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.”
In the last three weeks, 15 cars have been reported burglarized in Pacific Palisades, the most recent incidents occurring sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning on Asilomar, El Medio and Seabec Circle. “The most shocking thing is that none of these cars showed any sign of forced entry, ” said LAPD Detective Jeff Brumagin, auto theft supervisor of the West L.A. Division. “This would indicate that all of the cars were unlocked. They were either parked on the street or in people’s driveways.” Brumagin said the modis operandi in all the recent car thefts was the same. “We don’t know if it is locals or transients doing this, but it would appear they pick an area and then just go from car to car and steal whatever they can find, from loose change and a $5 pair of sunglasses to a $3,000 laptop. They usually strike overnight. The only evidence we have is some empty beer bottles, which they have either left on car seats or on people’s lawns.” Sometime between December 11 and 12, thieves hit Chapala and Almar, and then between Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas they burglarized several cars in Rustic Canyon. Just before New Year’s, cars were hit on Bienveneda and Hartzell. “Lock your cars!” is Brumagin’s advice.
A hot new product has hit the frozen section at Gelson’s. Shoppers steering their carts down the chilly aisle may want to stop and check out Rice Expressions, a microwaveable organic rice line created by Palisades resident Pete Vegas. “For the first time, people can really relate to what I do,” says Vegas, founder and president of Sage V Foods (pronounced Sage Five), a company that specializes in producing rice-based ingredients for use in processed foods. “The fact that we’re at Gelson’s is a big deal for me.” Rice Expressions is frozen, pre-cooked rice that microwaves in three minutes with no bowl or water involved. There are four varieties: organic brown, organic long-grain, organic Tex Mex and Indian basmati. Each box contains three 10-oz. packages and sells for $4.69. While Rice Expressions represents a small part of what Sage V Foods actually produces, “It’s the most interesting part,” Vegas says, “and it’s what I’d like to see become the biggest part.” A rice expert, Vegas first began developing the concept for Rice Expressions about five years ago. “We had the technology, the equipment and the know-how to [freeze the rice],” he says. “And rice microwaves and heats well, unlike frozen vegetables.” Since Sage V Foods was making enough money selling rice flour and other rice ingredients to big companies, Vegas was able to focus on developing his new product-the only frozen rice sold as simply a packet of rice without any extras. “Rice Expressions was the best little idea I had and I wanted us to do it on our own,” says Vegas, who began experimenting in his Marquez-neighborhood home. “It’s still me usually playing around with something on the weekends in my kitchen or at our lab in Texas.” Vegas has been working with rice for most of his adult life. Before rice, it was soybeans, which he farmed during his college years at Louisiana State University. “My father was a farm equipment dealer so I got the equipment from him.” After graduating with a degree in agribusiness in 1978, Vegas traveled to Panama for a year to work as a management trainee on a Chiquita Banana farm. He then returned to earn his MBA at Harvard Business School in 1982. At the time, a large rice milling company called Comet Rice was launching a joint venture in Puerto Rico, and hired Vegas to manage the operation. “I got to do everything,” he says. He supervised the construction of the Comet milling facility, trained a 200-man work force, and was involved with farming, drying, storing, milling and marketing the rice. When the company began importing instead of farming rice, Vegas learned about shipping, stevedoring and handling bulk rice. “There are few people who know more about rice than I do,” says Vegas, who returned to the U.S. in 1986 to become VP of marketing for Comet Rice. He has become particularly well-versed in the technical issues of rice, such as how you get rice to expand, and about the functionality of rice-how other countries use rice in applications other than table rice. “I’ve been almost everywhere in the world where they deal with rice,” Vegas says. Between 1986 and 1992, Comet sent him to Thailand, India and Japan, as well as Iraq, whose government was the largest customer for U.S. rice at the time. Vegas designed and supervised the construction of a bulk handling facility in Aqaba, Jordan, which incorporated a new technology to allow large volumes of high-quality white rice to be shipped in bulk and bagged at destination. As a result, Comet’s sales to Iraq ultimately exceeded 