SINCE 1989 | BALDWIN HILLS | INGLEWOOD | CULVER CITY | PALMS | LADERA HEIGHTS | MARINA DEL REY | PLAYA DEL REY | VIEW PARK | WEST LA | A Jackson Publishing Community Newspaper
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 , NO. 2 | www.foxhillsdigest.com
ATTORNEY CHRISTOPHER J. McCANN
Removing The Scarlet Letters “D.U.I.” By Anthony Ewart If you hear that someone you know has been accused of murder – let’s say “shooting someone dead” – your first thought, hopefully, would be that there’s been a mistake, because no one you’re acquainted with would ever do something as heinous as getting a gun and killing someone. Just the thought of it, hopefully, would be foreign to you. We’ve all been mad at people before, but taking things to that level, the level of murder, is just not something you’ve ever, hopefully, really contemplated doing. Now, drinking is something that, definitely, the majority of us have all done. It’s a completely different issue; we’re not unfamiliar with the “act” of drinking at all. Practically everyone you know either drinks or are “recovering” from drinking, but let’s just say “we’ve all dipped from the well” at one point in our life. So, if you hear that someone you know has been arrested on a D.U.I., your first reaction is, “What an idiot! How could they be so irresponsible?!” And if another friend were to ask you, “Well, do you know if they were actually driving drunk?” Your response would be: “What are you talking about? Of course they were drinking! You know they like to drink!” Case closed – pay the Judge, Jury and Executioner… The great Nathaniel Hawthorne would be proud of the negative power and stigma attached to those three letters: D.U.I. Just the mere accusation of you driving drunk is “validated” by the “common knowledge” that “everyone likes to drink” – you just didn’t handle it responsibly; in fact, you could have killed somebody driving drunk, and the thought of you “almost” killing someone carries “more weight” than if you were actually charged with, I don’t know, “shooting someone dead.” Stepping into this Dante’s Inferno of “controversy” is Criminal Defense Attorney Christopher J. McCann, who’s built a very solid reputation in the legal community around one single truth: being charged with a D.U.I. is not the end of the story; and Attorney McCann has even gone
so far as to say that his client and the arresting officer are not the only two “characters” in the story. Who, you may ask, is “The Third Man?” It isn’t Orson Welles, if that’s what you were thinking; and it’s not even a man – the third character in this story is “science.”
Attorney McCann Photo by Jenny Lopez
ATTORNEY CHRISTOPHER J. McCANN: A lot of lawyers will say I’m a Criminal Defense Attorney, and I also handle D.U.I. cases, but when you’re handling a D.U.I. case, it’s a very specific type of crime. You have to focus on it; it’s completely different than anything else. There’s a lot of science involved in it. You can’t casually do D.U.I. defense, you have to devote your time and attention to it. You probably know that lawyers are required to go to certain seminars, well, I go to about three times more seminars than the average lawyer. HW: What are some of the seminars that you attend? ATTY. McCANN: Well, just this last Saturday I spent three hours online for a webinar discussing gas chromatography with a doctor from Florida and about 50 lawyers from the California D.U.I. Lawyers Association. HW: You’ll have to forgive me for not knowing what that is. ATTY. McCANN: It has to do with how your blood is analyzed for alcohol using a flame ionization detector after you’ve been arrested. HW: So, we’re dealing with the accuracy of these tests that determine whether you were too drunk to legally drive. ATTY. McCANN: Yes, and many times these tests are not accurate. HW: Really? In what way? ATTY. McCANN: Well, many times the crime labs do very sloppy work and they don’t follow proper science protocol – even the ability of many of these technicians to properly read the graphs that they get back after running these gas chromatography tests. STORY CONTINUES >>>PAGE 10
PAGE 5 The Nation Why Americans Should care about Syria - The top five
reasons why Syria should be our top international concern
The CONVERT - The heart-rending play
URBAN MALLS IMPROVE- A profile on
ART+CULTURE debuts at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in the heart of Culver City .
BUSINESS the Westfield Culver City bringing jobs and revenue into Culver City
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 1
CommunityNews STAFF PUBLISHER/EDITOR IN CHIEF Prather Jackson VICE PRESIDENTS Bernice Harris Michael D Coxson
Best Buy closes 50 stores
Includes 7 California locations
OPERATIONS Erskine D. Mcswain (1991-2000) MANAGING EDITOR Jenny Werth DIR. OF MARKETING Launy Rhem LIFE & STYLE EDITOR Niki Shadrow ASSOCIATE EDITOR Anthony Ewart CONTRIBUTORS Yota Batsaras Anthony Calderon Sid Fish Fran Scott Niki Shadrow Jenny Werth Steve Zall DESIGN AND SOCIAL MEDIA Kristal Lindo Jenny Lopez PHOTOGRAPHY Karen Bystedt Jenny Lopez PRODUCTION MANAGER Hector Santacruz DISTRIBUTOR NEWSWAY FOR ADVERTISING INQUIRIES CALL: (323) 315-9498. FOX HILLS DIGEST IS A MONTHLY PUBLICATION WHOLLY OWNED BY JACKSON PUBLISHING COMPANY. © 2012 ALL RIGHT RESERVED. REPRODUCTION OF ANY CONTENT WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION OF THE PUBLISHER IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED. LETTERS TO THE EDITOR MAY BE SENT TO: EDITOR@JACKSONPUBLISHING.COM JACKSON PUBLISHING 1438 NORTH GOWER STREET, BOX 42 HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA 90028 . THE OPINIONS/IDEAS PRESENTED HERE ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR AND DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF JACKSON PUBLISHING OR ITS AFFILIATES.
This Los Angeles/Weswood Best Buy location will be one of the stores closing by June 2012
Best Buy (BBY) announced over the weekend the locations of 50 stores that it is closing this year, including seven in California, six in Illinois and six in the company’s home state of Minnesota. The struggling electronics chain said last month that it would close some of its so-called big box stores, cut 400 corporate jobs and trim $800-million in costs. Best Buy plans to open 100 smaller, more profitable Best Buy Mobile stores. The company is trying to avoid the fate of Circuit City, which went out of business in 2009. It faces slower sales of expensive items like TVs, plus increased competition from Amazon. com and discount stores like Target. In an issued press release from Best Buy they reveal the the plan in the store closures. There will be a total of 50 store closures by the end of 2012 Most locations will permanently close by May 12; while three additional locations will close by late summer. Best Buy announced plans March 29, 2012 to close 50 U.S. stores as part of a number of key initiatives for this year.
A Best Buy executive released this statement, “To date, we have closed two stores this year (one in Kansas City, Mo., and one in Scottsdale, Ariz.), plus have notified five Twin Cities stores and one San Antonio store that they will close later this year. This morning, we have confirmed the remaining 42 store locations that will close. A complete list of store locations can be found at the end of this statement. Employees of these 42 stores have been notified this morning. This was not an easy decision to make. We chose these stores carefully, and are working to ensure the impact to our employees will be as minimal as possible, while serving all customers in a convenient and satisfying way. But we also recognize the impact this news has on the people who deserve respect for the contributions they have made to our business. We will be working to help these employees find other positions inside Best Buy. If they don’t find new positions, or if they choose not to work at a different location, a transition including severance packages will be available.
Three of these 42 locations remain open today, Saturday; the rest of the affected stores are closed today, and will reopen Sunday, April 15. Customers currently doing business with these stores are being contacted today. We expect most of these stores will permanently close by May 12. Three additional locations are expected to permanently close later this summer. Best Buy continues to have additional retail store locations – big boxes and standalone Best Buy Mobile stores – for customers to choose from in these affected locations. More broadly, our previously announced retail store actions are intended to increase points of presence, while decreasing overall square footage, for increased flexibility – including key store remodels with a new Connected Store format, while continuing to build out the successful Best Buy Mobile small format stores throughout the U.S. We will continue to share details of such actions as the year progresses. We are committed to making it easier for customers to shop with us, whenever and wherever they want.”
