Letter From the Editor
ur individuality and life experiences shape each of us into fascinating human beings. We never face anything entirely alone and although the feeling of loneliness may set in, most people do whatever they can to overcome it. We are social creatures, constantly finding new ways of interacting. This magazine explores that solidarity and tells the stories of individuals and communities which seem vastly different on the surface, but all formed with the purpose of fighting off the loneliness together. In these pages, you’ll read about a nonprofit organization that strives to help women and children who have suffered from domestic abuse, and the group of bicyclists in East Los Angeles that works to keep youth from turning to drugs and gangs by keeping them active. Then there’s the majestic Hindu temple that’s tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains, home to priests who live and pray in peace, away from the bustling lifestyle of Los Angeles. My team of reporters and photographers worked tirelessly to complete this magazine, using their individual talents and styles to tell the stories within. It has been a privilege to serve as their editorin-chief. Alone, each person wrote and shot their stories. Together, we watched in awe as those stories were put on these pages. I couldn’t have done it without all the hard work and total dedication of my staff. The editors – Lynn Levitt, who always knows how to “get it done,” and Alan, who stepped up to the plate as Photo Editor – have done a tremendous job. From photographer to writer to editor, I have grown so much, and it’s all thanks to the department’s advisers. I will continue working to make them proud as I apply what I’ve learned to my future in the field. I hope you enjoy this semester’s Bull Magazine, themed Alone Together. Thank you for reading! Sincerely, Monica Salazar
Front cover: Monica Salazar & Erin Stone Back cover: Lynn Levitt Staff photos: Joshua Duarte Photo by Alan Castro
TOGETHER Bikes Make Right
A community of bikers in the streets of L.A.
Emotionally Strong What drives Ron Young to strive?
How meditation can make a peaceful world
Streaming to Success
Life of a video game streamer
All the Rage Back Home
A day in the life of a drug dealer
A place of solitude, prayer and peace
06 08 10 12 14 16 18 20 23 24 26 28 30
Thereâ€™s no cure, but that doesnâ€™t stop her
A Life Reclaimed
Single mother, abuse survivor, and a loving community
Ipods and Earbuds
A brief look at a band, a van and long days on the road
Making A New Home
Finding a new home in an unfamiliar place
An Out of Body Experience Dancer creates a never before seen style to express himself
A home to give women dignity
A one-man business gets glamorous
ALONE Editor-in-Chief Monica Salazar
Multimedia Editor Marc Dionne
Managing Editor Lynn Levitt
Online & Photo Editor Alan Castro
Writer & Photographer Joshua Duarte
Copy Editor Richie Zamora
Writer Ethan Hanson
Special Thanks: Jill Connelly, Jeff Favre, Sean McDonald, Scott Prewitt, Calvin Alagot, Marielle Stober, Monica Veslasquez (for your support from afar), Andrew Escobar, and Erin Stone.
TOGETHER Writer & Photographer Amy Au
Writer Michelle Lerner
Writer & Photographer Mimi Jingshi
Writer Jazmine Sanchez
Writer Alfred Guimaztdinov
Writer Jonathan Hintz
Writer & Photographer Sonia Gurrola
The Missing Gene No cure, but life goes on
Story & Photos by Lynn Levitt
t was Christmas Eve 1984, and 15-year-old Lisa Gonzales listened to the buzzing sound of the electric razor as it shaved clean the hair from the back of her head. “The surgery took place and somewhere through the entire process I thought the brain tumor was caused from making bad lifestyle choices, like my use of drugs,” Gonzales said. Recovery was a long road. For the next 12 to 14 years she suffered from headaches and nausea, though they weren’t as severe as in the past. The experience seemed to be just a
bad memory. She was happily married, had a 9-year-old son, a beautiful house and a steady career as a commercial insurance agent. Gonzales was living her dream. That’s when the headaches returned. For 14 years they had been a tolerable annoyance, lurking under the surface as a vague reminder of that unimaginable horror half a lifetime ago. When the mild headaches became severe, they did so with a fury. They were unbearable, agonizing waves crashing in her brain, crushing her. From a medical perspective a cluster of small tumors had grown in
her brain, centered around one large tumor. Together these masses were literally squeezing her brain. She was unable to find a doctor to relieve this pain, so, through research Gonzales decided to go to the one place she could find, that might be able to handle her case. With all her medical records in tow, she got into the world’s largest biomedical research agency, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, MD. “It was at the NIH where I was DNA tested and formally diagnosed with von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, (VHL)” Gonzales said.
The disease is caused by mutations of the VHL tumor suppressor. It meant, the body lacked the gene that suppresses tumor growth. Symptoms for VHL can be as simple as a headache, or dizziness. Director, Beth Benne, is an RN and has a Public Health Nursing (PHN) certificate at the Los Angeles Pierce College. She said she had never heard of the syndrome. Some of these symptoms are very common and a student may seek help for what seems like a simple headache. “We would follow standard protocol checking the symptoms and if necessary get them into a medical system, full physical, possible bloodwork and refer on up to the doctor level if necessary,” Benne said. “After a full week of scans, MRIs, blood tests, etc., I found I had numerous brain tumors, tumors on my spinal cord, and kidney, and pancreatic tumors.” Gonzales said. “Basically, I had been misdiagnosed with the first surgery and should have been tested for VHL at that time.” Vice president of Commercial Business, Robert Craig is a friend and business associate of Gonzales for over 20 years. “She has kept up her spirit and still leads a full life,” Craig said. “She has been the recipient of many commercial insurance awards for production and is financially successful. She even raised her son alone.” Like many who carry such serious syndromes as VHL, they feel alone. Gonzales is different. She never takes no for an answer and proceeded to help develop the VHL Clinical Care Center. The center is to unite VHL patients with doctors and work together as a team. Someone with VHL has many specialists for different body parts, but there had not been a specialist to manage one’s care. With Gonzales’ gift
Lisa Gonzales shares the scars on her body from von Hippel-Lindau syndrome.
of sharing and caring, she has helped doctors to organize tests, scheduling and follow-up so patients don’t have to be their own doctor, too. Every cell in the body has two copies of every gene. In VHL syndrome, one copy of the gene has a mutation from a lack of protein. Tumors form from only the cells where the second copy of the gene has been mutated. “I had the common sense to have my son DNA tested and it was found that he had the good VHL gene,” Gonzales said. “Therefore the disease stops with me.” With that said, Gonzales’ other family members are not as fortunate. Both her mother and brother carry mutated genes. Throughout the next 17 years, Gonzales had seven more brain surgeries., three left and right partial removal of the kidney, and removal of part of the pancreas, the small intestine and the gallbladder called a Whipple procedure. Several x-rays,
angiograms, blood tests, poking and prodding every inch and of every part of her body. Every day Gonzales just keeps on moving like the “Energizer” rabbit battery commercial. Her son is now married and she has relocated her home and business office to the Santa Clarita Valley. She still works non stop, meeting clients, writing insurance and sets time aside for personal growth and physical activities, like hiking, tennis and body sculpting. The cycle will then turn and she will be on the surgeon’s table again. It is hard to imagine Gonzales’ VHL is not considered as aggressive as other cases. There is no cure for VHL, just a hope one day a medicine will advance to the level of gene replacement therapy. “I live each day like everybody should, enjoying what you have today,” Gonzales said. “My scars have become part of who I am. They give me strength each and every day I see them in the mirror.”