300,000 metric tons a year. In 1992, Vegas started Comet Rice Ingredients, a subsidiary of Comet Rice, and began focusing on “how to develop new applications for rice.” His experience abroad had made him realize that “the United States doesn’t utilize rice. Rice has the potential of corn [in terms of widespread use] but no one knows that.” He bought out the company in 1998 and renamed it Sage V Foods (Sage V is Vegas spelled backwards). Though his company has grown slowly, reaching $25 million in sales, Vegas predicts that in 18 months sales will reach $40 million. “In the last two years, business has finally started coming to us,” he says. “We’re known in the industry as ‘the Rice Guys.'” Based in Westwood, Sage V’s biggest business is selling rice flour to large companies and showing them how to use the flour to make other products-for example, the coating on french fries and the crisp rice in granola bars. They sell rice ingredients and products to companies like Healthy Choice, Weight Watchers, Frito-Lay and Quaker Oats. “All the products we sell, we’ve developed,” says Vegas, who purposely made the Rice Expressions product organic so that it could be sold in health food stores, which don’t charge slotting (shelving) allowances like the larger companies. The rice is grown north of Sacramento and is cooked in Texas, where Sage V Foods has a cooking plant and a rice flour mill; the company is currently building two more facilities in Arkansas. While developing Rice Expresssions, Sage V tried three different freezing processes, from nitrogen to mechanical freezing. “We literally ripped the [cooking] plant to the ground three times,” Vegas says. “It’s not easy to freeze each grain separately.” However, Vegas believes that his frozen rice product, which has been on the market for a year now, is superior to the taste of dry instant rice. “If we get people to try it, we do well,” he says, admitting that he spent a lot of money on packaging but little on advertising. His initial target market was vegetarians and people who need gluton-free products. Now he’s focusing on food service and retail, including sales to Red Robin, Friendly’s and Ruby Tuesday’s restaurants, plus private labels for stores such as Safeway and Vons. “The Atkins diet has hit everyone who sells starch protects,” Vegas says. While the organic brown and Tex-Mex rices are selling well, he may replace the white long-grain and basmati with a flavored pilaf and organic Thai jasmine rice. Though Vegas says he knows of an even better way to develop Rice Expressions, he does not have the means to pursue it at this point. “I’m three years behind where I want to be, but I have that kind of patience,” he says. “You have to know what’s going to be successful and you’ve got to be trying a lot of things at once.” Vegas and his wife, Jean, moved to the Palisades in 1986. Jean, an Iowa native, earned her bachelor’s degree in microbiology from LSU, and later went back to school to get her teaching certification. She now teaches second grade at Marquez Charter Elementary. They have three kids: Matt, a junior at UC Santa Cruz; Brett, a Palisades High senior, and Scott, an 8th grader at Paul Revere.
Imagine a large, carpeted room with black drapes against one wall and a life-size rubberized spider-web net in front of another-an indoor jungle of sorts. Twenty-eight arms and legs move slowly along the floor, bones pressing and pulling against the ground in graceful, fluid motion. Only the lights in the studio reveal the truth: these animal-like creatures are humans. Yet the stimulating movements remind them of their animal aliveness, that feeling of inner strength and vitality. “We’re here to not get stuck in our ways,” says Palisadian Sharon Weil Aaron, who teaches the Saturday morning Continuum Movement class, called The Ageless Body, in Santa Monica. “When you relieve yourself of upright human identity, all these other energies come in, because they’re already there.” Based on Continuum, a system of fluid movement, The Ageless Body focuses on issues that arise during aging, including bone and skeletal health, joints, vitality, recovery and resiliency, and waning sensuality. Aaron helped develop the program a year ago with Continuum founder Emilie Conrad and instructor Barbara Mindell. “We felt there was a need [for the class] for baby boomers plus, and people who are starting to feel less active,” says Aaron, 48. “The Ageless Body is about creating possibilities in a process where people feel their possibilities are diminishing.” She begins the class on bone health by talking about the spiral structure of bones in order to give her students context for the movement, breath and sound exercises they will be doing. “When you age, you lose fluids,” Aaron says. “By keeping fluids active, we can increase concentration, radiance