California locations to close East Palo Alto 1751 E Bayshore Rd East Palo Alto, CA Westwood 10861 Weyburn Ave Los Angeles, CA Manteca 934 Perimeter Dr Manteca, CA Moreno Valley East 27220 Eucalyptus Moreno Valley, CA Ontario 4120 E 4th St Ontario, CA Pittsburg 4405 Century Blvd Pittsburg, CA Jamboree 2857 Park Ave Tustin, CA
A Taste of I n dia: Samosa House East in Culver City This is how to eat an order of pani puri at Samosa House East, home of some of the best Indian snacks in Los Angeles. First, roll up your sleeves. Pani puri is chaat -- Indian street snack food -- and demands to be eaten with the fingers, lustily, and with some degree of abandon. ‘It’s fun food!’ Filling and eating a pani puri is a narrative experience, with mounting tension, climax and the clear possibility of wet disaster. “In India, you’re standing on the street, and the seller’s filling and handing puris to you and you keep eating and eating and eating, and he counts how many you ate in the end,” explains Samosa House owner
Vibha Bhojak. “It’s fun food!” The entire menu is vegetarian, and most of it is vegan. Bhojak first encountered the idea of veganism when she immigrated to the United States; she was deeply impressed. She has modified her cooking methods to match. Neither Samosa House uses butter or cream. She substitutes ground nuts for cream in her sauces but breaks from veganism for yogurt-based curries and paneer (farmer’s cheese). The mildest dishes are the soy-based mock fish and mock chicken curries. The wildest dish on the steam table is usually the jackfruit: a meaty, savory
dish, full of warm, fermented energy -- Bhojak doesn’t mask the subtle bitterness of jackfruit. For a perfect finish, drive east a few blocks to the original Samosa House, for Bhojak’s gorgeously moist, cheesy, sweet burfi -- like dairy fudge. It’s one of the crown dessert jewels of the Westside. It is, however, not vegan. Samosa House East is located at: 10700 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA For information and reservations call (310) 559-6350.
w w w. fox h i l l s d i ge s t . c o m
at the Culver City Farmers’ Market
Featuring delicious local grown California fruits Fresh strawberries, Meyer lemons, Valencia oranges, kiwis, avocados and early season cherries
featuring certified organic selections
Vegetables include Baby lettuce, arugula, fennel, asparagus, fingerling potatoes and fresh herbs
Also fresh bread, cookies, granola and gourmet dips.
EVERY TUESDAY 3:00PM - 7:00PM In Downtown on Main Street • Between Culver and Venice Blvd. Stop by the information booth for nutrition and event bulletins. The CCFM is a State Certified Farmers’ Market
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 2
TheNation FlashNews Autism May Be Linked To Obesity During Pregnancy. Obesity during pregnancy may increase chances for having a child with autism, provocative new research suggests. It’s among the first studies linking the two, and though it doesn’t prove obesity causes autism, the authors say their results raise public health concerns because of the high level of obesity in this country. Study women who were obese during pregnancy were about 67 percent more likely than normal-weight women to have autistic children. They also faced double the risk of having children with other developmental delays. On average, women face a 1 in 88 chance of having a child with autism; the results suggest that obesity during pregnancy would increase that to a 1 in 53 chance, the authors said. The study was released online recently in Pediatrics. Since more than one-third of U.S. women of child-bearing age are obese, the results are potentially worrisome and add yet another incentive for maintaining a normal weight, said researcher Paula Krakowiak, a study co-author and scientist at the University of California, Davis. Previous research has linked obesity during pregnancy with stillbirths, preterm births and some birth defects. Dr. Daniel Coury, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, said the results “raise quite a concern.” He noted that U.S. autism rates have increased along with obesity rates and said the research suggests that may be more than a coincidence. More research is needed to confirm the results. But if mothers’ obesity is truly related to autism, it would be only one of many contributing factors, said Coury, who was not involved in the study. Genetics has been linked to autism, and scientists are examining whether mothers’ illnesses and use of certain medicines during pregnancy might also play a role. The study involved about 1,000 California children, ages 2 to 5. Nearly 700 had autism or other developmental delays, and 315 did not have those problems. Mothers were asked about their health. Medical records were available for more than half the women and confirmed their conditions. It’s not clear how mothers’ obesity might affect fetal development, but the authors offer some theories. Obesity, generally about 35 pounds overweight, is linked with inflammation and sometimes elevated levels of blood sugar. Excess blood sugar and inflammation-related substances in a mother’s blood may reach the fetus and damage the developing brain, Krakowiak said. The study lacks information on blood tests during pregnancy. There’s also no information on women’s diets and other habits during pregnancy that might have influenced fetal development. There were no racial, ethnic, education or health insurance differences among mothers of autistic kids and those with unaffected children that might have influenced the results, the researchers said. The National Institutes of Health helped pay for the study.
Painkiller Sales Soar
Around US, Fuel Addiction
SALES OF THE NATION’S TWO MOST POPULAR PRESCRIPTION PAINKILLERS HAVE EXPLODED IN NEW PARTS OF THE COUNTRY
A pharmacy tech poses for a picture with hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen tablets, the generic version of Vicodin, at Oklahoma Hospital Discount Pharmacy in Edmond, Okla. Photo: Sue Ogrocki / AP By Frank James / AP / NPR
Sales of the nation’s two most popular prescription painkillers have exploded in new parts of the country, an Associated Press analysis shows, worrying experts who say the push to relieve patients’ suffering is spawning an addiction epidemic. From New York’s Staten Island to Santa Fe, N.M., Drug Enforcement Administration figures show dramatic rises between 2000 and 2010 in the distribution of oxycodone, the key ingredient in OxyContin, Percocet and Percodan. Some places saw sales increase sixteenfold. Meanwhile, the distribution of hydrocodone, the key ingredient in Vicodin, Norco and Lortab, is rising in Appalachia, the original epicenter of the painkiller epidemic, as well as in the Midwest. The increases have coincided with a wave of overdose deaths, pharmacy robberies and other problems in New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Florida and other states. Opioid pain relievers, the category that includes oxycodone and hydrocodone, caused 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008 alone, and the death toll is rising, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. Nationwide, pharmacies received and ultimately dispensed the equivalent of 69 tons of pure oxycodone and 42 tons of pure hydrocodone in 2010, the last year for which statistics are available. That’s enough to give 40 5-mg Percocets and 24 5-mg Vicodins to every person in the United States. The DEA data
records shipments from distributors to pharmacies, hospitals, practitioners and teaching institutions. The drugs are eventually dispensed and sold to patients, but the DEA does not keep track of how much individual patients receive. The increase is partly due to the
“We’ve got a problem. We’ve got to get a handle on it.” aging U.S. population with pain issues and a greater willingness by doctors to treat pain, said Gregory Bunt, medical director at New York’s Daytop Village chain of drug treatment clinics. Sales are also being driven by addiction, as users become physically dependent on painkillers and begin “doctor shopping” to keep the prescriptions coming, he said. “Prescription medications can provide enormous health and qualityof-life benefits to patients,” Gil Kerlikowske, the U.S. drug czar, told Congress in March. “However, we all now recognize that these drugs can be just as dangerous and deadly as illicit substances when misused or abused.” Opioids like hydrocodone and
oxycodone can release intense feelings of well-being. Some abusers swallow the pills; others crush them, then smoke, snort or inject the powder. Unlike most street drugs, the problem has its roots in two disparate parts of the country - Appalachia and affluent suburbs, said Pete Jackson, president of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids. “Now it’s spreading from those two poles,” Jackson said. The AP analysis used drug data collected quarterly by the DEA’s Automation of Reports and Consolidated Orders System. The DEA tracks shipments sent from distributors to pharmacies, hospitals, practitioners and teaching institutions and then compiles the data using three-digit ZIP codes. Every ZIP code starting with 100-, for example, is lumped together into one figure. The AP combined this data with census figures to determine effective sales per capita. A few ZIP codes that include military bases or Veterans Affairs hospitals have seen large increases in painkiller use because of soldier patients injured in the Middle East, law enforcement officials say. In addition, small areas around St. Louis, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Newark, N.J., have seen their totals affected because mail-order pharmacies have shipping centers there, said Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. Many of the sales trends stretch across bigger areas.