Alone Together| 7
A Life Reclaimed Domestic Abuse Survivor overcomes past wounds through good works
Photo Illustrations by Monica Salazar Story by Monica Salazar
hrown to the ground by her boyfriend, Karen Gonzalez curled up in an attempt to protect herself from his stomping and kicking. She caught her breath, screamed and managed to fight him off and run toward the phone. But before she knew it, she was pinned to the bed with his knee pressed against her neck and his hands covering her mouth. That trauma is not a distant memory for Gonzalez, and has driven her to find hope for herself and others through her nonprofit organization Helping Hands. Gonzalez started the nonprofit four years ago to provide people affected by domestic violence and trauma with the basic necessities they needed to rebuild their lives. Gonzalez’s abusive and toxic relationships started at an early age with memories of her parents constantly fighting. “My father was a cheater and that made my mother a different person,” Gonzalez said. She described how her mother, Martha Romero, would beat her until bruises and marks were left on her skin. Despite this, Gonzalez said that she and her mother have reconciled in her later years as an adult. When she was 13 years old, feelings of anger and depression overwhelmed her and led her to attempt suicide. “I didn’t understand why I was hurting,” Gonzalez said. “I lost hope and didn’t feel safe. I attempted suicide with pills and cutting until one day I passed out at my middle school.” Gonzalez went through the motions of counseling and therapy sessions at Milliken Middle School for a whole year. They had little effect on the troubled young girl. “I only said things that the therapist wanted to hear,” Gonzalez said. Pain translated into love for Gonzalez when she entered high school. There she met Eric Solaves, her first boyfriend. Having felt hurt and depressed all her life, Gonzalez found comfort in Solaves’ familiarly destructive behavior. “He became too much and so obsessive,” she said. “He questioned everything I did. He tried to control what I wore from my makeup to my clothes. He didn’t like me having friends.” Frustrated by his controlling and possessive behavior, Gonzalez tried to leave one night with their 3-month-old daughter Michelle. He tried to stop her by strangling her, but Gonzalez managed to fight him off. She ran out of the apartment with only her car keys and infant in her arms, leaving everything else behind. This was her first encounter with domestic abuse in a romantic relationship. “I didn’t know anything about the cycle of violence. I thought it was normal,” Gonzalez said.
Niaz Khani, a clinical psychologist and mental health director at Pierce College’s Health Center, explained that the cycle of violence is a constant battle. “Sometime people forget that even though it’s quiet, the cycle is still there. Nothing has been resolved. There is a feeling of hope that maybe things will change for the better,” Khani said. “They [the victim] feel like they are being loved even if they are being abused..” When she met Rudy Alvarado, Gonzalez was enraptured by his charm, but his two-faced behavior worsened during the next six years of their relationship. Alvarado shared the same harmful traits as her first boyfriend. He would fight guys on the street just for looking at her, and when she became pregnant he demanded she get an abortion. She refused. “His behavior became worse when I got pregnant,” Gonzalez said. The baby arrived earlier than expected because of the stress Gonzalez experienced. Seven months after giving birth to her daughter Lelani, Alvarado’s behavior reached a fever pitch. He pinned Gonzalez down against their bed with his knee planted against her neck and his hands over her mouth. “I started to black out. I just remember putting my hands up and scratching him in the face,” Gonzalez said. The scratch allowed her to push him off and make a dash to the phone, which she used to call the police. However, when the police arrived, the arresting officer happened to be a friend of her boyfriend. According to the officer, she was the abuser because she drew blood with her defensive flailing. Gonzalez spent two nights in county jail with bruises all over her body and a shock collar on her mangled neck. The next morning, Gonzalez called the National Domestic Violence Hotline and its
members were able to set her and her baby up in a motel. “I was scared. That night of the attack I thought I was going to die,” Gonzalez said. She and her daughter stayed at a crisis shelter for 60 days until they were transferred to a transitional shelter for the next 18 months. Her three children, Michelle, Jonathan (from a different relationship) and Lelani stayed with relatives. “This is where everything changed for me. At the shelter, that’s where I got reconnected with my faith and got closer to God,” Gonzalez said. “I then started to do domestic violence counseling and group therapy because I was so confused as to why I had feelings for this man. I was with him for six years. It was like a drug that I was addicted too.” Although Gonzalez was finding emotional and spiritual healing, there were other basic needs that were going unmet. “When I lived in the shelter, I started to see a lot of injustice. Services not being provided for victims,” she said. “I don’t see numbers, I see human beings. I see lives. How can you not care about the needs of these people?” Repeatedly, Gonzalez witnessed the shelter not provide simple things like water and new clothes. She believed that basic necessities were the last thing the victims needed to stress about. “My trials and hardships brought me to a place where I knew something needed to change. I wanted to give back to the people who have been abused
and neglected,” Gonzalez said. During this time, Gonzalez received numerous personal donations that kept her afloat. With an abundant amount of goods, Gonzalez’s generosity kicked in. She and a friend found out what each woman and family needed and gave them their extra donations. Continued on page 32.
John Jones III on his bike at the “Watts Rocks Pink” event, an awareness ride for cancer survivors in Watts, Calif. on Oct. 3, 2015.
Bikes Make Right
The thought of running out of your One family decided to help take house as a child and hopping on your their neighborhood back from bike to ride the afternoon away with the stigma of gangs and drugs. friends is one that many can relate to. It is also something many take for Story and Photos by Richie granted. Those carefree afternoons and Zamora attitudes are based on the belief your neighborhood is a safe place. 10|thebullmag.com Growing up in South Los Angeles,
the thought of a child riding a bike alone would terrify most parents. Not being able to do something as iconic of childhood as riding a bike down your own street inspired a father and son to help empower the greater Watts community to take back its home and change the stigma that has been so closely associated with the area. The East Side Riders bike club is a community club based in the greater Watts area that feeds the homeless, promotes bike safety and tries to keep youth from gangs and drugs. John Jones II and his son John Jones III started the club, which has grown and even caught the attention of City of Los Angeles Councilmember of the 15th District Joe Buscaino, who Jones III now works for as a field deputy, allowing him to extend his influence and message. “We started with another bike club meeting up at Washington Park,” Jones II said. “We branched out from that bike club and became the East Side Riders bike club. Our thing started off to feed the homeless, to keep kids out of gangs and off of drugs.” “I sat down and put some ideas together but I think I came up with too much stuff and I think I scared people away. We’re going to feed the homeless. We’re going to help out the seniors in the community. We’re going to go out and clean up streets and alleys,” Jones III said. “I think it was a little too much for folks. A lot of people bolted.” Eventually the club’s actions caught the attention of Tim Watkins, president and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee (WLCAC), a non-profit organization that helps improve the lives of Watts residents. Watkins allowed the club to use the community center for events and assisted in locating the club’s current home. “This place is more than just a bike shop. If you want to drop off your bike and get it done, you can do that. If you want to learn how to fix your own bike, you can come and do that, but our main thing is to have a safe haven for kids and a place for adults,”
Sancho Montez, Richard Gatica and Jeffery Jeff wait for the ride to start for the Watts Rocks Pink event.
