the bluffs. There is a nuisance and quality-of-life problem there. Because of the nature of the overlook and park area, it attracts many people from all over the Los Angeles region. Some of those people may be drinking, using narcotics and may not respect the park or neighborhood while using the park or looking at the ocean view.” Other agenda items: 1. An update on the YMCA’s parcel-split application processes in Temescal Canyon. 2. Update from PaliDog, the ad hoc committee exploring a dog park location in Pacific Palisades and a possible dog beach at Will Rogers State Beach. 3. Guardrails on Palisades Drive (see Opinion piece, P.3) 4. Continued consideration of a motion (by Norm Kulla) and update from the LA. Department of Transportation regarding the proposed reversible lane improvement on Sepulveda, vicinity of Getty Center Dr. to Skirball Dr. For additional information about the Community Council, please visit www.pp90272.org.
There were ownership changes in all five business districts in Pacific Palisades this past year. Stores closed, new ones opened. Some simply changed hands, other changed locations. In the lower Highlands Plaza, veterinarian Dr. Henry Pasternak moved his office to a facility he had especially built on Sepulveda in West L.A. Opening soon in his old location is the Heat Boutique, the town’s first sunless tanning salon. Mogan’s Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch and is owned by David Williams (who also owns the nearby Misto Cafe which serves dinner), opened in June. In Santa Monica Canyon, Patrick’s Roadhouse reopened in April after an electrical fire destroyed part of the kitchen and the counter area, while the Beach House has been closed since November after a car rammed into the unoccupied dining room and caused structural damage. Now occupying the space at 138 Entrada (formerly the Surf Shop) is Amazing Grace, a special events planner (weddings, bar mitzvahs, parties). And on W. Channel Road, there are two new interior design shops: West Channel Road which also sells wall hangings and furniture, and MLK Studio (formerly Brown Architecture) which also sells collectibles. The biggest news at Sunset and PCH is the almost $1-million renovation planned by Spectrum Clubs, Inc, which bought out the Pacific Athletic Club in early November. Improvements will take full advantage of the outstanding beach location to benefit the 3,000 members. New in the area on Sunset is The Guild, the town’s first tattoo and body-piercing salon. In June, the Dance and Twirl Studio opened in the Marquez Avenue business area and recently subleased some of its space in the alley to Palisades Electric. The latter was evicted from the storefront it occupied for 18 years facing the parking lot off Swarthmore (beside Amazing Music). Also evicted after 18 years was Westlan Construction, whose offices are now located in the 881 Alma Real building. Both businesses were given notice to make room for an office and storage area needed by a new kitchen retail store and cooking school scheduled to open in the spring at 872 Via de la Paz, the former site of Sheila May. She plans to relocate her permanent makeup studio somewhere in the village. Also new on Via de la Paz is Pink Pineapple, which manufactures and sells women’s and children’s clothes., but also manufacturers them. Changes in the Palisades village included the November opening of The Cottage consignment shop in the space formerly occupied by The Enchanted Cottage gift store. Also on Swarthmore, Palisadian Patti Black split with partner Cindy Ellis of The Nest Egg to open Black Ink, a stationary store, in the site formerly occupied by Casa Boca. Ellis brought in a new partner, Palisadian Megan Kaufman, at her Sunset location, which she renovated and reopened after Labor Day. In December, the village lost a restaurant, Il Sogno, bringing to seven the number of storefronts that shuttered in 2003 (The Enchanted Cottage, Casa Boca, Kids’ Universe, Inscriptions, and Video 2010-plus food take-out Cloud 9, soon to be replaced by Pinocchio, a family-style Italian deli. As of this week, the floor tiles have been laid and the fan in the open kitchen has been installed. Palisadian Theresa Whitworth, who also owns the highly successful restaurant La Luna in Larchmont Village with her husband, plans a spring opening. Other new businesses opening in the village last year included Village Arts and Enrichment Center in the Washington Mutual building and Onassis Jewelry on Antioch. Also on Antioch is Teraine, a “lifestyle” store owned by Palisadian Janet Greenblatt. Set to open tomorrow is Jiva on Sunset, the Palisades’ first dedicated yoga