In 2000, oxycodone sales were centered in coal-mining areas of West Virginia and eastern Kentucky - places with high concentrations of people with back problems and other chronic pain. But by 2010, the strongest oxycodone sales had overtaken most of Tennessee and Kentucky, stretching as far north as Columbus, Ohio and as far south as Macon, Ga. Per-capita oxycodone sales increased five- or six-fold in most of Tennessee during the decade. “We’ve got a problem. We’ve got to get a handle on it,” said Tommy Farmer, a counterdrug official with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Many buyers began crossing into Tennessee to fill prescriptions after border states began strengthening computer systems meant to monitor drug sales, Farmer said. In 2006, only 20 states had prescription drug monitoring programs aimed at tracking patients. Now 40 do, but many aren’t linked together, so abusers can simply go to another state when they’re flagged in one state’s system. There is no federal monitoring of prescription drugs at the patient level. In Florida, the AP analysis underscores the difficulty of the state’s decade-long battle against “pill mills,” unscrupulous doctors who churn out dozens of prescriptions a day. In 2000, Florida’s oxycodone sales were centered around West Palm Beach. By 2010, oxycodone was flowing to nearly every part of the state. STORY CONTINUES >>>PAGE 11
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MOVE OVER CAMERAS,
SMARTPHONES A man surveys the ruins of a security compund in the northern city of Aleppo. Two suicide bombers struck compounds housing government security services, reportedly killing 28 people and wounding 238 AP/GETTY
Why Syria Should Matter To Americans
In between taking care of their families, working and trying to keep up with everyday life, many Americans have caught at least a couple stories about Syria.. By Corey Dade / AP /CNN
n between taking care of their families, working and trying to keep up with everyday life, manyAmericans have caught at least a couple stories about Syria. Many probably know that clashes between government forces and protesters who want the country’s president to relinquish power have become increasingly bloody over the past several months. Much of that violence has been represented in online videos, ostensibly that Syrians have posted, suggesting the slaughter of children and families. It’s horrible. No one would argue anything else. But there is violence in many corners of the world. Why should what’s happening in Syria be especially important to Americans? It’s clear a lot of people think it’s not. Several people reacted to a recent top story on CNN about Syria by commenting: “Zzzzzz not our problem” and “Anyone surprised? *yawn*.” “We are afraid to ask this question -- ‘Why care?’ -- because it’s like saying we don’t mind that there’s a humanitarian crisis happening or that people are suffering,” said Hillary Mann Leverett, a Washington-based professor, blogger and one of the nation’s foremost Middle East and Syria experts. She is a former National Security Council adviser to President George W. Bush and has interviewed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for a book about Syria authored by her husband, Flynt Leverett, also a
Middle East expert. “People have to know it’s allowed to take a discussion beyond the human suffering,” she said. “There are huge, practical consequences for the United States when it comes to Syria.” Like what? Does Syrian path to peace exist? Annan to visit Syrian refugee camps CNN asked Hillary Mann Leverett; Joseph Holliday, a former U.S. soldier turned foreign policy analyst; and Robert Zarate, a geopolitical strategist with Capitol Hill experience, to explain why Americans should care about Syria.
Hil ary Mann Leverett
FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT GEORGE.W.. BUSH
“We are afraid to ask this question ‘Why care?’ -- because it’s like saying we don’t mind that there’s a humanitarian crisis happening or that people are suffering.”
Think of Syria as the Middle East’s core. When it’s weak and destabilized, the body is susceptible to serious injury. Violence in Syria could easily spill into bordering Iraq,
where the United States recently ended a war that ran from March 2003 to December 2011 and where U.S. troops and American civilians still work. Beyond Iraq, Turkey, a U.S. ally, borders Syria as do Jordan and Lebanon. If Lebanon is shaken too badly by conflict in Syria, Lebanon could fall into a civil war as it did decades ago, Holliday said. That kind of conflict would spark yet another serious political and diplomatic problem that the United States would inevitably have to address.
2. AL QAEDA.
The United States’ No. 1 enemy would appreciate another failed state from which to operate in the Middle East.
Syria supports Iran. Iran has had a contentious relationship with the United States for decades. Remember Bush’s “Axis of Evil”? That trifecta was Iran, North Korea and Iraq. “Syria is Iran’s arm in the Middle East,” Zarate said. “Iran has used Syria as a staging ground to train and support militants who have crossed into Iraq to hurt our troops and to train for other terrorist activities.” Each expert CNN spoke with pointed out that Iran has a nuclear program. Whether it has capabilities for nuclear weapons is something the United States and most of the world doesn’t know.
4. OIL PRICES. Though Syria produces far less oil than Libya, for example, violence in Syria could affect global oil speculation and prices, Leverett said. Ultimately, that affects how much American consumers pay at the pump.
5. THE ECONOMY, STUPID.
Leverett and Zarate note that many in the United States may not think about the Iraq war now, but they say it’s important not to forget that war cost an estimated $1 trillion. Whether one supports or opposes military intervention in Syria, the costs incurred by any approach will affect the American economy.
6. GLOBAL REPUTATION. “People around the world are looking for some kind of consistency in our foreign policy, and we’ve been criticized for not having that, not having anything close to consistency during the Arab Spring,” Zarate said. The United States intervened, with NATO leading the way, in Libya. In 2011, Washington supported, at least in words, the Egyptians in their revolt against then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, he said. Each time, the United States argued that those actions were in accordance with America’s national values, he said, and its responsibility as a global leader to defend democratic principles
TAKING OVER The way to capture moments nowadays is to use the cameras on smartphones. A recent study by research firm NDP Group found more than a quarter of all photos and videos are taken on smartphones. But not every smartphone camera is created equal. Jessica Dolcourt of CNET says some phones are better than others for capturing the perfect memories. The new iPhone 4S takes clear and crisp photos, even in low light, and captures vivid colors. In addition, the iPhone 4S also has very simple camera controls. The HTC Vivid also takes crisp shots whether indoors or outdoors, says Dolcourt. Unlike the iPhone, users can customize camera settings to have more control over how the picture will turn out. Dolcourt’s third choice is more than just one phone. The Samsung Galaxy S II line features models like the Skyrocket. The Skyrocket and its companion models not only take sharp pictures, but also feature an expandable memory slot.
INTEL REPORTS $12.9 BILLION IN REVENUE FOR Q1 OF 2012, BREAKS NO RECORDS
While it’s hard to get upset when your company is raking in just shy of $13 billion over just three months, we’re sure Intel’s investors are a little sad to see revenue drop across all business divisions. With a net income of $2.7 billion, profits dropped nearly 19 percent from last quarter and everyone from the data center group to the PC client group saw revenues fall by significant margins. There’s no reason to worry about Chipzilla, though. The company’s seemingly constant record smashing quarters had to come to an end sometime and we’re sure with its entrance into the smartphone market this year new streams of revenue will start pouring in shortly.
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 1
Travel & Leisure
San Ysidro Ranch:
A Legendary Hollywood Hideaway By Louise Ashby
I knew that if there were 17 miles of mountain to be hiked, topped with a waterfall finish, we would have to partake in the adventure. The woods and stream became our guide as we followed the hiking trail, passing through wafts of new floral potions, wildlife and views all the way to the ocean. If you are visiting from May through November you can take the Condor Express and go whale watching. At other times of the year the dolphins, seals and sea lions are likely to make an appearance giving the visitors the full sense of heavenly beauty that Santa Barbara offers.