Jones III said. “Our main goal and vision is to help save kids from the gangs and the drugs out here. This co-op, this space is part of it. We’re introducing it to kids because they don’t even know what it is. By us being able to put this here, it shows our investment in the community and it shows the kids that they have a place to come to if they don’t want go to the park or another program they can come and learn to fix bikes.” Jones III felt it was important to secure a location that was near a bike lane to benefit their goal of informing the community on bike etiquette and safety. “We could have been anywhere in Watts but we had to get something on Central and we had to get something close to a bike lane so it’s easier for us to educate the community,” Jones III said. “People ride bikes the wrong way on these streets all day long. That’s not good so we want to teach them how to ride bikes the correct way here in Watts.” Along with feeding the homeless every third Sunday and organizing and participating in community cleanups, “ghost bike” memorials are another important part of what the club does for the bicycle community. These bikes are painted white and placed at sites where cyclists have been injured or killed. “Ghost bikes are memorials for cyclists that have been killed in a hit and run or whatever the case may be, but if
a cyclist was killed on their bike then we place a memorial, a ghost bike, there for that cyclist,” Jones III said. “It’s to let the community know that a cyclist was injured here, killed here or whatever the case may be, it happened here.” JP Partida is president of the Los Ryders bike club, another Watts-based bike club that has been riding for four years and has worked closely with Jones III and the East Side Riders during that time to combine their efforts. “John and I do a lot of work together. We’re like brother clubs. I’ve known John for like four years now and we do a lot of activities together,” Partida said. “Not only bike rides but we also do a kickball tournament in April and we invite bike clubs from outside of the area or whoever wants to participate.” Growing up in the Watts area Partida was well aware of racial tensions that existed. He said that bike clubs are very important to change those views. “What I run is a youth gang intervention program, so a lot of the youth I have in my bike club are kids that they won’t jump on their bike by themselves because they don’t want to get caught outside of bounds,” Partida said. “There was a lot of black and brown problems but that’s one of the reasons that John and I linked up so they could see that black and brown can actually work together and do something positive for the community.”
Attendents of the Watts Rocks Pink event write what things they can do in their community to keep active in Watts, Calif. on Oct. 3, 2015.
JP Partida shows off some of his patches at the Watts Rocks Pink event in Watts, Calif. on Oct. 3, 2015.
John Jones II put his tools away after repairing bikes at the East Side Riders clubhouse in Watts, Calif. on Sept. 16, 2015.
Continued on page 33.
iPods and Ear Buds A brief look at a band, a van and long days on the road
Photo and Story by Amy Au
he smell of pot wafted in the air of the Saint Rocke club. An enthusiastic and determined group of three men took center stage and the first notes rung out into the atmosphere. Drunken patrons were swaying and unconsciously rocking out to the opening band. Long before that night’s performance, Olio sits hypnotized by hand held digital devices on the way to a gig in a rented van. They might be caught counting some sheep. Whoever is driving is staring at black asphalt painted with white and yellow lines, sometimes for over eight hours. This happens between 60 – 100 days a year. “There are long stretches of time and we got our iPod’s and ear buds and everyone is in their worlds,” the guitarist of the group.Arif
Hodzic said, “But there are times when the ear buds are out and we’re talking about things and laughing.” Before the glamour the group was known as Vivid. At the time there was another band with the same name. The German-based band Vivid sent a cease and desist letter telling the Los Angeles band to change its name or stop playing altogether. Legally this equates to the band not selling merchandise or any marketing opportunity with the Vivid name, which can mean a loss of thousands of dollars for the band. Olio is a three-piece rock and roll funk band. The group’s stage apparel are white neckties on black shirts with black slacks, which is reminiscent of a classic 80’s video by Duran Duran. “Olio is a fun, energetic vibe of a Saturday night party, electrified with
grit, soul and Rock & Roll,” Hodzic said when describing the band. Arif Hodzic is the guitarist and one of the three vocalists in the band. He stands at six feet tall and does not dress as a mean and gritty rock and roller. His dark wavy locks contrast his fair skin. Hodzic chose not to follow in his father’s footsteps after being an architecture apprentice. “Playing music is my favorite job,” Hodzic said. Being the newest member as well as the resident stuntman/bassist and a singer in the band, Kelley Hill utilizes all areas of the stage in every performance. His persona on stage is about being vertical and horizontal on stage. “The best thing you can do for yourself is to be better than the opening band,” Hill said. “I need to be entertaining.”
Above: Arif Hodzic, DeHaven Carrington and Kelley Hill jam on stage at Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach, Calif. The trio is known for their extensive touring schedule of up to 100 days a year. Right:Olio band members at Venice, Calif.
DeHaven Carrington may tower over the band, but he is mildmannered and keeps everything on the down low. He plays drums and sings, too. He started playing music when he was 19 years old. Hodzic and Haven met in a cover band 20 years ago. Haven plays for the love music.
“Don’t chase fame. Fame will kill you. It will destroy everything that you try to accomplish, ” Haven said. Chris Henry is a sound engineer that graduated from Western Kentucky University with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Business. Henry has done sound for B.B. King, The Allman Brothers, Olivia Newton-John, Faith Hill and The Queens of the Stone Age. “You can always do the Miley Cyrus thing and do a shock value
thing,” Henry said. “I think that you have Henry said. “I think that you have to be savvy in social media and keep that thing in gear. “
Showing up at the venue hours before performance time is one point that is key to being successful. Olio is a self service band. They are there own roadies. This means they set up their microphones, tune guitars, hook-up amplifiers and assemble the drum kit. They also drive the van from gig to gig and sell their merchandise. The group Olio has been together for more than 17 years and their bonds are stronger than ever. Hodzic’s wife Beth has seen the band from the beginning. She supports him traveling on the road
and encourages his life as a musician. Alone with the kids, she is better organized when the band is on the road. “When he comes home finally, he messes the schedule all up,” Beth Hodzic said. “It seems like there is a tighter ship running at home when he is gone than when he is here.”
Olio finished the set. Moving at a rapid pace, they strip the stage of their equipment placing it back exactly as it was. Meanwhile the roadies of the headliners are putting the next band’s gear together on stage. Stepping closer to headliner status is not far away for Olio. Roadies, get your applications ready.