studio which will not only offer classes seven days a week but sell clothing and jewelry. Body Aligned, a Pilates studio, will open above Starbucks later this month. Scheduled to close later this month or in February is the venerable Yamato Nursery (corner of La Cruz and Alma Real), which will be razed to make way for a Village School performing arts/gymnasium/playground annex. Construction is expected to begin in April. On that same corner, Vassie Naidoo sold his Palisades Garden Cafe last January to pastry chef Okyo Pyon so he could concentrate on his karate school. Meanwhile, Emerson LaMay dry cleaners moved from its Swarthmore location to Sunset. And Elyse Walker Accessoire, the only ladies shoe store in the Palisades and voted Best New Business of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce, moved down the block on Antioch, adjacent to Walker’s clothing boutique. What does 2004 hold? What new businesses will occupy the three prime storefronts on Swarthmore vacated by Emerson LaMay, Video 2010 and Il Sogno? There are already 22 eateries in town, as well as 14 hair salons and seven gift shops. Will the village finally get a music store, a hobby store or a See’s Candy, as Palisadian-Post readers suggested last spring? Let us know your latest ideas, given all that transpired in the town’s various business districts in 2003. The e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
William Gilmor Costin III, known to all as Gil, died December 21 at the age of 59. He was born September 13, 1944, the oldest of four sons of William Gilmor Costin, Jr. and Phyllis Huhn Costin. He graduated from Tabor Academy in Marion, Massachusetts in 1963, the University of Pennsylvania in 1967, and received a Master’s of Business Administration from New York University in 1981. Costin grew up in New York City and had lived with his wife and children in Pacific Palisades for the past 19 years. At the time of his death, he was employed by the Fraser Financial Group of Los Angeles. He was an active member of The Parish of St. Matthew, where he taught Sunday school for many years and served on the Stewardship and Planned Giving committees. He had a life-long interest in sports, excelling in lacrosse, ice hockey, football and tennis during his school years. He coached AYSO soccer in the Palisades for many years. He was very active in fundraising and in running golf tournaments for his children’s schools, John Thomas Dye, St. Matthew’s, Palisades High, and Marlborough. Costin is survived by his wife of 28 years, Anne King Costin; his four children, William Gilmor Costin IV, Wendy Costin Wolcott, Kingsley Blackridge Costin, and Whitney McKelvy Costin; his grandchildren, McKelvy Brackenridge Costin, Catherine Reed Costin, William Blackburne Costin and Oliver Whitney Wolcott; brothers, Blackburne Costin and Brackenridge Costin; and his stepmother, Jean Whitney Gold. He was predeceased by his brother, McKelvy. A memorial service will be held at St. Matthew’s, 1031 Bienveneda, on Saturday, January 3, at 11 a.m. A reception will be held at the parish immediately following the service. Burial will follow at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, January 6 at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Middleburg, Virginia. Memorials can be made to The American Liver Foundation, Greater Los Angeles Chapter, Funds for the Cure-Hepatitis C (liverfoundation.org) or to a charity of one’s choice.
Dick St. John, better known as a singer in the Dick and Dee Dee duo, died on December 27 at UCLA Medical Center from injuries he sustained from a fall from a ladder outside his home in Pacific Palisades Friday. He was 63. St. John was best known for Dick and Dee Dee’s biggest hit, “The Mountain’s High,” which made No. 2 on the Billboard pop singles chart in 1963. Born Richard Gosting in Santa Monica, he began performing with his friend Mary Sperling in junior high. The group soon attracted the attention of Liberty Records, who renamed Sperling Dee Dee. Dick and Dee Dee produced a mixture of music which was influenced by early ’60’s, with bits of doowop, soul and R&B in their sound. Besides “The Mountain’s High,” the duo found success with “Young and In Love” (1963) and “Thou Shalt Not Steal” (1965). They were also semi-regulars on such musical shows as “Shindig” and “American Bandstand.” St. John wrote songs that were recorded by Leslie Gore, Jan and Dean, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. He continued to record and perform regularly until his death. He is survived by his wife, Sandy, who joined him as the “new” Dee Dee in his touring act when Sperling retired in the early 1970s.