Hidden in the lush mountains of Montecito, at the foothills of Santa Barbara, is the 500-acre legendary retreat, which houses the luxurious and first class accommodations of The San Ysdro Ranch. It is an Oasis of understated luxury and as we drove up the driveway I felt all tensions exhale from my being. It is the very same retreat where JFK and Jackie Kennedy took their Honeymoon in 1953. It is where Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Lee had their secret midnight nuptuals in the rose garden. The scented air is filled with magical inspiration as well as nostalgia and historical romantic mystery. Sir Winston Churchill came here to write poetry during World War Two and film director and writer John Huston buried himself in one of the cottages for three months to finish the screenplay of the African Queen. As one who pays homage to screen legends I had to pinch myself in the knowledge that I was going to stay where famous guests such as Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx had stayed before. They came here for the idyllic setting, the romance and most importantly the privacy. The San Ysidro Ranch is famously for its romance and weddings, and it is a fact that you will never see more a bride sharing her celebration with another in the same grounds. It is recognized, significant and abstrusely aware that this is the day for one couple only – The bride and the Groom. I couldn’t count the awards, nominations and magazines that have named the San Ysidro Ranch as the place to come to all year round, to get married, to honeymoon, to go so you would never be seen, to dine in food heaven but it is in the top ten on most lists around the world and in the top five on others and on some, number one. My vote would be cast in a few days. Fortunately as well as my boyfriend being with me, I was lucky to have the weather accompany me on this trip. The Hacienda, the focal point of the ranch, where guests check in, and use concierge service, is bright and warm as are the staff who greet you with their comfortably distant intimacy. The smile, the drink, the offerings of cookies all encompasses the Hacienda’s warmth and tropical impressive countryside feel. It’s located at the base of the hill, which appears to wind upwards with tree lined narrow private roads to take you to your cottage. There are gardens throughout, spotted with lemon and orange trees which have been here since the 1800’s when the San Ysidro Ranch was a Citrus Farm. The smell is subtle. A lounge and library are in the Hacienda scattered with stunning paintings, antiques and architectural gems that set the tone for the resort. No expense has
The San Ysidro Ranch boasts two five star restaurants, the Plow and Angel, which is the casual bistrostyle option and then the Stonehouse Restaurant, which is more formal. Both are situated in a stunning location near by the Hacienda. They are engulfed by nature, plants, flowers, outdoor large brick fireplaces, gravel paths, and twisted trees lit up. The food in the Plow and Angel offers the palate comforts from Mac n’ cheese to bbq ribs. The menu is vast in choice and as you try to decide on how to fit everything in, fresh olives, oils and warm breads are delicately placed in front of you to soften any hunger pangs. The wine list is catered to the connoisseur.
Posh Surroundings and Whimiscal views of SanYsidro Ranch
been spared. A grand hand cut stone fire place stands centre, to the right are framed images of the famed guests here from the past, Katherine Hepburn, The Kennedy’s, Winston Churchill, and other recognizable historical names that conjure up the mythological and magical ambience one could feel traces of. Arrival feels final, like, they’ve been expecting you – in a wonderful heavenly way. There are cottages hidden behind green trees, lush flowers, bushes, and plants, sprinkling systems making sure the thirsty greenery drinks. There are lily ponds and vegetable patches. The same patches where our morning jams and jellies grow the tasty rhubarbs and strawberries we will soon delight in, with our morning croissants fed to us at breakfast on the deck. Small wooden doors with their names etched into them, such as, Tangerine, Lavender, Pine, Oak Grove, Orange, Honeysuckle and Kennedy and Warner lead to your awe inspiring room. We follow a bellman in a golf cart a few yards up the windy stone drive and he signals for us to park in a space where a sign reads “Honeysuckle”. The poignant smell of honeysuckle should have been our clue as it wafted around us with the invisible colors I had given to the aromas I was sensing, honeysuckle always having been my favorite. I’m too excited to bring our luggage in right away and
follow “Jesse” to our Honeysuckle door, which he opens to reveal a set of two stairs which, leading up to a small porch, hidden from the rest of the world baring a sign made from wooden tiles with my name…. ASHBY…I gasped. The door into our suite was an old refurbished stable door, which is another of the touches made in the $150 million renovation that Ty Warner did to the San Ysidro when he brought it in 2000. Each of the 40 cottages has its own individual private deck and hot tub, with outside shower. The room itself was magnificent and not in an ostentatious way but a way that made one want to stay forever. I felt at home. Each corner I turned to had a special presentation. On the desk where I put my computer there lay my very own unique stationary inked, Louise Ashby in Residence in Honeysuckle Cottage. There was a bottle of champagne on ice with two chilled glasses, adjacent to a dish filled with chocolate covered strawberries and fresh berries surrounding. A welcome card and introduction to the restaurants and spa services are next to this. A map of the hiking trails to the 17 miles up to the waterfalls of which I can hear the creak outside our window. I am all consumed by the four-poster bed with the white bedding and goose down comforter, the sheer white cotton drapes which hang from top to bottom creating a whisper of “come and sleep
on me now”. The bathroom, with his and hers sinks, heated floors, a bath to bathe with candles in. Each corner holds an ornament which stirs a memory or produces a new sigh as I’m taken in to the beauty and romance that is the San Ysidro Ranch. I feel as though every ounce of my core is to be pampered and as each inch of the hotel, the gardens and the room have been thought about, so have I been. The sun burned down on the Californian paradise nudging my boyfriend and I to relocate to the pool. More rich enticing smells encouraged romantic thoughts and naughty giggles when we walked up the winding, treelined path to where the swimming pool was. Sun-lounges set in pairs surround its circumference with the occasional umbrella and an outdoor gym along with indoor gym and they felt inviting and I remained guilt free eating ice cream as they watched on. I saw one other couple by the pool, the femailes baseball cap with the diamond sparkled wording “BRIDE” gave away their reason for being here. I’d been here for a few hours and I didn’t want to leave. The flooring didn’t burn my feet when I took myself for a swim like most resorts sun kissed tiles promise to. Even the celebrity couple I encountered at the finish of my first lap of the pool, drunk with love and relaxation, smiled and drooled at the surroundings perfections.
The Stone House restaurant was stunning in its location up stairs, with a lounge where you’d imagine drinking goblets of wine by the festive fires before taking the next step to the veranda where tables topped with candles, seated whispering couples. Chocolate soufflés are pre-ordered and menus listed offerings from the heavens. It was no wonder to find out that 60% of the guests who dined in the restaurants were locals. Post dinner, guests could walk the gardens, have desert brought to their rooms if they haven’t opted for in house dining or as we decided upon, a midnight hot-tub, listening to the sounds of the local wildlife and birds. This was to be an experience I would never forget and one I definitely wanted to revisit. The San Ysidro Ranch is a unique vacation for any visitor. If you need a few days to unwind and feel as though you’ve been away for two weeks, this is your destination. If you want time with your cherished love then I can think of no where else in the World that would give them the feelings of just that, cherished and loved. I give it a ten out of ten and can’t wait to go back and visit again. Thank you San Ysidro! For more information or the request a brochure please contact: San Ysidro Ranch 900 San Ysidro Lane Santa Barbara, CA 93108 T. 805-565-1700 www.sanysidroranch.com/
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Art + Culture KIRK DOUGLAS AND HIS WIFE
“The theatre produced on our stages can and should be among the most engaging and compelling anywhere in the world. And I want us to share that experience with each other..” - Michael Ritchie, Artistic Director - Center Theatre Group
Kirk Douglas Theatre: a Decade of Connecting Artists and Audiences Center Theatre Group Locations:
135 North Grand Avenue Los Angeles + (213) 628-2772
SIDE STORY: Eat, drink and be social at the Kirk Douglas Theatre The Lounge opens one hour before show time, serving drinks and eats from Culver City’s culinary stars. Step into the Lounge after the show to hear our resident DJ’s spin the coolest grooves and join the cast and crew for cocktails and conversation. When the applause dies down, your night continues at Culver City’s
Mark Taper Forum
135 North Grand Avenue Los Angeles + (213) 628-2772
hottest late-night spot. Open late nights Fri-Sat.