and flexibility.” Other benefits of Continuum can include restored strength, mobility, responsiveness, sensuality, sexuality and a feeling of youthfulness. Aaron, a former dancer, turned to Continuum 16 years ago, when she was in her early 30s, as a method of healing injured ligaments around her tailbone. While most of her current students are in their 40s and 50s, the program attracts a range of ages. “As people age, some take themselves out of the whole exercise/active picture because of limitations they think they have,” says Aaron, who has also practiced yoga, Pilates and swimming. “Others hurl themselves into linear activity.” Linear exercise includes working out on mechanical equipment at the gym. The nonlinear movement of Continuum offers a more feasible option for people of all ages and body types who want to improve and maintain their health by keeping their bodies active. Aaron’s oldest student, Ginny Mac, 76, admits to feeling stronger and more alive after one month of The Ageless Body. “I could hardly walk up the stairs [before I started Continuum],” Mac says. “Now, I am bending my arms and legs. I get on the floor and move.” She also uses the movements she learns to exercise in her bed at home. In class, students at all different levels can work on the floor, in a chair, or on equipment such as an “explore board” or the “web.” These latter two options offer more freedom to move in a variety of positions with greater ease. My own experience off of the ground, on the explore board, gave me the sensation that I was moving in an entirely different atmosphere, like the weightless feeling I imagine astronauts have in space. Aaron says that Continuum is different from other mind and body movement classes because it “questions what your body is and what we hold as true [about our bodies].” For example, while yoga “reinforces structure,” Continuum encourages us to understand our bodies in flux. Aaron’s two-hour classes are based around a sequence of different movement, sound and breath exercises that work together in a progression, and that relate to each class’s theme. While she designs the sequence and leads her students through it, there is a lot of room for individual exploration and adjustment depending on each student’s needs. In the bone health class, we strapped weights on our wrists and ankles to add more muscular resistance and to create traction. Most of us sat upright, cross-legged on the floor and began stimulating our bones internally by making resonant sounds (“zzz” and “jsh”), which created a vibrating feeling within the body. Slowly, we transitioned into the second part, which involved moving our hands, palms down, in a spiral motion, while making the theta (“th”) sound; this part helped to open up our joints. We then moved onto all fours and continued activating and strengthening our bones by pressing and pulling them against the floor, leaning back and forth in wavelike motion. By the end of the sequence, my whole body was involved as I pressed my left cheekbone and then my forehead against the floor, following the relaxing, fluid motion of my body. “Continuum breaks down barriers that words create and creates its own language,” says Jeanne James, 57, who has a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s. She started taking Continuum 12 years ago because she felt pain in several parts of her body, and was one of the first to join The Ageless Body. “It’s been wonderful to open up those places that were injured and to feel more fluid,” James says. “I’m not dependent on anyone to do it for me.” She comes to Aaron’s Saturday morning class all the way from Pasadena because there is nothing like it offered closer to home and she finds it more “sustaining” than her experiences with yoga and rolfing. At the end of Aaron’s class, students shared their reactions to and feelings about the experience, while Aaron listened and offered suggestions to some. In addition to The Ageless Body, she also teaches a strengthening and toning class called Jungle Gym, which attracts many students, including her husband, John Aaron. She has been teaching Jungle Gym for nine years, and was able to teach up until one month before having her daughter, Sophie Aaron, now age 5. Sophie attends preschool at Little Dolphins by the Sea in Temescal Canyon. John is a professional photographer and practices martial arts. Aaron will be offering a free introductory Ageless Body class this Saturday, January 10, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. The ongoing program will be taught in five-and-six-week series throughout the year, starting January 24. The cost is $75 for the five class series and $20 for a single class. The Continuum Studio is located at 1629 18th Street, Studio 7, in Santa Monica. Contact Aaron at email@example.com or 459-3326.