Story by Ethan Hanson Photo by Monica Salazar
t’s third down from the 25-yard line and the Pierce College football team is looking to hold its ground against Santa Barbara City College. Bodies are flying and colliding explosively. Amid the violent clashes, Brahmas’ defensive lineman Ron Young Jr., maintains a smile. The thought of going into battle would make many people tremble, but Young’s grin is a testament to his passion for life on the gridiron. Yet the normal activities of everyday life can strike fear into Young’s heart. After the game, he gets into his car and the chilly feelings begin to set in. He says his apartment, only a half-mile from campus, feels like 100 miles with no exits as he slowly and cautiously makes his way home. Off the field, Young carries a weight that overwhelms his 260-pound frame. Emotions swirl around him like a brewing storm. The storm is anxiety disorder, and in a matter of moments the gentle, smiling giant can turn into a man rooted in chaos. “My symptoms include chest pressure, and then my heart will start beating fast and I feel like I can’t breathe,” Young said. “My hands get numb, my feet get numb and you feel like you’re floating. It’s one of the scariest things that I have ever experienced in my life. But the thing is, you need to trick yourself into thinking that you are OK. Just keep thinking positive thoughts.” Young has been dealing with anxiety disorder since he was a teenager. The attacks can come at any time, depending on the situation and his level of stress. “The last time I experienced anxiety was when I was driving in late August, and a lot of my anxiety comes when I’m driving,” Young said. “It first started when I was in high school. My heart would start fluttering and I would get nervous.” Young says he chooses not to use prescription pills like Xanax, Klonopin and Valium to treat his symptoms because such drugs can cause users to become physically dependent. He relies instead on holistic treatments and uses a phone app called Pacifica, which allows users to be coached
through various meditation methods. The app tracks his progress by recording thoughts and feelings from day to day. “Ever since I’ve used this app, it has helped me become more aware of when the symptoms are about to hit,” Young said. Brahmas’ offensive lineman Matthew Perry opposes Young during practices. Perry said even though Young is dealing with anxiety, he rarely shows it on the field. “Ron’s just a good happy guy,” Perry said. “He’s always smiling and cracking jokes. He’s a very caring person and he never seems worried about anything.” Young’s father, Ron Young Sr., also played for Pierce and was part of the 1984 team inducted into the Brahmas’ athletic hall of fame. The elder Young said at first he was concerned about his son’s condition. “I like to joke with Ron and say ‘What are all the anxiety attacks about? I’m paying all the bills,’” Ron Sr. said. “But it all started in his junior year when we thought he was having a cardiac arrest. We took him to the hospital and we found out that he was dehydrating because he was playing sports and not drinking a lot of water.” Ron Sr. said his son’s problems went away for a while, but eventually the chest pains returned. “Me, as a father, I would be nervous. And we found out that it wasn’t dehydration and there was nothing wrong with his chest,” Ron Sr. said. “We didn’t do an anxiety test, but we have come to find out he gets so excited from anxiety. I don’t know the reason for it, but I think it could just be a growing pain.”
Mentally Empowered However, Young’s situation is not unique, and there are ways to find treatment specially designed for athletes. Jacob Jensen, assistant professor of sport and performance psychology at California State University, Northridge, is one of two sports psychologists on the CSUN campus who treat current student athletes. “What I do is help athletes with performance,” Jensen said. “We do a lot of relaxation techniques, a lot of imagery, goal setting and motivational interventions.” Jensen himself was a sports psychology patient when he was a tennis player at Utah University. During his senior season, Jensen developed a hitch in his serve that caused him to lose control of the ball. As a result he found his performance limited throughout most of his last season in college and was diagnosed with the ‘yips,’ a term which describes
Brahmas football player opens up about his struggle with anxiety
“He’s always smiling and cracking jokes. He’s a very caring person and he never seems worried about anything.”
-Matthew Perry an uncontrolled jerk or movement. That hitch helped inspire Jensen to enter the field of sports psychology. “I thought to myself that there needs to be some kind of training,” he said. “I thought if the mind is powerful enough to destroy performance, then it must be strong enough to help with it.” That hitch helped inspire Jensen to enter the field of sports psychology. “I thought to myself that there needs to be some kind of training,” he said. “I thought if the mind is powerful enough to destroy performance, then it must be strong enough to help with it.” As for Young, he keeps his anxiety hidden and very few of his coaches know of the stress he experiences off the field. Defensive line coach John DiLuigi didn’t even find out about Young’s anxiety until recently. “He has worked very hard to make himself just like everybody else out here, so you wouldn’t know,” DiLuigi said. “He tries to make sure that he fits in with everybody, and with everything that’s going on, and he does that 100 percent.” As Young continues to grow as a football player, he also continues to smile about his life. He doesn’t shy away from his feelings, and focuses instead on what he believes will make him successful. His anxiety may have an impact, but he does not let it define who he is as a man. His anxiety may have an impact, but it does not let it define who he is as a man.
Alone Together| 15
Making a New Home
ver the sound of his quiet measured breaths Mario Sandoval could hear voices outside the vehicle. After the man outside gave permission for the car to “go ahead” he let out a deep sigh of relief. Sandoval knew he was safe; if only for a moment. He was 20 years old when he entered the United States in 1997. “I wanted to come to America to make money to help my family in Mexico,” Sandoval said. Sandoval left home without telling his mother and made his way from Guadalajara, Mexico, to meet a cousin in Tijuana. There he worked at the border selling souvenirs to the tourists in cars crossing the border. It was hard work spent in the hot sun that paid in tips collected from tourists. Regardless of this, it was still a job and Sandoval needed work. After compiling enough money between himself and his cousin, Sandoval met with a smuggler or “coyote” who assisted them in crossing the Mexican-American border. On the day the journey was set to begin Sandoval spent three hours hiding out in the bushes of a secluded baseball field. There he waited until the smuggler arrived. Reminiscent of the method used by Cold War refugees fleeing East Germany, Sandoval was driven across the border in the trunk of a pintsized car. The logic was that the U.S. Border Patrol would be less inclined to search a smaller vehicle than a van or SUV. “I was cramped up in the trunk with the two other guys,” Sandoval said. “I was so scared that we would get caught.” Some immigrants cross the U.S.
A refugees unexpected life in America seeking asylum as refugees. Others are exchange students or work internationally with the assistance of a work visa.
For Sandoval, this was an opportunity to pursue a better life and leave behind the economic instability and poverty he experienced back home. “Both of my parents worked to try and support us but it was not enough because the money was too little,” Sandoval said. Attorney Michael Akhidenor has practiced immigration and personal injury law for 20 years at StoneCroft Attorneys in Van Nuys. “Most immigrants that come to the United States struggle in their own country. Attorneys try to help these people receive their citizenship so they can work and have a better life than the ones they had before,” attorney Michael Akhidenor said. In accordance with Pierce College standards, Sandoval would not have been a viable candidate for a student visa. “Because of budget cuts, we are not seeking to recruit international students. There were 800 students that had applied for student visas
Story by Jonathan Hintz Photos by Lynn Levitt
to Pierce College before and now we are only receiving 125 students,” said Pierce College counselor Rudy Dompé. Relocating to live with his cousins, Sandoval found a job at a recycling center in Van Nuys. The establishment closed six months later. However, the center’s owner introduced Sandoval to manager of an apartment complex. Despite his lack of experience, the building manager hired Sandoval due to his strong work ethic. “I remember I started to just clean the grounds and empty apartments after a tenant would move out,” Sandoval said. Under the tutelage of the building manager, Sandoval learned how to paint and do electrical work in the apartments when they were empty. He was also encouraged to learn English as Sandoval could only speak Spanish at that time. It was during this time of reacclimation that Sandoval’s cousins moved to Colorado in search of more affordable living conditions. He was faced with the decision to follow the only family he had in the U.S. or stay behind. After thinking it over time and time again, Sandoval chose to remain in California. “I didn’t want to move farther away from my family in Mexico. I am far away enough,” Sandoval said. Soon after his cousins left Sandoval moved in with the building manager. For two years he slept on his managers’ couch and worked long hours on the maintenance staff. It was on an indiscriminate day that the manager told Sandoval he should consider enrolling for classes to become a certified electrician. “When the manager helped train
Left:One of eleven children, Mario Sandoval made his way to the United States. After 19 years he is getting his American citizenship. Above: Mario Sandoval is praying for the family he left behind in Guadalajara, at Nuestra Senora Reina in Los Angeles. Below: With his family in Canoga Park, Mario Sandoval enjoys the company of his wife Elisia and children at the kids table at their home.