Jean Parmelee, who moved to Pacific Palisades with her husband in 1948, passed away on December 24 at the age of 86. She is survived by her husband of 64 years, Arthur, and four children: Ellen, Tim, Art and Ann. Services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, January 3, at the Palisades Presbyterian Church, corner of Sunset and El Medio. In lieu of flowers, donations in Jean Parmelee’s memory can be made to one’s favorite charity.
When Audrey Hepburn passed away 11 years ago this month at the age of 63, she left behind a formidable legacy. While people remember her Broadway debut (“Gigi,” for which she won a Tony) and her many Hollywood movies (including “The Nun’s Story,” “My Fair Lady,” “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” and “Roman Holiday,” for which she won an Oscar in 1956) her greatest achievement was as a humanitarian. To continue her work, millions of dollars have been raised since her death in 1993 by both the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund at UNICEF and the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund, to provide basic care and education to children both in the U.S. and abroad. “I speak for those children who cannot speak for themselves,” Hepburn said in an address to the United Nations in 1989. “Forty thousand still die every day from preventable diseases like polio, tetanus, tuberculosis, measles, and the worst killer of all, dehydration from diarrhea caused by unclean drinking water and malnutrition. No natural calamity, be it flood or earthquake, has ever claimed so many children’s lives.” In the five years Hepburn worked as an ambassador for UNICEF (1988-92), she was the consummate volunteer. She never expected, or received, any perks. No private jets, Beluga caviar or Rolex watches for her. In fact, in the trenches, she would often eat the same relief portions (a bowl of porridge) as the children she came to serve. She did it in the hope that the world would pay attention to the plight of these children. “This is why I wanted to come to Somalia,” explained Hepburn in the fall of 1992, “not because I can do very much, but because there cannot be enough witnesses. If I can be one more and speak up for one child, it is worthwhile.” Hepburn’s work with UNICEF was a far cry from the glamorous life she led in the 1950s, when she was photographed by Cecil Beaton, dressed by Hubert de Givenchy and directed by William Wyler, Billy Wilder and Stanley Donen. Hepburn, who had studied to be a dancer before World War II intervened, worked with such stars as Fred Astaire (“Funny Face”), Humphrey Bogart (“Sabrina”), and Mel Ferrer (“War and Peace”), whom she married in 1954. What is not known about Hepburn is that she gave up her movie career after her second marriage to Italian psychiatrist Andrea Dotti in 1969 to live in Rome and be a full-time mother to her two young sons, Sean Ferrer and Luca Dotti. Ferrer, who grew up in Europe and speaks five languages, heads his mother’s foundation and works hard to preserve her memory with dignity. You will never find Audrey Hepburn’s Oscar or diamond earrings being sold on EBay, for example. Sean Ferrer, who lives in Santa Monica with his family, will sign copies of his book (“Audrey Hepburn, An Elegant Spirit”) on Tuesday, January 6 at Village Books at 7:30 p.m Personally, I was looking forward to the book, as Sean, 43, and I have been friends for some time. In it, he answers many of the questions I had about their life together. LR: How would you describe your mother? SF: She was very loving towards us, her own family. To the rest of the world she was, as some liked to describe her, a steel hand in a velvet glove. She was strong-willed and sure of what she wanted. She worked hard, whether it was for UNICEF, or on a film or in her garden at our home in Switzerland, which she loved. I remember her soft hands, her long hair, her bare feet. She loved pasta, which she ate at least once a day. Her recipe for spaghetti al pomodoro is in the book. LR: How long did it take to write? SF: I started writing it the day after my mother passed away. Although the actual writing took maybe a few months in all, it was spread over a couple of years. My mother was a very private person so I did not want to violate that. But I did want people to know what a fine person she was. She died in 1993, and still, she’s everywhere: on television all the time, in every conversation I have with anyone. People ask me what it was like to be the son of a famous movie star. Well, I don’t know, because she tried to keep our life as normal as possible. She did what any other mom does: picked us up from school, helped with