When was the last time you looked at the horizon, that line where the ocean meets the sky? While standing on the balcony of our room at the beachside Le Merigot Hotel and Spa last month, I realized although I may have seen the horizon recently, it had been a while since I had really looked at it. My husband John and I were primed for a little getaway. Not only had our apartment building been tented for termites the previous weekend, we had both also been extra busy at work. So we took the opportunity to have an in-town vacation-a Saturday night at Le Merigot on Ocean Ave., just south of Pico, with reservations for two spa treatments and dinner at Cezanne Restaurant. The hotel lobby smelled like scented candles, which were lit throughout the space and everywhere sat whimsical animal sculptures. We settled into our room on the sixth floor just in time for a magnificent sunset, the blue sky turning peach, as we watched from our large balcony. The hotel is set back a block from the beach (between Nielsen Way and Ocean) and a large luxury apartment building is set on the beachfront right in front of it. So our view was not wall-to-wall ocean. To the north, we could see the ferris wheel, roller coaster and other amusements on the pier. We listened to the waves and birds, as some seagulls flew right in front of us. It was a soul-resting experience. Afterwards, we headed down to the spa, where I was signed up for a desert heat body wrap. In a room lit with infrared light, I lay on a warm massage table, on what looked like a huge piece of shiny aluminum foil, warmed up with heating pads underneath it. The massage therapist, Beth, gently applied the desert heat mixture on my back, stomach, legs and arms (towels are placed for modesty), which includes copper, magnesium, zinc and calcium mixed with seaweed and Arizona mud. Then I was wrapped up like a burrito in the foil and towels, and given a scalp massage. After about 20 minutes, I was unwrapped and covered with towels. The contrast was cold for a couple of minutes, while Beth toweled the mud mixture off, but I soon warmed up while being massaged with lotion. Beth regularly asked how I was doing, which I found helpful because it can be hard to speak up during a massage or body treatment. She suggested that I not use soap in the shower, as the copper has therapeutic effects and I should let it stay in my skin. Afterwards, my muscles felt warm and relaxed from the massage and heat and I felt reconnected with myself in a positive way. John decided to try something different-cranial sacral massage. He didn’t quite know what to expect but thought it sounded intriguing. Cranial sacral uses gentle pressure to the head to stimulate relaxation, but John was disappointed; he expected more of a massage than just pressure on different parts of the scalp for 50 minutes. Probably, a more traditional treatment is best for spa newcomers. He did enjoy the eucalyptus steam room in the men’s locker room, along with the sauna. (Body treatments average $130, facials average $175, men’s fitness facial is $105.) We changed for dinner at the hotel’s Cezanne restaurant. The cozy restaurant has a Provencal design, with French country floral-patterned tablecloths and huge tufted striped pillow-backed booths, which have a whimsical look out of “Alice in Wonderland.” We started the meal with some healthy appetizers ($8-$12)-John had artichoke stuffed with goat cheese, sun-dried tomato and potato, and I had salmon with pesto wrapped in rice paper covered with a salad of lettuce, jicama and pepper. We indulged when it came time for the main course. I had tender pan-seared duck presented in a semi-circle around a centerpiece of couscous and chanterelles with pinot noir essence. John had a perfectly done medium filet mignon with B?arnaise sauce which came with potatoes and vegetables. Unbeknownst to us, this was a special wine-tasting evening and we were offered samples from the Kendall-Jackson Winery in Napa Valley. The piece de la resistance was creme brulee, served in four tiny sake cups-each with a different flavor-orange, vanilla, pistachio and raspberry-with the top toasted to a crisp. (This month, the wine-tasting dinner, every Friday and Saturday night, will feature Chateau St. Jean and is free with the price of an entree, $23-$35.) After the meal, we fell into our feather-bed mattress. It was comfortable, marred only by an on-and-off rattly humming sound, seemingly coming from the minibar refrigerator. I went into the bathroom, where I remembered there were cotton balls in the toiletry kit, and I used them as ear plugs. It was not until the morning when we walked onto the balcony, that I realized what the best solution was-I should have left the balcony doors open during the night and listened to the sound of the waves. Or, I could have done some reading, Hemingway’s “A Moveable Feast” was by the bedside and in the nightstand drawer were the Bible, the Book of Mormon, The Spirit of Service (a book by the founder of the Marriott hotels) and the Teachings of Buddha. We relaxed in the room, reading the complimentary newspaper until checkout time, and upon leaving the valets gave us Le Merigot water as a parting gift, reflective of the attentive service we received throughout our stay. Rooms vary from $219 to $369 a night, depending on the view, with various special packages available. Contact: 395-9700 or go to www.lemerigotbeachhotel.com The hotel is pet-friendly, offering a pet menu and other treats through its Club Meg pet program. The poolside gym features Cybex equipment, treadmills and step machines, and fitness classes are available for $15.