In 2002, Center Theatre Group opened its third theatre – the Kirk Douglas Theatre – through the generosity of Kirk and Anne Douglas and with the help of the Culver City Redevelopment Agency. The Kirk Douglas Theatre in Culver City is the newest member of Center Theatre Group’s family of theatres (which includes the Mark Taper Forum and Ahmanson Theatre at the Los Angeles Music Center). The 317seat venue, located in a renovated historic theatre, opened in October 2004 with a season that included six world premieres. Subsequently, Artistic Director Michael Ritchie has selected a wide range of productions - from the classic Come Back, Little Sheba featuring S. Epatha Merkerson to the world premieres of two new musicals, Sleeping Beauty Wakes (with Deaf West Theatre) and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (a wild West rock musical), to the productions of fellow Los Angeles theatre companies allowing those artists to reach a broader audience at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Built in 1947, as a Streamline Moderne movie palace with a seating capacity of 1,160 (on a stadium plan with no overhanging balcony), the Culver Theatre (as it was previously named) was located near the Columbia Pictures studio lot (then the lot for MGM).
Originally, much like surrounding downtown Culver City, the Culver was a key part of classic Hollywood’s thriving entertainment community. But, eventually, much of the entertainment industry moved to points north and the theater grew tired and worn over the years. Today, the Culver, now renamed the Kirk Douglas Theatre, operates as a performing arts center and playhouse. An $8 million restoration project, with a $1.25 million grant from the City of Culver, included the addition of two new stages, one with 100 seats and another with over 300 seats. Most of the exterior has been preserved, including the box office and the signature mezzanine tile.
Kirk Douglas Theatre is located at: 9820 Washington Blvd. Culver City
For performance schedules and ticket information please visit: www.centertheatregroup.org
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 1
CultureCalendar LACMA: now- June 3 2012
GETTY: now- Aug. 26 2012
MoCA: now –July 30, 2012
California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way”
CAI GUO-QIANG- SKY LADDER The first West Coast solo museum exhibition of the work of artist Cai GuoQiang. Known for his explosion projects and gunpowder drawings, Cai’s work integrates manual technique and new, highly sophisticated developments in pyrotechnic technology. For more info : www. moca.org
This exhibition is the first major study of California midcentury modern design. With more than 300 objects the exhibition examines the state’s role in shaping the material culture of the entire country.. For more info : www. lacma.org
APR 17 - MAY 19 2012
HERB RITTS - LA STYLE
Herb’s ability to create images that successfully bridged the gap between art and commerce was not only a testament to the power of his imagination and technical skill but also marked the synergistic union between art, popular culture, and business that followed in the wake of the Pop Art movement of the 1960s and 1970s.
For more info : www. getty.edu
SHAKES THE FOUNDATIONS
“GURIRA HAS WRITTEN A RICHLY COMPLEX PORTRAIT. ‘THE CONVERT’ IS GUTSY, HEARTFELT… BLISTERING ACTING THROUGHOUT. SEE IT AND FEEL IT WE DO.” -CHRIS JONES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE SALVATION COMES AT AN UNHOLY PRICE WHEN COLONIALISM THREATENS A SOUTHERN AFRICAN BOOMTOWN. It’s 1895 when the convert, a teenager named Jekesai, is thrust into strange new circumstances that pit Ancient African traditions against Western culture and Christianity. When conflict erupts, she must follow her heart and make the ultimate sacrifice. With an urgent voice, both heartrending and humorous, Obie Awardwinner Danai Gurira (In the Continuum and Eclipsed) brings yet another faraway world to the Douglas to enlighten, enrage and ultimately edify audiences. A co-production with McCarter Theatre Center (Princeton, NJ) and The Goodman Theatre (Chicago). Check out great discounts with all our Culver City Partners! For more information about THE CONVERT, and ticket sales please visit: www.centertheatregroup.org
KIRK DOUGLAS THEATRE | 9820 WASHINGTON BLVD | CULVER CITY
Culver City Art Galleries & Exhibition Spaces
Culver City features one of the highest concentrations of fine art galleries in Southern California with nearly twenty galleries located within the City’s borders. There are approximately the same number of galleries just over the border in the City of Los Angeles. Although there are several art galleries located in other parts of Culver City, the majority are in the Culver City Art District, generally defined as the section of Washington Boulevard between Helms Avenue and Fairfax Avenue. Corey Helford Gallery 8522 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.287.2340 www.coreyhelfordgallery.com Fresh Paint Art Advisors
9355 Culver Boulevard, Suite B Culver City, CA 90232 310.558.9355 www.freshpaintart.com Gallery 9 (The Whole 9) 3830 Main Street Culver City, CA 90232 310.836.4600 www.thewhole9.com George Lawson Gallery 8564 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.837.6900 www.georgelawsongallery.com Koplin Del Rio 6031 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.836.9055
Mark Moore Gallery 5790 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.453.3031 www.markmooregallery.com Roberts and Tilton 5801 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 323.549.0223 www.robertsandtilton.com ROYAL/T 8910 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.559.6300 www.royal-t.org SCION Installation L.A.
3521 Helms Ave [at National] Culver City, CA 90232 310.815.8840 www.scion.com/space Skotia Gallery 6144 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.838.1717 www.skotiagallery.com SPF:a Gallery 8609 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.558.0902 www.spfagallery.com
SUSANNE VIELMETTER LOS ANGELES PROJECTS 6006 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232
Thinkspace Art Gallery 6009 Washington Blvd. Culver City, CA 90232 310.558.3375 www.thinkspacegallery.com The Vault 6150 Washington Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.202.7166 www.capitalart.com WWA gallery 9517 Culver Boulevard Culver City, CA 90232 310.836.4992 www.WWAGallery.com
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Opinions Rev. Al Sharpton
The Trayvon Martin and Tulsa Shootings:
THE TIME FOR INACTION IS OVER
Most young people today have studied the stories of the great civil rights struggle in this country and the heroic acts of many from all walks of life that eventually brought about change in America.
ost young people today have studied the stories of the great civil rights struggle in this country and the heroic acts of many from all walks of life that eventually brought about change in America. While older generations may recall segregation or the disturbing days of water hoses and police dogs, young kids today for the most part haven’t experienced open violence at the hands of bigots. Even though racial inequality clearly exists, they have been lucky to grow up in an integrated society that grows increasingly diverse by the day. So when news of the Trayvon Martin shooting first broke, it was no surprise that it sent shockwaves among our youth -- and continues to do so today. To add to the troubling climate, over the weekend, three black adults were shot to death and two were wounded at the hands of white gun-
men who have since confessed to the horrific act in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Though not officially ruled racially motivated yet, this latest incident has all the underpinnings of a despicable hate crime. It’s no wonder young people have taken to the streets to march, organize and let their voices be heard. We are at a precarious moment. We must stop ourselves from regressing. We cannot allow our future to be hijacked with hate. We need not a moment, but a true movement immediately. When people discuss justice and equality, they often forget that progress didn’t simply take place overnight or occur in a vacuum. Countless individuals organized and strategized actual concrete steps on how to bring about change. They saw unfairness, figured out mechanisms to tackle it and organized a massive effort. Today, when we witness these unfortunate reminders of the historical imprint of rac-
ism resurfacing, we cannot act as if the issues can simply be swept under a rug. It’s time all of us engage in a long-term conversation on the elephant in the room -- race. And as the Trayvon Martin case tragically proves, the topic cannot be discussed without dedicating an equal amount of time towards a serious look at our justice system. In addition to the criminalization and harassment of young men (and women) of color, the system often unfairly favors those not deemed a ‘threat’. Case in point: we are still waiting for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the accused shooter in the Trayvon incident. But the difference between mere rhetoric and sustainable results is action. Gravely troubled by these recent events and more, major civil rights leaders, clergy, victims, parents, grandparents and concerned folks from all races, backgrounds and communities are assembling in the nation’s
capital this week. From Wed., April 11th through Sat. April 14th, National Action Network (NAN) will be conducting its annual convention where we will discuss these issues and more, while we plan and organize a strategy to combat them. In addition to a slew of panel discussions and plenary sessions, we will be holding a ‘Measuring the Movement Forum’ event at Howard University next Saturday with the first-ever dialogue between the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Amadou Diallo. We will organize ways to energize the country on pressing social issues that really do impact each and every one of us. And we will formulate concrete steps for achieving those goals. There are some in positions of power that would like nothing more than to make us believe that racism, classism and other inequities don’t exist. But they do. And the only way to combat them, and stop our nation from reverting
back to days when the Trayvon and Tulsa shootings were the norm, is to have an honest dialogue and most importantly, take action. The worst thing we can do is come together and walk away doing nothing. There is far too much at risk. We owe it to the next generation to allow them to live in a better world than we did.