me and gave me money to go to school. I was very happy,” Sandoval said. Since then Sandoval attended a trade school and expanded beyond the position of a maintenance man. He met and fell in love with a Philippine woman named Elisia whom he later married. Now a father of two children, Sandoval strives to give them the opportunities he never had growing up in Mexico. “I want to work and help my children. I want them to get a good education and go to college,” Sandoval said. Despite his longing to see his family in Guadalajara again, Sandoval’s desire to return is not as strong as it was when he first settled in California. He is torn between both of his families as to where he should be. After working with a lawyer, and spending over $10,000, Sandoval
has filed for his papers to become an official citizen of the United States. Living the American dream has brought Sandoval to a
crossroad. Sandoval will keep his family in Mexico close to his heart while making a new home in the U.S.A.
At Peace w Healing without the side effects
e is sitting on Venice Beach, wearing an orange robe, with the beautiful ocean and sky behind him. He looks like a Buddhist statue, and seems to be spectacular and dignified. He normally can meditate for five hours. His eyes are half closed, you can see a slight smile on his lips and you can see his soul from his eyes. He speaks slowly. The voice sounds like a light and soft music from the sky, making those around him feel comfortable and peaceful. He is a Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzen Lama, 36 years old, a healer, teacher, and writer from Nepal. Meditation can help people’s mind to be clear, relaxed and focused. “Being a beginner, you should find a quiet spot, sit comfortably, relax your emotions and find one thing in your mind to meditate on.” Lama said. “Make your heart feel like a drop of water in the immense ocean that nothing can see, so your mind is getting calm, big and empty.” Lama teaches Reiki healing, which is
Story & Photos by Jing Shi a Japanese technique for stress reduction that also promotes physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual growth and Buddhist meditation around the United States. “When I was only 13 years old, I didn’t like to go to school, but I liked to go to temple. So I became a Tibetan Buddhist monk later”, he said. “Since then, I have studied in a Buddhist monastery in the south of India. Throughout my monastic life, I have received endless philosophical teachings, transmissions and initiations from great Lamas.” In the monastery, he also gave teachings and took care of the monks who were sick. For the first time, when he saw so many people sick in the hospital, he immediately wanted to become a doctor, but it was impossible to be a monk and doctor at the same time. After that he started taking healing and meditation classes with a Master Lama. “After only 21 days of practice, my master requested that I start giving Reiki healing sessions in the healing center.” he said. “After I finished training, I felt really happy and fulfilled because I can help
e with Meditation people release suffering and pain.” he explained. In Nepal, Lama used to offer his services and his knowledge in a Reiki healing center, in households, hospitals and other centers dedicated to social services. After finishing his second level of Reiki, he started his healing services at a distance in different parts of the country. After finishing the third level, he started to guide new Reiki practitioners. “Once my master mentioned to me, ‘You are one of the best healers among a group of 2,000 students’,” Lama said. “This comment meant a lot to me, way more than the certification of graduation.” In 2005, his master appointed him to be the assistant at the Buddhist centers, in Reiki healing centers, universities, and clinics from different parts of the country. He also learned and exchanged knowledge with Reiki masters and psychologists from Chile. Over the last 10 years, Lama has given Reiki to more than 5,500 people and has taught Reiki to more than 450 students. How can people reduce the pressures of our daily life? “You need to wash or shut down your brains, let you have peace, just simple, unending peace. Nothing is in your brain and making yourself empty. You should set aside a period of time every day to have a quiet mind,” he said. “Many years ago, meditation was not considered something for modern people. Now, meditation is becoming very popular with all types of people. One of the reasons it can help people get in touch with their inner heart and recharge your energy. Another reason it makes people happy and empowers you to accomplish things in the daily life.”
Biwei Liang, who is a student from the meditation class, does the meditation trainings every night. “I like meditation very much because I get lots of benefits from the trainings. It makes me feel young and have more energy,” she said. Steve Barker is the founder of the Neiyanggong.us site, having moved to the United States from London in 2006. Steve has done the healing arts and his massage therapy training in London for almost 10 years. He has also studied various forms of energy healing, health and wellness courses and he has trained in Chinese Energetic Healing with Dr. Kam Yuen. He has been teaching the classes such as Sound & Vibration Healing, TaiJi, NeiYang QiGong, Meditation and etc for many years at the BE Energy Center in Woodland Hills. “Reiki is a scientific healing method that has no side effects. Stress has always been one of the reasons that people are resorting to meditation, unless we try to overcome these negative thoughts and feelings with your mind.” Barker said. According to both Lama and Barker, any person can learn Reiki and meditation for either self-healing or for healing others. “Nowadays, we can learn different types of Reiki healing methods but love and compassion form the foundation to any form of Reiki and meditation that you desire to learn,” Lama said. “In my opinion, daily doing meditation is very important. Thus, it clearly frees one from any clutter and distraction. Meditation can the make world peaceful.” After meditation, Lama stands up, chants the Buddhist words and slowly moves toward the other side of the beach.
Tenzen Lama meditates on the beach in Venice Calif. Lama meditates over ﬁve hours everyday, reaching high levels of clarity.