Paul G. Bower, prominent attorney, dedicated outdoorsman, devoted husband and father, and longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, died on New Year’s Eve of complications from a stroke suffered in 1995. He was 70. Bower was widely respected not only for his distinguished legal career as a partner at the law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, but for his strongly-held belief that the law must be committed to justice and not merely to commerce. He served in the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., from 1967-69, a time of foment on the national scene, and donated his time and legal expertise to numerous public interest causes, including the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now known as Earthjustice, among others. Although he had a highly successful career as a securities litigation partner with a preeminent Los Angeles law firm, Bower did not set out to be an attorney. Born in Chicago, he graduated from Rice Institute in Texas with a major in geology and a minor in physics in 1955. Following a three-year stint with the U.S. Army in Germany, Bower began graduate work in geochemistry at Caltech. But he soon realized he had a gift for argument and writing, and changed direction to pursue law. After graduating from Stanford Law School in 1963, Bower joined Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, an international law firm, and developed expertise litigating antitrust, trade regulation and business tort disputes for major corporations. His victory in 1991 for Toyota in the California Supreme Court completely changed the law of tortious interference, an antitrust issue. Early in his legal career, Bower took a leave of absence in 1967 to move to Washington, D.C., where he served on the staff of the Kerner Commission, the popular name for the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, which looked into the civil unrest taking place nationwide in the mid-1960s. Working for the government fulfilled a long-held dream of Bower, whose family held closely to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s vision that government could and should help make things better for the common man. Bower’s experience with civil disorder attracted the attention of then-Deputy Attorney General Warren Christopher, who asked Bower to join him as a Special Assistant in the Department of Justice under Attorney General Ramsey Clark. Bower was involved with dramatic events taking place in 1968 and 1969, including the demonstrations at the 1968 Democratic Convention, Resurrection City, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. After returning to his law firm in 1969, and over the next 25 years, Bower remained actively involved in public interest law while continuing his private law practice. Concerned about legal aid for the poor, Bower was active in the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles from 1975-1985. He also became a member, then chairman, of the Legal Services Trust Fund Commission which administers funds critical to California legal services organizations. For the past 21 years, Bower was a director of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, now known as Earthjustice, the “law firm for the environment.” A nonprofit, public interest law firm dedicated to protecting natural resources and wildlife and defending the right of all people to a healthy environment, Earthjustice enforces and strengthens environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations and communities.] Bower was an avid backpacker, biker and skier. He participated in several double-century bike rides, riding 200 miles in a day. He biked from San Francisco to Los Angeles after a six-month trial in San Francisco where he represented Memorex in a case against IBM. He backpacked and skied primarily in the Sierra Nevadas. The Bower family has lived in Pacific Palisades since 1965, where their three daughters, Stephanie, Julie and Aimee, were raised and attended local public schools, including Marquez, Paul Revere and Palisades High. Paul was a loving and proud father to his three daughters and a devoted family man. Friends will remember his following the town’s Fourth of July parade on his bike, gleefully announcing the arrival of his third daughter in 1970. Paul supported the Palisades-Malibu YMCA and the Palisades Democratic Club. He loved politics and was actively involved in many political campaigns at the local, state and national levels, including former Palisadian Cathy O’Neill’s nearly successful run for the State Senate in 1972. He loved music, classical to country western, was a good photographer, and had a wry sense of humor. He is survived by his wife, Elreen; daughters Stephanie, Julienne and Aimee Bower; son-in-law, Vinh Nguyen; two young granddaughters, Sylvie and Simone; and his sisters, Judith Henning of Denver, and Miriam Goulding Westfelt of Rockville, Maryland. He was faithfully and lovingly attended after his stroke in 1995 by caregivers Wesley Bucknor and Jack Clayter. A memorial gathering is being planned for later this month. Donations in Paul Bower’s name would be welcomed at: Earthjustice, 426 17th Street, 6th Floor, Oakland, CA 944612-2820 and/or the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, 1102 Crenshaw Blvd., L.A. 90019.