homework, made our dinner. LR: There have been at least half a dozen biographies written about your mother. Why did she never write her own? SF: Because she was not interested in putting together what she felt were a collection of meaningless vignettes. That’s how humble she was. While my mother was revered both for her film performances and her real-life crusade, how do you market a “Hollywood” biography without the public scandals and lurid secrets? My mother had none. She was considering toward the end of her life writing something for my brother and me about the family, a kind of record of all the extraordinary people she had met and events she witnessed. But she couldn’t find the time away from her work for UNICEF. And then it was too late. LR: How did your mother become a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF? SF: My mother first came into contact with UNICEF in Holland, where she lived as a child. She was one of the tens of thousands of starving children in war-ravaged Europe to receive aid from UNICEF immediately after the liberation. They brought relief in the form of food, medication and clothes. Then in 1987, after she delivered a moving speech at a benefit concert for UNICEF, she was asked to be a goodwill ambassador. She left on her first trip in 1988, to Ethiopia. People kept telling her how harrowing and dreadful it would be. But then came Somalia. Nothing could prepare her for that. Nothing. Somalia was my mother’s last UNICEF trip, and probably the most important. The situation there, politically at the time, was at its worst. My mother and Robby [Robert Wolders, her companion the last 12 years of her life] had waited for a long time, maybe close to a year, for clearance to travel and for funds to be gathered. But when she had asked who would be issuing the visas, the reply came: “There are no visas, because there is no government. You just fly in and hope you won’t get shot down.” Upon her return from Somalia she started complaining about stomach pains. Four months later she passed away. LR: What did you do with all of your mother’s things-her clothes, her jewels, her furnishings? SF: After we sold the farmhouse in Switzerland, where she lived for 30 years, my brother, who lives in Rome, and I split most of the furnishings. A few pieces of her jewelry have been donated to raise funds for charity and many of her things, including her Givenchy gowns, signed scripts and original photographs, will be on exhibit in Japan for two years starting in May. A portion of the money raised will be donated to her foundation. The exhibit is starting in Japan because she is still a very big star there. The Japanese love her elegance and style. LR: What do you see as your mother’s greatest achievement? SF: Looking back at my mother’s life, I am most proud of her work for children, both here and abroad. After my mother’s passing, one of the first things we did was to set up the Audrey Hepburn Memorial Fund. My mother believed that the only way to change was through education, so the Memorial Fund implements educational programs in the five countries of Africa she felt were the most badly in need of infrastructure: Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Rwanda. And, in fact, we have just entered into a new 10-year commitment to UNICEF’s “All Children In School” campaign, which seeks to bring a basic quality of education to 120 million children around the world, two-thirds of them girls. And through the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund we have also helped set up child abuse centers in New Orleans, New Jersey and Childrens Hospital in L.A.. All this would please my mother, to see her work with children continued. For more information about the Audrey Hepburn Children’s Fund and its activities, contact: www.audreyhepburn.com
By JULIET GIGLIO Special to the Palisadian-Post Dane Calcote has been a crossing guard for only one year, but he’s been a jazz musician for almost a lifetime. Better known as Mr. Dane to Marquez Elementary students, Calcote arrived on campus to work as the first, much-needed, much-appreciated crossing guard at the school. He orchestrated the traffic like a leader of a band. And now he is one again. When Dane noticed students carrying instruments to school, he asked them if they were interested in playing with him. In no time at all, the word got out, and Calcote had formed a jazz ensemble. The group practices during recess three days a week. “The amazing thing is that Dane is doing all this out of the goodness of his heart. He’s not getting paid any money for it,” said PTA president Gayle Kirkpatrick. Calcote is a professional percussionist who plays