Watch Rev. Al Sharpton on PoliticsNation, on MSNBC. (check local listing ) Follow Rev. Al Sharpton on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ TheRevAl
The opinions/ideas presented here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Jackson Publishing or its affiliates.
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 1
CommunityNews Calif. Court: Employers Don’t Have To Enforce Breaks SAN FRANCISCO -The California Supreme Court said Thursday that employers are under no obligation to ensure that workers take legally mandated lunch and rest breaks.
The ruling came after workers’ attorneys argued that abuses are routine and widespread when companies aren’t required to issue direct orders to take breaks.
Car Burglary: On April 3, 2012 at 4:00 pm, a victim called the police department to report her 2004 Volvo had been burglarized. The victim said she parked and locked her car in the 4000 block of Grandview Boulevard at 6:30 am. When she returned at 3:15 pm, she discovered the rear window had been broken out and her property missing.
But the high court sided with business when it ruled that requiring companies to order breaks is unmanageable and that those decisions should be left to workers. The case was initially filed nine years ago against Brinker International, the parent company of Chili’s and other eateries, by restaurant workers complaining of missed breaks in violation of California labor law.
Residential Burglary: On April 3, 2012 at 11:33 pm, officers responded to the 5800 block of Vicstone Court regarding a burglary investigation. The officers met with the victim who told them the following; he left his home at 7:30 pm. At 8:45 pm he received a call from a relative saying someone had broken out a kitchen window and removed his property.
Street Robbery: On April 5, 2012 at 11:35 pm, officers responded to the area of Fox Hills Drive and Hannum Drive regarding a robbery investigation. The officers met with the victim who told them the following; he was walking home when he was approached by 2 suspects. The suspects demanded his property and Suspect #1 produced a handgun and Suspect #2 grabbed his property. The suspects then fled a vehicle and left the location. The suspect(s) were described as 2 male Blacks, 20-25 years of age, 6’0, 200 lbs, both wearing hooded sweatshirts.
Stolen Vehicle: On April 7, 2012 at 8:35 pm officers responded to the 6000 block of Sepulveda Boulevard regarding a stolen vehicle investigation. The officers met with the victim who told them the following; she said she parked and locked her 1989 Toyota at 7:30 pm and when she returned at 8:10 pm, her vehicle was missing.
Car Burglary: On April 8, 2012 at 9:00 pm, a victim called the police department to report his 1997 Toyota had been burglarized. The victim said he parked and locked his vehicle in the 9600 block of Lucerne Avenue on April 7th at 8:12 pm. When he returned the next morning he discovered the driver’s door unlocked and his property missing.
In 2001, California became one of only a few states that impose a monetary penalty for employers who violate meal and rest break laws, requiring the employer to pay one hour of wages for a missed half hourmeal break. There is no federal law requiring employers to provide such breaks. Joan Fife, a San Francisco labor lawyer who represents employers, said uncertainty over the law’s requirements have already led many California businesses to implement internal policies designed to make certain that employees take their breaks.
ATTY. CHRISTOPHER J. McCANN
Removing The Scarlet Letters “D.U.I.” ATTY. McCANN: They just don’t do the research so they’re not even aware that some of these tests exist or that they can ask for these results; and if they do receive the calculations they don’t know what to do with them. I can read these graphs. I know what to look for in these charts because I’ve studied them; I’ve read articles about them. I’ve gone to seminars and talked to experts in the field. I understand these tests infinitely better than other lawyers who take D.U.I. cases occasionally but they don’t specialize in them.
Hit and Run Traffic Collision: On April 7, 2012 at 10:40 am, officers responded to the 3900 block of Sepulveda Boulevard regarding a hit and run investigation. The officers met with the victim who told them the following: he said he parked and locked his 1990 Toyota in the parking lot at 1:00 am and when he returned the next morning he discovered his vehicle had damage to the rear bumper.
The workers’ lawyers said that by not ordering breaks at regular intervals throughout the workday, employers are taking advantage of employees who don’t want to leave colleagues during busy times.
HW: Okay, so, you’re like the D.U.I. Master at this point. STORY CONTINUED >>>PAGE 1 HW: That’s scary.
ATTY. McCANN: Especially considering that your life is on the line and depending on the precision of these reports. HW: We always hear about the blood/alcohol level issue but I guess the general public doesn’t really know they come up with these figures. ATTY. McCANN: That’s not even the worst part – the public not knowing about these tests is one thing, but most criminal defense attorneys handling D.U.I. cases don’t know about these procedures. HW: You know what, “AA” is starting to look really good to me right now. How can attorneys not know about something that can help their client?
ATTY. McCANN: I wouldn’t say that, but I’m constantly learning more. These aren’t static regulations. The vehicle codes are so convoluted because of the politics regarding a D.U.I. They’re adding new laws constantly because everyone wants tougher laws against people driving under the influence so I have to stay up to speed on all the court rulings regarding D.U.I. HW: Alright, what do you say to people who are reading this and thinking “Why are you trying to help people busted for D.U.I.?” ATTY. McCANN: Good question: my job is to protect your rights and make sure that those rights aren’t being violated in the judicial system – the only way I can do that is to be able to scientifically prove one way or another what your blood/alcohol level was when you were arrested. HW: And the procedure is when a person is arrested for D.U.I. the police draw your blood.
ATTY. McCANN: Or breath. Your choice. HW: And through people not performing their jobs correctly concerning the testing you could be falsely convicted. ATTY. McCANN: Absolutely. Now, I’ve known people who were killed by drunk drivers, so it’s not as if I’m just completely empathetic with drunk drivers, I just want to make sure innocent people don’t go to jail unfairly because the legal system failed them. HW: You mention empathy – I think the general public has no empathy for someone arrested for a D.U.I. ATTY. McCANN: Right, and I’m making sure that no one has their life ruined because of false accusations and substandard work in crime laboratories. You have to understand, that label – that title – being convicted for D.U.I., it stays with you and it colors the perception people have of you. I have to protect the integrity of the evidence to make sure my clients get their due process. HW: Okay, what about the Breathalyzer test that the police give, I mean, that’s the first link in the chain of evidence – if something goes wrong at that stage it’s all downhill from there. How reliable are those Breathalyzers? ATTY. McCANN: Great question – let’s put it like this, I have a fairly expensive laptop; it’s a highly sophisticated piece of machinery that’s made by a billion dollar company who produce thousands of
these laptops a day, so they know what they’re doing. Now, occasionally it will breakdown or malfunction, so it stands to reason that if a high-tech, state-of-the-art laptop is susceptible to “errors,” surely these handheld breathalyzers aren’t immune – the only difference is you won’t go to jail if your laptop breaks down. HW: Makes sense – I think I’m giving up “rum cake,” too. Alright, can you walk me through one example of something that could go wrong with someone’s blood work in a crime lab? ATTY. McCANN: It actually can start with the blood draw. Improper methods lead to contaminated blood, bad vials lacking the proper amount of preservative, sloppy police work marking the vials and not refrigerating them to avoid spoilage. At the lab, mistakes occur in properly performing accuracy checks to ensure the machine is actually reading what they’re looking for. It’s a machine. It doesn’t know what ethanol is unless a person tells the computer reading the results what to look for. These lab people make mistakes. Sloppy crime lab work has been all over the news. For more information about Atty. Christopher J. McCann please visit: www.cjmdefense.com or call : (888) 360-4-CJM Los Angeles Office: 5220 Clark Ave., Ste. 347 Lakewood, CA 92712
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Culver City Media Company
Makes Millions ... Of Views For YouTube
By Shereen Marisol Meraji
The company just received a portion of the $100 million YouTube awarded producers to create premium video content. They’re riding what YouTuber’s call the “third wave of broadcast.”