An Out of Body
s he glides across the concrete ground with a hypnotizing stare, his body seems to shift form to a liquid-like movement. Resembling the motion of a contortionist, a pair of arms are brought over a tilted head that is followed by a shoulder that rotates all the way around without popping out. He stares into his audience’s eyes as his body becomes possessed by his thoughts. His name is Hampton Williams, but he goes by “Xcercist.” He is a 25-year-old dancer from Dallas, Texas who was first seen worldwide dancing on the Fox TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” After auditioning for them twice and delivering unforgettable performances, many doors were opened for his artistry to be seen. He has traveled the country performing for celebrities and common folk alike, but he can typically be found at dance battles throughout Los Angeles. After developing his personalized expressions within dance, he made it part of his lifestyle to let the dance community know that what he does makes him stand out from the rest. “After the show, I realized that I was doing something different with my artistry,” Williams said. He calls his expression “OBE,” or out of body experience. He described it as taking what someone is feeling at the moment and making them see it through his movements. He stands alone in his style, but he is greatly supported by the dance community. “I do what I do to save people through my movement, meaning trying to show them how to be cautiously aware of what we’re able to do and actually create something we want to do. Through my movement I can make you feel and go through the same experience I’m going through,” Williams said. From the moment he laid his eyes on the moonwalk, he took it upon himself to find out what dancing was all about. “It all started when I was in second grade where I saw a friend of mine do the moonwalk and I thought Michael Jackson was the only person who did the moonwalk. I went home and I kept doing it. From
“I do what I do to save people through my them how to be cautiously aware of what something we want to do. Through my through the same experience I’m going
Story by Jazmine Sanchez Photo illustrations by Alan Castro & Jazmine Sanchez
movement, meaning trying to show we’re able to do and actually create movement I can make you feel and go through”
there I just started to move. I started to dance,” Williams said. Many dancers try to do anything they can to make themselves stand out from the pile of artists who are fighting to make their names be known. It takes great skills and determination to achieve that, but when you can make yourself exclusive and bring about something no one else can, then that’s when you receive recognition. It took Williams many years to develop “exorcism style,” his signature brand of dance, and make it accepted in a world where that can be a rigorous challenge. His partner Darlesha “Valkary” Goggans, a 26-yearold performer, describes his dancing as abstract. “He’s always been through these experiments with himself where he tries to take things to the next level. It’s not even dance anymore. It’s just expression,” Goggans said. Williams moved to California on July of this year because he felt that he needed a taste of what the state was all about. He wanted to see what California had to offer in an artistic sense. Since the move, he learned that he didn’t have to fit into a category to make himself known. “It made me aware of what I’m able to do and more confident in doing it,” Williams said. It’s hard for many dancers here in Los Angeles and all over the world to try and make what they do as performers accepted. According to Pierce College Hip-Hop teacher Maya Zellman, she approves of the upbringing of dancers and what they have to offer to the dance community as long as they pay homage to the foundation of dance. “I think it’s wonderful that people are being creative and I think it’s definitely a genre that needs to be explored and people need to find their own voice,” Zellman said. Zellman believes that in order for dancers to keep these styles of dance alive, they must keep the foundation of movement and prevent it from diminishing. Showing your voice and having the
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courage to stand out is, in her opinion, incredible. â€œYou do need to gain some respect by paying homage and learning your foundation, and showing that you have a respect for the culture and where it came from and then saying this is my voice. If you donâ€™t have a sense of appreciation for what you are creating off of, then the history can get lost,â€? Zellman said. Apart from being a dancer, Williams enjoys being behind the camera. He is currently working on making short anime dance films where he will develop short stories through animated movement.
Williams gave much thanks to artists such as Boogie Frantic and John Do for helping him control his movement and creative process. From them he has developed a love for other styles such as ballet, krump, popping and contemporary. In order to make himself stand out through those styles, he puts a twist on them by combining them with his form. His way of dancing is an art form only he can do, but heis willing to share it with the dance community. He is supported by many dancers, and with that support he is determined to continue to grow as a dancer.
Streaming to Success
Making a Career Out of Guiding Gamers One Stream at a Time
Story and photo illustrations by Alfred Guimaztdinov & Alan Castro
n the gaming world people are now able to make a living. It’s just another day at work as Mark Neacey sits on the computer in his casual attire of a T-shirt, baggy shorts and flipflops. He screams various phrases at his computer screen. Neacey makes ends meet by working as a full-time streamer, known in pop culture as a live streaming online gamer. He resides in the oceanside city of Marina Del Rey. At the age of 10, Neacey first gained interest in gaming for pleasure as a result of his parents not being home a great deal. “I’ve been gaming for as long as I can remember,” Neacey said. “My parents gave me a console for my birthday and it’s stuck to me ever since.” He lived in Pittsfield, Maine, a dead end with respect to the gaming tournaments. At, 18 he set aside his gaming to obtain a college degree at Full Sail university. However, his college debt was burying him. At 23, Neacey entered the army and did a tour in Afghanistan. Finishing his tour of duty he moved to California with the desire to get into the gaming community.
His experience in Afghanistan is not something he advertises on the channel and does not want to revolve around his title as an veteran. Neacey’s gamer channel, “N3ac3y,” can be found on YouTube and Twitch. Millions of people watch Twitch streams and YouTube videos of their favorite players. League of Legends is a freeto-play, multiplayer, online game that utilizes synergy and strategy constantly. At the moment it pulls 27 million players daily. Teamwork is an important part of League of Legends. Blue Hendrix (Warhood Gaming), a devout subscriber of N3ac3y’s, credits his success to Neacey. Blue Hendrix has been watching Neacey’s content since early 2014. “I love watching streams because they help me get better at gaming,” Blue Hendrix said. N3acy’s YouTube channel has 27,000 subscribers and 3.9 million channel views. His 200 Twitch channel subscribers earn him $5 each. “My channels all started from scratch,” Neacey said. “I had no connections within the gaming scene
which made it extremely difficult for my channels grow.” Neacey’s channel is designed to teach casual gamers his gaming techniques and strategies, ultimately improving their gameplay. James McKeever, a professor at Pierce College, is not a stranger to the powerful assistance of YouTube. “Youtube allows people to experience different style of teaching,” McKeever said. Neacey is passionate about his job and struggles sometimes to influence his viewers. “One hard thing about my job is finding a way to attract viewers and ultimately meet my goal of making them a better gamer,” Neacey said. Neacey is very optimistic about his future and plans to steadily grow. His current goal is to reach 500 subscribers on his Twitch account and 100,000 for his YouTube account. Neacey receives a lot of feedback from his viewers that keeps him inspired to make more. “People’s comments and emails inform me of what I help them with and make me want to do my job even more.”
Haven of Healing
Historic Sanitarium shares stories of women who were treated with dignity when inequality was uncommon
Story by: Michelle Lerner Photo by: Lynn Levitt
idden away from the La Crescenta Valley traffic, tucked in a side street and buried in what looks like a forest of lush green shrubbery, but it’s merely a disguise to cover Rockhaven Sanitarium.
It all began in 1923 with six patients and the founder, Agnes Richards, in the hills of Verdugo with a little rock house. According to the Friends of Rockhaven website, the facility was originally designed to treat various diseases and disorders, Richards was discouraged about the treatment of the mental patients especially shock treatments. “They would lock them away. They would drug them. They would strap them down,” Joanna Linkchorst, the
founder of Friends of Rockhaven said. With a degree in psychology, Richards pursued nursing school and soon after in World War I served as a helping hand for the Red Cross foundation. Word of her treatment got out to the public so she knew she had to expand her horizons. The Friends of Rockhaven website notes that she began buying and building quaint, cozy cottages with the help of the Prescott Brothers. Not only were the brothers a huge part of the development but Pat, Richard’s granddaughter, played an enormous role in the process. “She started buying the craftsman style houses built in the 1920’s that were already on the property when she bought it to have a home setting,” Linkchorst said.