everything from the bongos, maracas, kalim’ba, timbales and triangles to chimes, guiro, tambourines, claves, vibraslap and bird whistles. “I was self-taught,” said Dane, who began playing the drums at 8 years old. “It was a slow process of learning for me. Now I want to help these kids.” “Kids have been practicing like crazy since they joined up with me,” Calcote added. “I tell their parents to get their kids to listen to CDs of the music they will play. It encourages them to practice.” In terms of music in the school, Calcote feels that “more jazz music should be introduced to fourth and fifth graders. They need to play more than just classical music because they get bored. If they play jazz, they’ll be more interested in their music.” The Marquez Jazz Ensemble made its debut at the school’s holiday concert, performing “Little Drummer Boy” and “Jingle Bells” to a rousing applause. “It was phenomenal. They were great and really wonderful. The fact that someone who is a volunteer would come in and do this was great,” said Lisa Rogers-Halliday, mother to ensemble members Myles and Stedman. With a leader whose resume includes a long list of live gigs, studio session recordings and private parties, students realize they are lucky to have Calcote as their leader. “Playing with Mr. Dane has made me enjoy music more,” said fifth grader Dylan Jeffers. Calcote’s enthusiasm for his music is infectious. “Jazz is international. It brings together all types of music from rock-and-roll to hip hop. And it brings together all types of people. It’s something everybody can relate to.” Thanks to Calcote’s boom box which spills out jazz along Marquez Avenue each morning and afternoon, parents and carpoolers have felt the positive vibe of jazz. “I’m sure the music helps to calm down the drivers in the carpool lane,” Calcote said. “Now I hope people will all come to our spring concert. We’re working on five new tracks for that!” Drivers please remember, no horn honking allowed when Mr. Dane is around. You would just mess up the rhythm.
When the Madrigal program at Palisades High School evaporated a couple of years ago, a small group who had grown close through their singing gigs felt the loss. “We love each other and we love singing in a group,” said Sarah Figoten, who along with six of her fellow former Madrigals started the Absolutfunk a cappella group in November. They include recent Pali graduates Sarah Figoten, Jamie Perez, Eddie Castuera, Kendall Day, Josh Siegel, B.J. Baclawski and Miranda Kerr, a senior at Pali. The name describes them so well, they say, because “We wanted something with funk in it.” They’re right; their arrangements of their favorite songs combine colorful harmonies syncopated with vocal percussion. In addition, each of the seven singers has a different sound and because of their experience with the Madrigals, all are comfortable with classical as well as jazz arrangements. The group stopped by the annual Palisadian-Post Christmas party last Thursday and opened the program with “Danos Su Paz” (Give Us Peace), a beautiful sentiment for this season, followed by “It Came Upon A Midnight Clear.” Looking at the group, one wondered just where the drum and brushes were coming from, and discovered a virtual percussion kit deep inside member Eddie Castuera. Vocal percussion (or mouth drumming) is the production of percussive sounds using only the speech apparatus. For the past three years, Castuera has been perfecting the techniques, which require good breath, control and practice practice practice. Absolutfunk rehearse Sunday afternoons, when they work on arrangements. Their method is democratic, as each member takes over directing the piece he or she has arranged. While all of them read music, they often depend on Siegel, who plays piano, or Baclawski, who plays guitar, to set the melody. “We perfect each song over weeks,” says Baclawski. “Some of these, like ‘Carol of the Bells’ are quite complicated and can’t be done in just one sitting.” While Kerr is the lone highschooler, the group has stayed pretty close to home. Siegel is an opera major at Cal State Northridge; Castuera is a music and sociology major at Santa Monica College, where Day, Perez and Figoten are also students. Baclawski teaches music at Gorman School, a small homeschool in the Palisades. Busy during the holidays, the group performs for private parties, and promotes themselves by singing gratis in public spaces like Third Street Promenade. “We sang at the Promenade, but weren’t allow to ask for money because we don’t have a license,” said Perez. “But, we did end up with $6.” For more information, contact B.J. at 428-0252 or Jamie at 367-1090.