Maker Studios is a successful production company in Culver City that sees YouTube not as an experimental space to test ideas, but as a platform for success on a global scale. The company started two and a half years ago as cooperative effort among some of YouTubes’s biggest self-made stars with channels and subscriber bases that rack up views by the hundreds of millions. Maker Studios founding members include Kassem G and other YouTube stars who wanted to help talent find their audience and maintain it.
The company hooks up talent with videographers, editors, marketers, producers and studio space, and in return gets some of the revenue from the ads that play right before a YouTube video starts. “Maker is an enabler for artists,” said Mickey Myers, the head of comedy at the studio. “You get all the benefits of a network. You get all the resources of a network. But you don’t have the filters of a network.” Today, Maker has 300 channels on YouTube that net 500 million page views a month. The company has gone from a handful of employees working out of living room studios to 160 full-time staffers and 40 parttimers.
Maker’s chiefs are in the process of moving to a new headquarters also in Culver City with more soundstage space and administrative offices. The company just received a portion of the $100 million YouTube awarded producers to create premium video content. They’re riding what YouTuber’s call the “third wave of broadcast.” The YouTube revenue deal funds new content areas for a company that draws the vast majority of its viewers with comedy offerings. The new content verticals are a channel for the Moms of the YouTube generation, an MTV-meetsYouTube and programming geared toward Latinos called Tu Tele.
James McQuivey, a web video analyst at Forrester Research, said it’s too soon to tell if YouTube will shake out as the platform of choice for these content creators. This might just be an elaborate audition to get the big studios take notice he said. “They say this is where they want to be, forever,” McQuivey said. “We want to work within the YouTube system, we want to distribute globally, and yeah, we’ll make less money per viewer, but we’ll have a chance to really control our own production destiny.” For information about Maker Studios: www.makerstudios.com/
AGENCY BACKS OFF PLAN TO LIMIT CREDIT CARD FEES financial rules. Banks aren’t allowed to charge fees totaling more than 25 percent of a person’s credit limit in the first year that the account exists. But there’s no limit to the fees they can charge before the card is activated. Under a rule proposed last year, those upfront fees would have counted toward the 25 percent cap. The CFPB is retreating from that idea after a federal court in South Dakota prevented it from taking effect.
AP/NPR The Obama administration’s consumer financial watchdog agency is backing off a plan to limit big upfront fees on credit cards, a move that could hit borrowers with poor credit histories especially hard. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau acknowledged Thursday that its proposal would increase costs for some cardholders and allow banks to charge more in fees. The CFPB was set up after the financial crisis to protect consumers from loans and cards with hidden fees or other traps. Thursday’s decision shows
the difficult line the young agency must walk, allowing banks to make enough money so that they can continue to offer loans and cards while protecting consumers from fees that it considers abusive or deceptive. Bill Bartmann, a financial lawyer and debt-collection executive who generally supports the agency, called it “strategic thinking” on the part of Richard Cordray, the agency’s director. “He’s picking battles, and it’s unrealistic to think you can win them all,” said Bartmann, who publishes a widely read newsletter on financial regulation. Fee limits are of particular concern to
borrowers with weak credit, including so-called subprime borrowers, and the companies that seek to lend to them. Subprime borrowers tend to face much higher fees because lending to them carries more risk. Banks fear the agency will block too many fees, effectively preventing millions of Americans from establishing stronger credit so that they can qualify for mortgages or auto loans. Consumer groups decried the CFPB’s decision. But several independent experts called it a positive signal that the agency is choosing battles carefully as it adds staff and writes dozens of rules required under a 2010 overhaul of
The consumer agency’s new rule would let banks charge whatever fees they want up front. Those fees can include processing or activation fees of nearly $100 a large chunk of the credit limit for borrowers who are often granted lines of less than $1,000. Under the new plan, the 25 percent cap would only apply to fees charged after the card is issued. First Premier Bank of Sioux Falls, S.D., had argued that the Fed overstepped when it proposed the tougher rule. The bank had started charging customers a $95 processing fee for credit cards before the account was opened, plus a $75 annual fee. Some cards had a credit limit of $300. The upfront fee allowed First Premier and others to charge people fees totaling far more than 25 percent of their credit lines. The rule was an attempt to close that loophole. High-fee, low-limit cards like First Premier’s are available mainly to people with weak credit histories, said Chi
Chi Wu, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, which has urged CFPB to fight the court ruling. “This is the population of credit card holders who are the most vulnerable, folks who don’t have a great credit history, who probably already have limited means,” Wu said. “If anything, the CFPB should stand stronger for the consumers who have the least power among us.” Republicans and business lobbyists had opposed the CFPB’s creation and tried to prevent it from gaining power. They argued that it would reduce consumer choice, in part because fee limits would discourage banks from offering some services. By tipping the rule in favor of banks, the agency is showing that it takes both businesses and consumers into account when setting policy, said Mark Williams, a former examiner for the Federal Reserve who teaches finance at Boston University. “Just a year ago, the view was that this agency was going to be devastating for business,” inventing costly and unnecessary consumer protections, Williams said. He said Thursday’s action shows that the agency “could be very effective for consumers and also bridge the needs of business to make profits.” The CFPB’s revised proposal was published quietly in the Federal Register, the daily digest in which federal agencies make routine announcements. The CFPB is accepting public comment on the matter until June.
APRIL 2012 | VOL. 23 | NO. 1
BusinessProfile URBAN MALLS
ON THE REBOUND
t the Westfield Culver City mall, crowds of lunchtime diners fill scores of booths and tables while others line up to order meals at one of the many counters.
You can still find the mall culinary standard Hot Dog on a Stick tucked discreetly off to one side. But more urbane fare such as sushi, Vietnamese noodles and Korean chicken is the norm in the area once known as the food court. Now, what Westfield calls a dining terrace exemplifies the recent transformation of the mall from a place many considered downscale and dangerous to a choice destination for more than 10 million visitors last year — a nearly 90% increase from 2009. The resurgence of Westfield Culver City also illustrates how many malls in urban settings have managed to thrive in spite of the recession, said real estate broker Richard Rizika, who specializes in retail properties. Malls are faring much better in Los Angeles County than in the nation on average, he said. The amount of empty space in L.A. County shopping centers and large free-standing stores fell as much as 25% last year compared with 2009, he said, and rents rose almost 10%. Nationally, vacancy fell only 1% and
rents went down 5%. Many chain stores have closed outlets in remote suburban malls to focus instead on busy urban centers. Traditional malls that have had big-time makeovers have proved particularly attractive to store operators, Rizika said, pointing to Westfield Culver City and Santa Monica Place’s “major repositionings” that left them nearly 100% leased. “Malls in outlying areas are having more trouble absorbing space,” said Rizika, a managing director at commercial real estate brokerage CB Richard Ellis Group. The Culver City mall faced serious challenges, including an association with violence. When it was the Fox Hills Mall there were a few shootings on the premises, including a gangrelated gun battle on the rooftop parking lot in 2000 that left two dead. The mall had a run-down, fortress-like air. Westfield, which bought the mall in 1998, lightened its tone with glass facades, more skylights, bright paint and other moves intended to enhance a sense of openness. It was part of a larger plan to get former and potential shoppers to reconsider their impressions of the mall. “Our challenge was that people had forgotten about this center, said Larry Green, head of West Coast development for Westfield. “And we had to convince the retail community that
LOCAL IN-TOWN SHOPPING CENTERS ARE FLOURISHING
there was real tremendous opportunity here.” To break with the past, Westfield changed the character of the shopping center with a $180-million overhaul completed in 2009 that expanded the mall’s floor space by about one-third to 1 million square feet and added street-level retailing. Known previously as a collection of down-market stores, Westfield added some upscale brands such as Coach and trendy fashion retailers including XXI Forever and Hollister. Amenities include valet parking with a waterless, “eco-friendly” carwash. The opportunity to definitively change the mall’s nature came only after the then-owner of Macy’s acquired the Robinsons-May department store chain in 2005 and announced plans to unload duplicative locations, including at Culver City, which had one of each. That opened up room to reconfigure the mall. “The ability to get back one of those department stores allowed us to do what we had been trying to do to revitalize and change” the mall, said Peter Lowy, who heads U.S. operations for Australia-based Westfield Group. The mall is now anchored by Macy’s, JCPenney, Target and Best Buy. The mix of traditional department stores with a popular discounter and big-box electronics specialist has been a financial boon, Lowy said.