This was a sanctuary that cared only for women. The sanitarium’s original purpose was to treat alcoholics, varying disorders and the ill. The years went on and it became a peaceful place for the aging patients to wander in their thoughts and to pass on where they were happiest.
“These women needed an opportunity to be taken away from their situations to recover, to be treated with dignity, get outside, walk around, look at the beautiful Verdugo Hills Mountains to pull themselves together and go back to who they were,” Linkchorst said. Linkchorst fought for this place because she wanted to expose and educate the past to future generations in hopes of bringing awareness to the city to restore
the historical property. Permits and funds from the Glendale Historical Society were difficult to obtain but she couldn’t let go of her dreams of making this place something incredible. The organization put together tours of the institution to help inform the younger generations about the past. Tours lasting 90 minutes are limited to only once a month with a maximum of 25 people but they are everything one would hope they’d be. Walking through every square inch of the property, feeling the energy of every room where patients once lived and seeing where history was left behind. “If you guys need me to bring a paint brush and a can of paint, I’m there,” Linkchorst said.
Rockhaven is grateful for their friends and supporters who always have their best interest to give a helping hand in whatever needs to be done. Even close
friend, Roberta Medford, is there to support Linkchorst. “I live in the area and am always looking for ways to help my friend,” Medford said. “Joanna has a heart of gold and I’m there to support her.” Friends of Rockhaven is lucky to have Mike Lawler, a member of the historical society to assist in the development of Rockhaven as a public entity. He knows every story there is to tell about Rockhaven including silent movie stars. One of the people Lawler mentions is Peggy Fears, a Ziegfield Follies Girl from the 1920’s. “She was a silent star and also a Ziegfield Follies girl. She had a beautiful voice but she broke her contract with the Ziegfield Follies girl to direct and produce. She used to hang with Charlie Chaplin and W.C. Fields. But one of the most poignant stories about her is the dementia made her lose her voice. How sad for a singer to lose their voice” Lawler said.
Above: At Rockhaven Sanitarium, all residents were expected to dress themselves each day. Clothing still fills many closets in. Opposite: The main gates of Rockhaven Sanitarium, Montrose, Calif. Below: Some rooms at Rockhaven Sanitarium look like it residents left only momentarily and will return any minute, in Montrose, Calif.
Alone Together| 25
Story & Photos by Joshua Duarte
All the rage back home Through the looking glass: A day in the life of a drug dealer 26|thebullmag.com
Left Photo: Drug dealer Rick Bolivia exhales a hit of methamphetamine in his room. Top Photo: Bolivia heats up his “pookie,” a pipe used to smoke methamphetamine, to get it ready for use. Middle Left: Bolivia loads up his “pookie” pipe from a plastic bag. Middle Right: Drug dealer Rick Bolivia takes a call from one of his customers. Bottom Photo: Bolivia weights out about 36 grams of mmethamphetamine.
he lighter clicks on, the flame burns the glass, the smoke fills the room, it smell like burning plastic. He puts the pipe to his lips and inhales. Two seconds go by and he lets out a massive cloud of smoke. “You can’t hold it in too long if you do it’ll fuck up your lungs,” he said. He bags up the methamphetamine and selling cigarettes dipped in Phencyclidine also known as P.C.P. The dealer is Rick Bolivia he has been operating in the Pacoima area of Los Angeles, California for about 4 years. Bolivia is 34 years old and has lived in Pacoima all his life. He has been addicted to hard drugs for about 16-18 years and started to sell drugs about 5 years ago. Bolivia also recycles aluminum, copper, brass and paper along with other metals to get money for his habit. Once high Bolivia disassembles electronics, strip wire, or he will play Grand Theft Auto V on his XBOX One. “That shit just gets me on one,” Bolivia said about his methamphetamine high. “One hit of this shit and it makes you feel like fucking Superman,” Rola said, a customer of Bolivias. He is sure that he will never stop using methamphetamines or other drugs. James McKeever professor of sociology at Pierce College adds input on drug addiction. “Every alcoholic or addict has to reach their bottom sometimes sad to say the bottom could be the grave,” McKeever said. “They can only get help when they decide that they really really need help”
Mother Plucker Story & Photos by Sonia Gurrola
Feather art master to the public and celebrity clientele wings his way to success.
ive blocks from MacArthur Park on a gloomy secluded street, east of downtown Los Angeles, you will find the Mother Plucker Company. Entering the concrete building there is a showroom full of feathers. Zelowitz, a true artist, is the owner of this magical feather shop. Over 40 years ago with a $40 bag of feathers, Willy Zelowitz started his feather business in West Hollywood. He started out as his own one man business making handcrafted earrings. Little did Zelowitz know that Mr. T would be his first celebrity customer. Everything took off from there. “There were a few museums back east that had used some of my artwork. They had a butterfly exhibit and I made flowers for them out of feathers. I did the Tokyo Gift Fair. It was called Big Sight,” Zelowitz said. He has seen his angel wing artwork on ten story buildings. He has been in Malan and found his work in the subways. “To me, almost more important than the cosmetics is the infrastructure. How well is it going to work, how it moves, what it looks like, how stationary or flexible it is. All these things have to be taken into consideration,” Zelowitz said. He also produces private-label apparel and lingerie in addition to custom pieces and studio work, which is 40 percent of his business. If it involves feathers, Zelowitz will make anything his customers desire. If the feather is legal, there is not one in his shop he does not have. He is famous for his custom jobs and special order garments. He carries a big inventory and a lot of the feathers are dyed. “Depending on the type of feather, they take colors differently. My preference for a brand name will be Jacquard dyes, you definitely need a protein dye,” Zelowitz said. “Birds molt. That’s a process that every bird goes through. An example would be there are some ostriches that are prized for their quality of feathers,” Zelowitz said. ”So they are
“I try to keep inhouse as much as possible. So that I’m feeding my wonderful employees and taking care of them first,” -Willy Zelowitz placed in a containment where they are incapable of kicking someone or something, which would definitely kill them and their feathers are just literally cut off, When they molt they fall out and grow new ones.” Zelowitz gets the remnants of feathers from the young birds, which aren’t totally developed, yet they are beautiful. “The opportunity to create things and expose my artwork to the general public is what I value,” Zelowitz said. From your average Joe to top designers, they all flock to his shop. His celebrity client list is three pages long. He has celebrity clients such as pop sensation Justin Bieber, Britney Spears and the late Michael Jackson. He has done many custom jobs for not only humans but animals too including a headdress for an elephant. His art has also appeared on Hallmark cards and ShowTime’s “The Red Shoe Diary” series. Zelowitz employs an Emmy award
winning costume designer. Lelan Berner is the top designer for the Mother Plucker Company and has been with the company 13 years. One of Berner’s jobs is to hand-dye feathers in–house for small jobs. For bigger orders, the feathers are sent to a local dye house. “I try to keep in-house as much as possible. So that I’m feeding my wonderful employees and taking care of them first,” Zelowitz said. “Willy takes care of everybody. Willy takes care of me,” Betty Lo said. Lo is lead fabricator for Mother Plucker Company has been with Zelowitz for nearly 30 years. Lo takes one feather at a time and together creates dreams and fantasies. Zelowitz is very knowledgeable when it comes to feathers. All you need is a mental picture for it to become a reality. “As far as making things for people our limits is my imagination and their pocket book,” Zelowitz said.