Paul Franklin Thomas, a former football and track coach at Palisades High School, died peacefully at his home on the morning of December 24. He was 76. Born on November 9, 1927, to Dr. Herman Thomas and Florence Duncan in Blythe, California, Paul moved to Los Angeles where he attended University High School. He served in the Army during the end of World War II and returned awarded. After earning his undergraduate degree and teaching credentials from Cal State Los Angeles, Paul worked as a physical therapist and swimming coach at Kaiser Hospital. In 1962, he moved his wife and children to Pacific Palisades and began teaching at PaliHi in 1964. One of the school’s original faculty members, he coached football and track there until 1980. For years after retiring, Paul continued to enjoy his favorite pastime: playing volleyball on the beach near his home. He had met his wife of 51 years, Fleeta Joann Thomas, at Sorrento Beach in Santa Monica, just a few miles from where they ended up making their home. Paul was a selfless man who will be remembered in the highest regard by the many friends he made and the students he taught. All will miss him. In addition to his wife Joann, he is survived by his three children, Scott, Jon and Kelly, and three grandchildren, Brendan, Courtney and Morgan. Paul was buried on December 30 in a private ceremony at Woodlawn Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, a memorial donation to one’s favorite charity is suggested.
Patricia Lee McCrone passed away after a long illness on December 29. She was 69. McCrone was born on January 24, 1934 in Buffalo, New York to Chester and Celia Stevens, one of four children. After graduating from high school, she attended the University of Buffalo and majored in business at which she excelled. She was later voted “Kelly Girl” of Pittsburgh. While in college, she met her husband Jack. They began life together in Kenmore, New York and moved upstate to Elmira, then to Pittsburgh before finally settling in Pacific Palisades, where they lived for 22 years. McCrone loved to travel, which prompted her to work in the travel business. Her husband’s work allowed them to travel all over the world and they continued to do so after retirement. Active in several groups, McCrone was on the board of the Palisades Newcomers Club for several years. She was affiliated with the Venice Family Clinic and helped raise funds, in particular for the annual Venice Art Walk and Children’s Christmas benefit-a challenge she truly loved. More recently, she was active in Las Doradas, a local women’s association which supports a children’s center in Venice. As expressed by dear friends, Pat was a “beacon of light, love and laughter to all who came in contact with her. She enlightened all our lives with her sincere interest in others and her total focus on their care, often brushing aside inquiries about herself.” In addition to her husband Jack, she is survived by her son James. A Mass was said by Msgr. Torgerson at St. Monica’s Catholic Church. In lieu of flowers, a contribution to any cancer organization would be gratefully received.
Palisadian Stephanie Danhakl Survived Frightful Fall to Finish Equestrian Show
It was Week 2 of the Indio Desert Circuit Equestrian Championships in February and 16-year-old Stephanie Danhakl was well on her way to another victory when suddenly she met a cruel twist of fate. “I was riding and my horse tripped during competition,” she recalled. “I was thrown off and landed pretty hard. I got right up and thought I was fine. I tried to finish, but the pain became so unbearable that I just couldn’t continue.” Danhakl had broken her collar bone in two places and was told it would take two months to heal. But rather than give up on her favorite California show, the confident Palisadian persevered and was back in the saddle by the fifth stage of the six-week competition. Ignoring the pain and her doctor’s admonitions to be careful, she scored enough points to capture the Small Junior Hunter championship on a horse named Henley and the Large Junior Hunter title on Bellingham Bay. “I was really determined to get back in the competition because I had trained really hard for it,” she said. “I was at a disadvantage because I missed two weeks, but I did well enough in the weeks I did show to win.” That was just the start of a magical year for Danhakl in which she won at least one division at almost every show she entered. At the Monarch International Junior Hunter finals in Del Mar, Danhakl and her favorite horse, Lifetime, won the Large Junior Hunter championship.Then, at the Menlo Circus Club in Atherton, she was chosen Best Child Rider and won the Small Junior Hunter Championship with Henley. “I’ve only been riding for about three years, but I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember. I’m fortunate to have a really good trainer who has matched me with the right horses.” For each show, divisions are divided up by age (hers is Junior, for 17-and-unders). Small or large indicates the size of the horse and the “hunter” classification is a method of judging that focuses on a horse’s form and technique on jumps. Barriers at her level are three feet, six inches in height. When choosing a mount, Danhakl has several musts: “They have to be quiet, they have to be well balanced and they have to respond the right way when you pull on the reins or let go of them.” Danhakl trains six days a week under the tutelage of Archie Cox at her barn in Lakewood Terrace. The little time she has away from the stable is divided amongst her friends, classes at Harvard-Westlake High (her favorite subject is science) and, of course, homework. “I go right from school to practice, so it does take a lot of time. But I love the competition,” said Danhakl, who lives in the Highlands and attended Calvary Christian School prior to Harvard-Westlake. “There is always room for improvement. I’m not really looking to go to the Olympics or anything, I’d just like to keep improving and try to keep winning.” As well as she performed at state competitions, Danhakl saved her best for the national shows. She won the Small Junior Hunter championship on her second small horse, Traditions, and rode Bellingham Bay to a second-place finish in the Large Junior Hunter category at the Capital Challenge Horse Show in Maryland. At the Metropolitan Show in New York City, she was runner up on Bellingham Bay and at the National Horse Show in West Plam Beach, Florida, she and Traditions were Small Junior Hunter Champions. Danhakl ended the year by riding Lifetime to the USA Equestrian Federation’s Large Junior Hunter national championship. The more medals she wins, the more determined she becomes. “This sport is a big time commitment. But if you enjoy it, like I do, all the hard work you put in is worth it.” Her immediate goal is winning again at the Desert Circuit Championships, which begin at the end of the month. Last year’s success and the adversity she had to overcome to win there have her feeling good about her chances.