Robinsons-May and Macy’s were doing “just OK,” grossing in the mid$20-million range annually, Lowy said. “Now Target and Best Buy are doing multiples of that.” The mall also has a Gold’s Gym and full-sized restaurants such as BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse. Target stocks an extensive grocery section. It’s all part of a dramatic shift in how malls operate worldwide, Lowy said, as the industry moves beyond operating various collections of mainstream department stores and chain retailers. Westfield also spent $1.2 million on art at the Culver City mall and set about trying to make it seem more like a town square with its own social scene. There is a farmers market in the parking lot on Saturdays and events such as Halloween costume contests for kids. “This is a revolution in the business,” Lowy said. “We need to give customers an experience and product that keeps bringing them back.” Part of the strategy behind the Culver City mall’s redesign was to make it easier to get around and stop trying to force people to pass in front of as many stores as possible. Ramps and bridges were added to better connect the walkways ringing the three-floor mall and large directional signs make it easier to navigate, Green said. “We created the chance to pop in and out to a range of neighborhood and regional services,” he said. “People
have a lot of different choices, and you have to make it very convenient.” Times are still tough for most retailers, and some long-suffering businesses such as jewelry stores are finally giving up the ghost, but big store closures caused by the recession are mostly over, said Peter Lynch of DJM Realty in Los Angeles. “Retailers have pulled every expense that they possibly can out of their companies and done everything they can to get the best possible costs for their products,” said Lynch, who helps retailers manage their real estate. “In this very slow growth environment, people are managing their inventories very closely.” Financially healthy retailers are also taking advantage of what appears to be the bottom of the real estate market to move to more lucrative locations, broker Rizika said, which are often in urban centers. Among the retailers moving up are discounters such as Target Corp., which announced in November that it would move into former department store space in the 7+Fig mall in downtown Los Angeles. More discounters, including 99 Cents Only Stores, Ross Stores Inc. and Dollar Tree Inc., will be moving into buildings last occupied by food stores such as Albertsons, Ralphs and Vons as consolidation continues in the supermarket industry, he said.very effective for consumers and also bridge the needs of business to make profits.”
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INTERVIEW Barry Sands, Crimnal Defense Attorney
Barry Sands has been a Criminal Defense lawyer since 1974, so his passion for protecting our constitutional rights and insuring that our civil liberties are never violated is well documented; but the milestone Barry’s clients profit from most today is his 17 years of sobriety. Since that monumental day on August 16th, 1994 Barry has become a Certified Drug & Alcohol Counselor from U.C.L.A., and he’s a Registered Addiction Specialist – if anyone in the L.A. legal system can empathize with your drug and alcohol problem, be completely committed to helping you recover and ready to fight to keep you out of jail, it’s Barry Sands… Thanks to referrals from Dr. Drew Pinsky of Celebrity Rehab, many celebrities arrested on drug and alcohol related charges have benefited directly from Barry’s faithful dedication to helping addicts recover from their chemical dependence. Tom Sizemore, Steven Adler and Steve-O have all had court cases dismissed because of Barry’s tenacity in court – Barry Sands is a “Mean Streets Lawyer.” He’s seen it all and he can relate to any world you live in, whether you’re a millionaire in Malibu, a gangster from the hood or a Celebrity icon, Barry will tell you the truth about yourself and your situation. This is a rare thing in Hollywood where it seems so many artists are lied to and told what they want to hear by people interested only in using them… Los Angeles is the boulevard of broken dreams, and it can mean life and death for so many celebrities who are surrounded by followers and groupies and enablers speeding up their self-destruction. Artists are easy targets for these scenarios because primarily we’re people who’ve grown up slightly off-kilter… Something happened
ADDICTION AND RECOVERY ON “THE BOULEVARD OF BROKEN DREAMS” Loneliness and alienation… Two words that could interchangeably describe the effects of fame and being a celebrity, or understanding what fuels an alcoholic or heroin addict – this is the level of insight you need to be a successful Criminal Defense lawyer in Los Angeles, and it’s precisely the kind of keen perception that makes Barry Sands such a powerful, dynamic lawyer. Interview by Anthony Ewart
early on in our lives that forced us to look at the world in a different way than everybody else. It could have been an unconventional upbringing, a dysfunctional family or an outright abusive home – whatever it was it gave us a new way of seeing things, but this is a double-edged sword. Like things at the DNA or quantum level, altering one variable can have incredibly drastic effects at the macro level, and so it is with socialization – once you feel you’re on the outside of the “norm” it’s very hard to ever feel comfortable that you “fit in.” There’s always a clear sheet of glass between you and everybody else. Feeling alone and isolated makes you vulnerable and susceptible to being seduced by the false “comfort” of drugs and alcohol – and God help you if the chemical composition of your body predisposes you to addiction. So, now you’ve become an actor or singer, maybe a painter or writer, and you have a need bordering on physical
hunger to communicate your feelings through art and connect to and interact with people in some meaningful way, and you’re finally able to accomplish this goal and keep your drug and alcohol addiction hidden from the public…for a while… but like Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust, the Devil will not be ignored – at any time, whenever it pleases, your drug and alcohol addiction can make an appearance in your daily life, disrupting your world, threatening your career and shaking your existence to its very core – at best! The worst? That’s a very long list of talented artists who all died much too soon... It’s a sad tale Barry Sands knows well, and it’s why his work is so important to him, but he’s not alone in his mission…he has help… Dan Nesser is a professional Bail Bondsman who owns his own Bail Bonds Company here in Los Angeles – Dan’s Bail Bonds. Out of all the bondsman in Los Angeles
Barry Sands specifically chose Dan as his right-hand man, and they have a close working relationship comparable to Bob Forrest and Dr. Drew. Dan’s temperament complements Barry’s in that they both understand the issue is bigger than getting a case dismissed in court or their client making bail when it comes to drug and alcohol related crimes – the issue is getting the client into rehab. Treat the problem not the symptom. Barry’s signature phrase explaining his and Dan’s philosophy as a Criminal Defense Attorney and a Bail Bondsman is simply this: “Cases come and go, but your life will go on, hopefully, with recovery…” Together, Barry and Dan have literally made a name for themselves all over the world via the internet because of their online testimonials and referrals, and Barry’s two main websites: www.celebritycriminallawyer.com and www.bsandslaw.
com, and Dan Nesser’s www.dansbailbonds.com Barry’s clients range from actors, musicians, athletes and, of course, the common citizen, and he’s had international clients as far away as China, and domestically across the country – literally coast to coast, from L.A. to Florida and states in-between. The reality, as Barry explains it, is that “people come to L.A. and get into trouble,” so he’ll work with his client’s family and friends who may live outside of California, and sometimes, outside of the country to win the freedom of his client… This is my second article on Barry Sands, and I’ve been friends with him and Dan for many years now. I’m always humbled by Barry’s love and enthusiasm for helping people recover from their addictions. A conversation with Barry Sands will usually be constantly interrupted by him remembering someone – usually a doctor – who can help the specific needs of one of his clients – “Hold on a second, Anthony, let me write this name and number down… Okay, Anthony, what were you saying…?” All I can do is laugh… that’s just how Barry is; his clients always come first, as they should, and Barry’s passion and dedication to them shines like bright glowing neon on this boulevard of broken dreams…
For more informations about Barry Sands please visit: www.bsandslaw.com or call: 310-850-5070
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