Living in Solitude A place for worship and tranquility
Story by Marc Dionne
he setting sun painted the cloudy sky with deep orange hues that added to the peace and tranquility of the place of worship. Somewhere within the ornate surroundings, chanting could be heard from a man in a white robe and red sash. Krishnama Charyulu Samudrala, a priest at the temple, was leading a prayer in a deity chamber. Samudrala is one of the priests at the Malibu Hindu Temple. Built in 1981, the temple serves as a place worship for Hindus in the area. Samudrala and the other priests dedicate their lives to God at this temple. Upon entering the temple, a calming aura began to manifest. In the inner temple, a carpet used for meditation was laid on the floor. At the back of the temple, statues of important Hindu deities and gurus were abundant. “We have only one God, but in different forms,” said Samudrala, in reference to the four pillars surrounding the temple that each represent a separate form. “That’s why we have G.O.D. - generator, operator and destroyer,” Samudrala said. The “G” refers to Lord Venkateswara, who is the creator, while the the latter two letters are meant to represent Vishnu the protector and Shiva the destroyer, respectively.
Photo by Lynn Levitt
Samudrala has a wife and two children, as marriage is permitted for Hindu priests. He described how the life of Hindu is broken up into intervals of 25 years. “The first 25 years is studies, before the second 25 years is marriage and children. Third is to have a title and the fourth 25 years is renounce,” said Samudrala, who added that the last 25 years is meant to be dedicated to worship until death. Prayer, yoga and meditation are daily acts for Hindus. According to Samudrala, the reasoning for doing them is that they produce a healthy mind, body and soul. Samudrala never imagined that he would live in the United States. He grew up in a priest’s household and was chosen to move from Tirupati, India, to the Malibu Hindu Temple. Tirupati is considered a holy site for Hindus because of the temples there, and about 10,000 people visit the city per day. Narashimha Bhattar, the head priest of the temple, also came from abroad. “I came here in 1984,” Bhattar said. “I came from Australia before coming here.” Bhattar said that an average day in the life of a Hindu starts and ends with God in mind. “I start my day by waking up to God and taking a shower,” Bhattar said as he goes through his day with God in mind. Walking around the temple you find many points at the temple that have importance. “This is the offering plate for the deity of travel,” said Bhattar about the altar for the transportation deity Vahana. The offering plate is on the steps of the altar with change that people put as offerings. Right in front of the plate, the front gate with a pillar that has 5 golden items on top. “These pillar represent the five elements,” said Bhattar to the front gate of the temple. Rajappaa Balagopal has visited the temple since 1986. He has always been going to temples, so when he moved he seeks out a temple. “Every town I find the closest temple near me,” Balagopal said as he found the Malibu Hindu temple was closest to him. He finds this temple special to him. Parvathy Balagopal, another temple visitor, has been going there since 2005 and said that both the temple and Samudrala are important factors in her life. Both Parvathy and Rajappaa are husband and wife. “It’s just a very special place to me,” Balagopal said. “[Samudrala] is very special.”
Photo by Marc Dionne
Krishnama Charyulu Samudrala is priest at The Malibu Hindu Temple
Thelma Carranza embraces JP Partida behind John Jones III after Carranza was recognized for her battle and victory over cancer during the Watts Rocks Pink event at the the Watts Labor Community Action Committee center (WLCAC) in Watts, Calif. Oct. 3, 2015.
Continued from page 10. The drive for people in a neighborhood to better a situation is an important subject in the field in sociology, according to Charles Levy, adjunct faculty member in the Pierce College sociology department. “One of the things we look at in sociology, especially when we are looking at criminology, is the notion of efficacy,” Levy said. “The idea that is the community can build strong bonds with one another.” Change doesn’t need to come in extravagant displays or expensive infrastructure. People within the area
“Our main goal and vision is to help save kids from the gangs and the drugs out here.” -Jones III
doing what they can to affect a change can go a long way in changing a neighborhood’s reputation and attitude toward itself, according to Levy. “Even something as simple as a bike ride can build up,” Levy said. “Especially the younger you get them. It can build up that sense of community and hopefully
begin to change values as well as attitudes of the neighborhood itself.” Jones III knows firsthand what the children in the greater Watts area go through and wants them to know what they can have to look forward to. With just a little help from your neighbors, kids can enjoy riding on their own streets without fear of the danger typically associated with their home. “We weren’t taught how to ride bikes correctly. We want to show that a bike is more than just a way to get to school. You can use it for a whole lot more. You can explore your community on a bike,” Jones III said.
Continued from page 08. This is how Helping Hands came to be.“It started in my apartment. We saw that there were 19 women and 36 children here that the outside world had no idea about,” Gonzalez said. “We started to go door by door asking the clothes sizes of the women and children and what they needed.” Today, Gonzalez’s desire to help others has evolved into an organization that not only provides women and families with basic necessities, but spiritual and emotional healing as well. Helping Hands provides a place where women and families can receive counseling, workshops and education on domestic abuse awareness. Certified as a parent educator through the organization Eco Parenting and Education, Gonzalez has been able use her expertise to assist others. She also found an alternative way to parent her children to heal the wounds caused by past traumatic experiences. “I want to leave a different legacy for my children and it’s up to me to break it. I don’t want them to stay broken and to think this is normal,” she said. Helping Hands has grown since her last attack four years ago and is based at Hope Chapel in Winnetka, California. It was officially established in 2013. “We have been able to get sponsors and have fundraisers to help keep Helping Hands successful,” Gonzalez said. One of the members, Diana Olarte, a 42-yearold mother, grandmother and Pierce College student, has volunteered with Helping Hands for the past two years. She has helped with the outreach department and making people aware of this nonprofit. “Something deeper was going on at Hope Chapel. I needed to be there. I met Karen and our stories sounded the same,” Olarte said. “Nobody wants to talk about domestic violence. Our organization enforces that it’s not healing over you, it’s healing with you,” Gonzalez said. If you met Gonzalez today. you would have never thought she suffered from such an experience. She is not alone in her second home and safe haven at Hope Chapel, where she stands in contrast against her bruised and lonely past. “My whole life I felt alone. When I reconnected with God and saw my value in him, it was the first time in my whole life where I didn’t feel alone,” Gonzalez said.
Karen Gonzalez and her daughter Leilani Alverado play arts and crafts at their second home, Hope Chapel on Mason in Winnetka Calif., Sept. 25, 2015. Photos by Monica Salazar
Gonzalez holds artwork the children of Helping Hands created called “Window between Worlds.” It helps children communicate feelings of trauma they might be going through.
Gonzalez and Diana Olarte have be close friends since Olarte started volunteering with Helping Hands in 2013.
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Published on Dec 3, 2015