Yale Volleyball Senior Overachieves On the Court and in the Classroom
Whether it’s a final exam or the finals of a big tournament, Jessica Kronstadt is as competitive as they come. A senior libero on the Yale University volleyball team, she registered 366 digs this season and had over 700 in her four-year career. She played all but one game this season for the Bulldogs and posted 20 digs in a match six times, including a season-high 31 against Dartmouth. She earned the Coach’s Award for her consistent play and leadership, made the All-Ivy League academic team in the fall and is involved in numerous campus activities-all of that while maintaining a 3.71 grade point average. A standout prep player at Harvard-Westlake, Kronstadt led the Wolverines to a CIF championship her junior year and played on Gene’s Team, one of the Southland’s most successful club volleyball teams, coached by beach volleyball legend Gene Selznick. Home in Huntington Palisades for winter break to spend time with her parents, brother Erik (a sophomore pre-med at Cornell) and sister Nicola (a sixth-grader at St. Matthew’s), Kronstadt visited with Palisadian-Post Sports Editor Steve Galluzzo this week to share her thoughts on volleyball, college life and her future… Post: Why did you decide to go to Yale, a university that does not give athletic scholarships? JK: I visited a number of schools my junior year of high school and I really fell in love with Yale and Dartmouth. The prospect of going to an Ivy League school always interested me, so when the Yale coach called me I saw it as a great opportunity. I went on a recruiting trip in September and I couldn’t imagine myself anywhere else. I liked the fact that there was no mediocrity. Nothing about Yale is mediocre. To be in this intensely competitive academic environment where students still have a great time and love the university was enough to sell me. Post: Being a student-athlete, how are you able to make time for your other interests? JK: What I wanted from college was not to have my life dominated by volleyball. I wanted to be able to pursue music and learn a language fluently. Of course, volleyball takes up a lot of my time, but I’m also in the Elizabethan Club, which is a literary society for professors and students who share a love of music and literature. I’m also a tutor and I’m involved in student mentor programs and those are things I might not have been able to pursue if I went to a big-time volleyball school. Post: After graduation next semester, what are your career goals? JK: I’m waiting to hear from law schools right now. I want to get a joint degree in business and law, which is a four-year program. If I get into Yale law school, I’m going to do that. If I don’t, I’ll probably work for a year in consulting or banking to have some experience and then go for my JDMBA. Yale law school is the best in the country, but I have as good a chance as anyone else. If I do get a law degree, I’d probably like to work in the DA’s office as a prosecutor doing the hands-on trial work. Advertising also appeals to me. It’s a very exciting field. Post: If you had to pick a favorite volleyball highlight at Yale, what would that be? JK: Just playing for four years at the Division I collegiate level is an achievement in itself. But if I had to pick one thing I’d say my proudest moment was beating Princeton this year. We hadn’t beaten them since 1997, it was at home and it was the last time I was ever going to get to play them. Everyone played great and the athletic director came into our postgame meeting and was so elated. It was just a huge win for our program. We beat Harvard on their senior night, too, which was pretty cool. On a personal note, winning the Coach’s Award was very rewarding. Post: To what do you attribute your team’s success this year? JK: Our new coach, Erin Appleman. She put the smiles back on our faces. She connected with us personally and athletically. She has really turned the program around. We had an incredible season. We had our best start in 11 years and we beat teams we didn’t beat last year. We won tournaments that we wouldn’t have won last year. We opened the year at the West Point Tournament and beat a very good Army team. She knew how hard to push each one of us and got the maximum talent out of each player, which is a special skill that I think very few coaches have. I’m glad I got to play with her, but I’m sad it was only for one season. Post: How come you chose to attend Harvard-Westlake High [in North Hollywood] rather than, say, Brentwood or Palisades? JK: Harvard-Westlake was just a better fit for me. It was a bigger school than Brentwood and Marlborough, one of the strongest academically in the country and it was more diverse in terms of the student body. I didn’t love it. If I had to do it over again, I definitely would’ve gone to Pali. But it did prepare me extremely well for college because it’s real sink or swim. You’re surrounded by lots of really talented people who are just as smart as you are. My junior year of high school was as hard academically as anything I’ve experienced at Yale and that’s saying something. Post: Do you still keep in touch with anyone from high school? JK: Not from my high school team. Just my friends from Gene’s Team. I played club with them for four years and we’ve all kept playing in college. Jenna [Grigsby] is at Cal, Jenny [Badran-Grycan], is at Villanova and Lauren [Carter] is at Penn. I see Anna (Carter’s nickname) most because our schools play each other, but I see everyone else when we’re back here on vacations. We had so much fun together. Post: How much did it help learning your trade from Gene Selznick? JK: He was as instrumental a teacher and as big an influence in my life as any of my teachers in high school or any of my professors in college. Not only is he a phenomenal volleyball coach who can teach anyone how to play, but I’d say he shaped a lot of my character. A lot of the person I am is because of the way he coached me in volleyball. I think if you asked any of the four of us, we’d all say the same thing. He’s still the best coach we know. I love having Gene on my side. In terms of my volleyball skill, Gene gets all the credit. Post: Do you prefer rally scoring or would you like to revert back to sideouts? JK: Unfortunately I never got to play rally scoring in high school, but I like it. The games go quicker and I think that makes it more exciting to watch. It definitely gives the weaker team more of a chance. It forces you to concentrate on every point as opposed to just the serving point, so I think it’s a good change. You have to be a lot more disciplined. I’m a little biased because I’m a defensive specialist, but it’s true-defense wins games. Post: How have you liked playing libero the last two seasons? JK: I love it. It’s basically the same as being a DS except that instead of going in for the same person every rotation, a libero can substitute in for anybody at any time in the back row. You just can’t serve. I like it because I consider myself a good defensive player and I like being out there as much as I can. I know I’m biased because I’m a defensive specialist, but to me that and the setter are the most important parts of the team because without passing and defense you don’t get to hit the ball. Post: Have the lessons you’ve learned through volleyball helped in other aspects of life? JK: I wrote my personal statement for law school about this! I love the camaraderie of a team sport. I’ve learned more about teamwork and more about leadership playing volleyball than I have in any other part of my life. It’s also forced me to manage my time and learn to prioritize. Best of all, though, it’s been a great friend base for me. Going into college as a freshman is scary enough as it is, but when you play a sport you have to get there earlier than the other students, so it gives you a chance to get acclimated better, learn the campus, and meet new people before classes even start. Post: When did you first begin playing volleyball and what sparked your interest? JK: I would say that 8th grade is when I really started playing volleyball seriously and when I learned a lot of my skills. People thought I was good at it and I thought it was fun. I was on Jeff Porter’s last Club West team and it was phenomenal. There was me, Jenna, Michelle Davis, Cassie Bryan… a lot of good players. We took eighth place at the Davis Tournament that year. Post: What advice would you give to high school girls interested in playing college volleyball? JK: In the end, it’s just a sport. I’m as competitive as they come. You will not find a woman who is more competitive than I am. I hate losing. I hate it. But I can think of nothing worse than choosing a school or choosing what you do in life based solely on volleyball. I would recommend that you choose a school you’re happy with and the volleyball will fall into place. Volleyball is a great sport, but keep it in perspective at the same time. Your academics are always more important.